A. Romero, NPS intern
Puma Concolor- The Cat of Many Colors
To many people, the words "mountain lion" whispered through the trees brings to mind thoughts of freedom, independence, and individuality, or images of pristine, untouched wilderness. The mountain lion is all that and more. It goes by many names, including puma, cougar, and panther. Regardless of what one chooses to call it, the mountain lion has a huge American range, stretching from the northern to the southern borders, and from coast to coast.
There are six subspecies of these huge cats in North America alone. Mountain lions are the ultimate in carnivorous animals, perfectly adapted to fit their place in the world. Their value is in the way they help to maintain biological diversity by preying on smaller animals such as deer and rabbits.
Mountain lions are very reclusive and will try to avoid encounters with humans if at all possible. They are not often seen around Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, but it is known that some may live in the Ajo Mountains. It is a rare and special treat to see one of beautiful and elusive creatures in their natural habitat.
If you are interested in reading a fascinating narrative about mountain lions., try Soul Among Lions: The Cougar as Peaceful Adversary by Harley Shaw.
For more information on mountain lion safety, tips for living in mountain lion country, and even education lessons for classes, see the Arizona Game and Fish Department website.
Did You Know?
It's not easy, practical, or legal to get "water" from a barrel cactus within the Monument. Even if you tried to get past the spines, it would be like sucking on a bad-tasting dish sponge. The best thing to do is fill a canteen with good drinking water before leaving home.