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Amazon Dispatch

Brazilian Tapir Swimming, Cristalino River, Amazonia, Brazil

We are half-way through our month in the wilds of Brazil, and just spent an extraordinary week in the southern Amazon basin.  At one level, going after wildlife in the rainforest is a complete crap shoot – you never know what you will find, if anything. Some days are quiet, with nothing visible, and others are full of mind-boggling things. This was one of those days.

Tapirs are the largest mammals in South America, the size of a small rhino, with a prehensile nose and short bristly hair. I have seen several over the years, but I have never before seen four in a single day, bathing in the waters of the Cristalino River. It was hot and humid, and a swim sounded like a splendid idea, especially to the tapirs. Typically nocturnal, these tapirs were out in the middle of the day.

This one was swimming along the bank, and I was able to capture it at eye level, in good light and with a flattering background. I had missed a number of shots with distracting backgrounds, or deep shadows, but here I managed to get eye contact, a good look at the snorkel-nose, and a wonderful moment in the life of one of the most difficult animals to see in the Amazon.

Nikon D3 with 300mm f2.8 lens