Deep in the Brazilian Pantanal Wetland
As the world's largest tropical wetland, The Pantanal is a sheltered habitat and is home to some of the earth's rarest and most exotic wildlife. It is at least 150,000 square kilometers and is mostly in Brazil, but this large expanse of land also extends into the neighboring countries of Bolivia and Paraguay. It is a beautiful marsh, full of mammals, reptiles, and even fish that many people do not know of. Out of all the wildlife, I thought the most memorable animal here is the largest rodent on Earth, the semiaquatic capybara. They spend most of their time grazing on aquatic plants and being a resident of the Pantanal wetland, they are very skilled swimmers. Capybaras have a good relationship with birds as well. Their winged friends like to come by and pick out parasites from the capybara's fur, and most of the time get to catch a quick ride! Capybaras are also one of the major food sources for the elusive jaguars, keeping the endangered wildcats fed. In other words, the cute capybaras are keeping a lot of the Pantanal wetland alive!
One of the most famous of all animals in the Pantanal wetland is the rare blue and yellow hyacinth macaw whose existence has become endangered due to smuggling and the illegal pet trade. Blue, a local hyacinth we got to know at the ecolodge we stayed at, was confiscated from his smugglers and was luckily rescued and rehabilitated. Now his freedom has been returned and he is free to roam as he likes. As macaws mate for life, the ecolodge staff is hoping he will find a mate of his own, but time and time again he has returned to his rescuers instead. He enjoys pestering the ecolodge guests, stealing their belongings, and strutting into their rooms whenever their doors are left open. At the moment, Blue, unfortunately, seems to be more interested in humans than his own kind.
The Pantanal shelters an astonishing number of over two thousand animal species. Many of these species would have ceased to exist, but thanks to the effort of some good-hearted humans, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000. It has even gained some additional protection from private organizations and landowners such as the ecolodges in the area. We must continue to help and preserve this beautiful land so that the spirit of the Pantanal wetland as well as the incredible wildlife it shelters may live on.