At the beginning of 2019, Estancia Cerro Guido set itself an ambitious goal: to find a way to make livestock farming compatible with the conservation of biodiversity in one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet, and the southernmost limit of puma populations.
ESTANCIA CERRO GUIDO
Estancia Cerro Guido is located in the Commune of Torres del Paine, Province of Última Esperanza, Region of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic. Located 105 kilometers north of Puerto Natales and with nearly 100,000 hectares, it is the largest Estancia in the Region, bordering the Torres del Paine National Park to the West, the Sierra Baguales to the North, and the Argentine Republic to the East.
Cerro Guido was born towards the end of the 19th century, as part of the Sociedad Explotadora Tierra del Fuego and today it is mainly dedicated to sheep and cattle farming, as well as tourism.
Historically there has been a conflict between wildlife and livestock.
Competition between livestock and local guanaco populations began to emerge and the latter began to be hunted by humans. As a consequence, the puma, finding fewer natural prey to consume, began to prey on domestic livestock, thus beginning a conflict that continues to this day.
Over the years, the Estancias grew and occupied wild areas inhabited by the puma, which intensified the interaction. In its beginnings, a single Estancia could lose 10% of its annual production.
In retaliation, the pumas began to be hunted down and killed. In the 1920s, records from a single Estancia show that 84 pumas were killed in one year.
Despite being legally protected throughout the national territory, the puma continues to be persecuted and hunted. This is a reality that occurs not only in Patagonia but in almost the entire distribution of the feline in the world.
This is how during the first year we focused mainly on knowing the distribution and use of the space of the puma and other species within the Estancia. Through the methodology of camera traps and direct sightings, we were able to identify a total of 32 different puma individuals within the monitored sectors.
THE "PUMA PROJECT"
At the beginning of the year 2019 the "puma project" was born. The main objective of this project in its beginnings was to conserve wildlife by maintaining livestock and customs in the area, seeking coexistence between livestock and wildlife.
In mid-2019, the puma project officially became the Estancia Cerro Guido conservation area, being part of a team made up of 3 areas at the time; ranching, tourism, and conservation.
In collaboration with the Estancia's livestock area, the first steps were taken towards livestock management and the implementation of measures to minimize puma predation on sheep, such as working with livestock protection dogs.
Then, in 2020, puma research was consolidated through constant field monitoring and the use of camera traps, and we also began a collaborative alliance with the Panthera Foundation -experts in felines around the world- with a view to incorporating scientific research related to the biology, ecology and conservation of the puma on the Estancia.
We jointly designed an experiment that seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the two main measures to reduce attacks on livestock that we are implementing today: livestock protection dogs and Foxlights deterrent lights.
During this second year, we also started planning a new excursion called “Conservation Safari”, where passengers will accompany our professional trackers to the field, who have dedicated themselves to studying the pumas living on the Estanc.
This same year the coronavirus pandemic began, which meant that with the closure of borders and systematic quarantines established in different regions of the country, the tourism sector was strongly affected - consequently, we were not able to start the "Conservation Safari" this year.
Despite being a difficult year, we took advantage of the opportunity to focus our efforts on working in collaboration with the livestock area, which allowed us to advance towards livestock in coexistence with the local puma's populations.
In the year 2021, tourism began to slowly reactivate during the pandemic, mainly with the Chilean public. This allowed us to offer the new excursion, “Conservation Safari” to the passengers of Estancia Cerro Guido, which has been very well received.
"The best experience I have had in Chile regarding the sighting of Native Fauna and Conservation, the research work they do at @fundacioncerroguido.conserv is impressive..."
- Cristián, passenger winter 2022
During this third year, we began to see the need to transform the "puma project" into something bigger and officially become a foundation, in order to not only cover the conservation of the puma, but also the entire natural heritage as well as the cultural heritage.
Thus, in October 2021 we began to form the Cerro Guido Conservation Foundation, creating the statutes and officially becoming a foundation in January 2022.
The main objective of the FCGC seeks to resolve the coexistence of flora, fauna, and livestock. The mission of the initiative is considered necessary to sustain the ecosystem, otherwise, damage and undesirable effects could occur in the environment.
There is an ideal of raising awareness about the natural and cultural heritage of our country. These concerns and needs led to the creation of the FCGC with the aim of "Preserving the natural and cultural heritage based on harmonious coexistence among its actors, safeguarding the legacy for future generations and humanity".
"Two things that strike me: the intelligence of beasts
and the bestiality of men"
- Flora Tristán