Satellite images show that the interruption of gold mining immediately changed the color of the river. Operators of dredges, which can cost up to US$1.4 million, said they planned to return to the area after the government anti-mining operation ended.
Carnivorous fish are among the most consumed by the Munduruku and the most contaminated by mercury. Scientists suspect the toxic metal, found in the bodies of the members of this indigenous community is seriously affecting the health of adults and children who are born with malformations and developmental delays. Munduruku women already avoid getting pregnant.
Although living 186 miles away from the area along the Tapajós River where illegal mining is concentrated, Santarém’s inhabitants are at high risk of mercury poisoning.
In a joint statement, members of WWF-Brazil, said the region between the Amapá state in Brazil and French Guiana is one area that is experiencing major problems.
As many as 40,000 illegal miners — mostly poor, Quechua-speaking laborers from Peru’s Andean highlands — have invaded some of the most pristine and biologically rich sections of ancient forest in the Amazon basin.