Human Interest

Surge of Capybaras in Argentina highlight lack environmental protection laws

Buenos Aires, Oct 5 (EFE).- In Argentina, capybaras have become a symbol of class struggle, as a surge in numbers has seen them encroach into one of the country’s most exclusive neighborhoods, highlighting the need for effective environmental protection laws.

When the Nordelta urban development was built 20 years ago 40 km from the capital Buenos Aires on wetlands, the capybara’s natural habitat, it was free of these giant rodents.

But in 2014 they started re-appearing, the Nordelta Neighborhood Association (AVN) communications manager, Marcelo Canton tells Efe.

“We have an overpopulation of capybaras (…) There are more capybaras than the habitat accepts,” Canton says.

Greenpeace, on the other hand, dismisses this view, saying it is not an “invasion” but a “return home”. The NGO’s director of Andean development, Diego Salas, says this is a “desperate request.”

“There are a lot of real estate projects in the delta that are really putting the home of the capybara at risk,” he tells Efe.

“It is necessary to understand that this is an act of nature that seeks to protect itself because it is not get any protection from us. They live together because they have no other place to go,” he continued.

Canton says the neighborhood was built with 300 hectare lakes and parks of 200 hectares, where the rodents have been breeding.

The problems of this “difficult coexistence” arise when groups of up to 400 patrol the neighborhoods looking for greener pastures and areas to raise their young, leading to clashes with the residents’ pets — mostly dogs — or increasing the risk of road accidents.   

Since the residents decided in favor of protecting the animals, three proposals have been tabled: awareness campaigns for residents, working with teams to stop capybara population growth and allocating protected areas for the rodents where humans do not interfere.

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