Santiago Times - The Chilean Ministry of Agriculture (Servicio Agricola y Ganadero, SAG), revealed plans on Monday to permit the hunting of the protected Guanaco, a wild cousin of the Llama, by foreign tourists in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, hoping to inhibit species overpopulation and inject money into the local economy.
Guanacos in Torres del Paine (Photo by Ostrosky Photos/Flickr)
“Guanaco hunts will be arranged with people coming from outside,” SAG National Director Aníbal Ariztía told La Prensa Austral. “It would be a scenario in which foreigners would pay tens of thousands of dollars and leave currency here. There are no laws in Chile stating the guanaco must be protected at all costs.”
Commercial hunting is an extremely sensitive environmental issue, especially when the species under consideration is protected across South America. Therefore, when the SAG announced a scheme in which foreign tourists could pay to hunt the native Guanaco population, a number of government officials denounced the hunting scheme.
"To suggest Guanaco hunting for tourists displays a lack of knowledge of what the tourist activity is in the region, where the main attraction is the coexistence and harmony between man with nature,” Christian Democrat Deputy Carolina Goic told El Mostrador. “SAG's proposal is frankly incomprehensible."
The Guanaco has been hunted in Chile for thousands of years. With the expansion of pastoral farming and habitat fragmentation, the population is now thought to be just 1 percent of what it previously was, with the largest group surviving on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
Gabriela Lichtenstein, head of the South American Camelid Specialist Group, told The Santiago Times that the minister's proposals concerned her tremendously.
“The Guanaco is protected both nationally in Chile (Hunting Act) and internationally by the conventionCITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora),” said Liechtenstein. “The situation with Guanacos is very heterogeneous in Chile. It seems risky to us to give the impression that the Guanaco can be hunted in any condition or conflict.” Read more..