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Elusive Prowler Finally Caught on Film!

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Some of you may recall I recently mentioned Hacienda Zuleta as one of my Top 3 Places to Fall in Love in Ecuador. Maybe I’m not the only critter who feels that way, because the hacienda’s remote trail cameras caught the following images of a visitor patrolling the night in the Andean backcountry…perhaps enroute to a romantic interlude? We received these wonderful images from Zuleta’s current patriarch, Fernando Polanco Plaza (grandson of Ecuador’s past President Galo Plaza Lasso), along with his very entertaining story about how they decided to install the trail cameras. We are thrilled that Hacienda Zuleta’s conservation efforts are yielding these results!

"I've been around Zuleta since I was a little boy, when my Grandfather Galo Plaza was living here. My entire life I've heard rumors that we have Puma roaming around the Andean Páramo (higher elevations, above the primary forest), but never, in all my time living at Zuleta, had I seen one myself or had it verified 100%. Back in 2012, we had a number of Alpaca on our farm killed, and the old Alpaca keeper—who I remember as an old man, back when I was 7!!—told me without hesitation that it was Puma that did it. I remember the hairs standing up on the back of my neck when he told me this, but why had I never seen one...?

In October 2013, our good friend and resident biologist here at Zuleta Yann Potaufeu, who oversees ourCondor Project (and is a great dancer by the way...), discovered a killed Andean Porcupine on the Bear Trail, which comes out of the primary forest right near the condor enclosure. We were wondering what would have done this. Around the same time, another employee claimed to have a close encounter with a Puma near the water source right on the edge of the primary forest! (But this guy can tell some tall tales...)

In November, Yann had the bright idea to install two game cameras along the main trails in this area to see what we could find. Through December we got a lot of cute pictures of foxes, skunks, pudu and birds of all variety.

Then, at 9:00 p.m. on January 11th, the hair on the back of my neck stood up again... and hasn't come down since!!"
- Fernando Polanco Plaza | General Manager Hacienda Zuleta

Keeping it wild,

Sherry Howland 

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