Tools and my friend, Mr Monduco, a local Coboclo the the Amazon Rainforest.

Tools and my friend Mr Monduco, a local Coboclo of the Amazon Rainforest.

My friend Mr Monduco lived on the river in his boat. He spent a lot of time at the lodge. I let him use the kitchen when I wasn’t there and he came for meals every day when I was.
Mr Monduco was a Coboclo who had spent his whole life in the forest or on the river. He loved the rainforest. He had family but they had moved to the town of Manacapuru. He had chosen to stay in the forest.

We, between us, had a selection if ancient and modern tools with which Mr Monduco did the occasional repair. Machetes, lethal looking knives bought from the bottom shelves of cooking utensil displays in town supermarkets, were the general dogsbodies, cutting, sharpening, slicing, chopping etc.

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He built the gate on the verandah to keep out jaguars. His dog had shown great fear in recent months. Usually sleeping contentedly underneath the lodge, it had become increasingly agitated in the evenings, whining and shaking, so Mr Monduco, who slept in his hammock on the verandah or in the kitchen, built the gate to form some sort of barrier to any wildlife that attempted to wander the verandah boards, particularly the jaguars which he knew wandered the forest and the river bank close to the lodge.

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The bench he built specially for me as a surprise, because he knew I liked to watch the birds and lizards in the forest.

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I miss Mr Monducos quiet presence.

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Jaguar…Panthera Onca Amazon Rainforest Cat.

Jaguar….Panthera Onca.

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Photo by Bjorne Christian Torrissen

The Jaguar is the third-largest cat. An adult stands at 63/76 cm of pure muscle with a body length of 120/195 cm. It is similar to a leopard, but is sturdier, heavier and shorter and has a rounder head.
This beautiful cat is at the top of the food chain in the rainforest. It stalks and ambushes its prey, biting into its head from behind with powerful jaws. It eats most small animals and reptiles as well as larger animals like caiman, tapirs, deer etc.
It’s colouring is mostly a tawny yellow, but it can look brown to black through which their spots can be seen. The spots or rosettes are useful as camouflage in the dappled sunlight of the thick rainforest.
Adult Jaguars are solitary animals. They mate throughout the year and the female raises her two to four cubs alone. The cubs stay with their mother for one or two years.

I was told by a neighbour, the term being relative as he lived in a forest area miles away, that while fishing he had seen a female Jaguar and her cub walking along the river bank close to my home on a number of occasions.
I was delighted and not surprised as during a visit to the waterfall area at the back of the forest I had seen claw marks in the river bank, one of the ways, along with urinating, that Jaguars mark their territory. The Jaguar is most often seen near water and is a good swimmer.
I was then also told a sad tale about a male Jaguar from my forest. The big cat had taken some pigs and a dog from a neighbouring property, so a posse of locals gathered and hunted the cat through my forest. They shot the male Jaguar dead.
I let it be known that I wanted no one on my property with a gun, especially if they were intending to kill local wildlife.
Of course, I understood why the locals had killed the Jaguar….the cat had eaten their families dinner….the pigs having been bought in town, a long way away, and then nurtured into plump maturity….and lost a valued pet. But the Jaguar is a rare and beautiful animal and I wondered why they hadn’t recognised this and instead taken precautions to ensure the safety of their livestock and pets in the evenings when the Jaguar hunts.
When alone in the forest one morning I heard a cough. My hair stood on end. Was it a human or a Jaguar….either a possible danger to a lone woman. I never found out, but spent the day looking over my shoulder and that evening I securely locked and bolted my bedroom door and tried to ignore the padding of feet along the verandah.
Despite the fear I felt honoured to be sharing territory with such a magnificent creature.

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