Peru | Illegal mining eating into buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene NP
KOTSIMBA, Peru — In Peru’s Madre de Dios region, illegal mining is everywhere. From the Interoceanic Highway, which lies just 100 miles from Puerto Maldonado, the region’s capital, one can see that a riverbed has been converted into a long desert-like trail. Those from the area refer to it as the “Dos de Mayo River,” although it is hard for visitors to picture this trail of sand, dredges, and mercury as a river. It is easy to see how the trees were replaced by hills of sand here: mining. Satellite images show that the problem is increasingly widespread.
There is a small path just a few feet away from the Dos de Mayo River on the right side of the Interoceanic Highway. A five-minute walk down that path leads to an area called Villa Rosita, an open field full of mining operations. Another 20 minutes beyond Villa Rosita is a large metal gate in the middle of the path.