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Jaguar skull

(10/15/2012) Jaguar skull in Guyana. Jaguars are the biggest cat in the Americas. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

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Collared Puffbird in the place with the world's highest biodiversity

(09/07/2010) Collared Puffbird (Bucco capensis)

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Hunting endangers even the most untouched regions of the Amazon

(08/12/2010) Hunters orphaned this baby giant anteater. Photo courtesy by Paul Rosolie.

There are places in the Amazon that remain almost untouched by any kind of development. Animals here, according to modern day explorer and guide Paul Rosolie, survive in their natural abundance. They also act differently: jaguars will sun themselves in plain site and peccaries will make as much noise as they please, showing little fear of human. Yet, even these last truly wild places are coming under increasing pressure by hunters seeking to fill a growing market for bushmeat, impacting wild populations and shifting animals' behavior.

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Storm over the Amazon River

(04/05/2010) Storm over the Amazon River. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler, March 2010 near Amacayacu National Park, Colombia, on the border with Peru.

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Photo: The World's Smallest Monkey

(04/03/2010) The pygmy marmoset is the world's smallest monkey. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler, March 2010 in Amacayacu National Park, Colombia, near the border with Peru.

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Piranha in Guyana

(03/06/2010) The fearsome teeth of a pirhana. The fish was caught by a local fisherman on the Essequibo River in Guyana: it is considered good-eating by locals. Photo by Tiffany Roufs, 2008.

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Guyana bars gold mining from vast rainforest area

(03/01/2010) The jaguar Panthera onca is classified as Near Threatened: a previous six-week expedition to Rewa Head observed ten jaguars. Photo by: Ashley Holland and Gordon Duncan.

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Black, blue, and orange butterfly in the Amazon

(01/17/2010) The Blue transparent (Ithomia pellucida) in the Colombian Amazon outside of Leticia.

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Party sloth

(12/31/2009) Best wishes for 2010!

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Owl butterfly

(12/23/2009) The Owl butterfly (Caligo idomeneus) is a large tropical butterfly characterized by eye-spots which are meant to startle or confuse predators, providing an opportunity for escape.

Unlike most other butterflies, the Owl butterfly is most active at dusk.

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Giant monkey frog

(12/12/2009) The giant monkey frog of Peru is known for its mind-altering skin secretions. Shamans in the Amazon rain forest have used this species in hunting rituals.

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Angel Falls in Venezuela

(12/05/2009) Angel Falls is the world's highest waterfall, at 979 m (3,212 ft) high. It is located in Southern Venezuela in Canaima National Park.

Southern Venezuela is currently experiencing a gold rush that it pitting members of indigenous groups against one another, polluting rivers, and driving wildlife poaching.

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Jaguar in the Pantanal

(12/04/2009) This jaguar came a little too close for comfort on a trip to the Pantanal this past April. The big cat emerged from a swampy area shortly after sunset and approached within 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) before bolting off. This photo was taken while the jaguar was still about 20 feet away -- no pictures were taken thereafter. Located in the center of South America, in the Bolivia-Brazil-Paraguay border region, the Pantanal is the world's largest tropical wetland. But the ecosystem is increasingly under threat by cane growers and infrastructure projects. In an effort to protect the Pantanal, the Brazilian government in August proposed banning cane ethanol plants in the region and requiring farmers to use no-till planting methods. Farmers would also be required to eliminate the use of machinery and agrochemicals.

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Shaman in the Amazon rainforest

(11/30/2009) Much of the Amazon rainforest remains occupied by tribal groups. While few of these live as conjured in the imagination, the state of the forests in their territories is a testament to their approach to managing lands. But like the Amazon itself, these groups face new pressures from the outside world. For the indigenous, the lure of urban culture is strong—cities seem to offer the promise of affluence and the conveniences of an easy life. But in leaving their forest homes indigenous peoples are usually met with a stark reality: the skills that serve them so well in the forest don’t translate well to an urban setting. The odds are stacked against them; they arrive near the bottom of the social ladder, often not proficient in the language and customs of city dwellers. The lucky ones may find work in factories or as day laborers and security guards, but many eventually return to the countryside. Some re-integrate into their villages, others return in a completely different capacity than when they departed. They may join the ranks of miners and loggers who trespass on indigenous lands, ferreting out deals that pit members of the same tribe against each other in order to exploit the resources they steward. As tribes are fragmented, and forests fall, indigenous culture—and the profound knowledge contained within—is lost. The world is left a poorer place, culturally and biologically.

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Soy in the Amazon

(11/28/2009) Soy and Amazon forest in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Since 1988 Mato Grosso has lost more forest than any state in Brazil: 133,352 square kilometers, or more than 35 percent of Amazon clearing.

Mato Grosso's forests have been logged for timber and then primarily converted into cattle pasture — the state has some 26 million head of cattle across 24 million hectares of pasture. Extensive areas have also been planted with mechanized soy farms, as seen in the picture above.

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