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 … 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 … 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 … Read more

Isolated clans fight 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 … Read more