Protecting the endangered Chaco eagle and other threatened fauna from mortality at human infrastructures in semiarid landscapes of central Argentina
by Center for the Study and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Argentina (CECARA)
The Chaco eagle (Buteogallus coronatus) is one of the most endangered species ranging in southern South America, with a world population estimated in is less than 1,000 reproductive individuals and declining populations. Drowning in water reservoirs comprise a third of the total mortality of the species in semiarid landscapes of central Argentina. Furthermore, 600 birds and mammals belonging to 60 different species, including two listed as endangered and near threatened by the UICN, were also recorded in an annual survey of 90 reservoirs. Besides wildlife mortality, these drowning casualties have also direct economic and health consequences for local people.
With the aim to mitigate and reduce wildlife mortality in water reservoirs in semiarid landscapes of central Argentina, the Center for the Study and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Argentina (CECARA) is working on the implementation of “rescue ramps” in such reservoirs. These rescue ramps are built with a piece of 1 x 1 meters wire mesh covering from the bottom to the top of water reservoirs. Implementation of rescue ramps has proved to reduce in 50% the occurrence of wildlife drowning casualties in these rural infrastructures. Furthermore, drowning of wildlife in water reservoirs also pose a serious problem for local ranchers and rural workers since wildlife drowning impels water quality, stocking of pipes that transport water to other reservoirs with wildlife carcasses and increasing the frequency of water cleaning.
The aims of this project are 1) to stablish rescue ramps in water reservoirs located at the identified breeding territories of the Chaco eagle in La Pampa and Mendoza provinces, and 2) to promote the implementation of rescue ramps at a wide spatial scale by working in close collaboration with local stakeholders and government agencies.
As a first step, the staff of the CECARA has identified all the water reservoirs located in the breeding territories of Chaco Eagles in La Pampa and Mendoza provinces in Central Argentina. With this information, as well as with a depiction of the estimated eagle’s home ranges, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was built. Up to date, about one hundred ramps have been already set while more are going to be set in the coming months. More important, an estimated of 700 local people have been reached by talks, meetings and interviews conducted in the area aiming to promote the wide scale implementation of these ramps. Rescue ramps are being implemented also in areas where individuals of another endangered species, the Yellow Cardinal (Gubernatrix cristata), are released once recovered from illegal trade.
Working in close collaboration with local stakeholders, we aim to promote the adoption of rescue ramps by local people in a regular basis. Local regulations and laws are also expected to be issued by local environmental agencies of these two provinces in Argentina.