|white caiman of the Amazon Rainforest|
Over millennia, evolution has created camouflage to help animals blend into the forest, helping hide both predator and prey, but without the chance to adapt to manmade technology, high powered lights shining at night will reflect back from the eyes of animals in a bright red glow, enabling us to pinpoint the creature's location which otherwise would have remained hidden.
|approaching the riverbank + caiman in the night|
Tonight we are fortunate, an eerie red light bounces back in our direction. Our vessel glides towards the glow, our guide Milton crawls out onto the deck, laying horizontally, extending his arms down towards the river.
|pulling the caiman from the water (action shot)|
|the light bounces back from the eyes with a red glow|
video: watch the red eyes glowing in the light after our guide catches the first caiman
video: handling the caiman
The poor animal, despite being 8-10 years of age, clears its throat, instinctually calling for Mom. He's handed to me, he seems ... almost docile. As I adjust my grip the caiman attempts to thrash his way free. Once I've regained control, the animal once again seems to calm, perhaps awaiting his next opportunity for escape. I hold the animal tightly, but not so much to hurt him.
Having perhaps selfishly handled the animal for long enough, we release him back into the water, hopefully not worse for the wear, and head back towards base, using our high beam to scan for larger animals such as jaguar or capybara, but only encountering birds (mostly nightjars) and a mother caiman with ten babies on the riverbank. We don't mess with the hatchlings, momma's present. Never piss off a mom.
video: releasing the caiman back into the river