It may not be everyday that a group of elephants rescue 300 tourists from a flood. But when humans need them, animals are always eager to lend a hand — or paw. For the Chilean government, protecting wildlife the way they do us is very much a priority. It recently rejected a billion-dollar mining project in order to save endangered penguins.
A Chilean company, Andes Iron, had wanted to extract millions of tonnes of iron in the northern Coquimbo region as well as building a new port.
The area is home to 80% of the world’s Humboldt penguins as well as other endangered species, including blue whales, fin whales and sea otters.
Chile’s environmental minister asserted that while he believes in development, risking ecological areas is a no-go.
Correspondents say mining companies have in recent years had a harder time obtaining permits in Chile because of growing interest in the environment from politicians and public opinion.
Chilean miners are infuriated, understandably. However, the rejection is also a wake-up call. Mining may be the easy answer, but not necessarily the best one.