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The Andes

The Andes, the backbone of the South American continent, the Abya Yala, is home to hundreds of thousands of communities belonging to all kingdoms of living beings. Guiding axis of all its inhabitants, the great universal ayllu, which harbors all kinds of landscapes, constituting the most extensive mountain range on planet Earth. From Venezuela to the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, the inhabitants of Abya Yala consider it sacred because it is the generator and energizer of many of the continent's ecosystems. Latin America would not exist if the Andes did not exist.

In its southernmost part, the Andes give way to a series of interrelated east-west valleys, of glacial origin, where the Andean-Patagonian Forests are found, temperate-cold humid forests, of incomparable beauty, home to many species, some threatened, that differ from the surrounding regions.


Among the felines, the puma (Puma concolor), the wild cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi) and the huiña (Oncifelis guigna) stand out. There are also two species of foxes, the gray or chilla (Pseudalopex griseus) and the red or culpeo (Pseudalopex culpaeus). The cervids are represented by the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus), Chile's national animal, and the pudu (Pudu puda), one of the smallest deer on the planet. The guanaco (Lama guanicoe), a camelid, lives in the forest clearings. Several species of mice inhabit the understory, along with the small marsupial known as "little monkey" (Dromiciops gliroides).


Of the climbing birds, the choroy parrot (Enicognathus leptorhynchus) and the black woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) stand out. In the lakes and wetlands there are abundant bandurrias (Theristicus melanopis), seagulls and cauquenes (Chloephaga sp.), and the Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata). In the high mountains, the king of the sky, the condor (Vultur gryphus), shares with several species of eagles, hawks and jotes (Coragyps atratus). The Andean people say that the condors are in charge of raising the Sun every day over the horizon delineated by the Andes, and they are the only ones capable of inhabiting heaven, earth and the underworld. Their wingspan can reach three meters and they are the largest flying birds on the planet along with albatrosses. From Venezuela to Tierra del Fuego, the inhabitants of the Andes think that the condors are the guardians of the mountain range, since they take care of the communities, mountains, lakes, forests, jungles and rivers.

Among the species introduced by man, the red deer, the axis deer, the wild boar, the hare, the rabbit and - in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina - the mink and the beaver stand out. These species are especially harmful as predators or competitors of the indigenous ones; the case of the beaver is spectacularly serious, since its well-known levees destroy the vegetation of the valleys in alarming proportions.

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