From Zero to Hero

Peru is teaming up with nature’s trash collectors—vultures—to spot litterbugs.

January 21, 2016

Vultures get a pretty bad rap (see: any movie involving a thirsty wanderer and a desert). But a new program in Lima, Peru, is finally bringing the scavengers some positive PR by portraying the birds as the garbage-gobbling bad-asses they really are—all while raising awareness for the city’s massive waste problem. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development and Peru’s Ministry of Environment teamed up to launch Gallinazo Avisa, Vultures Warn, a program in which officials have outfitted ten of los gallinazos with lightweight GPS trackers and GoPro cameras. As they soar through the skies, Lima’s original clean-up crew is sending back intel on the most heavily polluted areas of the city. Land vultures (sometimes known as “humans”) can help out, too, by reporting trash piles on the website. It's time to update your trope, folks: Circling vultures are now a symbol of hope.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.