The big five of the Pantanal

The Big Five term was used by African big-game hunters and later adopted by the local tourist industry. Recently it has been adapted to the Pantanal in Brazil. Here's our Big Five collection.

All pictures were taken during regular tourist outings and show from top left, clockwise:
  1. A South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris, anta) and a flock of whistling ducks.
  2. A yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus, sucuri) killing a blue-and-yellow macaw.
  3. A giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis, ariranha) eating fish.
  4. A giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla, tamanduá-bandeira) with a baby on it's back.
  5. A jaguar (Panthera onca, onça-pintada) stalking capybaras.

New bird species !

After identifying over 400 bird species on the grounds of Fazenda Barranco Alto, every new ID is a great happening.
This time, Claudia Pozzoli had the first documented sighting of an Orinoco goose in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, it's a member of the duck, goose and swan family.

Our list contains now 402(!) species:
Photo by Paulo


The lesser anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla, tamanduá-mirim) is not easy to find because it has rather arboreal and nocturnal habits, although we see them also at day and on the ground. They feed primarily on arboreal termite nests and defend themselves with their very strong and big fore claws.
In this picture you see a mother with a baby on her back.

Attractive fruits

If you want to attract birds into your garden, just plant suitable fruit trees, offer them water, wait a little bit and enjoy theses wonderful creatures. In these two pictures we see a crested-oropendola (Japu, Psarocolius decumanus) and a white-woodpecker (Birro, Melanerpes candidus), both feeding on the same jackfruit (jaca, Artocarpus heterophyllus).



Fazenda Barranco Alto has very large protected areas and a highly varied habitat composition, from dense forests to wide open grasslands. This is one of the reasons why giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla, tamanduá-bandeira) are common around here. Nevertheless, they might be hiding from our sightings in the vegetation during the days of the southern summer.
Recent population counts by Moecklinghoff have estimated the population on Fazenda Barranco Alto being bigger than 60 animals.
On this picture you see a beautiful female with her young on the back that she will carry for 6 months.

Winning the armadillo lottery !

In 24 hours we've seen the biggest and smallest armadillo. Here´s a wonderful sighting of a giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus, tatu-canastra) of probably around 30-40 Kg and from tail to nose over a meter long !!! They walk on their massive claws and are very rare to see.

And here´s a new sighting for our mammal list: the southern naked-tailed armadillo (Cabassous unicinctus, tatu-de-rabo-mole), another very rare sighting !

Picture by Aude Schneeberger

Hyacinth macaws

These wonderful, amazingly colored birds are the hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, arara-azul), an endangered parrot species commonly found around this part of the Pantanal. Their distribution is strongly correlated with two palm trees on which they feed: the acuri-nut palm tree (Scheelea Phalerata) and the bocaiuva-nut palm tree (Acrocomia aculeata). And not less important for their survival is the manduvi tree (Sterculia apetala), a big soft-wooded tree in which they mostly build their nests.

Watching hyacinth macaws feeding on the ground at late afternoon always evokes a general: Wow ! Awesome ! Amazing ! Phenomenal ! Fantastic ! Terrific ! In short: simply unforgettable !

feeding on acuri nuts

And sometimes there are snakes

During the wet and hot months of October through April, snakes are more commonly seen. One of the most fear causing animals is the tropical rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus, Cascavel). This pit viper advertises itself by a loud shaking of it´s rattle at the end of the tail (see and listen to a red rattlesnake here!).

Their diet consists of small rodents and birds. Although encounters like these are rare, one should be cautious when walking around in the wild. However, rattlesnakes rarely bite unless provoked or threatened; and if treated promptly, the bites are rarely fatal.

Drumming on trees

This is one of the most amazing bird families in the Pantanal: the woodpeckers. The lineated woodpeckers (Dryocopus lineatus, Pica-pau-de-banda-branca) have strong bills for drilling and drumming on trees and long sticky tongues with bristles for extracting insects deep out of the wood. Listen to the drumming: MP3 by J.Minns


Salinas and green

After many month of drought the rains are finally back to the Pantanal, the trees are fully covered in dark green leaves and the grass grows in lush colors ...
In this aerial photo you see 4 brackish water lakes, so-called salinas. They are a unique feature of this region of the Pantanal and contribute to the incredible bio-diversity of Fazenda Barranco Alto. Here we find extensive and representative patches of pristine gallery forest, savannas, grasslands, thick forests, a river, salinas, fresh-water lakes, marshes and reeds.

This leaves the Rio Negro Pantanal unrivaled among all other Pantanal sub-regions. This is one of the few regions in the Pantanal where you can see all of the mammals that occur in these wetlands. Following theses two links find our mammal list and bird list.

Pheasant cuckoo

This is a picture taken by our guest Mike Bailey of a pheasant cuckoo (Dromococcyx phasianellus, peixe-frito-verdadeiro, song). This is one of the most elusive birds around here. They are daily heard but never seen, a good view like this is something very rare.

Pheasant cuckoos are brood parasites, that means the parental care of eggs and young is provided by the host species like flycatchers and antshrikes.

Pampas deer

The Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus, veado-campeiro) is our easiest to see deer, because they inhabit the open grasslands. Although gray brocket deers are in greater numbers, they inhabit the bushes where they're harder to spot.
Now is the time when we see most of the young ones. The fawns loose their white spots two months after birth.

Pampas deer with fawn.
Father of the fawn.