The taruka is one of the least known deer species of the world. Its range includes the northern Andean mountains in Chile, where their relationship with Aymara peasants is conflictive because of crop raiding. The aim of this study is to understand the nature of this conflict in Chile, and identify socio-ecological features that may explain it. Data of different sampling dates from 2003 to 2011 of night transects on roads, crop examination, interviews and direct sighting of tarukas were used to understand its ecology and relationship with local peasants. Peasants interviewed (n=47) cultivated mainly corn (85.1%) and alfalfa (74.5%) in small farms and 83% of them raise livestock. The conflict is widespread in Parinacota Province, where tarukas effectively consume crops, mainly abandoned alfalfa at night. The occurrence of crop raiding is not positively correlated with dry season as expected. However crop consumption is low (10.3% average of damaged plants in crop plots). In Del Tamarugal Province only 29.4% of peasants manifested conflict with tarukas but they did report conflict with other ungulates. Day sightings showed 78 tarukas in 34 encounters during 59 days. Night surveys yielded 11.6 ± 7.4 tarukas/ survey, sighted only in alfalfa plots. Aymara agriculture feeds tarukas and is declining because of rural-urban migration. The conflict must be considered in the conservation strategy of the species.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Alejandra E. Muñoz, Robert Petitpas, Juan C. Marín, Cristian Bonacic