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Latam Eco Review: Hungry manatees and grand theft tortoise


The recent top stories from our Spanish-language service, Mongabay Latam, concerned hungry manatees in Venezuelan zoos; giant tortoises stolen from the Galápagos Islands; and a ban on free, prior and informed consent in Colombian extractive projects.

Venezuelan zoos struggle to feed their animals

Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis is affecting the ability of researchers and zoo staff to conserve vulnerable species, such as the American manatee (Trichechus manatus), the Arrau turtle (Podocnemis expansa) and the Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius). Efforts continue despite the lack of food and resources, and growing insecurity.

A manatee at Bararida Zoo in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Image by Carlos Silva.

Colombian court blocks FPIC

Colombia’s environmental sector is reeling from a court ruling against free, prior and informed consent and a political proposal to drop the precautionary principle in consideration of large extractive and infrastructure projects. The Constitutional Court ruled against community consultation on extractive projects on their lands. The surprise decision directly affects consultations in two communities on mining on their land in the central department of Cundimarca.

Coal mining is one of the activities for which operators will no longer be required to seek free, prior and informed consent from affected communities. Image by Daniel Reina Romero/Semana Sostenible.

Chinese oil companies invade Bolivia’s Amazon parks

Chinese energy companies are operating with impunity in national parks in the Bolivian Amazon, according to indigenous leaders and NGO investigators. The most ambitious project covers 1008 square kilometers (389 square miles) between Madidi National Park, Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve, and the communal lands of the Tacana indigenous people. Ten ongoing Chinese oil projects are worth the equivalent of 26 percent of the country’s budget.

BGP Bolivia workers at a project site in the Bolivian Amazon. Image by Bolivia Energy.

Stolen Galápagos tortoises likely destined for Asia

An Asian trafficking network was the most likely mastermind behind the robbery of 123 giant tortoises from a nursery in Galápagos National Park, according to the park’s director. While an investigation is still underway, the director says the tortoises are likely headed for black markets in Asia — as has happened with other species smuggled from countries like Australia and New Zealand.

A Galápagos giant tortoise. Image courtesy of Galapagos National Park.

Satellite images track logging routes in Peru’s Amazon

Satellite images of Peru’s Amazon can trace the route of logs from the rainforest to river ports. Images from the Ucayali, Loreto and Madre de Dios regions of both legal and illegal timber operations were released by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project.

An illegal logging camp in a unauthorized area. Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe/MAAP.

Lithium mining threatens Chile’s fragile salt flats

The renewal of a Chilean company’s contract to mine lithium from the Atacama salt flats has alarmed researchers, who have documented degradation in this fragile ecosystem. Spanning more than 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles), the world’s second-largest salt flats hold half of Earth’s lithium reserves. They are also the primary habitat of aquatic birds such as the Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus), James’s flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) and Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis).

Atacama salt flats. Image by the Atacaman People’s Council.

Read these stories in their entirety in Spanish at Mongabay Latam.

Banner image of an Orinoco crocodile hatching by Fudeci.

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