Don Carmelo is a private reserve in the department of Ullum at around 150 Km. from San Juan city.
Considering the local fauna depredation, their owners decided to turn its 40.000 hectares into a protected area. In 1993 the government of San Juan declared “Don Carmelo” a Multiple Use Reserve through the decree 1220.
The conservation and the study of San Juan’s Andean foothills in Don Carmelo are so important that a cooperation agreement wit the National University of San Juan was signed in 2005, as well as with the National University of Cordoba in 2007. IADIZA and Conicet’s researchers, among others, visit the reserve, as well as foreign scientists do. A lot of thesis, dissertations and scientific studies have been completed during the countless visits and fieldworks made in the Reserve.
The area includes San Juan’s Andean foothills central area as well as some parts of the cuyano district and austral region areas.
The landscape is still as pure as it has been for centuries, thanks also to its isolation and distance from inhabited centers, the foothills native flora is intact and, as regards the fauna, it has notably increased since it was declared a reserve. It has been observed that some species such as guanacos, foxes and pumas have gotten used to a peaceful life with men. Being in this Reserve is like moving back to hundred of years ago.
As far as vegetation is concerned, we can mention “jarilla” (Cistus albidus), “yerba loca” (Astragalus looseri), daisies, mountain violets, malvavisco puneño (marshmallow), “hierba santa” (cestrum auriculatum) and “tramontana”, among others.
As regards birds, the “cóndor andino” (Vultur gryphus), the “águila mora” (Geranoaetus melanoleucus) and the peregrine falcon can be seen in this area.
In the mammals group, we can find the guanaco, the “zorro colorado” (Lycalopex culpaeus), the puma, the “vizcacha de la sierra” (Lagidium viscacia), the chinchillón (Lagostomus maximus), the Andean hare and the tuco-tuco (Ctenomys torquatus).
And finally, among the most seen reptiles there are lizards, foothills wall lizards and amphibians such as the “sapo andino” (Bufo spinulosus).
Don Carmelo aims to conserve part of the cuyano district community of high Andean and pune (Andean Plateau) provinces. Those scientists who visit the place have already made around 15 dissertations and research works on the San Juan prepuna (Andean Plateau foot) fauna and flora which were published in argentine and foreign means and science magazines. A central of earthquake activities detection has been installed as well as a meteorological one that measures thermal, humidity, wind and other variations. It has also caught the interest of archeologists investigating primitive men traces, Incan and Cuyo indigenous cultures, and more recent ones too, such as shepherds that led their cattle to graze and get food during the big snowfalls in the mountain tops.