Jaguar Spotting in Porto Jofre, Pantanal

I will never forget my first jaguar – as we were cruising along one of the channels in Porto Jofre, Pantanal, just two hours into our first morning of wildlife watching in the area, we spotted a regal feline smoothly walking along the river bank, completely unconcerned by our presence. Seeing a jaguar sent a shiver down my spine – this is nature at its best, wildest self!

pantanal porto jofreBack in October, I spent 16 days on an exhilarating wildlife adventure with Zegrahm Expeditions. On our comprehensive itinerary, we explored both Northern and Southern Pantanal. We went at the end of the dry season, when the scorching temperatures have slightly subsided but water is still scarce making the wildlife congregate in full view at available sources.

Seeing the elusive jaguar is the pinnacle of coming to Brazil’s Pantanal, a breath-taking ecosystem and the world’s largest seasonal wetland extending from the southern edge of the Amazon. Along with other large felines – tigers, pumas and such -jaguars are notoriously hard to spot in the wild, and Pantanal’s open marshlands offer you the best chance to see them in a natural habitat. Porto Jofre, a popular fishing spot at the end of the dusty Transpantaneira Highway in Northern Pantanal, a five-hour bumpy ride from the nearest city, is one of the best places in the world to set your eyes on a jaguar. With its many channels and quiet tributaries, this is the perfect habitat for the America’s largest feline that loves being close to the water and enjoys swimming.Jaguar is a fierce apex predator, well known for its immense power and agility. The name Jaguar is said to come from the Native American word yaguar which means “he who kills with one leap”. Jaguar largely leads solitary life, stalking its prey, and will hunt anything from fish and small caiman to capybaras, tapirs and cows.

Physically resembling the leopard – many people often confuse the two – it has  a larger and sturdier build, similar to that of a tiger. The two animals can also be distinguished by the rosettes on their coat: jaguar’s rosettes are larger and fewer in number, have small spots in the middle and have thicker lines. The spots resemble roses, and as such are known as rosettes. Jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite relative to other felines, and it employs a somewhat unusual killing method: it bites directly through the prey’s skull between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain.

Throughout our five-night stay in Porto Jofre we spotted about a dozen or so jaguars, either basking in the sun, or seeking refuge from the blazing heat in the shadows when it got too hot, or stealthily approaching its potential prey… On the trail of an elusive jaguar is a wildlife experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life!

My photo diary of Ponte Jofre with Zegrahm Expeditions continues…

pantanal porto jofre{Capybara, aka the world’s largest rodent and one of jaguars’ favourite foods}

pantanal porto jofre

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