Published September 2019
Last August, we witnessed a memorable event: the release of a pair of South Andean deer in the humid forests of the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve in southern Chile. The two animals used to live in a controlled environment inside Proyecto Huemul, a conservation center supported by LATAM’s program Cuido Mi Destino and the Huilo Huilo Foundation, which works in the temperate forests of the Los Ríos region. Together, we work to prevent the extinction of this species, considered one of the symbols of the country.
It’s estimated that there are less than 1,500 South Andean deer on Chilean territory, living in isolated areas in the south. To help increase this number, Proyecto Huemul works to rebuild their habitat, which has been damaged over the years by deforestation and fires in native areas, in addition to illegal hunting.
Proyecto Huemul was created in 2005 and we’ve been supporting it for five years. “For LATAM, tourism is a development tool,” says Francisca Arias, the Head of Sustainability at the airline. “We have been working alongside the Huilo Huilo Foundation on a 360-degree project that integrates the reserve’s communities, flora, and fauna, investing in tools and infrastructure that allow the place to develop in a sustainable manner,” she adds.
The release that took place in August was the second we were part of. In December 2016, the Los Ríos forests welcomed five new South Andean deer, ready to reclaim the territory they came from, which had been uninhabited by the species since the 1980s.
With the arrival of a new pair in the locale, Rodolfo Cortés, Executive Director at the Huilo Huilo Foundation, hopes these old residents will remain free. “We can start dreaming about reproduction and birth in the wild, as it happened in the past,” he affirms.