The Patagonian Foundation
PO Box 29113 San Francisco, CA 94129 USA

April 24, 2018

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Current Challenges
Threatened Habitats and Endangered Species

Native Patagonians depended largely on the native herds of guanacos and choiques (lesser rheas). However, since the late 1800’s, the native culture and ecosystem have been replaced by European customs and species. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, “The dominant fauna of most Patagonian landscapes in the 21st century are now sheep, cows, goats, or European red deer, rather than guanacos, choiques (rheas), and huemuls (Andean deer). European hares are ubiquitous, and the native ecological equivalents- Patagonian maras and mountain vizcachas- are in severe decline. Native carnivores, including some of the rarest in the world such as the Andean cat, prey almost exclusively on introduced European species, while native herbivores are present at such low densities that they no longer play a significant role in their native ecosystems, and are thus considered ecologically extinct throughout large areas.” The population of the huemul deer, for example, has decreased so significantly that its numbers are barely enough to maintain the species’ genetic integrity.

Overgrazing is one of the major causes of the decline in native habitats and species. Over a century of overgrazing on the Patagonian steppes has dramatically (and in some cases permanently) damaged the fragile grasslands and habitats of the native species. Efforts to remove the livestock and return the land to its natural state are underway. Hunting, oil exploration and drilling also negatively impact native species and habitats.

In an effort to reverse some of the damage caused to the native Patagonian habitat and return over 173,000 acres to its natural state, TPF has partnered with Conservación Patagónica to help create a new national park in Chile’s Valle Chacabuco. TPF will bring volunteers to Valle Chacabuco on three week trips to help transition 173,000 acres from a working ranch to a new national park. By removing the existing fences and various invasive species, the land will be returned to its natural state and wildlife will regain full access to the land. The project also aims to expand the habitat and population of the endangered huemul deer. For information on this project click on the links below.

Projects: Main Page

Tourist Infrastructure | Overgrazing | Threatened Habitats and Endangered Species | Salmon Farming | Deforestation | Pet Overpopulation | Waste Management | Industrial Development