Thursday, 9 August 2007

Call of the Jaguar -Day 8: “Onca, Onca, I See You!”

We set out early at sunrise and went into the tributaries to search for jaguars. It was such a beautiful place with birds and hundreds of Caimans. We were also lucky to see my second group of Giant Otters. The Otters were shy but very curious. Although they tried escaping they also could not resist their curiosity of peeping at us by risking getting closer by.

After two hours and several calls by Fiao, we still had no sight of any Jaguars. Peter started to say: "The Jaguars are not answering the calls. You’d better come back during wet season". Although I understand that it is not the mating season and therefore it is more difficult, but my hope was still to see a jaguar on this trip, even though I am sure I will be back again soon to see more jaguars, even during the wet summer season to risk being eaten alive by the mosquitoes who just love me (thank goodness there is no malaria in the Pantanal so I do not mind only the itchiness).

Despite my hope, I was getting mentally prepared to not see a jaguar at all on this trip and started to film other objects of interests using the precious film I have been saving for jaguar sightings. Chu stopped the boat at a local fisherman's hut and went to enquire with the fisherman's wife. The hut was big and beautiful and the canoe, dug out of one tree made by the Indians was very charming. The basket made of bamboo for holding fish resembles some of those used in the wet areas of Southern China. Chu came back said: "Nothing." There have been no jaguars around in this area.

I was certainly losing more hope and started checking and cleaning my video camera. Suddenly, Fiao tapped on my shoulder and Peter said in a hushed voice: "there, there, the jaguar!" I turned around half believing since I could not see anything. But my eyes focused and I saw it! Actually I saw two!!! I did not make the mistake I made a number of times before when I saw other big cats, and pushed the right camera buttons and captured the magnificent images of these two beautiful creatures. One of the jaguars was clearly a cub and they were shy. In a matter of seconds they fled. I would not have believed my luck if I did not capture their images on my video camera! Onca, Onca, thank you so much for making my dream come true, even if it was for a brief moment! It was exactly 9am.

Actually I should thank Dr. Crawshaw. I think he feels as much relieved as Fiao and Chu. I certainly did not expect to have such a warm welcome and good preparation as if I were a state guest with so many people involved in helping me sighting a jaguar. I feel forever indebted to their hospitality.

The Juguars we saw must have been a mother with her cub. I was ready to just disembark here and follow the jaguars if I was allowed!

No comments: