The jaguar strikes in silence.
When you think of fierce river predators, we’ll bet jaguars aren’t the first animals that come to mind. But along rivers and swamps in rainforests across Central and South America, these spotted panthers rule.
In these remarkable photos, a solitary jaguar takes down a caiman, a close relative of the alligator.
Instead of relying on a speedy chase, the skilled hunter silently stalks its prey, ambushing the unsuspecting reptile from behind.
Unlike other big cats, jaguars are great swimmers and are just as comfortable hunting in water as they are on land and in trees. The stealthy cats can tread water without splashing — perfect for a surprise attack.
Once the jaguar pounces, all it takes is a single bite to take down its prey. The hungry panther sinks its teeth straight through the caiman’s thick scales and severs the cervical vertebrae below its skull.
The bite immediately renders the caiman powerless, allowing the jaguar to drag it to a quiet spot to eat.
Like other crocodilians, caimans are usually pretty tough themselves, taking their pick of various fish, birds, and mammals, with few natural predators — except for the jaguar.
Jaguars are considered apex predators that prey on more than 80 different species, including large animals like tapirs, deer, and caimans.