‘Elusive’, ‘shy’, ‘ghost-like’ – all words and phrases that are commonly used to describe the Puma (Puma concolor). They are thought to be among the hardest of the big cats to spot, yet cover a geographical range greater than any mammal within the Americas.
Pumas have adapted to the dense tropical forests of Brazil, the windswept desert steppes of Patagonia, the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, and everywhere in-between. While they are adaptable it doesn’t mean that populations are safe and in many places their numbers are few and they continue to be threatened.
Recent evidence confirms that a small population continues to stalk the trails of the Atlantic Forest, high in the hills of Guapi Assu Reserve (REGUA), which World Land Trust (WLT) has supported since 2005.
Images from camera traps, alongside scratch marks, scats and pug marks all indicate their survival in the heart of Guapi Assu Reserve.
With support from WLT, Guapi Assu Reserve has become a stronghold for biodiversity in the ever-diminishing landscape of the Atlantic Forest, which is now reduced to less than 7 per cent of its former cover. But Brazil’s economy is booming, land prices are escalating and development is rife.
Against this backdrop of prosperity, REGUA staff have identified a number of properties for sale adjacent to the existing reserve and in urgent need of protection. The sooner those holdings are saved and incorporated into the reserve, the better it will be for Pumas and other rare species of the Atlantic Forest.
WLT is currently raising funds to purchase one of these parcels of land. Because the target property will safeguard additional habitat highly suitable for Pumas and other wild cats of the Atlantic Forest, some of the funds raised through WLT’s Big Cat Appeal will be used to complete the purchase of this property.
Guapi Assu is an 18,000-acre stronghold within Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, one of the most biodiverse ecoregions in the world, but also one of the most under threat.
The territory of a Puma varies in size, usually in correlation to the amount of food or prey available to these big cats.
Guapi Assu reserve is large enough for at least three Pumas, and given the average size of territories they require and the availability of prey, it is possible that one or two other adults may also be present, their ranges extending beyond the protection of REGUA’s boundaries.