During many years in Peninsula de Osa I’ve heard about stories of pumas chasing people down or facing people on the trails by sitting in front of them in a challenging behavior, looking for a clue of weakness to attack.
I was born in a property bordering Corcovado National Park, in Los Planes Ranger Station area, it was in 1987, the only one neighbor we had by the time was 15 minutes away from home. It was very isolated and the only one way to move around was by horse or on food, and my family was 1 of the first 5 families to reach that area when it was only forest and wild animals.
I heard my first stories from my mom when I was very little, the first one was when a puma was stalking me in front of my house, we had a hunting dog named chester, and it saw the puma coming after me so it ran towards it to defend me but it was chained and when the chain got pulled by the dog it made a loud sound and scared the puma away.
Then I also heard stories of pumas following pregnant women, it was believed they had a attraction by them. There were also stories of pumas chasing children, others of pumas challenging people by simple standing on the trail in front of them.
My First Encounter With a Puma in Corcovado National Park
When a first saw a puma (that I remember of) was when I turned 23 and was visiting Corcovado National Park very often, always with other older guides to get the experience needed to be able to perform as good as possible.
It was during a summer season, maybe march because it was very dry. We were walking with other tourists, observing and taking pictures as well as listening the information given by the leading tour guide, when monkeys starting making a noise I had not heard before, the guide said it was the alarm the monkeys displayed when a predator was seen by them, we opened our eyes towards the sound and soon we saw a puma running thru the bushes.
This time there was no chance to take a photo or to really appreciate the shape of the puma but it was a moment that made happy.
My Encounters with pumas as a Tour Guide in Corcovado National Park
After so many stories I had developed certain fear for pumas. I always wanted to find them because it meant a huge experience for my clients and I did my best to find one, following prints, the sounds of the monkeys and looking in the areas where they had seen one before.
With time I developed a very good sense to find pumas and even recognized their smell and knew where some of them whent to rest very often wich made pressure on me because some tourists wrote about my skills and they looked for me for that reason to do Overnight Tours in Corcovado.
I also learned how to read them and see if they were stressed by my presence or not. Some pumas did not care at all while some others got a bit concerned about me and the tourists.
What to do if a puma attacks you
The only cases I heard from tour guides of real puma attacks who visited the park since 1995 were 2 and no on got really hurt, only very scared! So, my conclusion is that due to all the experience I have had, I dare to say that it is very unlikely that a puma attacks you and it is even more unlikely with the companion of a local tour guide who knows the behavior of the animals and would know how to proceed with the different reactions of pumas.
Here are some of the techniques used to get rid of the big cats:
- Don’t run away, you don’t want to trigger the animal’s predatory instinct.
- Don’t give your back to the feline, it would give it the chance to bite your neck.
- You can lift your arms to look bigger.
- Pick up a branch.
- Some people mention that shouting hard helps.
- If under attack, fight back, Tour guide Bolivar recommends to kick it as hard as possible (by own experience).