Friday, March 24, 2006

Lake Titicaca turns smelly permanent link   2 comments
Algae threat to Peru tourism
(by Nick Foster, Times Online)

The way of life of the Uros tribe of Native Americans, who live on floating islands in Lake Titicaca near the Peruvian town of Puno, is under threat from a build-up of foul-smelling green slime on the surface of the water.

The lentil-shaped algae, an inch deep in places, feeds off sewage released into Lake Titicaca from Puno. It is estimated that 55 per cent of the waste produced by the town’s 110,000 residents enters the lake untreated.
About 200 Uros live in thatched huts on about 40 islands built from totora reeds which grow in the lake. Although tourism is the islanders’ main source of income, the Uros have traditionally relied on the waters around their floating homes for fishing.
Now, though, the trout and kingfish caught near the islands are unfit for human consumption. As a result, the Uros are forced to fish farther out into the lake.
The green slime started to appear about 20 years ago, but it is only recently that the local tourist industry, which ferries visitors to and from the various islands in the lake from Puno, has begun to worry.
“Tourists will soon stop taking cruises to the floating islands because the algae smells so awful,” said Julio Morales, a guide. “The islands on the lake are one of the great sights of Peru. A lot of people in Puno will suffer financially if tourists stop taking boats from the port here.”
At 3,856m (12,650ft) Lake Titicaca — which forms part of the border between Peru and Bolivia — is the world’s highest navigable body of water. The bi-national Lake Titicaca Project, which reports on local environmental issues, has criticised Puno’s city council for complacency.
Meanwhile, a group of concerned citizens has called on local TV for action against the green slime. They wonder why no experts have found a way of combating the algae.
Farther south, at the Bolivian lakeside town of Copacabana, pollution is less of a problem. For the moment, the world’s highest waterskiing lessons are still on offer.
A spokesperson for Journey Latin America, a specialist South America tour operator, said: “We do not believe (the algae) has become a major problem. Visiting these tribes is still very popular. It’s a must-see part of any trip to the area.”
A spokesman for Exodus, which includes the floating islands in several trips, suggested that, despite the pollution, visits were a rewarding experience. He said: “The Uros people are more focused on sharing with visitors the history and lifestyle of their islands than ever before.”

more infos here



At 3/28/2006 03:50:00 AM, Blogger ::Alejandro:: wrote...

I just recently read "Lines in the Water: Nature and Culture at Lake Titicaca" by the California-based anthropologist
Benjamin Orlove, who discussed some of the longstanding issues around water and fishing rights on Titicaca. The middle section was a bit of a yawn (except for fellow anthorpologists, which I am not) but there were some brilliant insights, observations, and loads of history. I reccomend it.


At 3/29/2006 09:52:00 PM, Blogger Inka-Wolfy wrote...

thanks for the tip, gato.

yep, found it. Only one left in stock, I better hurry :-)


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