Cassiano (Zapa) Zaparoli is an expert photographer and beloved Expedition Leader for Natural Habitat Adventures. He spent his childhood on his grandparent’s farm in the Brazilian rain forest and after receiving a degree in Tourism Administration began a career as a naturalist guide. Every year, Zapa undertakes a personal photographic journey across South America, capturing photos of the continent’s diverse creatures, cultural traditions and natural realms.

The Pantanal is the world’s largest freshwater wetland, extending across more than 75,000 square miles in the heart of South America. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is home to the highest concentration of wildlife in South America. Nat Hab travelers explore this species-rich region by boat and on foot, encountering a host of animals, from giant river otters to vibrantly plumed macaws. What many find most striking are the sightings of jaguars—the Pantanal is the best place on earth to see these elusive cats.

Zapa took the following photographs and video while guiding Nat Hab’s Jaguars & Wildlife of Brazil’s Pantanal trip, marking an absolutely incredible season of sightings.

Jaguar yawning in the Pantanal.

Jaguars have a powerful bite, using up to 1,500 pounds of force to crush their prey.

Giant river otter eating fish in the Pantanal.

Giant river otters eating their preferred prey, fish.

Jaguar entering the river in the Pantanal.

The jaguar is a versatile hunter and skilled swimmer. They scoop out fish with their large paws and stealthily wait by riverbanks where capybaras, peccaries and tapirs come to drink.




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The hyacinth macaw is the largest of all the parrots and can crack through the hard shells of Brazil nuts. Pairs of hyacinth macaws are nearly always seen together, preening, cooing and flying side by side. 

Jaguar in the Pantanal.

Jaguars found in the Pantanal can weigh more than 300 pounds, making them the largest jaguars on the planet.

Tayra in the Pantanal.

The tayra, a member of the weasel family, moves through the trees with a fluid, snakelike motion.


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A blue-crowned parakeet shows off its exquisite plumage. 


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The Pantanal provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife.