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Peru
Discovering ancient wonders and mysteries in Peru is a never ending story. The country is full of hidden treasures. Anyway the biggest experience you can get in Peru is meeting the friendly and hospitable inhabitants.

Amazon, Peru - Looking into the red eyes of the puma - Part 2 of 3!

2004-12-29
We were deep in the wild and dense jungle. Me and my friends where desperate to observe a puma on our expedition, but when we felt the presence, it was quite scary......
Maybe it was no puma at all. Later we understood that the colour of felines eyes in the night reflects like yellow-white-sky blue colour. It's the same for puma like any other cat.

The red eyes our guide Ruby noticed in that night was probably not a puma, but more likely the eyes of a tapir. It could also be a peccary. But anyway it was scary situation.

A tapir is a large Amazonian animal, related to rhinos, with pig-like heads, long fleshy noses and rounded ears.

Photo. A peccary is eating lunch in Amazon. © Josh Cutler.

We also heard from others that tapirs and peccaries used to sleep in the area where we camped. They don't make any sound, just a whistling call, and it's only possible see the reflecting red eyes and not the rest of the body with the flashlight (because they are dark brown in colour).

Photo. Puma searching for food.
© Expediciones VILCA.

I wouldn`t like to be the prey.

But was it something else that we spottet in the dark, for example a tapir?

Tapirs can hardly make sound when they get closer (approach) to clay licks (at the beginning). They are known to be very carefully. We can hear when they walk in the mud in the clay lick and when they run is similar to the horses (their relatives too).

Tapirs are mostly nocturnal, partly diurnal; terrestrial; solitary, but several use the same area. Eyes shine bright pale yellow.

When we used red light to observe that probably was a tapir that night in the clay lick, we saw red eyes.

Photo. Ruby Huanca, our brave guide.

She works as an independent guide (freelance).

Ruby can be contacted for information and bookings on e-mail: rubyhuanca@hotmail.com

Peccaries' nearest relatives are the pigs, but they are in a separate family and differ from true pigs in a number of features. They can be noisy in large active herbs, (white-lipped peccary) or quite quiet unless surprised at close range (collared peccary), but both species have strong odour distinct from each other. They are diurnal and terrestrial and eyes shine weak, reddish. 

That night we heared something like a fight, maybe it was a feline that scared them. The reddish eyes could have been from peccaries too. We didn't smell any peccaries, but the cook was so scared that she moved and slept close to our boat drivers. She said it was because of the peccaries, but who knows.

Read more about Amazon in part 3 - It's about how the puma and other animals are linked to the mysterious Inca village, Machu Picchu.

Stein Morten Lund, 2 April 2004

Additional information
I will especially thank my excellent Ruby Huanca for proving me with useful information to this and other articles about Amazon. Ruby can be contacted for information and bookings on e-mail: rubyhuanca@hotmail.com.

Puma from dry habitats are pale grey or yellow; those from rainforest range from yellow-brown to dark red-brown.     
• Puma eyes shine: bright pale yellow (Puma concolour): almost the same colour.
• Brazilian tapir: bright pale yellow (Tapirus terrestris).
• Collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu) and white-lipped peccary (Tayassu peccary) eyeshine: weak, reddish).
• Red brocket deer (Mazama Americana): brilliant yellow-white.
• Jaguar (Panthera Onka): bright greenish-yellow.

General information and bookings for an exciting tropical tour:
Expediciones VILCA
VILCA EXPEDICIONES
Plateros 363 Telephone: 51 84 244751
Fax: 51 84 251872
Mobile phone: 9681002
e-mail: manuvilca@terra.com.pe
Website: www.cbc.org.pe/manuvilca
Base of operation: Santa Mónica Jose María Arguedas J 9, CUSCO - PERU

Conservation about nature and wildlife:
As more people visit the jungle in Amazon and learn about its flora and fauna, more people will become involved in the work for conservation. Local people and governments will also see that the long term value of the rainforest may be worth more if the rainforest remains intact.

Peru currently has roughly 5 percent of its territory protected by a system of around 50 national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and other designated areas, a process which has developed extremely well since it was begun in the 1960s.

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