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Kawésqar National Park: The Second Largest National Park in Chile is Created

The new Kawésqar National Park includes over 7 million acres of protected terrestrial land, while protecting almost 6.5  million acres of surrounding marine areas under the National Reserve category. With this milestone, the Protocol of Agreement signed between Tompkins Conservation and the State of Chile for the creation of the Network of National Parks of the Chilean Patagonia.

Photo Credit: Antonio Vizcaíno

Photo Credit: Antonio Vizcaíno

Santiago, Chile 

Made up of over 7 million acres of virgin ecosystems, the new Kawésqar National Park is the second largest national park in the country, after Bernardo O’Higgins National Park (over 8.6 million acres). Thanks to the Protocol of Agreement signed between the State of Chile and Tompkins Conservation in March 2017 and the acceptance of a new decree,  Kawésqar National Park, located in the Magallanes region, has become reality. The March decree led to the creation of five new National Parks (Melimoyu, Patagonia, Kawésqar, Cerro Castillo and Pumalín Douglas Tompkins) and the extension of three others (Hornopirén, Corcovado and Isla Magdalena).

Carolina Morgado, executive director of Tompkins Conservation Chile, said: “This is the last decree that was missing from the Protocol of Agreement signed during the administration of President Michelle Bachelet. With this milestone, the Network of Parks is created, which is the starting point of the Patagonian Parks Route, a scenic route encompassing  17 National Parks and more than 60 surrounding communities. The route spans over 1,700 miles, between Puerto Montt and Cabo de Hornos, where tourism as a consequence of conservation becomes an alternative for local economic development.”

Kristine Tompkins, President of Tompkins Conservation and UN Environment Patron of Protected Areas, said: “Chile is a global example of conservation, given that more than 20% of its territory is protected, while marine protected areas reach more than 40% of the Exclusive Economic Zone. This has been possible thanks to the work of different actors of the public and private sector, who have seen in conservation not only an effective tool to preserve ecosystems and counteract climate change, but also as an engine of local economies.” The environmental leader added: “Personally I would like to congratulate the different governments of Chile that have worked hard for the creation of five new National Parks and the extension of three others. The Tompkins Conservation team has worked hand in hand with the different administrations to make these parks a reality, so I would also like to highlight their effort and commitment.”

Photo Credit: Antonio Vizcaíno

Photo Credit: Antonio Vizcaíno

The new Kawésqar National Park incorporates the former Alacalufes Forest Reserve, new fiscal land and the donation from Tompkins Conservation. In addition, the approximately 6.5 million acres of marine areas are protected under the category of National Reserve. Its landscapes are a mosaic composed of mountain ranges, forests, glaciers, fjords, lakes, wetlands and valleys that form virgin ecosystems of unparalleled beauty and habitat of a great diversity of species. The Magallanes Rainforest dominates the landscape with species such as Coigue de Magallanes, Ciprés de las Guaitecas and Canelo. In terms of fauna, Huemul, Puma, Gato Montés, Culpeo Fox and Chilla stand out, as well as several bird species.

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Two New Jaguars Join the Wildlife Reintroduction Project in Iberá National Park

Corrientes Province, Argentina

Two female jaguars, each less than two years old, are being incorporated into the Jaguar Reintroduction Project based in Iberá Park and led by The Conservation Land Trust (CLT)—founded by Tompkins Conservation—and the government of Corrientes Province, Argentina.

Juruna—whose name means black mouth in Guarani, the native language of Iberá— and Mariua—whose name refers to a region in Brazil—come from the Scientific Breeding Institute NEX located in Aparecida de Loloia, a small town north of Brasilia, Brazil. These two jaguars were brought there when they were a few months old by the authorities of the Brazilian Environment Institute after poachers killed their mother. While at that center, they received the necessary attention to be able to be translocated to the Jaguar Reintroduction Project in Iberá Park, Argentina.

Credit: Matías Rebak

Credit: Matías Rebak

Juruna and Mariua underwent medical examinations while in Brazil to evaluate their genetic health and overall well-being to ensure that they could be incorporated into the Jaguar Reintroduction Project. Health examinations will continue while they are in quarantine in Corrientes, Argentina, where they will stay for approximately one month until they are transferred to the Jaguar Reintroduction Center.

The Jaguar Reintroduction Center already holds five adult jaguars and two cubs, which were born in June 2018 after more than half a century of the species’ absence from the region. The center was built in 2015 as part of CLT’s Rewilding program with the help of many institutions, organizations, companies, and the people of Corrientes. Juruna and Mariua are the sixth and seventh individuals to be incorporated into the project, adding to the other five jaguars from other rescue centers and zoos from Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.

Credit: Matías Rebak

Credit: Matías Rebak

The transfer of these jaguars highlights the joint work of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers such as NEX, conservation projects such as the one carried out by CLT, the Corrientes government, and the Brazilian and Argentine governments through the environmental authorities (Environment and Sustainable Development Office), sanitation authorities (SENASA), and customs, to enable the arrival of Juruna and Mariua to Argentina.

What is the role of Jaguars in Iberá?

The jaguar is the largest feline in the Americas, and is currently in critical danger of extinction in Argentina, where it is estimated that around 200 individuals remain. It has been the top predator of the Iberá wetlands, and its presence in this environment is essential in order to  maintain a healthy ecosystem and support the local communities surrounding the park.

Jaguars’ beauty, symbolism, and cultural significance in Corrientes represent an opportunity for ecotourism, which promotes economic development and pride in the surrounding communities. This has been the case in the Pantanal of Brazil, where sightings of jaguars in their natural environment have become an international ecotourism attraction.

Credit: Matías Rebak

Credit: Matías Rebak

About Tompkins Conservation and CLT

Tompkins Conservation was founded by Kristine and Douglas (1943–2015) Tompkins, business leaders from iconic American clothing brands including The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia, Inc., who changed the course of their lives more than 25 years ago to devote their funds, time, and passion to help protect wild nature in Chile and Argentina.

Tompkins Conservation has been working on the creation of national parks in Argentina since 1997 through CLT, totalling more than 1.2 million acres of protected land throughout the country. To this end, the foundation acquires and restores private lands, reintroducing their missing native species and working with local communities so that they can benefit from the transformation of their regional economies once the acquired lands become public. Finally, they donate the land to the national government in order to ensure its preservation by law within the maximum protection category. CLT’s mission is to promote the next economy through conservation and rewilding, to benefit the human and nonhuman world. The projects in Argentina are Iberá National Park, El Impenetrable National Park, Patagonia Park, and Marine Protected Areas Yaganes and Namuncurá – Banco Burdwood II.

Press Contact:

Pía Moya L.

pia.moya@tompkinsconservation.org

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