Encounters with the Wild Patagonian Puma

Kendal Bower April 18, 2016 0

It was our first evening at EcoCamp Patagonia when we saw it—our first puma. Relaxing on a cool evening, a female puma lay at the bottom of a large hill directly below camp. She didn’t seem to notice that she sparked a great buzz, causing a mass of paparazzi to congregate along the ridge line and photograph her from above.

The puma soon spotted a hare several yards away. She rose slowly, silently; crouched low, head down, eyes focused. She stretched each strong, long leg and landed each paw with purpose as she made a wide circle, backtracking to get out of the hare’s sight. While she slowly maneuvered through the tall grass and bushes, the excitement on top of the hill mounted—joyous whispers of disbelief barely contained our giddiness. Suddenly, the hare and puma took off racing as if the starting pistol was fired. Which moved first was hard to tell. Dashing out of sight into the bushes, a wave of cheers erupted throughout her audience above as if the theater curtain had dropped.

Puma in Patagonia

Our first puma on the prowl at camp. © Kendal Yoakum

This was just one of 10 puma sightings our group had during our time in the wilderness of Chile. While the number of pumas we saw on our trip is highly unusual, puma numbers in Chile are on the rise thanks, in large part, to their protection within national park boundaries.

Puma in Chile

Pumas are notoriously difficult to spot. © Kendal Yoakum

 

Mother puma and cubs

A mother puma and her three cubs. The mother is barely peeking out behind the rocks on the left. © Kendal Yoakum

Puma Facts

  • The Patagonian puma is one of 27 recognized puma subspecies
  • Pumas can have home ranges up to 40 square miles
  • The guanaco is the most common meal for Patagonian pumas
  • The puma is Patagonia’s largest predator
Guanaco in Patagonia

Guanacos are a major food source for pumas in Patagonia. © Kendal Yoakum

 

Curious puma in Patagonia

A curious puma checks out our guide. © Expedition Leader Cassiano “Zapa” Zaparoli

Traveling to the Peaks, Lakes & Glaciers of Patagonia with Nat Hab fulfilled a major bucket list item of mine. The natural beauty of the Andean landscapes and wildlife is awe-inspiring. Witnessing the mysterious, graceful puma is an experience that I will never forget.

 Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

A view of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. © Kendal Yoakum

“Puma Facts” sourced from PBS.

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