Attention, people of Lima, Peru: The city’s vultures would like everyone to know that in the battle between people and trash, the birds are siding with humans—and have always done so. In a dramatic video released this month, the carrion birds “voiced” their allegiance while showing grotesque images of the garbage, water, and air pollution that’s plagued Peru for hundreds of years.
“We’ve fought a constant battle in silence, but the garbage is winning,” the narrator—a vulture—says in Spanish. “Garbage has taken over the air, infected the water, sickened the earth, and you don’t want to acknowledge it. We want to help you.”
The video is actually a promotional piece by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Peru’s Ministry of Environment for “Gallinazo Avisa” (also known as “Vultures Warn” or “Vultures Detect”), which was born in part from the 2014 COP20 climate-change summit held in Lima. Working with a local university and the national zoo in Lima, the agencies have enlisted the help of 10 young scavenging birds to document Peru’s growing waste problem in the capital city.
Each bird—including Capitan Huggin, Capitana Aella, and Tiamat—is equipped with a solar-powered GPS device, and some have GoPro cameras attached to their chests. They’re then trained to track down garbage scattered throughout the city’s streets. The images are gathered, the locations are recorded, and then they are projected onto a live map.