Since opening Awasi Patagonia, our Relais & Chateaux lodge in Southern Chile, we have been working to protect the surrounding wildlife, including pumas.
By leasing adjacent sheep farms and working together with neighbouring estancias, we have helped restore the natural habitat of native species, and now between 9 and 12 pumas roam an area that was devoid of wildlife.
The Awasi guides help monitor the puma populations and keep hunters away, even during the off-season. They also collaborate with scientists and researchers to gather information about the behavioural patterns of these species.
After just two years of active protection in the Awasi Reserve, we are already observing an increase in fauna in the area.
Not only is there a steady puma population in the area, but other species like the Geoffroy’s cat (which was believed to be extinct in the region) have benefited from the protection as well.
So it was of great interest to read in The Guardian that pumas enrich ecosystems and support more than 485 other species. the study “found the large cats contribute 1.5m kilograms of meat a day to scavenger communities across North and South America, with 281 species getting to feed on carcasses they have killed.”
According to the article, “pumas in Patagonia contributed three times more carrion to the ecosystem than grey wolves in Yellowstone national park, despite living at lower densities.”
One thing we have been working on in Patagonia is the co-habitation of pumas and local people.
Kate Vannelli, a big cat specialist at WWF, is quoted in The Guardian saying: “This study helps to highlight how there is an interdependence between people and big cats, and big cats are inextricably tied to their landscapes, as demonstrated by the huge amount of diverse biotic relationships highlighted in this study. This integration is extremely important to acknowledge if we want to conserve big cats.”
Awasi Patagonia is a 14-room lodge on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. Each room has a private guide and 4×4 drive so all excursions are tailor-made – ideal for puma spotting.