The River Amazon runs through nine countries – Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana – and absorbs the flow of more than 1,000 tributaries, including the Nanay seen here in Peru. Its total length of around 6,500 km means there is dispute as to whether the Amazon or the Nile is the world's longest river.
Ecuador – Fact Check

Lost tribes may pay a high price for Black Gold

Photo by Paul Harris

Ecuador – Fact Check Lost tribes may pay a high price for Black Gold

Yasuni National Park in Ecuador – 250 km from the capital, Quito – is widely regarded as the most biologically diverse place on Earth. Scientists have identified more amphibian species than in the whole of the US and Canada.

Gavin Haines
Gavin Haines Travel Writer

With 596 species of bird, 382 species of fish, 150 different reptiles and 100,000 different insect species, Yasuni is a joy for lovers of nature. It is also home to two “uncontacted” indigenous tribes whose way of life is preserved in a Protected Area.

However, it is also home to vast reserves of crude oil. Companies have been exploiting black gold here since the 1940s and have gradually been closing in on the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) block, which is estimated to hold 850million barrels of oil beneath its virgin forest.

An initiative set up by President Rafael Correa in 2010 called on the international community to give Ecuador $3.6 billion over 13 years in exchange for a guarantee it would not exploit oil beneath ITT. The sum represented half of the potential value of the oil but the initiative raised just $13 million, despite support from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore.

Correa scrapped the plan in October 2013 and gave the go-ahead for drilling, claiming the world “failed” Ecuador. Critics note that oil makes up half of Ecuador’s export earnings and that the country has become dependent on the revenue from exploiting it. However, the blame game is of little concern to conservationists and Ecuadorian citizens, many of whom fear oil drilling will devastate the environment and displace indigenous communities.

186891058

Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is perhaps the most biologically diverse place on Earth, with 596 species of bird, 382 species of fish, 150 different reptiles (such as this Cat Snake) and 100,000 different insect species. It is also home to 20 per cent of Ecuador's reserves of oil. Photo by Manuel Mejia / Getty Images

Manuel Mejia

Manuel Mejia

Agency
Getty Images

Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is perhaps the most biologically diverse place on Earth, with 596 species of bird, 382 species of fish, 150 different reptiles (such as this Cat Snake) and 100,000 different insect species. It is also home to 20 per cent of Ecuador's reserves of oil.

Other stories about Ecuador