Rainforest malady

THE BRAZILIAN government swung into action recently to evict thousands of gold-panners from a 94,000- sq-kin Yanomami reserve near the Venezuelan border to save the 9,000 members of South America's largest Indian tribe from an outbreak of malaria.

Thousands of panners who left the reserve to celebrate Carnival elsewhere are being denied re-entry and aircraft are being despatched to fly out those who stayed behind on the reserve.

The government's goal is to protect the Yanomami reserve until the start of the rainy season in April, when gold-panning becomes impossible. The panners and miners not only pollute the waterways, but also spread venereal diseases and malaria, which have taken the lives of hundreds of Yanomami. The miners are also a direct threat to rainforests (Down To Eafth, January 31, 1993).

Meanwhile, Brazilian environment minister Coutinho Jorge has been thwarted in his bid to get G-7 funds for the Amazon Pilot Project to protect rainforests by US and UK environmentalists, who want the funds blocked until the recapture of the killers of Chico Mendes; the Brazilian rubber-tapper who publicisied the plight of rainforests. It was agreed at the London G-7 summit in 1990 that Brazil would receive US $1.5 billion for the Amazon project (Down To Earth, June 15, 1992).

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