The jaguar crouched still, waiting until the giant marsupial finished drinking before daring to stand up.

Luke Massey, a photographer specializing in the world’s big cats, witnessed the clash between a giant anteater and a large male jaguar at the edge of a lake in the middle of a cattle ranch in the Pantanal , Brazil, in September 2017, according to National Geographic. According to Massey, this is one of the strangest encounters in the natural world that he has ever witnessed.

The giant anteater crawled out of the thicket to drink from the lake. Not long after that, the jaguar approached, strode silently toward the anteater and crouched for momentum. With its muscular neck and claws bigger than a boxing glove, the leopard seemed ready to pounce but something stopped it.

“When I saw the jaguar sloppily moving behind the completely off-guard and now vulnerable target, the giant anteater, I thought I was going to witness a murder or a dramatic battle. . I don’t think jaguars will lie down and watch,” Massey shared.

But Fernando Rodrigo Tortato, a field researcher with the pantanal project of the big cat conservation organization Panthera, is not surprised. “The giant anteater is sometimes included in the jaguar’s diet, but in the Pantanal it is not a frequent prey, accounting for less than 5% of the food source,” Tortato said.

Conservationist Charles Munn, chief executive of a wildlife tour company, offers another explanation for the clash. “The only reason jaguars don’t attack giant anteaters is their claws,” Munn said. This oddly shaped mammal possesses a secret weapon of sharp claws more than 10 cm long, which are often used to dig up ant nests, but can also inflict fatal wounds on attackers.

In September 2016, a motion-activated camera in Brazil’s Gurupi biological reserve captured a fight between a jaguar and a giant anteater. The jaguar lunges at potential prey, but the anteater simply stands upright, spreading its claws wide and swinging at the predator.

“I’m sure the scene is another part of this story. If a jaguar tries to attack a marsupial in the lake, the marsupial will use its sharp, powerful claws to defend itself, seriously injuring the jaguar or causing damage. even suffered fatal injuries,” Munn said.

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