RI 19 ECUADOR
The Cofán ancestral land in Dureno is a 9,469-hectares block of forest, and one of the few remnants of the richest lowlands on the planet. Roads, colonization, and oil fields isolate it from the Andean Forest and the Cuyabeno-Yasuní area. Early history details an abundance of game and birds important for ceremonial adornments, including species like the wattled curassow (Crax globulosa), disappeared from Ecuador and globally endangered.
Oil seismic exploration by Texaco and Gulf in the 1960’s changed the Cofan territory, and by 1970’s Lago Agrio (the closest city) was an oil center, bringing roads that cut their land, and government policies encouraging colonist settlements into their ancestral territory. Their reacted by cutting de facto boundaries and gain land titles by 1978. Despite this resolution Texaco cut yet another road to the west enticing even more colonists.
The Cofán continues to adapt, creating local park guards, self-imposed hunting and fishing regulations, and to achieve a conservation effort to protect their main source of food to sustain their communities, but also creating a no hunting zone where wildlife safely reproduces. Dureno continues to be important for the Cofán culture and identity, but additional support from will be crucial for their success in conserving one of the richest environments on Earth.
Photo by Álvaro del Campo