The world’s largest rodents invade a fancy gated community in Argentina

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Capybaras feed on grass near a main road in the gated community of Nordelta, north of Buenos Aires, on August 26. (Image credit: STRINGER / AFP via Getty Images)

Residents of a gated community in Argentina struggle to get along with unruly new neighbors: hundreds of the world’s largest rodents.

the capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), also known as carpinchos, has been rampant for weeks in Nordelta, an affluent neighborhood north of Buenos Aires home to around 40,000 people. Local residents have reported that the sturdy rodents, which can grow to over 1.2 meters in length and weigh up to 174 pounds (79 kilograms), have pooped in the gardens, destroying flower beds, causing crashes. traffic and allegedly biting a pet. dogs, although capybaras are not known to be aggressive towards humans or pets, according to the Argentinian newspaper the Nacion.

However, conservationists say the capybaras are not invading Nordelta, but rather taking over their home from the multi-million dollar development, which in the late 1990s was built above the ecologically significant wetlands surrounding the riverbanks. of the Paraná River, the second largest river in South America.

Related: 15 of the largest animals of their kind on Earth

“It’s the other way around: Nordelta has invaded the carpinchos ecosystem,” said Enrique Viale, a prominent Argentinian environmental lawyer. The Guardian. “The wealthy government-backed real estate developers must destroy nature in order to sell their clients the dream of living in nature,” he added, “because the people who buy these homes want nature, but without the mosquitoes, snakes or carpinchos. ”

A resident walks past capybaras in Nordelta on August 26.

A resident walks past capybaras in Nordelta on August 26. (Image credit: STRINGER / AFP via Getty Images)

The capybaras never completely disappeared from Nordelta after the completion of the community, but their population plummeted due to habitat loss and construction disturbance. Today, after decades without any natural predators, such as jaguars, their population is growing again, with a 17% increase last year. Currently, around 400 capybaras roam Nordelta, but experts believe that at the current rate the population could eventually reach around 3,000, according to the Nacion.

Residents of Nordelta want authorities to remove capybaras from development and introduce new measures to prevent rodents from roaming freely in the 3,000-acre (1,214-hectare) community – for example, by adding hedges and reinforced fences , according to La Nacion. Some residents have also threatened to shoot the capybaras, although so far none have been killed, according to The Guardian.

In response, environmental activists protested within Nordelta over the past week, many wearing cardboard capybara headdresses resembling mascots, to call on the government to protect capybaras and allow them to remain in their natural habitat. , according to La Nacion.

Capybaras have also become popular among the Argentinian public, especially in Buenos Aires, with many poorer people viewing them as a symbol of a class war against the city’s elite, which has destroyed an important ecosystem for themselves. separate from the poorest communities, according to The Guardian.

For example, Nordelta has altered the natural drainage systems provided by wetlands and regularly causes flooding in surrounding communities. “When there are extreme weather events, it is the surrounding poorest neighborhoods that end up inundated,” Viale told the Guardian. “As always, it is the poor who end [up] pay the price.

Some experts believe that due to the backlash from environmentalists and poorer communities, residents of Nordelta will have to get used to their new neighbors rather than evict them.

“Nordelta is an exceptionally rich wetland that should never have been touched,” Sebastian di Martino, biologist and conservation director at the Rewilding Argentina Foundation, told French news agency. AFP. “Now that the damage is done, the inhabitants must reach a certain level of coexistence with the carpinchos.”

Originally posted on Live Science.


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