WCS is in a unique position to lead both range-wide and regional initiatives for guanaco conservation, due to the history of groundbreaking research on guanacos by WCS scientists, our current engagement  with government agencies on guanaco conservation in South America, and the significance to the global guanaco population of the landscapes where we work. WCS research has shown: 

  1. how guanacos suffer from competition with sheep;
  2. that guanacos are “ecologically” extinct as prey for native carnivores in many parts of Patagonia;
  3. that some populations still make seasonal, long-distance migratory movements; 
  4. that guanacos do not transmit diseases to livestock; and  
  5. that carefully managed roundup and shearing of live guanacos is a viable alternative for conservation of large populations on private lands, as it does not appear to have significant short-term impacts on survival of individuals and population persistence. 
WCS is directly affecting conservation-oriented management of at least 10% of the world’s remaining guanacos through our conservation actions, and during the last year has been leading the range-wide priority setting (RWPS) process for guanaco conservation, gathering both WCS and non WCS specialists to discuss and conduct this work in a coordinated manner among and within the countries where guanacos live.

Conservation Approach

To reach the 10-year aims stated above, different programs and protocols as well as management plans will need to be implemented within the next 3 - 5 years. As a first step, we propose the main actions to be undertaken to mitigate the threats identified and ranked during the workshop (see Table 3 on page 5). Specific actions will be implemented at particular GCUs according to the combination of threats and threat level for each GCU.

  1. Habitat degradation due to extractive industries. In 5 years, mitigation programs will be implemented at GCUs under large-scale extractive activities. We will work with landowners, local occupants and mining and oiling companies to monitor the effectiveness of mitigation actions. We will find mechanisms to implement conservation actions by Government agencies and companies in the extractive industry. 
  2. Barriers to guanaco movement. In 5 years, there will be programs implemented to assess, mitigate and monitor threats associated to guanaco movements. We will find funding sources to implement corridors favoring guanaco seasonal movements and dispersion in the GCUs threatened by the development of infrastructure.
  3. Habitat degradation due to overgrazing by livestock. In 5 years, there will be at least 5 projects of sustainable ranching and farming implemented in different GCUs, as a result of work with landowners, occupants and Government and non-Government organizations, to improve livestock and rangeland management.
  4. Non sustainable hunting. In 3 years, we will have protocols to quantify, monitor and mitigate non sustainable hunting in GCUs, and sustainable harvest models based on guanaco conservation objectives. In 3 years, we will have plans manage GCUs in protected areas effectively to reduce poaching. In 5 years, we aim to have reduced poaching in 10 GCUs throughout the range. We will work on the development of management plans, public awareness through the media and training of decision makers.
  5. Competition with introduced herbivores. In 3 years, we will have management plans in accordance to what it is stated above (see 3 and 4), resulting in GCUs under sustainable management of livestock and effective management of protected areas in 5 years. In. 5 years, we will have management plans to reduce interspecific competition between guanacos and exotic wildlife (i.e. red deer).  
  6.  Impact of disease. In 3 years, we will have management plans for both livestock and exotic wildlife species health for different parts of the guanaco range, and a protocol to monitor the impact of disease. In 5 years, health management plans will be implemented in at least 10 GCUs.
  7. Hibridization with domestic camelids. In three years we will have management plans implemented to manage domestic camelids, and an assessment of the proportion of hybrid individuals. 
  8. Predation by native and exotic carnivores. In 3 years, we will have plans to assess, manage and monitor predation by pumas and feral dogs on guanaco populations. In 5 years these plans will be implemented in at least 10 GCUs.
  9. Non sustainable shearing of guanacos. In 5 years, all initiatives on guanaco shearing will be following a management and monitoring protocol ensuring their biological and economic sustainability, as well as animal welfare. We will complete management plans under development, and work towards reaching consensus among the authorities at different provinces in order to unify management practices. 


In the longer term we envision multiple, ecologically functional subpopulations of guanacos within a connectivity matrix, occupying landscapes which ensure their persistence before changing conditions and in harmony with human activities throughout the distributional range. To achieve our vision, we define the following conditions as our conservation targets which will indicate our success in conserving guanacos:

1 In 10 years, 6 threatened subpopulations in the northern range (Perú, Bolivia and Paraguay) will have increased their occupancy areas and numbers reaching an effective populations size of 500 breeding adults.

2 In 10 years, 3 subpopulations with more than 500 breeding adults in northern Argentina and Chile will have reduced their internal fragmentation as a result of the implementation of effective conservation corridors, and increased their population numbers coexisting with human activities.

3 In 10 years, there will be 9 subpopulations larger than 10,000 guanacos across mosaics of protected areas and rangelands of at least 1,000 km2 in the southern part of the range, keeping their functional roles and connectivity with other populations and coexisting with sustainable land use practices.


We identified 10 global range-wide threats to guanacos which were ranked according to the levels assigned to their different components. The main threats were related to habitat degradation or modification, hunting and competition with introduced herbivores, resulting from extractive industries like mining and oil extractioning, the development of infrastructure and barriers to guanaco movements, overgrazing by livestock across the range and the lack of control on poaching.

Andrés Novaro
Land Conservation Director
All Guanaco Staff >>