PUMA - The American Cougar
During the spring, members of the Bosque Medicinal in the El Paraiso reservation gradually managed to capture several shots of pumas thanks to the photo traps which were recently installed in the forest. Over time, we have found that it is not just one individual, but the whole family with cubs.
The American cougar, also called the mountain or silver lion and possibly the panther, is the second largest feline in America (after the jaguar), the fourth largest in the world (after the lion, tiger and the aforementioned jaguar) and the largest representative of small cats, although it reaches larger than the African leopard, which is one of the big cats. The Puma can weigh more than 100 kg and reach a total length of up to 290 cm.
Puma is a territorial cat and marks its territory with odour (rubbing, urine, faeces or scratches). The size of the territories decreases or increases depending on the environment and amount of the nourishment. They are fed mainly on ungulates. But they also attack smaller animals and cattle. They prefer a creeping technique and after they attack their pray mostly with one jump and bite into a neck. Than means victory for them.
Cougars don't have a certain reproductive season. The peak can be in summer and also during early autumn. The female is rutting 8 to 9 days. And because of that irregular rutting time the female can copulate with many males. The act can reach to 70 times a day. Duration of pregnancy is something around 3 months. Puma gives birth mostly from one to six whelps. They stay with their mother for up to two years (on average 15 months). Young pumas begin to reproduce in two to four years. They can live a maximum of about 18 years in the wild, and up to 30 years in captivity.
Before the arrival of white settlers, pumas used to live throughout all United States. Than they disappeared from the East Coast because of humans. Now they are also critically endangered in Florida (apparently only a few of specimens survive here). In a past time people saw them as a threat and considered that it's necessary to shoot them. In the USA, they survived only in mountain areas. Since 1960, hunting has been restricted and numbers of pumas are starting to grow again. In Central and South America, the cougar lives in most of their original places.
Puma is listed as a less affected species, but due to the growing population of humans and the impact of urbanisation, it is becoming more and more in conflict with humans. It loses its natural habitat and is still hunted legally and illegally in some places due to the breeding of domestic animals.
Cougars are usually solitary and meet only during copulation time. The whelps spend a relatively long time with their mother. Each cougar has its own defined territory. Territories of adult males usually have an area of about 250 km2, territories of females are mostly smaller, 50 to 150 km2 (usually less than 100 km2). The overall size of the territories depends on different biotopes, amount of suitable prays and also how much they are disturbed by humans.
Puma is a common name used in Latin America and almost throughout Europe. The term started to be used also in the USA. The first official use in English was in 1777. English took it from Spanish, where the name was adopted in the 16th century. The origin term came from Quechuan, an Inca language that means "powerful" or “strong.
So help us protect these powerful creatures and let them live joyfully in a Jungle of Amazonia!