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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 85

and had killed a couple of cows and a young steer. The hunters had followed him, but he had made his escape, and for the time being had abandoned the neighborhood. In these marshes each jaguar had a wide irregular range and travelled a good deal, perhaps only passing a day or two in a given locality, perhaps spending a week where game was plentiful. Jaguars love the water. They drink greedily and swim freely. In this country they rambled through the night across the marshes and prowled along the edges of the ponds and bayous, catching the capybaras and the caymans; for these small pond caymans, the jacaré-tinga, form part of their habitual food, and a big jaguar when hungry will attack and kill large caymans and crocodiles if he can get them a few yards from the water. On these marshes the jaguars also followed the peccary herds; it is said that they always strike the hindmost of a band of the fierce little wild pigs. Elsewhere they often prey on the tapir. If in timber, however, the jaguar must kill it at once, for the squat, thick-skinned, wedge-shaped tapir has no respect for timber, as Colonel Rondon phrased it, and rushes with such blind, headlong speed through and among branches and trunks that if not immediately killed it brushes the jaguar off, the claws leaving long raking scars in the tough hide. Cattle are often killed. The jaguar will not meddle with a big bull; and is cautious about attacking a herd accompanied by a bull; but it will at times, where wild game is scarce, kill every other domestic animal. It is a thirsty brute, and if it kills far from water will often drag its victim a long distance toward a pond or stream; Colonel Rondon had