DistributionRead full entry
Range DescriptionThe taruka occurs as scattered populations with very little contact areas among them, a distribution explained by the specialized habitat it uses. Its distribution can be regarded as almost continuous along the highlands of the Andes from the north of Peru to northeastern Chile, but we should be aware that the habitat type used is isolated in some areas, and human density is high between patches. The taruka occurs in heavily fragmented populations throughout the high Andes of Bolivia—with no records in the southwest—, and in northwest Argentina. The historical distribution was probably the same as the actual one, but populations might have been less fragmented then. Contrary to several publications (Geist 1998; Weber and Gonzalez 2003; Wemmer 1998), the taruka has never occurred in Ecuador. It is unlikely that the taruka has ever crossed north of the Huancabamba depression in north Peru, even during the Pleistocene, when the habitat type it currently uses was lower than present altitude. Then, the high Andes were populated by other deer genera (Hoffstetter 1986; Wheeler et al. 1976). The asseveration of the former presence of taruka in Ecuador was based on doubtful records (Tirira 2001). One specimen in the Buenos Aires museum and another in the Field Museum, Chicago, were marked as coming from Ecuador (Voss 2003), but both have disappeared and could have come from anywhere else, for example Peru or Chile, if they were correctly identified. Another two specimens were deposited in the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid (Voss 2003). These were authentic records from Ecuador, as the collector, the collection site and the year were identified (Voss 2003), but both specimens were also lost and there is no way to verify the species.