Imagine yourself alone on a tin boat, floating along a quiet, muddy river, deep inside Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands.
The air is calm and warm and it is quiet. An eerie feeling wafts through the air, it is clear that something is out there. You know what is out there, in fact, you’re here to find the very thing that is creating the tension. They are out there, amongst the shadows. You can’t see them, yet be sure they see you.
The jaguar hunts as it makes its way along the riverbanks. It seeks a meal of either Capybara, the world’s largest rodent, or perhaps their favorite dish, caiman.
The word jaguar is rooted in the Tupi-Guarani word ‘yaguar,’ which means “he who kills with one leap.” The Pantanal holds the densest population of jaguars, estimating between 4,000 – 7,000 jaguars. They are the third-largest cat in the world, but pound for pound they are by far the strongest. Jaguars kill caiman by piercing the skull with one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom. Caiman are plentiful in the Pantanal, yet stand little chance against a hungry jaguar on the hunt.
Now, picture yourself on a tin boat, alongside a group of fellow adventurous photographers and your Backcountry Journeys photo guide. Staying a safe, yet close distance from these big cats.
We’re floating down the river keeping watch on a jaguar making its way along the shoreline on the hunt.
Downriver, on the bank on a beautifully clear sandbar sits a chunky brown Capybara, one of the jaguar’s favorite meals.
You aren’t sure how to feel. Part of you wants the cat to attack right in front of your lens. Part of you feels sorry for the Capybara because it is just so ‘cute.’
“Its nature,” you tell yourself – and you’re right. “If it happens, it happens. Its bound to anyway, might as well be so I can see and photograph it, right?”
The jaguar stalks the bank, closing in on the Capybara, who at this point is standing dead still.
As still as the air all around you.
The boat sits quietly. Dead quiet. How can she sit here so still with pending doom approaching?
Does she smell the cat? Might she still get away?
What is about to happen?!?!
Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Katmai, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, as well as internationally in Costa Rica & Brazil. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, and has had several of his writings and photographs published in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.