Dive into this thrilling and ambitious project and be inspired with Kristine Tompkins, founder and dreamer behind the mind-blowing Rewilding Ibera Programme in Corrientes, Argentina.
This adventure starts in 1997 when Doug and Kristine Tompkins arrive in Corrientes for the first time, most precisely in San Alonso. They bought the land and after finding the right people to build an amazing team they got started in the conservation of Iberá.
The heart of the Rewilding Iberá Project is the reintroduction of native species that lived in Iberá in the past and had gone extinct. Until now they have worked to bring back: the giant anteater, the green-winged macaw, the pampas deer, the tapir, the collared peccary, and the mighty jaguar. After much work and dedication, in June 2017 the first tapir cub was born in Socorro, becoming the first animal of this species to be born in the province after almost 60 years of absence.
The Jaguar is so important for its symbolism in Corrientes. In 2017, one male and two female jaguars were donated by institutions from Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Recently, the first two cubs were born. The birth of jaguar cubs within the Rewilding Project is a vital step and a huge victory for the wildlife restoration dream. The aim is to release them into the wild after being sure that the offspring can grow without human contact and learn to hunt by themselves.
Iberá National Park works hand in hand with the local communities united by one same goal and providing work to people from at least five nearby villages.
Our interview to Kristine Tompkins.
For you, personally, which have been some highlights of these 20 years?
There are so many, it’s difficult to pick a few. Certainly the success of our rewilding efforts – green-winged macaws flying free in the skies of Iberá for the first time in almost a century, self-sustaining populations of giant anteaters, the first jaguar cubs born at our experimental breeding center and destined to live freely in the wild – are a source of pride and joy. Also to see the Corrientes people knowing, loving, protecting and benefiting from the park. The team we’ve built over these last 20 years have been instrumental in achieving these results.
What´s your perception of Ibera as an international tourist destination?
Iberá is just becoming discovered on the international tourism circuit for all the riches it has to offer, from the incredible diversity of bird species and other natural attractions, to the opportunity to experience some of the local gaucho culture, to the availability of world class hospitality like that at the Rincón del Socorro, where your stay directly benefits our rewilding work.
How do you imagine the next 20 years as regards Ibera?
I imagine all the extirpated species that used to call Iberá their home having returned, free to live their lives. I imagine all the communities that surround Iberá prospering, having achieved economic vitality as a consequence of conservation. I imagine Iberá cementing its place as a top tourism destination, a source of pride for all Argentinians. We’re well on our way.
What´s your next dream?
More conservation work! I’m continuing to create and expand national parks in Argentina and Chile, both on the land and in the sea, building on the success we’ve had to date with 14 National Parks totaling over 13 million acres. I can’t imagine anything else I’d rather do.
Don´t miss this compelling documentary that includes Kristine’s testimony, her team’s, the challenge of reintroducing each species again in the territory and so much more. We hope you feel thrilled and inspired with this great victory that makes us very proud.