Saturday 9 September 2017

Some mammals of the Peruvian Amazon: research for Mama Amazonica

Capybara on Tambopata river
There are other mammals in Mama Amazonica – a wolverine, a snow leopard and two giraffes – but it's the Amazonian ones that I'm obsessed with. I love wolverines, have read everything about them, and watch the two at Vincennes zoo in Paris every time I go there, snow leopards are special though the only ones I've seen are in zoos too, and the herd of giraffes at Vincennes fascinate, but nothing comes close to jaguars for me. They are the pitbulls of the cat world, muscular, with jaws that could crack the moon, yet otherworldly, with their coats of stars or giant hooker's green waterlily leaves slowly drifting across a sunlit lake. 

I knew I would probably not see one in the rainforest, or at its margins along the riverbank. So I teased the guide and he humoured me, scheduling extra rivertrips on both of my visits to Peru. We saw so many creatures, and here are just some of them, along the banks or up in the treetops. But no jaguar. Not even an ocelot. 

Until the journey back from the research lodge deep in Tambopata National Reserve, back to the lodge in the buffer zone hours downriver. Scroll down and you can see him, and I've written about him before in a previous post. I've also tried to write about him in the last poem in Mama Amazonica, struck by Pablo Neruda's line "like a river of buried jaguars" from The Heights of Macchu Picchu. 

Imagine seeing a jaguar in his vast home, the place that takes hours to cross by plane!  

Photos by Brian Fraser and Jungle Paul

Capybara with cowbird

we find a jaguar!

Paul F Condori our guide Jungle Paul's photo

White-lipped peccary lookout male watching us as his herd pass, clacking his teeth together to scare us away

peccary herd at the clay lick

Dusky titi monkey baby with mama, her back to us

Photo of giant river otter in oxbow lake, following our catamaran, by Paul F Condori

Red howler monkeys