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Brazilian Amazon conservation activist killed by illegal loggers

In the Brazilian Amazon state Maranhão, the famous Brazilian Indian leader and Amazon protector Paulo Paulino Guajajara was shot by illegal loggers. Another Indian leader, Laércio Souza Silva, was injured.

Guajajara was hit in the head when the two of them ended up in an ambush of five illegal loggers on Friday and were shot at in the region of Araribóia. One of the attackers also died.

With around 20,000 members, the Guajajara’s are one of the largest Indian tribes in Brazil. In 2012 they started the “Guardiões da Floresta” protection movement with two other tribes in the Araribóia region. The group wants to protect the nature reserve of the Amazon and prevent illegal land conquest, logging and forest fires.

The Araribóia area is a sought-after target of illegal loggers and conquerors, who often use violence against conservationists. In recent years, several “Protectors of the Forest” have been killed, including three from Arabóia.

The murdered Indian leader was one of the leaders of the movement.

“I am sometimes scared, but we have to keep our heads up and do something. We are here to fight,” he told Reuters news agency earlier this year. “There is so much destruction of nature, healthy trees with wood as hard as steel are felled and taken away. We must protect this life for the future of our children,” he said then.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro receives a lot of criticism from indigenous tribes and nature conservation organizations for not doing enough about illegal activities in the Amazon and not offering enough protection to the Indian tribes.

Bolsonaro wants to develop less protected Indian areas in the Amazon and the area more economically. He has regularly supported illegal loggers, while criticizing non-governmental protection organizations and making substantial cuts to the budgets of Brazilian environmental authorities to oversee protection and control in the Amazon.

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