Thursday, September 24, 2009

Letter from CIWI

Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is the largest conservation NGO in Bolivia and is run entirely by volunteers. This organisation provides a safe haven for 1,000’s of abused animals (including pumas, jaguars, ocelots, spider and capuchin monkeys and even a brown speckled bear) and has saved over a 1,000 hectares of rain forest. However, Inti Wara Yassi is currently in crisis. The mayor of the town in which a large part of the refuge is based is building a road directly through the park where the animals live and are re-released into the wild. Without this park there will come a point where Inti Wara Yassi will find it very difficult to continue saving animals from the cruelty they face at the hands of people. This story is a plea for publicity for this struggling park. It is also a story of hope. The dedicated volunteers at the park are currently trying to raise $10,000 to buy 300 hectares of new land which will be a safe haven for these animals and also conserve precious rainforest. The refuge is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization and relies on donations and volunteer fees to survive.

A letter from Juan Carlos, founder of CIWY

The President of Bolivia - Evo Morales - has been called "Worldwide Hero of the Earth" by locals; yet how then can it be that the forest in Bolivia is being destroyed and millions of animals are being left without a home. Are we to just sit back and watch while Parque Machia (a wild animal refuge and biopark) is being destroyed in order to make way for a new road, and while Parque Isiboro Secure (one of the richest centres of biodiversity) and other national parks in Bolivia are also being destroyed? No, we cannot and for this reason we are calling out to the people of the world to join together in solidarity with the trees and the animals - the life source of the planet. We all know that a country's wealth should be measured by its biodiversity and not by its fragile and fluctuating economy.

Parque Machia is a wild animal sanctuary and part of the Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (a Bolivian grass-roots organisation dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals held in captivity). The very future of Parque Machia and the animals it houses is currently under threat as local coca-growing farmers fight to push ahead with the construction of a road that will run right through the park's land and the habitat of many of its animals. The newspaper Opinion published a story on the 5th September 2009 about a puma - Quirqui - who recently passed away. It is presumed that one of the factors that brought about his death was the stress from the noise of the machinery that are clearing the park's land to make way for the road. Quirqui was rescued by the Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi from a zoo where he was suffering and was very ill. The volunteers and vets of the Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi managed to stabilize him, make him happy and also greatly improved his quality of life; that its until the bulldozers arrived. His health then started to deteriorate and sadly the puma Quirqui passed away at the beginning of this month. The construction of the road also affects and causes great stress for all the animals that live in this refuge, animals that have been given a second chance in life after being rescued form the torture of chains and small cages.

According to the newspaper Los Tiempos from the 4th September 2009, the front page describes how the
"park is being destroyed to make way for a route to transport coca", "they are cutting down trees that are 100 years old and are destroying the natural habitat of hundreds of animals". The coca-growing farmers of the community Copacabana del Chapare are demanding this route so that they can transport out their principal crop - coca. The road will pass directly through the habitat of many of the rescued animals. The Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi has been saving this park from destruction since 1996 and has been zealously looking after it for all these years. They managed to reach an agreement with the previous mayor, Felipe Caceres, who rejected the farmers' request for a road, understanding the repercussions such construction would mean for the park. However, the new mayor, Feliciano Mamani (a supporter of Evo Morales) says that the road will be built, no matter what.

The national park Isiboro Secure is also under threat, with plans to build a road straight through it, thus linking the towns of Villa Tunari and San Igancio. Parque Isiboro Secure is the third richest park in terms of biodiversity, containing a number of endemic species and it will be destroyed by the Villa Tunari-San Ignacio road. The President of Brazil - Lula de Silva - is financing the construction of this road, which will benefit his country by opening up a route to the Pacific Ocean. This construction will cause many species of animals and plants to disappear, it will pollute the water and bring about the end of this biodiversity and of the Parque Isiboro Secure. The other Bolivian national parks, which were created to be the lungs for Bolivia and for the world, are also affected by mining and agriculture. It is of great importance that agriculture be guided and controlled by policies that are dedicated to the preservation of the environment and biodiversity, otherwise we will be condemning all sources of life to a death sentence.

If you would like to find out more information, help us in our struggle to save these animals and the rainforest by donating (a donation of £40 will buy one hectare of rainforest), or volunteer some of your time, check out the website or join the facebook group CIWY EMERGENCY NOW! The Jacuzzi Donators Group

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