Defenders of Cerro Castillo National Park: Education and recreation in the home of the huemul

05 septiembre, 2023

With about 50 centimeters of snow and under a sunny sky, about twenty students from the Liceo Bicentenario Rural Cerro Castillo walked with snowshoes to find huemules in the Las Horquetas, a place adjacent to the Cerro Castillo National Park in the commune of Río Ibáñez.

Guided by the Mañke Chile team, an organization that works in nature education from early ages to adulthood throughout the Aysén Region, the students walked in groups, with the support of a mapping application and binoculars, making decisions to spot our beloved southern deer.

For Omar Leiva Penrose, in charge of school coexistence at the Liceo Bicentenario de la Villa, these educational activities have an additional component when carried out outdoors, reinforcing other concepts that are difficult to achieve in the classroom. “It is precious this way of teaching, to be able to perform these activities allows us not only to have contact with nature, but to learn to live with it, and learn together, as a team, how to take care of it, how to protect it, how to take good advantage of it, without damaging the ecosystem. These practices are not easy to achieve in the classroom,” says Leiva.

Photo: Rigoberto Jofré For Rewilding Chile

One of the participants in the walk was Nahel Figueroa, a second-year student from the town of Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez. It was his first time walking with snowshoes, and he considered this experience as an approach to his dream of being a high mountain guide and raising awareness about the threats to the huemul. “It is an essential animal because it is in danger of extinction, and the largest number of specimens are right here in the Aysén Region, and we must protect them. We must take care of them,” said Nahel.

The educational team of Mañke Chile, its founder Karen Sandoval, explained that this group of students already know them, working on different topics during the first semester in an environmental education program. In this walk, they reinforced their learning by looking for a connection with the place.

“We believe it is a very nice way to get to know our home, to understand how this ecosystem also works in winter and how we are linked to each season of the year in these it,” explained Karen Sandoval.

This activity is part of the Friends of Cerro Castillo National Park Program of Fundación Rewilding Chile. It is achieved thanks to a collaboration agreement that seeks to permanently provide tools to these young people so that in the future, they will be the defenders of this national park.

“We firmly believe that the connection with nature, teaching outdoors, immersed in this winter Patagonia, which is also very close to where they live, the village, is the way to value and defend this house and all the ecosystems where the huemul is involved,” said Francisca Calderón, coordinator of the Friends of Cerro Castillo National Park program.

We invite you to follow the activities and information of the program on the IG account @Amigos_PN_CerroCastillo.

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