Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Resurgence of endangered deer in Patagonian ‘Eden’ highlights conservation success

Date:
April 16, 2013
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
The Huemul, a species of deer found only in the Latin American region of Patagonia, is bouncing back from the brink of possible extinction.

The endangered Huemul deer, a Chilean icon, is returning to former habitat thanks to collaborative conservation efforts.
Credit: Alejandro Vila

The Huemul, a species of deer found only in the Latin American region of Patagonia, is bouncing back from the brink of possible extinction as a result of collaboration between conservationists and the Chilean government, says a new study.

Related Articles


By controlling cattle farming and policing to prevent poaching in the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park -- a vast "natural Eden" covering 3.5 million hectares -- conservation efforts have allowed the deer to return to areas of natural habitat from which it had completely disappeared.

Researchers are hailing the findings as an example of collaborations between local government and scientists leading to real conservation success, and a possible model for future efforts to maintain the extraordinary biodiversity found in this part of Chile.

The study by researchers from Cambridge, the Wildlife Conservation Society and CONAF, the Chilean national forestry commission, is released today in the journal Oryx, published by conservation charity Fauna and Flora International.

A national symbol that features on the Chilean coat-of-arms, Huemul deer are estimated to have suffered reductions of 99 per cent in size since the 19th century, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Researchers believe 50 per cent of this decline has come in recent years, with only 2,500 deer now left in the wild.

The Huemul is a naturally tame and approachable animal, which led to it becoming easy prey for hunters, particularly with the arrival of European colonists in the area who would hunt Huemul for meat to feed their dogs.

Recent increases by local farmers in the practice of releasing cattle indiscriminately into national parkland for retrieval later in the year has damaged the habitats of endemic wildlife such as the Huemul, and, coupled with continued hunting of the species, deer populations plummeted.

The joint efforts of conservationists and researchers with government and private initiatives created a small number of field stations in this remote natural paradise on the tip of South America -- one of the least populated areas of the world, requiring a boat trip of two days along the region's stunning fjords to reach.

This created a base for monitoring endangered species and natural habitats, as well as a team of park rangers enforcing conservation laws that -- although they had been in place since the late sixties -- had never been policed on the ground.

The impact was almost immediate, within five short years -- from 2004 to 2008 -- the Huemul population in the national park not only stabilised but also began to increase, with deer coming down from the hostile mountain areas it had sought refuge in and back to the sea-level valleys where it naturally thrives.

"National parks are at the heart of modern conservation, but there has to be an investment in management and protection on the ground. You can't just have a 'paper park', where an area is ring-fenced on a map but physically ignored," said Cristóbal Briceño, a researcher from Cambridge's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, who co-authored the study.

"Our results suggest that synergistic conservation actions, such as cattle removal and poaching control, brought about by increased infrastructure, can lead to the recovery of species such as the threated Huemul."

For Briceño, the "scattering" of endangered species as habitats are encroached on creates not only external threats -- but also extremely limited mating diversity.

This leads to levels of inbreeding that can reach "a critical extent from which there's no return," causing susceptibility to disease and increased extinction risk, as with another Chilean mammal that Briceño is researching called Darwin's Fox -- named for the scientific genius that first discovered it -- with barely 500 now left in the world.

The Huemul's success offers encouragement for Briceño and others in the field: "I think it's beautiful that this has turned out to be an example of real hope for an endangered species, an example we would like to replicate."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cristóbal Briceño, Leslie A. Knapp, Alejandra Silva, José Paredes, Iván Avendaño, Aliro Vargas, Juan Sotomayor, Alejandro R. Vila. Detecting an increase in an Endangered huemul Hippocamelus bisulcus population following removal of cattle and cessation of poaching in coastal Patagonia, Chile. Oryx, 2013; 47 (02): 273 DOI: 10.1017/S0030605312000014

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Resurgence of endangered deer in Patagonian ‘Eden’ highlights conservation success." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085154.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2013, April 16). Resurgence of endangered deer in Patagonian ‘Eden’ highlights conservation success. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085154.htm
University of Cambridge. "Resurgence of endangered deer in Patagonian ‘Eden’ highlights conservation success." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085154.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins