Big cats in the Dracula Reserve

SnapShot(4)Puma photographed by our camera trap!


Male puma scent-marking in our Dracula Reserve.  (Ignore the date stamp, it was not properly set.)

Last month, as part of our investigation of land we are trying to purchase for our Dracula Reserve (sponsored by the Orchid Conservation Alliance, Rainforest Trust, University of Basel Botanical Garden, and their individual donors), Javier Robayo, Juan Pablo Reyes, Jorge Brito, and Hector Yela set up camera traps to observe the hidden mammal fauna of the area under consideration. As we have seen in our earlier camera trap operations about 14 km to the south, these forests are full of life that is never seen by humans. In the above video, a healthy male puma (Felis concolor) visits our banana baits and  makes a scent mark right in front of the camera. This is the same male that we had filmed in our earlier operation, confirming that all these properties are ecologically inter-connected.  We need to maintain their connectivity by linking our existing blocks of properties, and this is one of our current priorities here.

Next, the banana baits were visited by a forest rodent called an agouti, who sniffs the puma urine. This is probably the stuff of nightmares for a defenseless agouti.

The next visitor was a well-fed female puma, clearly very interested in the scent of the male.

There were also several other visitors to the banana baits, as well as animals passing through accidentally. The most interesting were several unusually patterned squirrels; we are not completely certain of their identity:

There were also a few birds, like this group of Dark-backed Wood-Quail (Odontophorus melanotus), a Choco endemic species:

Another passer-by was a Rufous-breasted Ant-Thrush (Formicarius rufipectus) who was captured in reflected infrared in near-darkness:

This is what the ant thrush looks like:158271066.Q9wtg8ln.RufousbreastedAntthrush

Rufous-breasted Ant-Thrush. Photo: Roger Ahlman.

Quite a busy spot! Please help us protect it by donating to our sponsors:

Orchid Conservation Alliance

Rainforest Trust

University of Basel Botanical Garden,

Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation

6 thoughts on “Big cats in the Dracula Reserve

  1. [cid:image002.jpg@01D3B197.0F830860]

    Hi Lou –

    Very cool footage. But, just as a sceptical science type guy, how do you know this is the same male you saw in the camera trap 13 km south ? I don’t see a lot of dictinguishing marks.

    Peter S. Tobias, President
    Orchid Conservation Alliance
    564 Arden Drive
    Encinitas, CA 92024

  2. Hi Lou,

    Great videos. I’ve been lucky to have seen a puma before, as far north as they get. It was in Big Bend National Park on a birding trip up quite high. By chance I looked across a wide gap of possibly a 1/2 a mile and saw a mule deer feeding. Pretty soon I saw a puma waiting for that deer to get closer, so I was very interested to see the next event. The deer walked the other direction so the puma had to wait for another opportunity. Even powerful predators go hungry for a while.

    Your videos of the male and female pumas that you showed are great. The close filming of individual actions such as marking a site through rear paw digging was special. The agouti with your comment is also nice. Several times in Central America I came upon agoutis wandering around in feeding groups. I suppose they breed enough to maintain populations with predators consuming what they can.


  3. Anyone seeing any species of wild cat in nature should consider themselves very lucky!
    Loved the footage in this hot spot of activity. Wondering, tho, why a puma would stop at a banana trap?

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