Conservationists reintroduce rheas in Chile

The rhea, an at-risk flightless bird, has been reintroduced by conservationists in its native Patagonia region in Chile.

The bird was brought to near extinction by illegal hunting but has been released into Patagonia’s national park by Tompkins Conservation last month. A total of 14 birds were released from a fenced enclosure into a grassy plain.

“We started with a population of at least 20 birds and today, census results show close to 70,” said Cristian Saucedo, director of the rewilding programme at the conservation group, to Reuters referring to the scheme that started in 2014.

“The goal is to get to 100 adults in the wild. With that number, we estimate the population will be able to sustain itself over time.”

The flightless bird plays a key role in the Patagonian ecosystem by helping distribute seeds throughout the region with its largely vegetarian diet, said Carolina Morgado, executive director of Tompkins Conservation.

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