CARMANCHAHI Pablo Daniel
congresos y reuniones científicas
Guanacos Management: Current State and Challenges to Future. En Uso de camélidos silvestres en países andinos: hacia un paradigma de equidad, alianzas y participación
Congreso; Congreso Mundial de la Naturaleza; 2008
The guanaco is the only large, widely distributed native herbivore in the Southern Cone. However, guanacos have undergone a dramatic population decline, in particular during the 20th century from around 30 million to half a million individuals. Competition with sheep, hunting and habitat degradation due to overgrazing resulted in substantially reduced guanaco densities, local extirpation, and restriction to marginal, low-quality habitat and fragmentation of guanaco populations. High-density populations are rare and confined either in these scarce and small areas, or inhabiting remote or degraded places unsuitable for sheep ranching. In Argentina live the 95% of the wild guanacos populations whose densities allow to make use of this specie. Today, sheep ranching is still the main economic activity in Patagonia and guanaco poaching continues being widespread. Strong restrictions exist in the guanaco use in Argentina and only the wool obtained of alive animals is allowed. According to the Guanacos Management National Plan, approved in 2006, this use can be carried out by means of the breeding in captivity or the animals in wild state. Actually, there are 15 guanacos farms legally registered in Argentina and 9 make capture, shear and release of wild guanacos. Only one of them is carried out in fiscal lands by residents of a protected natural area. The guanacos farms begin the activity with recently born breedings coming from the wild populations. Breeding in captivity have several problems: high mortality of young animals, increment of illnesses, serious wounds for fights during the reproductive station, and low profitability to require many infrastructure, insumes and maintenance expenses. The wild guanacos management is made in high density fields, this activity is carried out mainly in private lands where are prioritized rounds up of great quantity of animals and, in general, it works with low standards of animal well-being. In the last year, the pressures were increased from the private producers to the state agencies to authorize the guanacos sacrifice to low the competition with sheeps and sell meat. In 2005 residents of a protected natural area (La Payunia Provincial Reserve) requested the authorizations to begin the management of wild guanacos. To carry out this activity the residents conformed a work cooperative and they received a strong support of the provincial and municipal state. La Payunia Reserve shows a very arid environment with scarce rains and great thermal width. Due to the rigorous climatic conditions and the deterioration of the lands for the overgrazing, the human populations are scarce and only is developed the goat breeding. These conditions force the residents to have a subsistence economy. At the moment, 3 shear seasons have already been made in La Payunia, 237 guanacos were shorn and about 130 kg of wool have been obtained. The management has been carried out under strict standards of animal well-being, also keeping in mind aspects of the capture and handling structure construction that minimize the risk of accidents for people and animals. La Payunia is the only place where is making a handmade processed of the obtained wool. The residents have begun to make classification and the cleaning of the wool, what constitutes a previous step to the spinning and fabric. This added value will allow to generate employment during the whole year to many people residents in the Reserve. Although the wild guanacos management in La Payunia presents special features like the realization of this activity in fiscal lands of a protected natural area by residents of low resources that work with high standards of animal well- being and they make a processed of the fiber with the purpose of to add value to the production and generate legitimate work in permanent form, these are not reflected in the final price of sale. This is one of the commercialization problems that faces the activity and it is a bottle neck to fiscal and private producers. Other difficulties can also be identified like the lack of established market price of fiber (these values fluctuate annually among U$S 50 to U$S 120), the values offered by the scarce buyers by the guanacos wool are very low if it compares them with the price of the vicuña wool keeping in mind that the differences in the quality of the wool are minimum, most of the producers develop the activity every year without knowing who will buy them the wool and at what price. On the other hand, storing of fiber of different producers is not make to achieve volume and improve the price and, in this sense, the State has no defined politic to support the activity. Although the volume of products elaborated handmadely is reduced, is difficult to identify markets that buy this type of articles. This workshop will put in an international context the problem of the guanaco management and the commercialization of its products to create consents among the different actors involved in the thematic and to generate alliances that spread to the fair distribution of the benefits obtained of this species.