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terça-feira, 20 de agosto de 2013

BBC, surucucu e o tapa na cara

180 milhões de ouvintes, é o alcance de uma transmissão de radio da BBC, observem o brasão de armas da poderosa, falando de paz, que não é a palavra do momento. Fico pensando se nesse universo de ouvintes não há gente que financia a ENRC, a mineradora britânica que pretende bancar o projeto Porto Sul, e que seja capaz de deter a barbárie ambiental sobre um bioma já destruido em 94%, e ainda assim "Patrimônio da Humanidade" pela UNESCO.

Abaixo o texto veiculado pela radio BBC, de autoria na jornalista Kirsty Lang, que nos visitou em Serra Grande.

Carnival was in full swing in the small Brazilian coastal town of Itacare when a giant snake measuring six metres long, slithered down the streets sending hundreds of revellers screaming into the roadside bars. Until recently the snake would have been killed. The police were standing by with twelve guage shotguns. But instead the local doctor was summoned. Dr Rodrigo Souza (SO-za) moved to the North Eastern state of Bahia12 years ago and developed a fascination with the rainforest and it’s wildlife. Now whenever a strange creature ventures into a built up area, the Doctor is called in. He was even asked to rescue a group of confused penguins that had been swept up from the Falkland Islands by the mighty South Atlantic current.

Rodrigo identifies the carnival incident as a turning point in his battle to save endangered species in this dwindling patch of Atlantic rainforest in which he has made his home. When Rodrigo first moved to North Eastern Brazil it was common to see people illegally selling birds, snakes and monkeys on the side of the road. That rarely happens now. The authorities have clamped down and the local people have become more aware of the importance of saving their unique ecosystem. On the day I drove to visit Rodrigo, someone stopped the traffic in the middle of the road to allow a snake to cross

But Rodrigo’s real passion is the Atlantic Bushmaster, one of the most poisonous snakes in the Western Hemisphere. Thick bodied and measuring up to three metres long, these majestic creatures have distinctive orange and black markings and heat seeking sensors under the eyes that allows them to lock on to warm blooded mammals. A human can die within an hour of being bitten unless they receive the right anti-venom injection.

There are 35 Bushmasters living in Rodrigo’s private snake sanctuary which has a NO ENTRY sign on the door with a large skull and crossbones. He’s been compared by the Brazilian media to Grizzly Man, the American environmentalist who lived among the Grizzly bears of Alaska until one of them killed him. Grizzlyman’s life and death was the subject of an excellent documentary by the German filmmaker, Werner Herzog. But Rodrigo resents the comparisons:  “I’m under no illusion about my snakes.” he says “They have no idea who I am and I know they will not hesitate to kill me”.

I admit to feeling absolutely terrified when he invites me inside the sanctuary to watch him casually lifting up a two metre snake with an instrument resembling a giant metal tuning fork. Before handling them he zips into an insulated body suit that stops him from giving off too much heat. Meanwhile I’m standing a safe distance away – trembling with fear - in shorts and a T-shirt.

The Bushmaster has an almost mythological status amongst the indigenous people of the rainforest. Because of its attraction to heat they called it the “fire extinguisher” and have warned Rodrigo never to sit near an open fire in Bushmaster territory because the snakes can leap a distance of several metres towards a heat source and at very high speed. He was once called to a road traffic accident where a Bushmaster had attacked the headlamp of a passing motorbike.

Dr Rodrigo Souza is the first and probably only person ever to successfully breed the Atlantic Bushmaster in captivity. He milks his snakes for venom which is then used to make an antidote for snake bite victims. The Bushmaster venom also contains unique medical properties of interest to cancer researchers.

However this majestic serpent is now under threat of extinction as its habitat disappears. Along with lion tamarins, cougars and woolly spider monkeys, Bushmaster snakes are one of many endangered species unique to Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest.  Not to be confused with the mighty Amazon, the Atlantic rainforest once covered the entire coastal region from the North East to the Argentine border in the South. But now only 6 per cent of it remains, a few tiny islands of green, most of in the state of Bahia and even these are under threat.

There are now plans by ENRC, a British Kazak mining company to build a railway right through one of the few remaining areas of virgin Atlantic rainforest. ENRC’s aim is to transport iron ore from a mine inland to the port of Iheus despite this area being named by UNESCO as a priority region for conservation. For Rodrigo who has been battling for years to preserve this unique ecosystem, it’s a slap in the face. For him the railway would be an ecological disaster for the rainforest and his beloved snakes 

À pedido da Kirsty, mandei hoje imagens para um blog da própria BBC, cujo link divulgo em breve, e onde teremos (espero) a chance de elaborar melhor a questão ENRC versus proteção ambiental.

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