"The most beautiful thing that I see is the standing forest – everything from the forest, the cerrado, the river, and the animals,” says Megaron Txucarramãe. “It would be very good if we could preserve it; leave it as it is: the clean river, a lot of fish, a lot of game"
At CI’s recent board meeting in Seattle, Washington, Megaron, a CI Board Member and leader among the Kayapó people of Brazil, spoke of his relationship to CI and his land.
CI and the Kayapó
The Kayapó people live in several villages scattered across four indigenous areas and 11 million hectares (More than 42,471 square miles) in the Brazilian Amazon - Kayapó, Menkragnoti, Baú and Kapoto-Jarina. Their traditional lands form the single largest tract of protected tropical forest in the world. Most of that land is tropical forest or “cerrado” (savanna), two of the most biologically diverse landscapes on earth. The forests also store millions of tons of carbon, helping to slow climate change.
READ MORE: Brazil's Kayapó: Powerful Allies in the Amazon
Megaron lives in Kapoto-Jarina, and works for FUNAI –the National Foundation for the Indigenous People. It was through his work on behalf of his community that he “started to get to know people from CI, when … I spoke about our land, our limits.”
“My concern,” he says, “is to protect our land because we needed someone who fought for the environment, who fought for the forest where we live.”
“We face all kinds of threats in our lands, mostly threat of invasion by gold miners, loggers, fishermen, hunters…” Megaron continues. He also mentions the threats that can accompany short-term development – like dams and new roads. He has worked against those threats at the international level for years – it is a mission he shares closely with CI.
Growing Up With the Land
"When I was a child, I never imagined … that deforestation was going to get so close to us. I thought the white man would not occupy all the land up to where we are … Today, we are living in an island," says Megaron. "Everything is deforested around our land. There is no more forest, no more animals. Everything is destroyed."
IN VIDEO: The Kayapó Nation: Protectors of the Amazon
Today, indigenous lands are virtually the only barrier to the wave of deforestation and fires sweeping across the southeastern Amazon as forests are razed for agriculture and cattle ranching. This barrier effect occurs because indigenous people, whom depend on the forest for survival, actively contest their land rights and frontier expansion. Despite the commitment of his people, however, Megaron says that – alone – they cannot control what happens beyond their borders.
"The river marks the limit of our lands," he explains. So when irresponsible fishing and hunting, and even greater threats like logging and mining, occur across the river, the Kayapó can only watch. Among his worries are population growth, the rapid destruction of natural lands, and climate change.
Still, he and his people are not without hope. "We are watching and fighting to preserve what is left," says Megaron. It is that commitment, alongside partnerships with CI, FUNAI, and other groups, that give the Kayapó a voice outside their vast land.
LEARN MORE: The Amazonia wilderness is unlike any other. Discover the work that CI is doing to protect the remaining forest.