COVID-19 Update: Indigenous & Rural Communities
An update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Nature and Culture
Dear Friends of Nature and Culture,
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of our society and has reached all corners of the globe. The conservation community is no exception. Though I am tremendously grateful that only one of Nature and Culture International’s staff has had COVID-19 and appears now to be out of danger, we recently lost a fellow conservationist in Loreto, Peru. Many of the communities we work with are gravely affected, facing tremendous hardship now and in the coming months.
The news I share below is sobering. However, every day I see unflagging compassion and care from Nature and Culture staff. Never have our bedrock values shone through so clearly. From the beginning, our local conservationists have asked, “What can we do for our community partners? How can we support them?” It is they who have organized our response, they who are pushing for resources. Our ties with these communities run deep.
Update from Nature and Culture – Peru
On April 30, Cristian Gonzalez, a friend and colleague in Loreto, Peru passed away from COVID-19. Cristian who managed the Pucacuro National Reserve within Peru’s National Protected Areas Service was a tireless champion for Amazon ecosystems and indigenous communities. Our hearts go out to Cristian’s family and friends for their tragic loss.
A Nature and Culture staff member in Loreto is currently recovering from COVID-like symptoms. Thankfully, she appears to be out of danger. In general, Loreto communities are struggling (as are many Peruvian communities) with insufficient resources to address the heavy outbreak of cases there.
Nature and Culture and Peruvian nonprofit organizations are responding by pooling resources to bring oxygen tanks, gloves and masks, and basic medicines to Iquitos, Loreto’s capital city. Nature and Culture is also donating resources to the coastal city of Piura where we have a long-term presence.
Update from Nature and Culture – Ecuador
In Ecuador, one of our community partners, the indigenous Kichwa community of the Bobonaza River have suffered tremendously from a flood that destroyed their homes. Nature and Culture is donating materials for home reconstruction and for rebuilding the community’s water distribution system as well as masks, gloves, and basic medicines for the community health center.
Our local conservationists are also working to ensure that basic food staples and protective health equipment reach our park guards in our privately-owned reserves in the foothill forests of southeastern Ecuador and in the tropical dry forest of southwestern Ecuador.
Update from Nature and Culture – Brazil
In Brazil, Nature and Culture has provided funds to our indigenous partners, enabling them to increase patrols within their territories to minimize invasions by illegal miners and loggers. Now more than ever incursions into their territories are a tremendous threat to the safety of their communities. Illegal miners and loggers not only cause environmental destruction but may expose susceptible communities to COVID-19.
Update from Nature and Culture – Mexico
In Sonora, Mexico, the small community of Sabinito Sur near Alamos borders Nature and Culture’s 14,000-acre Monte Mojino Reserve. Community members access Monte Mojino for subsistence fishing and to collect native chile peppers. Nature and Culture’s two rangers for Monte Mojino come from this community and, for years, we have hired community members to repair reserve infrastructure and host and guide researchers and other visitors to the reserve. Our local conservationists have supported the community with vision and hearing screening, pet sterilization campaigns, and notebooks and backpacks for primary school children.
Although there have been no COVID-19 cases in Sabinito nor in nearby Alamos, the Sabinito community has been isolated since March 21 when a national shelter-at-home emergency was declared in Mexico. Of Sabinito’s 27 families, 21 currently find themselves with no income.
In response, Nature and Culture is donating staple food supplies to each of Sabinito’s families and will be hiring 15 workers per day over the next week on projects to repair roads and fence lines within the reserve. We will rotate the work equitably between families, providing $250 of critical earned income to each.
Because of our staff’s close and long-lasting relationships with rural and indigenous communities, Nature and Culture is in a unique position to serve as a bridge to much needed resources and services. One community shared that we are the only outside entity they are still in contact with and that has offered to provide them support during this time
Our local conservationists and the communities you support in Latin America need your help.
Together we can ensure the planet’s most extraordinary wild places and their guardians are protected.
President & CEO