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.

Cream-colored woodpecker

For years there was a rumour that the cream-colored woodpecker (Celeus flavus, pica-pau-amarelo) would occur in this part of the Pantanal. Today Claudia has finally managed to take a photo of the bird and has definitely proven it's existence along the Rio Negro.

With this our bird list (link) has reached the impressive number of 401 species registered on the grounds of Fazenda Barranco Alto !

Cream-colored woodpecker

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.

Wading on stilts

The stilts (Himantopus sp., pernilongo) are locally abundant shorebirds in the southern Pantanal. They congregate specially around salt lakes, so called salinas. Note their extremely long pink legs, perfectly adapted to wading in muddy waters.
And talking about birds, here's our list with 402 species: . The last inclusions were the cliff flycatcher (Hirundinea ferruginea, gibão-de-couro) and the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus, falcão-peregrino).

Stilts and a yellowlegs

Stilts at

Pink trees

This year we had another strong and wide-range blossoming of the pink trumpet trees (Piúvas, Tabebuia impetiginosa). The flowers are an important part of the local wildlife's diet. Mammals like howler-monkeys and brocket deers , birds like guans and parakeets just love the bitter taste.

Aerial view of "Invernada 3"
blue-crowned parakeet (Aratinga acuticaudata)

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