Linking culture and conservation in the Caura River Basin

Malaria Prevention, Detection and Treatment

Efforts to conserve the biological diversity and carbon stocks of species-rich rain forests should address diseases that affect local forest stewards. ...more

Fuel Contamination

In rural and wilderness areas around the globe, people spill, breathe and swallow the fuel they buy to power small motors, often far from paved roads. Spillage results from the common use of secondhand containers not designed for transporting fuel. People ingest gasoline and breathe its fumes when they use their lungs to create a siphon to transfer fuel between containers. Millions of children do this every day. ...more

Avian Diversity Knowledge

On average, young people worldwide know less natural history than their parents and grandparents. Among people indigenous to species-rich rain forests, local names of plants and animals vanish permanently with this declining ecoliteracy. A rare species of tree becomes just another tree; a songbird becomes just another songbird—their songs might be different, but who knows why? Our initial project focuses on native knowledge of birds, but it could extend to many subjects. ...more

Palm Climbing/ Oil Extraction

Indigenous people of the Caura traditionally harvest fruit by climbing trees—many over 20 meters tall—using a loop of bark or vines placed around their feet. Climbers grip the tree trunk with their constrained feet and employ friction between the loop and the tree’s bark to ratchet themselves up to the fruit. Increasingly, young men no longer climb, but simply chop trees down. This is part of a new trend where displays of force hold more prestige for the young than what they regard as an unnecessary, perhaps foolish struggle. ...more

Cultural Library

We can stall and then reverse the erosion of indigenous culture in the Caura River Basin by helping local people to systematically record the knowledge held by accomplished Ye’kwana and Sanema elders. Inexpensive digital audio and video equipment reproduces high quality recordings that approximate age-old oral traditions. Conservation of tropical forest and river ecosystems in the Caura rests on indigenous cultural practices and belief systems. Once this knowledge is lost, only the logic of settlers eking out a marginal existence in an unbalanced struggle with nature remains. ...more