Like the Kalapalo people pictured here, the Kamayurá people, also living in the Xingu national park, get most of their protein from fish . Photo: e-giacomazzi via flickr
For a really great image of how environmental changes are already affecting people, in fact destroying an entire culture -- and no, not in some low-slung Pacific Island -- The New York Times has a poignant piece about how the Kamayurá people in Brazil are struggling today with deforestation and climate change making their way of life less and less tenable:Forest Homelands Now Surrounded by Ranches
The Kamayurá people live in the middle of the Xingu National Park -- which was once deep in the Amazon but is now surrounded by ranches -- and live by hunting, fishing and some agriculture. They have done so for countless years. But changes in precipitation in the region -- brought about by a combination of deforestation and warmer temperatures -- are making things difficult to follow their traditional ways.
Chief Kotok, who like all of the Kamayurá people goes by only one name, said that men can now fish all night without a bite in streams where fish used to be abundant; they safely swim in lakes previously teeming with piranhas.
To make do without fish, Kamayurá children are eating ants on their traditional spongy flatbread, made from tropical cassava flour. "There aren't as many around because the kids have eaten them," Chief Kotok said of the ants. Sometimes members of the tribe kill monkeys for their meat, but, the chief said, "You have to eat 30 monkeys to fill your stomach."
Fish Stocks Collapsed in 2006
The fish stocks began to decline in the 1990s, the Times reports, and have collapsed completely since 2006. Fish farming has been considered, but water levels in rivers and lakes have dropped with the hotter temperatures and decreased rainfall.
Agriculture & Medicine Also Suffering
The tribe's agriculture has suffered as well, with traditional signals used to signal the start of the rainy season no longer accurate.What's more, traditional sources of medicine have become increasingly hard to find, as the flora in the region changes.
Read more about the plight of the Kamayurá and other indigenous groups -- who even less than people in Bangladesh, and other low-lying and low-emitting nations have done next to notion to create the problem -- as they try to cope with climate change: As Trees Fall in the Amazon, Fears That Tribes Won't Be Heard
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