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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
ISSN 2307-8235 (online)
IUCN 2008: T11186A18540211
Lama guanicoe, Guanaco
Assessment by: Baldi, R.B., Acebes, P., Cuéllar, E., Funes, M., Hoces, D., Puig, S.
& Franklin, W.L.
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Citation: Baldi, R.B., Acebes, P., Cuéllar, E., Funes, M., Hoces, D., Puig, S. & Franklin, W.L. 2016. Lama
guanicoe. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T11186A18540211.
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Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Camelidae
Taxon Name:ÊÊLama guanicoe (P.L.S. Müller, 1776)
Lama glama ssp. guanicoe (Müller, 1776)
Common Name(s):
• English: Guanaco
Taxonomic Notes:
There is strong morphological, chromosomal, molecular, and archaeological evidence demonstrating
that the Llama originally began with the domestication of the Guanaco in the Central Andes (Wheeler et
al. 2006, Marín et al. 2007), as indicated in the name Lama glama first suggested by Linneaus (1758) for
designating the Guanaco species (Grubb 2005). Today, the endorsement is clear that Lama guanicoe is a
valid species for the wild form (Gentry et al. 2004).
Throughout the first half of the 20th Century four morphological Guanaco subspecies (L. g. cacsilensis, L.
g. voglii, L. g. huanacus, and L. g. guanicoe) were described based upon subtle differences in cranium
biometrics, pelage colour, and body size (Wheeler 1995, González et al. 2006). However, analysis of
Guanaco mitochondrial-DNA markers failed to clearly differentiate four subspecies throughout the wide
geographic range of the species. Yet, genetic analysis did distinguish populations found in Peru and
northern Chile, compared to other populations in Argentina, Bolivia, and remainder of Chile (Marín et
al. 2008). Additional analysis with DNA-nuclear genes demonstrated the valid existence of two
subspecies (L. g. cacsilensis and L. g. guanicoe) with the presence of a geographical zone of hybrid
populations between both subspecies (Marín et al. 2013).
The Northwestern or cacsilensis subspecies is distributed on the western side of the Andes throughout
Perú to the northern extreme of Chile, whereas the Southeastern subspecies or guanicoe is found
throughout all of Patagonia to the extreme Austral end of the continent. Both lineages apparently
formed due to the presence of the Andean altiplano (plateau) that served as a biogeographical and
ecological barrier separating the populations to east and west of the Andean continental divide. The
hybrid zone came about through genetic flow between the two subspecies where a geographic contact
zone existed in the region south of the altiplano in Central Chile, in far northwestern Patagonia, and with
an extension northeast into northwestern Argentina and southern Bolivia (Marín et al. 2013). An
alternative to the classification of two subspecies is the possibility they could be considered
Evolutionary Significant Units (sensu Moritz 1994, Marín et al. 2013).
At the current population level at least eight, independent genetic and demographic or Management
Units (MUs, according to Moritz 1994 definition) have been identified that should be managed
separately in order to maintain their local genetic adaptiveness (Marín et al. 2013): 1) Peruvian Hyper-
Arid Desert, 2) Chilean Pre-Andean Altiplano, 3) Chilean Arid Zone and Pre-Puna, 4) Bolivian Chaco, 5)
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
North and Central Patagonia, 6) Patagonia Occidental, 7) Patagonia Austral, and 8) Fueguian Zone.
Guanaco populations in northeast and northcentral Argentina that were not included in Marín et al.
(2013) have yet to be assessed for MU classification.
Although previous taxonomic classification was based upon phenotypic characteristics (Wheeler 1995,
González et al. 2006), there have been no wide-scale studies dealing with morphological variations in
the species. Preliminary examination of Guanaco skulls at museums indicates a differentiation between
individuals across the continent in Bolivia, Chile, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego (Groves and Grubb
Identification Information:
Assessment Information
Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: February 3, 2016
The species status is considered to be of Least Concern based upon its wide continental distribution
(around one million km2), its presumed total population size (around one million adults), and the
presence of numerous protected areas across its range of distribution (56 protected areas covering
around 146,000 km2). However, Guanaco actual conservation measures continue to be primarily based
upon recurring emergencies, specifically, severe local poaching, which do not fulfill the greater holistic
threats faced by the species. This is a result of its wide distribution existing in small-fragmented and
isolated populations, in contrast to some abundant populations that are locally and widely distributed.
Of grave concern at the national level is that Guanacos are likely to become extinct in three out of the
five countries where they were historically found and currently classified as Endangered: Paraguay,
Bolivia, and Peru. For this reason it is important to emphasize that future Guanaco management not
only address the poaching problem, but also focus upon the implementation of measures orientated to
the protection and conservation of those depressed populations, as well as, simultaneously expand the
sustained utilization of those recovered and abundant populations for benefit of local residents and
landowners. Accordingly, a more accurate classification of Guanaco, such as a Regional Assessment is
needed in order to reflect the actual heterogeneity of populations across its multi-country distribution.
Habitat degradation due to overgrazing, competition with introduced herbivores, and habitat
degradation due to extractive industries are the main threats to Guanaco (Wildlife Conservation Society
2012). Nevertheless, persistent illegal hunting is one of the historical threats to the species,
independent of population size that is strongly impacting small and low-density populations (González
2010a, Wildlife Conservation Society 2012). Equally important is the continued hunting of numerically
recovered populations (Lambertucci and Speziale 2011) based upon antagonism towards the species by
livestock and landowners who have put pressure on governments to control Guanaco numbers.
Examples of this situation occur in the Patagonia of Chile and Argentina, and populations in the Andes of
Central Chile.
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
Human activities such as hunting, mining, oil exploration and extraction, livestock fencing, development
of infrastructure, and habitat loss, often impose barriers to migration and movement between
populations. The loss of connectivity has resulted in small, closed and isolated populations under
increasing risk of collapse due to the loss of genetic variation and environmental or demographic
stochasticity – the latter being highly relevant to inordinately small populations. Recent research,
however, on a small island population of Guanacos indicates that such isolation may not be the problem
of genetic-diversity loss in the short-term (70 years) as previously envisioned, yet long-term
consequences are inevitable (González et al. 2014).
Live-shearing of captured Guanacos is currently under development in Patagonia with Argentine-
government funding. If properly managed, these programmes can offer an alternative to local
economies and re-evaluation of negative attitudes by landowners towards the species (Franklin et al.
1997, Lichtenstein and Carmanchahi 2012, Lichtenstein 2013). More than 11,000 Guanacos had been
shorn between 2004-2008, yet today only a very small percentage of the total Guanaco population is
under such management (Lichtenstein 2013). The effects of sustained-fibre utilization are being
assessed and monitored, especially where Guanacos are concentrated in scattered high-density
populations (Ovejero et al. 2013, Carmanchahi et al. 2015). To encourage the marketing of Guanaco
products, Argentina is developing and promoting Guanaco yarn and thread.
Guanacos have been legally hunted in Chile since 2003, with pressure for similar management in the
Argentinean Patagonia in order to reduce density and conflicts with livestock production and forestry.
However, a recent study revealed that hunting adult Guanacos by itself does not reduce browsing
damage to Nothofagus regeneration in Tierra del Fuego, Chile (Martinez-Pastur et al. 2016). Still,
government sanctioned and organized harvesting of Guanacos has resulted in the exportation of meat,
contributed to the value of the species, and begun to reduce traditional conflict with sheep ranchers
and foresters.
Previously Published Red List Assessments
2008 – Least Concern (LC) –
1996 – Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
Geographic Range
Range Description:
The Guanaco is a widespread species with an extensive, although discontinuous, range from the
northern Peru (8°30’ S) to Navarino Island (55°S) in southern Chile, from the Pacific Ocean in the
northwest to the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast, and from the sea level to 5,000 meters elevation in
the Andean Mountains (Franklin 1982, González et al. 2006, González in prep.).
However, its distribution has been severely impacted by human beings. Constant hunting, human
occupation and fragmentation of habitat, competition with livestock, and the installation of fences
(Torres 1992, Franklin et al. 1997, González et al. 2006) have reduced the Guanaco’s distribution to only
26% of its original distribution (calculated by Ceballos and Ehrlich 2002, based upon Franklin 1982).
Clearly numerous local populations have become extirpated generating a distribution highly fragmented
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
in many regions (Housse 1930, MacDonagh 1949, Mann et al. 1953, Cunazza et al. 1995, Torres 1992,
González et al. 2006, Baigún et al. 2007).
In Peru the northernmost population of Guanacos in South America occurs at 8°30'S (Franklin 1975,
Linares et al. 2010) in the Calipuy National Reserve in the La Libertad Department. To the south,
populations reach the Salinas Aguada Blanca National Reserve in the departments of Arequipa and
Moquegua (16°10'S), and a Guanaco population has been recorded in the Nevado Salcantay area in the
Anta District (Wheeler 2006, Veliz and Hoces 2007).
In Bolivia, a relict population of Guanaco persists in the Chaco region (Cuéllar and Fuentes 2000) and
recent sightings have been reported in the southern highlands between Potosi and Chuquisaca (Nuñez
2008). Although Pinaya (1990) reported the presence of Guanacos in southeastern Tarija, these records
are in need of confirmation.
In Paraguay, a small relict population has been reported in the northwestern Chaco (Villalba 2004).
In Chile Guanacos occur from near Putre village at the northern border with Peru to Navarino Island in
the far southern Fueguian zone (González et al. 2013). The largest Guanaco populations in Chile are
concentrated in the Magallanes and Aysén regions in the far south. In the remainder of the country,
small and fragmented Guanaco populations occur in the Andean foothills of the extreme north,
scattered small pockets along the coast, the north-central zone in the lower Andes, and central Chile
exclusively in the Andes (González 2010a, González et al. 2013).
In Argentina most of the world’s remaining Guanacos are found. Although its range covers nearly all of
the Argentine Patagonia, Guanaco populations appear to be more scattered towards the northern
provinces of the country (Chubut, Río Negro, Neuquén, and Mendoza) compared to the southern region
(Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego; Baigun et al. 2007, Wildlife Conservation Society 2012). Throughout
northern Patagonia, distribution is highly fragmented in relict populations in the La Pampa and
southwestern Buenos Aires Provinces. In central and northern Argentina, Guanaco distribution is
restricted to the western half of the country along the pre-Andean and Andean mountains up to the
border with Bolivia (Baigún et al. 2007). Recently a relict population has been reported in the arid Chaco
of northwestern Córdoba (Schneider et al. unpublished data) and in Córdoba Guanacos have been
reintroduced (Barri and Cufré 2014).
Country Occurrence:
Native: Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Chile; Paraguay; Peru
Introduced: Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
Distribution Map
Lama guanicoe
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
It is estimated that Guanaco abundance has been reduced to only 3-7% of their original numbers when
Europeans arrived to South America and the total Guanaco population was between 30-50 million
animals (Raedeke 1979). Today, the total continental population of Guanacos is between 1,500,000-
2,200,000 with the estimated number of adults between 1,000,000-1,500,000 (calculated from life-
tables of Raedeke 1979; Fritz and Franklin 1994), two to three times greater than previously assessed
(Baldi et al. 2008). That number would be reduced if effective population size (Ne) is applied (Sarno et al.
2015). Some 81-86% of the Guanaco population is found in Argentina followed by Chile at 14-18%. The
total numbers in Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay are less than 1% of the total. Differences in survey
methodologies and effort across such a vast area make it necessary to be cautious about population
numbers and should be taken only as references. Specifically, what is needed is a more reliable estimate
for the entire Argentine Patagonia (Schroeder et al. 2014, Travaini et al. 2015). For Chile the total
estimate is rather speculative as these numbers come from scattered information instead of planned
surveys. More accurate surveys will hopefully come from new methods applicable for population
estimation designed for large areas (González 2010a) or application of standard methodologies at broad
scale (Soto 2010). For Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay, most assessments have been based mainly on animal
counts because of the large and remote areas involved, possibly underestimating total population size.
Although Guanaco distribution in the Argentine Patagonia is rather continuous, densities are typically
low (<5 Guanacos/km2) and even very low in many parts of Chubut, Rio Negro and Neuquén Provinces
(<2 Guanacos/km2). High-density populations are actually scarce in the Patagonia of Argentina (Baldi et
al. 2001, 2010; Novaro et al. 2007; Puig et al. 1997, 2003). A recent estimate for Patagonia was reported
by Gavuzzo et al. (2015) applying aerial censuses techniques, but the numbers must be used for
reference because of problematic assumptions, and used with caution if management decisions are at
the local level (Schiavini and Rey 2015). Nevertheless, aerial surveys can agree with population
estimation by modelling, for example those from the Santa Cruz Province (Travaini et al. 2015). For the
rest of Argentina, population densities are below one Guanaco/km² and highly fragmented (Baigún et al.
2007, Puig and Videla 2007) with some relict populations in La Pampa, Córdoba and Buenos Aires
Provinces (Sosa and Sarasola 2005, Barri and Cufré 2014). Some high-density populations occur in
southern Chile reaching up to 43 Guanacos/km2 at Torres del Paine National Park (Sarno and Franklin
1999), but in the rest of Chile populations are small and widely scattered.
As a general rule, it is recommended to use the distance sampling methods either for ground or aerial
surveys for open and flat environments, as they are based upon more realistic assumptions than total
counts or fixed-width strip transect methods that tend to underestimate population numbers (Buckland
et al. 1993). However, where numbers are very low as in relict populations, total counts or less
systematic methods are appropriate as a first approach. Also, extrapolation of local densities to larger
areas must be cautiously applied according to sampling effort and based upon proper statistical design.
Some large-scale surveys are currently being conducted in Argentinean Patagonia, including modelling
(Schroeder et al. 2014) and aerial surveys using systematic, digital photographs taken along flight
transects. In Chilean mountainous environments survey techniques are in the experimental phase using
Monte-Carlo modelling and geostatistical-based estimates.
Guanaco population:
• Peru: 3,000
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
• Bolivia: 150-200
• Paraguay: 20-100
• Chile: 270,000-299,000
• Argentina: 1,225,000-1,890,000
Total Guanaco population: 1,498,170-2,192,300Trend: Increasing. Although the global population
estimate is higher than previous assessments, current approaches take into account new information
and methods of estimation (Schroeder et al. 2014, Zubillaga et al. 2014, Travaini et al. 2015). Under-
estimates and over-estimates have occurred in the past because of incomplete and inaccurate
population-survey methodologies, especially in low population densities over the vast areas involved.
Also, some large areas previously unknown have been recently surveyed. At the same time, high-
numbered populations in the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia have experienced significant growth in
the past number of years (Zubillaga et al. 2014). However, caution should be noted that although
numbers have seemingly increased in the far southern cone of South America, in the balance of the
Guanaco’s distribution, populations are small and in real decline or at best tenuously stable, such as in
Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Chile, and Nnrthern Argentina (Wildlife Conservation Society 2012).
Current Population Trend:ÊÊIncreasing
Habitat and Ecology (see Appendix for additional information)
The Guanaco is a wild ungulate found from sea level to over 5,000 meters elevation (González et al.
2006, González in prep.). At the continental and country levels, climate has mainly driven distributional
range of the species (González et al. 2013). Guanaco habitat is characterized by highly seasonal climates,
dry winters or snow covered, cold temperatures including below zero, winds from moderate to high
intensity and low precipitation combined with high evapotranspiration create arid conditions that in
general result in low plant productivity (Franklin, 1982, 1983; Wheeler 1995). In the sub-region of
Patagonia (Hershkovitz 1972) Guanacos inhabit four of the ten major environments described for South
America (González et al. 2006): 1) Desert and Xeric Shrublands, 2) Montane Grasslands, 3) Grasslands,
Savannas and Shrublands, and 4) Temperate Forests (Dinerstein et al. 1995). Phytogeographically,
Guanacos inhabit the provinces of the Monte and Patagonia, arid and semi-arid shrublands, and
grasslands comprising around 1,000,000 km² (Wildlife Conservation Society 2012). On a smaller scale,
the presence or absence of this species can be explained by altitude, vegetation, topography, and the
occurrence of livestock (Travaini et al. 2007, Acebes et al. 2010, Iranzo et al. 2013, González et al. 2013).
Both migratory and sedentary populations exist across the Guanaco range. Migration is mainly driven by
winter forage supply and snow depth as observed for Andean and some Patagonian population before
and after the reproductive season (Ortega and Franklin 1995). A minimal annual home range reported
for the species is 2-9 km2 in sedentary animals (Marino and Baldi 2008), whereas in migratory
populations they can reach up to 900 km2 in the Andes (González et al. 2008) and around 40 km2 in
Tierra del Fuego during winter (Moraga et al. 2015).
The Guanaco’s primary natural predator is the Puma (Puma concolor; Franklin et al. 1999) and
secondarily the Andean Fox (Lycalopex culpaeus; Novaro et al. 2009). Its distribution overlaps
marginally with other native ungulates such as Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) in Patagonia, Taruka
(Hippocamelus anticensis) in mountains of the central Andes, and the Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) in some
parts of the altiplano (Luccherini 1996, Díaz and Smith-Flueck 2000, Rundel and Palma 2000).
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
Adult Guanacos weigh 80-120 kg (Wheeler 1995, González et al. 2006) and their breeding system is
based upon resource defence polygyny, i.e. an adult male defends a territory where birthing and mating
occur and a group of females and their offspring (chulengos) feed freely from the intrusion of other
males (Franklin 1982, 1983). The Family Group is the basic social unit that occupies a Feeding Territory
defended by the resident adult male. Other units found during the reproductive season, include Solo
Males that defends a territory without females, and non-territorial Male Groups composed of males of
various ages (Franklin 2011). In migratory populations outside the reproductive season, large Mixed
Groups can be observed composed of both sexes of all ages (Ortega and Franklin 1995).
Vigilance and foraging accounted for almost 90% of the diurnal time budget for male and female
Guanacos in Family Groups, where animals benefited from living in groups as individual foraging time
increased with group size, as well as, collective vigilance against predators (Marino and Baldi 2008).
Territoriality apparently limits population density, reaching lower K (equilibrium density) when
contrasted with models based on individual forage intake (Marino et al. 2015). Empirical field data has
also shown that Family Group size is positively correlated with forage production within Feeding
Territories (Franklin et al. in press).
Guanacos are generalist herbivores of intermediate selectivity, i.e. their diets include large proportions
of both grasses and shrubs (Raedeke and Simmoneti 1988; Fraser 1998; Puig et al. 1997, 2011, 2014;
Baldi et al. 2004). Domestic sheep was the main ungulate introduced across the Guanaco’s range,
reaching 22 million within 50 years after its introduction in the Argentine Patagonia in the late 1800s.
Guanacos and sheep largely overlap in their forage preferences as much as 80% in some areas (Puig et
al. 2001). Although both species can include some 100 plant species in their diets, only 17 species make
up 80% of the diets, and in Patagonia two grass species represent 40% for both Guanaco and sheep
diets (Baldi et al. 2004). Other introduced ungulates found in Guanaco habitat are goats, cattle, donkeys,
and horses, but few studies have assessed their diet overlap with the Guanaco. A preliminary study in
the Bolivian Chaco showed that the Guanaco is a generalist feeder, responding to the seasonal
availability of fruits, flowers and leaves, including a variety of cacti (Cuéllar, unpublished data). In that
same region Guanacos mainly compete for forage and spatial resources with cattle and horses.
Competition with livestock, hunting, and habitat modification has often resulted in Guanacos occupying
marginal, low quality lands in terms of vegetation cover and the availability of preferred plant species
caused by sheep monopolizing the most productive areas (Baldi et al. 2001, Iranzo et al. 2013). A spatial
segregation has been found in northern Chile between Guanacos and Donkeys Equus asinus (Malo et al.
Use and Trade
The call for the management and wise use of Guanaco products (fine undercoat/fiber and meat) put
forth over the past several decades as an alternative approach to traditional conservation and strict
protection (Franklin and Fritz 1991, Franklin et al. 1997) is now in the pioneering stages trying to
establish itself as a wildlife production system (Hudson 1989). Research and application of meat harvest
programs have been conducted on Tierra del Fuego, Chile, after monitoring population (Skewes et al.
1999, Skewes et al. 2000, Soto 2010). Nearly 23,000 animals have been harvested for meat between
2003 and 2015 in Chilean Tierra del Fuego with products primarily exported or used in the local market
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
(N. Soto, pers. com. 2016). Fiber utilization was achieved initially from Guanaco farm individuals
captured in the wild as newborns and raised in captivity during the 1980s and 1990s (Bas and González
et al. 2000), but this approach has largely been discontinued because of high husbandry costs and world
instability in the specialty-fiber market. Another approach, as mentioned above, holds more long-term
promise from capturing, shearing and releasing of individuals in wild populations in programs being
developed in Argentina. Finally, non-consumptive use, such as tourism, has also helped promote the
aesthetic value of the species, especially in wild protected areas (Franklin et al. 1997).
A major management program funded by the government is currently being developed in the Patagonia
of Argentina for fine-fiber utilization of wild-live captured animals on protected areas. This type of
management was at its height during the last decade between 2004-2008 when some 11,000 Guanacos
were shorn (Baldi et al. 2010, Lichtenstein 2013). Since then the number of animals has decreased due
to international price variations for crude fiber. As a result, there has been a strong incentive to generate
Guanaco fiber products as the local level, including yarn and thread (Lichtenstein pers. comm.).
Ecosystem Services and Values
The importance of the Guanaco is based upon a multiple set of values (González 2010b). The most basic
is its ecocentric or intrinsic value, that is, as a species its right to live, to exist, independent of the
importance of the species to humans. This is an ethical base tangentially related to different groups and
non-government organizations within the protective laws of each country.
There are a myriad of anthropocentric values that refer to the importance of a species to humans. The
species provides multiple benefits to society, or ecosystem services (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
2005) that are imparted to different segments of human society (Ojasti 2000). Guanacos provide
regulating, supporting, provisioning and cultural services at different time and space scales. The benefits
of the Guanaco to humans can be assessed by a number of values:
Existence Value that can be achieved through investment or payment to insure the existence of
Guanaco populations without assumptions for its later use, is still in the beginning stages for this
species. Nevertheless, the work of private organizations like Wildlife Foundation, Patagonia
Conservation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society have indirectly assured the Guanaco’s future by
acquiring large-land holdings for the conservation of ecosystems that include the species.
Evolutionary Value, through the Guanaco’s heritage of nearly 40 million years of evolution from its
ancestors in North American (Franklin 1982, in press) and its anatomical and physiological adaptations
(González et al. 2006), its adaptiveness has enabled the species to become the dominate-wild mammal
in Patagonia and parts of the Andean mountains of South America (Franklin 2011). This value is
important when management is planned and its use is assessed, especially when contrasted with
introduced-exotic animals.
Ecological Value, the Guanaco has a major role and broad component in the trophic and ecological
network of the South American Andean, Patagonia, and aridland ecosystems. It has been observed that
in the absence of this large herbivore, the Puma will consume other prey that are of importance to
humans, namely domestic sheep (Novaro et al. 2000, Laguna et al. 2015). The Guanaco modifies plant
growth in such a way that reduces dry matter prone to fire (Fuentes and Muñoz 1995) and disseminates
seeds through the use of dung piles that promotes the recycling of nutrients and colonization of
degraded soils (Cortés et al. 2003, Henríquez 2004, Cavieres and Fajardo 2005). In addition, the padded
feet of Guanacos do far less damage to soft soils compared to cloven hoofed livestock (König et al. 2003,
König et al. 2015). They are also an important prey of predators and their remains are significant to
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
scavenging animals, all of which contribute to ecosystem health and cycles.
Productive Value, applies to a number managed Guanaco populations for the important production of
fibre (hair) and meat (see section on Use and Trade). Guanaco fibre is extremely fine (14-16 microns)
and potentially economically valuable, as currently being obtained from live capture and release
programs in the Patagonia of Argentina. Also, the value of its meat is being harvested from populations
in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.
Ethnic Value of the Guanaco is high as an invaluable species that has permitted the existence of
humans in a variety of remote and dry environments of South America (Franklin 1982). All indigenous
cultures associated with the deserts, Andean mountains, and the Patagonian and Fuegian zones utilized
the Guanaco, and in some cases depended upon the species for food, clothing, shelter, and artistic and
spiritual inspiration (Miller 1982). Its ethnic value was paramount, thanks to the process of
domestication in the Central Andes, in the creation of the domestic Llama (Wheeler 1995). The Guanaco
has also been seen to have local aesthetic value (Barkmann et al. 2005, Cerda et al. 2014).
Conservation Value of the Guanaco has been successfully used as an indicator, sentry, flag, and
charismatic species (Noss 1990) in several parts of its distribution (Chehebar et al. 2013). It has also
been used to justify the creation of wild areas and for environmental variations as a “sensitive species”
for monitoring changes in land use (González et al. 2008).
Restoration Value is the examination of costs for preventing the Guanaco’s disappearance and/or the
costs of re-establishing extirpated populations, as was the case in Argentina (Barri and Cufré 2014).
Option Value is the costs of determining the attitudes of people or society to pay for Guanaco
conservation as a potential resource for future use, of which, has not yet been assessed.
Recreational-Tourism Value, whereas the Guanaco is an animal of large-showy size in open
ecosystems, with its gregarious habits, tolerance and habituation to people when not under persecution
makes the species an important attraction for tourists who visit wild-protected national parks and
refuges (Franklin et al. 1997, Cerda and De la Maza 2015).
Historic Value, for having been recognized in stories of early arriving Europeans, historians, and
naturalists, such as Charles Darwin who was surprised by the large numbers of Guanacos, its habits, and
widespread occurrence across different areas of South America, the species is historically important.
Artistic and Literary Value, because the Guanaco has been mentioned by historical and contemporary
writers, for example Gabriel Garcia Marquez who at the time of receiving the Nobel prize of Literature in
1982, used the description done by A. Pigaffeta of the Guanaco in 1521 as an example of Magical
Realism. Also, Pablo Neruda in his work “Canto General” (General Song in English) of 1950, dedicated
words to the Guanaco in several of his poems. In addition, the Guanaco has been featured in major
popular magazine articles and a number of television specials and documentaries by Nova, Nature,
Discovery and National Geographic seen by multi-millions of people (see for details
Threats (see Appendix for additional information)
Guanacos are still numerous and widely distributed but continue their decline initiated in the 19th
century in Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and major parts of Chile. Over-hunting, range degradation from
livestock overgrazing, and interspecific competition for forage have all played significant and long-time
roles in the demise of Guanacos all across their distributional range (Raedeke 1979; Franklin 1982; Miller
et al. 1983; Cunazza et al. 1995; Cuellar and Fuentes 2000; Puig et al. 2001; Baldi et al. 2001, 2004).
Currently, the main threats are still widespread, but mining and energy projects are also becoming a
factor. Of special concern is the recent and rapid development of unconventional oil and gas exploration
across large areas of the Guanaco’s distribution.
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
In Peru Guanacos are seriously affected by poaching and subsistence hunting. Habitat degradation due
to extractive industries and livestock overgrazing has been identified as major threats for the few
remaining subpopulations (Wildlife Conservation Society 2012).
In Bolivia the current major threat is habitat loss due to overgrazing by livestock. Although sport hunting
was halted in 2001 (Cuéllar, unpublished data), poaching is still common.
In Chile and Argentina, recreational hunting and poaching are major threats. In northern Chile at the
local level, feral dogs are reducing Guanaco populations within and outside protected areas, and
hybridism with Llamas is common in areas with low Guanaco densities. Mining and oil extraction along
with photovoltaic and wind parks have expanded with the demand for increased production, resulting in
habitat loss and fragmentation of populations in both countries. In addition, in northern Chile and the
Argentine Patagonia infrastructure development has caused road kills and entrapment within barriers
lining highways causing local isolation and limiting population movements (Rey et al. 2012). Finally, in
Chile and Argentina where numbers have recovered due to government sponsored management
programs and Guanaco populations coexist with ranching and forestry practices, there has been a return
to public resentment towards Guanacos as occurred in historical times. Demonstrated-sustained
programs of Guanacos utilization that benefit the local economy and lower population numbers are
needed if Guanaco are to be maintained.
Health studies conducted in mainland Patagonia have shown that Guanaco populations are relatively
disease-free, but susceptible to common diseases from domestic sheep, cattle, and horses (Karesh et al.
1998, Beldomenico et al. 2003, Uhart et al. unpub. data). Castillo (2006) came to a similar conclusion
based upon studies of parasite load in free ranging Peruvian Guanacos. Recently, scabies has been
reported to affect Guanacos in northern Chile causing mortality in low-density populations. It is also a
common disease in Guanacos inhabiting Tierra del Fuego, Chile (Skewes pers. comm.).
Today the Guanaco occupies only 26% of its original range (calculated by Ceballos and Ehrlich 2002,
based upon Franklin 1982). Specifically, range distribution has been reduced by 58% in Argentina, 75% in
Chile, and over 90% in Perú, Bolivia, and Paraguay (Cunazza et al. 1995, Ceballos and Ehrlich 2002).
Moreover, distribution has become fragmented into smaller, relatively isolated populations. Although
the species is not threatened with demographic extinction at a continental scale, it is predicted that the
northern subspecies L. guanicoe cacsilensis will become extinct in Peru within 30 years if current-
hunting mortality rates are not curtailed ( Guanacos are ecologically extinct in most of
their remaining range (Novaro et al. 2000), with some southern populations at serious risk of local or
even regional extirpation (Cunazza et al. 1995). Spatial fragmentation in general is a threat to Guanaco
populations (Wildlife Conservation Society 2012). Recent findings suggest that inbreeding or aberrant
mutations may lead to reproductive failure and congenital malformations (Franklin and Grigione 2005,
Zapata et al. 2008, González et al. 2014).
Increasing pressure from private landowners in Patagonian rangelands may result in a threat to the
remaining high-density Guanaco populations if management is not properly planned and implemented.
Live-shearing and subsequent release of wild Guanacos could contribute to their conservation only if the
effects of this activity are properly assessed and management is applied accordingly. If not ecologically
sustainable, the viability of the most important Guanaco populations will be at risk. Careful evaluation of
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
current management practices involving live shearing is currently in progress, but a long-term
assessment is necessary. For Guanaco populations under a hunting strategy of use, information about
habitat preferences, flight distance, individual and population movement, group composition, and the
effect on neighbouring populations are urgently needed for proper assessment of this kind of productive
Land desertification due to overgrazing coupled with more severe and frequent droughts caused by
climate change/variation are potential threats of great concern to Guanaco abundance throughout its
range. Severe droughts can have drastic effects on local Guanaco populations as documented in eastern
Patagonia (Baldi et al. 2010). In addition, models on climate change predict a sharp decrease in rain
precipitation within the next 50 years in arid-southern South America (Nohara et al. 2006). Therefore, it
is crucial to favor the ecological functionality of Guanaco populations through adequate management as
a step to mitigate additional effects of climate change.
Conservation Actions (see Appendix for additional information)
The Guanaco occurs in a number of protected areas and is included in Appendix II of CITES, thus
regulating its international commerce of meat and fine-fiber products to insure that such trade does not
threaten the Guanaco’s survival. In selected areas the sale of Guanaco products in local and
international markets has contributed to its “species value” in recovered populations that can be used
for reducing human-Guanaco conflict with ranchers and forestry production. Precaution needs to keep
in mind for numerically depressed populations where consumptive and commerce use could irreversibly
affect population stability; because of such potential problems, national legislation and international
control via CITIES and other programs are relevant and important.
• Peru. Recent legislation ratifies the alarming status of the Guanaco in Peru classifying it as Critically
Endangered (Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego 2014). Governmental management of populations has
been changed from CONACS (Consejo Nacional de Camélidos Sudamericanos = National Council for
South American Camelids) to SERFOR (Servicio Forestal = Forestry Service) and local communities.
• Bolivia. The government is working with local NGOs and authorities to strengthen the management of
protected areas for the species. The government has issued an official notice to law enforcement offices
in relevant regions concerning the protection of the Guanaco. The main conservation aim has been
achieved thanks to the permanent presence of trained indigenous parabiologists and park rangers in the
remaining range of the species (Cuéllar unpub. data). The situation is similar in Paraguay were the
population is very small and the local NGOs and governmental institutions are working to maintain and
protect the last remaining populations of Guanacos in the country.
• Chile. The species is protected by the National Hunting Law (Ley de Caza) that regulates hunting,
breeding, and in situ use. However, personnel for law enforcement are insufficient. Only 4% of the
country’s Guanaco habitat has effective protection (8,354 km2 in 8 National Parks and 4 Reserves).
Additionally, there are fiscal and private areas where hunting is prohibited, either with relict populations
(7,750 km2) or that directly protect the species (1,212 km2). A National Management Plan does not exist,
but regionally a Conservation Plan has been developed for northern and central Chile (Grimberg 2010).
Finally, Guanacos have been classified as Vulnerable in northern and central Chile and Least Concern in
southernmost Chile by the Environmental Ministry (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente 2012), where the
Guanaco is included in environmental assessment of investment projects such as mining, energy,
infrastructure, and others.
• Argentina. A National Management Plan (Plan Nacional de Manejo del Guanaco, Baldi et al. 2006) was
prepared in 2006 and endorsed by the provinces with the highest Guanaco densities. The plan was
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
coordinated by the Federal Wildlife Agency (Dirección de Fauna Silvestre) involving local institutions
with its main focus on the Patagonia. The Federal Wildlife Conservation Law (Ley Nacional de
Conservación de la Fauna) and various provincial acts provide a legal basis for the protection and use of
the species. In Patagonia, Guanaco conservation measures include sustainable use of the species in the
wild, regulation of hunting, and closing of some access routes and oil trails. Nevertheless, law
enforcement capacity is low since most provinces lack sufficient personnel and equipment to control
vast areas. Protected areas in the Patagonian steppe would encompass 10% of the Guanaco population
if effective, but most protected areas are rather nominal as they contain livestock, lack wildlife guards,
and poaching is common. The percentage of the area under effective protection in the Patagonian
steppe is estimated at a disconcerting level of less than 1% (Walker et al. 2004). In the central provinces
there are eleven protected areas (national, provincial and private). In general, progress has been made
in legislation and management tools, but implementation is needed.
Assessor(s): Baldi, R.B., Acebes, P., Cuéllar, E., Funes, M., Hoces, D., Puig, S. & Franklin, W.L.
Reviewer(s): González, B.A. & Lichtenstein, G.
Contributor(s): Soto, N., Cerda, C. & Villalba, L.
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T11186A18540211.
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© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
Habitat Season Suitability Major
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry - Suitable Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.7. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude - Suitable Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry - Marginal -
4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude - Suitable Yes
Threat Timing Scope Severity Impact Score
10. Geological events -> 10.1. Volcanoes Past,
unlikely to
- - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1.
Housing & urban areas
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2.
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.3.
Temperature extremes
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms
& flooding
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual &
perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual &
perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming
& ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming
& ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming
& ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching
or farming
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining &
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads &
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping
terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is
the target)
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping
terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects
(species is not the target)
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping
terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.1.
Recreational activities
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.3. Work &
other activities
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire
suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water
management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other
ecosystem modifications
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes &
diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien
species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes &
diseases -> 8.2. Problematic native species/diseases
-> 8.2.1. Unspecified species
Ongoing - - -
Stresses: 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
Conservation Actions in Place
Conservation Actions in Place
In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
Action Recovery plan: Yes
Systematic monitoring scheme: No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
Conservation sites identified: Yes, over entire range
Occur in at least one PA: Yes
Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100): 11-20
Area based regional management plan: No
Invasive species control or prevention: No
In-Place Species Management
Harvest management plan: Yes
Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly: Yes
Subject to ex-situ conservation: No
In-Place Education
Subject to recent education and awareness programmes: Yes
Included in international legislation: Yes
Subject to any international management/trade controls: Yes
Conservation Actions Needed
Conservation Actions Needed
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
Conservation Actions Needed
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.3. Sub-national level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level
Research Needed
Research Needed
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
Additional Data Fields
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) (km²): 1000000
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) (km²): 1000000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 40
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
Continuing decline in number of locations: No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (m): 0
Upper elevation limit (m): 5000
Number of mature individuals: 1000000
Continuing decline of mature individuals: No
Extreme fluctuations: No
Population severely fragmented: Yes
No. of subpopulations: 7
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: Yes
All individuals in one subpopulation: Yes
Habitats and Ecology
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 4-5
Movement patterns: Altitudinal Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
ISSN 2307-8235 (online)
IUCN 2008: T11186A18540211
The IUCN Red List Partnership
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is produced and managed by the IUCN Global Species
Programme, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and The IUCN Red List Partnership.
The IUCN Red List Partners are: BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens Conservation International;
Conservation International; Microsoft; NatureServe; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Sapienza University of
Rome; Texas A&M University; Wildscreen; and Zoological Society of London.
© The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lama guanicoe – published in 2016.
... According to the fossil record of southern Brazil, three species of camelid Lamini inhabited this region in the recent past: Hemiauchenia paradoxa Gervais and Ameghino 1880, Lama guanicoe Müller, 1776, and Vicugna vicugna Molina, 1782(Scherer 2009, 2013Rocha-dos-Santos et al. 2017). While H. paradoxa is currently extinct, L. guanicoe and V. vicugna still live in some regions of South America-from the northern slope of the Andes to the island of Tierra del Fuego in the south (Baldi et al. 2016;Acebes et al. 2018; see also Fig. 1), and are popularly known as guanaco and vicuña, respectively. Given this scenario, Lopes et al. (2020) classified the two last taxa as pseudo-extinct. ...
Camelids (Camelidae) were a diverse and widely distributed group in South America during the Pleistocene. According to the fossil record, three species inhabited southern Brazil in the recent past: Hemiauchenia paradoxa , Lama guanicoe , and Vicugna vicugna . The analysis of carbon and oxygen stable isotope ratios in bioapatite provides insight into the paleobiology of nonliving animals and the environment they used to inhabit. We applied this tool to investigate the diet of camelids from two geological localities in southern Brazil: Touro Passo and Santa Vitória Formations ( H. paradoxa , n = 7; L. guanicoe , n = 6; V. vicugna , n = 4). Carbon stable isotopes from enamel, dentin, and bone indicated that H. paradoxa and L. guanicoe had diets comprising mostly C 3 grasses, but the latter showed a broader diet due to one individual with a mixed diet, whereas V. vicugna had a mixed C 3 –C 4 diet. These different foraging behaviors may have minimized interspecific competition and favored niche partitioning and the coexistence of related species. Combined oxygen and carbon isotope data showed a consistent diet according to climate, probably due to the greater availability in glacial periods of cool-season grasses, which mainly use the C 3 photosynthetic pathway. Given their adaptations to grazing, the climate amelioration, followed by the loss of grasslands, likely had a great impact on camelid populations, leading to their extinction in southern Brazil. These results, therefore, contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of paleocommunities in this region.
This chapter summarizes some of the key findings with policy impact mentioned in this book and draws lessons and opportunities for the conservation and sustainable use of the guanacos in Patagonia. Social-ecological systems (SES) are those that include social (human) and ecological (biophysical) sub-systems in two-way feedback interactions. In this chapter, we apply the concepts of “coupling” and “decoupling” social-ecological systems to the relationship between guanacos and people along the time. We suggest that the present desertification process is a result of “decoupling”. On the other hand, guanaco sustainable use is a way to recouple social-ecological systems in Patagonia, to restore the cultural heritage of stewardship traditions, and to achieve habitat and species conservation. The experience with the update of the Guanaco Management Plan revealed that guanaco conservation and management requires an integrated approach that includes research across a wide range of academic and applied disciplines for decision-making and strengthening participatory processes involving all relevant stakeholders. Such schemes should have an adaptive management approach and knowledge co-production. We conclude that it is time for policy-makers to start envisaging natural resource use and management holistically in terms of linked social-ecological systems, and to embrace transdisciplinary perspectives.
Following a drastic population decline of guanaco populations throughout the 1970s in Argentina and the Chilean Patagonia, the Chilean government, in collaboration with national and international researchers, accrued increased scientific knowledge of the species. These efforts contributed to meaningful protection and conservation measures, initially in the Magallanes district of Chile, and later throughout the country. Following sustained population growth during the last four decades in the Chilean Patagonia, the guanaco is now managed for meat production in some areas. This has bestowed a value on guanacos that was not originally appreciated by sheep ranchers. These experiences have provided a clearer understanding of the ecological relationships and the economic and social conflicts that exist between the guanaco and the livestock sector under paradigms of sustainable wildlife use and wildlife-human conflicts resolution. Recent research and varied management practices are providing new insights and perspectives, including information that complements the vast biological and ecological data that have been previously published on the guanaco, primarily in Patagonian protected areas. In this chapter we compile, summarize, and analyze previously reported information on the social structure, behavior, population dynamics and genetics that provides a full and nuanced summary of our current understanding of the historical and modern biogeographic status of the guanaco in the Chilean Patagonia.
The taxonomy and phylogeny of this species have been the subject of several published studies, including the use of genetic and genomic tools, which has allowed new advances in this topic. This chapter presents a summary of the names by which this species was called by the different cultures that lived in close relationship with the guanaco. Then, aspects related to the guanaco’s taxonomy and phylogeny are discussed based on recently published advances. An update on the present distribution range in South America is given, and an approximation of the conservation status of wild populations is established. Finally, we discuss the main threats and challenges to conserving this unique camelid in Patagonia.
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Addressed here is the biogeographical‐vexing question of why the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is the only large mammal on the big island of Tierra del Fuego, answered by comparing alternative colonisation hypotheses. A multidisciplinary examination was conducted into the archaeological, ecological, evolutionary, geographical, genomic, glacial and zoological past, plus distribution of native terrestrial vertebrates in the Patagonia of southern South America. Notable disparities exist between main Patagonia (2.5 species/10,000 km2) compared with Tierra del Fuego (1.8). In the similar‐sized area of mainland Patagonia just north of the Strait of Magellan there are 12 reptiles, 7 amphibians and 34 mammals = 53 total species; Tierra del Fuego has 13. Despite being the size of Switzerland and only 3.1 km from the mainland, Tierra del Fuego has no species of snakes, salamanders, frogs or turtles, only one lizard, one toad, nine small mammals, one carnivore and one ungulate, the Guanaco. An innovative proposal is made contrary to traditional thinking: Tierra del Fuego has relatively few native‐terrestrial vertebrates because they were decimated by major tephra‐ash fallout (2 to >15 cm) from the Holocene 7750 YBP (years before present) Hudson volcano, the biggest and most destructive eruption in Patagonia during the past 10,000 years that eradicated indigenous peoples, most terrestrial vertebrates and all Guanacos. Neither terrestrial vertebrates nor man were replenished from the adjacent mainland for 1000 years because the Strait of Magellan was a complete biogeographical barrier. Guanacos on Tierra del Fuego have lower genetic diversity compared with the mainland, suggesting it is a younger population. Empirical evidence and pivotal events of Patagonia's prehistory support one of three hypotheses: guanacos were introduced to Tierra del Fuego by early Holocene, guanaco‐dependent, indigenous peoples from the mainland who repopulated Tierra del Fuego utilising the newly invented, skilfully crafted, seaworthy bark canoe (Appendix S1–Resumen en Español). A geographical and biological puzzle that has perplexed scientists since the late 1800s working in southern South America: why are there so few vertebrates on the island of Tierra del Fuego compared to the adjacent Patagonia mainland, including the absence of the ubiquitous Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), wild camelid of the south? An interdisciplinary search favors the hypothesis that the Guanaco, most other wildlife, and early man were decimated by an early Holocene volcano and not replenished for a 1000 years because of the physical barrier Strait of Magellan. But then with the local invention of the bark canoe, an indigenous stone‐age, hunter‐gather culture not only crossed the Strait and re‐inhabited the island, but introduced their primary game animal, the Guanaco.
The puma (Puma concolor) is widely distributed in the alpine highlands of the Andes, but its diet has rarely been described in ecosystems above 4300 m. We collected and examined 21 puma scats from the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve (RNSAB) between 2013 and 2015. We identified 10 species of prey, in addition to unidentified birds and small rodents. Small and medium animals were the most frequent prey, although wild camelids contributed the greatest proportion of biomass. We also recorded the presence of mesopredators and domestic dogs in puma scats. Our results suggest that the puma could play a key role in the configuration of trophic networks in the RNSAB, and that this can contribute considerably to the ecosystem balance.
Human disturbance, social interactions and habitat constraints usually influence the behavior of wild ungulates. Poaching and habitat degradation are threats to the guanaco, a native South-American herbivore adapted to arid environments. Flight and vigilance behaviors, and guanaco–observer distances, were seasonally surveyed in mountain Andean environments, inside a protected area and surroundings. Field surveys and GIS analyses estimated environmental variables. Linear mixed models estimated probability of the mentioned behaviors and distance based on predictions about influences of human disturbance, social interactions, environmental constraints, and their changes over time. Flight and vigilance behaviors and guanaco–observer distance were higher in less protected landscapes, and near urban sites. Flight probability and guanaco–observer distance decreased over the years, being this distance shorter within the protected area. Flight decreased in summer, while vigilance increased. Vigilance was higher in groups with young, and lower in larger groups. Flight and vigilance behaviors were lower in slopes and higher in tall shrublands. These results are in agreement with hypotheses of risk-allocation, learning habituation, fitness maximization, risk detection strategy and foraging hypothesis. Social and environmental influences on guanaco behavior will probably prevail over anthropogenic influences insofar as current efforts to discourage disruptive activities are maintained in these mountain environments.
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Shrublands and grasslands comprise over 30% of the land surface and are among the most exploited ecosystems for livestock production. Across natural landscapes, the distribution and abundance of wild herbivores are affected by interspecific competition for foraging resources, hunting and the development of infrastructure among other factors. In Argentine Patagonia, the abundance of domestic sheep grazing on native vegetation outnumbers the widely distributed guanaco (Lama guanicoe) and sheep ranching monopolizes the most productive lands. In this work, we aimed to assess the spatial variation in the abundance of guanacos in Península Valdés, a representative landscape of Patagonia, investigating the incidence of natural and human-related factors. We conducted ground surveys during the austral autumn in 2017 totaling 383.4 km along areas with and without sheep ranching. We built density surface models to account for the variation in guanaco abundance and obtained a map of guanaco density at a resolution of 4 km 2. We estimated an overall density of 11.71 −2 for a prediction area of 3,196 km 2 , although the density of guanacos tripled in areas where sheep ranching was terminated (in around 20% of the surface of Península Valdés) compared to areas with sheep. Guanacos were more abundant at lower values of primary productivity and sheep stocking rates and further from inhabited ranch buildings, suggesting competition with sheep and conflict with humans. Although guanacos selected open, grass-dominated habitats across sheep-free sites, fences dividing properties and paddocks played a significant role in the spatial structure of their population in Península Valdés affecting negatively the abundance of guanacos. Our results indicate that actions to improve habitat connectivity for guanacos, favor the coexistence among guanacos and sheep ranching, and promote responsible human activities and attitudes towards wildlife are needed.
Lagidium viscacia is considered as a fragile species with patchy distribution, a strict habitat specialist and an obligatory diet specialist. The Southern Andean Precordillera constitutes an interesting environment to analyze the species’ presence across the altitudinal gradient. Diet selection and habitat use were studied in the summit plateau, characterized by rigorous conditions and vegetation representative of the Southern Puna. Pellet groups were counted in transects perpendicular to rock formations, and diet and vegetation were seasonally analyzed using microhistological analysis and point-quadrat transects. Vizcachas were strictly associated with rock formations at middle and high altitudes, with higher occurrence on the mountain summit where grasslands surrounded the rock formations. Vizcachas avoided shrubs associated with rock formations and preferred grasses on sandy soils. Phenological changes slightly affected the selective diet that involves a considerable search effort and risky feeding activity. Puna grasslands constituted attractive feeding places where L. viscacia ’s activity decreased with distance from rock shelters as expected for a central-place forager. Habitat partitioning allows coexistence with Ctenomys mendocinus , despite the high dietary overlap between these central-place species. The high mobility and broad diet of Lama guanicoe reduce the competition risk. Lepus europaeus preferred shrubs and forbs, determining a discrete dietary overlap with vizcachas.
Food availability, predation risk, climatic adversity, and human disturbance are usually considered relevant factors influencing the distribution of wild ungulates. Poaching and habitat degradation are threats to the guanaco, a native herbivore of South America characterized by ecological and behavioral adaptations to arid environments. Guanaco presence was seasonally surveyed in mountain environments of Andean Precordillera, corresponding to a protected area and its surroundings. Field surveys and satellite images processing estimated environmental variables ascribed to four predictions: resources availability, habitat complexity, weather conditions, and human activities. Generalized Linear Models estimated the probability of guanaco presence based on each prediction, whose variables with important effect were included in combined models. The main natural influence on the presence of guanaco was plant cover. Conservation activities improved this natural influence, whereas disturbing activities restricted it. The trade-off between high resources availability and low predation risk, as well as the effect of extreme weather conditions were not evident, at least in the study’s spatial scale. The model validation with new seasonal surveys confirmed a consistency over time of those environmental variables that explain the probability of guanaco presence in the Southern Andean Precordillera.
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We investigated the influence of population density and meteorological conditions on annual birth mass of guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, from 1987 to 1996. Between 1987 and 1990, density of guanacos on the study area nearly tripled from 16 to 43 animals/km2. Mean birth mass was significantly different across years, and there was a strong negative correlation between mean yearly birth mass and population density. There was no correlation between mean yearly birth mass and mean temperature or total precipitation in either winter or spring during this period. Since 1990, density of guanacos has decreased, which we suspect is the result of degraded range conditions, partly due to overgrazing. Population censuses from other sectors of the park and the adjacent sheep ranch revealed increasing numbers of guanacos, and the movement of tagged animals out of the study area into surroundings with lower guanaco density.
This paper deals with wildlife as a non-conventional common-pool resource (CPR) in a country, Argentina, which is poorly represented in the commons literature. Many of Argentinás public policies regarding natural resource management reflect the historical denial of indigenous and low-income rural communities by the State and the promotion of private property over common property. This paper discusses the challenges facing live shearing programs for guanaco (Lama guanicoe) in Argentinian Patagonia and the potential for incorporating lessons from the commons in order to promote sustainable use. Resumen: Este trabajo analiza la vida silvestre como un bien común no convencional en Argentina, un país poco representado en la literatura sobre los bienes comunes. Se sugiere que en este país las políticas públicas con respecto al manejo de los recursos naturales reflejan, en general, el relegamiento histórico de las comunidades indígenas y rurales así como la promoción de la propiedad privada sobre la propiedad comunal. El estudio discute los desafíos que presentan las experiencias de esquila de guanacos (Lama guanicoe) en Patagonia y la potencial incorporación de enseñanzas sobre los bienes comunes para promover el uso sustentable de la especie.