|EXPEDITION RACING FOR PRESERVATION AND A CHANCE TO VISIT CHILEAN PATAGONIA|
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The huemul, or South Andean Deer as it is also know, has become endangered primarily due to human impact. Deforestation, habitat fragmentation, introduction of non-native mammals and poaching all have contributed to their decline.
The Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race was originally created with the intent to help protect Chilean Patagonia. By drawing an international representation of teams the event has been able to gain valuable exposure and promote environmental awareness of the fragile ecosystem that exists. Now their focus is on saving what is left of the critically endangered species.
The race has been in full swing for now for 3 days as of this post and teams have made it as far as CP8. At CP9, competitors will pass through some areas believed to be inhabited by the huemul, (CP11 and 12 are in similar areas). We are hoping racers will see some footprints or other traces and even better – perhaps an actual huemul!
“Exploring Patagonia is such an adventure. There is so much to see and discover that any amount of time seems short. Every expedition is unique as nothing is ever the same as it was before. The colors change from one moment to the next, grays turn to yellow, red, or green depending on the ground, the position of the clouds and the sun. There are also a variety of interesting animals like the huemul. There is always something to be discovered when you’re in Chilean Patagonia.” Stjepan Pavicic, Race Director.
This year the race organizers, Nómadas Outdoor Services®, have teamed up with the Institute of Animal Sciences at the University Austral in Chile to raise money for the research and exploration of the huemul. Scientists will be tracking the natural patterns of the huemul and are collecting samples to determine their population status.
“The huemul is the symbol of Chile… but it is more than that. It’s a flagship species for the unique environments of Southern South America. They live in the Valdivian Forest and the Sub-Antarctic Magallanes Forest. The protection of huemul warrants the conservation of several other species, such as flora and fauna, making the huemul an umbrella species for all of the ecosystems.
The Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race and Nòmadas Outdoor Services’ contribution to the Huemul Conservation Project is a great opportunity for the conservation of the huemul and the preservation of the southern-most unique ecosystem in the world.” Paulo Corti PhD, scientist with the Universidad Austral de Chile and member of the Huemul Conservation Project.
What Nómadas Outdoor Services is proposing:
“Nómadas Outdoor Services® wants to bring you to Chilean Patagonian for 10 days in September 2011 to join wildlife biologists on a conservation expedition of a lifetime. This contest is open worldwide to people who donate to the Huemul Conservation Project through the WENGER PATAGONIAN EXPEDITION RACE®’s website via PayPal. Contestants must then write a brief summary about why they want to go on a conservation expedition. The winner will be announced in August and will be flown to Chilean Patagonia to join a group of elite scientific researchers and trek across the wilderness to study the huemul in September.”
What Breathe Magazine would like to do is help get the word out about the huemul but also about the efforts put forth by the organizers of the race, in trying to circumvent the "extinction spiral" that the species is in. It is believed only a few thousand of these animals exist worldwide. So we have set up a share meter to help get the word out. We’re hopeful that reaching a goal of 5000 shares of this article will stimulate enough interest to help raise funds to support their mission.