Illegal mining creeps into southern Bahuaja-Sonene National Park
A large amount of fuel trafficking takes place Massiapo, the capital of the district of Alto Inambari, mostly for use in illegal gold mining operations.A regional committee against illegal mining in Puno is considering declaring the buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park a mining exclusion zone. ALTO INAMBARI, Peru — There are some places that we always remember better than others. That is what David Araníbar says when he thinks about the district of Alto Inambari, seven hours away from the city of Puno in Peru’s Sandia Province.Araníbar, the director of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, grew up in that area of the rainforest and still remembers seeing catfish racing downstream in the Inambari River, alongside otters who would run beside the catfish trying to trap them. Many years have passed since the last time Araníbar has seen an otter in the area. The area around the Inambari River, which has long been the otters’ preferred route to travel, is now filled with heavy machinery and barrels of mercury.It is an area that has been transformed by illegal mining.As the otter population decreases, the number of illegal stands selling fuel continues to climb. The fuel is there to facilitate mining in the area. An inspection by the provincial attorney specializing in environmental matters in Puno in late 2017 identified 36 points of illegal mining in the Inambari River Basin. Of those, 18 were in Alto Inambari. A large number of those illegal mines are located in the buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, just a little over one mile from the protected area. It seems like just a matter of time before illegal mining makes its way into the park itself.