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Entranced By Africa’s Big Cats? ... You’ll LOVE South America’s Thrilling Jaguars & Pumas!



I'm an unashamed "cat woman" - smitten enough to travel the world to watch and photograph beautiful, enigmatic felines. Lion, leopard & cheetah in Africa were my first crushes; tigers in India cemented my infatuation; and this year I've been positively swept off my feet by the big cats of Brazil and Chile! 


 

So let's talk jaguars and pumas on safari!


In Brazil this year my groups were treated to an unequalled range of big cat behaviour: swimming, hunting, mating, grooming, fighting for territory, interacting with cubs - all the drama we could have wished for!


And the best bit is all of this action took place in good light - jaguars are most active exactly when you want them to be, during the day! This is the same for pumas, so whether you're coming to Brazil or Chile you'll have big cat photography opportunities of a lifetime.



To make the most of these opportunities we set out on twice daily dedicated big cat safaris, by small boat for jaguar, and on foot for pumas. Yes, you’re actually on the ground with wild pumas only a few metres away!



Plus there's the bonus in Chile of some of the world's most sparkling light and most spectacular backdrops in Torres del Paine....oh those soaring towers...




As if these two phenomenal cats aren't enough, the cast of supporting characters is out of this world too - ocelot, giant anteater, giant river otter, caiman, taipir, monkeys, capybara, a rainbow of macaws, and so much more in the Pantanal; condors at eye level, guanaco, hairy armadillo, hog-nosed skunk and endemic raptors in Patagonia...fill yer boots!


The keys to creativity are time and opportunitiies to practice advanced techniques with this stunning ensemble, and on these South American safaris we have both in abundance, allowing us to hone our skills in panning, high key, low key, birds in flight/diving, monochrome, landscape, cultural and even underwater photography (yes, really!) plus all the other inspirations we come up with on the spot!









If you'd like to join me for a big cat safari like no other, either in Brazil in October 2024 or Patagonia in March 2025 you can view more details by clicking the links below, and secure your place by getting in touch at trai@enlightenedmedia.net



This year my groups also had the bittersweet chance to explore journalistic photography, as we witnessed first-hand the horror of fires - started by humans - raging out of control through the Pantanal, and the effects it had on the jaguars and other wildlife. I will write more on this in my next blog, but for now here are two examples of the lush green paradise in which we found the jaguars at first, and the burned out ashes in which we left them.

Juliet using lush ground cover to ambush caiman along the river bank. 

If this had been my only visit I would have left Brazil with this idyllic vision intact.



Within days we found jaguars surrounded by smouldering ashes, with little cover to rest or hunt.  Woody is a 3 year old male, just independent from his mother; already a great challenge for survival. Jaguars prefer to hunt by ambushing caiman, but Woody has to cross this barren burned expanse to get near the river, and stands out against the blackened backdrop, losing his natural camouflage and the element of surprise. He was forced to leave this area, and during my last days here he was being forced to fight with much larger males for remaining viable territory elsewhere.


 I tried to stay a dispassionate professional photographer who found herself in the midst of a powerful visual story, but I've never been able to stay unmoved where our beautiful planet and wildlife are concerned, and found it truly heartbreaking. Brazil has to stop the uncontrolled burning of the Pantanal, or there won't be a refuge for jaguars and all the species that share this beautiful vital wetland.

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