Vultures With Cameras Highlight Lima's Growing Trash Problem


In Lima, Peru, environmental authorities have joined forces with an unlikely ally in the city’s fight against pollution: vultures. According to The Guardian, officials have outfitted 10 disease-free birds with GPS trackers and GoPro cameras. The scavengers track down Lima’s numerous illegal trash dumps, and record their coordinates on a live map. That map is then shared with the public so they’ll be inspired to clean up their surroundings.

The project—a joint effort between USAid and the Peruvian environment ministry—has attracted international attention with its PR campaign. As part of the marketing, the birds don superhero-esque names like Capitan Huggin, Capitan Fenix, and Capitana Aella, and they “narrate” a video that informs the public about their mission. Between humans and environmental pollution, the video warns, “There’s only us, the carthatidae lineage. The vultures. The ones who always clean up the garbage.”

Still, while the marketing may seen lighthearted, the project’s underlying mission is serious. Because Lima has only four landfills for 10 million people, one-fifth of the city's trash ends up in unlawful dumps. Adding to the problem: waste run-off contaminates Lima’s main water source, rivers. Many of the city’s poor areas are infested with garbage that its residents can’t afford to clean up.

Check out the video above to learn more about the birds' mission, or watch them descend down on Lima’s trash dumps via the project’s online map.

[h/t The Guardian]