Non-profitable organization in favor to protect environment of Amazonian rain forests and support of their native inhabitants.

The Environment

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 civilization owes much to them and other primitive nations.


The Gran Amazonia foundation operates primary on the Caura River in Venezuelan Amazon, where it uses the experiences of its members from the investigations and researches in other parts of Amazonian rain forests.

The Gran Amazonia Foundation set itself a number of tasks under several major projects:

1. Field ethnographic researches of the Upper Orinoco Indians’ culture and environment, with a view to protecting their communities against the penetration of modern civilization. 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 researches focused on the protection and population growth of the jaguar.
3. Field ethnobotanical researches

Results of the past 5 years of operating on the Caura River

During the last couple of years the members of the foundation completed several tasks, researches and projects:
  • ethnozoological projects – Jaguar, Caiman, Fishes
  • first part of long-term ethnobotanical project of collecting the knowledge of medical, magical and artesanal plants
  • building a base for scientists, researchers and students on the Nicharé river
  • support of the Yecuana communities in buying a boat motor and in health care
  • detailed map of the landscape around the confluence of Nicharé and Caura River


The foundation of the Gran Amazonia has one general objective: to preserve Indian tropical forest cultures of the Amazon and their environment of tropical forest. Type of generally beneficial services:
  • museum activity including establishing and management of museum, offering the complete view of Amazon as one indivisible complex from ethnographical, botanical, zoological and ecological perspective
  • providing and managing of collecting in Amazon to complete the museum fund
  • education and enlightenment based on lecture, publishing and film activity
  • organization and arrangement of educational exchanges in the area of Amazon
  • foreign cooperation support with the countries of Latin America

Project Río Nicharé
Objectives for the next ten years

  • investigations of the environment: anthropology/ethnology, ethnobotany, ethnozoology, ethnoclimatology
  • producing and maintaining archives of the knowledge of the material and spiritual culture of the Yecuana Indians for their own use
  • finding ways (in cooperation with the Yecuana Indians) how to preserve their environment and their culture and how to slower the acculturation
  • helping in education of the Yecunas how to preserve their pride of their culture and how to resist and face our civilization and how to guard their environment against destruction from the outside (help them to understand their rights, the law, set up forest guard against aliens, hunters, lumberjacks, etc).
  • help them to built breeding of some types of animals (for instant capybara) for their livelihood and trade
  • help them selling their traditional art products around the world
  • provide the community with necessary medical care (only such a medicine that doesn’t provide the forest and which causes serious diseases or death – eg. malaria)

The approximate costs (in USD) of the activities within the next years:

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.-
OPERATION - assumed annual costs of operation of the base and camp:  
Annual pay to the manager and his family and to some indian assistant 17,500.-
Annual cost of fuels 1,500.-
Expected annual costs of the use of telephones, maintaining contacts with Venezuelan authorities, minor repairs etc. 5,000.-
ANNUAL COSTS (estimated) for the first period: travel expenses (about 6-9 air tickets) and costs of stay for two experts – each for two to three months every year, and their basic equipment, including the expenses of work meetings, processing of the results and the publication thereof in the Czech Republic and other countries (Venezuela). 53,000.-

An overview of the Amazon Indian Communities in the Region

Hoti Hot (“Man”) live in partial isolation in the north-eastern Guyana Highlands in the Sierra Maigualida range on the upper courses of the rivers Asita, Parucito and Cuchivero. The estimated population is between 500 and 700 persons. They migrate in small groups as forest farmers, gatherers, hunters and fishers. The origin of their language is unknown. It is related to Wóthuha by some hypotheses, and is influenced by the neighbouring ethnic groups (Coppens, Walter, 1983).

Yanomamas Yanomamo, Yanomami, Guaica, Guaharibo, Waika – they represent perhaps the largest group of forest Indians living a primeval life. Their number is estimated at 18,000. Their language belongs in the Yanomamo family, with a number of dialects: eastern dialect Paríma, western dialect Padamo, and another five dialects, including Kobali, Cobariwa, Ninam, Samantari and Sanema. They live as migrating hunters, gatherers and forest farmers on the extensive territory of the Venezuelan Amazonia on the upper course of the Orinoco and Caura, and in the Paríma mountain range (Cocco, padre Luis, 1972, Chagnon, Napoleon, 1983).

Maquiritari Maquiritare (the “River People”) call themselves Yecuana (the “Curiara People”) (Gazeta Indigenista). They live along the rivers Ventuari, Caura, Paraguay and Erebato and their population is estimated at 5,200. They are typical forest farmers, hunters and fishers, and their language belongs in the large language family, Caríb.

Panare They call themselves E’nepa. About 1200 hunters, fishers and forest farmers constitute two groups: those living in the forest and those inhabiting the Highlands and the basin of the upper course of the Cuchivero River. They belong in the large language family, Caríb.

Piaroa They prefer being called Wóthuha (the “Peace People”). Their language is isolated, belonging in the Sáliva language family. Their scattered population of about 12,000 spans the vast and hard-to-get-at territory from the rivers Parguaza, Sipapo, Autana and Cuao up to the mid course of the Bentauri and the Manapiare Valley. They are typical settled forest farmers, gatherers, hunters and fishers (Joanna Overing, Kaplan M.R., 1988).

In the area between Trincheras and the town Maripa, there are several Indian settlements which arose as a result of the recent migration of several of the above ethnic groups, and which are very badly affected by our civilization in cultural, social and health terms.

About The Founder

Ing. Mnislav Zelený, founder of the Gran Amazonia Foundation, field ethnographist. (bibliography: Contribución a la etnografia huaraya, Praha 1976 (PhD Dissertation), Prairie and Forest Indians, Bratislava 1985, Encyclopaedie of archeologie (part: Latin America), Bratislava 1985, Encyclopaedia of World Culture (author of entries relating to Yawalapiti and Hurayao), New Haven 1992, Indiánská encyklopedie: Indiáni tøí Amerik ( Encyclopaedia of Indians of the Three Americas), Praha 1994, Mythology of Amazonian Indians, Praha 2004, Encyclopedia of shamanism, Praha 2007 and another 200 articles on the Latin American Indians.) Spent many years living among the Indians in Latin America during the past forty years.

On-going partnerships:
  • Cuyujani – Organization of Yecuana Indians

Possible future partners:
  • Venezuelan public administration authorities
  • Czech and South American universities – eg. University of Ústí nad Labem, Charles University in Prague (Ibero-American Centre)

Sponsorship/Partnership Offer:
  • thanks, logo and space for presentation in all publications – scientific and photographic books
  • thanks, logo, space for presentation and link on the web site
  • thanks in all other published and promo material – articles, leaflets, brochures, prospectuses, posters
  • thanks and logo in all visual outputs – films, promo videos, dvds
  • thanks and logo in all photo and traditional art exhibitions
  • thanks and logo in spaces and in words in all lectures and presentations
  • guided trips to the investigated communities for the representatives of the partner organization/company

Mnislav Zelený-Atapana
founder and chief of the foundation of the Gran Amazonia,