Without camera traps we would never be privy to two endangered species sparring in the remote Amazon rainforest.
Tuesday 21 February 2017 08.54 GMT Last modified on Thursday 23 February 2017 15.35 GMT
As darkness descended over the Peruvian Amazon in 2006, my wife and I listened spellbound while our guide told us the grisly story of the jaguar and giant anteater.
Eyewitnesses, our guide insisted, had found the two foes dead together, embracing like lovers but in mutual destruction – the jaguar’s jaw still drooped around the anteater’s neck where it had pierced its prey’s artery and the anteater’s ten-centimeter-long claws still embedded in the big cat’s flanks. Later, after the spell – and liquor – wore off, I thought it was probably a tall tale, something to tell tourists after the sun sets over the world’s greatest jungle and you’ve all had a few too many. But an incredible new camera trap video proves I may have been wrong to doubt.
The video captures 12 hair-raising seconds of a giant anteater going toe-to-toe with a jaguar – a battle rarely, if ever – seen by human eyes. Taken in Gurupi Biological Reserve in the state of Brazilian state of Maranhão as a part of a survey on jaguars, it shows just how agile and deft a giant anteater can be, like a gangly martial arts master.
“I was in the office, sorting out thousands of camera trap videos, which is really cool but can get a bit boring after the umpteenth time,” Elildo Carvalho Jr., a researcher with the Brazilian National Research Centre for Carnivore Conservation (CENAP). said. “And then, this insane image suddenly jumps out of [the] screen... I felt captured by the incredible [video]. I watched it again and again…Then I called my colleagues, proudly announcing that they would see something [they’d] never seen before.”
In the video we can see the raw physicality – and danger – of such an encounter for both of these threatened and declining species. But, according to Carvalho, we’ll never know how it turned out.
“There were no clues on site, besides we retrieved the camera a month after the event and only saw the footage long after.”