Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Traditionally it has been said that there are seven big cats: lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, cheetah and puma. Recently we have learned that the two species of clouded leopard are in fact big cats (indeed we have learned that there are two species of clouded leopard), sitting squarely in the subfamily Pantherinae, and it has been confirmed that the cheetah and puma are large small cats, belonging to the subfamily Felinae.

All the same, when I first, in a strange, difficult time last April, decided to go in search of all the big cats in a single year (an idea which had swum round my head for some time), I wanted particularly to see the traditional seven in a single year: lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, cheetah and puma (though I was very keen in the process to see leopard and lion in both Africa and Asia).

I am tired this evening, after three long days on the road (so to speak: it would be truer to say I have been in flight for most of them). What's more I have to be up at six again tomorrow and it is already after eleven. Nonetheless, today these goals came true. For this afternoon my new group saw two pumas.

There was much, much more to see and hear and feel today, but I must sleep. Condors, Guanacos. Black-necked swans. Flying steamer ducks. Upland and ashy-headed geese. Darwin's rheas. The startlingly beautiful Torres del Paine.

And two pumas, a courting pair (just as my first jaguars this year) by their guanaco kill. With them my Big Cat Quest is complete. It's not of course: there are possibly more pumas and more jaguars to come, plus - I hope - the Iberian lynx. But these seven (and two subspecies of two of them) are seen.

This evening, driving back from the park to our hotel on the dazzlingly lovely Pehoé Lake, I felt ineffably privileged to have seen all that this year I have seen.

I am ineffably privileged.

Cats seen in 2015
cheetah Acinonyx jubatus fearonii                3
serval Leptailurus serval serval                    3
leopard Panthera pardus suahelicus            2
lion Panthera leo nubica                              78
snow leopard Panthera uncia                       3
jungle cat Felis chaus                                   2
tiger Panthera tigris tigris                            13
leopard Panthera pardus fusca                    4
lion Panthera leo persica                              7
leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis           15
flat-headed cat Prionailurus planiceps          1
wildcat hybrid Felis silvestris grampia/catus  1
jaguar Panthera onca                                    8
puma Puma concolor                                    2


  1. Well done Nick. I've enjoyed (am still enjoying) reading your blog posts recounting your adventures. Keep on a troshin!

  2. You effinwell are! Congratulations!