Monday, November 29, 2021

Ecosystems Under Fire: Yasuni Man

Stepping Stones


It’s no great secret that, as civilization continues to expand, something else has to give. For thousands of years, the human race has built structures for housing, entertainment, memorials and land has been changed from its original purpose and used for us to grow crops, provide building materials and create pathways for transportation. Along the way, we as a race have forgotten why our planet was graced with the original landscape and we, as an unknowing force, have made changes strictly to suit our needs.  

There are estuaries and bio-diverse systems all around the planet that are in trouble because of human needs and expansion. I’ve always felt that there is a balance in every level of nature, and unfortunately, the scales are being tipped unfavorably for Mother Nature. I’ll give a few examples of this with attention given to a critical area in South America. 

Recently, an injunction was placed to stop the construction of a wall in Arizona. This part of the border barrier to keep illegals from crossing Mexico into the US. 

The area is known as the Sonoran Desert and it is a major migratory route for many animals. To stop this “traffic flow” created by nature, could cause the extinction of several species that depend on a path with no obstructions. Who knows how long this wall will be delayed until something is built to satisfy a political need for humans? 

In the Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf, there is a dead zone that plants and animals cannot survive. The wash of nutrients down the river has corrupted this estuary to a point that survival is virtually impossible. 

Similar problems have taken place in the Chesapeake Bay and other major tributaries around the world. The primary problems are humanrelated. 

Here in Florida, the Coronavirus has brought ecotourism to a virtual halt and its effect is worldwide. Even in the Ecuadorian portion of the Amazon jungle, the opportunity to visit one of the world’s most bio-diverse ecosystems has stopped. However, you can visit this unique habitat from your living room. An award-winning documentary called “Yasuni Man” tells the story of the Waorani people and their fight to protect a rainforest region that they call home. Not only does the tribe depend on the graces of nature to provide them food, shelter and water, they are now battling the influences of the outside world. 

The Yasuni Biosphere Preserve is one of the most diverse places on the planet. Several clans of the Waorani tribe live in voluntary isolation in an area known as the “Intangible Zone” and this area is coming under siege. The Yasuni is home to more than 40% of Ecuador’s oil reserves. 

Since this pandemic began, ecotourism work has ended for many of the locals. In addition, it is now nearly impossible for groups that monitor the oil companies to access this region. Satellite images have recently revealed that new oil road construction began in March and these roads are much closer to the indigenous tribes that utilize the virgin territory to survive. On April 7th, a landslide ruptured three pipelines along the Coca River, dumping 15,800 barrels of crude oil into the water. The spill eventually traveled to the Napo River… a border of the Yasuni Preserve. The land and its people are in trouble. 

Ryan Killackey is the director of the Yasuni Man documentary and has dedicated years of his life to bring this story to the public eye. Along the way, his team has discovered and cataloged several species of plants and animals previously unknown to the scientific community. It is well worth the watch and can be streamed on Google Play, Amazon, iTunes or Vimeo. 

I’ll conclude with this thought. It seems that the human race is waging a war with Planet Earth, and we are winning. That’s not a good thing. If we continue to misuse the resources that were given to us, naturally, we can easily cause a disturbance to the balance that was meant to be maintained. It doesn’t take one major event to cause havoc on our Earth and it doesn’t take one major event to bring it back in line. Little by little, one ecosystem at a time, but quickly enough that we can correct our mistakes. Good luck to us all! 

Bob is a naturalist for a dolphin survey team on board the Dolphin Explorer. He is also the author of two books with a third being released this Fall and is an award-winning columnist for Coastal Breeze News. Bob loves his superhero wife very much!

Photo by the Amazon Conservation | This map shows the expansion of oil roads and planned platforms very near the buffer zone of one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet.


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