Published September 25, 2013
Dramatic still images of a jaguar ambushing an unwary caiman in Brazil's Pantanal wetlands went viral on the web this month. National Geographic has exclusive video of the attack that reveals what the pictures only hint at.
With one bite, the big cat likely delivered an immediate blow to the caiman's central nervous system, leaving the animal unable to fight or flee, according to Luke Dollar, a conservation scientist who helps manage National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.
"This guy knew his business," said Dollar. Suffocating an animal with a bite to the neck is a classic big-cat maneuver, but caimans don’t have a discernable neck. So the jaguar—which has the strongest bite of any cat—went right for the skull.
"This guy got right in the thickest part of the brain case and sunk those teeth in," he said. "And that's pretty amazing when you consider a caiman’s brain is probably the size of a walnut."
Kedar Hippalgaonkar, of Berkeley, California, shot the footage while vacationing in Brazil with his wife, Parul Jain. The couple were hoping to spot some jaguars on an eight-hour boat tour of the Pantanal with ecotourism operator SouthWild.
And did they. The jaguar in the video—known to locals as Mick Jaguar—was the third they’d seen that day. When the jaguar went ashore, Hippalgaonkar said it became obvious that Mick was on the prowl.
"He's just crawling first, and then you can see him sort of in hunt mode," he said.
"You know he’s definitely going for something. Which is why we decided to wait there, before all the other boats came."
His footage reveals a predator picking its way along the riverbank in search of potential prey.
"He makes no noise whatsoever, even when he's swimming," he said.
The tour's boatman, who had logged thousands of hours watching jaguars, told Hippalgaonkar he’d never seen anything to rival Mick Jaguar’s stealthy strike.
That's great! What an amazing and professional hunter.
Look when he went out of the water. How smooth is his moving...
WOW, we already saw those cats when we patrol over the plains on the east or into the jungles in the southeast of COLOMBIA, in our glorious army, but this one is really impressive. The power, strength and fearless are just the reason why Jaguars are the top predators in our jungles. As we said in the special ops units: AJUUUUAAA
What I find to be most amazing is the Jaguar's apparent knowledge of "prey anatomy."
I mean, he knows to go for the brain in order to secure an immediate kill.
But how would he know this without having been taught? Indeed, how do all wild animals attain the apparently deep knowledge and terrifyingly precise skills that they need to survive, and doing so without a single day of college tuition, as is evidently essential with us humans.
(It's worth noting that even with college tuition, we're still largely incapable of properly looking after ourselves, individually, and collectively. So yeah; if we can learn anything from the animals, what is it - their secret, that is?)
We also were there, it was a very exciting scene! We saw other attacks, but this one was the best! Our video is on: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs_lRoYoOfo
We were there a week after this on a photographic safari with Joseph Van Os - it was the talk of the Pantanal and so happy to see it, especially as we were at that exact spot and you don't mention here that Mick only has one eye...his left eye is blind.
i have an ambiguous feelings about this video. On the one hand, the jaguar is majestic and it is a fabulous hunt and he is also a great performer - probably he knew he was being watched, on the other hand, i always feel sorry for the prey, the caiman was so peacefully sunbathing, unaware...
WoW! It definitely takes guts to attack a crocodile in a river/water body where it is extremely lethal. This jaguar is one terrific personality. He sure gets my vote. And, of course, brilliant videography!
Mastery of Anatomy is not restricted to higher intelligences only, but appears to be a requirement to becoming an accomplished predator..
Here is an excellent example of how Brazil can take care of the illegal USA spying on the internet. Reach behind the dangerous enemy stealthily and destroy it before it can outline any reaction.
Something good, interesting, thank you for your contribution to our page. We hope your continuity of support to our page. I have been long years member of National Geographic Magazine member.
Actually, "Mick Jaguar", who was first photographed and named by SouthWild Jaguar Flotel guest Dr. Eric Gurwin in June 2013, is not blind in either eye, but he does have a problem with his right eye, not left eye. The membranes at the edge of the right eye appear damaged or red, but he can still see with that eye. All the videos and still photos of Mick Jaguar attacking the caiman in mid August 2013 were taken by several of the 25 SouthWild guests who observed that attack. All the best, Charles Munn, PhD, CEO, SouthWild www.SouthWild.com
@Nic Tayhippos are a crocs enemey in africa, they also drop down the food chain if they decide to swim through open seas which they have been known to do
@Juan SkvarcaPantanal wetlands are not Rainforests, they are Pantanal wetlands.. surprise surprise!!
@Chanelle Beecher Pantanal is not a rainforest
How to Feed Our Growing Planet
National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.
The Innovators Project
Three decades ago, the innovative physicist had a eureka moment that explained the universe.
Latest News Video
Fonio is a traditional West African grain that some believe could be the "new quinoa"; it could even replace wheat because of its drought-resistant and gluten-free qualities.