This photo of a Puma looking straight at me went viral. This is the story.
It took some months before I was able to take such a shot of a Puma. I have seen Puma's passing by in front of trap cams but never have I seen one with my own eyes. In November it became clear that a young Puma was wandering near the lodge, searching for a place of his own. One of our boatsmen had the first encounter. He dozed off for a little while and when he opened his eyes, he was looking straight at this Puma. Luckily he was armed with his boots and was able to send the Puma back into the forest.
My first encounter was during the second week of December 2021 together with Keiran. The same Puma was wandering near the pool area and was later resting in the dense bushes near the Inspiration Point. We were able to see him, lying relaxed with only 2 meters between us. Because the area was so dense our camera couldn't find this Puma. Every photographers frustration. But was I glad to see a Puma for the first time with my own eyes.
And my patience was rewarded. Here he is, lying again relaxed during the night of December 27, 2021. He was first spotted by tourists and I am glad they called us, because this is my first attempt to photograph him. He was not only relaxing but also taking a bath, by cleaning himself with his paws. Afterwards he slowly walked back into the dense vegetation.
The next morning, on December 28, 2021, he passed right around lunchtime right near the river. I was taking photos from the lodge explaining why this photo isn't really incredible, but I am still super excited to have a second chance to photograph this awesome wild cat.
And on January 1, 2022, I was rewarded for not taking an afternoon nap. I heard some birds calling and chattering frantically. When I went to check it out, my heart stopped for a moment. Because there he was, the Puma, walking right in front of my house. Since the rest of the staff was resting it was just me and the Puma. I didn't hesitate at all, grabbed my camera and took my chance of a lifetime. This was the first shot.
The second shot of the Puma. I can assure you that my heart was pounding really fast and adrenaline rush kicked in. I wasn't afraid at all but I was quite alert. While taking photos of the Puma I was also scanning the area where I could possibly hide just in case. I kept getting closer and closer and that's where my patience, enthusiasm and perseverance was rewarded ......
.... because he also noticed me. This was just for a moment. It didn't last that long, but when I took this photo I knew that this memory and experience will last me for eternity. I couldn't have asked for a better angle and posture from this Puma. Right after this moment ......
.... he jumped over the gutter and rushed back into the dense vegetation. He was able to do that in a couple of seconds. And he wasn't even running.
After this incredible encounter I have seen him a couple more times crossing over or passing by but never as close as this one.