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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Mange infections threaten the health and well-being of wildlife, livestock, domestic animals and humans, contributing to significant economic losses. Sarcoptic mange is a global disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. In multiple species large population declines and local extirpation has occurred. In the 1960s the vicuña was critically endangered. In 1964, only 5-10,000 vicuñas remained in Peru, due to hunting and competition with domestic cattle. CITES legislation in the 1970s, and the creation of national protected areas, led to the gradual recovery by mid-1990s. Given the exceptional quality and value of vicuña wool (>US $350 per kg), local communities, in partnership with governments and civil society developed sustainable vicuña wool harvest through non-lethal capture and shearing. Historically guanacos have been hunted mostly for meat and leather. During Patagonian colonization populations collapsed and today guanacos persist on only 40% of their original range. Presently, communities benefit from live sharing in Argentina and culling for meat in Chile. While sustainable harvests protect vicuña from hunting, they are now threatened by the sarcoptes mite, causing life-threatening mange in wild and domestic camelids across the High Andes and Patagonia. Clinical prevalence varies between 5-20% (Bolivia) to 60% (Peru). In the San Guillermo National Park (Argentina) 90% of vicunas and guanacos died of mange between 2016 and 2018. Farmers and local authorities of Northern Chile have reported several camelid populations infected with mange during the same period. Impacts on guanaco vary spatially, with significant animal deaths reported from northern Chile, coastal areas of central Patagonia and possibly in southern Patagonia. The project will compile data and knowledge reported on mange from wild/domestic camelids, other livestock, domestic animals and human health sectors. We will integrate data on management practices, pasture quality and climate. The working group will address the gaps and failures in our current understanding of mange epidemiology, contributing factors and the impacts of various management regimes. The aggregated knowledge will feed into and inform current management practices, help improve pasture and population management, and reduce mange transmission and prevalence while addressing climate change concerns facing wild camelids in the High Andes and Patagonia.

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Principal Investigator(s)

Christian Walzer

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2020

End: December 31, 2021



Fabian Beltran
Wildlife Conservation Society
Paul Cross
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Brandie Fariss
The Nature Conservancy
Ana Gallegos
Wildlife Conservation Society
Kaitlyn Gaynor
University of California, Santa Barbara
Alynn Martin
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Jose Mena
Wildlife Conservation Society
Mariana Montoya
Wildlife Conservation Society
Steven Smith
Vetmeduni Vienna
Robert Wallace
Wildlife Conservation Society
Christian Walzer
Wildlife Conservation Society

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