18 September, 2010

Expedition, Part 3: Pantanal


Smile, you are being photographed!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

“What’s so special about the Pantanal?”. The question, asked when the team is deciding whether the original itinerary will be changed or not, claims for an easy – but not necessarily short – answer. So, I prefer to offer an abridged version of my lecture that I keep in my laptop. At the same time, I give a partial answer, saying that the abundance and profusion of wildlife in the Pantanal – specially at this time of the year – is something fascinating and indescribable for animal lovers. I explain that, upon crossing the gateway which indicates the beginning of the Transpantaneira Road, the landscape changes abruptly and the animals put on a show before our eyes.

While one caiman seems full of hunger...
... the other
carries its banquet, a freshly caught armored catfish.
Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

Franco jokes: “oh, so you are saying that, at one side everything is calm, but all of a sudden, starting at this spot that you mentioned, the animals decide to show off and make a parade in front of the cameras?!”. I reply: “ex-act-ly”. He laughs.

We left Nobres by the morning, quick stop for lunch in Cuiabá, siesta in the van on the way to Poconé and finally the Transpantaneira. Almost everyone is asleep, already tired as we enter the second half of our intense trip. I, sitting by Ismael (our driver), keep my eyes open looking for animals. I ask Ismael to stop at the gateway. “Here begins the Pantanal”, the sign says. Everyone wakes up, gets off the vehicle to take some pictures, and I suggest that they leave their cameras ready.

(E) A Brazilian Tapir is followed by a swarm of insects while crossing the river.
(D) ... Pantanal diversity: Marsh Deer, Capybara and Cattle Tyrant share
one of the diminishing pools.

Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

The van goes a few kilometers ahead and at distance we see the first bridge with some water underneath, packed with Caimans into a heap. Among them, wading birds are having a feast with the stranded fish that are dying by lack of oxygen. I turn back and see everyone’s flabbergasted gaze, fascinated with such a concentration of animals at a single spot. I look at Franco. He says nothing, but it's needless – his smile seems to say “yes, Daniel, you were right when I made that joke about the animals’ parade”... For the first time in our expedition, I was not apprehensive or tense with the possibility of not finding animals for them to photograph. The spectacle that we saw during the next two days is summarized on the pictures of this post.

Next week, Part 4 (and last) of our adventure:
Dolphins in the Amazon.

Clockwise from top: (1) Flooded field sprinkled with wading birds in search of fish; (2) A Jabiru Stork's nest; (3) A cow is butchered without ceremony at the river bank; (4) One of the last Piúva (Tabebuia) still in bloom.
Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


Adriana Moura said...

Amazing pictures, your job has sensibility. Congratulations! Where have you studied Science Jornalism?

Daniel De Granville said...

Hi Adriana, thanks for your post and comments. I studied Science Journalism at Labjor/Unicamp, in Campinas, São Paulo. More info here: http://www.labjor.unicamp.br/

... and Happy New Year!