Meeting in Puerto Natales calls for greater protection of huemul

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Huemul in Torres del Paine. Photo: Fabián Igor Huemul in Torres del Paine. Photo: Fabián Igor
By Bárbara Riffo
Project coordinator at Torres del Paine Legacy Fund 
In early May, 55 people from 18 organizations came together for a two-day meeting focused on raising awareness and promoting sustained collaborative action for the conservation of huemul, an emblematic and endangered deer species in Chile.
The event, called "Conserving the Huemul and Base Torres: Mitigating Human Conflicts Induced by Tourism and Livestock in Torres del Paine” was organized by the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund and the Center for Responsible Tourism (CREST), funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and included governmental and environmental institutions such as the Municipality of Puerto Natales, Chile’s national forest and park service (CONAF), the Chilean environmental ministry, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), among others.
During the first day of the meeting, held in Puerto Natales, Chile, there were 9 presentations, divided into 3 panels, addressing topics related to biodiversity, natural heritage, ancestral and cultural heritage, as well as the interaction between tourism, livestock and huemul conservation.
Anahí Cárdenas, mayor of Torres del Paine.Anahí Cárdenas, mayor of Torres del Paine.
The presentations on the first day laid the groundwork for the discussions and activities that would take place the following day, when participants worked on the identification of the main threats affecting the huemul in the territory, as well as on the generation and prioritization of actions for its conservation. Group dynamics were carried out and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) matrix was used to compile all the proposals.
Among the main results of the meeting: the broad interest and participation in this issue stands out, as well as the need for collaboration between different organizations, and the urgency of "huemulizing" ourselves, that is, highlighting the huemul from all areas and throughout the territory, in order to prioritize its conservation in the Magallanes region in Chile’s far south. There is also concern that inadequate practices in tourism and cattle ranching could be serious threats to the conservation of the huemul and its habitat. The actions prioritized seeking to mitigate these effects and engage the community to promote awareness and care for the huemul.
Photo: Alejandro ZamoranoPhoto: Alejandro Zamorano
This huemul meeting in Puerto Natales represents an important step in the collaboration between communities, non-governmental organizations, and governmental entities to address the conservation challenges of this endangered species. The protection of the huemul and its habitat is essential to preserve the biodiversity and the natural and cultural heritage of the Magallanes region, along with contributing to climate change mitigation.
As part of the activities, an exhibition of photographs of the huemul was held, which sought to show viewers how close and visible this species is, raise awareness of the delicate situation of the huemul and its natural environment in Torres del Paine National Park, and show beautiful images captured mainly by park rangers and guides.

For more information about the meeting and the proposed actions, visit the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund website here.

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