Bolivia’s ‘Death Road’ once haunted drivers. Now it’s a wildlife haven

LOS YUNGAS, Bolivia, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Bolivia’s decision to open an alternative route to its historic ‘death road’ – a winding route through the Andes foothills known for its deadly cliffs – has sparked a wildlife resurgence. Area by Environmental Group.

The route was once an important road connecting Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, to the country’s Amazon rainforest. But its deadlines earned it the nickname ‘Death Road’. Between 1999 and 2003 hundreds of Bolivians died trying to navigate it.

As of 2007, Bolivia opened an alternative route, leaving the original road as an attraction for most cyclists. According to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), this not only saved lives but also helped nature.

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“When the road was in operation, pollution, noise and dust from vehicles affected the fauna,” said Maria Viscara, a biologist who participated in the study.

A competitor runs during the Bolivia Sky Race on the “Death Road” from Yolosa to Chuspipata on July 29, 2018, near Paz, Bolivia. REUTERS/David Mercado

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

“Today, heavy trucks don’t ply this road. Biodiversity has returned to the area and you can see birds like hummingbirds, toucans, parrots,” WCS biologist Guido Ayala said.

Although the road is no longer used by many drivers, the route is still lined with crosses, a way of commemorating those who died along its route.

“It’s great that we have a place near (the capital) La Paz, about 50 minutes away, where anyone can come and see nature at its best,” Ayla added.

(Story refiled from WCF in paragraph 6 to correct initials WCS to Wildlife Conservation Society)

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Report by Reuters TV in Los Yungas, Bolivia; Editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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