Peru’s government is taking steps to protect one of the world’s largest fossil deposits from being damaged by the 2013 Dakar Rally. The Culture Ministry said they’re marking all access points to the Ocucaje desert to help prevent potential damage to the existing fossil site. Home to fossils of whales, dolphins, penguins and other animals, the Ocucaje fossil zone in the Ica region was severely damaged by last year’s rally.

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The long-distance race involving hundreds of cars, motorcycles and trucks began on January 5th in Lima and finishes in Santiago, Chile on January 20. Klaus Honninger, director of the private Meyer-Honninger Paleontological Museum in Peru, said spectators dumped tons of trash on the desert and there are reports of some of them using whale fossil vertebrae as benches. Some of the race cars even crushed fossils in their path.

According to a statement made by the Dakar Rally director Etienne Lavigne, the organizers are taking measures to prevent the same situation from happening this year. Organizers will also be making inspections every day during the race.


Photos by Flickr user Aldo André