Shan and I have just returned from an inspiring expedition to Caiman Ecological Refuge situated in Southern Pantanel, South America. We were kindly hosted by Roberto Klabin, the owner of this remarkable property and although for the past 250 years cattle has been the primary land use practice for the area, Roberto Klabin is a leading conservationist in Brazil has afforded absolute protection of wildlife on this ranch for the past 30 years. Proving that nature is an enduring partner, the proof of Klabin’s visionary work was there for us to see.
Firstly, for an African it felt as if we were living in a pet shop surrounded by every conceivable macaw, parrot and parakeet and a dazzling number of brightly coloured dramatic bird species numbering 380 in total all flying free. A truly wonderful experience. The hyacinth macaw conservation programme deserves special mention. As a result of the work going on at the Caiman Ecological Refuge, this population has been rebuilt from 1500 birds in the Pantanel to over 6000 and the population is growing.
We discovered, during our visit to Caiman, that a vibrant population of jaguars is thriving on the reserve. The owners of the reserve (past guests of Londolozi) are embarking on a jaguar habituation programme with a vision to soon be able to offer jaguar viewing to guests at Caiman, similar to what has been achieved with Leopards at Londolozi. We felt a kindred spirit with this endeavor and, in particular, sensed an emerging common vision of conservation at Caiman and the restoring of our relationship with the indigenous wild animals of the region, i.e. a similar philosophy to that of Londolozi.
Although Shan and I did not actually see a jaguar in the wild, we were privileged to be informed of no less than 16 different animals living and thriving on the ranch in safety and the night after our departure the research team met with success in capturing and collaring a female jaguar which they hope will now become their ‘jaguar ambassador’ for future eco-tourism operations on the ranch.
Shan and I always place in question the wisdom of capturing wild cats and the related stress it causes. I must say, however, that one sensed a high level of sensitivity during this operation and a genuine desire to reestablish a future partnership with these great cats. Caiman is a safe haven for jaguars and other wild creatures. The owners are sincere in their desire to reinstate an enduring partnership with nature and we feel that Caiman Ecological Refuge is a place that you should visit soon if you want to see jaguars in the wild and the most spectacular birds you can ever imagine. To do this contact Bellingham Safaris, firstname.lastname@example.org.