There are dozens of wonders of the world – also known as tourist attractions – that mankind has destroyed. Some of them are amazing rock formations, while others, like the Nazca Lines, humans created themselves. What do these things all have in common? Modern man destroyed them.
Number 10 – Duckbill Rock Formation, Oregon
The Duckbill Rock Formation was a very popular tourist attraction in the Pacific Northwest. And why wouldn’t it be? Seeing a sandstone rock shaped like a duck’s bill? Yes, please! People loved the rock so much that Oregon State Parks decided to put up barriers so that it would not be toppled. Then they found it crumbled in 2016, and believed that nature took its course.
And then a video surfaced with the truth. Was it age? Gravity? Nope…just a group of teenage quacks, pun intended. And then the wind spent thousands of years turning the rock into the shape of a duckbill and then teen vandals destroyed it in seconds. Even worse, they were never caught.
Number 9 – The Tree of Ténéré
This was the only tree for 250 miles in Niger’s Sahara desert. It was the sole reminder of a greener Sahara. Also, it served as a landmark for nomads for centuries. Unfortunately, the miracle of this tree surviving in that desert location became a tragedy caused by a bottle – or several – of liquor.
In 1973, a drunk Libyan driver plowed into the loneliest tree on earth. and its trunk snapped. Now, what’s left of the dead tree is in the Niger National Museum. They erected a metal sculpture where the tree once stood.
Number 8 – Palaeolithic Cave Paintings, Grotte De Lascaux
In 1940, Jacques Marsal and his three fellow French teenagers, stumbled across a cave. They were searching for their missing dog. Their find was a gallery of over 600 paintings and 500 engravings on limestone. The images consisted of animals, humans hunting and abstract signs. Overall, people considered the art to be the work of more than 1,000 generations. Unfortunately, the generation that followed the discovery would not be good for its survival.
The unique character and physical realism made the site the pride and joy for Montignac. It attracted a vast majority of visitors. These visitors carried heat, humidity and other contaminants that altered the cave’s climate. After several unsuccessful attempts at air conditioning, the growth of a pervasive fungus threatened the images. Authorities closed the site 23 years after its discovery. They opened Lascaux II in 1983 in order to make the public happy. Lascaux II is an elaborate replica of key parts of the cave. Its purpose is to present an impression of the paintings’ scale and composition for the public without harming the originals.
Number 7 – The Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world. It is also the world’s most dramatic disappearing act. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union began an irrigation project that diverted the rivers that once fed the Aral Sea. It shrank in size immediately. The series of images captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer shows its dramatic reduction.
The picture below ranges from 1989 to 2014:
The loss of the Aral Sea also devastated the fisheries and communities that depended on them. The remaining water grew increasingly salty. Pollution in the form of fertilizer and pesticides contaminated the existing water. Now, the Aral Sea is an eerie sight with degraded soil and a few strewn rusting ships. In 2005, Kazakhstan built a dam in a last-ditch effort to save the lake. However, it will never become what it once was.
Number 6– BoeungKak Lake, Cambodia
The Boeung Kak Lake was once a beautiful lake and lakeside area in the northern part of Phnom Penh. International visitors frequented the scenic area and stayed in guesthouses. There, they ate, drank and watched the sunsets. Today, it is basically a puddle of its former self.
In 2007, the Cambodian government granted development rights to Shukaku Inc. By 2010, they filled over 90% of the lake with sand to make way for buildings and various developments. That company is owned by the wife of a senator of the ruling party and the deal eliminated tourism in the area. It also had disastrous effects on the 4,000+ families that depended on the lake for survival. Many either had to relocate, deal with frequent flooding, or receive some small amount of compensation.
Number 5– Fairy Shrimp, Uluru, Australia
Humans are capable of destroying entire species. What is Uluru? Uluru is one of Australia’s best-known landmarks. It is a rock created over 600 million years ago. It once sat at the bottom of a sea but now stands 348m above ground.
The Branchinella Latzi was a rare fairy shrimp that was found only in the pools of water on Uluru. They disappeared in the 1970s. In 2009, retired wildlife science professor, Brian Timms, did some research. He came to the conclusion that human waste from tourists was the culprit. As it turns out, visitors began defecating on top of Uluru because there were no toilets available.
Australia’s indigenous Anangu people believe that the Ulura has spiritual significance, so they ask that people stop climbing it altogether. Their culture, however, prevents them from stopping visits. In addition, they believe that people should know right from wrong and need to take responsibility for their own actions.
Number 4–The Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia
The picture below ranges from 2005 to 2017:
Due to the effects of climate change, 80% of the glacier disappeared over the course of 20 years. The rest vanished in 2009, six years earlier than predicted. The ski area, where tourists visited all year round, is now a ghost town with an abandoned building. Not only was tourism affected but the residents were as well. Their local water supplies are also dependent on the surrounding glaciers.
Number 3 – Nazca Lines, Peru
UNESCO calls the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines are one of the “greatest enigmas of the archaeological world.” They are a series of images scratched into the surface of a coastal plain about 225 miles south of Lima. It is the world’s best-known collection of geoglyphs. To fully appreciate its magnificence, you need to see them from the sky.
In one of the least responsible publicity stunts ever, enter Greenpeace. In 2014, the Peruvian government was angered by the activists when they conducted a publicity stunt during UN climate change talks being held in Lima. They laid a sign saying “Time for Change! The Future in Renewable – Greenpeace” next to the etching of a hummingbird. Their footprints and the sign, however, caused damage to the site.
They aren’t the only ones to damage it, though. Drivers also cause damage when they cut through the plain. In February 2018, a truck driver intentionally drove his tractor-trailer off a roadway that runs through the historic site. He damaged three geoglyphs. Authorities arrested the truck driver and charged him with an “attack against cultural heritage.”
Number 2 – Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile
The Torres Del Paine National Park is beautiful. It has attractions like granite rock formations and the Grey and Dickson glaciers. Plus, it also has waterfalls and a wide variety of wildlife. Despite being a beautiful place, this park gets destroyed by so many fires caused by humans, it is almost a tradition. The first one was in February of 2005. It lasted for ten days and destroyed 7 percent of the park. A tourist used a gas stove in a grassland area where camping was prohibited.
In February 2011, a tourist lit a bonfire in an unauthorized area. Thankfully, rain prevented this fire from causing more damage. And then another tourist caused a second fire in December of 2011 by burning some toilet paper. This forced the park’s closure between 29 December 2011 and 4 January 2012.
But that’s not the last time. In 2015, authorities banned two tourists from the Park for two years for starting an illegal campfire.
Number 1 – Maya Beach, Thailand
This pretty bay, known for its clear waters, white sand and lush, towering cliffs, served as the location for the 2000 movie, “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It has since seen a massive influx of tourism that led to the decay of the bay’s ecological system. Since then, the small beach received up to 5,000 tourists and 200 boats a day. The pollution from the boats, litter, and other contaminants damaged the coral around the Maya Bay.
Despite clear evidence of the damage, Thai officials did not want to shut it down. After all, the area brought in a large amount of revenue. They closed the beach for four months starting in June 2018. However, this was not enough time for the bay to recover. In October 2018, Thailand’s department of national parks, wildlife and plant conservation announced that the closure would continue until the area returned to a normal state. Unfortunately, this might take many years. Currently, rehabilitation efforts are underway.
Do you think the people caught destroying these amazing attractions should be punished more harshly, or do you think they got what they deserved? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section down below.