Brazil: new Amazon animals and plants discovered

From WWF:

WWF expedition makes discoveries in the Amazon

29 Jun 2006

Juruena National Park, Brazil – A WWF expedition into the newly created Juruena National Park deep in the Amazon forest has revealed several potentially new species to science.

Following a preliminary survey, expedition scientists from Brazil’s National Institute for Amazon Research and the Amazonas Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development discovered two new frog, fish and bird species, one tree species and one primate.

“These are exciting discoveries,” said Claudio Maretti, WWF-Brazil’s Coordinator for Protected Areas.

“But to confirm that the species are really new to science we have to carry out a series of tests,” he cautioned.

“This will be done as soon as the expedition comes to a close.”

Identification of some endemic flora and fauna species was anticipated by most of the researchers visiting the area, which is difficult to access and has hardly been studied up to the present day.

In addition to these potentially new scientific discoveries, experts on the expedition came across 200 species of birds, ocelots (wild cats), and a pink dolphin.

“Finding a pink dolphin was a complete surprise since we didn’t imagine that this animal lived in the area,” Maretti said.

The Amazon river dolphin, one of the world’s three freshwater dolphins, is widely distributed throughout much of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins.

Its habitat, however, is threatened by river development projects, and is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

In addition to the river dolphin, there are at least 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals, including jaguars, anteaters and giant otters, 1,294 birds, 378 reptiles, 427 amphibians and around 3,000 fish found in the Amazon.

See also here.

Prehistory of the Amazon river: here.

Dolphins in Ecuador rivers: here.

7 thoughts on “Brazil: new Amazon animals and plants discovered

  1. May 13, 3:08 PM EDT

    Brazilian Rancher’s Trial for Killing American Nun Tests Amazon Justice System

    Associated Press Writer

    BELEM, Brazil (AP) — A rancher goes to trial Monday for the killing of an American nun whose death while trying to save the Amazon rain forest now threatens to strip away the impunity of the region’s often violent elite.

    Vitalmiro Bastos Moura is one of two ranchers accused of ordering the 2005 killing of 73-year-old Dorothy Stang, a naturalized Brazilian originally from Dayton, Ohio.

    She spent the last 23 years of her life in Anapu, a hardscrabble town on the edge of the Trans-Amazon Highway, where she helped build schools, taught settlers to defend their rights and to respect the rain forest – earning the enmity of powerful men who hoped to exploit it.

    She was slain by six bullets at close range on a muddy patch of road deep in Para state.

    The gunman, his accomplice and an intermediary have been convicted in Stang’s death, but Moura is the first alleged “mandante” – mastermind – to stand trial.

    “If Moura is convicted, ranchers will think twice before ordering this kind of killing,” said Jose Batista Afonso, a lawyer with the Roman Catholic Church’s Land Pastoral, which defends the land rights of the poor.

    Over the past 30 years, 1,237 rural workers, union leaders and activist have been killed in Brazilian land disputes. Of those killings, 772 took place in Para.

    And in all of Para’s history, only four alleged “mandantes” have stood trial. All four were convicted. But not one remains behind bars.

    Prosecutors allege Moura and rancher Regivaldo Galvao offered the gunmen 50,000 reals – about $25,000 – to kill Stang over a patch of rain forest Stang wanted to preserve and the ranchers wanted cut down for pasture.

    The case drew international attention and comparisons to the 1988 killing of environmental activist Chico Mendes. Shortly after the killing, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ordered the army into the region, suspended logging permits and ordered large swaths of rain forest off-limits to development.

    “The international attention to the case has forced the government to move quickly, which has been very good,” Tim Cahill of Amnesty International said from London. “We hope this is something that is not only happening in this case, but with all the killings.”

    Brazil has one of the world’s widest gaps between rich and poor, with 3.5 percent of landowners holding 56 percent of the arable land, and the poorest 40 percent owning just 1 percent. Given that police and judges usually do the bidding of the rich and powerful, those inequalities have proven explosive.

    Galvao, who is considerably richer and better connected than Moura, was freed from jail while his pretrial motions wind their way through the courts. No trial date has been set.

    Stang’s brother David, who planned to attend the trial with his twin brother Thomas, said he felt confident Moura would be convicted.

    “I feel Brazil will do Dorothy justice,” he said by phone from his home in Colorado. “This is not about revenge. This is about justice for the poor.”

    © 2007 The Associated Press.


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