(Francisco González Táboas; Photo: Pablo Rodríguez Merkel; 9 March 2017)
Mar Chiquita is the largest salt lake in South America, a wetland of interannual importance and now in the process of becoming the largest National Park in Argentina.
True “clouds” of up to half a million Phalaropus tricolor phallus cover the sky almost to cover the sun. The horizon turns pink thanks to the 100,000 southern flamingos that live and nest there. The gold of the grasslands, which protect the enigmatic aguará guazú, obliges to reduce the pupils of the eyes. The water covers everything as far as the eye can see, but the sounds and colors of the birds stand in a festival for the senses capable of moving any human being: a true “sea of nature”.
Such are the days in the Mar Chiquita lagoon and the Dulce River wetlands, the largest salt lake in South America, which is nothing less than a wetland of importance according to the Ramsar Convention and one of the five Areas important for the conservation of Birds that are in danger (IBAs in Danger, in English) in Argentina.
A few years ago Aves Argentinas (BirdLife in Argentina) set out to work to achieve the effective conservation of many of its IBAs, especially those that were in danger. This was done 3 years ago with the plateau of Lake Buenos Aires, fundamental for the future of the maca tobiano Podiceps gallardoi that today is largely the Patagonia National Park.
This time it was Mar Chiquita’s turn. Although it currently has a figure of Multiple Use Reserves, it has several problems of clearing, unplanned use of water resources and tourism and illegal hunting that affect it. Thus, Aves Argentinas, with the National Park on the horizon, began work in the area, identifying fiscal areas that could join the protected area and getting donors for eventual land purchases.
In addition to meetings with local actors, researchers, environmental educators, the Bird Watchers Club and villagers. Little by little, the idea took shape and strength.