In Peru’s capital, vultures are being fitted with cameras to track illegal dumping grounds. Lima has just four official landfill sites to manage the waste of 9 million residents. There is a growing problem with people discarding household and business waste at illegal dumps, with sites sprouting up throughout the city. Poorer neighbourhoods tend to have a higher share of these sites, as issues in collecting council tax can lead to an absence of municipal refuse services. Illegal dumping is causing a mounting set of public health and environmental issues in Lima and is also responsible for increasingly polluting the rivers Rimac, Chillon and Lurin that run through or surround Lima and provide its inhabitants with water. Further to this, contamination of these rivers also affects the Pacific ocean where pollution eventually reaches.
A project called Gallinazo Avisa, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has found a new approach to address this problem, teaming up with the city’s vultures to identify illegal dumps in the city. By fitting GoPro cameras and tracking devices to the birds, the team gets an aerial perspective on the scale of the problem and can send clearing teams to waste hot spots. The movement of vultures can be monitored through the Gallinazo website, allowing anyone to track the birds over the city. In turn, the initiative encourages Lima’s citizens to be more actively vigilant against pollution by encouraging residents to upload the whereabouts of dumps in their own neighborhoods on Gallinazo’s Facebook and Twitter pages.