The Quimilero Project originated in 2015, although a significant portion of the team had been involved in the conservation of the quimilero and other Chaco species since 2011. It was during that year that collaboration commenced with hunters from the Argentine Dry Chaco to monitor wildlife, as detailed in “our experiences.” Additionally, in 2011, Quimilero Project members conducted interviews and transects to study the three species of peccaries, their distribution, and habitat requirements. These investigations encompassed an expansive area of over 54,000 km2 in the provinces of Chaco, Salta, and Formosa within the Argentine Dry Chaco.
The initial ventures in the Dry Chaco can be summarized through the voices of the Quimilero Project members:

In all these initial works, we were able to witness the intimate relationship between the quimilero, the forests, and human populations. We truly experienced the enchantment of these forests, their people, and their animal species. It became evident that these forests are so vast that when driving for days and days, we remain within their embrace, surrounded by the lush greenery along the dusty roads. Indeed, the Chaco is the second largest ecoregion on the continent, surpassed only by the Amazon.

After spending numerous days exploring the forests, we came to realize within ourselves that there are few protected areas and, at the same time, the forests are far from empty. Instead, they are teeming with diverse fauna and rich biodiversity, coexisting harmoniously with captivating and distinct cultures, unlike our own. It is indeed true that the coverage of protected areas in the Gran Chaco, especially in the Dry Chaco, is quite limited.

The forests of the Chaco are home to incredibly kind and wise individuals. Among them are indigenous communities and small to medium-sized Creole producers, who sustain their livelihood through activities like hunting, gathering, and extensive livestock farming. These people are deeply connected to the forest, considering it their home and way of life. Therefore, any efforts aimed at conserving the region and its diverse ecosystem must necessarily take into account the needs and perspectives of these local communities. Numerous studies conducted in different regions have demonstrated that conservation initiatives can exacerbate existing issues or create new challenges if the local populations are not actively involved from the outset of the project.

Spending extensive time in the forests and immersing ourselves in the lives of the local communities has provided us with a profound understanding of the multiple dimensions that need to be considered when engaging in conservation efforts in such a place. The Chaco region is characterized by numerous injustices, including high poverty rates, lack of access to clean water, and widespread discrimination and marginalization of its people. It is essential to address these pressing social and economic issues alongside conservation initiatives. In Argentina, the Chaco region is marked by families living without basic amenities like water, facing significant challenges related to malnutrition and enduring conditions of poverty.

After our initial research and study of peccaries and their habitat, we made a deliberate choice to shift our focus towards the conservation of the quimilero. Recognizing that the quimilero is unique to the Chaco region and does not exist anywhere else in the world, we understood that its disappearance from this area would mean its global extinction. Alongside our investigative efforts, we also committed ourselves to engage in knowledge exchange with local communities and implement comprehensive conservation actions. During this journey, some of the hunters with whom we collaborated in participatory monitoring became part of our team. Since then, we have continued our work together, united in our mission to save the quimilero and other endangered species from extinction.

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