A wildlife photographer has a scary encounter with a mountain lion during a hiking trip on a California trail and the moment was caught on camera.
The wildlife photographer, Mark Girardeau and his friend Rachel de Vlugt spotted the wildcat gazing at them through a bush when they were on a trail in Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon.
He told FTW Outdoors that they had just set up a few tracking cameras set out to capture wildlife when they saw the mountain lion run up a hill and stop to watch them, from perhaps 20 feet away.
He said that he knew it was best not to run and they stood their ground and made a loud noise. In the video, Girardeau could be heard repeatedly shouting at the mountain lion to go back.
The pair said the mountain lion followed them for a brief while, before wandering away as caught on camera.
De Vlugt wrote on Instagram sharing the video footage, “Thank God Mark was there because I think I would have taken off running (which is obviously the worst thing you can do). We held our ground and so did the lion for what felt like an eternity.”
Girardeau wrote on Instagram, “I think there are 2 things that could have caused this: either she has a kill nearby and she was defending it or she ran up at us not realising we were humans since she couldn’t completely see us from down below. There were deer in the area that we saw so she probably assumed it was them.”
Girardeau told CBS Los Angeles that he would be lying if he said the encounter was not scary, adding it was the only way to deal with the wildcat at the moment.
Girardeau, who has been tracking wildlife in the Orange County wilderness, later in an update said he could recognise the mountain lion in the now-viral clip. He identified the animal as a female mountain lion named Uno, recognisable by her damaged eye.
“It just happened so fast. You don’t have any time to plan it. It just happens and you’re forced into the situation and you have to react. You can’t run away,” he said.