Backstage with Hippocamelus bisulcus

Backstage with Hippocamelus bisulcus
Aysén Information

Just who is this guy and what?s his story? Read this ?tell-all? to find out the real deal.

The Huemul, or South Andean Deer, (Hippocamelus bisulcus), is a mammal of the family Cervidae.   Its primary habitat is the Andes, in Chile and Argentina. The huemul has a stocky build and short legs. Bucks can reach 165 cm in length, while does are a little smaller. Their thick and dense coat is beige or dark-brown, depending on the season. Their ears and tail are from 4 to 8 cm in length. The bucks have forked antlers that can reach 30 cm in length. They weigh between 40 and 100 Kg. The huemul is an herbivorous animal which feeds on bushes, grasses and tree sprouts, as well as the lichen found on rocks in mountainous areas. During much of the year, the male huemul ranges alone, while the does and their fawns live in small family groups of 2 or 3; however, this depends on the time of year and the mating cycle.
In the 16th century, huemules inhabited the entire southern region of South America, beginning at latitude, 34º S, within the Mendoza Province in Argentina and the Metropolitan Region of Chile.  Their habitat extended all the way to the Strait of Magellan. Over the next 400 years, human encroachment within the huemul’s natural habitat produced profound impacts.  Human settlement was the catalyst for deforestation, fragmentation of habitat following the construction of roads, and further threats resulting from the introduction of non-native species like white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) for sport hunting, the presence of livestock, dogs, and poaching. 
By the end of the 20th century, scientists estimated the total huemul population to be between 1000 and 2000 animals, which are concentrated in large part, in the Andean or sub-Antarctic forests of Patagonia. Currently, the huemul is classified as endangered in the Chilean and Argentinean Red Data Books of Vertebrates and is also listed in the Appendix I of CITES and UNEP/CMS Conventions. This species has been protected by law since 1929 in Chile, and 1989 in parts of Argentina; however, experts believe that further action must be taken.  While huemul conservation and study are primary objectives for 13 national parks of Chile and 6 in Argentina, resources are extremely limited.  More research is needed and in particular, Visitor Use Plans must be implemented for priority Protected Areas.  Thus, the efforts taking place in Patagonia Park and the Tamango National Reserve are of paramount importance for the survival of the huemul species.  
Source: Jiménez, J., Guineo, G., Corti, P, Smith, J.A., Flueck, W., Vila, A., Gizejewski, Z., Gill, R., McShea, B. & Geist, V. 2008. Hippocamelus bisulcus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. 

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