Jaguar Adventure With Nigel Marven

This action-packed series follows Nigel Marven to the Pantanal in Brazil, the world’s biggest wetland and home to the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the least known of the big cats. In the final episode of the series, Nigel completes his adventure with a risky journey into the heart of the jungle for a face-to-face encounter with the king of the Pantanal.

Over the past four weeks, Nigel has enjoyed the vast array of wildlife on offer in the Pantanal. He has wrestled with caiman and anacondas, swum with capybara and giant otters, and realised his childhood dream of meeting jaguars in the wild. All of his jaguar encounters so far, however, have been from the relative safety of a boat. Now, he has set himself one final challenge – to get up close to a wild jaguar on foot, and learn the future of this wonderful animal. “Getting up close to a jaguar would be a really fitting finale to the month I’ve spent in the Pantanal,” says Nigel.

With two days left of his trip, Nigel has travelled to the Caiman Ecological Refuge in the south of the wetland. Here, open-minded ranchers hope to make peace with the jaguars, despite the fact that the hungry predators kill their cattle. Determined to protect the big cats from deadly retaliation at the hands of less-liberal ranchers, biologist Leandro Silveira tracks and tags the animals to learn about their behaviour. Early one morning, Nigel joins Leandro and a crack team of scientists, cowboys and hunting dogs for a dash through the wilds of Brazil in pursuit of a jaguar to tag. “This may look like something out of ‘The A-Team’,” explains Nigel, “but it’s the only way of coming face to face with the Pantanal’s greatest predator.”

Nigel and the team return to a dead cow they discovered yesterday in the hope that a jaguar has returned to the kill overnight. The hounds quickly pick up the cat’s scent and lead the trackers into the forest. “This could be it,” says an excited Nigel. As they move rapidly through the trees, a radio message from another team brings news that a cowboy has seen a jaguar nearby. However, after a frantic scramble, the dogs lose the animal’s scent, suggesting it has left the forest floor and climbed high into a tree. “So close, yet so far,” says Nigel. “The jaguar has eluded our army once more.” As dusk approaches, the day’s hunt comes to an end without success, leaving Nigel tired and frustrated.

The search for jaguars cannot begin again until the following morning, so Nigel decides to spend the evening searching for other animals on the ranch. Before long, he encounters an armadillo foraging for grubs and insects. Armadillos have a keen sense of smell but rather poor eyesight, meaning that Nigel can get very close to this specimen. “This one’s struggling to spot me from just a few metres away!” he exclaims. Later that night, Nigel witnesses a group of peccaries eating corn left out by a farmer. These hog-like animals look friendly, but they have razor-sharp canines and can attack in packs, making them one of the most dangerous animals in the Pantanal. “I really don’t want them to notice me,” whispers Nigel.

As the sun rises on the morning of Nigel’s final day, the scientists decide to bring out their secret weapon – a radio-tracking device that will enable them to follow a jaguar already fitted with a collar. “This is it –my last chance to come face to face with a jaguar in its jungle home,” says Nigel as the hunt begins.

A radio signal reveals that a female jaguar is holed up in a small clump of forest nearby, so the hounds and the trackers get into position. Every move is critical, since a cornered jaguar is an extremely dangerous proposition. Suddenly, everyone in front of Nigel rushes to the same spot and looks up into the trees. When Nigel catches up, he follows Leandro’s gaze and sees a large female relaxing in the branches above. “It reallygets you there, being so close to such a magnificent animal,” says Nigel pointing to his chest. After four weeks in the Pantanal, this is the closest Nigel has ever come to a jaguar, but there is one final surprise in store that promises to end his adventure on a huge high.

Nigel Marven travels to Brazil in pursuit of the
amazing jaguar in this action-packed six-part
series. Jaguar Adventure follows Nigel to the
Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland and home
to the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the
least known of the big cats. In this episode, he
travels south to grasslands on the edge of the
swamp, meets a giant anteater and witnesses a
modern-day jaguar hunt.
Nigel Marven’s latest quest has brought him to the
swampland of the Pantanal in Brazil, home to a
stunning diversity of wildlife, including armadillos,
giant otters, iguanas and anteaters. In just four
weeks, Nigel hopes to get to know the vast array
of wildlife on offer and locate one beautiful but
hard-to-find mammal. Comparatively little is known about the jaguar because they are notoriously difficult to film. With their brilliantly effective camouflage, they blend into the foliage.
For the first few weeks of his adventure, Nigel has plied the waterways of the River Cuiabá and caught sight of jaguars on the prowl, realising his childhood dream of meeting these big cats in the wild. Now he hopes to learn more about the jaguar’s current plight by flying 600 miles south to the grasslands on the edge of the Pantanal.
This region of ranchers and cowboys has suffered massive deforestation over the last 50 years as farmers have cleared land for their cattle, leaving only a few pockets of dense forest. The reduction of the jaguar’s habitat has created a flashpoint between the ranchers and the big cats.
Before getting to the heart of the problem, Nigel stops off to view one animal that has benefited from the deforestation. In a field dotted with huge termite mounds, Nigel is thrilled to witness “one of the strangest creatures on the planet” – the giant anteater. These remarkable animals boast a famously long snout, shaggy fur and a huge tail.
Nigel spots one anteater mother carrying her baby on her back and ventures closer for a better look.
Although almost blind, anteaters are blessed with keen hearing and a sense of smell around 40 times better than that of a human, so Nigel takes care to stand downwind of the animal. “These pastures studded with termite mounds are the perfect place for anteaters – a big restaurant,” he whispers. The dish of the day for this hungry mother is termites – and lots of them; adult anteaters can hoover up as many as 30,000 insects a day.
Nigel then travels to an ecological refuge to learn more about the crisis facing the big cats. In a region of small farms, ranchers says they are losing up to two cows a day to preying jaguars – at a cost of more than £60,000 a year. The cowboys respond by killing the predators. But some scientists and conservationists are attempting to halt the decline in jaguar numbers by fitting them with radio collars to track their movements.
Nigel joins a team of cowboys and scientists on a dawn hunt to collar a jaguar. The hunters use hounds to pick up the overnight scent of the big cats. Nigel admits he is nervous about the prospect of chancing upon a jaguar up close and personal. “It’s one thing to see them from the safety of a boat, but this is something else,” he says. “Everyone’s on edge.” Before long, they are racing through the undergrowth following the dogs’ calls. A desperate scramble to pick up the trail ends when the sun burns off the last of the scent, and the hunters must give up their quarry – for now.
However, the discovery of a fresh kill – a cow – provides a stark example of the problem facing conservationists. Nigel reflects on the possible solutions, including compensation for cattle killed. “The other solution,” he suggests, “is for the jaguar to be worth more alive than dead: ecotourism. Naturalists and tourists will pay handsomely to see the big cat and that in itself would compensate the ranchers.” It would seem there is some hope for the king of the Pantanal after all.

Nigel Marven travels to Brazil in pursuit of the
amazing jaguar in this action-packed six-part
series. Jaguar Adventure follows Nigel to the
Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland and home
to the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the
least known of the big cats. In this episode, Nigel
heads deeper into the wetland in search of more
extraordinary creatures; and achieves his closest
encounter yet with the king of the Pantanal.
Nigel Marven’s latest quest has brought him to the
swampland of the Pantanal in Brazil. Standing
between the Amazon rainforest and the
grasslands of the savannah, the Pantanal is home
to a stunning diversity of wildlife, including
armadillos, giant otters, iguanas and anteaters.
In just four weeks, Nigel hopes to get to know
the vast array of wildlife on offer and locate one
beautiful but hard-to-find mammal. Comparatively
little is known about this member of the big cat
family, because jaguars are notoriously difficult to film. With their brilliantly effective camouflage, jaguars blend perfectly into the foliage. Moreover, as Nigel discovers later in the series, they have become a sworn enemy of the ranchers to the south. Can Nigel realise his childhood dream of meeting jaguars in the wild?
Over the first two weeks of his adventure, Nigel has had “a ball of a time” with the wildlife of the Pantanal. He has been up to his neck in swamps infested with anacondas; he has wrestled caiman; and he has had three incredible jaguar encounters on the banks of the Cuiabá River. On the fifteenth day of his trip, Nigel decides to go below the surface of the water to enter the Pantanal’s magical underworld.
At the Rio de Prata – a body of crystal-clear water filtered through the limestone hills – Nigel plunges into a spectacular subaquatic community. “This is real paradise,” he says as he swims amongst a group of fish during a feeding frenzy. Known by locals as ‘pirapitanga’, these large, salmon-like fish gather beneath the brown capuchin monkeys in the branches hanging over the river, waiting for fruit to drop into the water. “I haven’t seen fish like this anywhere other than a coral reef,” says Nigel.
Soon after this encounter, the team runs into some giant otters hunting for food. Growing up to two metres long, these animals have been known to eat 20kg of catfish a day, and are capable of killing herons, anacondas and even caiman. Luckily for the film crew, however, these elegant creatures seem uninterested in their human visitors.
Above the water, there is another flurry of feeding activity. Nigel watches the aerial acrobatics of some black skimmers as they fly low over the river and use their unique bills to skim for fish. Then, when night falls, giant bulldog bats take over, trawling the water for food.
As Nigel’s final day on the Cuiabá arrives, he scans the popular haunts of the jaguar in pursuit of one final encounter with the king of the Pantanal. As he and the team approach a clearing on the bank where they spotted a lone male once before, they see a prowling female and turn off the boat engine to drift in closer. When they reach a distance of just five metres, Nigel is astonished by the animal’s nonchalance – but the fact that the jaguar is not threatened by the presence of the humans means that they can track its every move.
Nigel follows the female as she stalks down the bank, probably hunting for food. Then, she finds what looks like a beer bottle and grabs it playfully. “She looks like she’s got a taste for something
different!” says Nigel. Rubbish in such a wilderness is normally a cause for concern, but this bottle acts as a toy for the jaguar. “Really, she’s just a big pussycat,” says Nigel. After some time spent observing this beautiful animal, Nigel and the team eventually lose sight of her – but it has been his best encounter so far. “When I set out on this trip, I wasn’t sure I’d catch even a glimpse of a jaguar,” he explains. “Now I’ve found one that allowed me to follow her all afternoon!”

Nigel Marven travels to Brazil in pursuit of the
amazing jaguar in this action-packed six-part
series. Jaguar Adventure follows Nigel to the
Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland and home to
the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the least
known of the big cats. In this episode, Nigel and the
team finally achieve the footage they have been
seeking, with three jaguar encounters in 24 hours.
Nigel Marven’s latest quest has brought him to the
swampland of the Pantanal in Brazil. Standing
between the Amazon rainforest and the
grasslands of the savannah, the Pantanal is home
to a stunning diversity of wildlife, including
armadillos, giant otters, iguanas and anteaters.
In just four weeks, Nigel hopes to get to know
the vast array of wildlife on offer and locate one
beautiful but hard-to-find mammal. Comparatively
little is known about this member of the big cat
family, because jaguars are notoriously difficult to film. With their brilliantly effective camouflage, jaguars blend perfectly into the foliage. Moreover, as Nigel discovers later in the series, they have become a sworn enemy of the ranchers to the south. Can Nigel realise his childhood dream of meeting jaguars in the wild?
Over the first two weeks of his adventure, Nigel has had “a ball of a time” with the wildlife of the Pantanal. He has been up to his neck in swamps infested with giant anacondas; he has wrestled caiman; and he has had an encounter with a beautiful snake that almost cost him his hand.
However, the jaguar has remained typically elusive, with only cameraman Steve lucky enough to have seen one of the animals. Now in the third week of their trip, Nigel and the team receive a radio tip-off that a jaguar has been spotted on a nearby riverbank.
After a high-speed race downriver, Nigel arrives at the scene and sees his first specimen sitting amongst the trees, staring nonchalantly at the visitors. “My first ever jaguar,” he breathlessly enthuses. “What a magnificent animal!” After sitting for some time on the bank, the huge cat wanders deeper into the forest and begins to emit a deep, reverberating growl – possibly denoting the presence of another cat nearby. “It really makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” says Nigel of the noise.
Soon after this first meeting, the team hears that a second jaguar has been seen just downriver – news that leads to another frantic charge through the water. They arrive at an exposed sand bank in time to see a large male prowling beside the river.
“Getting to see this jaguar is like winning the lottery twice in one day,” says Nigel. As the team looks on, the big cat strolls into the river to cool off, perfectly illustrating jaguars’ love of water.
“This has been an astounding encounter,” says Nigel. “I’m never going to forget it.”
As night falls and the team returns to camp, Nigel puts sleep on hold to explore some of the jungle creatures swarming around the tents. Lying flat on his belly, he inspects a huge marine toad that has come to the the camp to feast on the insects that are attracted to the light. These toads can grow up to 15cm high and are capable of eating mice. They also emit a lethal poison, but this does not stop Nigel giving the animal a little stroke.
In searching for the jaguar, known locally as the ‘cat that kills with one pounce’, Nigel and the crew have cruised mile after mile in incredible heat. “This certainly isn’t easy,” he says. But the
morning after his first ever encounter, Nigel is once again in the right place at the right time to see the king of the Pantanal – for the third time in less than 24 hours. On this occasion, another
male is sat on a grassy bank behind a resting water buffalo who seems unaware of the predator’s presence. The guide turns the boat’s engine off, allowing Nigel and the team to drift noiselessy towards the incredible scene. “This is the closest yet,” whispers Nigel. The fearsome animal could be in the boat within a couple of seconds, but attacks on humans are thankfully rare. “I can’t help thinking about the power of those jaws!” says Nigel. “What a privilege this is.”

Nigel Marven travels to Brazil in pursuit of the
amazing jaguar in this action-packed six-part
series. Jaguar Adventure follows Nigel to the
Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland and home
to the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the
least known of the big cats. In this episode, Nigel
travels down the Cuiabá River as he continues to
search for the elusive jaguar. Along the way, he
gatecrashes a caiman dinner party, swims with
giant otters and encounters bulldog bats.
Nigel Marven’s latest quest has brought him to the
swampland of the Pantanal in Brazil. Standing
between the Amazon rainforest and the
grasslands of the savannah, the Pantanal is home
to a stunning diversity of wildlife, including
armadillos, giant otters, iguanas and anteaters.
In just four weeks, Nigel hopes to get to know
the vast array of wildlife on offer and locate one
beautiful but hard-to-find mammal. Comparatively
little is known about this member of the big cat
family, because jaguars are notoriously difficult to
film. With their brilliantly effective camouflage,
jaguars blend perfectly into the foliage. Moreover,
as Nigel discovers later in the series, they have
become a sworn enemy of the ranchers to the
south. Can Nigel realise his childhood dream of
meeting jaguars in the wild?
After last week’s instalment, in which he “binged
out on an orgy of wildlife encounters”, Nigel is
hoping to maximise his chances of spotting a
jaguar by heading up the Cuiabá River – 350
murky miles of water stretching across the
northern part of the Pantanal.
The nights see this massive, seasonally flooded
swamp seething with life. During the dry season,
the fish are concentrated into small pools, making
it much easier for the numerous caiman to hunt.
“The Pantanal really does live up to its reputation
of being the caiman capital of the world,” says
Nigel, using a torch to illuminate the hundreds of
orange eyes staring back at him from the
darkness. A popular food source for the caiman is
the piranha, while larger caiman have been known
to prey on capybara and peccaries.
Moving along, Nigel muses on how each bend
of the Cuiabá seems to offer fresh delights. One of
these is a family of giant otters, which Nigel spots
feeding near the bank. It has long been a dream of
Nigel’s to swim with these huge, six-foot-long
creatures, so he happily plunges into the river to
approach them. Unfortunately, the strong current
prevents him from getting very near, but the otters
are clearly intrigued by their visitor and warily
move towards him for a closer look.
Later, Nigel and his team take to the river at
sunset to continue their search for a jaguar.
Research has shown that these big cats are most
active at dawn and dusk, so the team is
especially vigilant at these times. Four boats, full
of cameramen and experienced trackers, are in
constant radio contact with each other – so if
anybody spots a jaguar, there is a race against
the clock to get to the spot before the cat slinks
back into the jungle.
The sun sets quickly in the tropics, and the
nightfall brings with it a host of new creatures who
come out to hunt – including the amazing bulldog
bat, which is one of only six types of bat that
catches fish. Although the team’s night hunt fails
to yield a jaguar sighting, Nigel is pleased to have
witnessed these unusual bats feeding: “They
were really special.”
On the fifth day on the river, the team finally has
a breakthrough. Two jaguars have been spotted
by the river – but Nigel’s boat is a mile away from
the site and does not have much time to get there
before the cats disappear. “This may prove to be
one of the most extraordinarily lucky wildlife
filming encounters of my life,” says Nigel. “That’s
how rare jaguar sightings are.” Is Nigel’s dream
about to come true?

why did you focus on jaguars for this series?
“I’ve seen all of the other big cats. I’d never seen a
jaguar. And they’re always the mainstay of every
sort of South American adventure book that you
read when you’re a kid. I really wanted to see
jaguars in the wild. They’re the ultimate predators.
They’ve got a massive skull and really big canine
teeth – they’re the only big cat that pierces the
skull of their prey. And the beautiful fur – they’ve
got these rosettes of black with little black spots in
the middle. They’re just beautiful, beautiful
animals. Nothing can beat staring a wild big cat in
the eyes. The way those eyes bore into you!”
jaguars are notoriously hard to find in the wild –
how did you track them down?
“We worked with a place called the Jaguar
Research Centre. It’s the only place in the world
where – if you go for certain days – a sighting of a
jaguar is pretty much guaranteed. They’ve got a
network of boats and radio guides communicating
with each other about how to find them.”
how is the jaguar’s habitat under threat?
“There’s a lot of clearing of the forest. You don’t
want to lose any more of it, but enough remains
for the moment. The main problem is the killing of
the jaguars by ranchers. As some ranchers lose
two cows a day from jaguars, you can’t really
blame the farmers. Really the solution is to make
the jaguars worth more alive than dead, and ecotourism
is probably the answer.”
what can be done to save these animals?
“It’s always a problem – the conflict between
people and big predators. Solutions have to be
found where the farmers don’t lose their livelihood
and the cats are saved. Tourism is the best way of
doing that. Leopards and lions were virtually shot
out [of existence] in South Africa until it was
realised that people would pay to see them. And
that’s a way of saving them.”
tell us a bit about the pantanal
“It’s the largest wetland on Earth. It’s 20 times larger
than the Everglades and twice the size of Great
Britain. Eighty per cent of it is flooded for six months
of the year which is why it hasn’t been spoilt too
much. There’s a wildlife bonanza there. There are
ten million caimans, 600,000 capybara, hundreds
of jaguars, 650 species of birds, yellow anacondas,
macaws. It’s an extremely rich habitat.”
were there any hair-raising experiences during
the making of this series?
“Probably jumping in the river with a giant otter. A
giant otter is the same length as I’m tall, so 1.9m
or so. A group of them have been known to kill a
five-foot crocodile that was attacking them. But I
didn’t jump in with a family – I just jumped in with a
single otter on its own. It was very curious about
me and I don’t know what I’d have done if it had
gone under the water and bitten me.”
what other interesting animals did you see?
“My favourite was the giant anteater. When we
came across a female it was only when we got
close that we realised there was a baby being
carried on its mother’s back. Giant anteaters are
remarkable animals – with their long snouts and
big bushy tails. All of the encounters were very
exciting, but the giant anteaters – you can’t fail to
enjoy being with them!”
what was the most surprising thing about
making the series?
“I think our luck with the jaguars. To get footage of
a jaguar walking along a beach then going to
bathe in the river. Jaguars mating. Five different
jaguars in four days. That was the most surprising
thing – that we managed to achieve such great
footage of jaguars.”
what other challenges are on the horizon?
“I’m running the London Marathon for the Whale
and Dolphin Conservation Society. I started my
training in October.”

Nigel Marven travels to Brazil in pursuit of the
amazing jaguar in this action-packed six-part
series. Jaguar Adventure follows Nigel to the
Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland and home
to the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the
least known of the big cats. In the opening
episode, Nigel tussles with a caiman; endures a
painful encounter with a false water cobra;
glimpses an elusive tapir; and interrupts a pair of
mating anacondas.
Nigel Marven’s latest quest has brought him to the
swampland of the Pantanal in Brazil. Standing
between the Amazon rainforest and the
grasslands of the savannah, the Pantanal is home
to a stunning diversity of wildlife, including
armadillos, giant otters, iguanas and anteaters.
“This place is brilliant – every bit as exotic as the
Amazon,” Nigel says.
In just four weeks, Nigel hopes to get to know
the vast array of wildlife on offer and locate one
beautiful but hard-to-find mammal. “My main
mission is to track down a rare and mysterious big
cat – the jaguar,” he says. Comparatively little is
known about this member of the big cat family,
because jaguars are notoriously difficult to film.
With their brilliantly effective camouflage, jaguars
blend perfectly into the foliage. Moreover, as Nigel
discovers later in the series, they have become a
sworn enemy of the ranchers to the south.
Farmers shoot jaguars to stop them preying on
their cattle, driving them deeper into the forest
and making them wary of human intruders.
It is Nigel’s ambition to encounter these
extraordinary beasts in the wild, but to have any
chance of seeing them in such a short space of
time, he must head to an area of the Pantanal
where reports of jaguar sightings are common.
Can he realise his childhood dream of meeting
jaguars in the wild?
In the first episode of the series, Nigel arrives in
the giant swamps of the Pantanal and makes the
acquaintance of an old friend – the spectacled
caiman. There are an estimated ten million of
these scaly crocodilian reptiles in the region, and
Nigel – who had a pet caiman as a teenager – is
keen to get a closer look. To this end, he wades
into the swamp and wrestles one into his grip.
Keeping its jaws tightly shut, he is able to study
the creature’s remarkable eyes and teeth.
Elsewhere, Nigel encounters a false water
cobra, which quickly locks it jaws around his hand
in a bid to break free. “It’s flattening its ribs to
actually look like a cobra, which is why it gets its
common name,” he says. Fortunately, this impostor is non-venomous – although it manages
to make a bloody mess of Nigel’s hand before
slithering off into the undergrowth.
Travelling through the jungle, Nigel’s team is
able to get remarkable footage of some of the
Pantanal’s other incredible residents, including a
tapir – a relative of the primitive horse and
rhinoceros – and a greater potoo, a bird which
may have the best camouflage in the world.
Sitting perfectly still in a tree, it looks exactly like a
broken branch. “The only way you can tell it’s a
living creature is when the wind ruffles its
feathers,” Nigel says.
Towards the end of his first week, Nigel again
plunges bare-footed into the swamp, this time in
search of a yellow anaconda – a smaller relative of
the giant anaconda. He makes himself unpopular
by interrupting a mating pair. On the male’s body,
he discovers tiny spurs which are the remains of
tiny limbs. “That’s proof that snakes evolved from
lizard ancestors,” he says. The male anaconda
now uses his spurs to tickle his mate. Nigel lets
the amorous couple get back to their business,
before hitting the road once again. This time he is
bound directly for the heart of the Pantanal – but
will he set eyes on his first jaguar?

Nigel Marven travels to Brazil in pursuit of the
amazing jaguar in this action-packed six-part
series. Jaguar Adventure follows Nigel to the
Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland and home
to the planet’s largest population of jaguars – the
least known of the big cats. In the opening
episode, Nigel tussles with a caiman; endures a
painful encounter with a false water cobra;
glimpses an elusive tapir; and interrupts a pair of
mating anacondas.
Nigel Marven’s latest quest has brought him to the
swampland of the Pantanal in Brazil. Standing
between the Amazon rainforest and the
grasslands of the savannah, the Pantanal is home
to a stunning diversity of wildlife, including
armadillos, giant otters, iguanas and anteaters.
“This place is brilliant – every bit as exotic as the
Amazon,” Nigel says.
In just four weeks, Nigel hopes to get to know
the vast array of wildlife on offer and locate one
beautiful but hard-to-find mammal. “My main
mission is to track down a rare and mysterious big
cat – the jaguar,” he says. Comparatively little is
known about this member of the big cat family,
because jaguars are notoriously difficult to film.
With their brilliantly effective camouflage, jaguars
blend perfectly into the foliage. Moreover, as Nigel
discovers later in the series, they have become a
sworn enemy of the ranchers to the south.
Farmers shoot jaguars to stop them preying on
their cattle, driving them deeper into the forest
and making them wary of human intruders.
It is Nigel’s ambition to encounter these
extraordinary beasts in the wild, but to have any
chance of seeing them in such a short space of
time, he must head to an area of the Pantanal
where reports of jaguar sightings are common.
Can he realise his childhood dream of meeting
jaguars in the wild?
In the first episode of the series, Nigel arrives in
the giant swamps of the Pantanal and makes the
acquaintance of an old friend – the spectacled
caiman. There are an estimated ten million of
these scaly crocodilian reptiles in the region, and
Nigel – who had a pet caiman as a teenager – is
keen to get a closer look. To this end, he wades
into the swamp and wrestles one into his grip.
Keeping its jaws tightly shut, he is able to study
the creature’s remarkable eyes and teeth.
Elsewhere, Nigel encounters a false water
cobra, which quickly locks it jaws around his hand
in a bid to break free. “It’s flattening its ribs to
actually look like a cobra, which is why it gets its
common name,” he says. Fortunately, this impostor is non-venomous – although it manages
to make a bloody mess of Nigel’s hand before
slithering off into the undergrowth.
Travelling through the jungle, Nigel’s team is
able to get remarkable footage of some of the
Pantanal’s other incredible residents, including a
tapir – a relative of the primitive horse and
rhinoceros – and a greater potoo, a bird which
may have the best camouflage in the world.
Sitting perfectly still in a tree, it looks exactly like a
broken branch. “The only way you can tell it’s a
living creature is when the wind ruffles its
feathers,” Nigel says.
Towards the end of his first week, Nigel again
plunges bare-footed into the swamp, this time in
search of a yellow anaconda – a smaller relative of
the giant anaconda. He makes himself unpopular
by interrupting a mating pair. On the male’s body,
he discovers tiny spurs which are the remains of
tiny limbs. “That’s proof that snakes evolved from
lizard ancestors,” he says. The male anaconda
now uses his spurs to tickle his mate. Nigel lets
the amorous couple get back to their business,
before hitting the road once again. This time he is
bound directly for the heart of the Pantanal – but
will he set eyes on his first jaguar?

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