Nature 4K 52'

Cougar: On the Trail of the Ghost Cat

There exists, in the heart of France, a land bathed in mists that saw the bloody emergence of a murderous beast 250 years ago. It is on this same land turned mythical that a rumor runs since 5 years. Witnesses speak of an animal with large paws and a long tail, able to cross roads in a single leap, a predator powerful enough to conquer a horse and leave its half-devoured corpse in the bottom of a field, of a wild animal with sharp claws capable of deeply marking tree bark... To evoke the return of the terrifying beast of Gévaudan, there is but one step, that Bruno Loisel won't cross. Because, for this wildlife photographer, there is an animal capable of such exploits.

It is one of the foremost American predators, the biggest cat of the continent. Its smooth gait, its intense eyes make it a mythical animal from northern Canada to southernmost Argentina. It has the agility of a cat and the power of a lion, a coat that makes it almost invisible, and hyper-developed senses. It is almost impossible to accidentally cross paths with a puma in nature. As for tracking one, even with specially trained dogs, even with a professional tracker, it seems an impossible expedition. It is this challenge that Bruno Loisel choses to face, alone, at more than 7,000 kms from the animals’ natural range...

Is this story even possible? How did this feline of 80 kg cross the ocean and settle on the slopes of the mountains of Gévaudan? To find the answers to these questions that haunt him, Bruno embarked on a long and painstaking quest that takes him all the way to Alberta, in the territory of this invisible beast that he relentlessly tracks. Because after 5 years of investigation, more than 20 witnesses, and footprints in mud similar to that of a puma, Bruno has acquired the certainty that this rumor is true. And yet the hardest remains to be done: capturing the animal on the memory card of a video trap.

So, to have even the remotest chance of success, man will travel the reverse path of the animal he's stalking. From France to Canada, it's in the natural territory of the puma that Bruno will learn the techniques that might bring him success. With a team of scientists and a professional hunter, he will assist in an epic hunt in Alberta that ends in extremis by the capture of a puma for the fitting of a GPS collar on the animal. From the recesses of Quebec, he will bring back olfactory bait able to attract the cats in front of his video traps.

But will all of these efforts be enough to unravel the mystery of a new beast of Gévaudan?

Direction: Bruno Loisel & Samuel Ruffier

Production: Mona Lisa Production for ARTE G.E.I.E

Languages: French, English

see also