Small But Mighty: Meet Nala

Nala is a five month old orphaned puma that was found and rescued last September from a private property in the Pantanal – she was just a few weeks old when she was found. The Environmental Police took her to a Rescue Centre in Campo Grande (Mato Grosso do Sul capital) where biologists and veterinarians took care of her. She was still very little and had to be fed with milk and protein.

Nala quickly started to gain weight and outgrow her enclosure at the centre. She also started to become increasingly aggressive when the staff offered food. The Rescue Centre called Onçafari, a conservation organisation dedicated to scientific research and rewilding with the aims of conserving biodiversity in various Brazilian biomes. Predominantly, Onçafari work with jaguars and maned wolves but in 2020 they did take in a puma which they successfully rewilded. After watching some videos of Nala, they decided to help, and to transport her to an empty enclosure in the Pantanal in an effort to begin re-wilding her.

Nala arrived in the Pantanal on January 11th 2021 and adapted very well to the new, much larger space, which is surrounded by forest. In this new environment it is possible to withdraw human interaction and allow Nala to develop her own ‘puma’ skills and instincts.She is very healthy, gaining weight and getting bigger and stronger.  The complex re-wilding process will ensure Nala is able to hunt wild prey before she is released.

Although rewilding pumas is usually a faster process than with jaguars, it still requires considerable expertise and also resources. We are delighted to be able to contribute to her journey back to the wild. Resources required range from cameras traps to monitor Nala’s life,  prey so she can learn and improve her hunting skills, to a GPS collar so her activity can be properly monitored.

Pumas in Brazil – are they threatened?

Pumas are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and poaching of their wild prey base. They are persecuted across their range by retaliatory hunting due to livestock depredation. Hunting (for sport) is permitted in North America but not in South America, where their numbers have declined and the species is now protected across much of its range. In Brazil the puma is considered Near Threatened, with subspecies outside the Amazon basin considered Vulnerable. The official listing for Puma Concolor by the IUCN in 2014 when worldwide numbers were last assessed, was Least Concern.

Images: Oncafari

Find out more about 21 For 21 and support for the Rewilding in the Pantanal project here.