Saving the Wild Chinchillas Ecosystem Restoration North-Central by mpp15079

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									  Saving the Wild Chinchillas
 Ecosystem Restoration North-
         Central Chile

                          Amy Deane
  Peter Riger                President
     Chair         Save the Wild Chinchillas Inc.
AZA Rodent Taxon
 Advisory Group
                Overall Objectives
   Main goal - to ensure that endangered long-
    tailed chinchillas (C. lanigera) do not become
   Ecosystem restoration - propagating native
    vegetation, some of which are threatened,
    around existing chinchilla colonies.
   To benefit other dependent fauna, which are
   To help curb grazing and other habitat
    degrading activities.
                 Overall Objectives
   To actively involve the local people in restoration
   To promote environmental awareness amongst
    the local public, especially children.
   Working towards establishing a field school that
    ensures sustained protection of this ecosystem.
    Ecosystem Restoration & Alternative
Agricultural Resources in North-Central Chile
                     Project Goals
   Recreate essential habitat for
    endangered chinchillas
   Recreate other natural vegetative
    communities (e.g. creek
    vegetation that enhances a cooler
    environment for chinchillas
    upslope, aids in combating global
    warming on a chinchilla scale)
   Facilitate exclusive livestock
    grazing areas
                    Project Goals
   Habitat being defined by vegetal studies in
    existing chinchilla colonies (30 years of studies)
 Focus on species that we know chinchillas
  consume within these colonies (30 years of
 Emergency care until we can determine the
  nature of chinchilla habitat before severe human
  induced landscape changes
                   Wild Chinchillas
   Once believed extinct, the only known wild
    Chinchilla lanigera exist in north central Chile
    (Jiménez, 1995).
   This endemic species experienced dramatic
    decrease in its population and range
   An estimated 21 million were killed in less than 60
    years for the fur trade and the population has yet to
    recover (Albert, 1901; Jiménez, 1996).
   Chinchillas are endangered and protected by CITES
    (Glade, 1988; IUCN, 1972).
                   Wild Chinchillas
   Population estimates vary from 3000 to
    approximately 5000 (Jiménez, 1995; Mohlis, personal
    communication, 1999).
   Over 17 years (1983-1990), a dramatic decrease in the
    spatial coverage of colonies occurred (Mohlis 1983
    and Jiménez 1995).
   Previous researchers identified the distribution and
    characterized typical habitat for chinchillas (Mohlis
    1983, Jiménez 1990, 1995, Deane non-published
             Chinchilla brevicaudata
 Critically Endangered
 Shorter ears and tail than
C. lanigera
Chinchilla lanigera colony, R.N.
Las Chinchillas, Aucó, IV Región
   Uncontrolled chinchilla hunting until believed
   Estimated 21 million animals killed in 60 years
   Population not able to recover due to natural
    history traits
   Reproduction of Chinchillas long gestation (110
    days), small litters (1 or 2), sexual maturity (8
   Fuel wood use, ore processing, and agriculture
    in the past
   Current mining and agricultural practices
   All areas have been severely affected by resource
   Many hill slopes have little vegetation and hardly
    any native tree species can be seen.
       Agriculture as a Human Land Use
   Abandoned farms and mines
   Continued firewood collection for heating,
    bathing and cooking by the poorest people in
    Chile (IV Region)
   Free ranging livestock: Decrease in livestock
    (9000 animals in 1983 to 1800 in 2000), and farms,
    but no one has tried to restore native vegetation
   Introduced rabbits and hares consume
    vegetation essential for the native fauna
    especially endangered long-tailed chinchillas.
              Habitat Fragmentation
   Isolating not only chinchilla colonies but has
    created isolated patches of habitat for all wildlife
   Small populations and limited mobility have a
    higher probability of extinction
   Creating habitat by growing native plant species
    that serve as food, cover and shelter for chinchillas,
    also aids in the conservation of other plant and
    animal species in the community such as Degus
    (Octodon degus), the Chinchilla rat (Abrocoma
    bennetti), and Cururos (Spalacopus cyanus) that
    only occur here in central Chile.
   Many of the plant species are also of conservation
    concerns and by collecting seeds from different
    locales, we are ensuring genetic diversity.
      Las Chinchillas National Reserve
           Formed in 1983 – covers 4,229 ha
   15 species of predominant mammals and 35 species
                    of avifauna including:
 Chinchilla Chinchilla lanigera
 Pampas Cat Felis colocola (endangered)
 Leaf eared Mouse Phylottis darwinii
 Little Grison Galictis cuja
 Coruro – Spalacopus cyanus
 Tinamou – Northoprocta perdicaria
 Giant Hummingbird – Patagona gigas
 Andean condor – Vultur gryphus
             Las Chinchillas National Reserve

   Darwins Leaf-eared
    Mouse Phylottis

   Cururo Spalacopus
          Las Chinchillas National Reserve

   Pampas Cat
      Felis colocolo

   Andean Condor
      Vultur gryphus
     North American Zoo Population (ISIS)

 Chinchilla  brevicaudata 12.12.2 in 12
 Chinchilla lanigera 118.109.28 in 95
 Equal to 300 individuals with a large
  percentage maintained in education
 Domestic pet trade: possibly tens of
  thousands in private hands
       Plants, Seedling and Seed Sources
   Our Nursery
   The Local Community (friends, farmers & workers)
   Road cut collecting
               Road cut collecting
   Along the dirt roads many species of concern to
    us, germinate and grow only to be cut down
    when the dirt roads undergo repairs
   We collect these seedlings and use for
   BONUS - very cheap financially and ecologically
     – we don’t have to collect seeds and grow the
       plants from germination
     – we don’t waste time, space, soil, or water
       resources on seeds that wouldn’t have
                    Our Nursery
   Seed collection from different drainage basins
   Creating and maintaining seed beds
   Seedlings transplanted into plastic bags or
    modified bottles that promote high root to shoot
    ratios & deep root development (bottles donated
    from Coca-Cola in Illapel, Chile - surplus non-
    returnable bottles, disposed bottles)
   Can be used in nursery for the same seedling for
    a few years
                    Our Nursery
   Decrease heat in the nursery because the bottles
    are transparent
   Commercially available black plastic seedling
    bags add heat and deteriorate in two years
                     Our Nursery
   Water source is a perennial contour canal that
    runs along the nursery
   The bottles are placed into square depressions
    into the soil - irrigate by filling the square hole
    until the area is full (five feet square and 1 foot
   Water is absorbed by the roots bottom of bottle
    to the top thus ensuring the entire soil area is
        From Nursery to Restoration Site
   In some areas we built fences when funding -
    helps exclude livestock (goats, sheep cows,
    horses and donkeys)
   Holes dug a little deeper than seedling container
    size (~ 1.5 feet) - dug with a large crowbar and a
   A little soil is backfilled, a handful of topsoil is
    added, with/without natural fertilizer
   Water is added before seedling is sown; this is
    covered with soil before adding more water and
    moist soil
        From Nursery to Restoration Site
   A dirt semicircle that collects rainwater surface
   Rock mulch is used from nearby
     – Adds shade to the seedling
     – Accumulates condensation- natural irrigation
   Each seedling has a protective fence
     – majority of grazing by exotic (non-native)
       rabbits and hares
   As of 2004, plants are currently being measured
    and tagged to quantify establishment, growth,
    and survivorship
                 Restoration Sites
   Habitat creation - establishing a new area for
    chinchillas that exist between colonies or
    suitable habitat
   Habitat extension - expanding currently
    occupied areas in hopes of expanding chinchilla
   Corridors - areas connecting existing chinchilla
    colonies and with abandoned/extinct colonies to
    promote dispersal and colonization of new areas
                  Project Progress
   Began in year 2000 with funding obtained for a
    nursery in November
   Learned the nature of local plant species - their
    successful germination and sustenance
    (problems with Ephedra and Puya spp.)
   Learned what species need what kind of
    protection from predation
   Have planted approximately 4000 seedlings-
    three expansion areas, two new habitat areas,
    and one corridor
                  Project Progress
   Many plants need years to grow before are
    suitable for chinchilla habitat ~Vslow growing
    desert species
   However, some plants have gone to seed in the
    second year. And these do serve as food.
   Grass species are usable within the same
    planting season and chinchillas preferred food.
                   Project Progress
   Gained community support and assistance -
    donations of tools, time and seedlings from local
   Our project takes place on communally owned
   We hire within this community for help in this
   Raised $24000 for this project ($14000 in the last
    couple of months)
Area near Aucó
Chinchilla feces indicate their presence
The Puya plant under which the
chinchillas spend their daytime
A Puya bloom
   Act for Nature (Monaco)
   Conservation Technology Support
    Program (CTSP) (United State of America)
   Lemmon Foundation (United State of
   Rufford Small Grants(for Nature
    Conservation) (RSG) (United Kingdom)
   Zoological Society for the Conservation
    of Species and Population (ZGAP) (Germany)
            Contact Information

               Amy Deane
            Casilla 302, Illapel
             IV Region, Chile

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