This region is worldwide known by its great diversity and concentration of flora and fauna. The Pantanal is considered the cradle of a great variety of animal species, from birds to reptiles and is a unique place in the world, with plentiful aquatic resources and vegetation. These characteristics give the Pantanal some important titles like the Third Largest Biosfera Reserve of the World and Natural Patrimony of Humankind (UNESCO). Wildlife in its most primitive form and men with their cattle farms share the same space. Along with the Amazon, the Pantanal is considered an example of the best of Brazil - untouched nature, ready to be seen and appreciated by those willing to treat themselves to this gift. It is in fact an amazing mixture of ecosystems with different sandscapes such as fields, floodplains and forests that may resemble the Amazonian Forest, Cerrado and Caatinga.
The Pantanal covers a very large region in Central West Brazil (it is comparable to the size of Portugal) and a great part of it (138.000 square kilometers) is located in the west part of the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. It is by definition the largest floodable prairie of the planet, crossed by many rivers, connected to the Paraguai river. It is a paradise for wildlife watchers and photographers because you may encounter a concentration of the many species living in the Pantanal. As many as 230 species of fishes, 650 species of birds, 80 species of mammals and 50 species of reptiles have already been identified: the biggest concentration of wildlife in the Americas. In fact, many species that live in the Amazon and are next to impossible to see there can be viewed here in abundance. It is also an important migrating route for a number of bird species.
In the flooded season (generally from the end of December until March), the rivers overflow, making the region a large flooded plain with shallow waters. The fishes and reptiles seperate to find their own way and the other animals concentrate in the dry areas (capão and cordilheiras). During this time, the means of transportation are horses, tractors and boats.
In the season of dryness (from June to the beginning of December) the water level lowers and the plain starts to show the rivers well defined, many lagoons appear that may end up dry. During this period you may face a great concentration of animals (mammals, birds and reptiles) feeding around these lagoons.
It is the back and forth movement of the waters that makes it possibel for the Pantanal to house a wide range of fauna and flora species, both on land and in the water. The immense diversity can be confirmed by just looking around at a dawn or dusk. A short list of animals that you frequently or rarely see:
Birds: tabiru, heron,white necked heron,tiger-heron, toucan, blue macaw, hawk, caracara, kingfisher, lapwing, screamer, spoon bill, hornero, cardinal, jacana, greater rhea, seriema, parrot, parakeet, cormorant, necked ibis, woodpecker, etc.
Reptiles: alligator, etc.
Mammals: capivara, pampa deer, deer, coati, otter, great otter, wild pig, monkey, bugio, ant eater, etc.
Rare (it may be your lucky day):
jaguar, anaconda, real heron, turtle, anta.
They live in the rivers, forests and lagoons, in a combination of colors and sounds that fascinates any observer.
Regarded as the largest part of the great depression in the Pantanal, and located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul ( this year the Government will decide to change the name to Estado do Pantanal in 2005 ), the area of the Southern Pantanal covers two-thirds of the entire Pantanal. The main gateway to the Pantanal is its Capital Campo Grande, a planned city within a vast green area. Although only 200 km from the Pantanal, Campo Grande offers its visitors all the convenience of a quick and easy access to Pantanal.