Hippocamelus antisensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Hippocamelus antisensis (d'Orbigny, 1834)
Common Name(s):
English Taruca, North Andean Deer, North Andean Huemul, Peruvian Guemal, Peruvian Huemul
French Cerf des Andes Septentrionales, Guémal Péruvien, Huémuld des Andes Septentrionales
Spanish Ciervo Andino Septentrional, Guemal, Tarugo, Taruka

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd; C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-08-01
Assessor(s): Barrio, J., Nuñez, A., Pacheco, L., Regidor, H.A. & Fuentes-Allende, N.
Reviewer(s): Zanetti, E.S.Z. & González, S.
This species is considered to be Vulnerable due to a small population size and decline, reaching ≥ 30% (A2cd); suspected to have resulted from hunting and from a reduction of habitat due to destruction, and decreased quality. Given the reduction in population size (effective population size below 6,000 individuals), we also assessed criteria C. Due to the fact that all populations may be well below 1,000 individuals, we can also use criteria C2a(i) to assign a Vulnerable category.

Population sizes have been estimated as 750-<1,000 in Chile (Sielfeld and Guzmán 2011), 9,000-13,000 for Perú (Barrioand and Ferreyra 2008), between 1,900-3,000 in Argentina (Regidor et al. 1997, Regidor and Costilla 2003), and 5,000-6,000 in Bolivia (Nuñez 2008, Nuñez and Pacheco, unpubl. Data). Therefore, the total population estimate for the species would be between 16,650-23,000 individuals. Based on population structure data from Perú (74% adults, Barrio 2007), Bolivia (69% adults, Rumiz et al. 2010) and Chile (81% adults, Sielfeld and Guzmán 2011), we may infer that about 75% are adult individuals (11,800-15,750 adult individuals). However, it would not be wise to believe that all adult individuals are reproducing, since effective population sizes for wildlife may average 0.11 of total population size (Frankham 1995). There are no single estimate of effective population sizes for Tarukas, but there is a recent one for guanacos (Sarno et al. 2015). These authors indicate that the relationship between effective population size to census population size range from 0.04 to 0.99, but decreased to 0.24 when only potentially breeding adults are considered. Therefore, if we believe that effective population size is 25% on census population size, then we may be under a conservative scenario of 4,162-5,750 mature breeding Tarukas.

Habitat fragmentation is also a serious threat to the existing subpopulations, especially near human settlements (Rechberger et al. 2014, Sielfeld and Guzmán 2011). Additionally, although there are no single monitoring programs at the regional level, there is a widely shared expert opinion of a perceived continuing decline in a large portion of the species range (Argentine, Chile and Bolivia, Barrio and Ferreyra 2008, Nuñez 2009, Sielfeld and Guzmán 2011), except for a few sites in Argentina, and Bolivia.

Given that most populations seem to be small and given that, with a few exceptions, populations may be threatened by habitat loss, and other threats, we think it is much safer to consider that Tarukas are vulnerable to extinction.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Taruka occurs as scattered subpopulations with very few contact areas among them, a distribution explained by the specialized habitat it uses. Its distribution can be regarded as almost continuous along the highlands of the Andes from the north of Peru to northeastern Chile, but we should be aware that the habitat type used is isolated in some areas, and human density is high between patches. The Taruka occurs in heavily fragmented subpopulations throughout the high Andes of Bolivia (with no records in the southwest), as well as in Chile (with three fragmented populations between Tacora volcano and Tarapacá gorge, Matta pers. Comm.) and in northwest Argentina.

The historical distribution was probably the same as the current one, but subpopulations might have been less fragmented. Nevertheless, historical (Mellet 1908) and archaeological records (Díaz 1995) suggest that Taruka distribution in Chile extended to Antofagasta district, approximately 590 km to the south of the current limit in this country.

Contrary to several publications (Geist 1998, Weber and Gonzalez 2003, Wemmer 1998), the Taruka has never occurred in Ecuador (Barrio 2013, Pinto et al. 2015). It is unlikely that the Taruka has ever crossed north of the Huancabamba depression in north Peru, even during the Pleistocene, when the habitat type it currently uses was lower than present altitude. Then, the high Andes were populated by other deer genera (Hoffstetter 1986, Wheeler et al. 1976). The asseveration of the former presence of Taruka in Ecuador was based on doubtful records (Tirira 2001). One specimen in the Buenos Aires museum and another in the Field Museum, Chicago, were marked as coming from Ecuador (Voss 2003), but both have disappeared and could have come from anywhere else, for example Peru or Chile, if they were correctly identified. Another two specimens were deposited in the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid (Voss 2003). These were authentic records from Ecuador, as the collector, the collection site and the year were identified (Voss 2003), but both specimens were also lost and there is no way to verify the species.
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Chile; Peru
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):1800
Upper elevation limit (metres):5000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Based on data and assessments from a few localities in every country, the total population estimate would be 15,750-21,000 individuals (see the Rationale for data for each country). According to a conservative effective population size of 25% of total population, we may infer that the number of mature breeding adults may be between 4,162 and 5,750 individuals (<60% of the threshold 10,000 individuals set for a vulnerable category for the species).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:4162-5750Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Tarukas have been found at 2,000-3,500 m asl in the southern portion of their distribution in Argentina (Cajal 1983), at 2,500-4,600 m asl in northern Chile (Contreras et al. 1986, Lagos, pers. Comm.), and at 3,500-5,000 m asl in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia (Jungius 1974, Merkt 1985, Yensen et al. 1994, Barrio 1998, Barrio 2004). In Bolivia, this species was also found at lower altitudes (2,300 m asl) at the interandean valley named Araca (Nuñez 2008), which is covered mostly by sparse trees.

Tarukas live in areas with wet weather on the eastern Andes (Jungius 1974, Barrio 2004), as well as areas with dry weather on the western Andes (Merkt 1985, Contreraset al. 1986, Barrio 1998). Tarukas are usually found above the treeline on mountain slopes characterized by rock and cliff-like outcrops amid grassland vegetation (Jungius 1974, Merkt 1985, Merkt 1987, Barrio 2004). They seem to prefer rocky areas of sparse vegetation with nearby water sources - usually a small ravine, lagoon or marsh (Merkt 1985, Barrio 2004), however, they have been observed in dense shrubbery near rivers and inside Polylepis sp. forests (Barrio in prep).

In several sections of the distribution, Taruka subpopulations live in fragmented portions of the range (Cajal 1983, Barrio 1999). The Taruka shares its habitat with domestic stock, which might compete with Taruka and decrease the area available to them (Barrio 1999, 2004).
Generation Length (years):3

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is hunted as an agricultural pest, or for sport. Antlers are used in traditional medicine to cure facial paralysis (Tarifa pers. comm.) and dried meat is used by rural populations (J. Barrio pers. obs).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats to the species include competition with domestic stock, habitat destruction, trophy hunting, and predation by domestic dogs (Miller et al. 1973, Merkt pers. comm). In Bolivia, major threats are habitat destruction and illegal hunting (Nuñez 2009, Rechberger et al. 2014). Antlers are used in traditional medicine to cure facial paralysis (Tarifa pers. comm.) and dried meat is used by rural populations (CDC 1987). Threats in Chile include conflict with local farmers, predation by domestic dogs and displacement from their former habitat (gorges with water courses) to drier areas (Fuentes-Allende et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is included on CITES Appendix I and occurs in several protected areas across its range. Recommended conservation actions include: systematic surveys to determine status and extent of geographic distribution; support continued ecological studies of the species throughout its range; strengthen protected areas management; improve livestock management through farmer education demonstration projects. Population trends monitoring programs are needed. We suggest that at least three study sites per country should be included, considering the use of a standardized method, probably including direct observations, and spoor. At least one of the sites should be within a protected area for each country.

This species has been evaluated as Endangered in Bolivia (Nuñez 2009), based on a thorough survey within the country (Nuñez 2008).

Hippocamelus antisensis has been declared a natural national monument (Monumento Natural Nacional) by Law Nº 24702 in Argentina, since 1996. This enabled the protection of taruka’s hábitat in Argentina.

Tarukas are considered as “Endangered” in Chile, by Law Nº 19300 and their hunting is banned by Law 19473. There is also a National Plan for their conservation since 2006 (CONAF 2006), but no actions have been developed so far and its habitat is poorly represented in protected areas (Matta pers. comm).

Citation: Barrio, J., Nuñez, A., Pacheco, L., Regidor, H.A. & Fuentes-Allende, N. 2017. Hippocamelus antisensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T10053A22158621. . Downloaded on 23 September 2017.
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