Every hiker has dreams of seeing certain things while out in the Costa Rica jungle. Part of what makes hiking in this country fun for me is that you never really know what you will see. The books may tell you the ranges of Costa Rica wildlife animals and birds. But as my friend Bart says, “the animals don’t read the guide books.”
There are so many things I would like to see……and near the top of the list, wild cats,
I recently had one of the most amazing sightings on a Costa Rica jungle hike in the Central Pacific. Usually, I tend to hike alone, as I like to take pictures, spend time in one location if the birds are active, and be silent. I tend to see much more Costa Rica wildlife while hiking alone. So many people hike in the Costa Rica jungle and don’t understand the importance of silence. The quieter you are, the better chance you have of seeing wildlife.
I was walking and had already seen a deer, agouti, lots of capuchin monkeys, three kinds of trogon and many other birds. I saw a motmot to my left and stopped to watch it since it’s my favorite bird. The motmot had no tail, so I was sadly watching it wondering what happened to the bird.
All of a sudden, I heard loud screaming, like animals fighting.
I first thought it was monkeys. I looked to my right and saw nothing, so I just stood there watching the motmot. Seconds later, two creatures jumped onto the path in front of me, only a few feet away! Before I could even take a picture, one ran back to the left, and one jumped to the right. I got a picture of the creature jumping, but only the body. Thinking perhaps it was two foxes, or something similar. I was annoyed I didn’t get a better picture for identifying the animal.
So, I decided to walk about ten feet away and wait a few minutes. I figured if the animals were friends or siblings, one would cross to be with its friend again.
About five minutes later, the creature from the right came back on the trail but facing away from me. I started snapping pictures. It then turned and looked at me, and started walking slowly towards me. I didn’t move. It then went back to the right. After a minute, I started walking again, away from the spot.
Once I was a little ways away, I looked at my pictures. I thought, “wow, that is a cat (I think). Not a fox!”. I had no idea what cat though. I was thinking about all this in my head. Cats are generally nocturnal, and my sighting was at around 3:30 p.m., so this was not normal. There were two cats, and typically, adult cats are solitary. The cats seemed to be not paying much attention while playing, and adult cats would generally know if a human was around and avoid the area. I started to think maybe they were juveniles.
I drove home, and showed the picture to my husband, who immediately said “puma cat.” So I pulled out my mammal guide book and looked online, but still didn’t know for sure, so I asked some of my wildlife expert friends. They all confirmed my sighting was a puma cat juvenile.
I then started researching puma cats online, as I wanted to learn more about them.
Puma cats are also known as mountain lion, cougar, catamount, panther, painter, and
Costa Rica puma cats are active in day and night. They stalk their prey from trees and the ground. The
I still cannot believe I was chosen to see these beauties. I also have to wonder where their momma was! Yikes!
I am so beyond blessed to get to live in Costa Rica and see these once in a lifetime animals. Pure beauty.