Aleshandre Markis cleans piranhas he caught earlier for lunch while two dogs and a cat wait, full of hope, for fish scraps.
Barra do Sao Lorenzo is one of the most remote communities in Pantanal, possible the largest wetlands in the world. It takes local residents up to 30 hours on a small passenger and cattle boat to get to the near city of Corumba on the Brazilian and Bolivian border. The city is roughly 250 km of nothing but wetlands from the village. Local residents are mostly the decedents of Indians who had lived in the area for centuries. In 1994 the community was forced out of their houses on a higher ground on the mountain side of the river after a local fazenda (farm) was turned into a private nature reserve. The international NGO Nature Conservancy bought 56,000 hectares of the land and left it under the leadership of Ecotropica in order to start the nature reserve. Residents received serious threats and worried about their safety had to leave their houses paddling down the river in tiny wooden canoes in the beginning of the worst weather season here called Piracema where the mosquitos are so prevalent that it's hard to talk or eat without swallowing some. Some women ware pregnant and all residents had to survive without shelter in the season when the rain is almost constant and the temperatures are so high, it's hard to stay inside of the house at night. Residents were given notice as short as one day and some of the houses were burned after they left. In the last decades several private nature reserves and a national park have been created in the area surrounding the village and local fishermen have been forbidden entry into and fishing in these areas. It dramatically limits fishing and wood collection opportunities. In the recent years, Brazilian NGO called ECOA has worked successfully with residents to help them grant access to and fishing rights to a small part of the reserve. Life here is very precarious as the water levels
- Marcin Szczepanski
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