Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Suriname: "New" Species Already Endangered

From the Associated Press, June 5 2007, an article on the "discovery" (one can be sure that the species are not new to the indigenous peoples of the area) of previously undocumented species of frog and insects in eastern Suriname. Having just been found by surveyors, they are almost immediately at risk, especially as the survey was done for mining companies, one of which, BHP is an Australian transnational corporation, with a woeful record of environmental destruction. Amerindians and Maroons of Suriname's interior, as the article notes, already suffer from poisonous contamination from mining, so the prospects for this "new" frog do not look too good.


PARAMARIBO Suriname - A frog with fluorescent purple markings and 12 kinds of dung beetles were among two dozen new species discovered in the remote plateaus of eastern Suriname, scientists said Monday.

The expedition was sponsored by two mining companies hoping to excavate the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum, and it was unknown how the findings would affect their plans.

Scientists discovered the species during a 2005 expedition led by the U.S.-based nonprofit Conservation International in rainforests and swamps about 80 miles southeast of Paramaribo, the capital of the South American country, organization spokesman Tom Cohen said.

Among the species found were the atelopus frog, which has distinctive purple markings; six types of fish; 12 dung beetles, and one ant species, he said.

The scientists called for better conservation management in the unprotected, state-owned areas, where hunting and small-scale illegal mining is common.

The study was financed by Suriname Aluminum Company LLC and BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname. Suriname Aluminum, which has a government concession to explore gold in the area, will include the data in its environmental assessment study, said Haydi Berrenstein, a Conservation International official in Suriname, which borders Brazil, Guyana and French Guiana.

About 80 percent of Suriname is covered with dense rainforest. Thousands of Brazilians and Surinamese are believed to work in illegal gold mining, creating mercury pollution that has threatened the health of Amerindians and Maroons in Suriname's interior.

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