Back to the heart of the Amazon rainforest! This time I’ll be visiting an oxbow lake where I have a great chance of seeing one of the top predators of the Amazon. Finally, I get another opportunity to see my favourite carnivorous mammals the giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis). They are also known as the river wolves. Together with Chris Kirkby (Tropical research scientist and Co-director) from Untamed Photography we gave a rainforest macro photography workshop. As a photography tutor, I was leading their first client for eleven days in the Peruvian Amazon region of Madre de Dios. Besides teaching and learning a lot from each other I had a few moments to capture the giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) by myself.
We stayed at a beautiful non-governmental organization Amazon Research and Conservation Center (ARCC) which is located in the middle reaches of the Las Piedras River. The best part of this place is that your next to an oxbow lake called Soledad. One of my highlights of Peru was spending many hours with giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) right here. Besides all the amazing macro photography opportunities we went to the lake with a catamaran a couple of times. Observing these giants was truly fascinating and I never got enough of them. The giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) came out their den at six in the morning and returned around five in the afternoon. Usually we were waiting around the corner when they became active and went back to their den.
To capture the Lobo de río in full glory I used a Canon 70D in combination with a Canon 100-400mm EF f4.5-5.6L IS USM. The flexibility of the zoom lens was perfect because the distance to your subject varies a lot. When you wait long enough there is a chance they come really close without disturbing them. After all, those hours we spent each day in the burning sun we managed to capture the behaviour of these giants. To see a group of otters communicate, fish, play and chasing caimans was amazing! They are the world’s largest otter reaching up to 1.8 meters long! Because of their massive size, strength and swimming speed they compete successfully for fish with black caimans and jaguars. It only lives in the rivers, creeks and oxbow lakes of the Amazon, Orinoco and the La Plata river. To meet their daily intake quota they must eat three to four kilos of food per day! The diet of a giant river otter consists mainly of fish (they love piranha), crustaceans, snakes and sometimes even small black caimans!