By Emilia Ulloa
In the southern cone of South America lies a beautiful and unique stretch of lowlands, covered in rolling prairie grasses and rich in wildlife. These are the Pampas. Named for the Quechua word ‘pampa’ which loosely translates to ‘plains’ the pampas cover an area close to a million kilometers, extending across parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
This region serves as a habitat to around 600 native birds, and is a stopover point for thousands more migratory birds which traverse the territory along journeys that can be up to 15 thousand kilometers long. The plant-life in the area provides crucial sustenance and refuge to these migrating birds, while also serving as vital breeding areas for endemic birds such as the Saffron-cowled blackbird (Xanthopsar flavus) and the Black-and-White Monjita (Xolmis dominicanus). In addition to supporting an incredible amount of wildlife, the pampas also provides sustenance to thousands of people who live in the region.
Despite this, the area is in danger of disappearing completely, along with all the unique wildlife it supports. The principle threats to the pampas are the intensifications of agriculture, ranching, and urban development. In fact, 95% of the pampas are private property, and are being used for the cultivation, primarily of soya, corn and wheat. These monocultures in turn leach the soil of its nutrients and leave it open to the risk of erosion.