4 September 2009

Scales and teeth beneath the chocolate river

It was amazing how many caimans we saw as we were chugging down the river in the Bolivian Amazonas - in the water, out of the water, mouth open, mouth closed, swimming or waiting.

[Below] Much of the time you only saw a couple of scaly eyes poking out of the muddy river.

[Below] A hungry caiman hoping to feed.

[Below] On the first night of the pampas tour we went searching for caiman with our torches. They are really easy to find because their eyes stand out like bright red, polished rubies. You can see them shining from a few hundred meters away - depending on your torch and your eye-sight of course.

[Below] You will have to click on the picture below to really appreciate what I saw when I flashed me torch ahead of the boat. It was like one of those old movies about the Roman Empire where someone looks out to sea and sees the entire Roman fleet stretched across the horizon. This was definitely a WOW moment!

[Below] Here's a couple more cheeky caimans lurking in the darkness. I keep wondering why they all gather together at night. Are they gossiping and swapping manly stories or are they just afraid of the dark and prefer to have company?

[Below] This little girl lived at the site of our cabins. She seemed really desensitised and un-intimidated by the caiman. Despite our words of precaution she got really close to it. This big guy was always around our camp. We threw him some left over chicken and watched him do a small death-roll with it. Alligators and caiman can't really lift or turn their head so they have to move their whole body to get to something on their side. Remember this next time there's one after you.


[Below] The little girl throwing rocks at the caiman.

On my last day in the pampas a guide of one of the other groups was bitten by a caiman. It was hiding in the little swamps of the pampas - which is highly irregular as they normally stay by the river - and bit one of the tourists as he walked through. Its teeth didn't penetrate the thick, plastic gumboots but it gave him a heck of a shock. When the guide went closer - for some unknown reason - the caiman bit his hand and ripped off a big portion of flesh, exposing the bone and tendons beneath. You know when an injury is deep when it doesn't bleed.
The guide was surrounded by a group of people trying to manage the enormous wound, but they quickly rushed him to the nearest hospital - two hours away. An alligator or caiman bite is highly dangerous because it injects all the bacteria directly into your bloodstream, risking septcemia and consequently sepsis.


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Related Posts

- Animals in the pampas or Rurrenabaque
- I found the chocolate river!
- I love ALL animals..... yum!



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