According to the World Wildlife Fund the Amazon Rainforest is the 'crown jewel of the natural world.’ Not surprising when you consider that it holds 75,000 species of trees per square kilometre, a 100 million species of insects and more than 438,000 plants live there. But the ‘Earth’s lungs’ are in serious danger, and not only flora and fauna will suffer the consequences...
The Amazon rainforest covers an area of 7 million km2, spread over Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador and French Guiana. For several decades, deforestation has affected the area by caused (illegal) logging and (lit) fires. The wood is exported and the land is used for commercial purposes, such as plantations and refineries. Nature is severely damaged and biodiversity is decreasing.
The Amazon region is not only the natural habitat of exotic plants and animals, but is also home to more than 200 groups of Indians who have lived there for centuries. Each tribe has its own culture, its own identity and often speaks its own language. In addition, they all have their own habitats, but these are increasingly threatened by deforestation and industrialisation. Plantations affect the environment through excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, while leaking pipelines cause pollution of drinking water. Poignant are the stories of tribes that have been told by oil companies like Chevron that it is not a problem and that oil is healthy ...
In the Amazon there also live about 50 Indian groups who have very little contact with 'the outside world'. They lead a secluded life and draw deeper and deeper into the jungle. Except when the level of threat is too high, and they can’t go anywhere anymore. In June 2013 over 100 Mashco-Piro Indians appeared in Madre de Dios in Peru. Chased by helicopters and drug gangs they appeared on the banks of a river, to the horror of local residents. The authorities prevented the Indians to enter the village. This was also in the interest of the Indians themselves: because of their isolated existence, they have no resistance to our diseases such as measles and flu. After being provided with bananas, the Mashco - Piro went back into the jungle again.
What will happen to these groups of Indians? Where will they go and what are their chances of survival? The Brazilian government - where 60 % of the Amazon is - has declared that groups who wish this, will be left alone as much as possible. There are also plans to create 'protected zones', where the Indians can live in peace. Putting all good intentions aside, the Indians show us that firstly true power comes from within: despite all the mishaps, their numbers are increasing! After centuries of being attacked, they still seem to be capable to protect their community, their way of living and culture. This gives some hope for the future.
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