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Young male Jaguar (Onça), Felix onca, on the west bank of the Rio Cristalino, Mato Grosso, Brazil, south of the Cristalino Jungle Lodge and north of Alta Floresta. 22 August 1998.
Peter Post discovered the Jaguar at approximately 09h00. It remained in the vicinity until at least 14h00, allowing repeated close approaches in the lodge's boats. When Rod McCann and John Wall arrived at about 11h00, it was sleeping on a fallen tree at the water's edge with neck stretched out and all four legs over the sides. Francisco Carvalho Souza, the lodge's most experienced boatman, advised us that in seven years at Cristalino he had observed Jaguars on six occasions, and never this well.
Since there is little or no hunting in the vicinity of the Cristalino lodge, edible and commercially valuable species that are elsewhere difficult to observe are unusually common and confiding. However, the entire area is under threat from from the double punch of sem terras and politically-connected fazendeiros. Pressure will increase exponentially when the Cuiabá - Santorém highway is paved, allowing quick export of soybeans to China via the Amazon River. Most or all of the area will be treeless by 2050 unless a disease as deadly as AIDS and as communicable as the common cold evolves or is created by environmentalists.
Cristalino Jungle Lodge Birding
NEW: Bird Voices of Alta Floresta and Southeastern Amazonian Brazil by Curtis Marantz & Kevin Zimmer. Macauley Library of Natural Sounds 2006. 6-CD set. ISBN: 0938027670. Available from Sapsuckerwoods.com.
4 December 2006: Mapa mostra áreas que seriam retiradas do Parque Cristalino por proposta de deputados. More than 7,000 hectares of the park have been deforested since 2001, when the area was "protected". Recent deforestation includes two massive clearings of 2,000 hectares each.
1 December 2006: Reduziram o Cristalino (O Eco). The Mato Grosso legislature has approved the reduction of Parques Estaduais do Cristalino I & II by 30,000 hectares. The only person who can stop it now is the governor, Blairo Maggi, who is a soybean magnate and the environment's public enemy number 1 in Mato Grosso.
23 May 2006: ONGs pedem manutenção do Parque Cristalino. By André Alves, Estação Vida. "O parque foi considerado o mais importante da Amazônia Brasileira, com seis comunidades naturais e com quase 1/3 das espécies de pássaros em uma área relativamente pequena", destacou Vitória da Riva Carvalho, presidente da Fundação Ecológica Cristalino. Para Vitória, que também é empresária, o potencial de desenvolvimento do ecoturismo a partir da implantação do parque é muito grande devido aos grandes atrativos para turistas. "É um orgulho termos uma unidade dessas em Mato Grosso, complementou."
Parque do Cristalino - Pecuarista é denunciado por crime. By Keka Werneck, Gazeta de Cuiabá, 10 March 2006. A rancher from São Paulo has been charged with deforesting 6,508 hectares of Parque Cristalino.
Reservas ambientais não são preservadas. By Adriana Nascimento, Diário de Cuiabá, 23 January 2006. SEMA identified 242 fazendas within conservation areas of Mato Grosso, not counting land grabbers (grileiros).
Dozens nabbed in Brazil logging crackdown. By Michael Astor, AP, 2 June 2005. Under unusually intense international scrutiny, the corrupt Brazilian government is "shocked shocked" to discover that illegal logging is going on and rounds up the usual suspects para inglês ver. Among those arrested were the head of IBAMA in Mato Grosso and 46 other IBAMA employees. They presumably either failed to pay appropriate "commissions" or to switch allegiance to the ruling political party. The wholesale, illegal logging and land clearance in Mato Grosso is obvious to anyone who drives along the major highways or flies north or west from Cuiabá or who looks at the satellite images.
28 August 2003: Gleba Divisa: Pontes do Cristalino serão destruídas. Diário de Cuiabá. The bridges over the Rio Nhandu are used by loggers to transport logs out of the park. Barge owners were also ordered not to transport logging trucks out of the park, under penalty of R$ 3,000 per trip (if caught).
5 August 2003: Gerente do Ibama em Mato Grosso atribui índice à abertura de novas frentes de plantio de soja. Diário de Cuiabá. The number of fires in Mato Grosso in July 2003 increased by more than 100% over July 2002.
28 July 2003: Famílias invadem o Parque Cristalino. Diário de Cuiabá. The invaders have now advanced to the park boundary. 17 additional IBAMA agents are being sent to Alta Floresta.
24 July 2003: Ban fails to stop fires. Gazeta de Cuiabá. Taking advantage of a strike by IBAMA employees, agricultural interests are burning even more of Mato Grosso than usual. The NOAA satellite has identified 282 hot spots in MT, all of them illegal, since the government has banned fires.
24 June 2003: "Sem terras" threaten to invade Parque Estadual do Cristalino. Estadao.com.br. [Portuguese] [English translation] Between 125 and 1,000 "sem terras" have gathered outside the park and are threatening to invade. They are organized, heavily armed "landless peasants" who invade and destroy patches of remaining habitat. They work in league with loggers and ranchers, and the police generally allow them to invade and pillage parks and private nature reserves, unless appropriate bribes are paid. The usual defense by private landowners is to hire experienced pistoleiros (gunslingers). The article also reports that there are five illegal logging operations inside the park and that the loggers shot at an IBAMA helicopter.
24 July 2003: Agricultural interests in northern MT are pressing for a change in the generally ignored law requiring preservation of 80% of habitat and restricting agricultural development to the other 20%. They want a complete flip-flop for cerrado, to 20% preserved and 80% destroyed, and a 50-50 division for forest. The environment minister will be hearing their demands at meetings in Sorriso, Sinop and Alta Floresta. (24 Horas News, Cuiabá).
24 October 2002: Parque Estadual Cristalino threatened with a 46% reduction. Liana John, estadao.com.br. This park was declared in 2000 to protect the lower Rio Cristalino in the vicinity of the Cristalino Jungle Lodge north of Alta Floresta, MT. (Map). Settlers are rapidly expanding into the surrounding area and burning the remaining forest. On October 15th, the (corrupt) Mato Grosso assembly passed a bill to reduce the size of Park by 46%. Environmentalists have launched a campaign to pressure the state governor to veto the bill.
American soya producers invest in Mato Grosso. Diário de Cuiabá, 25 February 2003. "The Governor of Mato Grosso, Blairo Maggi, is one of the world's biggest soya producers. He told the delegation that only 5% of agricultural land in the state is currently being used. Maggi aims to develop [deforest] 40% of the area, but this depends on substantial investment in transport infrastructure. . . . Some of the American agriculturalists have already moved to Mato Grosso. Douglas Ferrell bought 10,000 hectares in a forest area in the north of Mato Grosso three years ago. He is slowly clearing the land for soya cultivation. 'This year we cleared 500 hectares and we will open up a further 500 hectares next year', said Ferrell. 'The land is really cheap, but the infrastructure remains poor', he said. Land costs $20 per hectare in the north of Mato Grosso, compared with $300 in Goiás and $1,215 in the United States."
Reports of heavy poaching of Jaguars in the Pantanal, Ecologia em Notícias No. 236, 28 September 2000.
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