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Rare Puma Spotted on Patagonia Wildlife Safari!

On Sunday 2nd December, guests on EcoCamp’s Patagonia Wildlife Safari were treated to a rare sighting of Patagonia’s elusive predator, the majestic puma!

Luckily for us, everyone had their cameras at the ready to capture this special moment, including this incredible photo and others taken by Wildlife Safari guest Scott H. McGurrin, which are causing quite a stir on EcoCamp's Facebook page.

We’ve got all of the details of how it happened in our exclusive interview with expert EcoCamp Patagonia guides Rafael Poblete and Claudio Bravo.

 

How exciting to see a puma in the wild! Tell us all about it!

Claudio: We were on our way back to EcoCamp to enjoy the evening aperitif, around eight o’clock, when we spotted a female puma.

Rafael: She was hunting Spectacled Ducks by the lake, probably for her cubs. We watched her for about 30 minutes and during that time we saw her catch four ducks!

How can you tell this puma is a female?

Claudio: The biggest difference between males and females is their size, with males being slightly bigger. Then there’s the head. Males have a wider face and females have more slender features.

What made you think that she was hunting for food for her cubs? Do male pumas not hunt?

Rafael: We have a hunch that she was hunting to feed her cubs although we didn’t see them. We were really struck by the fact that she had been piling all the ducks she caught together, hiding them away in one place.

Claudio: Male pumas do also hunt but they only catch what they need for themselves, they live alone and they’re only seen with females during the mating season. Only a female would make the effort to catch more than she needed to have enough to feed her cubs.

Do EcoCamp’s Wildlife Safari guides know where they’re most likely to spot a puma and are they always on the lookout?

Claudio: Pumas are usually sighted on the Patagonian steppe - the wide, open grasslands - and all of EcoCamp’s Wildlife Safari guides know where they’ve been seen in the past.

Do you know what camera was used to take the photos? Did everyone on the Wildlife Safari take photos?

Rafael: These photos were taken by one of our guests, Scott H. McGurrin, with a Canon EOS 60D semi-pro camera and a 300mm telephoto lens to zoom right up close to the puma.

Claudio: And of course everybody was taking photos! We were lucky enough to stay and watch the puma hunting for a whole half hour, so there was plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the show.

How did everyone react when they saw the puma?

Rafael: There was a lot of surprise and excitement. Everyone knows how difficult it is to see a puma in the wild in Patagonia, never mind watching it hunt! There are very few recorded sightings of pumas hunting. It was like hitting the jackpot!

Do you think that seeing a puma adds an extra special something to the Wildlife Safari?

Rafael: Of course! The excitement that comes with a puma sighting is always the same and it never gets old. Even for us guides. The five times that I’ve personally seen a puma when out on a Wildlife Safari with guests were really joyful occasions for everyone involved. It's a magical moment that nobody ever forgets!

Do you think visitors should come to Patagonia with the aim of seeing a puma, or are they better off just enjoying the flora and fauna, making the most of what’s on offer all year round?

Claudio: Aiming to see a puma is second nature to us, we guides are always on the lookout for them. It really is very hard to spot them. More often than not the questions people ask us have something to do with pumas and we usually take people to the places we’ve spotted them in the past.

Rafael: But there are still plenty of weird and wonderful animals to look out for in Patagonia even if you don’t see a puma. Guanacos, huemuls, condors... There’s so much to see here, a Wildlife Safari is never boring!

rafael poblete

Rafael Poblete
Favorite Tour: EcoCamp Patagonia Wildlife Safari
Despite being born and bred in Santiago, Rafael feels more relaxed in the midst of nature, hiking and leading groups through Torres del Paine while snapping awesome photos.

 

claudio bravoClaudio Bravo
Favorite Tour: EcoCamp Patagonia Wildlife Safari
Claudio joined the Wildlife Safari team in 2011 fresh from his eco-tourism studies and with an overriding passion for nature and life in the wilderness.

 

Learn more about EcoCamp Patagonia’s guides here! And book your Patagonia Wildlife Safari here!