Isolated clan fights for survival
QUITO, Ecuador – Amazonian nomads who have roamed the Ecuadorian rainforest for centuries are losing their battle against the outside world.
Dozens of Tagaeri and Taromenane, clans of the Huaorani indigenous people, have been murdered in territorial clashes and revenge killings since 2003. Indigenous rights activists fear more bloodshed is likely as Ecuador intensifies oil drilling in the jungle. Read more
Caught between two worlds
SHUSHUFINDI RIVER, Ecuador – When Nemonte Mipo was 12 or 13 years old, a village elder told her it was time to pierce her ears.
“You’ll remember this when I die,” the Huaorani elder told her. Then several women grabbed Mipo and jammed a sharp wooden spine into one ear lobe, then the other.
“It hurt,” Mipo said. “I cried, I cried.” Read more
Tale of Conta
BAMENO, Ecuador – Before her mother was killed, Conta climbed trees and fished in the streams. She sang like her ancestors, who had roamed the Amazonian forest for hundreds of years.
Her world was shattered in 2013 when a Huaorani clan swept into her isolated settlement and murdered as many as 30 people, including her mother and brother. The killers kidnapped Conta, then thought to be about 6, and her younger sister, Daboka, 3. Read more
Losing the forest
QUITO, Ecuador – The jaguar has jaws powerful enough to crush the skill of its prey, ranging from ferocious caimans and 400-pound tapirs to and powerful anaconda.
The big cat reigns supreme in Amazonia, but its numbers are dropping fast throughout the Americas.
There is, however, a magical spot in Ecuador where the jaguar lives much as it has for centuries, stalking its prey under a towering canopy of trees. Read more
Death by spear
COCA, Ecuador – El Auca Hotel was founded in 1971 when this fast-growing town was a remote jungle outpost.
The landmark hotel is adorned with portraits and sculptures of Ecuador’s famous warriors, the Aucas, which means “savages.”
The term is an insult to the Huaorani indigenous people, but it endures in Ecuador, where Spanish priest Alejandro Labaka once said, “What savages? We are the savages.” Read more