As Oil Companies Dig Into Yasuní National Park, Ecuadorians Are Fighting Back.
Considered the most biodiverse place in the world, the Yasuní is in danger of being ruined through the exploitation of its natural resources. And time is running out to save it.
By Tom Clynes
The most biodiverse park on the planet can be a very noisy place—especially around sunset, when day-shift creatures cede the rainforest to those who roam and serenade the night. But on a late afternoon in April, the trails near Yasuní National Park’s Yasuní Scientific Station are jarringly quiet.
In a half day of hiking the muddy trails near the station, we see a few lizards and snakes, and a fast-moving troop of squirrel monkeys, but only a handful of the 610 bird species that have been catalogued within the park’s borders.
“Only a few years ago, the wildlife here was amazing,” says my hiking partner, Ecuadorian biologist and nature photographer Rubén D. Jarrín. But new roads and oil pipelines keep cutting deeper into this fragile wonderland, disrupting the movements and life cycles of everything from canopy-dwelling birds to ground-prowling jaguars. As seismic surveys pinpoint new pockets of oil in the park’s pristine core, wildlife lovers in Ecuador and around the world are rallying to save this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve—and the densely connected web of people, plants, and animals living within it.