Friday, December 17, 2010

Conservation Natural History Museum cancels expedition to arid Chaco

Paraguay has tonight formally suspended a Natural History Museum expedition, arranged to investigate part of the nation's virgin dry forest, to allow more time for consultation with the indigenous people. The museum had been criticised in South America and Europe for its plans to send up to 60 botanists, zoologists and other scientists to an area of the dry Chaco forest, the only place in Latin America outside the Amazon where tribes uncontacted by outsiders are known to live. Fears were raised by some settled Ayoreo Indians that the scientists and their large back-up teams could stumble upon groups of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation, and pass on dangerous and even fatal diseases. The Paraguayan government has been deeply embarrassed that some Ayoreo leaders have claimed they knew nothing about the scientists' trip until learning about it in the press. The museum defended its trip, "expected to discover several hundred new species of plants and insects", saying that to "scientifically record the richness and diversity of the animals and plants in this remote region is extremely important for the future management of this fragile habitat".

Read more: Concern for wellbeing of uncontacted tribes stalls science trip

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