Melissa and her macaw friend at the jaguar sanctuary.
Very interesting day today. We left Pirenopolis after breakfast and drove back towards Brasilia
to meet some of Tim's friends at a jaguar sanctuary. After driving down a very rough (and long) road, we arrived at a small farm to be greeted by a flock of colourful macaws. They were happy to clamber over our arms and have their photos taken, in fact some even posed for us. The sanctuary is run by a lady who visited a zoo in 2000 and was horrified at the conditions the pumas and jaguars were living in. She rescued her first one from this zoo, he'd been living in a cage so small he couldn't stand up or walk around, and now takes in problem or abused cats whenever she can.
Watch out in the forest, you never know who's watching!
She receives no government funding and relies on donations and visit fees to keep going. The jaguars now live in enclosures, but they are large and simulate the natural environment as far as possible. When we arrived, they were all sunning themselves - they looked like our cat waiting for his tummy to be scratched! Another had a neck so scarred the fur wouldn't grow back again - he'd been kept in a collar for 10 years, and the previous owner had removed his claws. This meant he couldn't live with any other cats because he couldn't protect himself, or balance well in the trees. There were also some tiny little jaguars that looked like kittens, but were in fact full grown - very cute! We were able to get very close to the animals, much closer than in normal reserves, and because the sanctuary is not well-known, we had a very personal tour by the owner.
A prowling jaguar, stunning colours and patterns.
After a walk to a nearby waterfall, we enjoyed a delicious lunch cooked by ladies from a local community - a way of them making money and helping the cats at the same time. Of the R20 entrance fee, R10 goes to the sanctuary and R10 to the ladies who prepare the lunch (and sticky buns on arrival - yum!). After lunch we got to watch the cats being fed - glad we didn't have to be in the cage with them, because their strength and aggression when eating is quite amazing - wouldn't want to try and get the lump of meat off them once they had it.
This sanctuary is well worth a visit, though a little remote, and doing a wonderful job. If you would like to know more, or arrange a visit, see the website at www.nex.org.br.