Into the wild
Juan Kunchiky, an Amazonian Indian from the Ecuadorian rainforest, has been promoting awareness of rainforest destruction to children and teachers at schools in East Yorkshire.
Juan Kunchiky, whose indigenous name is Tzerem, was born into the Shiwiar tribe in the village of Cambantsa, where its population is roughly 1,200 inhabitants.
The Shiwiar tribe live deep in the Amazon rainforest in the southern part of Ecuador, close to the Peruvian border, where there are no roads, running water or electricity.
A nature guide at an eco-tourist lodge in the Ecuadorian rainforest, Juan is on a mission to educate British pupils and teachers on rainforest sustainability and introduce them to the natural beauties of his homeland.
Pupils at Keyingham Primary School
“It’s important to realise that we are consuming a lot of natural resources that come directly from the rainforest and many people are not aware of that.” said Juan.
“The rainforest is home to many people, not just the plants and animals. If we continue to consume the resources of the rainforest at the speed that we are then, of course, the rainforest is very much in trouble.
“So I think it’s important to educate the young people, in that way we can globally create a sustainable world for future generations.”
However, Juan accepts that it would take more than presentations and lectures for people to make a difference.
“Nobody can force people to change their attitude. If they're concerned they will change. But if we work very much by giving lectures about awareness then little by little we can help with that process of change.”
During his visit, Juan sports a head-dress made of toucan feathers and necklaces made from animal bone. The red painted marks on his face are a sign of respect.
And it seems his message was well received by the youngsters. Listening intently at Keyingham Primary School was 10 year-old Georgie, who’s now been inspired to visit the Amazon:
“I've learned about all the different species of animals that live in the rainforest and how much we use the rainforest without knowing.”
“I'm thinking of going one day to explore the Amazon, see how people live there.” she added.
Impressed with the response he’s had from the children, Juan says he will be sharing the ideas he’s picked up on this tour with his community.
“We're trying to educate the indigenous people [in Ecuador], and I've been working with five different ethnic groups [or tribes], where they can be more aware about preservation of their culture and learn about the outside world.”
last updated: 24/02/2009 at 12:26