I’ve noticed lions, leopards and cheetahs within the wild, however although I reside in, hike and mountain motorbike in cougar nation — Southern California — I’ve by no means noticed a mountain lion. The second one greatest large cat within the Americas, outranked handiest by way of the jaguar, the mountain lion has a name for being secretive and stealthy. However in Chile, pumas, because the tawny cats are recognized there, are making a reputation for themselves in vacationer circles. Patagonia is changing into the go-to position to peer pumas within the wild.
Chile and Its Mountain Lions or Pumas
Chile is odd for its dearth of predators. Pumas, in addition to raptors just like the Andean condor, are the principle threats to prey animals. Their vary takes them from the rustic’s some distance north all of the means south to the Strait of Magellan. In Patagonia, the place prey is ample, pumas have a tendency to be higher than in the remainder of the Americas. They feed on guanacos (kinfolk of the llama), hares, ducks, rheas (far away kinfolk of ostrich and emu) and, alongside the coast, penguins.
As a result of pumas rule the Patagonian panorama, which is populated extra by way of sheep, farm animals and guanacos than by way of people, they stalk fearlessly over the grasslands, little deigning to note the people who’ve come to peer them. They’re a lot more serious about searching a couple of hares close to Hotel Las Torres in Torres del Paine Nationwide Park, ignoring the vacationers following at the back of them with binoculars and cameras.
Puma Recognizing Journeys in Chile’s Patagonia Area
Various lodges within the space now be offering puma trekking journeys wherein visitors move out with a information aware of the animals’ behavior. Whilst they may not be as visual or out there because the lions ubiquitous in Africa, with a excellent information, guests stand a very good likelihood of seeing them. “Guiding is all the time a very powerful section,” says natural world biologist Invoice Given, proprietor and founding father of shuttle corporate The Wild Source. “You wish to have guides with native wisdom to understand the most productive places and the other folks and their behavior. Mountain lions, or pumas as they’re referred to as right here, frequently have common behavior. They prefer to patrol a undeniable space. That’s their recognized vary, and so they’ll come thru on a typical time series.”
It snowed closely our first time out, and the pumas slept in, however we had been lucky to have sightings on the second one and 3rd days, together with the aforementioned hare hunt (each hares simply eluded the puma and lived to hop some other day) and a couple of pumas mating.
Chile’s Different Wild Cats
Whilst we weren’t lucky sufficient to peer them, some smaller, lesser-known cats additionally make their properties during the rugged Chilean nation-state, which levels from mountains to abandon to coast.
Some of the rarest is the Andean mountain cat (Leopardus jacobita), in most cases discovered at elevations of five,900 toes or upper, and little noticed apart from on digital camera traps. Weighing about nine kilos, they game a silver-gray coat with brownish-yellow patches at the frame and a thick, hairy, banded tail.
The colocolo (Leopardus colocolo), sometimes called the pampas cat, is even smaller, weighing in at four to eight kilos. Just like the puma, colocolos are at house in many various habitats, together with grassland, wooded area, marshes, open forests, semi-arid wilderness and steppe nation as much as 16,000 toes. Their look varies, starting from smoky grey to darkish rusty brown to russet recognizing. Colocolos dine on small mammals, rodents, reptiles, birds, eggs and beetles.
Some of the extra commonplace cats in South The us is Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi), named after 19th-century French zoologist Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. In Chile, the Geoffroy’s cat is located within the Andes, Araucania, Aysen and Magallanes areas. Little larger than a home cat at 7 to 17 kilos, the noticed tom cat with the yellow-brown to silver-gray coat has a tail that may make up a 3rd of the frame’s general period. Geoffroy’s cat hunts rodents, hares, frogs and fish, amongst different small prey. Strange dependancy: His “muddle field” is within the treetops.
Least in dimension of the wildcats of the Americas, the kodkod, or guigna (Leopardus guigna), weighs four to six kilos. The tiny night time stalker travels throughout treetops in Chile’s Coquimbo and Aysen areas searching for rodents, birds and reptiles. His grayish-brown to russet coat has small darkish spots at the frame, abnormal traces at the higher again and neck, and darkish stripes underneath the eyes, giving him the semblance of a puma kitten.
Thumbnail: Images ©Jerry M. Thornton.
In regards to the writer
Kim Campbell Thornton has written about cats and canine for greater than 30 years. She is the writer of greater than two dozen books and masses of articles on puppy care, well being and behaviour.
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