Peruvian mint highlights endangered wildlife

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Lima, July 20 (IANS) A new coin featuring the endangered Andean bear has been issued in Peru.

The Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP) issued the coin on Wednesday in a bid to raise people’s awareness about the threat to the species.

The coin is the first in a series called “Peru’s Endangered Wild Animals” which will showcase wildlife threatened with extinction, Xinhua news agency reports.

“The series on endangered animals that we are presenting today is going to consist of 10 (different) coins,” said BCRP President Julio Velarde.

“In the first place, we have chosen the Andean bear, the only one of the world’s eight types of bears that exists in our region,” added Velarde.

The coins featuring the Andean bear aim to both draw attention to the plight of wildlife and to promote coin collecting, according to the BCRP.

“We are going to mint 10 million coins. It is a limited edition of a sol (Peru’s currency), it is legal tender and has special characteristics that make it collectible,” it said.

The coin is made of alpaca silver, which is an alloy of mainly copper and nickel. It features an image of the bear, also known as the spectacled bear, due to the unique markings around its eyes.

The flip side of the coin, which is worth one sol, features Peru’s coat of arms.

The spectacled bear can reach 2.2 meters in height, weighs up to 180 kilos and inhabits the mountain ranges of South America between 800 and 4,750 meters above the sea level.

The bear spends much of its time climbing trees and feeding on fruits and berries.

Peru’s estimated 18,000 Andean bears are threatened by encroaching agriculture, illegal logging and unregulated hunting, with farmers considering them destructive to their corn fields, said the national park service.

–IANS

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