Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back from the Heat

Giant Armadillo emerging from Burrow, Pantanal, Brazil
Finally home from a month-long sojourn in Brazil, and to be honest, I'm glad to be out of the heat. It is heading into summer in the southern hemisphere and on the dusty plains of the Pantanal, it was over 100 every day with stifling humidity. Seattle, by contrast, is delightfully cool, breezy and HOME.

It was a complex trip, working in several different biomes including the Amazon, but our major concentration was the endangered species of the Pantanal. Although this fellow coming out of his burrow looks a bit like the common Texan 9-banded armadillo, this is actually a Giant Armadillo, one of the rarest and least-known large mammals in the Neotropics. I had never seen one before - and after I took this - I had STILL never seen one.  Welcome to the world of camera traps.

The photo was made with an elaborate camera trap system I employed every night at what appeared to be occupied burrows. This was the first image taken on the first of 9 consecutive nights, and it is still my favorite.  It is an intimate look at a very rare animal (this is one of the first-ever wild shots of this behavior) looking untroubled and at ease.

It is not obvious but these animals are big: over  3 feet in length and weighing upwards of 60  pounds. They sleep up to 18 hours a day and emerge only at night - facts which help explain why even people who have lived their entire lives in the Pantanal have never seen one.

As is often the case, a week spent trying to get pictures of these secretive animals was just long enough to teach me how hard it would be to really tell their story. But I did get some ideas, and with some equipment refinements, I hope to be able to get deeper into the project when I go back next year.

Until then, I will post some more images from Brazil in the coming week or two.

Nikon D300, 18-200mm lens, Camera-trap

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