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Fordlândia, Brazil

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Original furniture in the drawing room in the Fordlândia museum. Photograph: Colin McPherson/Corbis

Named, rather modestly, after its founder Henry Ford, Fordlândia was an attempt by the car-maker and industrialist to create an independent source of rubber for the tyres on his vehicles, free from the existing manufacturing monopolies. Ford bought a huge swathe of land in the Amazon and began building a strangely American-style town in the jungle, including a golf course, a library and a hospital, as well as shops and restaurants to keep his relocated employees happy. It was a grand failure and now all that remains are the derelict buildings, which can be visited by adventurous travellers.
Fordlândia is on the east bank of the Tapajós river and can be reached by boat via Itaituba and Santarém in the state of Pará

Source: TheGuardian Read and see more ghost towns and places

You and I saved some people from extinction!

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The Awá: an historic victory

In 2012 we launched a global campaign to save a little-known tribe in the Amazon, one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes left in Brazil. With more than 30% of their forests destroyed by illegal logging, we asked you to help save the Earth’s most threatened tribe.

You responded in your thousands, and, because of your emails, Awáicons and donations, the campaign made headlines around the world. Brazil’s Minister of Justice was forced to act, sending in troops and federal agents to expel the loggers.

The operation has just been completed; all loggers and ranchers have been removed from the Awá indigenous territory. This is an incredible victory which would never have happened without your help.

Here is your story>Watch the film watch this, we can win.

The story is currently on the front page of the BBC website and will be featured in BBC2’s leading in-depth TV news programme, “Newsnight”. UK supporters can watch it tonight (Thursday 22 May) at 10.30pm (BST). The story will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday at 11.30am (BST).

Awa tribe

Source: Catherine’s Creations and Concerns

I couldn’t load the Survival video, but here is a similar

Giving the Amazon rainforest back to the Awa tribe

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Logging in the Brazilian Amazon has had a devastating effect on the rainforest and its indigenous people. However, a new operation by the army, air force and military police is designed to save an endangered tribe – by keeping loggers off their land.

It took Pira’I two small steps to get up into the helicopter, but those steps bridged two completely different worlds.

Pira’I is a member of a 350-strong tribe called the Awa. They live in the last islands of rainforest in what is now the extreme eastern edge of the Amazon.

He grew up in a tiny nomadic tribal group, completely separate from the rest of the world.

Now, together with his friend Hamo, he was taking his first ever flight, leaving the jungle where they have lived all their lives.

They gave me a nervous smile through the window, then the engine roared and their faces vanished in a great eddy of leaves and dust as the helicopter rose up into the air.

This was a momentous trip for them, and for the entire tribe.

Pira’I was one of two taken in a helicopter to see the destruction of farmers’ homes

The Awa are one of very few hunter-gatherer communities left in the Amazon basin.

Survival International, a pressure group that campaigns for the rights of indigenous people, has described the Awa as “the most endangered tribe on the planet”.

Over the last couple of decades illegal loggers and farmers have invaded their ancestral lands, destroying the forest.

I’d asked Pira’I what it was like growing up in the forest.

“We were always on the run,” he told me. “We would find a place to sleep, then the loggers would arrive again to cut down our trees and we would go on the run again.”

Pira’I and his family – like most of the Awa – were forced to give up their traditional lifestyle and move into villages. Incredibly, though, a few dozen Awa are holding out.

They remain uncontacted, living in the last stands of jungle in this region.

“It is a miracle they are not dead,” one of the officers of Brazil’s Indigenous People’s Department, Funai, tells me.

Video: Watch a preview of Justin Rowlatt’s Newsnight film from the Brazilian Amazon

With his extravagant beard, Leonardo Lenin, lives up to his dramatic name. He has dedicated his life to fighting on behalf of the tribal people of Brazil.

“This is a story of resistance,” he says.

“For 514 years our culture has been trying to dominate their culture, but they have survived.”

And, thanks to the efforts of people like Leo Lenin and Survival International they are now much more likely to do so.

That’s because for once there is some good news from the Amazon.

I had come back to witness the Brazilian government’s unprecedented effort to drive out the invaders and to take back the tribe’s ancestral lands.

It is called Operation Awa and is on an impressive scale.

The Brazilian army, air force and military police are working alongside Brazil’s environmental protection service. The operation is co-ordinated by Funai.

Farmers who have illegally settled on the indigenous reserve that comprises the Awa’s territory, have been served notice to leave. And they seem to be doing so.

The government has offered them plots elsewhere in the state.

I watched a family load up a truck with everything they own – including the tiles from the roof of the farm they’d lived in for 18 years.

Read more and see more photos

Read more and see more photos

The Terrible Price of Gold

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With the world’s economic system in a shambles, the price of gold is rising making it more lucrative to exploit protected areas in the unscrupulous grab for the precious metal.

Brazil asks Venezuela to investigate village massacre claims

Brazil asks Caracas for help in determining whether gold miners killed more than 70 members of Yanomami tribe from helicopter

Members of the Yanomami tribe. The tribe says it has repeatedly warned Venezuela’s government that conflicts with miners are intensifying. Photograph: Sipa Press/REX FEATURES

Brazil is pressing Venezuela to determine whether Brazilian gold miners crossed the border and massacred a village of about 80 indigenous people from a helicopter.

The alleged assault, which a tribal group says could have killed more than 70 people in early July, came to light earlier this week when the group asked Venezuela’s government to investigate. Because of the remoteness of the region and the scattered nature of the native settlements, fellow tribe members were able to alert the government only on Monday.

Brazil’s foreign ministry said on Friday its embassy in Caracas had asked the Venezuelan government to provide it with any information that could help it determine whether the attack had happened and whether Brazilians had been involved.

Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, a government body that oversees indigenous affairs, said it would seek a joint investigation by officials from both countries at the site.

The border area between the two countries – a long, dense swath of the Amazon rainforest – has increasingly become the site of conflicts between indigenous people, gold miners, and others seeking to tap jungle resources.

The tribe that was allegedly attacked, the Yanomami, says it has given repeated, but unheeded, warnings to Venezuela’s government that the conflicts are intensifying.

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Really, Really Big Ones

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Yesterday on my Bullshit Corner blog I posted a big centipede picture, well it was really a huge centipede picture, and I’m not talking about the size of the picture.

I am talking about the size of the centipede.

Which prompted a comment from one of my Australian regulars, Tempo,  “Wowsers! where on earth do they get this big? We get them 2/3 the size of this but no bigger,” and I thought, good question.

Scolopendra heros

The Giant Red-headed centipede, Scolopendra heros, is from North America and looks as though it is ready for Halloween in its devil costume. But these guys are really small, 20cm (8″ for our American cousins, who cant’ seem to grasp that the world is moving along) when you compare them to Scolopendra gigantea.

Scolopendra gigantea

The Peruvian giant yellowleg centipede or Amazonian giant centipede, is the world’s largest specimen of the genus Scolopendra, reaching lengths of 26 cm and can exceed 30 cm. It inhabits the northern and western regions of South America and the islands of Trinidad and Jamaica. It is carnivorous, feeding on lizards, frogs, birds, mice, and even bats.

Now that is a beastie.

You can find more info on AmazingPlanet including a video clip of one snatching a flying bat out of the air to eat.

Hey, these guys are serious!

Could you Shoot an Awá?

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These are Awá children, they are being shot and killed by the loggers

‘They’re killing us’: world’s most endangered tribe cries for help

Logging companies keen to exploit Brazil’s rainforest have been accused by human rights organisations of using gunmen to wipe out the Awá, a tribe of just 355. Survival International, with backing from Colin Firth, is campaigning to stop what a judge referred to as ‘genocide’

Illegal logging in the Amazon has no scruples

 

Undercover investigators film Link to this video

Trundling along the dirt roads of the Amazon, the giant logging lorry dwarfed the vehicle of the investigators following it. The trunks of nine huge trees were piled high on the back – incontrovertible proof of the continuing destruction of the world’s greatest rainforest and its most endangered tribe, the Awá.

Yet as they travelled through the jungle early this year, the small team from Funai – Brazil‘s National Indian Foundation – did not dare try to stop the loggers; the vehicle was too large and the loggers were almost certainly armed. All they could do was video the lorry and add the film to the growing mountain of evidence showing how the Awá – with only 355 surviving members, more than 100 of whom have had no contact with the outside world – are teetering on the edge of extinction.

It is a scene played out throughout the Amazon as the authorities struggle to tackle the powerful illegal logging industry. But it is not just the loss of the trees that has created a situation so serious that it led a Brazilian judge, José Carlos do Vale Madeira, to describe it as “a real genocide”. People are pouring on to the Awá’s land, building illegal settlements, running cattle ranches. Hired gunmen – known as pistoleros – are reported to be hunting Awá who have stood in the way of land-grabbers. Members of the tribe describe seeing their families wiped out. Human rights campaigners say the tribe has reached a tipping point and only immediate action by the Brazilian government to prevent logging can save the tribe.

This week Survival International will launch a new campaign to highlight the plight of the Awá, backed by Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth. In a video to be launched on Wednesday, Firth will ask the Brazilian government to take urgent action to protect the tribe. The 51-year-old, who starred in last year’s hit movie The King’s Speech, and came to prominence playing Mr Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, delivers an appeal to camera calling on Brazil’s minister of justice to send in police to drive out the loggers.

The Awá are one of only two nomadic hunter-gathering tribes left in the Amazon. According to Survival, they are now the world’s most threatened tribe, assailed by gunmen, loggers and hostile settler farmers.

Their troubles began in earnest in 1982 with the inauguration of a European Economic Community (EEC) and World Bank-funded programme to extract massive iron ore deposits found in the Carajás mountains. The EEC gave Brazil $600m to build a railway from the mines to the coast, on condition that Europe received a third of the output, a minimum of 13.6m tons a year for 15 years. The railway cut directly through the Awá’s land and with the railway came settlers. A road-building programme quickly followed, opening up the Awá’s jungle home to loggers, who moved in from the east.

It was, according to Survival’s research director, Fiona Watson, a recipe for disaster. A third of the rainforest in the Awá territory in Maranhão state in north-east Brazil has since been destroyed and outsiders have exposed the Awá to diseases against which they have no natural immunity.

“The Awá and the uncontacted Awá are really on the brink,” she said. “It is an extremely small population and the forces against them are massive. They are being invaded by loggers, settlers and cattle ranchers. They rely entirely on the forest. They have said to me: ‘If we have no forest, we can’t feed our children and we will die’.”

But it appears that the Awá also face a more direct threat. Earlier this year an investigation into reports that an Awá child had been killed by loggers found that their tractors had destroyed the Awá camp.

“It is not just the destruction of the land; it is the violence,” said Watson. “I have talked to Awá people who have survived massacres. I have interviewed Awá who have seen their families shot in front of them. There are immensely powerful people against them. The land-grabbers use pistoleros to clear the land. If this is not stopped now, these people could be wiped out. This is extinction taking place before our eyes.”

Deforested areas in Brazil. Illustration: Giulio Frigeri

What is most striking about the Funai undercover video of the loggers – apart from the sheer size of the trunks – is the absence of jungle in the surrounding landscape. Once the landscape would have been lush rainforest. Now it has been clear-felled, leaving behind just grass and scrub and only a few scattered clumps of trees.

Such is the Awá’s affinity with the jungle and its inhabitants that if they find a baby animal during their hunts they take it back and raise it almost like a child, to the extent that the women will sometimes breastfeed the creature. The loss of their jungle has left them in a state of despair. “They are chopping down wood and they are going to destroy everything,” said Pire’i Ma’a, a member of the tribe. “Monkeys, peccaries, tapir, they are all running away. I don’t know how we are going to eat – everything is being destroyed, the whole area.

“This land is mine, it is ours. They can go away to the city, but we Indians live in the forest. They are going to kill everything. Everything is dying. We are all going to go hungry, the children will be hungry, my daughter will be hungry, and I’ll be hungry too.”

Source: BBC New Read more

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Secret river discovered under the Amazon

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THE Amazon basin covers more than 7 million square kilometres in South America and is one of the biggest and most impressive river systems in the world. But it turns out that – until now – we have only known half the story.

Brazilian scientists have found a new river in the basin – around four kilometres underneath the Amazon River. The Rio Hamza, named after the head of the team of researchers who found the groundwater flow, appears to be as long as the Amazon but up to hundreds of times wider.

Both the Amazon and Hamza flow from west to east and are around the same length, at 6000 kilometres. But whereas the Amazon ranges from one kilometre to 100 kilometres in width, the Hamza ranges from 200 to 400 kilometres.

An aerial view ... the Amazon river. Photo: AFP

The underground river starts in the Acre region under the Andes and flows through the Solimoes, Amazonas and Marajo basins before opening out directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Amazon flows much faster than the Hamza, however, draining a greater volume of water. About 133,000 cubic metres of water flows through the Amazon each second at speeds of up to five metres a second. The underground river’s flow rate has been estimated at about 3900 cubic metres a second and less than a millimetre an hour.

Source: The Sunday Morning Herald Read more

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