Animal Info - South Andean Deer

(Other Names: Cerf des Andes Méridionales, Chilean Guemal, Chilean Huemul, Ciervo Andino Meridional, Huemul, Huémul des Andes Méridionales, South Andean Huemul)

Hippocamelus bisulcus

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Diet, Density and Range, Minimum Viable Population)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: South Andean Deer #1 (27 Kb JPEG); South Andean Deer #2 (44 Kb JPEG) 

The South Andean deer weighs 45 - 65 kg (100 - 140 lb). It lives at higher altitudes in the summer, moves down the mountains in the fall, and spends the winter in forested valleys. Areas with fresh water are preferred. The South Andean deer feeds primarily on herbaceous plants and shrubs.

Originally, the South Andean deer ranged along the Andes from about 34 deg S in Chile and 40 deg S in Argentina, spreading in Patagonia (south of 44 deg S) to Pacific coast islands and east along the highlands of Argentina possibly to the Atlantic coast (Povilitis 1983). By the early 1970's it appeared to be largely gone from the entire region north of Patagonia except in two areas. At that time, most huemuls were found in Chile's Aysen Region with smaller numbers along adjacent areas of Argentina. By 1997 it appeared that remaining populations were limited to protected areas (Oryx 1997d).

Overhunting for food has been a major cause of the South Andean deer's decline. Habitat loss from fire and erosion, competition with domestic animals and introduced red deer (Cervus elaphus), disease transmitted from livestock, persecution for its perceived competition with livestock and killing by domestic dogs are other important factors.


Tidbits

*** Even as recent as 1987, very little was known of the South Andean deer's distribution and status.

*** The South Andean deer is featured in Chile's national coat of arms.

*** It avoids high valleys where forest has been largely destroyed and where livestock use is heavy.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

  • 1970's: Indeterminate
  • 1980's - 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2004: Endangered (Criteria: C2a) (IUCN 2004)

Countries Where the South Andean Deer Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Argentina and Chile (IUCN 2004).

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

Originally, the South Andean deer ranged along the Andes from about 34 deg S in Chile and 40 deg S in Argentina, spreading in Patagonia (south of 44 deg S) to Pacific coast islands and east along the highlands of Argentina possibly to the Atlantic coast (Povilitis 1983). By the early 1970's it appeared to be largely gone from the entire region north of Patagonia except in the Nevados de Chillan (37 deg S) of Chile and Los Alerces National Park (42 deg S) in Argentina. At that time, most were found in Chile's Aysen Region with smaller numbers along adjacent areas of Argentina. By 1997 a review of recent surveys carried out in Chile and Argentina indicated that there was little evidence of established populations outside protected areas (Oryx 1997d).

Distribution Map (17 Kb) (InfoNatura)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Overhunting for food has been a major cause of the South Andean deer's decline. Habitat loss from fire and erosion, competition with domestic animals and introduced red deer (Cervus elaphus), disease transmitted from livestock, persecution for its perceived competition with livestock and killing by domestic dogs are other important factors.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The South Andean deer weighs 45 - 65 kg (100 - 140 lb).

Habitat:

The South Andean deer inhabits grassy hills, shrublands and dense forests at elevations of 3300 - 5000 m (11,000 - 16,000'). Certain habitats are critical. Areas with fresh water are preferred. In summer, forests of upper valleys provide cover, forage and, in drier areas, water. In winter the low steep north-facing slopes serve as critical habitat. In addition to being warmer, these slopes have less snow and thus travel is easier and food is more accessible (Povilitis 1983).

The South Andean deer lives in both the Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005) as well as the Valdivian Temperate Rainforests Global 200 Ecoregion (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999).

Diet:

The South Andean deer feeds primarily on herbaceous plants and shrubs.

Density and Range:

Density:

  • 1 individual/1.3 sq km (1 individual/0.5 sq mi) (Rio Claro) (Povilitis 1983).

Range:

  • One Rio Claro doe traveled within an area of at least 44 hectares (110 acres), while small groups at the Nevados de Chillan used seasonal areas that ranged from 70 - 188 hectares (170 - 460 acres) (Povilitis 1983).

Minimum Viable Population:

Estimated minimum viable population density: 1 individual/4.5 sq km (1 individual/1.8 sq mi) (Silva & Downing 1994).


References

Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Frid 1991, InfoNatura, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1973d, Oryx 1997d, Oryx 2004, Povilitis 1983, Povilitis 1988, Silva & Downing 1994


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Last modified: December 3, 2005;

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