Depending on where you live around the world, a story about a man found dead with a mysterious bite wound and little if any blood left in his body would bring to mind similar stories and local myths involving Chupacabras, aliens, vampires, evil spirits, large cats and other possible causes of death. A rancher and local wildlife expert in the Pantanal tropical wetlands area of central southern Brazil heard his friend was found in this condition and, after running through the possibilities, came up empty. So, he called in an expert tracker and a photographer and they identified the murderer. Chupacabra? Alien? Jaguar? Something else? Place your bets now.
“Central Brazil, where the incident took place, has seen a growing number of fatal attacks against humans of this kind in recent years – but nobody has been able to discover what was responsible. So, after two more people were assaulted, cattle rancher Eduardo Falcao – a friend of the man who was killed – called in two fearless wildlife experts from Australia to solve the mystery once and for all.”
The Pantanal region of Brazil borders on Bolivia and Paraguay and encompasses the world's largest tropical wetland area. As such, it has a wide diversity of aquatic animals, birds and mammals, including a few that could kill an adult, like the maned wolf, the yacare caiman and especially the largest population of jaguars in the world. Yet in 2019, when The Daily Star reports that Eduardo Falcao’s friend was killed and two other people were injured by a mysterious creature inflicting large puncture marks, he and others in the area were at a loss for an explanation. Falcao has more than his personal loss of a friend to look for the killer – he’s a rancher and a local tour guide. After taking a hit from the coronavirus shutdown, he doesn’t need a mysterious killer creature to keep people from coming back.
“In central Brazil, there have been a growing number of fatal animal attacks against humans. Victims are left with mysterious wound patterns and no one has been able to identify what animal is responsible. We're hoping our knowledge of wildlife can the bush will help find, and stop, a killer."
They already know that, but Australian wilderness guide and former paratrooper Damian Duffy and wildlife photographer and storm chaser Matt Hoffman felt they should remind them again in an interview in Pop Culture. It also builds up the tension for their new Discovery Channel series, “Legends Of The Wild,” which shows these lifelong friends chasing mysterious creatures around the world. they apparently thought the Pantanal killer was good enough to be in the first episode. Of course, being experts, they found the killer.
“It did really surprise us, because you wouldn’t expect them to kill humans The man must have accidentally startled it, and it would have felt threatened.”
The betting window is closed and the “Spoiler Alert” sign is up (the episode has already aired in the UK as of this writing). So, what is the fearsome creature of Pantanal?
“The workers would have thought an anteater was a chilled-out animal – which we did too – and not realized it could kill you if it felt frightened.”
That’s right … an anteater. This is one of those situations where mythology and the desire for sensational stories caused locals (even Eduardo Falcao) to forget that development and climate change is driving more than jaguars and wolves out of their own jungle and into the urban jungle where humans look like food to desperate creatures … even anteaters. Don’t laugh – the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) can reach 217 cm (7.12 ft) in length and weigh up to 50 kg (110 lb). However, the things to watch our for are not their tiny ant-eating mouths but their long, sharp, dirt-digging front claws which are capable of killing jaguars … and humans. Between 2010 and 2012, two hunters were killed by cornered giant anteaters in Brazil and in 2007, an aggressive one killed a zookeeper at the Florencio Varela Zoo. Like Falcao’s friend, the victims bled to death.
Stop worrying so much about Chupacabras and vampires. When in Brazil, remember that any “chilled-out animal” can kill you. In fact, that’s good advice no matter where you are.