The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of the South Andean Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) between the Argentine Republic and the Republic of Chile was concluded under CMS auspices and became effective on 4 December 2010. It has a duration of three years and will be automatically renewed unless one Signatory withdraws from it. The MoU aims to address illegal hunting, habitat degradation, the introduction of diseases and other threats to the species.
Due to its worrying conservation status, the South Andean Huemul is listed on Appendix I of the CMS Convention. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the species’ original global population is estimated to have suffered reductions of 99 percent in size and more than 50 percent in distribution range. Fewer than 1500 animals are estimated to remain in the wild, grouped in small, largely isolated populations. Currently its effective conservation depends on concerted actions between the two Signatory States.
The South Andean Huemul, the only large herbivore to inhabit sub-Antarctic Patagonia, migrates across the border region between the two countries. Poaching is a major threat, which adds to mortality due to natural predation by pumas, foxes and domestic dogs. Livestock grazing and water management for agricultural purposes accelerate land conversion. On top of this, expanding infrastructure due to logging and mining encroaches on the species’ habitat. Any loss among the small, fragmented groups of deer can be crucial and would significantly contribute to the extinction of the species. In addition, human settlements, unregulated tourism and diseases transmitted from cattle, put further pressure on the species, preventing small groups from recovering.
The two Range States are expected to develop a bi-national action plan in 2011 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 will be promoted to better understand the ecology and biology of the species as well as factors preventing the recovery of individual groups. Monitoring will be enhanced to collect more data on distribution, abundance and threats. Educational activities and media campaigns will raise awareness about the Huemul´s poor conservation status. The Signatories have agreed to prepare an annual report on progress in implementing the Action Plan to be submitted to the CMS Secretariat and to the Argentine-Chilean Environmental Commission. Annual meetings will also be held, with each Signatory alternately acting as host. The CMS Secretariat acts as depositary of the MoU.