Paraguay’s mammals on camera traps


This November 2016 Spanish language video is about camera traps for mammals in the Chaco region of Paraguay.

From BirdLife:

Tracking jaguars in Paraguay’s hot, dry Chaco Plains

By Marianela Velilla, 10 Jan 2017

It’s hot, dry and largely uninhabited by humans. But although the Chaco Plains of south-central South America may not be an ideal habitat for our species, this sprawling region is far from deserted. Indeed, the Chaco Plains’ savannahs and tropical forests are something of a biodiversity hotspot, sheltering a wide range of mammals – from jaguars and cougars to anteaters to armadillos.

A lowland basin that stretches across the borders of four countries (Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia), the Chaco Plains form the largest dry forest on the continent. In Paraguay, the Chaco plays an important socioeconomic role, with the region’s wildlife providing the main source of protein and products for the indigenous communities who live nearby.

However, this harmonious balance is under threat. The low cost of land, coupled with a growing awareness of the land’s suitability for growing fuel crops, has led to an agricultural boom in the region, and over the past few years the Chaco Plains has suffered one of the highest deforestation rates recorded in the entire world. This in turn has altered the role the forest plays in important processes such as carbon sequestration, soil conservation, and the water cycle.

However, despite the potential impact that extensive livestock farming might have on the Chaco Plains’ wildlife, to date there has been no quantitative data to determine to what extent, exactly, the increased management of land is affecting this vital ecosystem.

There is already evidence of decline of several species such as peccaries and jaguar. However, we still have time to formulate a conservation plan for these species. But first, we need to further our understanding of the impact the landscape change in the Chaco is having on its fauna – and particularly, on its medium and large mammals.

To fill this gap in our knowledge, Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife Partner) has joined forces with the Chaco Center for Conservation and Research (CCCI), with funds from the Prociencia program of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), to embark on a pioneering two-year project which is the first of its kind in Paraguay.

The field work consists of placing 400 camera traps (cameras with movement and heat sensors which are triggered when an animal passes in front) in different private properties across the Paraguayan Chaco. These cameras are placed in what are known as double trapping stations, giving us extra information which will allow the team to individualize animals that have specific patches of spots and making the findings more accurate.

The installation of these cameras was an arduous task, but one that promises great rewards since we will be able to observe the movements of animals such as tapirs, jaguars, deer, anteaters, armadillos, cougars, among others. The stations will be in the field for 10 months in total, covering the fauna’s activity in different times of the year. Following this period, the team will go through the exhaustive step of processing (it is anticipated) more than 500,000 images, along with the rigorous statistical analysis that goes along with it.

This project is of great relevance because at present, one of the most serious problems facing conservationists of biodiversity is tackling when a developing country rapidly grows in a disorderly way, in the process neglecting the natural resources that form the basis of its economy. This is the case in Paraguay, which is currently experiencing an economic boom – but one that is coming at the cost of serious environmental degradation, with an average of 1,300 hectares of forest dismantled per day. But there is still time to avoid following the catastrophic pattern of the Eastern Region, where today only about 7% of the original forest cover remains. Proper planning, informed by this camera tracking project, will allow the future conservation of more than 500 species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, of which at least 25 are unique to the Chaco.

In addition to providing data that will form help preserve Paraguay’s biodiversity, this project will also have a positive social impact in the country. A key objective for the camera tracking project is to train students and university students in quantitative ecology and disseminate the results to producers, the general public and the scientific community. This last point is of paramount importance since in Paraguay there is not currently a curricular mesh that includes these subjects and there are a limited number of specialized professionals.

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Save Paraguay’s wildlife


This 2009 video from Paraguay is called Saving San Rafael.

From BirdLife:

Saving Paraguay’s most important site for wildlife

By James Lowen, 7 Nov 2016

Lying in the small, land-locked South American country of Paraguay, San Rafael is a site wreathed in environmental accolades, glittering with conservation aspirations yet undermined by uncertainties.

San Rafael contains two of the continent’s most threatened ecosystems: Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest and Mesopotamian grasslands. San Rafael protects Paraguay’s largest remnants of the former habitat, and was designated Paraguay’s first Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). It has long been considered the country’s highest priority for biodiversity conservation, consequently receiving concerted attention from Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife Paraguay) and other conservation organisations.

The site harbours 13 Globally Threatened Birds and 18 classified as Near Threatened. More bird species have been found at San Rafael than anywhere in Paraguay; roughly 430, c.60% of the country’s total. The avifauna is complemented by 61 mammal species, 35 amphibians, 52 fish, and 47 reptiles. And those numbers are rising: three reptiles new to science were discovered in San Rafael’s grasslands during 2006.

Among birds, pole position is taken by 70 species endemic to the Atlantic Forests. These include numerous species that trigger IBA classification, notably globally threatened birds such as Helmeted Woodpecker Hylatomus galeatus, Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis, and Russet-winged Spadebill Platyrinchus leucoryphus, plus Near Threatened species such as Solitary Tinamou Tinamus solitarius, Rusty-barred Owl Strix hylophila, and Yellow-browed Woodpecker Piculus aurulentus.

Understandably then, San Rafael first grabbed conservationists’ attention for its Atlantic Forest. But as biologists explored the site, they discovered that its natural grasslands also teemed with rare birds. Open-country species include globally threatened representatives of both damp and dry grasslands. Among them are Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus, Ochre-breasted Pipit Anthus nattereri, and a trio of Tyrants: Cock-tailed Alectrurus tricolor, Strange-tailed A. risora and Sharp-tailed Culicivora caudacuta.

With such an abundance of riches, one might assume protection to be a shoe-in. Not so. The conservation of San Rafael’s 70,000 ha is a long, convoluted and ongoing tale. In 1992, the Paraguayan government arrived at the Rio Earth Summit having declared San Rafael an ‘Area Reserved for a National Park’. And so the site’s status remains despite attempts to ‘upgrade’ it to a real National Park or managed-resources reserve. In consequence, San Rafael is a ‘paper park’, lacking legal protection, receiving scant conservation management resources, and with its ownership scattered between nearly 50 landlords.

Painfully aware that the country’s most important rainforest risked destruction, Guyra Paraguay has made San Rafael a strategic priority. Since 2001, it has purchased and managed 6,500 ha of land as the Guyra Reta reserve, pioneered a model of joint social and environmental ownership with local Mbya Guaraní communities, donated 500 ha to the national government to formally run, and led an accredited REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) carbon-storage project that pays communities to manage forest rather than clear it for agriculture.

Given Guyra Paraguay’s target of protecting at least 20,000 ha, San Rafael is justifiably one of BirdLife International’s 20 ‘Forests of Hope’, not just one of its 422 ‘IBAs in Danger’.

Read more about our work in San Rafael.

International Waterbird Census, 50th time


This video, in Spanish, is about counting waterbirds in Paraguay.

The Dutch SOVON ornithologists report that on 23-24 January, for the fiftieth time there will be the International Waterbird Census in the Netherlands; and in many other countries, from Iceland to South Africa.

In January 1967, when this census was for the first time in the Netherlands, about 650,000 bird were counted. They included 200,000 mallards; 60,000 coots; 55,000 greater white-fronted geese; and about 45,000 each tufted ducks, wigeons and barnacle geese.

In January 2015, with many more people counting, some 5,500,000 bird were counted. Including 759,000 greater white-fronted geese; 648,000 wigeons; 589,000 barnacle geese; and 314,000 mallards.

From Wetlands International:

The International Waterbird Census (IWC) has run since 1967 and today covers over 25,000 sites in more than 100 countries. In each country national coordinators work with a network of professional and amateur counters to provide waterbird counts to the IWC. In total, more than 15,000 people submit their data annually, making this one of the largest global monitoring schemes largely based on citizen science.

There are 4 separate regional schemes of the IWC that represent the major flyways of the world. Click on the links below to learn more about the regional websites and to contribute to the IWC in your part of the world:

50 Years of the International Waterbird Census – Let’s Make it Count!

2016 marks the 50th count of the IWC and is an important moment to celebrate the achievements of the global partnership of national and local agencies, organisations and individuals who volunteer their time and efforts as national coordinators and volunteers to collect the information.

Linked to this event, Wetlands International will launch a global campaign to inspire and promote action for the conservation of wetlands along the world’s flyways. We invite all governments, experts, organisations, companies and volunteers to work with us and step up efforts to conserve wetlands for waterbirds. Read more.

Paraguayan national park gets protection at last


This video says about itself:

Camera trap compilation from Three Giants Station, Paraguay

26 July 2012

This compilation of camera trap video clips was put together by José Luis Cartes (Pepe) — Director of Programmes at Guyra Paraguay, one of WLT’s partners. The camera traps are set along the paths around their Three Giants Biological Station in the Paraguayan Chaco-Pantanal and were taken in May and June 2012. The station is named after the ‘The 3 Giants’: Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) and Giant Armadillo (Priodontes maximus) that can be found in the area.

Translation: “Puma and baby, ocelot then jaguar, puma again, another puma and baby –the same ones?, ocelot watching, the king of the forest, the jaguar.”

From BirdLife:

Paraguayan forest finally gets protection

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 10/07/2015 – 14:32

Twenty-three years after its creation on paper, part of Paraguay’s San Rafael National Park has finally been afforded some real protection.

In 1992, a decree created the National Park, but until now the land has had virtually no real protection as it was in the hands of private landowners. Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife Partner) has been buying up this land and has now donated the first part of this to the Paraguayan Government.

“This is an historic day, as we are preserving a vitally important area for biodiversity,” said the Minister of the Environment, Rolando de Barros Barreto, in the ceremony for the registration of 500 hectares located within San Rafael Reserve.

San Rafael protects the largest remnants of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest eco-region in Paraguay and is probably, the most important sub-tropical forest reserve in Paraguay. However, this is an area that is under pressure, through settlement, as well as from illegal activities, such as marijuana cultivation and illegal deforestation.

The area is important not only for many species of plant and animal, but also for the indigenous Mbya communities – original Paraguayan inhabitants that still practice some aspects of traditional lifestyles.

“The San Rafael range is the last piece of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest. Its humid forests are a clear and defined endemic centre for many groups of plants and animals that are not found in other parts of the world.” said Guyra CEO, Alberto Yanosky.

Because of its importance for nature, the area was declared the first Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in Paraguay. There are 430 recorded species of birds in San Rafael, as well as 61 mammal species, 650 invertebrates, 52 fish, 35 amphibians, 47 reptiles and 322 vascular plants.

In 2006, three reptile species that were new to science were discovered in the San Rafael grasslands. As monitoring and research continue, the number of recorded species – endemic, threatened and unknown to science – will surely increase.

The San Rafael bird life is a mix of 70 endemic species to the Atlantic forest, three endemics to natural grasslands, with the remaining having a wider distribution in South America. At least 13 species are threatened and 18 Near Tthreatened, including important populations of Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus, Russet-winged Spadebill Platyrinchus leucoryphus, Cock-tailed Tyrant Alectrurus tricolor and Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus.

Paraguayan forced childbirth for child rape victim


‘No little girl should be a mother’ reads a banner in the capital of Paraguay on May 19.

From teleSUR TV in Venezuela:

Paraguay Under Fire For Forcing Child Rape Victim to Have Baby

9 June 2015

The country raised the criticisms worldwide since a 10-year-old girl raped by her step father was denied an abortion, despite her life being in serious danger. A regional court urged the country’s authorities to end the pregnancy of a young Paraguayan girl, only 10, emphasizing the psychological and physical risks of giving birth at a young age. Supporting its statement with a medical report, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States (OEA) recommended the executive power to “avoid the double victimization” of the child, whose pregnancy was due to repeated sexual abuses on the part of her step-father.

While the girl already suffered from malnutrition and anemia, she would also be at higher risk of having other infections and could put at risk her reproductive future. The commissioners considered that in such circumstances her case complied with the requirements of an emergency, justifying their request of protecting her rights and guaranteeing her access to medical treatment.

Although the commission does not have any binding authority, Paraguay was given 72 hours to present a report detailing the protective measures implemented for the girl, or the case could be transferred to the Inter-American Court. The commission’s intervention followed the request introduced on Jan. 20, by the Committee of Latin America and the Caribbean for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM) and Equality Now. Both associations claimed that Paraguay has failed to apply all the necessary measures to protect women’s rights.

The child’s mother reported the sexual assaults earlier in January, but authorities took no action then. A few months later, the hospital finally revealed the girl was pregnant, the mother begged to have her abort, which was denied because of the anti-abortion laws of the deeply Catholic country.

The mother was jailed in end April, accused of “failing in her duty of care,” and possibly being accomplice of the rape – while the stepfather ran away until he was caught by police on Saturday. In Paraguay, about 600 girls 14 or under become pregnant each year – for a 6.8 million total population. In the United States, thousands of girls would also give birth every year, according to various studies from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Paraguayan protest against raping 10-year-old girl, banning abortion


This video says about itself:

Pregnant 10-year-old ‘denied abortion after being raped by stepfather’

2 May 2015

Amnesty International is calling on Paraguay’s government to allow a 10-year-old girl to get an abortion for the sake of her health. Report by Sarah Kerr.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Paraguay march poised to draw record crowd after 10-year-old denied abortion

As authorities insist child rape victim must give birth, hundreds are expected to protest sexual abuse in Asunción: ‘Her case is emblematic’

Jonathan Watts, Latin America correspondent and Sarah Boseley, Health editor

Thursday 28 May 2015 12.00 BST

Fury over Paraguayan authorities’ refusal to allow an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim is expected to bring unprecedented numbers of pro-choice protesters to the streets of the country’s capital, Asunción, this week.

The case has prompted outcry around the world and prompted a national debate about the prevalence of child abuse and underage pregnancies.

But that debate has focused more on adult violence than child health. And while many have called for tougher penalties for adults who abuse minors, few expect any change in the Catholic country’s strict abortion laws.

Despite a plea from the girl’s mother, Paraguayan authorities have ruled that the 10-year-old who is now 25 weeks into the pregnancy must give birth, unless she develops complications that put her life in danger. A medical panel is monitoring her condition.

Pedro Pablo Guanes, a gynaecologist based in Asunción, said the authorities are likely to release a tentative date for the birth soon. One option is for a cesarian section to be carried out in the next few weeks to avoid the biggest risk, which is that the girl’s body may not yet be developed enough to accommodate a fetus in its final stage.

On average, two girls under the age of 16 give birth each day in this country of 6.8 million, according to local media reports which have reflected fears that the rape of minors has become “normalised”.

Congressmen have proposed raising the maximum sentence for the rape of a minor to 30 years in prison, up from 10 years. But attempts to raise awareness over the issue of sexual abuse have been modest: the government has urged people to wear green ribbons on the National Day Against Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse on 31 May.

A day earlier, hundreds of demonstrators are expected to attend a march from the Plaza Uruguaya to El Panteón in the capital with banners declaring “My body, my territory, not for use or abuse”. Similar small rallies have been staged every year, but organisers expected double the usual number of marchers this year because of the commotion caused by the 10-year-old’s pregnancy.

“Her case is emblematic and motivates many people,” said Rosana Ríos of the Grupo Luna Nueva, which is one of the participating organisations in the protest. “We are marching against the inaction of the state in the face of this problem.”

Petitions have been sent to the Ministry of Children demanding the government stop treating this problem as “normal” and asking for the establishment of a medical board to evaluate the options for the girl’s well-being. The global online campaigning organisation Avaaz presented a petition to the Paraguayan congress with half a million signatures calling for the decriminalization of abortion for women under 15 years of age.

This coincided with a public hearing in Asunción on whether to reform the nation’s abortion laws. Feminist and pro-choice groups argued that decriminalisation was long overdue because more than 50,000 illegal abortions are carried out each year for those who can afford them, while the poor have no choice but to bear the health and economic risks associated with an unwanted pregnancy.

The situation in Paraguay reflects that across Latin America, where abortion is illegal or severely restricted in most countries. Nicaragua, Chile and El Salvador ban abortion completely, even if the pregnancy threatens the life of both the mother and the foetus.

The World Health Organization has said botched abortions are a leading cause of maternal death worldwide, and in 2008 accounted for 12% of all maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean.

But the strong influence of the Catholic church in the region makes reform unlikely. Earlier this week, Peru’s congress rejected a bill to decriminalise abortion in the case of rape. …

“This shows how the situation here has become normal, at least to those who work with these cases,” said Cecilia Caniza, a psychiatrist based in Asunción. “Everyone needs to understand that this is not normal. Just because there are lots of cases does not make the situation OK.”

International research suggests the potential hazards for very young mothers are considerable: even though a 10-year-old may be able to conceive, her pelvis is not fully developed, raising the likelihood of complications during birth.

“One big study in Bangladesh showed a five-fold increase in risk of death among 10- to 14-year-olds compared to women aged 20 to 24,” said Dr Mickey Chopra, Unicef’s global chief of health.

“Even if the mother doesn’t die, the physical complications of pregnancy can be quite severe, running from prolapses to being physically disabled,” said Chopra.

Young girls who become pregnant also experience higher rates of pre-eclampsia – dangerously high blood pressure – which can be life-threatening for mother and baby.

And even when rape is not an issue, adolescents can have difficulty adapting to motherhood when they are still growing up themselves, said Daghni Rajasingam, a consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.

According to Unicef, the teen and adolescent birth rate in Paraguay is 63 per 1000 girls aged 15 to 19. In the UK, which has one of the highest rates in Europe, the rate is 25 per 1000 and in the US, which has the highest rates in the OECD, it is 39.

Religion is not the only factor. Some Catholic countries do not have high teenage pregnancy rates – in Italy it is seven per 1000 and in Ireland it is 16. “Access to abortion is obviously important, but it is also about social norms,” Chopra said.

Additional reporting by Shanna Hanbury

10-year-old raped girl forced into dangerous childbirth by Paraguayan government


This video from the USA says about itself:

Raped 10 Year Old Won’t Be Allowed An Abortion

2 May 2015

“A 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, who is five months pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, had been denied an abortion that could save her life.

The child was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and doctors later discovered she was 22-weeks pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, Amnesty International said.

The charity said despite the high risk of the pregnancy and her mother’s request, she has not been allowed to have an abortion.

Her mother’s request to abort the child was not granted by authorities in the South American country as abortion is illegal. The girl’s mother is now in custody facing charges of breaching duty of care and being an accomplice of sexual abuse.”

Read more here.

In Paraguay, there is a far Right government, based on a coup d’état against a democratically elected president.

Here is one of the horrible results of that; from daily The Guardian in Britain:

To make a 10-year-old give birth isn’t just horrifying – it’s life threatening

Jessica Valenti

A child raped by her stepfather in Paraguay is being denied an abortion, despite the high risks involved in carrying the pregnancy to term

Tuesday 5 May 2015 10.00 BST

Would anyone in their right mind think it reasonable that a 10-year-old carry a pregnancy to term? This is not a thought experiment but the horrible story of a real child in Paraguay: raped by her stepfather and now denied an abortion.

According to Amnesty International – which is leading the charge to obtain an abortion for the child – the young girl’s condition became public when she went to the hospital complaining of stomach pain and was found to be 21 weeks pregnant.

“The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture”, Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International said in a statement. (In fact, the United Nations has declared lack of access to abortion at any age a form of torture.)

Paraguay has very strict laws on abortion – the procedure is only permitted when a person’s life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Antonio Barrios, the Health Minister of Paraguay, said: “there is no indication that the health of the [girl] is at risk … therefore we are not, from any point of view, in favor of the termination of the pregnancy”.

There are so many levels of horror here it’s hard to know where to begin but this, perhaps, is the most baffling: in what universe is a 10-year-old delivering a child not a risk to her life?

Childbirth is a risky enterprise for a healthy grown woman – a woman of reproductive age in Paraguay for example, has a one in 310 chance of dying from from complications from labor. For a child, the risks are exponentially worse.

Children’s bodies are not meant to give birth. Dr Dalia Brahmi, the Director of Clinical Affairs at Ipas told me: “It is cruel to force a 10-year-old girl to carry her pregnancy to term”.

Dr Brahmi, who once worked at the World Health Organization in the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, told me: “very young adolescents [under 15 years old] have a high risk of eclampsia, infection, preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction” compared to adult women.

The dangers are clear – and it takes a whole lot of magical thinking or straight up denial to think otherwise. Pregnancy for a child risks not only her emotional and mental health, but her physical health and possibly even her life.

Paraguay’s decision to remain the course has nothing to do with the actual risk to the child involved, but is all about their adherence to an antiquated, tortuous law that would rather see a child’s life at risk than admit their anti-abortion policies are too strict.

If those who would see this young girl give birth are truly pro-life, whose life are they concerned about? Because it’s certainly not the ten-year-old at the center of this story who is being forced to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

This anonymous young girl – this child – has already been violated by a member of her family. Must she be violated by her country as well?