There have been two moments in particular that were quite upsetting to me while working in the field. In both cases, we had active research projects, environmental education intiatives, and a lot of community involvement. But sometimes there are weakeness in our efforts, or individuals that decide to take things into their own hands.
I happened to have a camera present in both circumstances to capture the moment, and figured I’d share them here. Above, a large section of rainforest was illegally cut down in a protected forest in Ecuador. This area in particular was some astoundingly rich forest. We trekked hard for miles that day to get to that particular transect, only to discover it had been cleared for corn.
There was a lesson to be learned here. The managers of this reserve did not communicate very well with locals, nor did they appear to really care about the conditions of the forest. Funding for a forest guard was limited, with only one to span the entire 1,000 hectare reserve. As researchers, we tried to fill that role in maintaining the forest and relations but in this case it wasn’t enough.
Below, a classic story of illegal killing in another Amazon reserve. Most likely scenario: a local farmer lost a chicken to some wild cat, and went out to kill a large cat to ‘fix’ the situation and prevent more chickens from being eaten. Not to say this isn’t a possibility, but in most cases farmers likely target the wrong cat, or don’t take other measures necessary to protect the chickens. Not to mention this was part of a reserve, so while hunting may be more permissible on private land, that was not the case here.
This is unfortunately probably as close as I’ll ever get to a puma. How could this have been prevented? Perhaps more communication in regards to conservation initiatives, or possibly providing the equipment necessary to help farmers protect their livestock (chicken wire?).