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The Jaguar That Discovered Man

George Olah
Our expedition ventured into the deepest corners of the Peruvian Amazon to study the macaws of the remote, isolated Candamo Valley. Since the beginning of time, wildlife has existed in the secluded valley without human disturbance. Our enthusiastic research team sailed the hostile rapids of the Candamo River, hoping to contribute new scientific knowledge about this biodiverse place.
What we never expected? That a jaguar would discover us instead...

I've been working in Peru as conservation biologist, studying the genetics of wild macaws, for over a decade. Through my work, I've led several research expeditions into the deep, mysterious Candamo in the past. Surrounded by the foothills of the Andes, the Candamo Basin hosts one of very few uninhabited tropical rainforests of the world — the place is so remote, not even native tribes have settled there. We discovered an isolated macaw population in the basin, and suspect the valley holds even more hidden, unknown species.

Thanks to my collaboration with Rainforest Expeditions, along with a Peruvian grant, we brought several scientists to Tambopata. One of them, Dr. Zoltan Korsos, discovered at least three new millipede species during his short visit to Tambopata! But I didn't want to keep these exciting discoveries to ourselves — I wanted share them with people around the world. We've already produced a documentary called The Macaw Project, so this time around, we decided to make a film about our expedition to Candamo.

I took everyone from researchers to locals, filmmakers to reporters, on the scientific adventure. One night, at our primitive campsite deep in the Candamo valley, we were about to turn off the lights and go to bed.
Suddenly, we saw two eyes glowing in the dark forest. As we turned our flashlights towards them, we realized who the eyes belonged to: a large female jaguar! In this deserted valley, the lithe cat had probably never seen a single human before. Her behavior was totally different from what we’d expected: She wasn't afraid of us, and became so curious about us that she started to walk into our camp!
To know more details about that night, read reporter Nadia Drake's intrepid story here!

The award-winning film about this expedition, called The Macaw Kingdom, will be released soon to the public.

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