October 31, 2013
While talking to people in Chile about our project, we heard that there was a place on Ruta 5 (the highway going north from Santiago) where there were already guanacos in espinal. Intrigued, we looked this up and discovered Proyecto Wanaku, a community outreach project of Sopraval, one of the meat production companies in Chile (http://proyectowanaku.blogspot.co.uk). We tried to set up a proper meeting with the people in charge, but to cut a long story short, this didn’t exactly work out. Nevertheless, we set out to see what guanacos in an espinal look like. We had heard that the espinal with guanacos might be visible from Ruta 5 just before reaching the town of La Ligua. Driving northwards, we were paying very close attention, and just managed to see a couple of guanacos out of the corners of our eyes. Clearly this was not adequate.
On the way south, we did something I have to admit was not in the fieldwork Risk Assessment. This was a four-lane highway with very little traffic. We parked on the verge, ran across the highway, and looked at the guanacos from the opposite verge. We couldn’t get any closer to them than this:
I was pretty excited to see the guanacos. I was also pretty happy that neither I nor Adrien got run over by a truck:
Proyecto Wanaku exists solely to shear the guanacos for their valuable wool, and train local women to make handicrafts with it. Their guanacos are fed hay to supplement their diet, so it is possible that they are not browsing the espinos. We are hoping that eventually Proyecto Wanaku might be convinced to collaborate with us in this project.
Photos (c) Adrien Lindon.