Their conservation status is due to exploitation of the animal for fur. According to Meadow (1969), “…the disappearance of the once beautiful chinchilla alarmed the South American governments of Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. By 1918 all of them had placed an embargo on exportation of chinchilla furs, and had laws against trapping the animal.” Both species were thought to be extinct in the wild.
In the mid-1970’s, long-tailed chinchillas were re-discovered near Illapel, Chile. This discovery led to a reserve being created in 1983. However, the long-tailed chinchillas’ wild population continues to decline. Its habitat is threatened by human land alterations. Less than half of the wild population lives within the National Chinchilla Reserve. The areas where we have made habitat have seen expansion in these colonies, outside of protected areas.
The short-tailed chinchillas were re-discovered in 2001 in Chile. Of the 11 known, six were taken into the lab for experiments. They were supposed to be returned to the wild. The ones that did not die were given to fur farmers to improve the genetic captive stock.
Thank you so much for your support!
Amy Deane, Scientist
Save the Wild Chinchillas, Inc.
International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Species Survival Commission http://www.iucn.org/
Small Mammals Specialist Group http://www.small-mammals.org/
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