Of pumas, guanacos, ranchers and politicians

Of pumas, guanacos, ranchers and politicians

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By Lucas Chiappe

Two news items that have appeared in recent times in the media and through social networks once again leave me astonished, as I suppose will happen to many inhabitants of Patagonia Argentina, not to mention anyone in the rest of the country who has a minimum environmental sensitivity or a basic knowledge about issues related to biology or the vulnerable biodiversity that populates our environment ... In addition to the eternal discussion about the intellectual capacity of those who govern our destinies and their inability to see beyond the sectoral interests of those who pressure them to present draft laws or decrees that are absolutely retrograde or scandalously unhinged ...

The fact is that we find, on the one hand, a series of terrifying and shocking photos of various hunters (some very young, others not so much) armed with powerful rifles with the latest generation telescopic sights ... "posing" smiling and proud next to its prey covered in blood, the only big cat that exists in Patagonia and is considered by CITES as another endangered species: The Puma ...

Unfortunately, this wonderful animal, which was at the top of the biological chain, has been hunted, hunted and decimated by the men who re-colonized Patagonia after the genocide carried out by the Roca militias and repeatedly in different periods of the 20th century. , at the express request of the sheep ranches, it was declared a "plague" in the Patagonian Provinces ... and specifically this year, a price of 500 pesos per head was placed on it in the Province of Río Negro ...

This aberration is in addition to that of the Chubut government, which through the Directorate of Wild Fauna and Flora issued Provision No. 9/2012 on the authorization of selective hunting of Puma concolor. While in Santa Cruz even greater rewards are offered for each animal killed ... For more gruesome details the director of Livestock of Río Negro explained on TV that there are two ways to hunt them in that province: with the placement of metal traps, which are provided by the same Ministry of Production and they work by trapping one of its legs and torturing the animal until it bled to death; or by following the trail with dogs, until the cougar is found and killed with a rifle. "The amount that is officially paid is increased, on the other hand, with a bonus on behalf of the farmers themselves, who are the first interested in ending this plague," the official concluded proudly.

Situation that resulted in an aberrational practice as can be seen from that series of photographs that circulate on social networks and that exemplify the madness of a human culture that lost all contact with its environment and that prioritizes the interests of a group of wool producers, for above the extinction of an emblematic species to which the State should guarantee its conservation in perpetuity, since, among other benefits it provides to its environment, it helps to maintain the natural balance of an entire ecosystem, like the Condor and so many other species native to each Bioregion.

The second information that was released in recent days is that the Chamber of Deputies of the Province of Santa Cruz, through Commission Office No. 096/2012, requested the Provincial Executive Power that the Provincial Agrarian Council (CAP) classify also the Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) as a "harmful species" in order to allow its indiscriminate hunting ...

If such a declaration is made, it is possible that despite not having a Provincial Management Plan or reliable population estimates of this species, not only will guanaco hunting be released in the provincial territory but it will also be promoted by authorities and producers until its definitive eradication from the Patagonian plateau ...

Obviously, both news have a direct relationship and a single purpose: to intensify sheep farming ... which, paradoxically, has been directly responsible for the desertification of this vast expanse of Argentine territory in the last century at a rate unknown in the past ... transforming an ecosystem healthy and in perfect balance ... in an arid territory, impossible to restore by its own means and with a variety of pastures and vegetation practically unrecoverable even with the help of man ... In fact, there is a wide scientific bibliography that fully supports this diagnosis, even by part of official entities such as INTA.

It is worth saying: Two unthinkable ecocides at the time of planetary environmental emergency that we are going through ... simply to guarantee an activity that proved unsustainable over time, because farmers never respected the carrying capacity of these fragile southern soils and ended up devastating the plateau in the short span of one hundred years ... without there being a single self-criticism on the part of the different rural societies that agglutinate the ranchers, much less some exemplary punishment by the State that should guarantee the protection of their soils and of its biodiversity for ecological, social and even economic and productive reasons ...

In short, a pathetic environmental panorama to which we now intend to add the definitive extinction of two emblematic Patagonian species that lived in this bioregion for thousands of years in harmony with their natural environment without causing damage to this fragile and complex ecosystem ...

An equation that can only close the most uninformed deputies south of the 40th Parallel, or the most insensitive, mean and short-term ranchers in memory.
Cougar: As of 1996, puma hunting has been prohibited in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Uruguay, while in Chile it was declared a protected species in 1996, and its hunting was prohibited in all its territory. In Argentina, the species is already extinct in the provinces of Corrientes, Entre Ríos, the south and center of Santa Fe, the center of Tucumán and the entire province of Buenos Aires. In the Argentine province of Córdoba, where it was abundant 50 years ago, today it is an almost extinct species. While, paradoxically in the Province of Mendoza it has been declared a natural monument, and as in Chile it is considered a species protected by the State. Since 2008 in Chilean Patagonia, a puma monitoring program has been carried out in the area. They put a collar on twelve specimens with a radio device that allows them to follow their movements and habits, having reliably discovered that the diet of the puma is 92% guanaco and almost 4% sheep (and most importantly: less than one 2% corresponds to the huemul, an animal in danger of extinction, of which it is estimated that there are 2 thousand copies left). This monitoring showed that this feline, the largest in South America after the Jaguar, contributes to the health of the ecosystem by allowing at least 12 native species to feed. That is to say, what the puma does not eat of the prey it hunts is eaten by the fox Cumpeo and the condor. and their diet is extremely varied, including in their menu, the hare, and the Tucu tucu, although mice, fish and birds are also their prey. In the opinion of environmentalists, having sheepdogs reduces losses from predators by between 60% and 80%… Having dogs is more effective than hunting, because the wild animal does not return.
Guanaco: The guanaco is the largest of the wild camelids. As a result of the uncontrolled hunting and the deterioration of its habitat, it suffered a retraction of 58% in Argentina, 75% in Chile and Peru, it is reduced to its minimum expression in Bolivia and Paraguay, while in Ecuador it is considered extinct (Puig 1991 ). the latest regional assessments carried out by the GECS for the IUCN Red Lists, detect a series of populations that have drastically decreased in size and are at risk of disappearing. Some of them inhabit highly degraded lands, which suffered extensive livestock use for over a hundred years. While the simple elimination of guanaco poaching may in some cases be enough to trigger a population recovery process, until it recovers its optimal level, it is not uncommon for decimated populations that inhabit heavily deteriorated environments, where habitat protection plays a role. an important role for the recovery of the guanaco. Currently, several captive or semi-captive breeding projects are being developed to take advantage of their wool. Commercial hunting has drastically decreased and some provincial laws protect it and it is included in Appendix II of CITES. It is only protected in the following National Parks: El Leoncito, Sierra de las Quijadas, Lihué Calel, Tierra del Fuego, Nahuel Huapi, Laguna Blanca, Perito Moreno, Los Glaciares and Bosque Petrificados (Heinonen and Chebez, 1997).

"Only if we understand, we can care, only if we care, we can help, only if we help, they will be saved" (Jane Goodall) Lemu project blog

Video: Lets Hunt PUMA - theHunter Classic (May 2022).