War in the Garden of Eden: Fearless tribal warriors forsaken by Brazilian government face off against illegal loggers to protect Amazon rain forest
After spending years helplessly witnessing acre upon acre of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil mercilessly being chopped down by illegal loggers, a small band of indigenous warriors decided to take matters into their own hands.
A recent weeklong raid by the Ka’apor warriors resulted in the arrest of a dozen men, who were caught in the act in the Alto Turiacu Indian reserve in northeast Maranhao state.
'We got tired of waiting for the government,' Ka’apor leader Irakadju told Reuters photographer Lunae Parracho, who accompanied the small army on their mission into the depths of the Amazon.
Illegal logging has been a serious problem throughout the region, especially in Brazil and Peru, for many decades, turning hundreds of thousands of square miles of once-pristine forest into a wasteland dotted with stumps.
A study by a Brazilian commission, cited on WWF’s website, showed that 80 per cent of all logging in the Amazon was illegal during the late 1990s.
Indiscriminately chopping down valuable trees adversely affects species habitat and harms the environment, but reprobate loggers driven by a desire to make a quick profit also pose a serious danger to people who call the Amazon their home.
The Ka’apor tribe shared horror stories about greedy tree poachers who invaded the village of Gurupi last November, roughing up the community’s elders and shooting their animals.
Three months later, loggers shot three indigenous people, one of them nearly fatally.
But despite reports of illegal activities by rogue land grabbers, Brazil’s federal government has often proven unwilling to address the situation head on.
Being left to fend for themselves by the powers that be, Amazon warriors decided to protect their forest by taking on loggers in areas where they have been cutting down trees.
The Ka’apor tribe established ‘protected areas’ and set up permanent camps in each of them, manned by warriors ready to expel any unauthorized tree poacher.
During the August expedition, a band of tribesmen attacked a dozen loggers, stripped them naked, tied them up and beat those who tried to put up a fight as a way of teaching them a harsh lesson.
Before expelling them, one of the warriors told the vanquished loggers: ‘We’re doing this because you are stubborn. We told you not to come back, but you didn’t listen.’
To drive their message home, the warriors torched the unwelcome guests’ vehicles, including tractors used to fell and transport trees, and seized their tools and guns, which they carried back to their village as trophies.
‘Our forest was being taken away from us, but we woke up,’ Irakadju told Reuters. ‘Many whites feel that the standing forest is of no use. They cannot see that a living jungle is good for the entire world and helps the Earth to breathe.’
According to conservative estimates, during the past 40 years just under 20 per cent of the Amazon rain forest has been cut down, which is more than in the previous 450 years since European colonization began.
adoptpets: Thank you brave Ka’apor warriors! It’s sad that the Brazilian government isn’t doing anything to protect the Amazon and have put them in this position. The Brazilian government is too busy profiting from the destruction of the rainforest and then wasting more than $11 billion on the World Cup. The Ka’apor are putting their lives on the line fighting for their homes and the rainforest as recently 4 village leaders were killed by illegal loggers. I’m sure 100 years from now, our ancestors are going to shake their heads in dismay that the world allowed this limited and precious resource that is the Amazon rainforest and all the diverse wildlife that depends on it to be destroyed.
Please do your part by buying recycled paper and buy wood for your furniture, floors, etc..from reputable companies that aren’t tied to the illegal logging trade. Research before you buy as some discount flooring has been tied to illegal logging.
Recently, Greenpeace called out Lumber Liquidators, the discount hardwood flooring company rapidly opening stores across America, for their part in contributing to illegal logging. Greenpeace says the corporation is knowingly buying illegal Brazilian rainforest wood. The company says it relies on its suppliers to abide by the law.
It’s a story that has been rehashed many times, just with new players. Corporations believe that it’s not their responsibility to insure the foreign sub-contractors they buy from aren’t committing criminal acts in the process. De Beers was accused of buying blood diamonds from slavers in Africa. Wal-Mart buys billions worth of merchandise also allegedly made by slaves in China. Same for Nike in Indonesia.
“The Amazon rainforest, home to a quarter of known land species on earth, is under siege,” said Greenpeace’s Daniel Brindis, “Illegal timber operations in Brazil are hacking apart this iconic forest. But to American companies that import and sell Amazon wood, this forest crime is out of sight, out of mind. American flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators even buys timber from a Brazilian state where 78% of the wood is illegally harvested.”
Brindis explains that it’s not just the jaguar, spider monkey and three-toed sloth that are being wiped out by logging in the Brazilian rainforest, but local residents are also facing death. Between corrupt politicians and greedy local contractors, the indigenous peoples and environmental activists there are routine recipients of death threats and acts of terror just to silence them. Profiting the most however are the multi-national corporations that buy the illegal Brazilian wood and then resell it in stores across countries like the United States.
“Illegal logging is possible because companies like Lumber Liquidators don’t really know where their lumber comes from,” the Greenpeace spokesman said, “Greenpeace’s investigation, published today, demonstrates how criminals are able to launder illegal timber and disguise it as legal for the market using official Brazilian government documents. To stop Amazon destruction, we must stop US companies from buying into Amazon crime. That begins with Lumber Liquidators - and your voice today.”
Back in May of 2014, Greenpeace members and supporters put themselves in harm’s way to shut down lumber manufacturing and bring a spotlight to their cause. In Brazil, the group’s members invaded one of Lumber Liquidator’s biggest suppliers there, a company already fined for illegal logging practices.
The demonstrators called on Lumber Liquidators to stop buying wood from companies like Pampa Exportacoes that have already been caught and fined for illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest. The last time the Brazilian government took action against the exporter, it cost the company $1 million in fines. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the global market for wood products. All together, the group says that Brazil has issued $80 million in fines over the past five years to such companies, with little or no results.