The Argentinian Disgrace
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
I have recently returned from a trip to Patagonia (new photographic work in progress). One of the objectives of this excursion was to find and photograph pumas in the snowy slopes around Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Visit my Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego gallery which so far contains a selection of photographs captured during March 2015 and you will find some impressions of a truly unforgettable encounter with one these magnificent cats.
A female that was named Mocha.
Mocha was one of the icons of Torres del Paine over the past few years. She was super relaxed around humans on foot and could often be observed from up close. More importantly: Mocha was a successful mother and had raised a first litter near the Laguna Amarga gate. This photograph was made just a few hundred meters below the ranger station as Mocha was scanning the banks of the Río Paine on an early morning hunt.
Sadly, it has been confirmed that Mocha was killed in 2018 on a farm adjoining Torres del Paine National Park across the border in Argentina. Killed not in some form of self-defense by a person who might have felt threatened. Nor in an act of retaliation for livestock depredation. Mocha and a cub she was leading at the time were killed by Argentinian farmers who arranged a barbecue and and actually went on to eat these two pumas.
I find this very disturbing. We're not talking about an indigenous people hunting and consuming any kind of wild animal as a source of protein simply to survive. We are talking about a twisted psychopathic need by some sick guys who just want to show off to each other (I hope Argentinian women are more sensible). These farmers mainly raise sheep and cattle. They have plenty of meat available and there is absolutely no need to kill a wild-living predator for human consumption. Worse still: they take pride in killing animals which grew up inside a national park and never had any reason in their entire life to fear humans.
On 21 September 2019, the Argentinian national rugby team will play France to kick off its campaign in the upcoming Rugby World Cup. As you may know, the Argentinian rugby team is called "Los Pumas". Ironically, the team's emblem animal is a jaguar - a species of which but a handful individuals cling to live in Argentina's north-east. While the Argentinian nation prides itself on the sports field with "Los Pumas", the way Argentina allows wild-living pumas around protected areas to be treated is nothing short of a disgrace.
As it stands we can only hope that more farmers around Patagonia's national parks will start to recognise and realise the enormous potential their land holds for non-consumptive, sustainable wildlife tourism, and that the authorities will pave the way for effective conservation and protection.
August 2019, Patrick Meier