In order to conserve the last remaining Huemul populations and their habitats the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of the Southern Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) was concluded by Argentina and Chile under CMS auspices in 2010. The MOU provides a legal framework for the last two remaining range states, NGOs, scientists, local people and other stakeholder to jointly conserve this endangered migratory deer.
The Huemul moves up and down the South American Andes with the seasons, including transboundary areas between Argentina and Chile. Also known as the South Andean Deer, the Huemul is part of the Chilean Coat of Arms and is not only culturally, but also ecologically and economically of considerable value. It is the only large herbivore to inhabit sub-Antarctic Patagonia. However, the future of the Huemul is far from certain after suffering a 99% decline in population size and a 50% decline in its range. Today less than 1500 animals remain in small and fragmented populations, with the majority occurring in Chile. As a result the Huemul has been classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is listed under both CMS and CITES on Appendix I since 1997 and 1975 respectively.
Poaching is a major threat, which adds to the mortality due to natural predation by pumas, foxes and domestic dogs. Habitat degradation and human encroachment add additional pressure. Livestock grazing and water management for agricultural purposes are further accelerating land conversion. In addition, expanding infrastructure due to logging and mining further reduced the habitat available to Huemul. Unregulated tourism and diseases transmitted from cattle put further pressure on the species. The fact that all remaining Huemul populations are small makes them particularly vulnerable to all of these threats.
The two Range States have developed a bi-national action plan to promote the exchange of scientific, technical and legal information as well as training of professional staff and park rangers to coordinate conservation measures. Research is being promoted to better understand the ecology and biology of the species as well as factors preventing the recovery of individual groups. Monitoring is being enhanced to collect more data on distribution, abundance and threats. Educational activities and media campaigns are contributing to better awareness of the Huemul´s poor conservation status. The Signatories prepare an annual report on progress in implementing the Action Plan for submission to the CMS Secretariat and to the Argentine-Chilean Environmental Commission. Annual meetings are being held, with each Signatory alternately acting as host. The CMS Secretariat acts as depositary of the MOU.