Review Pantanal Wildlife


South America is a continent that is still shrouded in mystery, perhaps more so than any other continent in the world. Sadly, in common with many areas around the planet, its pristine habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate. It almost feels as though you need to get out there to see the amazing landscapes and enjoy the wildlife before it's all gone.

For those who haven't yet really explored the continent, myself included, you would be forgiven for equating South America with thick jungle. But there is more to this incredible landmass as there is a wide variety other types of habitat, thus I was particularly intrigued to learn about the Pantanal. The author James Lowen's opening statements are evocative: "The Pantanal is to the Americas what the Serengeti is to Africa. If the Amazon forests are South America's lungs, then the Pantanal is the continent's kidneys." Wow, that puts it into perspective.

Spread across three countries — Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay — and estimated to be between 140,000 and 210,000 km2 in area it is, as the author states, the largest contiguous wetland in the world. It has an amazing diversity of species: some 475 species of birds, 135 mammals, 80 reptiles, 50 amphibians, around 325 fish, countless insects and at least 1,700 plants have been identified so far.

After a stimulating introduction covering the geology, geography, habitats and the human impact on the area, the author has arranged the book into chapters splitting up the mammals, birds and the other taxon groups. Thoughtfully, it is stated quite early on that this is not the definitive identification guide to the wildlife of the area but a general introduction to the types of wildlife that you are most likely to see. It's a wise move as the Pantanal is clearly a huge area and potentially bewildering for any would-be wildlife watcher.

The author treats each chapter with an array of mostly his own photographs that illustrate the particular species in their suitable habitat. You get the impression that what you see in the book is how you are likely to see the species in the wild: for example, a Black Howler Monkey doing what it says on the tin, howling in a tree, or an Anhinga swallowing fish — all doing their natural thing. Each family is treated to a short entry with an explanation of the particular species to be found; helpful identification and habitat tips are also given. It is brief, but that is what this book is all about — an introduction to the fascinating wildlife of the Pantanal.

If I were offer any criticism, then I would comment that some of the photography is a tad dark, making them a bit flat. I am familiar with the author's photography, as he was an ex-pat based in Argentina and supplied a lot of the images for the Neotropical Bird Club. He is an accomplished wildlife photographer, so I presume that some of the darker plates were a printing issue. Overall, I will be packing this book when I make it over to the Pantanal.

Pantanal Wildlife by James Lowen, published by Bradt Travel Guides
Softcover. 176 pages, colour photos, maps.
NHBS Price: £16.99. ISBN-13: 9781841623054

Related articles

Review Birdwatcher's Diary app Review Birdwatcher's Diary app
Is there a better way to record sightings in the field than the age-old combination of pen and notebook? This popular app from Stevens Creek Software aims to convince you that there is. read on read on
Review Tom Lock Series 2 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars Review Tom Lock Series 2 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars
Mike Alibone reviews Opticalia's latest binocular offering and finds that the new incarnation of the Tom Lock range offers seriously good value for money. read on read on
Review Petrels Night and Day by Magnus Robb, Killian Mullarney and The Sound Approach (iBook edition) Review Petrels Night and Day by Magnus Robb, Killian Mullarney and The Sound Approach (iBook edition)
An incredible journey: Alan Tilmouth reviews the latest digital offering from the Sound Approach team. read on read on
Review Challenge Series: Winter by Martin Garner Review Challenge Series: Winter by Martin Garner
Josh Jones examines the second instalment in Martin Garner's seasonal bird identification series. read on read on
Review A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal, the Azores and Madeira Archipelagos Review A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal, the Azores and Madeira Archipelagos
Dominic Mitchell reviews the significantly expanded update to a volume first published in 1997. read on read on

The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (0)

No comments so far.

Back to top Back to top

Latest edition Latest edition
Search articles Search articles
All articles All articles
Popular articles Popular articles
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Cookie Policy | About us | Advertise | Contact us
BirdGuides, Warners Group Publications PLC, The Chocolate Factory, 5 Clarendon Road, London N22 6XJ
© 2015 BirdGuides and Warners Group Publications plc. All Rights Reserved. Company Registered in England no. 2572212 | VAT registration No. GB 638 3492 15
Sales: or tel. 0800 919391 · International Sales: +44 (0)1778 391180 · Office: or tel. 020 8826 0934

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites