Impressions from my Bolivia journey in January 2007, organized by the retired Swiss biologist Robert Guggenbühl. Our travel group consisted of botanists, nature lovers and some passionate aquarium hobbyists. Passing from places like St Cruz, Robore, Trinidad, Magdalena and Bella Vista the primary purpose of this journey was observing, filming and photographing the rich habitats of Bolivia alongside some lakes and rivers.
To my surprise, some aquarium keepers in the group used this opportunity for catching lots of fish. I was surprized because I could not reconcile this activity (bio-piracy) with love for nature. Actually, I should know very well that many aquarium keepers are not truly nature lovers. They are simply seasoned fish keepers with the attitude of a stamp collector. Many of them does not care about biodiversity, ecology or evolution at all. I would understand collecting some interesting specimens for scientific purposes, but catching hundreds of wild fish (without paying anything to local people) to keep them in private aquariums is another matter.
Bolivia is the most beautiful country I have ever seen. It has such a rich diversity of natural resources; rain forests, savannah, mountains… But the pace of the destruction of rain forests is depressing. Some locals in Magdalena told us that the consequences of this habitat distruction can already be seen everywhere. The dry seasons get longer (nowadays almost five months; it was three months before) and the water level drops further in the dry seasons. Some farmers complain about aridity and water deficiency in the dry season; a problem, which was never heard before.
Tunç Ali Kütükçüoğlu, 30. April 2010, Zürich
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