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Anacondas Threatened By Eco-Tourism

Anacondas Threatened By Eco-Tourism

In an oddly ironic twist, the future of Bolivia’s anaconda snakes is being threatened by the very eco-tourists who travel there to see them.

12,000 Tourists Annually

Anacondas, said to be the world’s largest snake, are a prime attraction for the 12,000 or so visitors who now travel to Bolivia’s lower Amazon basin every year, according to Extreme Adventure News.

Many of these are eco-tourists, drawn to the opportunity to view some of the country’s spectacular and varied species, with the anaconda being the jewel in the crown.

Anacondas May Be Wiped Out Within Three Years

From The Daily Telegraph:

Biologists say the entire population of anacondas in one of the jewels of the Amazon basin will be wiped out within three years because of the deadly effect on the snakes of the insect repellant used by most backpackers to help protect against malaria.

The number of tourists going on tours of the pampas that snake there way through jungle and grasslands 250 miles north of La Paz has exploded from a few hundred to nearly 12,000 a year in the past decade.

Travellers are enticed by the promise of getting up close and personal with the world’s largest snake – sometimes picking them up and hlding them – as well as swimming with river dolphins, catching pirhanas, and spotting monkeys, sloths and an array of other flora and fauna.

But sightings of the snake are becoming increasingly elusive and as many as 30 of the awe-inspiring creatures, which can measure up to 30ft in length and are known to strangle and devour prey as diverse as caiman crocodiles and cows, are being found dead every year, according to local guides.

Highly Toxic DEET To Blame

Scientists explain that the high-strength insect repellant, usually DEET, that tourists use to protect themselves from mosquitoes (and malaria) is absolutely fatal to the anacondas.

Clearly, Bolivia needs to develop a better system to spread the word about the dangerous effects of DEET and to develop a more effective way to market their eco-tourism, which, it turns out, is not very eco-friendly, after all.

On the other hand, other “natural” insect repellants are not as effective against malaria. An interesting conundrum. What do you think?

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64 comments

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7:46PM PST on Feb 16, 2011

Thank you for posting.

3:34AM PST on Feb 1, 2011

Cheers to Magdalena H who said it all.This planet is contaminated beyond repair by toxic chemicals,insecticides and pesticides.Read "Silent Spring"by Rachel Carson!She showed that the world was in a perilous state 50 years ago,so with billions more pounds of vile products having been dumped into the environment since then,well,it doesn't bear thinking about.People,animals and birds are all slowly dying off and infertility is rife.I feel sorry and disgusted about what is happening to the flora and fauna,the innocent victims of chemical company greed,and man's laziness and arrogance in thinking that "he"can control Nature!Now global warming has thrown all Earth's eco-systems out of balance so such insects as mosquitos are becoming bigger and more dangerous,and they are now spreading into places where they have never been seen in large numbers.In Australia,Ross River Virus is now right down south when it used to be only up north,in the tropical areas.So what are govts going to do,spray whole towns and cities with deadly chemicals??!!which happened in the 1940's and 50's in the USA?!Any person who has a tissue or cell test will be guaranteed to have some toxic chemicals in their bodies.These are the biggest cause of breast and prostate cancers,;these fatty deposit areas accumulate more toxins than elsewhere!If your lymph drainage is weak or blocked,then tumours are the result!Beware of tight underwear!

1:05AM PST on Feb 1, 2011

The original Telegraph article also mentioned sunscreens and other insect repellents, not just DEET, as being responsible for this calamity.

All chemicals that you and I would rather not ingest or breath in, we should not allow them to go into the environment, as wildlife can't live on bottled water and camping food when in the jungle.

12:30AM PST on Feb 1, 2011

"Eco-tourism" always is harmful to the ecosystems being toured, and, by way of flying to the destinations and other ground transportations, it is harmful to the planet in more ways than one.

Besides DEET, another popular insect repellent is permethrin or compounds of similar class, a neurotoxin that is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic life in general, but also to cats and other wildlife. Mosquito nets and outdoor clothing and equipments (like tents) are often impregnated with it.

Taking anti-malarial medication is bad also, since the more a chemical is used, the less effective it becomes against the agent it is meant to control, as that agent develops resistance to it. Please abandon the ridiculous faith that we can always come up with new chemicals against these agents - we just make our environment more and more toxic, and infectious agents more and more resistant.

The proper solution to this "dilemma" is to end tourism - not just eco-tourism, as other forms of tourism inevitably have their own damaging effects as long as one flies or drives. Satisfy your curiosity with eco-videos, etc. The planet can not afford each of us the luxury of "getting up and close", as well as many of our other luxuries currently taken for granted.

9:37PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

stop the eco tourism

5:52PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

There are sooo many natural alternatives for insect repellents. Try Google, people!

Thanks for the article.

2:45AM PST on Jan 31, 2011

why is the "human" so unhuman?? why must he destroy everything on this beautiful world? why is the mankind soooo stupid? :-( disgusting and embarassing

11:55PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Thanks for linking up my article in your post. You have definitely given this a bigger audience! Thank-you and cheers-

Jason A. Hendricks
Extreme Adventure News.com

9:41AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Didn't the British drink their gin and tonics because quinine would deter the pests...(?)

10:43PM PST on Jan 29, 2011

Why is it everything man touches he destroys?

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