Guanacos translocated from Santa Cruz to La Pampa to recover their population - Freyja Foundation

Guanacos translocated from Santa Cruz to La Pampa to recover their populations

21.06.23 — News, Patagonia Park

On a trip of 1600 kilometers, a group of wild guanacos was transferred from the province of Santa Cruz to the province of La Pampa, where the species is almost extinct. The action, known as “translocation,” was made possible thanks to the joint work of the provinces of Santa Cruz and La Pampa, Argentina’s Ministry of Environment, and Rewilding Argentina.

The guanaco is one of the largest herbivores in South America. The species used to live across almost all of Argentina, and although it continues to be abundant in some places in Patagonia and the mountains, it became extinct in many places in the country, where it lost almost half of its original range.

One of the places where the species became almost completely extinct is La Pampa, where small populations currently exist, such as in Lihue Calel National Park. To try to improve this situation, in 2018, the Government of La Pampa began a project to reintroduce guanaco in the Luro Provincial Park. La Pampa’s Undersecretary of the Environment Fabián Tittarelli shared, “The program that we carry out from the provincial government called El Retorno de los Nuestros seeks to revalue native species and La Pampa culture, of which the guanaco is a prominent example; the fauna restoration that we carry out in Parque Luro are becoming examples for the recovery of nature across Argentina.”

In turn, Santa Cruz is the province with the largest population of wild guanacos in Argentina, in addition to having one of the most studied populations in recent years in Patagonia Park Argentina, in the northwest of the province. The governor of Santa Cruz Alicia Kirchner said, “The government of Santa Cruz has been working on the conservation of different endangered species such as the huemul and in restoring natural ecosystems. At the request of the Province of La Pampa and with the intervention of Rewilding Argentina and the Provincial Agrarian Council within the framework of the sustainable management plan, guanacos were donated, since they are extinct in La Pampa and with it we collaborated in the conservation of species in other regions of Argentina.”

Considering this great opportunity, both provinces came together in a project to reverse the extinction of the species in La Pampa, which was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina. On his return from the COP 15 of Biodiversity in Montreal, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Juan Cabandie shared, “The deep satisfaction that causes two Argentine provinces, with the support of the Ministry of Environment, to collaborate to recover a native species such as the guanaco; this work takes place within the framework of the Decade of Restoration 2021-2030 instituted by the UN and place Argentina

Freyja’s in-country partner and grantee, Rewilding Argentina, within the framework of the rewilding project in Patagonia Park Argentina has contributed its experience to concretize this action of active management of wildlife. The preparation of the transfer lasted several months and included the assembly and tuning of the corrals, the construction of a special transport trailer, the preparation of the techniques of harnessing wild guanacos to enter the corrals and then upload them to the trailer with the least possible stress.

Finally, on December 12, the first experimental trip of five wild guanacos could be made from Parque Patagonia (Santa Cruz) to Parque Luro (La Pampa). Sebastián Di Martino, Director of Conservation of Rewilding Argentina, commented that “the trip of 1600 kilometers and 22 hours passed in perfect condition. In this experimental transfer, the behavior of the individuals and their level of stress could be evaluated. Upon arrival, there were no consequences of hoeing, capture and transfer and the guanacos immediately began to eat in the pre-release corral, where they will be a few days to acclimatize and follow up on them.”

We are thrilled to announce the safe and successful translocation of 17 more wild guanacos took place on 20 June 2023 as the aim is to take 40 more individuals to La Pampa to enrich and strengthen the incipient population of Luro Park. It also represents a great start to reintroducing guanaco to many regions of Argentina where we have extinguished it. The Government of the Province of Chaco, which declared the guanaco as a species “of special value” and priority to recover the environment and wildlife in El Impenetrable, has already approved a project to reintroduce it in the area between the Teuco and Bermejito rivers.

Thanks to rewilding efforts, the ecosystems of several regions of Argentina are recovering their functionality and splendor. In addition to its ecological value as a great herbivore, the presence of guanaco, one of the most charismatic and emblematic species in Argentina, will contribute to enriching the proposal of those regions as destinations for the sighting of native fauna.

Watch the rewilding team in action during the translocation capture and release of the 17 guanaco individuals:

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