Ocelot, Southwild Lodge Blind, Brazil (7/2019)
Ocelots are amongst the prettiest cats in the world and are very secretive. At Southwild lodge researchers have worked with Ocelots over the last decade to study their behavior. They provide tiny amounts of chicken to provide a snack to Ocelots without making them dependent the food. The amount of food is carefully controlled based on the biologists recommendations. This results in Ocelots coming about 50% of the time in a typical week but many days can go by without a visit. One of our main reasons for coming to Southwild was the Ocelot and Aditya had said it is the animal he wanted to see the most (since Jaguar was almost a guarantee at Pantanal Norte). There is another lodge called Pousa Allegre where Tapir is more likely so we banked on seeing an Ocelot here and taking our chance on Tapir which is less likely at Southwild. As far as I know this is the only Ocelot blind of its kind and it was designed by Miguel Ajahuana Rojas who we randomly sat next to as we flew out of Cuiaba after our trip. He set up the blind since Ocelots frequent the area due to good fishing in the nearby Pixiam river and designed to blind to provide good looks in a complelety natural setting. He does the same for other rare sightings like Harpy Eagles. On our first night we waited for 45 minutes and no Ocelot was to be seen. Then suddenly one appeared. Miguel looking at our picture said this was a young male namd Cesar and he came in and out of the blind for the next 45 minutes. Eventually a mature female came too and at one point both were there at the same time. Our guide Sergio said that since Cesar is young he was more stand offish and less confident as he approached the blind and if anyone made noise he'd leave. The female is named Anna and she was more confident. We were told seeing both together and for so long was quite lucky which continued our amazing luck during this trip. Aditya and I took about 1000 photos each in burst mode since no flash is allowed, lighting is dim and the Ocelots move quickly. So we needed to capture the moment when they were still which is not often. Aditya got this amazing shot of Cesar checking us out.
Cesar could also scale the branches effortlessly like the antics of our house cats Tigger and Stella. But these Ocelots are about twice as big and even more athletic.
Here's Anna as she stretches out as she sneaks her way to the blind. The unusual vines in the blind are natural and are called Chicken Intestine vines by the guides.