You’ve Helped Us Protect Habitat for Endangered Species in Argentina, But We’re Not Done Yet

The presence of livestock can threaten the survival of wildlife species, by introducing competition for food and water and through retaliatory killings when predators take an animal like a goat or a cow. This problem can be found throughout the world, but we’ve been working to tackle the issue at a reserve in Argentina for many years, and we’ve just helped add on another parcel that will be livestock-free.

Through a partnership between GreaterGood, Greater Good Charities, and Wildlife Conservation Society Argentina, 50,000 acres of land have just been purchased to be added onto the protected area of the Payunia Provincial Reserve in Argentina’s Mendoza province. The property in question provides key wintering habitat for the largest migratory guanaco herd in the world, which can be found in the reserve. The purchase of an additional 50,000 acres of the species’ wintering habitat is up next, and the hope is that we’ll close on that in the coming months.

Herd of guanaco. Photo: Susan Walker

GreaterGood CEO Tim Kunin says, “When I first visited this area almost 10 years ago, I saw hundreds of large, wild animals simultaneously, including guanaco, foxes, and condors spread across a wide plain; surrounded by mountains and an extinct volcano. It was like a South American Serengeti. I knew we had to protect this majestic and important landscape.”


HELP PROTECT ENDANGERED SPECIES’ HABITAT


This latest development continues similar work we’ve been involved with for the better part of a decade. Between 2018 and 2019, we worked with our partners to help purchase 25,000 acres of private ranch land, which were then donated to the Mendoza province. During the same time frame, we worked together to compensate retiring livestock producers for the relinquishment of their grazing rights. This impacted nearly an additional 80,000 acres that were also returned to the Mendoza province, which pledged to keep the land protected from future livestock production. The parcels involved in this initial work contain prime summering habitat for guanaco.

Guanaco. Photo: Susan Walker

Moves like this help ease the pressures on the species, which doesn’t have to compete as much for food and water as they do when livestock are present. The predators within the ecosystem, including the puma and the endangered Andean cat, are also less likely to fall victim to retaliatory killings, which had happened when Andean cats took young goats.

Other species within the reserve benefit, as well, including Darwin’s Rhea and the Andean condor, which is endangered throughout much of South America and vulnerable in other parts of the continent.

Andean condor. Photo: Martin Perez

Speaking about the project in 2022, GreaterGood CEO Tim Kunin said, “By removing cattle and sheep from these ranches, that will increase the variety of natural wildlife. And then that increases the viability of predation. In this case, the reason WCS identified these particular parcels was because it’s the largest migratory guanaco herd in the world.”

He added, “So much of wildlife protection seems to be about helping an individual animal, but the way that you protect animals long-term is to protect the habitats that provide the space for wild animals to be preserved and to have enough genetic diversity, particularly among predators, so it can’t be small areas because there won’t be a large enough area for a diverse group of predators to have a genetic diversity over time… You need expansive areas to be able to do that.

Andean cat. Photo: Juan Reppucci

“And that also connects to the goals about protecting 30% of the world’s surface.”

The next step is acquiring and protecting a second large chunk of the prime wintering habitat for the guanaco. If you’d like to help us cross the finish line, click below!

Check out more photos of the reserve and its animals below!

Payunia Map. Photo courtesy of WCS Argentina.
Grey fox. Photo: Diego Cabanas
Guanaco migration in La Payunia. Photo: María José Bolgeri
Payunia landscape. Photo: Antonella Panebianco
Payunia landscape. Photo: Antonella Panebianco
Payunia Payun-Liso Volcano. Photo: Rolando Poblete
Puma. Photo: Dario Podestá
Wolffsohn’s viscacha. Photo: Dario Podestá
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