We came with realistic expectations of not seeing any of these publicity-shy nocturnal beauties. Up at 4:30AM, into the woods before sunrise, into the search with our driver and local guide (totaling 4 in a jeep), the morning safaris met expectations; we did not see any in the several morning safari exercises that we undertook. Rugged up in the morning. By breakfast all was shed in favor of cooler attire. We returned in the 100 degree F afternoons to see what we could before dark. Not as expected, in 3 days we saw 3. In each day, we found them cooling off neck-deep in standing water in ponds (for 2) and a slow moving stream. We watched for a long time in each case as they, undisturbed by our quiet presence, lounged in the water, periodically slapping their jaws at the nuisance flies and bees. In each case we lingered for the hope that we would see them rise from the water and wander back into their territory. Only one, a large female, emerged from the water, caked in mud, rolled around in the marsh grass to wipe away some of the mud. And then disappear. Their monumental size and unnatural colorations of oranges, etc., would tend to make one believe that you could watch them in the grasses, brushes, etc. Not so. Gone. We thought that the Brazilian jaguars were huge. Or the African lions. These striking beauties reach 9 feet in length and 500 pounds…. Compared to 300 for the jaguar. Perhaps their coloring also makes them appear larger and more ferocious.

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