By David Aspinall
This is the heart-stopping moment a jaguar stalks a giant anteater only to let it walk away completely unharmed.
As Luke Massey and his partner Katie Stacey floated on a rickety canoe through a cattle ranch in Pantanal, Brazil, in September 2017, they spotted the huge ant bear enjoying a well-earned drink.
Meanwhile, a huge predator padded quietly behind it before settling into watch an apparent massive meal, while the couple from Hertford watched on.
Completely unawares, the anteater turns away from the water and stares straight into the eyes of the jaguar and stops momentarily.
Instead of leaping at a potential meal, the big cat just sits and watches as the potential prey just wanders off into the rainforest.
Katie, who runs Sunbittern Media, said: “As naturalists we were in awe of the sighting, it was just incredible.
“They are two of the most sought-after species by visitors to the Pantanal, so this was an incredible sighting.
“Luke wasn’t sure if he breathed the whole time the incident happened, it was so surreal.”
The couple had been tasked by Dr Charles Munn, a leading conservation biologist to recce a newly located waterhole for his ecotourism company, Southwild.
As it was the dry season, they expected the waterhole to be an oasis and the encounter happened in the fourth week of their six-week excursion.
Katie said: “We weren’t sure what would occur, it was really interesting to see.
“The anteater at first was completely unaware of the jag, the jag just sat and watched.
“He was clearly thinking about doing something, ready to pounce and his tail was flicking.
“We assumed he’d go for the kill and if he did there’d either be a fight, or it’d be over quickly.
“Giant anteaters are equipped with huge claws which can easily disembowel a creature, in the past even humans have fallen victim to them.”
Despite following the anteater back into the bushes initially, the jaguar then turned around and lay next to the watering hole and drinking.
Katie said: “Jaguars, apart from being quite ferocious and a lot bigger, are not much different to a domestic cat.
“They’re curious and playful.
“In fact, we once saw the same jaguar with a vulture chick he had found, playing with it as a cat would with a mouse and then he just left it.
“When he’d gone we went and looked at the chick and it was completely unharmed.
“As for the anteater, he might have just been intrigued by this giant creature on his local territory.
“It’s possible that they coincidentally arrived at the same time because we saw the jag almost daily and the anteaters at least three or four times.”