Objectives and Activities of the Gran Amazonia Foundation (with Registered Address at Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic) on the Caura River within the Gran Amazonia Cultural Area in Venezuela 

The Amazonian rainforest (Willey, Gordon R., 1971, Lathrap, D.W., 1984) is an example of harmonious life in the realm of Nature. We intend to build, in the Venezuelan part of Amazonia, a base for studying and effectively protecting the local Indian communities and their natural environment: the tropical virgin forest (which is delineated by the Guyana Highlands in the east), the Paríma Highlands in the south and the Sierra Maigualida range in the west. The Amazon Indian communities and their natural environment – as well as elsewhere in the Gran Amazonia (Lovejoy, T.E., 1985, Meggers, B.J., 1971, 1984) – are increasingly exposed to threats involved in the expansion of industrial society. Cutting down the rainforest to an excessive extent and the activities of the mining companies, as well as illegal groups of hunters, gold and diamond prospectors, combined with the burning of the forest to gain pasture land and land for farming, are changing this landscape into vast expanses of barren land (Posey, D.A., 1984, Maraven, 1985). The Amazonian Indians live a life of hunters (Lathrap, D.W., 1968), fishers, gatherers and forest farmers (Meggers, Betty and Evans, Clifford, 1963, Sauer, Carl O., 1952). The people’s creative ability to transform and utilise the gifts of the tropical forest (Lowie, Robert H. 1948, Steen, H.K., 1992) as objects of material and spiritual use without destroying the Nature as such, has been the key to their survival. Their everyday life, family relations, religious rituals (Métraux, Alfréd,1973), the way they make their living, the magic (Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo, 1997), the “green medicine” – all this looks very primitive from our point of view. The reason, perhaps, is that we are reluctant to accept things beyond our grasp and that we depreciate the merits we know little about. Amazon Indians’ primeval cultural traditions, and the world of harmony between man and Nature, are disappearing forever and they subconsciously feel that their world is dying and vanishing. They succumb to the stronger. Thus, in fact, they act in accordance with the laws of Nature. Our civilisation owes much to them and other primitive nations. Taking all this into consideration, our Gran Amazonia Foundation set itself a number of tasks under three major projects:

 

1.   Field ethnographic research of the Upper Orinoco Indians’ culture and environment, with a view to protecting their communities against the penetration of modern civilisation. This includes the study of their health and the provision of basic health care, mainly to the communities already contaminated by the disastrous consequences of the presence of unoriginal inhabitants.

2.   Field ethnozoological research focused on the protection and population growth of the jaguar.

3.   Field ethnobotanical research.

 

To make these projects a reality, we intend, during the first three years, to build a base on the mid course of the Caura River to be used for the purpose of field research and also to serve specialists and students in other arts and science areas related to this part of Amazonia.

 

The costs (in USD) of building and operating the base in Trincheras, and a small camp at a certain distance upstream on the Caura River, are estimated below:

 

3 huts (about 8 x 6 m) to accommodate the experts and the manager of the base, including the work, equipment, transport, air tickets and material:

15,000.-

2 huts for storage of material (about 4 x 5 m), including the work, equipment, transport, air tickets and material:

2,000.-

A closed curiara boat 9-10 m long with a Honda 40 engine to transport provisions, cargo and persons

3,000.-

A curiara 5 m long with a Honda 25 engine for rapid transport

2,000.-

An aluminium boat with a Honda 40 engine to study aquatic wildlife

4,000.-

A place where to keep the boats and a place for environment-friendly storage of fuel

2,000.-

Technical equipment for the base and camp (chain saw, two power generating sets 1.5 kW, 110 V, 60 Hz, a solar panel 2 x 12 V, satellite telephone set, three refrigerators, first-aid and other medical equipment for simple interventions, a jeep, video camera, three photo cameras

 

45,000.-

 

FUNDS REQUIRED, TOTAL USD

73,000.-

Operation - assumed annual costs of operation of the base and camp:

 

Annual pay to the manager and his family

7,500.-

Annual cost of fuels

1,500.-

Expected annual costs of the use of telephones, maintaining contacts with Venezuelan authorities, travel costs, minor repairs etc.

5,000.-

FUNDS REQUIRED, TOTAL USD

14,000.-

 

 

Bibliography:

Gilmore, Raymond: Fauna and ethnozoology of South America, in: Handbook of South American Indians, editor: Julian Steward, Part 6, pp.345-464, Washington, D.C. 1950

Junquera, Carlos Rubio: Indigo y supervivencia en el Amazonas, Salamanca 1995

Lathrap, D.W.: The hunting economics of the tropical forest zone of south America: an attempt at historical Perspective, in: Man the Hunter, pp. 23-29, Chicago 1968

Lovejoy, T.E.: Amazonia, people and today, in: Key Environments: Amazonia, pp. 328-336, New York 1985

Lowie, Robert: The tropical forest: An introduction, in: Handbook of South American Indians, editor: Julian Steward, Part 3, pp.1-56, Washington, D.C. 1948

Maraven: El proceso del deterioro ambiental en la Historia de Venezuela, Caracas 1985

Meggers, B.J.: Amazonia, man and culture in a counterfeit paradise, Arlington Heights, Illinois 1971

Meggers, B.J.: The indigenous people of Amazon, their culture, land use Patterns and effects on the landscape and biotope, in: The Amazon, pp. 627-648. Dordrecht 1984

Métraux, Alfréd: Religión y magias indigenas de América del Sur, Valencia 1973

Posey, D.A.: Ethnoecology as applied anthropology in Amazonia development, in: Human Organisation, Part 43, 1984

Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo, Foxhole, Darlington, Devon: Forest shamans, 1997

Sauer, Carl O.: Cultivated plants of South and Central America, in: Handbook of South American Indians, editor: Julian Steward, Part 6, pp.487-544, Washington, D.C. 1950

Sauer, Carl O.: Agricultural origins and dispersals, New York 1952

Steen, H.K. and Tucker, R.P.: Changing tropical forest: historical perspectives of today’s challenges in Central and South America, Proceedings of a Conference Sponsored by the Forest History Society, 1992

Willey, Gordon R.: An introduction to American archaeology, Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey 1971