Guardians of the Glaciers by Angela Ponce
Ice constitutes the second largest source of freshwater on the planet and 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers are found in Peru. Located in Cusco, the Quelccaya Ice Cap is the largest tropical glacier in the world, covering an area equivalent to more than 9,000 soccer fields. However, due to accelerated melting it is receding by 60 metres (195 feet) a year and some studies have determined that it will disappear in the next 30 years if global greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.
The inhabitants of the Quechua community, who live on the slopes and close to the glacier, are being affected directly by the retreating ice and dedicate their lives to making the population aware of the problem of melting ice as an effect of climate change. They seek to protect their snow-capped mountains through ancestral knowledge and rituals of the Andean worldview, which over time are also disappearing.
The thaw not only threatens the continuity of life in Andean communities, but also puts certain species at risk of extinction, as these areas are inhabited by a range of aquatic and terrestrial species.