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Story Publication logo August 9, 2021

Mining Company Threatens the Life of the Andean Bear in Colombia (Spanish)


Aerial view of the Cauca River Valley

AngloGold's mining project La Quebradona could make things worse for the spectacled bear.


Image by Isabella Bernal Vega.

The story excerpt and photo captions below were translated from Spanish. To read the original story in full, visit Vice or Mongabay. You may also view the Spanish version of this story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Microscopic drops hang in the air, a veil of water hides the canyon of the Cartama River. Fog rolls across the mountains. The yarumos appear among the green oaks of the dense forest. Néstor Franco adjusts the saddle of Pacho, the sorrel horse he bought fourteen years ago. He looks up to look for the sun behind the gray sky, but the tin roof warns of rain.

"At any moment, the water will break," Franco says.

Néstor Franco, a farmer who until a decade ago hunted bears, pumas and armadillos with a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, lives in a house hidden behind a thicket. His wife, Olivia, and their four children prefer the city, although last year Mónica, the eldest daughter, returned from Medellín because the pandemic left her without a job. In that ranch at 2,600 meters, Franco lives alone, these days with Mónica. His house is one of the twenty-six in La Betania, a village in the southwest of Antioquia where most of the families grow microlots of specialty coffee.

Southwestern Antioquia is a water factory for the world. The guadual trees are a sign that a river or a stream runs underneath the canopy. Image by Isabella Bernal Vega.

An Andean bear roams the forests of Antioquia. Photo courtesy of the Gaia Community Monitoring Network.

Néstor Franco is the president of the Junta de Acción Comunal de La Betania and his 54-hectare farm is part of the Andean bear biological corridor in Colombia. Image by Isabella Bernal Vega.

After the period of violence in the region, most of the families left for the city and eventually the men returned alone to recover their land. Image by Isabella Bernal Vega.

La Betania is a village of 22 families that communicate between houses by horse trails. Some make a living from the production of specialty coffees, others from crops such as arracacha. Image by Isabella Bernal Vega.

An Andean bear roams the forests of Antioquia. Photo courtesy of the Gaia Community Monitoring Network.

The El Globo reserve is the largest in Támesis. Its mountains are a free territory for the preservation of the puma, the Andean bear and the crested eagle, vital species for the maintenance of the biodiverse landscape of the tropical Andes. Image by Isabella Bernal Vega.