Guillermo Harris on Conservation Efforts in Patagonia
Many of the amazing terrestrial species, including the guanaco, rhea, upland goose, and mara, are under the pressure of heavy hunting. Because the animals are considered pests by local landowners and in some cases a source of cheap food by local inhabitants, populations are dwindling.
Peninsula Valdes, for example, is a wildlife refuge of considerable renown, yet hunting of wildlife is permitted within its boundaries. The guanaco population there is less than a third the size it should be and declining. Terrestrial wildlife is undervalued by the people of Patagonia as a tourist resource. The governments of Chile and Argentina have yet to understand that uncontrolled hunting is destroying one of the elements that makes Patagonia unique. Its wildlife.
One of the most serious declines in marine bird populations has been in the wandering albatross population. The albatross breeds among other places on South Georgia island, near the Antarctic, and feeds along the edges of the South American continental shelf off Argentina and Uruguay. Many birds are caught in the fish hooks of long line fishing vessels.
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