Bolivia’s ‘Road of Death’ becomes a haven for wildlife

LOS YUNGAS, Bolivia (Reuters) – Bolivia’s decision to open an alternative route to its historic “Road of Death” — a winding dirt path through the towering Andes hills known for its deadly cliffs — has led to a resurgence of wildlife. in the region, according to an environmental group.

The route was once a major road frequented by heavy trucks connecting Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, to the country’s Amazon rainforest. But its lethality earned it the nickname “Death Road”. Between 1999 and 2003, hundreds of Bolivians died there.

In 2007, Bolivia opened an alternative route, leaving the original road as an attraction primarily for cyclists. Not only did this save lives, it also helped nature, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

“The fauna, when this road was still working, was being affected by the pollution that the vehicles generated, the noise and the dust”, said Maria Viscarra, a biologist who participated in the study.

WCS set up 35 camera traps along the route and found 16 species of mammals and 94 species of wild birds.

“Today, heavy transport trucks no longer pass this road. Biodiversity has returned to the area and you can see birds like hummingbirds, toucans, parrots,” said Guido Ayala, a biologist at the WCF.

Although the road is no longer used by many motorists, the route is still dotted with crosses, a way of remembering those who died in its path.

“It’s really nice to have a place close to La Paz, about 50 minutes away, where you can come and see nature in a beautiful way,” added Ayala.

(Reuters TV report in Los Yungas)

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