Nature pictures from Bolivia

These images are from the tropical lowlands of eastern Bolivia, including the Chaco forest and San Miguelito ranch. The photos were taken in 2019 by Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

The images are organized into galleries, the most popular of which are presented below.

The bottom of this page includes recent conservation news from Bolivia.

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Wildlife

 



Bolivian national park hit hard by forest fires in 2022, satellite data show (02 Feb 2023 22:43:12 +0000)
- Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Bolivia’s largest parks, encompasses a variety of ecosystems and provides habitat for more than 1,100 vertebrate species.
- According to satellite data, fires burned across a region comprising an estimated 18% of the park’s total area between August and November 2022, and damaged around 200 km2 (77 mi2) of its forests.
- When adding in other forest loss in 2022, the data suggest Noel Kempff Mercado lost a total of 250 km2 (97 mi2) of its tree cover last year, marking a new deforestation record since measurements began at the turn of the century.
- The fires in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park coincide with fire activity outside of the park, where Intentional burning is commonplace as farmers clear land and reinvigorate soil ahead of planting.


Indigenous people protect some of the Amazon’s last carbon sinks: Report (19 Jan 2023 18:09:37 +0000)
- A new report says forests managed by Indigenous communities tend to be carbon sinks rather than carbon sources, while areas under different management are often less predictable.
- Areas of the Amazon titled or under formal claim by Indigenous people have been some of the most secure and reliable net carbon sinks over the past two decades, sequestering more carbon than they’ve emitted.
- But Indigenous communities are feeling increasing outside pressure from economic development projects, one reason the report argues that Indigenous-managed forests must be secured.


Reciprocal Water Agreements protect millions of hectares of Bolivian forest (19 Jan 2023 15:32:10 +0000)
- In return for committing to protect their water producing forests, farming families living in upper watersheds receive incentives to help them develop sustainable production initiatives and to connect their homes to drinking water.
- These incentives are mainly funded by the municipality and from water service providers via a monthly payment made by service users.
- The model has expanded rapidly in Bolivia and is beginning to be replicated in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico.


Bolivia looks to opaque methods, firms to build lithium powerhouse (12 Dec 2022 16:34:27 +0000)
- As fossil fuel use aggravates climate breakdown, companies and governments are looking to lithium-ion batteries to replace carbon-intensive technologies. Lithium prices have hit all-time highs, pushing the market to seek more sources to meet forecasted demand.
- To fill the gap, companies have turned to Bolivia, whose 2019 election was marred by turmoil exacerbated by allegations of foreign powers seeking its lithium that some called an attempted coup.
- Six foreign firms expect a decision from the Bolivian government about which will earn the opportunity to use new technologies, collectively called direct lithium extraction, to speed up the country’s production of the world’s largest recorded reserves of lithium.


Five pressing questions for the future of lithium mining in Bolivia (12 Dec 2022 08:30:33 +0000)
- As the Bolivian government negotiates business dealings with foreign lithium companies, questions remain about the future of local desert ecosystems and the Indigenous communities that steward them.
- Lithium extraction, often used for lithium-ion batteries, has been known to deplete and contaminate freshwater, impacting wildlife populations and the livelihoods of residents who rely on tourism and salt mining.
- While many community leaders in Bolivia are hopeful they can avoid similar pitfalls in the early stages of development, others are worried that foreign interests will once again exploit the country’s natural resources, leaving many residents in poverty.


Population cycles explain white-lipped peccary’s ups and downs, study shows (06 Dec 2022 14:42:41 +0000)
- A new study attributes the regular disappearance of white-lipped peccaries in South America to natural population cycles.
- White-lipped peccaries are a keystone species and ecosystem engineers whose absence can have a detrimental effect on tropical forest health.
- Using scientific research, historical records and Indigenous lore, researchers have discovered regular boom and bust population cycles, often synchronized over huge areas.
- The researchers believe these cycles are caused by peccary populations outgrowing their habitat and warn that the species requires large expanses of intact forest to survive and thrive.


U.N. report calls for the ban of mercury trade and its use in gold mining (24 Nov 2022 17:53:32 +0000)
- Small-scale gold mining is the key driver of global mercury demand, according to a U.N. report on the highly toxic metal, with South America accounting for 39% of this demand.
- Hair samples taken from Indigenous communities in the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazonian regions showed mercury levels in excess of the safe limit prescribed by the World Health Organization.
- In Brazil specifically, mercury use has risen with the boom in illegal mining that has been largely overlooked — and in some cases even encouraged — by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.


2022 Amazon fires tightly tied to recent deforestation, new data show (22 Nov 2022 11:55:47 +0000)
- Nearly 1,000 major fires burned in the Amazon during its 2022 fire season, according to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP).
- The Brazilian Amazon accounted for the vast majority of the fires, and most burned in recently deforested areas.
- MAAP uses unique satellite data detecting aerosol emissions alongside regular heat alerts, which helps filter out small fires.
- Fires clearing logging debris are linked to soy-driven deforestation in some Brazilian Amazon areas, where many soy-trading companies have not signed zero-deforestation commitments.


Bolivian protected areas hit hard by forest fires (10 Nov 2022 22:50:14 +0000)
- Nearly 9,000 square kilometers (3,475 square miles) had been burned across Bolivia by mid-September, according to government figures.
- Tucabaca Valley Municipal Wildlife and Otuquis National Park, both in the semi-arid Chiquitania region of southern Bolivia, have been among the protected areas most affected by fire in 2022.
- Satellite data show fires burned across some 130 square kilometers (50 square miles)—or 5%— of Tucabaca Valley Municipal Wildlife in September, and reignited in early November. In Otuquis, a fire that began Aug. 31 had spread across around 80 kilometers (50 miles), mostly along a road, by Sept. 3.
- In addition to habitat loss for the region’s wildlife, smoke from the fires reportedly has resulted in vision and respiratory problems for residents of nearby communities.


Deforestation is pushing Amazon to ‘point of no return’: WWF report (09 Nov 2022 12:07:41 +0000)
- A new report from the World Wildlife Fund, called the Living Amazon Report, warns that threats to the Amazon have gotten worse in recent years, and could result in the disappearance of the biome if more drastic action isn’t taken.
- Around 18% of Amazon forests are lost and another 17% are highly degraded, the report said.
- If more drastic action isn’t taken, the report said the biome could transition from forest to savanna and push global warming above the safe threshold of 1.5°C.


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