The jungle is a perilous place for eyes - Handicapped Wildlife
Author: Jack Ewing
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I once posted a trail camera photo on Facebook of a puma blind in its left eye. Someone commented that it looked thin, and another friend replied to the comment saying something to the effect that fangs and claws of coatis, kinkajous, raccoons, and pacas (some of the prey animals of the puma) create a hostile world for eyes. Three months later, I captured another photo of the one-eyed puma, and it was much, much thinner. I sent both images to my brother-in-law, who lives in northern Minnesota and has many trail cameras in the Wolf Song Private Nature Preserve. He commented that it was odd that the puma was so thin because he has captured several photos of a one-eyed bear that has always been “as fat as a butterball” over the last few years.
I don’t know why the bear is fat and the puma thin, but I suspect it has something to do with the difference in diet and the difficulties of having the vision in only one eye present to a feline when stalking, catching, and killing its usual prey. I have captured photos of many animals with handicaps, and some got along fine and stayed in good condition. In contrast, others slowly withered away and eventually disappeared, presumably having died.
For years we had a white-fronted capuchin monkey at Hacienda Barú that was missing the wrist and hand of its left arm. I can’t even imagine what type of accident could have left it with that handicap. The one-handed monkey was seen from time to time by all of us at Hacienda Barú for at least ten years and appeared to manage just fine and stay healthy and in good condition. I have seen several tailless monkeys, and they all seemed to live everyday healthy lives.
During the 11 years, I have been using trail cameras, and I have captured photos and videos of three one-eyed peccaries. The first two appeared in numerous pictures and videos, and, as time went by, both got thinner and thinner and then quit appearing on the cameras. The third one is in good condition at this time, but I only have one photo, which is relatively recent. I hope the peccary stays around so I can follow its progress.
I suspect that a fight with another peccary usually brings about the loss of a peccary’s eye. Those tusks are sharp and brutal. The photo of the most recent one clearly shows a mark just under its eye, that is the same shape and size as a tusk. It is curious that having only one eye would have debilitating effects on a peccary. They primarily acquire their food by rooting in the soil, not stalking, catching, and killing other animals.
I hope to capture more photos of the one-eyed puma. The first photo was a beautiful animal and was extremely thin and hungry-looking in the second. I fear that it may not be around much longer. Though we humans may feel pity for the poor, dying puma, Mother Nature has no mercy. I can imagine Her shrugging Her shoulders and saying simply, “Life and death are part of an infinite cycle. That’s the way the world is”.
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