Parque Patagonia
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Threatened Species

As wildness returns to this vast area, the populations of keystone species are finding a new equilibrium. With livestock almost gone, grasslands are producing more and better-quality food for a range of wild herbivores. For the first time in decades, wild animals such as huemul deer and guanaco have access to prime habitat. We have monitored endangered and threatened species during this transition and are actively developing strategies for recovering diminished populations.

The huemul deer, a flagship species in Chile but critically endangered, is a top priority for the Patagonia National Park project. In parallel, we are tracking and monitoring pumas with GPS collars in order to uncover new information about their predation patterns, home ranges, and movements—critical data given their proximity to the threatened huemul. Simultaneously, we are developing strategies, such as utilizing livestock guardian dogs, to prevent predator/livestock conflicts. Many of our neighbors continue to raise livestock, and we seek to demonstrate effective means of protecting domestic animals without shooting predators. In the upcoming years, we will launch wildlife recovery programs focused on other threatened species of Patagonia.

Other threatened species:


Huemul Deer Recovery

Recovering the population of the critically endangered huemul deer represents a top priority for our wildlife program. An emblematic animal in Chile featured on the national shield, the huemul deer requires intensive study and protection to prevent extinction.

A hundred years ago, huemul roamed a wide range of the southern Andes. Now the species is highly endangered, with no more than 2,000 individuals remaining on Earth in scattered populations. With its short legs and stocky build, the deer is well adapted to the rugged and forested mountainous terrain of Patagonia, and historically occupied habitats from the coastal lowlands up to 1,700 meters (5500+ feet). Overhunting and loss of habitat due to the conversion of lowland areas to agricultural production are key factors behind the species decline. Predations by domestic dogs and diseases introduced by domestic livestock have further threatened the remaining huemul populations. Outside the park, threats to remaining huemul deer habitat are increasing, especially from mineral and energy development projects in Patagonia.

The huemul recovery project expands the contiguous protected habitat for the critically important population of huemul deer occupying areas along the northern shore of Lake Cochrane and neighboring the Tamango National Reserve by a factor of six. The Chacabuco Valley/Tamango population is estimated at 140 individuals, a significant percentage of the species total numbers. By removing livestock, reviving ecosystems, and opening up habitat, the Patagonia Park project grants huemul deer the high-quality habitat they need to recover.

 


Puma Monitoring and Conservation

Since 2008, Conservacion Patagonica’s wildlife team has tracked the park’s pumas with GPS collars to better understand their choice of prey, territory, and interactions with the landscape. This research is particularly important considering the area's recent land-use changes from ranching with more than 25,000 sheep and active predator control to a conservation area with very few domestic animals that forbids puma hunting. The first research project of its kind in the region, very little information about the ecology and behavior of Aysen’s pumas was previously known.

The major changes that have occurred in the area are benefiting pumas. Understanding how pumas interact with other native species (in particular, with endangered huemul) has been among the top priorities for Conservacion Patagonica. Simultaneously, we continue to track how pumas who inhabit the park interact with neighboring livestock operations, a critically important study for the park's relationship with local communities.

 

 

 
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