May 17, 2022 1:39 pm

The swamp deer returns to the Impenetrable Chaco, after being extinct in the area for 100 years

After being extinct for 100 years, the swamp deer he set foot again in the territory of El Impenetrable, in the province of Chaco. Breeze and Alfonso are the names of the specimens of these animals that were reintroduced thanks to the rewilding mode in the The Impenetrable National Park. The idea is to add more individuals to rebuild the populations of this deer, which is the largest in South America, in the area known as the Chaco Seco.

The marsh deer was observed on numerous occasions by the first explorers who sailed through upper and middle basin of the Bermejo river, while they were looking for a waterway to connect northern Argentina with Buenos Aires. But nevertheless, Excessive sport hunting and the destruction of the environments they inhabited caused the disappearance of these animals from the region at the beginning of the 20th century.

The swamp deer returns to the impenetrable Chaco, after being extinct for 100 years

Now, thanks to the joint work of the Government of Chaco, the National Directorate of National Parks and the Fundación Rewilding Argentina, these two specimens have been reintroduced, via rewilding in The Impenetrable.

Brisa and Alfonso come from Parque Iberá, in Corrientes, where the populations of this deer increased considerably. It is estimated that currently in the great Corrientes wetland live at least 10 thousand individuals of this cervid.

Brisa arrived at El Impenetrable on November 22 last year, while Alfonso did it recently: last Wednesday, January 12.

Brisa arrived at El Impenetrable in November 2021, and Alfonso did so last Wednesday, January 12Sebastian Navajas – Rewilding Argentina Foundation

Rewilding is a conservation initiative consisting of recovering extinct species to restore their ecological role in the environment and increase the populations of those that are in low numbers. The process is framed in an economic and cultural vision labeled under the name of nature tourism.

“The reintroduction of the marsh deer to El Impenetrable National Park is the result of collective decisions and actions that began in 2011 to create this protected area and that continue to define the profile of the region. Today the deer can return from where it should never have disappeared, because its home is safer”, commented Ariel Ybarra, President of the Tourism Institute of Chaco.

The marsh deer was distributed throughout most of the Paraná and Uruguay river basins, especially in humid environments. Due to hunting, advances in agricultural frontiers, and diseases imported by livestock, this animal became extinct in most of its habitat, surviving only in the Paraná Delta, the Iberá Wetlands and the extreme east of Chaco and Formosa.

Aerial view of the corral in which Brisa and Alfonso were released in El Impenetrable National Park, in the province of Chaco
Aerial view of the corral in which Brisa and Alfonso were released in El Impenetrable National Park, in the province of ChacoRewilding Foundation

According to the information provided by the Fundación Rewilding Argentina, An adult male marsh deer can weigh 300 pounds. which makes it, along with the tapir, the largest herbivores that frequented the humid zones of the Impenetrable Chaco forest.

“Recovering the species and its ecological role will result in a healthier, more diverse and more functional ecosystem, attributes necessary to face the environmental crises that hit wildlife and communities around the planet harder and harder,” he commented. Sebastián Di Martino, Conservation Coordinator of the Rewilding Argentina Foundation.

The moment of Alfonso's arrival at El Impenetrable
The moment of Alfonso’s arrival at El ImpenetrableRewilding Argentina Foundation

The marsh deer will not only help restore the integrity of the Dry Chaco but it will also promote local development, contributing to the economy of the communities of places such as La Armonía, Fortín Arenales and Nueva Población, who are already being trained to carry out tourism activities of nature based on the observation of fauna.

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