Human Interest

South America’s largest deer returns to Argentina’s Chaco province

Buenos Aires, Jan 19 (EFE).- South America’s largest deer species has been reintroduced into the northern Argentine province of Chaco after having been extinct there for nearly a century.

The first two of these marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), Brisa and Alfonso, are already inside El Impenetrable National Park, one of Argentina’s largest natural protected areas, and more are expected to arrive shortly as part of an effort to reestablish the species’ presence in that province.

One of the entities responsible for returning the deer to its natural habitat, the Rewilding Argentina Foundation, said the arrival of this mammal in the Chaco wetlands will “provide a boost to nature tourism activities now being developed in the region.”

“The reintroduction of the marsh deer in El Impenetrable National Park is the result of collective decisions and actions that began in 2011 to create this protected area,” the president of the Chaco Tourism Institute, Ariel Ybarra, was quoted as saying by Rewilding Argentina.

A century ago, the marsh deer was found across much of the expanse of the Parana and Uruguay river basins, but hunting, wetland drainage for agriculture and diseases introduced by livestock led to its extinction throughout virtually that entire territory.

However, conservation efforts carried out in Ibera National Park, located in neighboring Corrientes province, led to a significant increase in the population of that mammal, which is extinct in Uruguay but inhabits parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru and is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

According to Rewilding Argentina, at least 10,000 marsh deer currently inhabit wetlands in Corrientes.

And its widespread distribution there made it possible to introduce some of those deer – including Brisa and Alfonso, who arrived from Ibera National Park – into areas where that species had disappeared.

Those territories include Argentina’s Chaco province, which lies within the southern part of the Gran Chaco lowland plain that spans parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia.

“Recovering that species and its ecological role will result in a healthier, more diverse and more functional ecosystem, necessary attributes for confronting the environmental crises that are increasingly battering wildlife and communities around the planet,” Sebastian di Martino, Rewilding Argentina’s conservation coordinator, said. EFE


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