Friday, 25 September 2015

Two


We almost saw no jaguar today. We searched all long, hot afternoon along the creeks and inlets where they live. Hundreds of southern rough-winged swallows, of white-winged swallows, of tropical kingbirds and of great kiskadees met us on our way. But no jaguar.

The radio crackled and news came that close to our floating hotel a jaguar had been seen. We raced back but, long before we reached the site. Manuel's motor came to a stop on a long bend with a high bank to one side. There on the top of the bank, under palms and fallen branches, Manuel's smiling eyes had found a resting jaguar, waiting, looking, watching. We too watched, as thrilled as we have been by every jaguar we've seen these past three days. He yawned and turned and rolled; walking a short distance he revealed the scar behind his left ear which told us this was again Maxim. Then he walked through the curtain of palms and we saw him no more.

Straight away the radio crackled again. The same jaguar to which we were heading had been seen again. We flew to the site and there in the distant shade at the back of a marsh was a spotted shape flat to the ground. This was all that we saw but it mattered nothing. Troupials sang and caimans surfaced around us; caciques clicked and stuttered in their nest tree and far away the woods rang with the evening hoots of tinamous. A jaguar lay panting in the shade, hardly visible, and in the flame-bright light of the setting sun we each listened, and looked, and smiled.


Cats seen in 2015
cheetah Acinonyx jubatus fearonii                3
serval Leptailurus serval serval                    3
leopard Panthera pardus suahelicus            2
lion Panthera leo nubica                              78
snow leopard Panthera uncia                       3
jungle cat Felis chaus                                   2
tiger Panthera tigris tigris                            13
leopard Panthera pardus fusca                    4
lion Panthera leo persica                              7
leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis           15
flat-headed cat Prionailurus planiceps          1
wildcat hybrid Felis silvestris grampia/catus  1
jaguar Panthera onca                                    5


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