Venezuela Hates Capybaras

 

Capybara family at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Capybara family at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

(Owner’s Blog)

In Febrary of 2007, my kids (Coral & Philip Waters) and I went to Venezuela. One of the places we went was a large ranch called Hato El Frio in the Los Llanos region. Los Llanos is often reffered to as the New World equivalent of the African plains. Such a tremendous abundance of wildlife! And among those swamps and plains roam the world’s largest rodents, the capybaras.

Capybaras have disappeared in parts of their range where they are over-hunted or where there has been significant habitat destruction due to farming, daming and deforestation. Hato El Frio was one place where they still occurred in large number due to the ranche’s progressive attitudes.

Hato El Frio (and Hato El Cedral, although I did not visit there) were experiments in sustainable ranching along with ecotourism. Dams were built to encourage wildlife to remain year-round and to provide more habitat for aquatic or semi-aquatic species. In addition, cattle and water buffalo were raised for meat. Capybaras were also “harvested” but in a sustainable manner. For decades the ranch maintained a science station that studied the affects of ranching on wildlife populations.

The following photos show some of the interesting animals that we saw on our week-long stay.

Tamandua or Lesser Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Tamandua or Lesser Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Giant Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Giant Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Rufous-tailed Jacamar at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Rufous-tailed Jacamar at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Three species of Ibis at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Three species of Ibis at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Scarlet Macaws Flying at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Scarlet Macaws Flying at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Howler Monkey at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Howler Monkey at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

I could go on but you are probably wondering what the point is. So let me get to it. The Venezuelan government, under Hugo Chavez, has nationalized Hato El Frio and Hato El Cedral. See this article, Venezuela Coverts Tourist Destination into Farm Land.

I doubt that they are even now maintaining the Hatos’ programs to rebuild populations of the seriously endangered Orinoco crocodile, red-footed tortoises, Orinoco side-neck turtles or river dolphins. I doubt that they are concerning themselves with sustainability. These ranches have served as a beacon to the region as to what can be done to use the land while retaining wildlife. Now all of that is gone.

This is a terrible tragedy made even worse by the fact that most Americans–who live so close–don’t even know what the world is losing. Most Americans don’t even know what a capybara is. Caplin and I are devastated. No species is safe if people and governments don’t care.

(Follow this link to see more of my photos of Hato El Frio including more capybara photos.)

7 comments to Venezuela Hates Capybaras

  • Alex

    Is it possible to do ANYTHING?

  • Yole

    Hi
    I’m from Venezuela. We don’t hate capybaras, don’t say that and please don’t write bads things about my country.

    Thanks.

  • Yole

    I mean, I know we have many problems, beginning with the problems of this poor government, but many people are aware and we love our country and our things. The capybaras are part of our culture, do not hate them, quite the contrary, we identify with them.

    Sorry about my english, I speak spanish.

  • Caplin Rous

    Owner: Yole, I know people in your country do not really hate capybaras. If you read my blog on Wild Capybaras in Venezuela, you will see that I think your country is beautiful and I encourage people to visit and get to know Venezuela. But the actions of your government as outlined in this blog post are very disturbing and do not speak well for the future of capybaras in your country and for the other wildlife in this region. I’m not saying Americans are any better but this blog is about capybaras.

  • Yole

    Hi Caplin
    :(

    I’m back, sadly, because I read this news http://www.animanaturalis.org/n/10841

    I give you the reason. I wish we could do something to help capybaras

  • [...] is from 2002, which is a long, long time ago. Sadly, the state of wild capybaras in Venezuela has probably deteriorated since [...]

  • Claudia

    I just stumbled upon your page since I am a huge fan of the capybara, and seeing one being kept as a pet is quite unusual. I am also from Venezuela (though I’ve lived a great part of my life outside) and I thought the topic of this post is a tad strong. I know that was not your aim, but it does sound as if every Venezuelan really was out to get the capybara.

    When it comes to politics, I think there is something quite big you are missing. Politics and programs for the well-being of wildlife is of course important. However, -with all due respect- I don’t think that actions from people raised in a first world country is the solution. Most first world enforced conservation acts are economically and culturally crippling to the populations it restricts. I have little faith in conservation acts that come from the outside, having seen their effects first hand. Rules are either ignored or enforced in a way that impoverishes the zone. This is not restricted to Venezuela, but to the whole zone.

    Solutions have to come from the locals and the local communities. Locals depend on the capybara for food (not something I would ever like to try) and economical reasons. It would be good to have a calculated, well-planned system of consumption, but this cannot be before the people of the area are properly educated and economical (and maybe even gastronomical) alternatives explored. Even the article posted by Yole hinted at these social undertones. To ask not to use local resources is asking the Australians not to eat kangaroos, the Peruvian not to eat guinea pigs and the American not to eat turkeys.

    I know my post sounds harsh, it is not intended to be so. I love capybaras, they are one of my favorite animals (I love rodents, especially since I got my baby rats) and I wish nobody ever harmed them. I would love nothing more than to see Venezuela’s wildlife flourish. Still, I believe that the only way to make this truly happen is through the improvement of the education and economical situation of the people who depend on this animal for survival.

    PS: Religion didn’t make it easy on the capybara either, since it is the one red meat edible during Christian celebrations.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>