Saturday, May 9, 2009

Caimans






One of things I enjoy on my travels is getting close to wildlife. In Africa, I learned not to get too close to the crocodiles as they can come shooting out of the water like a rocket and drag you in, but in South America I was able to get really close to some members of the crocodile family, caimans, which although they are up to three metres long and have teeth like razors, eat capybaras and fish, not people (well, at least that's what I thought at the time).

I took the first two photos of Yacare Caimans, last year, in one of the largest swamplands in the world, the Pantanal. I was sleeping in a hammock in a hut in the middle of the swamp, was soaked in sweat, got bitten to death by mosquitoes and chiggers (small insects which burrow into your legs) and couldn't sleep so I walked out at dawn and there were hundreds of caimans all around me. The one in the first photo was standing on the path right in front of me. After a while he slipped back into the water and carried on fishing.

The Pantanal teems with wildlife. As well as hundreds of caimans, I saw Capybaras, Swamp Bush Deer, Black Howler Monkeys, Green Iguanas, and a fantastic variety of colourful birds, including Hyacinth and Red and Green Macaws, Toco Toucans, Greater Rheas and Jabirou Storks. I went fishing for piranhas, which although they don't have a great deal of meat on them are delicious. They also have razor-sharp teeth, a bit like the caiman's.

Whoops! I just did some online research: although caiman attacks on humans are rare, they do occasionally bite humans. "The force of the bite itself produces crush injuries, fractures and soft tissue injuries. Bite force is proportional to animal size and complicated by head thrashing. The teeth often leave puncture wounds, and the animals tend to thrash once they have bitten down, leading to skin tears and further injury. The location of caiman habitat and attacks could lead to drowning." Whoops again. You can read more about caiman attacks here: Wilderness Medical Society. Perhaps if I'd read that before, I wouldn't have got quite so close to that caiman. He was a big one and from what I saw of him in the water, liked thrashing too. That reminds me of the time I went swimming with sharks.



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17 comments:

  1. Ian, I just love your blog. Every part of the world you show becomes a flashlight illuminating dark spots for most of us. Thank you.

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  2. hallo ian,,

    very nice photos, i love crocs. i met them and stayed for a while right on the outreaches of the nile, but then in kenya. they were massive crocs and we were so irisposible to go for a walk through the river, with my at that time 10 year old son and brother of 18. thank earth nothing happened but ill always look bac with feelings of guilt.

    anyway ian, maybe youd be intreasted in knowing that i have a reliable statcounter.

    i used to have the same one you have on your site, the live traffic feed, but i got rid of it cos it just seemed to tic on alot of hits that wernt right, plus i noticed with it that it was often the live feed burner themselves that were on my site, and a freind one time clicked on it and got a virus,sooooo, i got rid of it.

    and have discoverd statcounter, so if you look on my ceramics and madeira sites i have a statcounter logo. if you make a account the info it gives you is great. it gives detailed info on your visiters , there ip adresses , what search terms people used to get to your page and loads more, and its free.

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    you can add 4 sites to one stat account. i did something wrong there.

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  3. Whaaa !!! terrific and "terrifiant" ;)

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  4. Yikes! They are so beautiful, it would be worth the threat to be so close to them, lucky you :-).
    Thank you for the photos.

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  5. Thanks Lisa. Although I haven't posted their logo, I'm using Statcounter too and, like you, think it's terrific. You are right: Feedjit is nowhere near as good, and it only shows new visitors, not hits, but it looks prettier so I show their widgets. It's more eye candy really.

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  6. Awesome pictures! I've heard some horror stories about yacare, which are sadly close to extinction in the Parana river area. Chiggers...shudder...I hate those things!

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  7. ok, two things: one: "head thrashing" is going to give me nightmares and two: with a life this interesting, why do you write fiction? might an autobiography be in the works? you've certainly got fans! have a fun weekend - and watch out for anything with big teeth!

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  8. You mean your mother never told you not to play with caimans? I agree with Kim BTW. :)

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  9. That´s indeed double Whoops!
    Next time you wan´t to get so close to anything with razorsharp teeth....please do so research BEFORE if they like to have a nibble on human flesh! ;)
    Have a great weekend, Jeannette

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  10. Wonderful pictures!
    Sometimes the instinct for self preservation vanishes when a person is given a camera (says the woman who was taking photographs of the alligator in her garden last week).

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  11. your caimans vaguely remind me of someone !:O

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  12. Shivvvvverssss! I've never heard of such a beast.

    I see you have read or are reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Finest piece of speculative fiction I've read in years. And I'm very annoyed that I did not write it! I'm working on a dystopia piece that involves traveling on foot, so I was fascinated and mortified at the same time when I read his book. It's a masterpiece!

    I certainly enjoy your blog. Truly illuminating!

    Regards

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