25 January 2010

BT3: South American wildlife

One of the most important reasons for choosing to splurge on the hotel INSIDE Iguaçu National Park was the anticipation that early morning walks in the park would provide us with good opportunities for wildlife sightings. And we were by no means disappointed in this regard - here follows some of those we managed to snap photos of.

This (extended) family of coatis (a South American relative of the raccoon) let themselves be observed quite unperturbed so long as we didn't try to get MUCH too close to them. The four parents were busy eating and didn't appear to pay any attention at all to the kids. This resulted in one of the small ones standing at one side of the road looking quite lost and sad when it missed crossing the road together with the rest of them. Fortunately a sibling came halfway back across the road to lead it on the right track - then it bolted across the road at top speed!

When we saw something behind us on the road the following morning we expected it to be another coati, so we were quite surprised when we realised it was an armadillo. These should be nocturnal, so we hadn't counted on seeing any. It disappeared in the bushes before we got a good look at it, but it was kind enough to re-emerge shortly after to cross the road again. What a strange creature!

Another animal which might not seem very exotic at first was this guinea pig which we saw in the Argentinian part of the national park(s). But it was truly surreal for us to see this common pet sitting on a lawn grazing like some squirrel or other wild animal!

Last but not least we were amazed at our first sighting of the South American swan. We both knew of the black swans of Australia, but neither of knew that there was a specific South American variety of swans. But there is - and it can best be described as looking like a cross between black and white swans...

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