Flora & Fauna: Iguazu

S: On our trip to Iguazu Falls we came across a spectacular array of flora and fauna, some of which I would like to share with you.

Coatis

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As we walked along the path of the falls we made our first encounter with the apparently, wild coatis. We had been warned about these menaces beforehand: “Beware of Coatis… Although they are used to people, they may attack… These animals can transmit rabies to humans…”

Unsure of how the coatis would act we were cautious and left the racoon-like, ring-tailed, long-snouted creature to it’s own devices.

As we carried on along the trail we made numerous further encounters with the coatis. These somewhat changed our ideas of the “wild” coatis. With its inquisitive long nose, it sniffed at the bags of food and goodies which fellow tourists had brought with them. The coatis even had the gall to attempt a vicious attack on us as we sat innocently, riverside, with our lunch on full display. It was 1-0 to us though as the coatis was unsuccessful in its well rehearsed attack.

The coatis close contact with tourists seems to have tamed this once wild animal. It now, sadly, seems to have developed an appetite for chips and burgers.

Further research suggests a coatis lives up to seven years in the wild and 14 in captivity. Coatis are omnivorous and primarily eat fruit, invertebrates and other small animals and animal eggs. They are common and widespread in central and South America.

Centipede

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Centipedes seemed to feature in large quantities on our trail. The image above shows that even they took time to take in the splendour of the Iguazu Falls. It also reminds me of a joke:

What goes: “99-bonk, 99-bonk, 99-bonk”? A centipede with a wooden leg.

Black and White Tegu lizard

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The resort where we are staying in Iguazu is very near to the Iguazu River. For this reason a lot of wildlife has made its way to the feet of fellow residents, including us.

Our initial sighting of this wild, intimidating creature came during our first afternoon in Iguazu. Slithering through the grass, trying to go unnoticed, the lizard traveled. Unfortunately the shiny dark brown skin amongst the lush green grass gave it away. As we moved in to take a closer look the lizard picked up its very calm and gentle pace and searched for a hiding place.

After this we made two more encounters with the elegant lizard – once at Iguazu Falls and another at our resort.

As I was sitting quietly reading a book, I heard the slithers and slow movements of the lizard coming out from his hiding spot. Out through the leaves and on to a cool slab to soak in the day’s sunshine.

A level of intelligence unusually high for reptiles has been observed, along with a high level of physical activity during the wakeful period of the year. It is believed that individuals of this species sometimes actively seek human attention, as would for example a cat or dog. This could explain why we were able to get so close.

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Parque das Aves

On our last day in Iguazu we visited Parque das Aves, a wonderful bird park near the Iguazu Falls.

Rare and colorful birds fly in the huge aviaries which have been built to blend in with the humid subtropical forest. Visitors are able to enter these aviaries and view the birds at close quarters.

We came across a vast array of tropical birds. Of course our trip would not have been complete without a talking parrot…

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