According to a recent study in Oryx, the once endangered deer, the Huemul deer, is now making a resounding comeback largely due to the worldwide efforts of conservationists and local governments. After teetering on the edge of extinction, with numbers dwindling to one percent of what they once were, the deer population has now stabilized and is even on the rise.
The Huemul deer was a victim of it’s own peaceful nature, as the deer were poached and hunted extensively by European colonists. This prompted the Chilean government to act, as the Huemul deer is one of the most iconic animals in the country. They set up strict regulations for cattle removal and started controlling poaching, which researchers say was a big help to the rapidly declining population.
Park rangers in the Bernardo O’ Higgins National Park begin to set up monitoring stations where they could keep track of the Huemul deer population. Almost immediately after action was taken the population started to increase and now conservationists estimate that there are more than 2,500 Huemul deer worldwide, which is a huge increase considering the population had fallen 99% since the pre-cattle days.
What these conservationists in Chile have shown is that it is never too late for a species to make a comeback. The Huemul deer was nearly extinct from the planet, but a few changes was all it took for the population to stabilize and start to grow again. Recent counts of the Huemul deer show that their numbers are rebounding to the days before cattle farmers started infringing on their territory.
Conservationists attribute some of the success they’ve had to the extreme biodiversity of Bernardo O’ Higgins National Park, a protected area in Chile that is among one of the most lush and biodiverse places on the planet. The Huemul deer was able to thrive in this area, simply by being left alone.
This effort among conservationists and local governments sends a big message to people around the world, which is that it is never too late to fix some of the problems human beings have created. Ecosystems and species are very durable when left alone and given a place to thrive. It is expected that similar techniques will be used by other conservation groups to help other endangered animals. The Huemul deer will undoubtedly be used as a model for what can be achieved when human beings work together.