‘Bicho do Mato’: the guardians of the Chapada

Posted by Categories: Brazil
‘Bicho do Mato’: the guardians of the Chapada

Leo is our guide on some routes of the Chapada Diamantina (Bahia, Brazil). He is part of the Bicho Do Mato Association, which combines ecotourism with fire fighting, environmental protection and social work with local communities

People who arrive in Chapada Diamantina (Brazil) immerse themselves in a natural paradise that forever changes their way of seeing the world. A paradise that, however, lives under the threat of fires, deforestation, loss of native species and, in short, the devastating effect of human hands.

The groups that discover the State of Bahia with Travel Karuna are aware with the importance of respecting the natural environment. Especially when they visit regions such as the Chapada Diamantina Natural Park, a protected area of 152,000 hectares that must be visited with a specialized guide.

We always prefer the guides of the Bicho Do Mato Association, and we want to explain why.

Leo is our trusted expert. His great physical preparation is a guarantee that the trekking route will run safely for the group. Further, we love his deep knowledge of the environment. From his hand, we will know the particularities of certain trees or birds; the reason for some geological formations; the legend that hides each waterfall; the life that growns in this bend of the river… Leo  he passes on his passion for the Chapada Diamantina, his vocation for a place that is seriously threatened by a tremendous danger: deforestation.

The increase in forest fires in the Amazon region is a well-known environmental problem (it grew by 30% in 2019 until 90,000 fire focus, according to National Space Research Institute of Brazil). But that risk is shared by all natural regions of Brazil, including the Chapada Diamantina. And the local populations are the best to deal with it.

The members of the Bicho Do Mato Association are part of the Voluntary Brigade of Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires. As they explain on its website, they work together with the Chapada Diamantina National Park Association fighting fire in sensitive areas of environmental protection, and also – and very important – raising awareness and educate on how to prevent it, both to the visitors as well as the local population, with important actions in schools and associations in the area.

These actions include the management of forest nurseries in which they cultivate Atlantic Forest and Caatinga species, in addition to registering the forest species of these biomes in the district of Ibicoara. That work allows them to classify this species as forest heritage and, therefore, to improve their legal protection.

Care of the environment also serves as a starting point to undertake cultural and development projects, for example, working with recycled materials to make puppets and circus juggling, with which they produce theatrical shows that carry their message to the general public of their territory.

Supporting initiatives such as this association is very important for Travel Karuna. We learn from these guides and, in addition, we collaborate directly with the communities of the places we visit.

It is an honor for us to travel with the guardians of the Chapada Diamantina.


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