The region known as El Caura, located in south Venezuelan jungle, holds 17% of all floral species in the entire country, and it’s also the home of 32% of national fauna diversity. In addition, seven indigenous groups live in the 5 million acre reserve. This area is officially protected by the government since it contains the oldest ecosystem on the planet: Tepuy (you may have seen it in the Disney movie “Up”). It also holds one of the most important water and forest reserves in the world.
This region is actually affected by illegal mining industry. In 2006 there were at least 600 illegal miners exploiting the area for gold and diamonds, nowadays there are more than 3000. Scientists estimate the mercury contamination in Caura River to be almost 80%. This ecocide has affected the indigenous people living in the region. Leporine lip cases from mercury contamination are rising among children, as well as malaria, as a result of erosion and unattended water wells left by miners.
In order to get to the place where mining is taking place you have to go through a military location, because of this, many scientist and witnesses say that miners bribe official forces with gold in order to get to the El Caura and stay in the region.
Last week the national government created a strategy called Operación Caura, aimed to end the illegal mining industry. Official sources state that at least 2.126 illegal miners have been evicted from the region. Environmentalists say it is a positive but late move, since the contaminated water consumption already affected the life of indigenous, animals and plants coexisting in El Caura.