Monday, 21 September 2015

All the better for sniffing with

20th September

In Gujarat, in March, in what seems another life, I wrote a post about animals with big ears: striped hyenas and wolves in Velavadar. All the better for losing heat with. Last night it was the turn of the big noses.

It is bruisingly hot at Pouso Alegre, far hotter than is typical in late September. Thus it is dry; and the animals of the gallery forest are concentrated around the few remaining water holes. Yesterday evening we went to a water hole in the edge of the forest where Brazilian tapirs regularly come to drink in the last of the light.

Tapirs, as is well known, have big noses. All the better for sniffing with, and snorkelling while swimming in the murky waters of South America's lowland rivers. What comes first to drink, however, out-noses a tapir by far. It out-tails it too. It more or less out-everythings a tapir.

Over the dam of this last water hole trundles a giant anteater and my group is at once electrified. This weirdest of animals pokes its nose through the mat of water hyacinths and drinks, long and deep, then sways off into the scrubby vegetation.

I wish I could wax lyrical, about the anteater, about the young male tapir which followed as the light began to fade, about the three further tapirs we saw by the road after dark, but last night wifi went down (we are, after all, in the far end of dusty nowhere) and I could not post. Right now we leave for Porto Jofre, the river and its jaguars. About silvery marmosets, great rufous woodcreepers and countless capybaras I cannot write more for now.

Last night was about noses. One absurdly long and inflexible, four rubbery and wildly mobile. All the better for sniffing with.

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