By John Balson @JJBalson

A jaguar stuns a caiman - by ambushing it from a river, creeping up just like a crocodile

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Videographer / Director: Sally Eagle
Producer: John Balson
Editor: Ben Churcher

Croc shock: The caiman is dragged into the air by the jaguar's jaws

These incredible images and video show the 20-stone cat striking with lightning speed while the eight-foot reptile basks on a river island.

A male jaguar hides in bushes while stalking a Yacare caiman on a river island in Pantanal, Brazil

In a flurry of action the ferocious cat sinks its teeth and claws into the back of the leathery reptile before whisking it away in its jaws. Astonished photographer Justin Black, 39, said: "He lifted the 150lb caiman from the ground and trotted toward the water like it was a doggy bone.

"The fact he attacked from the water is astonishing, It was reminiscent of crocs attacking land animals in Africa."

The scene unfolded by the Cuiabá River in the Pantanal Wetlands of western Brazil.

'Mick Jaguar' stalks through the stalks

The battle-scarred jaguar is well known to biologists, who have nicknamed him 'Mick Jaguar'. He is estimated to be seven years old and is almost blind in his right eye, probably due to injuries sustained while fighting to defend his territory.

Mr Black, from Washington DC, USA, was on a boat with fellow photographer Jeff Foott when they spotted 'Mick' stalking the Yacare caiman.

Can you spot the jaguar's damaged eye?

He said: "Using the hyacinth plants for cover, 'Mick' slowly entered the small channel and swam up directly behind the caiman, keeping his profile as low as possible.

"Once at the edge of the bank, he exploded from the water and onto the caiman's back, swinging the claws of his right paw into its side.

Caiman have a go if you think you're hard enough... The reptile proves no match for the predatory jaguar

"He then hooked the caiman with his left paw as well and went for a killing bite at the back of the skull - but he didn't have a good angle.

"In the process his momentum carried them both into the water where he readjusted his position and his teeth found purchase on the back of the caiman's neck.

"He then pushed the caiman into the water broadside - pushing a bow wave ahead of them as he swam.

"When he reached the opposite beach he quickly disappeared into the grasses with his kill."

Going in for the kill: The jaguar pounces from behind

According to scientists, there are an estimated 4,000-7,000 jaguars in the Pantanal Wetlands. They have become specialist caiman killers and hunt during broad daylight, surprising the cold-blooded reptiles while they bask in the sun.

Jagu-ARGHH! 'Mick' bites into the caiman's leathery skin

They are also the largest and most powerful jaguars in South America, enabling them to take down larger prey.

Jaguars are starting to become a tourist pull in this area of the Pantanal because they can regularly be seen during the daytime. 

Fighting tooth and nail: The two fierce beasts battle on the bank

Elsewhere, jaguars are often hunted and tend to be shy and reclusive, making them much harder to see in the wild.

Biologist Charles Munn from the Jaguar Research Centre predicted that in 2013, around 4,000 tourists travelled to western Brazil to see the jaguars hunting caiman.

Now THAT'S gotta give you a headache...

The scientist believes this could rise to almost 100,000 eco-tourists per year in 2025 and eclipse sports fishing as the biggest tourist attraction in the wetlands - which span an area the size of the UK.

He added "My goal is to use sustainable, exciting jaguar tourism to stabilise land use and protect forests in half of the Pantanal, which offers the most extraordinary wildlife spectacles in the Americas."

Pick-up tricks: The big cat carries the reptile by its head and neck

There are estimated to be between 50,000 to 100,000 jaguars in the wild throughout South America.

Mr Black runs nature and photographic tours around the world through his company Visionary Wild. For more information, visit http://www.visionarywild.com/