Lima, Peru – The Peruvian Culture Ministry has launched a signage campaign to prevent spectators at the Dakar 2013 rally from damaging fossil remains in the southern Ica region, officials said here Wednesday.
The Ica desert holds one of the biggest fossil deposits in the world, and more than 1,000 fossilized skeletons of ancient creatures have been found there, the director of the Meyer Hoenninger Paleontological Museum Association, Klaus Hoenninger, told Efe.
"Due to the ... territory involved, many people who follow the international competition closely are trying to seek out the route themselves, and ... they are placing at risk probable ... paleontological remains," the Peruvian ministry said.
Hoenninger complained that the 2012 Dakar rally left "tons of trash" along the route and whale and dolphin fossils were destroyed by the presence of spectators.
The Culture Ministry said that the organizers of the rally have agreed to adjust the route to avoid particularly fragile areas.
"With this work, coordinated jointly with the (race authorities), the representative of the Amaury Sports Organization, the probabilities have diminished considerably that archaeological monuments will be affected," the Culture Ministry said.
Lima will be the departure point for the edition of the Dakar rally that will begin on Saturday, and the other Peruvian regions through which the competitors will travel will be Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna and thereafter through the Atacama Desert in Chile, crossing the mountain range into Argentine territory and ending up in Santiago.