Fundación Entropika was established in 2007 by a group of conservationists based in Amacayacu National Park in the southern reaches of the Colombian Amazon. Large areas of this forest have been degraded to some degree by the overexploitation of natural resources, threatening biodiversity, as well as the traditional societies relying on the forest to obtain their livelihoods. The charity aims to contribute to the long-term conservation of tropical biodiversity by facilitating local community-led projects, establishing programmes of education and research whilst working closely with the local indigenous people to tackle conservation issues.
The Amacayacu National Park consists of 294,000 hectares, up to 500,000 hectares including the buffer zone, which is made up of private reserves and the Calderon river basin, part of which currently still lacks protection. Due to its geographical location, the Southern Colombian Amazon plays a critical role in biodiversity protection and connectivity between Colombia, Peru and Brazil, and the area is overlapped by indigenous territories.
The Amazon basin is the largest continuous tropical forest on earth and encompasses about 7 million square kilometres, inhabited by a unique mixture of indigenous cultures. Amazonia is also home to over one-third of the Earth’s known species, and as such is one of the most critical reservoirs of biodiversity on the planet.
- 150 terrestrial mammal species
- 4 aquatic mammal species
- 468 bird species
- 9 species of monkeys including the Night Monkey, the only nocturnal primate in the neotropics, and the Woolly Monkey.
Tikuna, Cocama and Yagua are the main indigenous populations who live in and around the Amacayacu National Park.
Earlier Tikunas were well known as nomadic hunters and gatherers, they started in the area north of the Amazon River but gradually after other tribes were weakened through illnesses brought by missionaries, they started to occupy the river area and became known as expert fishermen and hunters. They started to get involved in extractive industries at the start of the 20th century and as a result of this, along with the loss of cultural beliefs and taboos, there has been a clear disruption between Tikuna people and their traditional relationship with nature. As a consequence, the Tikuna people’s view of conservation projects has been affected, hindering recent attempts towards cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organisations regarding management and use of natural resources. Their economy relies mainly on land cultivation based on small slash-and-burn patches, fishing, gathering, and some tourism.
There are three Tikuna communities which overlap the Park’s territory (Mocagua, Palmeras and San Martin).
Local involvement in monitoring is crucial to empower and enable local people to make sustainable decisions regarding the use of resources. In 2006 work started on a participatory management plan to regulate the use of resources in the Park. However the Tikuna communities do not agree with the Colombian legislation where commercial extraction of resources is illegal inside protected areas; so this is a big obstacle for the protection of this area and solutions are still needed.
- Results regarding the sustainability of hunting suggested that six out of the 10 most overharvested game species (amongst these are Agouti Paca, the Mazama Deer, Howler Monkey and Woolly Monkey) present an eminent risk of local extinction. These species are the main source of protein for indigenous people and represent an important economic income.
- Illegal trade in night monkeys for the malaria research market is affecting wild populations of Peru and Colombia.
- Continuous release of Peruvian and Brazilian Nancy Ma´s night monkeys (Aotus nancymaae) into Colombian territory after having been used in malaria research has caused the establishment of an invasive species in the buffer zone of the Amacayacu National Park.
- Lack of sustainable economic alternatives for local people to counteract destructive activities.
- Inadequate education and lack of access to new technologies is reflected in the inability of local people to integrate to the global market and to reach basic education standards.
- The lack of law enforcement and the corruption of environmental authorities have caused these authorities to neglect the trade of wildlife and timber in the tri-border area.
- For the past seven years, extreme fluctuations in the levels of the Amazon River have resulted in a succession of devastating floods and droughts, drastically affecting local livelihoods and creating a sanitary crisis.
- Entropika’s Aotus Project won the Whitley Gold Award in 2010 and in 2011, for continuing the community based-research in the Colombian-Peruvian border area.
- In July 2012, Fundación Entropika was instrumental in helping ensure that the permit granted to FIDIC biomedical laboratory for capturing night monkeys for the elaboration of a malaria vaccine was revoked. This measure stops the legal and illegal trade of more than 3000 monkeys by 2015, as well as saving around 20,000 mature trees which would have been cut down to capture the monkeys.
- Entropika has helped implement creative and sustainable economic alternatives: training in the elaboration of essential oils, soap and shampoo, made from sustainably extracted forest products, in 3 Colombian communities focusing on vulnerable groups such as women and elders.
- Drinking Water Project – due to the extreme dry season of 2010 and the Amazon River dropping to its lowest level, the Tikuna communities didn’t have access to water and faced a terrible sanitary crisis, exposing people to disease. In order to overcome this situation, it is necessary to implement basic systems to obtain safe drinking water. This project will install potable water systems in the Colombian indigenous communities of Mocagua and San Martín and assure its follow-up.
- Scientific research which supports information on species as well as influencing policy makers.
- Documenting Tikuna traditions and recording the knowledge of the wise elders of the community.
- Reinforcing international wildlife trade regulations.
- Sustainable economic alternatives for local people including training in the production of essential oils, soap and shampoo, made from sustainably extracted forest products (with a focus on including women and elders).
- Developing conservation strategies for the Calderon basin, buffer zone of Amacayacu National Park and the primate community (nine species) in Amacayacu.
The Living Rainforest Connection
The efforts of a small group of conservationists located in an isolated part of the Colombian Amazon need the back-up of international organisations to raise awareness and disseminate information overseas, as well as funding until they can achieve sustainability.
In June 2007, awareness was created through an event held at The Living Rainforest called A Meeting of Minds, for professionals in botany and conservation, and other interested individuals. The event explored the convergence of local indigenous knowledge and western scientific knowledge to conserve the Colombian Amazon. High profile professionals in the fields of conservation and climatology gave talks alongside speakers from the Tikuna indigenous communities (San Martin) and the Entropika Foundation.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
1) If you would like to help support the work of Entropika including the Tikuna Communities to access clean drinking water, please help by donating to Entropika through The Living Rainforest … donate now
2) If you are interested in helping Entropika’s cause to stop the trafficking of night monkeys please contact Entropika directly to find out about their campaigning work, there is plenty you can do.
Find out more: http://www.entropika.org/en/index.html
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