NOVARO andres Jose
capítulos de libros
Restoration of the Guanaco, Icon of Patagonia
State of the Wild 2010-2011
WCS Institute
Año: 2010; p. 122 - 128
After the Pleistocene extinctions 10,000 to12,000 years ago, guanacos were the most abundant herbivore in Patagonia, numbering around 20 million. The grazing patterns and seasonal movements of large guanaco herds helped shape the grassland-scrub ecosystem. In the last century, a catastrophic decline in guanaco numbers means that most of the Patagonian steppe has lost its dominant herbivore. Because over half a million guanacos still exist, the guanaco is not in danger of becoming globally extinct, but several signs point to the demise of the guanacoÂ’s ecosystem function. In areas where sheep have replaced guanacos, heavy, constant grazing of large herds of sheep tends to cause degradation of plant cover and soil erosion. Replacing guanacos with sheep has also altered predator-prey relationships in the Patagonian ecosystem. Recent research on Patagonian guanacos has documented the nature of grazing competition with livestock and investigated the threshold density level at which small guanaco populations could sustain puma predation. The Wildlife Conservation Society is studying the seasonal migration patterns of the remaining large guanaco populations in four extensive landscapes in Argentina and Chile using radio telemetry and transects counts. The vision of success for guanaco conservation is a Patagonian landscape where guanacos are again the dominant herbivore, migrating seasonally in large herds and across great distances between summer and winter ranges, interacting naturally with native plants and predators. The restoration strategy calls for the preservation of the great wild places where guanacos can still migrate--the truly wild Patagonian steppe--and the recovery of large guanaco populations in private lands between protected areas. One key is to explore sustainable market options for guanaco products such as wool and meat and to develop mixed management plans involving sheep and wild guanacos.