Huemul National Park
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Stretching over a long, thin area of southwest Argentina lies the Huemul Natural Monument, created in 1996 to protect its namesake, the Huemul.
The Huemul is a deer native to the Patagonian forests, and can only be found in Argentina and Chile. It is currently critically endangered, with under 1000 of its kind still in existence.
Several factors have contributed to the major decline in population, including overhunting, the introduction of the red deer and domesticated animals, disease from livestock, habitat loss from erosion and fires, and attacks by domesticated dogs.
The Huemul either lives alone or in groups of up to ten. In the summer it climbs the rocky terrain it is so well built for, and spends the warm months at a higher altitude, while in the winter it migrates back down to the wooded valleys.
Strong and robust, the Huemul can be recognized by its large ears, brownish-grey coat, white underbelly and bright eyes. The males have simple, forked antlers, which they shed in the winter and re-grow every spring.
The beautiful South Andean deer eats mostly herbaceous plants and shrubs, and prefers living in areas with fresh water.
In times past, the deer populated the south of Mendoza, Neuquén, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz. Today, however, they are limited to the areas of the subanartic forests with difficult access, from the south of Neuquén (Nahuel Huapi National Park) to the province of Santa Cruz (Los Glaciares National Park).
The Huemul is currently protected in several national parks, including the Nahuel Huapi, Los Alerces, Lago Puelo, Perito Moreno, and Los Glaciares. See this Argentina Travel guide for more information on these amazing parks.