Braziian Tapir, Southwild Lodge, Brazil (7/2019)
Tapirs were expected to be the most difficult of the big mammals for us to see on our trip to the Pantanal. We were told our best chance was at Southwild lodge where a blind has been setup under a mango tree where a male and female visit to eat fallen mangos. However, despite the blind, tapirs are not very reliable to see at the blind as the ocelots. On our second day at the lodge, our guide Sergio decided to take us on a hike around 10 am after our boat ride safari. Aditya and I were tired from staying up late at the Ocelot blind and figured we wouldn't see anything since it was already hot and usually the jungle would be quiet by 10 am. But Sergio has been guiding for 29 years so we listened to him. We saw almost nothing on the entire hike. Then suddenly Sergio said Tapir! I was wondering why he was talking about Tapirs and then he pointed straight ahead and the male Tapir of the area was sitting under a shaft of sunlight in an otherwise dark jungle. We couldn't believe our luck! We were quiet and took our photos and he just watched us without making a move.
Aditya got this beautiful shot showing how well lit the Tapir's head was and how everything else was dark in the jungle. This turned out to be a very artistic shot!
We moved slowly and got this closeup shot from the side too. Eventually he got up and made his way into the vegetation. We then went to the Tapir blind the 2nd and 3rd nights at Southwild but no Tapirs came further emphasizing how lucky we got! The researcher in charge of the blind said he had never seen a tapir during the day and that we got super lucky. In fact seeing Tapir during the day light in good light is something very special. For me this and the Anaconda were totally unexpected and so exciting. The Puma and cub we saw was even more rare but since Mountain Lions (e.g. Pumas) are in our home town and we have a camera trap that has captured them. This made the our Tapir encounter even more meaningful for me since it may be our only chance to see the magnificient creatures that are most closely related to Rhinos and Horses.