As a good Mineiro (native from Minas Gerais State) I will share in a “tale” format my meeting with a jaguar in the bush last December.
A philosopher or some writer of “weirdoteric” book of self-help said – I am almost certain that I read it in some Richard Bach or Paulo Coelho (argh… finally the time of my life were I use to ready this stuff is over):
- Careful with your whishes, they can become true…
So there was me and my brave squire Wilson in amazing adventures on Ivinhema State Park, Mato Grosso do Sul State. Across kilometers and kilometers of marshlands, landfills and everything else one can imagine, time to time needing to walk hours and hours seeking a tractor to take out the truck from the mud. Sometimes sleeping in farms storehouses, learning by practice how to fix diesel motors. I almost agreed with a friend that talks about the lucklessness of a Toyota “Band”. When I was already with the self esteem as an off road driver below zero, we discovery that – between another uncountable small defects – the truck lost the 4×4 traction. With my jedi field researcher honor recovered we continue our mission.
Since the appropriate introduction was made to create the state of mind of discouragement, exhaustion and – inconsistently – pleasure and satisfaction (no, we aren’t masoquists…) that the marsh can provide, we follow our mission to the second stage: camera trap review by boat through the Ivinhema river. With an intimidating wind shaking our small aluminum motorboat, we had to stop a couple of times. By the late afternoon, at the penultimate camera station, as always, we stopped the boat at the small ravine at the river bank and land.
The camera was around 20 meters from the river, close to the Fumaça river mouth, were it encounter the Ivinhema.
While we worked Wilson saw a scene, let’s say, bizarre. A savanna hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis) dead hanging by one wing in a tree. The wing was hold by a fishhook! A bird of prey gaffed as a fish by a fishertree!!! Who needs hallucinogens?
A bizarre scene…
Job done… When we was in the way back to the boat, around 10 meters from the river bank, with the late afternoon sunshine reflecting in the river creating a shadow effect in the trees, a different shadow suddenly crosses on the margin. The shadow of a 65-70 quilos cat running in complete silence in the boat direction.
- The Jaguar!!! Yell Wilson at the same time that my body instinctively reacts to the vision bombing liters of adrenalin through my veins making my heart desire to create legs and run away.
- Wow!!! !@#$%^&*!!! Prônkelafoi??? Cetavenela??? *&^%$##@!!! (Unfortunately it is necessary the SAP key to understand “mineirish”).
We moved slowly and saw through the vegetation some fur spots moving… calmly?!?!? Lying?!?! Licking, taking her cat bath almost beside the boat??? Uh, where is the neotropical forest beast? And we stand in there with a mix of fear, happiness, ecstasy, indescribable emotions and… surprise! She was in there – and probably was around us all the time, judging by the direction from it came from – taking its cat bath on the Ivinhema afternoon. She was practically ignoring the couple of biped primates that was staring at her and whispering about what they should do.
The jaguar looked to us…
First I thought: What would Sasha Siemel do? No, it is not a good idea… Hummm. What would Laury and Dênis do? What would Brian Boltano do??? It is hard to evaluate this things… Let’s improvise…
- We need to reach the boat Wilson! – At this point we was talking normally, almost offended by the snob jaguar who barely looked to us.
- How with the jaguar in there? – Answered Wilson
- I need pictures! I can’t leave without a Picture! Let’s come closer! Let’s go to that tree! Let’s always keep something between us and she! – Lot’s of pictures and also a short video, but the light reflected by the river in contrast with the darkness of the forest did not cooperate with the photos, at least one was reasonable. Hummm…
- Hey Wilson, get the tripod at the boat!!! Hehe!
- You go!!!
More than 15 minutes after the first time we saw her, we decided to get away from there. Time to time we heard a fuggy noise, something like a hand saw. Every time the sound repeated she looked in the direction of the noise like who is waiting for the hand saw to come walking.
- Wilson, I think it is a couple…
We decided to not stay for the meeting. We weren’t invited, you know, would not be educated. And when jaguars are in couple, they usually are doing things that everybody – well, most part of people - prefer to do in privacy.
- Let’s scream! – Aaaand… nothing happened. The jaguar looked to us with disdain and superiority…
- Let’s throw something in her direction! – says Wilson – Let’s go. – I answer.
Like the first hominids running from saber tooth tigers we throw sticks on our feared and admired study object. She only moved a little and ride behind a tree. It was more than enough for us to break the world record of running, embark and start in motorboat!
As soon as the boat start to descend by the river she came back and lay at the same place!!! Only leaves when we turn on the motor!
We down the Ivinhema in the sunset direction with sensations that cannot be described by speaked or writed language. At the end of the day, all I could think was in Edgar Allan Poe words:
“… And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!”
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We down the Ivinhema in the sunset direction…