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(OK, the first person to see a ‘new’ jaguar gets to name it for the researchers…  I can tell you now that although we had some great sightings, there is no jaguar in the Pantanal newly-named Venetia.)

Monday afternoon, 21st September. First boat trip out, along the winding river banks in this totally flat country, classic geography lesson stuff, with low ‘cliffs’ on the outer sides of bends, the beginning of ox-bow lakes, and sandy beaches on the inner.

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Anhingas drying their wings. Unlike many other birds they do not have natural oils to protect their feathers as they dive for fish

Black vultures and Southern screamers. Previous identifications corrected thanks to BL.

Pied lapwing

Pied lapwing

Black skimmer

Black skimmer

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Large-billed tern

Large-billed tern

After an hour of gentle cruising and observation, we arrived where the grapevine had told us there was a jaguar to be seen. Unfortunately the grapevine tells others as well.P1140159 (800x643)But there are conventions, not least about keeping a distance from the big cats, and these were respected in the main during our stay. The boatmen have an interest in staying friendly with their colleagues. (Lucky things, these visitors have shade over them – it’s in the high 30s – but our opportunities for observation were better, and we were able to stand up when it was safe to do so.)P1140168 (800x481)First view of a jaguar.  Yes, it is a jaguar, not a python.

Hmmm. I was taken right back to December 2008, when I saw my first tiger, from an elephant’s back, in Bandhavgarh National Park, India.  That also was a large male, and he was fast asleep too, in a gully. Bit disappointing, really, I admit.

Oh well, there are other things to look at.

Caiman

Caiman

Ringed kingfisher

Ringed kingfisher

At last ‘Peter’ stirred a little.P1140187 (800x526) P1140200 (800x600) P1140246 (800x438)Handsome beast.  Big pussycat. Third largest feline in the world.

And, ey-oop, what’s this?  There’s another jaguar, a female, Bianca we learned later, behind the right-hand tree.  And now she’s moving…

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(just look at those markings) to settle where we can see … just half her head.  And Peter’s yawning.

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Now, I could have lied and said that this was the beginning of the dramatic encounter we saw next.  But it wasn’t and all I can do is recount that.

Over from the left came – sadly I didn’t even catch a glimpse of him, and he didn’t come close – another large male.  Peter leapt into action, ran off right for a few metres, taking his lady with him, roaring and growling at the same time.  The intruder was easily seen off by this vocal display, and the two lovers settled down again very quickly, still well within our sight. They stayed there until it started getting dark, and we left the scene.

Bianca

Bianca

Peter

Peter

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Back at the flotel, we learned that the intruder was almost certainly Cage, Peter’s brother.  Usually they are the best of friends, and are seen nuzzling one another.  Not when it’s a question of la femme though.