Arriving on Monday night on a turbulent and very windy flight, followed by a white-knuckle bus ride in a snow storm, we spent the last week working on our IFAW/GAAP partnership project in Puerto Natales. Looking back on the week as we leave town on the bus, I can say “mission accomplished” with satisfaction.
This community is completely dedicated to the process of developing a plan to tackle the complicated problem of having thousands of free-roaming dogs in the urban area- but they are not looking for someone else to solve their problem. A wide and diverse range of stakeholders and individuals have been working together for over a year now, to define the problem and find something that just might work for their unique situation. This week, the group divided themselves into smaller working committees to start actively implementing their plan. In short, their intent is to revise the city bylaw for dogs, and then initiate a public outreach campaign to tell people why their dogs should not be left unsupervised in the street, and how to care for them when they are appropriately confined.As we leave the town and start the long ride back to Punta Arenas, we reflect on the week as the magical landscape sweeps by. A strange combination of Alaska and the Canadian prairie…but not exactly, this remote and harsh land is silent, haunting and so beautiful.
Only the brave and tough survive here, and we saw many of them. Hardy sheep ranchers boarded the bus in the most remote places, it was difficult to determine where they might have come from. As the snow thickened along the Fin del Mundo highway, we saw condors, flamingos, Patagonian geese, guanacos (the wild relative of the llama), and ñandus (rheas).After three hours, we get to the Strait of Magellan and across the water- a view of the great island of Tierra del Fuego, both signalling that we have come to the end of our trip. Tomorrow morning we fly back to Valdivia.Through the partnership with IFAW, the GAAP will continue to work remotely with the group in Puerto Natales, and will return to visit in another two months. It is such an honour for the GAAP to be part of this project!