That enigmatic cat of the deep forest, the Puma Puma concolor still survives in REGUA! Recent sightings, video footage and field signs all confirm that a small population continues to stalk the trails high in the hills above Guapiaçu.
A female and a juvenile were observed at close quarters by one of our rangers, Rildo, a few weeks ago on the 4×4 Trail, in the heart of the reserve. These cats mark what appears to be the southern-most limit of their territory by scratching and scenting a selected tree on this trail about half a kilometre from adjacent farmland.
In addition, we have discovered fresh pug marks close by, indicating recent movement by these Pumas along the trail. Pumas regularly patrol their territories, scent-marking as they go, to declare their ownership of the territory and to deter other Pumas from encroaching. Territories vary in size, but in areas of low to moderate prey-density might extend to 50 square kilometres.
We have also discovered the presence of a male Puma on the Red Trail, about four or five kilometres away from the female and her youngster. This animal was captured on video by another of our rangers, Adilei, on a well-placed camera trap recently. Males usually occupy bigger territories than females, often over-lapping two or more females whom they dominate and protect from other itinerant males. This cat has been vigorously proclaiming his territorial rights by scratching in the ground on the trail. Other males, perhaps young adults looking for a new territory to occupy, recognise these signs and keep away to avoid conflict with the resident cat.
We therefore know that there are at least three Pumas in REGUA. Given the size of the territories they require and the availability of prey, it is possible that there may exist one or even two other adults, though if that were the case, they would most likely range over adjacent areas as well as REGUA.
We are continuing to monitor these cats with camera traps set at carefully selected points on the trails and through direct observation of field signs.