Our wonderful encounter with a Giant Anteater in Brazil
Surely one of the most curious and distinctive animals on our beautiful planet? Back in July 2007 we were lucky enough to walk within 10M of an adult Giant Anteater in Canastra national park - to hear its unique sound, as it fed on thousands of termites and to appreciate its glorious, functional beauty.
Ever since I was given a book from my dad, aged 6, about South American wildlife I have dreamed of one day seeing Maned Wolf, Anacondas, Toucans, Giant Anteaters, Ocelot and of course the legendary Jaguar. Fast forward 31 years and I found myself in Sao Paulo about to start a 34 day recce trip of Brazil; searching for its most charasmatic and wonderful wildlife. First stop was the little known Canastra national park in Mineas Gerais state. A realtively short flight to Belo Horizonte followed by a 5 hour car transfer to the sleepy town of Sao Roque and we were ready for our Giant Anteater safari to begin.
Canastra national park is split into the lower and upper areas and it is the upper area which is famous for Giant Anteater sightings; as well as Maned Wolf and even Pumas; which are known to predate on the Wolves. It is about a 45 minute drive from Sao Roque to the check point for the Upper Canatra, where you enter a landscape not dissimilar to the tops of Scottish mountains. Frost burnt gasslands and rocky outscrops dominate the open vistas and the best way to find the wildlife is to set up on one of the elevated outcrops and scan with a scope or binoculars.
Our first spot was a distant Maned Wolf hunting an unidentified black grouse like bird and we enjoyed 20 minutes of watching this gangly 'fox on stilts' slowly stalk the bird - ultimately without success. We then spotted our first Giant Anteater and went back to the car to drive a little closer. Giant Anteaters have a superb sense of smell which aids them in their constant foraging but very poor hearing and eye sight, which helped us to approach a little closer by foot to obtain some beautiful photos. It was a privilage to be close enough to hear its breathing and 'suction' like nioises; as it 'hoovered' up the termites from the many broken mounds. These are the largets anteater species and must require millions of ants and termites to maintain their body weight.
Although it is possible to see Giant Anteaters in the Pantanal you are much more likely to have multiple encounters and closer sightings in Canastra; so why not join us on a bespoke Brazil wildlife tour visiting this beautiful park.