Illegal Gold Mining Eats Into Peruvian Amazon

(@FahadShabbir)

Illegal gold mining eats into Peruvian Amazon

Madre de Dios, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 19th Jun, 2024) On the banks of the Madre de Dios river, dredges work day and night in search of gold, part of a scourge of illegal mining that is slowly devouring the Peruvian Amazon.

This mega-diverse region of southeast Peru has lost on average 21,000 hectares (52,000 acres) of rainforest -- an area twice the size of Paris -- every year since 2017 despite policing efforts locals say are insufficient.

Where trees used to stand there are now deep sinkholes flooded with brown water where dredges sift through mountains of rubble for the valuable particles.

"The community can no longer plant their corn, their bananas, their cassava, because this land is practically dead," Jaime Vargas, a 47-year-old Shipibo Indigenous leader and reforestation activist, told AFP.

Although mining is prohibited in their territories, Indigenous people have no choice but to coexist with invading gold prospectors in the Madre de Dios department of some 180,000 inhabitants near Peru's borders with Brazil and Bolivia.

Some even end up working for them.

As the international price of gold soared in recent years to reach an all-time high in May, the hunt for the precious metal has only increased in Peru -- the world's tenth biggest producer and second in Latin America, according to the US Geological Survey.