I had the privilege of attending a talk sponsored by the Alberta Wilderness Association. Biologist, Jim Butler was speaking about his trip through the Pantanal in Brazil and Bolivia. The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and is teeming with wildlife. Among this wildlife is the largest population of jaguars on earth.
The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world – following the lion and the tiger. It is large enough to pluck a good sized crocodile out of the river for lunch which, apparently, is something it does quite often.
Jim Butler came back with amazing photographs of jaguars taken while on a boat tour riding the river through jaguar country. After watching this National Geographic video I’m not sure how safe I would feel on a boat, but I have to admit I’d like a few jaguar photos of my own.
Ecotourism is providing income for the people living in the Pantanal and helping to preserve jaguar populations. In some areas jaguars are now worth more money alive than dead as they provide income for thriving tourist lodges instead of being killed to protect cattle ranching.
This was the first time I had heard about safaris to the Pantanal. These trips are as exciting, or maybe more so, considering the abundance of species, as any safari in Africa. Numerous organizations are working to create intimate wildlife observations for travellers. Arcana Mundi Expeditions operate the Jaguar Flotel and guarantee that if you do not see a jaguar they will refund you $1,000. Jaguars even walk in broad daylight on the riverbank within 5 meters of the flotels.
It is my hope that these magnificent creatures continue to grow and thrive through future centuries.