In the heart of the jungle 175 kilometres away from Quito, Equador’s capital, lives the Waoroni, an Indian community that has traditionally relied on game hunting as their main source of income.
Over the years, the animals have become scarce and are facing the threat of extinction.
This prompted the local women to come up with a plan to turnaround the unfortunate turn of events and in 2010, the “Association of Waorani Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon” (AMWAE) was formed.
Before, they hunted a lot. But now they are involved in the cocoa program and they have stopped killing animals.
Their strategy is simple, to provide cocoa plants and keep the community away form hunting. So far, there has been considerable success.
The organisation buys cocoa from the planters for about $1.25 dollars a kilo which is $0.45 above the normal cost.
Ligia Enomenga has been widowed for 26 years and is a mother of six. She is all praises for the program. “Before, they hunted a lot. But now they are involved in the cocoa program, they stopped killing animals,” she said.
Moses Enomenga is her brother and his wife now who grows cocoa adds, “we were game hunters. Monkeys, toucans, deer are some of the animals that we targeted.”
According to Patricia Nengeuihi, AMWAE’s president, most of the Waoroni men were unenthusiastic about the project during its inception but over time they have been converted into cocoa growers.
“There are about 70 families who cultivate about 25 hectares of cocoa in the provinces of Napo and Pastaza. In all, 10 communities are involved in the project. This occurs without deforestation” said Patricia
The cocoa that is collected by the association is usually transported to Quito where it is turned into chocolate.
Amazonian Indians’ initiatives to defend biodiversity are not limited only to Ecuador .
In Colombia, the southwest part of the country,they have also struggled to preserve biodiversity which has been threatened by war that has ravaged the country since the 1960s.
They have established a government fund to release 22, 283 hectares under poppy cultivation which has been a source of conflict among armed groups .
“The earth was crying and required that we take care of it,” said Hernando Chindoy, Governor of the area.
In Brazil, in the state of Amazonas, the Pirarucu, an enormous river fish that can reach 200 kilograms is the center of attention.
The species was endangered, until the NGO Native Amazon Operation obtained a total ban on its fishing .
The initiatives for the protection of biodiversity are increasing in this region of South America and recently in France, during the COP21 summit, a new era in the fight against climate change was unveiled.