Category Archives: Nature

Great expeditions to the Amazon

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“Grandes Expedições à Amazônia Brasileira”, written by environmentalist and educator João Meirelles Filho and recently published by Editora Metalivros, is a little gem for those interested in the history of the Amazon region and the very diverse agenda of men and women that explored the region during the last century. The author, that works for Instituto Peabiru, a non profit based in Belém, follows the steps of religious missionaries, Army officers in charge of surveilling the country’s borders, scientists looking for new species and artists in search of inspiration. Among his characters, Silvino Santos, the Amazon first filmmaker, Percy Fawcett, the British explorer that disappeared in the mid-twenties looking for a mythical city in the region, the Cousteau family, sculptor Frans Krajcberg and Botanical painter Margaret Mee.

This is, in fact, a sequel – two years ago Meirelles published a similar book covering 42 expeditions to the Amazon that happened between 1500 and 1930, including those led by writer Euclides da Cunha and naturalists Karl Friedrich von Martius and Johann Baptiste von Spix.

Check some of the amazing images included in the new publication:

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Four brilliant TED conferences on Brazilian sustainability

Zé Claudio Ribeiro at TED Amazonia, 2010, months before being murdered
Zé Claudio Ribeiro at TED Amazonia, 2010, months before being murdered

Animal trafficking, New Urbanism, habitat conservation, the Amazon…This is a wonderful selection of TED conferences that offer an overview of the main essential environmental topics and issues in Brazil, according to people that understand deeply the main interests and angles involved. All of them have English captions (in case of need, just hit the cc touch on the bottom right of the screen).

1 – Amazon anti-logging activist Zé Claudio Ribeiro describes his struggle and reveals that he was as menaced as Chico Mendes and Sister Dorothy, both killed by loggers and landowners due to their social and environmental activism. Last may, six months after this conference, Zé Claudio and his wife, Maria, were murdered in Nova Ipixuna, a small town in the state of Pará. I understand the police still didn’t identify the murderer.

2 – Paulo Saldiva, that I had the pleasure of interviewing a few times, is one of the main Brazilian specialists in air pollution and its health impacts, which affect in different ways the many layers of society.

3 – Biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira explains how the pet market feeds the illegal wildlife trade in the country, compromising the lives of 38 million animals every year in the country. She is working in a doctorate in Conservation Genetics at Universidade de São Paulo.

4 – Renowned urbanist and serial former mayor of Curitiba, capital of Paraná state, Jaime Lerner discusses the reinvention of metropolitan spaces and how this can improve the quality of life.


Also check these other cool TED conferences: 10 brains you will love

Anteaters, armadillos and tapirs: amazing Brazilian mammals

Bicho-preguiça (sloth or "Bradypus torquatus"). Photo by Stefan Laube/ Wikipedia
Bicho-preguiça (sloth or “Bradypus torquatus”). Photo by Stefan Laube/ Wikipedia

There are almost 700 different species of mammals in the country. Wikipedia has a pretty complete list. And these are some of the best images found on Wikipedia and Flickr.

Tatu-galinha ("Dasypus novemcinctus"). Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikipedia
Tatu-galinha (“Dasypus novemcinctus”). Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikipedia

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Sustainable – but bike unfriendly – Curitiba

Barigui Park, in Curitiba. Photo by Denise Mayumi/ Flickr

Curitiba, one of the biggest metropolis in the South of the country, is considered a highly sustainable city, thanks to its many parks and a series of environmentally-minded initiatives. But it is also the Brazilian city with the highest number of cars per capita. It is also quite bike-unfriendly, according to this wonderful documentary, “O Veículo Fantástico“, produced and directed by Nicole DiSante, with English subtitles.

Read also: Street golf.

Brazilian amphibians


This and the following photo were taken in Mandaguari, Paraná state, by Maurício Gonçalles/Flickr

No country has more amphibians than Brazil – at least 800 species of frogs and toads were described in the country.  You will find an updated list of  Brazilian amphibians plus lots of great pictures at Anfíbios e Répteis do Brasil website.

The group is under menace – amphibians are among the fastest disappearing animals, both nationally and internationally -, mainly because of the destruction of their habitats by construction or agriculture, but also because of pesticide contamination and climate change. In recent years, an unexpected series of frosts extinguished at least five frog species in the Southeast region of Brazil.

Check this great selection of amphibian photos seen on Flickr:

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The most beautiful Brazilian caves

Ubajara cave in Ceará. Photo by deltafrut

Brazil has at least 3,000 caves officially identified – and some of them are absolutely phenomenal. You will find here a selection of images found at Flickr. You should also visit Fotografia magazine’s website to check 20 years of underground photos by Alexandre Lobo.

In case you are wondering, the best source online of information about these geological formations is the Sociedade Brasileira de Espeleologia website (unfortunately, most of it only in Portuguese).

Also, read the post Maquiné, the cradle of Brazilian paleonthology.


Ubajara , again, by deltafrut

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Al Jazeera documentary about the killing of environmentalists in the Amazon

“I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment,” said Ze Claudio Ribeiro da Silva, an Amazon rainforest activist, at an environmental conference in Manaus. Six months later Ze Claudio was dead – gunned down, alongside his wife Maria, on May 24, 2011 in a remote corner of the Brazilian Amazon.

This is “The Crying Forest”,  the new documentary produced by Gabriel Elizondo, Al Jazeera network correspondent in Brazil, that premiered yesterday. You can watch it here:

Brazilian cacti

"Opuntia inamoena" photographed by Guilherme Jófili/Flickr at Catimbau Valley, Pernambuco state.

Unlike Mexico, Brazil is normally not associated with cacti – those hearty plants capable of surviving in extremely dry and hot regions. But the country is home to some 500 species of the Cactaceae family, present in most of the territory, not only in the arid states. You will also see cacti in many Brazilian vases (they are popular in decoration, thanks to their very low maintenance), tables (figo da índia or “Opuntia ficus indica“, a watery fruit originally from Mexico) or bathrooms (aloe, known in Brazil as babosa because of its gooey interior, is frequently used as a hair treatment).

Learn more about Brazilian cacti in this article by Liana John, that previously published here on Deep Brazil an extract of her recent book about the jaguar.



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Brazil at its best

Copacabana beach, as seen by Laszlo Ilyies/ Flickr

In the spirit of Brazilian Day, celebrated yesterday, check this map  with videos that show the beauties of each of the country’s states. Produced by government agencies or tourism bureaus, they focus on the state’s landscapes and the cultural or economic riches.

The map was created by Nicholas Dias Alves Hisdahl,  a Dutch Financial Analyst of Emerging Markets based in Florida, US, who has a profound love for Brazil. His own roots are as diverse as the country’s: a Dutch mother born in Suriname, from a half Dutch, half Black mother and a Scottish-Indian (from India) father, and a Brazilian father that descends from a German-Norwegian-Portuguese-Black  family from Minas Gerais.

Just choose a state and click on the arrow. Enjoy!


View República Federativa do Brasil in a larger map