Thursday, 8 October 2015


As we drove back this morning from a beautiful drive I was penning a post in my head. Sooner or later we had to go out and not see a puma. Our luck has been verging on absurd.

'Para, para, para!' in José's breathy, excited voice has become an anthem of our tour. It means, 'Stop, stop, stop!' It means puma. As we drove home, under a cerro at the roadside, close to the shore of Sarmiento Lake, he said it again today; and there, under a cliff, was a cat's face. Yet another cat's face. 'Son varios,' he said, 'There are several.' I have no idea how he knew this; no-one could see anything but a face, but he was sure. He was right: there were indeed three, as we found going up to the hill. Inside the park walking is not allowed off few established routes, but here we were outside the park, on land which we have permission to visit. The pumas, which we saw slinking away through the brush of the plateau behind us, were the last female we saw in the evening two days ago and the full-grown cubs to which we saw her calling. Two new cubs for us.

Getting back to the bus José asked me to tell the group, as I'd done even after our first sighting, that puma-watching is rarely this easy, this good, and that sometimes he goes two or three days without seeing a single one. 'We don't believe you,' they replied, each smiling. Reaching the our hotel, on an island in the blue eye of Pehoé Lake, José honoured me greatly: 'When are you coming back?' he asked.

Yesterday afternoon's female puma at the park gate,
a low resolution copy of a photo kindly given to me by Helen Pinchin

Yesterday evening's two pumas by the roadside
by Helen Pinchin

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                                    14

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