Mountain lions often take down prey larger than themselves, but the llama-like guanaco of South America isn’t going down without a fight.
Watching such a hunt is a rarity and a privilege. These elusive big cats, more commonly called pumas where these videos hail from, are hard enough to capture on film in general. But shooting footage of one actively hunting such a large target? That makes for a truly exceptional video.
Two recent bouts are currently making the rounds online, with the first being a slow-motion showdown for the ages. Captured by renowned wildlife guide and photographer Aaron Baggenstos on his Pumas of Patagonia trip last week, his video contains some of the most impressive mountain lion footage out there.
“Two days ago, I had the immense privilege of witnessing and filming one of the most unforgettable events of my career: a puma hunting a fully grown adult guanaco,” Baggenstos says. “This heart-pounding chase showcases an incredible display of skill, strength, and survival instincts as these two species engage in an age-old dance that epitomizes life in the wild.”
As says, “Prepare to be amazed by this epic puma-guanaco hunt, captured in the stunning wilds of Patagonia”:
Shot on his Red V-Raptor in 8k at 120fps, Baggenstos’ footage illustrates how hard it is to take down prey of the guanaco’s size. Like the majority of puma hunts, this one fails. Most big cats hold a hunt success rate of around 25%. Mountain lions hover around this average with large prey. Animals their size, such as the deer in which cougars specialize, are far easier targets with around a 50% success rate, however.
The Stats: Puma vs Guanaco
On average, male mountain lions (Puma concolor) weigh somewhere between 120 and 220 pounds. Females average less at about 70 to 140 pounds. Weighing more than 200 pounds is an exception and rarity for these big cats. Also called cougars or panthers, the species stands about 2 1/2 feet at the shoulder.
By contrast, the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) can weigh anywhere from 200 to well over 300 pounds. They’re also about three times a puma’s height on all fours, reaching a height of 6 feet with their powerful necks upright.
That’s one big meal.
Mountain lion bags guanaco after intense thrashing
The next video comes courtesy of Nature Is Metal on Instagram. Shot on similar terrain by an undisclosed source, this footage holds several key differences from Baggenstos’.
For one, it’s shot at full speed and closer in, giving a real-time look at the puma’s Patagonia hunt. Secondly, this big cat wins his hard-fought hunt:
As NIM captions, “Guanacos have evolved several strategies to survive in the face of predators. They are known to be able to run at speeds of up to 56 km/h (35 mph), which can help them escape from predators in many situations. They can also use their strong necks and heads to deliver powerful blows, or swing a puma around in an attempt to break the cat’s stranglehold as you can see from the video above.”
And this cougar receives an absolute thrashing by his prey. Despite multiple hooved-kicks to the head and full-force bodyslams, however, she wins the day.