Finding Pumas In Torres Del Paine National Park

The Torres Del Paine national park has been called ‘The Best Place in the World to See Pumas’ by hardened animal-watchers and novices alike. The high-density population of pumas in the area makes the probability of seeing a puma on your trip much more likely than in many other areas – these are difficult creatures to spot and are notoriously shy. People have been known to track them for days and not see any. Pumas are known as cougars or mountain lions in North America.
Using a guide will help you tremendously on your puma-finding mission. The guides know the places where the pumas are likely to be, and more importantly which pumas currently have cubs and where the dens are. This is especially significant as the mothers are fiercely protective of their young and this is when most attacks occur. Puma attacks are rare and usually only happen when an animal has been cornered or its young threatened. The Patagonian pumas have plenty of guanaco to feed on so there is no fear of them attacking through hunger. The guides will get you close enough to see the pumas, but for away enough from them to not feel threatened by your presence.
If you do find one, you’re in for a treat. The puma can run at speeds of 43.5 mph and can jump 40 ft horizontally in one bound. Adult males can be more than 8ft long. They tend to hunt at night but can hunt successfully at any time of day and tend to come out in daylight in areas where they feel less threatened. Unlike some other big cats, pumas hunt alone and their attacks are ambush-based. Their attacks are extraordinarily accurate- they kill their prey 82% of the time.
Pumas were worshipped by the ancient Incan peoples of South America, giving their main god Viracocha attendants of a snake, a condor, a falcon and a puma. The pumas represented the physical world to the Incas. In fact, the pumas meant so much to the Incans that the ancient city of Cusco was built to be in the shape of a huge reclining puma. In North America the Native American peoples also worshipped the puma and included him in many of their folk tales. Among the teachings of the pumas included the lesson of knowing when to pounce and when to be still, retreating to return to the hunt later. Puma-watchers would do well to learn from this. If they then give their hunt enough time and patience, they may eventually get to see the teacher himself.


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