Travel Guide Book on Saturday shared an image showing the hind portion of an elk and, somewhere in the arroyo, a predatory mountain lion.
Research reveals that the image was captured by a motion-sensor trail camera in October 2019 as part of an arroyo restoration project in New Mexico’s Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge.
Rio Mora shared the image as a quiz for its Facebook followers in July 2020. It’s a difficult quiz and the answer is provided near the bottom of this post.
A common theme in the Travel Guide Book comments section: “It took a while.”
Several Rio Mora followers struggled to locate the mountain lion and one used a magnifying glass to achieve success.
Understandable, considering that mountain lions, or cougars, are ambush predators that rely on stealth to catch prey.
Rio Mora, a week after its original post, shared more images captured by the same camera during a two-minute span. It includes the image used for the quiz and one that shows the mountain lion, clearly visible, following the elk (posted below).
The images, which would be helpful if you haven’t already spotted the mountain lion, provide a clearer picture of this predator-prey interaction.
Stated Rio Mora in its description: “The entire photo series is over a two minute period. Unfortunately, it does not tell us the final fate of the elk, but it may answer questions a few of you had.
“You can see that based on the size and antlers it is a male juvenile Rocky Mountain elk that is stalked by a stealthy mountain lion.
“We have asked people who have worked with mountain lions to see if they could tell us anything more about the sex or age of the mountain lion. It is difficult to say for certain, because mountain lions do not have very distinctive features between sexes, but it could be a young adult male.”
Some followers were stumped even after viewing the image series. Among the comments was this from Judy Hammond:
“And that’s why we have our 6th sense, that gut feeling that we’re being watched or stalked. Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially if the hair on the back of your neck goes up.”
–Images courtesy of Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge