Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guanaco Country

It was a busy first week of work at the Conservancy office in Bariloche, Argentina, capped by a trip to the field last Friday. Gustavo Iglesias, TNC’s Director of Protected Areas -- think National Parks -- led a training for office staff in the use of global positioning systems (GPS). That's Gustavo and my colleagues Melissa, Annika, and Valeria (L to R) outside the Bariloche TNC office in the photo to the right.

Our journey east of Bariloche took us past Estancia Fortin Chacabuco, a 12,000 acre ranch owned by Conservancy partners, to a place called Valle Encantado.

On the way, I got my first chance to see guanacos in the wild, and apparently, these guys were unusually curious. As we slowed the Conservancy truck to get a better look at the trio browsing the roadside grasslands, one of them approached us to within about 25 feet.
Guanacos are a major conservation target for the Conservancy’s work in Patagonia. These camel-related creatures once roamed the steppes and grasslands of South America in Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina and numbered more than seven million. After the arrival of Europeans, guanaco populations dropped dramatically due to over-hunting and competition from livestock. Now 95% of the remaining half million wild guanacos live in Argentine Patagonia. By promoting sustainable grazing practices, the Conservancy and its partners hope to maintain the guanaco’s stronghold in Patagonia.

Saludos, Bas Hargrove

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the juxtoposition between the city gps training and wild guanaco -keep those stories coming.