STORY: This perilous route through the Bolivian Andes is marked by narrow lanes, sharp turns and deadly cliffs, earning it the name "Death Road."
But after Bolivia opened an alternate route connecting the capital to the Amazon rainforest, funneling most of the heavy vehicle traffic, Death Road saw a return of native wildlife.
Guido Ayala is a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“Today, thanks to work done (the new road) and heavy vehicles don’t use this road, biodiversity has come back to this zone. You can see birds such as hummingbirds, toucans, parrots, blue-throated macaws and many more. You can notice biodiversity returned and it’s very nice to see a place so near La Paz, around 50 minutes away, and you can come here and enjoy this beautiful nature.”
The route is still dotted with crosses, a way to memorialize those who died on its path. Between 1999 and 2003 hundreds of Bolivians died trying to navigate it.
The alternate route opened in 2007, and the original road is now mostly an attraction for cyclists.
The WCS set up 35 cameras along the route to document nature's return.
Maria Viscarra is a biologist with the conservation group.
“We had cameras ten years after Death Road was closed. We’ve seen a large number of species thanks to the camera traps. It is our methodology. We use intelligent cameras placed in the forest. We identified 14 species, and we’ve spotted two more species, so in total, 16 species and around 98 species of birds. But from many tourists’ and visitors’ accounts, we know about 300 species of birds are throughout the Death Road.”
They've snapped images of badgers, musk deer, and jaguars.
It's a testament to what can flourish when given room to return.