Wildlife photographer Robert Ruiz hid for four hours in freezing temperatures to capture rare footage of a puma chasing down and killing a guanaco. Ruiz witnessed the spectacular wildlife interaction while working in Patagonia and posted the footage back in July. Yesterday, @natureismetal posted the clip on their popular Instagram page where it has since garnered more than 120,000 likes.
The video starts with a cougar sprinting out from behind a bush as a herd of guanacos walk ahead of it in a snow-covered landscape. Then the big cat singles out one of the guanacos and lunges at the lamma-like critter’s neck.
For a moment, it seems like the guanaco might resist the cougar’s explosive attack. It bucks violently, sending the big cat flailing through the air. But the relentless predator never gives up its grip on the guanaco’s neck. It weathers two more hard bucks before bringing the guananco down and presumably killing it with a bite to the neck. Then the video cuts out.
“Fueled by an urge we can barely grasp from our vantage point outside of nature’s unforgiving hierarchy, the puma stakes everything on this critical moment,” the @natureismetal Instagram post reads. “Each split second is a potential tipping point, a delicate balance between life and death for both predator and prey.”
In this instance, the scales tipped in the puma’s favor. But that’s not always the case when a South American mountain lion goes after an adult guanaco. Earlier this year, F&S reported on a similar video captured by photographer Aaron Baggenstos of Aaron’s Photo Tours. That clip shows a different Patagonian guanaco escaping from a lion’s clutches by bucking its muscular neck backwards several times in a row.
Guanacos inhabit the high country of South America’s Andes Mountains. According to Britannica, they move through the mountains in small bands, and they’re closely related to llamas, vicuñas, alpacas, and camels. They’re the primary prey source the Patagonian puma, though the stealthy cats are also known to hunt domestic domestic livestock, waterfowl, upland birds, and hares.