Tucuxi Dolphin, Sotalia fluviatilis, Peruvian Amazon

tucuxi

Breaching just long enough to allow for a fleeting glimpse, a Tucuxi, Sotalia fluviatilis comes out for a breath in the Ucayali, a tributary of the Amazon River near Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in northern Peru.

Although it inhabits rivers, it is placed within Family Delphinidae, the ocean dolphins, like the Bottlenose, to which it bears a remote resemblance. The only other Cetacean found in the Amazon, the Amazon River Dolphin, belongs in Family Iniidae, the “true” river dolphins.

Southern Marine Otter, Lontra felina, Chiloé Island, Chile

Southern-Marine-Otter

Southern Marine Otter, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Floating on its back on a calm, sunny day in Chiloé Island, Chile’s Lake District, a Southern Marine Otter, Lontra felina manipulates a Kelp Crab it just caught in order to crack it open and eat it. One of the three South American otters, it can be found in the coasts of the Pacific from Chimbote in Peru to Cape Horn in Chile.

Puma, Mountain Lion, Puma concolor, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Crouching among the low bushes near a hilltop, an adult Puma, Puma concolor stares at us in the distance in the cold morning air in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. The largest and top patagonian predator, it is second in size only to the Jaguar among American cats. It ranges from Alaska south to Tierra del Fuego, and its stealth, mostly nocturnal and crepuscular habits make it hard to be spotted in the wild.

Photo taken during one of our current season’s Patagonia Explorer programmes, covering part of Southern Patagonia including Torres del Paine NP and Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Los Glaciares NP in Argentina.

Puma, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions
Puma, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Andean Huemul Deer, Hippocamelus antisensis

A female Andean Huemul Deer, Hippocamelus antisensis checks us out in the distance while feeding in the first light of day at the foothills of the Andes mountains near Putre, Arica, Northern Chile. One of the largest but least known mammals of the country, it is very rare and shy, and as such it is only occasionally seen.

Andean Huemul Deer, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions
Andean Huemul Deer, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Puma, Puma concolor, Torres del Paine NP, Patagonia, Chile

Dominating from the edge of a cliff, a female Puma, Puma concolor surveys her hunting grounds in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, looking for guanaco or some other prey. Second in size only to the Jaguar among American cats, the Puma is the top predator in Patagonia, reigning supreme above all other carnivores in the region.

Puma, Photo © Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions
Puma, Photo © Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions

Huemul, a brief moment of calm in nature

Also known as South Andean Deer, it is the largest native deer in Patagonia, Chile and Argentina, and it has been on the Endagered species list since 1996. Along with the Andean Condor, they are represented in Chile’s coat of arms.

At present, the Huemul occurs mainly in the Andes of Southern Patagonia, being endemic to these countries and inhabits from close to sea-level up to 3,000 m elevation, and it is found mainly at the forest edge of southern beech (Nothofagus spp.)

Southern Huemul Deer, Photo © Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions
Southern Huemul Deer, Photo © Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions

They are endangered primarily due to human impacts such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation by roads, introduction of non-native mammals such as farm animals, and poaching.

Males can reach 165 cm height and posess a couple of small antlers that can reach 30 cms long. Females are a bit smaller and both of them have a dark brown hair.

Chile's coat of arms
Chile’s coat of arms

Nowadays, we can find this species in the Torres del Paine National Park, close to Grey Glacier, in the periglacial forest. Pingo, Zapata or Dickson Glaciers are also suitable places to observe Huemul within the national park.

Not easy to see, normally when they show up, we can observe a tame behaviour on them, and you can watch them feeding or resting in an unusually calm moment of bonding with nature.

Southern Huemul Deer, Photo © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions
Southern Huemul Deer, Photo © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

Patagonian Hairy Armadillo, Chaetophractus villosus, Pali Aike, Patagonia, Chile

Trotting in the open between feeding tunnels while looking for invertebrate prey, a Patagonian Hairy Armadillo, Chaetophractus villosus passes us by in the steppe of Pali Aike National Park in Magallanes, Chilean Patagonia. A mammal of diurnal and nocturnal habits, it lives in burrows of up to 5 meters long and one meter deep.

Patagonian Hairy Armadillo, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions
Patagonian Hairy Armadillo, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Guanaco, Lama guanicoe, Torres del Paine NP, Patagonia, Chile

With flattened ears and menacing teeth, two male Guanaco charge against each other while fighting for dominance and mating rights  over the females in the herd. The largest of American camelids, their sole natural predator is the Puma, and Patagonian populations  thrive in areas where livestock is not present, like Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Guanaco, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions
Guanaco, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

 

Southern Grey Fox, Pseudalopex griseus, Torres del Paine, Chile

A plump Southern Grey Fox cub, Pseudalopex griseus gives us an inquisitive look as it sits half-hidden by a clump of grass while waiting for its mother to return from hunting nearby. One of the two fox species in the park, it can be seen in most open habitats in Patagonia.

Southern Grey Fox, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions
Southern Grey Fox, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Pudu Deer, Pudu pudu, Chiloe Island, Chile

Peering intently from the cover of its dense habitat in the lush Valdivian temperate rainforest of Chiloe Island in Chile’s Lake District, a female Pudu Deer, Pudu pudu pauses briefly to check on us while grazing. Second smallest deer in the world, legal protection has stopped a century of hunting, but it is still severely threatened due to sustained loss of habitat and predation by feral dogs.

Pudu Deer, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions
Pudu Deer, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions