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The Belo Monte Dam endangers the Zebra Pleco and the lives of thousands of people
Belo Monte Dam - a threat to life
The Belo Monte Dam threatens life in the Amazon region, from the lives of all the indigenous people who will lose their homes and livelihoods to unique species of wildlife. The very rare black and white Zebra Pleco fish being one example of an animal endangered by this vast construction scheme.
Plans for the Belo Monte Dam were first talked about way back in 1975 and then put on the shelf due to objections. They were being looked at again in the 1990s and over the last decade, and sadly it has led to Norte Energia signing a contract on 26 August ,2010, to build the Belo Monte Dam.
There has been enormous opposition all the way with regard to this massive hydroelectric dam, which it is said will provide for much of the energy needs of a fast-developing Brazil. But not everyone is convinced that it will do so but rather will be an incredible waste of money and cause untold environmental destruction to the area and ruin the lives of thousands of indigenous people. Unfortunately despite the ongoing protests, it currently looks as if the Belo Monte Dam is going to be created no matter what anyone thinks and no matter how much it destroys.
Nevertheless, the building of the Belo Monte Dam has been stopped in the past, but can it be stopped again and for good?
Zebra Pleco could become extinct in the wild
The Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra) is a very unique and rare tropical catfish that could become extinct in the wild if the Belo Monte Dam is constructed in Brazil. If this dam is built not only will it bring an end to the way of life of thousands of indigenous tribal people who have lived in the area of the Xingu River, which flows into the mighty Amazon, but is a very serious threat to wildlife and biodiversity.
The black and white-patterned Zebra Pleco is just one endemic species only found in that area that is likely to die out if the dam is made. The Sunshine Pleco (Scobinancistrus aureatus), the Slender Dwarf Pike Cichlid (Teleocichla centisquama), the Plant-eating Piranha (Ossubtus xinguense) and the Xingu Dart-Poison frog (Allobates crombiei) are other endangered species.
It is estimated that hundreds of endemic species will die out because of this but no one really knows how many plants and animals are affected. It is impossible to know what you will be killing if you destroy a large rainforest and divert and drastically diminish the normal flow of a river.
Any species of fish or other animals that need to migrate up and down the river will no longer be able to do so as they have in the past.
Zebra pleco, Hypancistrus zebra living in Rio Xingu biotope aquarium
Belo Monte Dam on Amazon
The problem is that the Belo Monte Dam if constructed will create two vast reservoirs and canals and, in so doing, flood 668 square kilometres, 400 of which will be rainforest. In addition to this the normal flow of the river will be destroyed because as much as 80% of it will be diverted away from where it normally runs.
This is bound to have devastating effects on the biodiversity of the area as well as destroying the livelihoods of the Juruna and Arana indigenous people who live there. The Xingu River's "Big Bend" will experience a permanent drought.
Over 20,000 people from Alatmira and Vitoria do Xingu will have to leave their homes and take their chances elsewhere.
Furthermore it is estimated that as many as 100,000 migrant workers will come to the area but there will only be some 40,000 jobs at the height of the Belo Monte Dam's construction, and of these only 2,000 will be long term employment. This will mean that many of these people will turn to illegal logging, cattle ranching and other unsustainable industries, thus destroying even more of the Amazon's precious rainforests. They will be rivals for work and resources with the displaced indigenous people too and this is sure to cause social tension and problems.
Methane and Global Warming
Philip Fearnside of the National Amazon Research Institute has realised that incredible volumes of methane gas are sure to be generated by the forests of decaying vegetation flooded to create the Belo Monte reservoirs and canals.
Our planet is already suffering badly from the early stages of Global Warming and we need to drastically cut down on greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Methane, which is such a gas, is 25 times worse than carbon dioxide, the one that most people are talking about having to reduce.
Scientists have long pointed out so often that the rainforests are the "lungs" of the planet and help regulate the amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Belo Monte Dam by destroying more forest will make a very bad situation even worse!
Belo Monte Dam protest campaigns
There have been many campaigns to halt the construction of the Belo Monte Dam. Over 600 protesters, mainly members of the indigenous tribes threatened by it, as well as environmental activists occupied the construction site for the dam until their protest was ended by a judge who ordered their eviction.
Amazon Watch is an organisation that monitors all threats to the Amazon and publishes updates of news and campaigns on its website. It has an ongoing petition to Stop the Belo Monte Dam.
David de Rothschild MYOO ARTiculate 3° 17' S, 52° 12' W - Mission Overview
David de Rothschild and MYOO
Adventurer, author and environmentalist David de Rothschild, who only last year sailed his Plastiki catamaran made of 12,500 plastic bottles across the Pacific to raise awareness of plastic pollution, has just been on another expedition. David went to the Amazon to the Xingu River in November to see the Belo Monte Dam situation for himself and report on it. via his MYOO website and elsewhere.
Working in alliance with Amazon Watch, David and his team are seeking to raise awareness of the issue raised by the dam and having a look at what we stand to lose if it is made. Speaking on his MYOO ARTiculate video diary referring to the outcome of a 20-year battle to stop the dam he says "common sense obviously failed." David and the MYOO team intend using art, sculptures and photography to comment on this matter.
What does the future hold in store? Only time will tell but so many of us are praying for a miracle that will stop the Belo Monte Dam for good!
A Last Stand for the Xingu
Belo Monte Dam links
- AMAZON WATCH » Stop the Belo Monte Monster Dam
The Brazilian government is moving ahead 'at any cost' with plans to build the third-largest dam in the world and one of the Amazon's most controversial development projects – the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River.
- David de Rothschild: Man On a Mission « The Leica Camera
- Belo Monte Dam Site Occupation Ends In Brazil
SAO PAULO -- Hundreds of protesters have ended their occupation of the construction site of one the world's largest hydroelectric dams, Indian rights activists said Friday. Renato Santana of the Indian Missionary Council said more than 600 Indians, f
- David de Rothschild Challenges Belo Monte Dam | Nature | OutsideOnline.com
The environmental activist has hiked to both poles and sailed across the Pacific in Plastiki. Next, he will paddle down Brazil’s Xingu River to try to halt the construction of the $19 billion Belo Monte dam.
- Belo Monte Dam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia