Rodents of Unusual Size Invade Gated Community in Argentina | Smart News


A passenger in a white truck photographs several capybaras in a yard of a gated community in Tigre.
Photo by MAGALI CERVANTES / AFP via Getty Images

A group of colossal capybaras have taken over – some might say taken over – a gated community in Argentina, reports Alejandro Jorvat for La Nacion. (Like the iconic scene from the 1987 film The princess to marry, perhaps Buttercup would be less alarmed by these unusually sized rodents, which are generally quite friendly, although they will bite if provoked.)

Considered the largest rodent in the world, capybaras are reclaiming the land they once lived in, now occupied by well-to-do residents of the remarkable district of Nordelta, just north of Buenos Aires. Weighing up to 175 pounds and measuring up to four feet long, the large herbivores are generally docile, though people complain that they tear up flower beds, chase family animals, and poop all over the place. maintained lawns, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“This is happening all over the country, in urbanized and non-urbanized areas,” Sebastian di Martino, director of conservation at Rewilding Argentina, told AFP. “It is caused by the alteration and degradation of ecosystems. We have extinguished a ton of species that were their natural predators ”,

Capybara — known locally as carpinchos—Used to roam free in what is now Nordelta, once a significant wetland along the Paraná River until it was cleared by developers in the 1990s to build the community.

“The carpinchos were still there,” Perla Paggi, a resident of Nordelta and capybara activist, told AFP. “We still saw them from time to time. But three or four months ago (the builders) went looking for their last remaining stronghold and the rush started.

Environmental officials acknowledge that capybaras are out of control in Nordelta, but also note that round rodents do what they normally would when their habitat has been altered: return to the area when food sources become abundant again. The Capybaras particularly appreciate the area’s vast gardens and immaculate lawns.

“Nordelta is an exceptionally rich wetland that should never have been touched,” di Martino told AFP. “Now that the damage is done, the inhabitants must reach a certain level of coexistence with the carpinchos.”

While many locals complain about this encroachment in Nordelta and elsewhere, environmentalists point out how the balance has shifted in local ecosystems in the region. Native to South America, capybaras have been driven out of their habitat and are no longer controlled by natural predators, such as jaguars, whose populations have also been wiped out by humans, reports Hannah Sparks of the New York Post.

“The carpincho needs a predator to reduce its population and also scare it,” Di Martino told AFP. “When there is a herbivore without a predator threatening it, it does not hide and can spend all day eating, degrading vegetation which traps less carbon and contributes to climate change.

While many people want to remove capybaras, others are more tolerant. In Nordelta, some even recommend building a reserve for these rodents of unusual size. Drivers often slow down their cars for photos while children pose for selfies with social animals in the evening when they tend to be more active.

“We have to learn to live next to them, they are not aggressive animals,” Paggi told AFP, adding: “They are helpless animals, we are taking them away, we are taking away their habitat and now we complain because they invade “.

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