WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS: Praveen Siddannavar
I used to wonder why people from across the world travelled to the Pantanal in South America; it was never on my wish list. Then, six years ago, in Brazil on business, I had the opportunity to visit. I drove onto the Transpantaneira, the unpaved road that crosses the Pantanal, and I fell in love. I’ve returned time and time again ever since.
I return, not just in search of the endangered and elusive jaguar, but also for the great biodiversity that the Pantanal cocoons – birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Each time I take a boat safari, it feels like the experience of a lifetime. The rivers are a lifeline for the animals of the Pantanal, creating a distincive ecosystem in these pristine wetlands. The best time to visit the Pantanal is between June and early November when the water levels are low, and sandbanks and white sandy beaches emerge, on which animals love to bask in the sun.
In July 2017, I took an eight-day trip into the Pantanal, staying on a well-furnished houseboat in core jaguar territory. The stunning sunrises and the star-filled nights added to the awesome wilderness experience. I was tremendously lucky to be able to spot 20 jaguars, study and understand their behavioural patterns, and document them in photographs and video.