Puma family at the lake side – Patagonia, Chile 2018

Earlier in the day we had watched this family devour a newly-born Guanaco. Eventually they moved off to their favoured resting pace for the day – the shore of Lago Sarmiento. We caught up with the family early in the evening after a decent hike down to the hills over looking the lake. This lake gives its name to this female Puma.  Lago Sarmiento is one of a number of closed lakes of the Torres del Paine Drainage Basin.  The lunar-like landscape is made up of  Thrombolites. These rock-like structures are formed in a manner akin to coral but by the action of cyanobacteria. They provided the ideal day time shelter for this Puma family. We watched until they left their shelter to begin their evening hunt,

The Puma (Puma concolor), is also commonly known as the cougar or mountain lion.  The subspecies in Patagonia is the South American Puma, Puma c. patagonica. Pumas are the fourth largest cat after Tigers, Lions and Jaguars. Adult males are around 2.4m long from nose to tail, and females average 2.0m in length.  Males weigh an average of 80kg but can reach 100kg. Females typically weigh between 29 and 64kg, averaging 50kg.

The breeding season is December to March with a three-month gestation period and a litter size of up to six cubs, although fewer is the norm. The cubs are weaned at around three months and from then on the cubs will gradually start to accompany their mothers. At around 6 months the cubs will hunt for small prey on their own but they will stay with their mothers for about two years.