As mentioned in the article on Amazon camera traps, large animals in the Amazon are definitely hard to spot in the rainforest as they often hear you before you approach, are usually night active, and are spread throughout the jungle constantly changing their position. But one way to get around these problems is to place motion activated cameras at different points to see what animals wander on by.
This is exactly what is being done in a reserve 150 km from the city of Iquitos, Peru’s gateway to the northern Amazon. Since June 2012, we have been seeing fantastic images of Iquitos Wildlife from Tahuayo Lodge cameras placed on a grid system behind the Amazon Research Center tour and research lodge in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. The cameras have recorded an impressive diversity of different Amazon animals. Researchers are also studying the primate fauna in more detail and the known species on the grid system so far include:
- 95 squirrel monkeys
- 170 tamarins (2 species)
- 90 titi monkeys (2 species)
- 25 brown capuchins
- 15 white-fronted capuchins
- 25 pygmy marmosets
- 25 night monkeys (2 species)
- 35 saki monkeys (2 species)
Other mammals living on the grid include coati, tamandua, giant anteater, tapir, peccary (2 species), deer (2 species), ocelot, jaguar, paca, agouti, agouchi, armadillo, pygmy tree squirrel, Amazon tree squirrel, opossum (many species), rat (many species), sloth (2 species), kinkajou, tayra, and bat (approx 70 species).
Below are a series of movie images taken from the grid system over the last few years with a brief bit of information about each animal featured.
Margays and ocelots are a bit larger than a domestic cat and live from Central America to the tip of Argentina. Both have a preference for dense forests. Cats are considered the most specialised of all mammalian predators due to their keen senses and retractable claws. Both margays and ocelots feed on small mammals, including some monkeys, as well as birds, eggs, amphibians and reptiles. Margays however have a more tree-living lifestyle and ocelots prefer life at ground level. Research in 2009 documented a Margay mimicking the sound of a Tamarin infant, which led the nearby group of adult Tamarins to investigate. This type of aggressive mimicry is usually used by other animals to lure prey into a trap where they are more easily captured and eaten.
Squirrels also live in the Amazon Rainforest and are prey of the Margays mentioned above. The Southern Amazon Squirrel lives in the north western Amazon Rainforest feeding on the large nuts of the forest. They spend a lot of their time on the ground but climb when the need arises, such as to take shelter from seasonal flooding or to escape predators.
Tapir are the largest terrestrial mammal in the New World and are surprisingly agile for such a clumsy looking beast. They can ascend practically vertical banks and are very good swimmers. The South American tapir above is slighly smaller than its cousin the Baird’s Tapir that lives in Central America and the periphery of northern South America. But both can only be hunted by the Amazon’s largest predators, such as Black Caiman, Jaguar and Mountain Lion. Tapir like to follow routes through the forest and sleep on the forest floor or river bank. Many Tapir have been photographed by the camera traps over the last few years and these herbivores, as well as others, are supporting a large population of Jaguar in the reserve.
The most famous cat in the New World, Jaguar range from Central America to northern Argentina. Jaguar are on everyone’s wish list of animals to spot on their Amazon Rainforest tour, but because they are night-active, have specialised senses and a low abundance, it is only a lucky few that glimpse this mysterious predator. Jaguar have an incredibly powerful bite that enables them to hunt highly protected animals like turtles and tortoises, including the large leather back turtles often encountered by tourists in Central America. Jaguar have long been held in high regard among South Americans and were a symbol of power in pre-colombian times.
Tayra are in the weasel family (Mustelidae) and live as tree-dwelling and terrestrial predators. Although usually seen on their own, Tayra also move in pairs or small groups. They are highly skilled in the trees as well as the ground and are proficient swimmers. When seeking shelter, they rest in both hollow trees and burrows made by other animals. Tayra opportunistically hunt small mammals, such as rodents, insects, reptiles, and birds but also feed on fruits, eggs and honey. They have a range from Central America down to northern Argentina.