Chile: on the trail of the elusive puma
, a feature story about puma tracking in Torres del Paine, was published in The Telegraph at the weekend. Journalist Nigel Richardson travelled to Chilean Patagonia in April 2013 on a five day program with specialist wildlife guide Diego Araya, staying each night at EcoCamp Patagonia
based in the heart of the national park.
Nigel was incredibly lucky, sighting his first puma accompanied by her two four month old cubs on the very first morning of his trip and then another two pumas, from different families, on his third and final day of puma tracking. Here Nigel describes the infinitely memorable experience of capturing a moment with the elusive puma on his final day:
One hundred yards away a puma jumped – appeared to levitate – on to a rock that stood up from the undergrowth like a standing stone. The puma sat there for several minutes in the oblique honeyed light, tautly upright, looking like a Lalique ornament as it gazed lakeward into the rising sun. At the base of the rock was another puma, possibly two – another family. The lookout came down and the family moved off. Their scent lingered in the mata negra – intoxicatingly musky and sweet – but we lost them this time. “Are they ghosts or not?” said Diego. “They just disappear. Incredible!”
Nigel skillfully describes the thrill of seeing pumas in their natural habitat and highlights Diego’s responsible approach to wildlife observation and big cat tracking. Whilst he states that “It is immensely gratifying to see big cats free from persecution and thriving in their natural habitat”, he acknowledges the problems pumas face outside the boundaries of the national park, being hunted by Gaucho ‘leoneros’ (lion men) who are paid by ranch owners wanting to protect their sheep from attack. You can read all of Nigel’s informative and captivating account in the full article.
EcoCamp is very pleased to announce the launch of its 2014 special edition Pure Patagonia Premium Photo Adventure
led by Diego Araya himself and a team of expert wildlife trackers. Photographers on this trip can expect to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna of Torres del Paine through careful observation of wildlife species
ranging from the endangered South Andean Deer to the lively Guanaco and, if they “luck out big-time”, the elusive puma.