Wildlife & Livestock Conflict

Guanaco

Photo by Marcy Uhart

We are addressing conflict and health concerns at the wildlife–domestic animal interface. 

The guanaco (Lama guanicoe) was the only ungulate in Tierra del Fuego Island, at the Southern tip of South America, prior to European settlement. The introduction of sheep, which now exceed one million animals, drove the Tierra del Fuego guanaco population to collapse by the mid-1970s. Thanks primarily to hunting restrictions, Tierra del Fuego guanaco have since rebounded. That recovery, however, has led to renewed conflict with sheep farmers and beech forest loggers, the two main current economic activities of Tierra del Fuego. For this reason, the Chilean government has recently approved culling of 1,700 to 5,000 guanaco. Yet, while these harvests are intended to reduce guanaco densities and browsing in forestry concessions, they mostly occur in the steppe grasslands, an indicator that management decisions are disregarding knowledge on the species’ biology and the reasons for conflict and land use overlap.

But there is a strategic opportunity to advance the conservation agenda due to a new openness for more sustainable land use practices. We are evaluating pathogen sharing of guanaco and sheep to provide scientifically-based agriculture husbandry advice  to reduce conflict and promote healthy wildlife and livestock. This will facilitate guanaco recovery, sustainable ranching and improved livelihoods of local farmers.

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livestock

Photo by Marcy Uhart

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