The Tambopata River region in Madre de Dios is one of the most biologically diverse in the world, with a vast range of plant life as well as animals including giant river otters, black spider monkeys, anacondas and the apex predator of the region, the jaguar.
A jaguar’s distinctive spots are called “rosettes” due to the fact that they are shaped like roses. Whatever they’re called, the markings help jaguars blend with their surroundings as they stalk prey.
The name “jaguar” comes from the Native American word “yaguar”, which translates to “he who kills with one leap”.
The Chilkat Valley near Haines is home to the largest concentration of bald eagles in the world, with the greatest gathering of these raptors occurring in late fall and winter.
Male grizzlies also need a lot of space – their average home space is between 300 and 500 square miles (which allows them to make contact with a variety of potential mates . A female’s range is only around 70 square miles because they need to stay close to home to raise their cubs.
When fattening in the autumn, Black bears will eat up to 20,000 calories a day.
Black bears probably have the most developed sense of smell of any animal – their enlarged mucous membrane provide them with seven times the smelling capacity of a bloodhound and 100 times the capacity of a human.
Bison can run at between 30 to 35 miles an hour – as fast as a grizzly bear and 5-10 miles an hour faster than a human, but a little bit slower than a moose at full speed.
Plains Indians such as the Sioux also dressed in wolf skins while armed with a bow, crawling close enough that curious buffalo might wander within range of his arrows.
From a height of 80 million bison roaming the American prairie in 1800, massive slaughter reduced the bison population to only about 500 in 1900.
The nearby Black Hills of South Dakota are home to the legendary frontier town of Deadwood, the famous sculptures of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt atop Mount Rushmore and the massive memorial to Indian chief Crazy Horse.
The White River section of Badlands National Park contains the largest assemblage of known prehistoric mammal fossils from the Eocene and Oligocene epochs from over 23 million years ago, including ancient camels, horses and rhinoceroses.
The Fer-de-lance is one of several dangerous pit vipers in the Central American jungle. Others include the closely related Terciopelo (Spanish for velvet) viper and the Bushmaster, which can grow as large as 11 10 feet long.
The Fer-de-lance kills several hundred people a year, more than any other snake in the Americas. The tropical rattlesnake is a distant second, its bite responsible for only 100 deaths a year.
Belize contains the ruins of several major Mayan cities, including Caracol, Lamanai and La Milpa.
Belize was a former colony of England known as British Honduras before changing its name in 1973 and achieving full independence on September 21, 1981.
Cougars will travel incredible distances in search of new territory – a mountain lion killed in 2011 in Connecticut was discovered via genetic testing to have been born in the Black Hills of South Dakota – 2,000 miles away.
As many as 60 pumas may currently live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the San Francisco Peninsula on the north and Silicon Valley on the east.
The campus of the University of California Santa Cruz is set in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The school mascot? The banana slug.
The legendary surf spot Maverick’s, known for its exceptionally huge and deadly waves, sits off Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, just west of the mountains.
Costa Rica features several volcanoes, the best known of which is Arenal in the country’s northwest. Arenal is currently in a dormant phase but in July 1968 erupted suddenly, covering three villages with rock, ashes and lava and killing 87 people.
Wolves generally avoid contact with humans, but in the past decade have been responsible for two human deaths, killing a teacher jogging in Alaska in 2010 and a student in northern Saskatchewan in 2005.
Cougars can live in a spectacular range of environments, from the Canadian Rockies and prairie to jungles in South America – and even the Hollywood Hills surrounded by Los Angeles, where a mountain lion has recently taken up residence.
American crocodiles are very prevalent in Costa Rica. These crocodiles reach 15 feet long in the wild, weigh as much as a ton and can live for 70 years.
The Australian saltwater crocodile – known as “salties” in Australia – are considered the most aggressive species of crocodiles in the world.
It is estimated that 175 mountain lions live within South Dakota.
Bears are not only interested in eating honey, but also will consume the bees themselves and their larvae, which are good sources of protein.