As you can imagine, the Amazon jungle is full to the brim with every sort of animal you can think of. Our trips are not only for anglers but photographers and wildlife enthusiasts also. Nearly all of our destinations give you close up and personal access to an incredible array of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
When you wake up to an Amazon dawn chorus, you sure know about it! Parrots of every hue and colour yap away in the treetops, Macaws screech their way across the canopy at each other and a multitude of birds and insects erupt in a cacophony of song and dance. Sparrows on your lawn it certainly isn’t!
It’s rare to see many land-based mammals during the day as we fish in or next to the river, but it makes for a pleasant surprise to see a herd of wild pigs crossing the river, or a Jaguar coming down to drink. A strong lantern at night can show the eyes of many animals, like snakes hanging from trees, rodents, birds and cats.
Most mammals here are nocturnal but sometimes you will be lucky and see Agoutis, Capybaras and other large fruit and nut-foraging rodents during the day. Giant River Otters are frequent in the Amazon and they bark and growl at you as you invade their territory. It’s their fishing grounds, so what are you doing there?
Tapirs are large land mammals that have a wonderful symbiotic relationship with a small bird of prey. A Tapir will call out with a whistle and the bird replies with a screech similar to its friend. The bird flies down to the Tapir and removes the ticks and fleas from its skin, thereby satisfying each other.
There are two species of freshwater dolphins that inhabit the rivers of the Amazon, the Tucuxi or grey Dolphin and its cousin, the Boto or Pink Dolphin. Tucuxi are like smaller versions of flipper, while the much larger Boto can vary from a light grey to a bright pink, sunburnt-looking, peach colour.
Both species hunt fish in packs. Many an angler has returned a fish to the water, only to have it instantly grabbed by a Dolphin. There is a legend that the Pink Dolphin would morph into a beautiful young man and seduce the young girls in the villages. Many still believe this to this day and forgive their daughters for getting pregnant at such a young age!
Another giant mammal of the Amazon waterworld is the Freshwater Manatee or Peixe Boi (Fish Cow). It has been hunted to near extinction and only with Governmental protection is this beautiful animal making a comeback. It is extremely shy and is rarely seen by humans.
In the lowland lagoon systems of the Negro and Branco, most of the jungle trees are within flooded areas or Varzea. The primary forest is normally way back further and out of sight. For this reason, not many monkeys are seen. But in the Highland river regions, the primary forest is right on your doorstep and huge canopy trees sway nearby. Depending on their fruiting season, these trees can be invaded by troupes of Howler, Spider and Squirrel Monkeys and sometimes, the smaller, more shy Tamarins and tiny Marmosets will put in an appearance.
Kingfishers are a common sight all along the rivers and lagoons and they range from the tiny to the giants. Herons and Egrets abound here and are often seen lining the banks of rivers and lagoons hunting small fish. Toucans can be seen and heard calling to each other from the treetops and their sound is not dissimilar to puppies barking. There are too many different species of Parrots to count, all making as much noise as they can.
Birds of prey always show themselves and the biggest is the Harpie Eagle, an impressive bird by any standards. Ospreys are common and the eternal Vultures and Buzzards use the thermals to their advantage.
At night time, frogs and toads of all shapes and sizes come to life and make a non-stop racket until the sun comes up at daybreak. Although looking completely harmless, even the smallest of these amphibians must be handled with care as most are deadly poisonous.
The Amazon rivers play host to various species of Caimen, which are closely related to Alligators and Crocodiles. The most common are the smaller Spectacled Caimen with the larger Black Caimen or Jacare Acu reaching 6m. This impressive beast will not hesitate in attacking and eating large animals like Capybaras, Wild Pigs and Tapirs.
There are over 2500 documented species of freshwater fish in the Amazon and that number is climbing every year. Plenty of them are harmless but many more are not. If it doesn’t bite you, sting you or electrocute you, then it doesn’t belong here! Many are good to eat, while others are completely inedible and full of bones.
One of the most dangerous of all Amazonian fish is the Stingray, of which there are a few species. Stingrays have one or more stinging spines on top of their tails. This defence mechanism can easily puncture a predator or someone wading. The barbs are covered by a thin sheath of venomous mucous skin which comes into contact with cut tissue when the victim has been stabbed. This normally occurs in the foot, ankle or leg. The ‘sting’ is incredibly painful and grown men have been known to cry and howl for two days.
It is easily infected if not treated immediately. The cure is to immerse the wound in hot water to break down the toxins. Apparently human urine also helps but perhaps we should not suggest that to our clients! Anglers are always advised to shuffle their feet while wading to avoid any contact with Stingrays.
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