Guano islands were discovered on a series of islands off the coast of Peru. These islands are rocky and barren and have no vegetation owning to lack of rain in the area.
The word ‘GUANO’ originated from the Andean indigenous language Quechua, which refers to any form of dung used as a fertilizer in agriculture. So what is guano? Dropping of certain fish eating birds are called as guano. Three birds are primarily producers of guano- white breasted cormorants, grey pelicans and white head gannets or piqueros. Millions of this types of birds reside on these islands because of this island isolation from natural predators and large reserves of anchovy fishes. Due to lack of rain their dropping gets baked in the dry atmosphere preventing nitrates in these droppings from evaporating make it a good fertilizer. Over the course of years guano reserves have accumulated into a thick layer of 100-150 feet guano fertilizer.
Guano has valuable agricultural benefits as it’s a natural fertilizer the crop yields improved which made it high prized commodity during 19th century. It was heavily traded by the European and American traders. It helped to build Peru economy. It Haas been estimated that around mid 1800’s Peruvian excavated over 20,000,000 tons of guano making a huge profit. Eventually Peru suffered a loss due depleted guno and introduction of artificial fertilizers.
Since 1909, the Peruvian government has taken measures to conserve guano reserves by establishing the GUANO ADMINISTRATION COMPANY . The methods includes;
. Keeping the islands off limits to reacumulate their guano reserves and not disturbing the natural habitat of these birds.
. Controlling the commercial fishing industry and setting measures to conserve guano birds feeds.
. Establishing preservation parks on the main land where some birds can migrate so that they can be safe from predators.
. Limiting guano exports and preventing disruption of ocean ecosystem.