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Visiting vandals

TDT

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Tourism is a tricky business. It’s like inviting into your home strangers who may not be looking for sights and hospitality but rather things to steal or a place to ruin. Troublesome tourists may prove costly instead of profitable to the host country. And that’s the price Peru has to pay for some foreign visitors who came to experience the South American country’s natural wonders.

On Sunday, Peruvian police arrested six tourists for allegedly defecating in and damaging a part of Peru’s cultural heritage, the 600-year-old mountain temple of Machu Picchu. Five of them have been ordered deported and one, 28-year-old Nahuel Gomez, will be tried in a local court.

Gomez admitted to removing a stone slab from a temple wall that was chipped when it fell to the ground, causing a crack in the floor. He said it was not intentional.

The group — made up of a Chilean, two Argentines, two Brazilians and a French woman — allegedly entered the Inca sanctuary on Saturday and hid on site so they could spend the night there — which is prohibited.

The following day, a Europe-bound male Belgian tourist was arrested at Lima Airport because his suitcase contained 20 live birds.

Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Service said Hugo Conings was flying to Madrid carrying 20 boxes that contained two toucanets and 16 tanagers, small birds whose bright colors make them attractive to traffickers and collectors.

Native to the Peruvian jungle, some of the birds showed signs of dehydration and stress, and some had lost part of their plumage having spent hours in the boxes, the wildlife service said.

Had Conings slipped past security guards at Lima airport, those smuggled birds may likely end up in a wildlife collector’s birdcage. However, the Belgian smuggler is facing illegal wildlife trafficking charges and he may be the one ending up inside a cage.

With AFP

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