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FALSE VAMPIRE BAT The largest bat species in Central and South America has a wingspan of three- feet and eats birds, rodents and other bats. January - March 2009 lime 35 LL Tiger- striped leaf frog, jumping from a colourful heliconia fl ower BARRY MANSELL/ NATUREPL. COM

GREEN ANACONDA World's largest constricting snake uses its girth and length ( 30+ feet) to eat practically anything that moves in its path. FRANCOIS SAVIGNY/ NATUREPL. COM ISLAND PROFILE species. While sightings are never guaranteed, Iwokrama is one of the best places to spot the elusive jaguar, the largest cat in the Americas, and the harpy eagle, whose six- foot wingspan and knack for plucking sloths and monkeys out of trees has earned it the nickname of ' fl ying wolf'. Oxbow lakes also have healthy populations of arapaima, the world's largest scaled freshwater fi sh. These beasts, which can reach 3m in length and can weigh upwards of 440lbs, can be easily seen – and heard – as they belch and bubble on the surface as they breathe. Iwokrama also boasts many dank spots along rivers that seem too archetypal to be real. Bright orange and black poison dart frogs pepper rocks, emerald hummingbirds elegantly hover, metallic blue- and- green beetles shimmer, kinkajous sleep and squirrel monkeys pass through the sounds of screaming pihas, the birds that provide the most recognisable jungle soundtrack. Unnaturally green swamps harbour anacondas, the world's largest constricting snake that easily exceeds lengths of 20ft and feeds on peccary, deer, capybara and agouti. The elongated, trunk- like snout and mohawk of black hair on South America's largest native mammal, the tapir ( or bush cow, locally), are also seen along the banks. THE RUPUNUNI SAVANNAHS In a direct contrast to the dense rainforests, the Rupununi Savannahs cover roughly 5,000 square miles of southern Guyana. They are one of the world's largest open ranges of savannah lands, but they also encompass extremely bio-diverse wetlands, rainforest- covered mountains, hundreds of miles of freshwater river systems and several Amerindian villages and historical cattle ranches that also offer lodging. The Amerindian village of Surama has an excellent community tourism experience that includes the chance to paddle a dugout canoe on the Burro Burro River. The silence of the canoes provides a great opportunity to fi nd birds and wildlife, including jaguar, giant river otter, howler monkey, spider monkey, peccary, tayra, macaws, herons, and kingfi shers. Depending on the season, it's also possible to ask your guide to bring along a handline to fi sh for a few of the toothy red- bellied piranha or electric eels, which reach 6ft and pack 500 volts, found in the river. Karanambu Ranch, located along the Rupununi River, is well known for owner Diane McTurk's giant river otter rehabilitation programme. Giant river otters are often called ' water dogs' in Guyana, and their social and diurnal lifestyles have made them easy prey for hunters after their fur. When Diane is rehabilitating orphaned or injured otters for their return to the wild, guests have a chance to get up close and personal. Depending on your comfort level around wild animals with razor sharp teeth, Victoria Amazonica is the national fl ower of Guyana, while its national bird is Hoatzin, locally known as the Canje Pheasant. The major religions of Guyana are Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. DID YOU KNOW? LEATHERBACK TURTLE Reaching more than 6ft and 1,000 pounds, the largest of the sea turtles are known to travel thousands of miles in a few months and dive to depths greater than 1,000 feet. SA TEAM/ FN/ MINDEN/ FLPA FOTO NATURA STOCK/ FLPA DOUG WECHSLER/ NATUREPL. COM DOUG PERRINE/ NATUREPL. COM Colonial architecture, Georgetown Main: A Hoatzin swims underwater to escape predators Above: Male Harlequin beetle