The information gathered in this initiative, allowed to document the daily and productive activities that affect their habitat, as well as the elaboration of a pedagogical guide for the conservation of this species in extinction.
Support the conservation efforts of the Chilean chinchilla through the management of good productive practices, valuation of the species and the protection of its habitat by social actors adjoining the Las Chinchillas National Reserve (Illapel commune), was the main objective of the project of the Environmental Protection Fund (FPA-4G-042-2013) of the Ministry of the Environment, executed by the Support Network for the Conservation of Chinchilla, with support from the University of La Serena, the Illapel Veterinary Clinic and the National Forestry Corporation . The initiative allowed to gather relevant information for the sustainable management of the territory where this species lives in danger of extinction and for the elaboration of didactic material directed to the students of diverse establishments of its surroundings.
In this project the academics of the Department participated. of Biology, Carlos Zuleta, Jorge Cepeda and Alex Cea, and contemplated the cadastre of the social actors associated with the Reserve, gathering basic information about the environment, such as vegetation, accompanying fauna, characteristics of colonies, presence of water courses, together with types and form of productive activities to know if these affect the conservation of the chinchilla or deteriorate the habitat where it lives (use of streams, displacement of goats, deforestation, etc.). To this is added the visit to areas bordering the National Reserve in which chinchillas have historically been described, in order to document human activities that would affect the conservation of this endemic species.
"The usual thing is to think that the chinchilla is in danger of extinction due to illegal hunting, which happened in the past, but that ceased to be a threat in the strict sense; now the threats are, basically, the fragmentation and loss of habitat by human activities, be it agricultural, mining or micro-grass, among others, those that have not been considered, "explained the ULS researcher, Carlos Zuleta, who He stated that there are multiple threat factors that could cause problems in their conservation and that the community does not know.
In addition, he clarified that "outside the Reserve there is an important biological and archaeological heritage that deserves to be conserved and integrated into its management" and that it is essential that the community be linked to the conservation process of the
In addition to these field activities, pedagogical work was carried out with various establishments in the sector, such as the Las Chinchillas de Cocou Basic School, where Red Chinchilla professionals discussed the current problem of the conservation of this rodent. Expeditions to the Reserve were also organized with schoolchildren and teachers, and the students created areas to observe raptors, swallow nests, a birdbath and a school garden in the courtyard of their establishment.
According to what was pointed out by César Piñones, a Red Chinchilla team professional, this work allowed us to establish that schools do not have the chinchilla conservation problem incorporated into their curriculum. Hence the importance of the information gathered in this work, since it will allow the elaboration of a pedagogical guide for the conservation of chinchilla, "an action of work with the establishments that incorporates elements of discussion, analysis and confrontation of reality, and that it will contribute to educate students in a responsible and informed environmental awareness, "said academic Carlos Zuleta, who described the initiative as" a novel experience that will serve as a pedagogical model for other establishments. "
In this regard, the president of the NGO Red Chinchilla, Fernando Pérez, emphasized that "it was possible to articulate other actors to develop this project. The people who live in the sector were very involved, gave a lot of information that helps to draw more conclusions and we hope that the product that comes out of this project (educational texts) will be useful for children and the community to value the conservation of the chinchilla and his or her environment''.