|The Peruvian Guemal|
Hippocamelus is a genus of Cervidae, the deer family. It comprises two endangered Andean species, commonly known as Huemul (from Mapudungun), and Taruca. The huemul have a stocky, thick, and short-legged body. These mammals live at high altitudes in the summer, then move down the mountains in the fall and spend the winter in sheltered forested valleys. Areas with fresh water are preferred. The huemuls are herbivores which feed primarily on herbaceous plants and shrubs as well as sedges, lichens, and grasses found between the rocks on high peaks.
The Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus), also known as the South Andean Deer, is found in Chile and Argentina. The Huemuls live in groups the size of which depends on several factors, often at 2-3 but currently still reaching 11 animals, but in the past over 100 deer; these groups are made up of a female and her young. Males at times might be alone.
The Taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis), is found in the highland cloud forests of Peru, as well as parts of Bolivia, and tree-less Puna grasslands. They live in high altitudes, from 2,500 to 5,200 meters above sea level. Social habits include grazing in flexible groups of 3-14 animals consisting of one or two males and several females.1 The Huemul is active during daytime and has a lifespan of about 10 years. The conservation status of the Taruca is currently considered vulnerable.
Huemul occur in several national parks in Chile and neighbouring parts of Argentina and have been on the Endangered list since 1976. They are endangered primarily due to human impacts such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation by roads, introduction of non-native mammals such as farm animals, and poaching. They are in a classic "extinction spiral" marked by increasingly small, isolated populations and are now considered critically endangered.
- Roe and Rees(1976) Preliminary Observations of the Taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis: Cervidae) in Southern Peru Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 57, No. 4., pp. 722-730.
- ARKive - images and movies of the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus)
- Huemul info, conservation and cloning (Universidad de Chile)
- Animal Info - South Andean Deer
- Several publications on huemul
- A most comprehensive site, recommended by SCIENCE 315, 2007
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