2024 Edition

Julien Morand

Russian Dolls

Smooth-fronted caiman eating a cane toad, French Guiana, 2023

Category - Into the forest

Russian Dolls

I like to go out at night in the rainforest looking for wildlife. Nocturnal predators like caimans come out of hiding to hunt. It is quite easy to spot caimans at night because their eyes glow red under the beam of headlamps and are often visible from a long distance. There are four different species of caiman in French Guiana. In Petit-Saut lake, this two-metre smooth-fronted caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus) was waiting for its prey to come within ambush distance before pouncing on it. Surprisingly, that evening the predator set its sights on a cane toad (Rhinella marina). Cane toads are highly toxic for many species and not usually a meal of choice. They have subcutaneous glands on their backs, necks and shoulders that secrete a milk-white toxin that can deter or even kill potential predators. Have caimans found a way to eat cane toads without getting poisoned?


200-500 mm f/5.6 Lens - 1/80 sec at f/5.6 ISO 1250