Habitat erosion – The human-led destruction of the chinchilla’s mountainous habitat has been one of the major factors in the decline of its population. Mining throughout the Andes, and the introduction of grazing animals in particular, has left chinchillas with very few places to go, while devastating their sources of food.
Hunting – For centuries chinchillas have been prized for their incredibly soft fur. Though it is now outlawed, the hunting trade peaked in the 19th century, when millions of the rodents were killed to create luxurious garments – the fur of up to 100 chinchillas can be used to produce just a single coat.
Removal – While hunting is less common now, chinchillas still risk being removed from their natural habitat for illicit breeding purposes. The demand for chinchilla fur remains high, while they have also become popular around the world as pets, increasing their value to opportunistic poachers who are willing to track them down.