The Amazon Rainforest
One of the world’s most amazing natural regions is the vast Amazon Rainforest. This region is home to two and a half million of insect species, in excess of 40,000 plant species and nearly three thousand species of fish. In addition, there are reputedly 1300 species of birds, more than four hundred species of mammals, with just as many species of amphibians and nearly four hundred species of reptiles principally in just Brazil. Distinctive of all these are a number of animals which genuinely represent a clear and open danger to humans who may live or visit the Amazon of Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Perhaps those studying Spanish in Ecuador, for example.
The Five Deadliest Dangers of the Amazon
Danger Number One: Piranhas
There are more than 35 known species of Piranha worldwide. Twenty five or so of these species live in the Amazon. These ravenous feeders swarm in schools of hundreds to thousands of fish with senses of smell that make having even a small wound in the water dangerous. Even a shaving cut is enough to sent them into a frenzy. Attracted by either noise or blood, a fish – or person thrashing in the water will quickly get their attention. In contrast, Indian women calmly wash clothes and bathe their children in Piranha-infested waters with little danger if they’re careful.
Danger Number Two: Crocodiles
Crocodiles hunt by night – usually, although they are opportunistic and won’t pass up an easy meal – like you – if presented to them at any time of the day. They are able to remain absolutely motionless and remain unnoticed in even a few inches of water, waiting a chance for a sudden lunge to strike and lock their powerful jaws onto their prey. Many crocs are small and edible, but still dangerous. Typically they’ll feed on fish, turtles and other aquatic animals, although they’ll hardly snub birds, small mammals and reptiles or the occasional domestic animal wandering unwary into the water near them.
Danger Number Three: Anacondas
Using the latest heat-seeking sensors to locate prey in turbid waters, they can range in size from a mere nine meters (25 feet or so) to a killer eleven and a half meters (approximately 35 feet) in length. A good rule of thumb: a snake needs to be around two to three times your length (height) in order to be able to get enough coils around you to kill you. Their weight can range up to around thirty kilograms (65 to 70 pounds) more than sufficient to drag you in and under the water where you’ll likely drown before your bones are crushed or you suffocate among its powerful coils.
Danger Number Four: Jaguars
One of the world’s strongest land animals, a true member of the cat (felidae) family, the Jaguar (Panther Onca) is yet another nocturnal hunter of the Amazon Rainforest. Armed with a keen sense of smell, two or three-inch-long canine teeth, flesh-rending claws, and weighing in between 275 to 350 pounds, your chances are slim to none against a jaguar if caught out in the rainforest unprotected at night. Don’t think scaling a tree will save you either. Jaguars are great climbers whose rosette mottled coat camouflages well in the sunlight-speckled rain forest day or night. They are true carnivorous predators that hunt any animal they can catch from monkeys and baby alligators to Peccary (Wild Boar), and Tapirs to other small animals, rodents, reptiles and occasionally fish and turtles.
Danger Number Five: Wild Boar
The bristle-haired Peccary (also called wild boar, Saino, or GuaGua, among others) roams the floor of the rain forest almost constantly in search of prey or invaders of its territory. Males of this porcine family are heavy, bad-tempered, highly aggressive and will attack even when “unprovoked”. They are hunted by man for their meat, tusks and hide, but it isn’t always the hunter who wins. There are stories of boar hunters who never returned home. Gristly remains found days later when the scavengers located them. A successful hunt will yield the tender, sweet meat that is so sought after by hunters in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.
The Amazon Rainforest’s Deadliest Dangers
Truly amazing in its vastness and abundance of bio-diversity, the Amazon Rainforest offers a tremendous range of delights – and dangers, including the five we’ve discussed in this article. In the next installment of this series, we’ll delve further into the rich expanses of this region and look at more of its dangers. See you again then.