Greenpeace Jaguars on the prowl

Saving Argentine forests from destruction

Feature story - July 26, 2004
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The Greenpeace Jaguars are leaping into action: activists on motorbikes are stopping bulldozers from destroying forest lands in Salta, Argentina. Cyberactivists around the world are picking up the phone and calling the Argentine embassies in their countries to demand a moratorium on forest destruction to stop the killing of rare wildlife and displacement of forest peoples. Your help is urgently needed: you can be a Greenpeace Jaguar with a telephone and three minutes of your time.

You can help save jaguars in Argentina with a phone call supporting our action right now.

On Monday, July 26th, nine Greenpeace activists, including five 'jaguars', located bulldozers in Salta, on the border of the Great Chaco and Yungas forests. They climbed onto the machines and used chains to lock them. Days later, these bulldozers are still immobilized, and other 'jaguars' are on the prowl for more.

Update August 1st: The Greenpeace Jaguars have left the forest for now, but we'll be back. The campaign won't end until we have a moratorium on forest destruction. Your phone call can still help pressure the president of Argentina to take positive action.

Update July 30th: In Argentina, the government has been turning off their phone exchanges. In the forest, bulldozer operators stopped their operations and attempted to hide their equipment to avoid our motorbiking activists. And embassies the world over continued to field calls from cyberactivists and try to route them toward email responses to lessen the administrative burden. Here's a sample of the press coverage the action has been getting the world over, along with high-resolution images and news from the forest. But what has the president of Argentina done to ensure a moratorium?

Update July 29th: During their latest prowl our jaguars tracked down five more bulldozers clear cutting and burning the forest. Using their motorbikes they intercepted the bulldozers and blocked their path to the forest thus ending today's planned destruction. The machines have been locked up with chains and 'Blocked by Greenpeace' is now stamped on all the diggers. Monday's bulldozers are also still locked up so, all in all, our prowlers have managed to immobilize eight bulldozers.

Update July 28th: The Jaguars have now been at it for more than 72 hours -- they have immobilized bulldozers, sparked press attention in Argentina, and been supported by more than 5000 phone calls to Argentine embassies the world over. The Argentine embassy in the UK reported to one caller they'd had 14 calls in a half hour about the issue: let's keep the pressure up!

Here are some excerpts from the message which our activist Emiliano sent to our cyberactivists worldwide:

Greenpeace activist

And we're off! The motorbike-riding Greenpeace Jaguars have just gone into action. The bulldozers are moving in, but the volunteers on their motorbikes are blocking them. We're stopping them from destroying the whole forest!!!!

I need you to

join the Greenpeace Jaguars

from wherever you are right now. Please, don't wait even a minute.

Call your Argentine embassy now, and ask that the President of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, introduce a moratorium on deforestation. Then please let us know what the embassy said.

Click here and find the phone number of the Argentine embassy in your country.

In Argentina, 75 percent of our native forests have already disappeared, and every hour the equivalent of 20 football pitches (soccer fields, for you North Americans) of forest is destroyed to grow transgenic soya. The damage is irreversible, it is almost impossible to grow forest on the soil again - and today an area the size of Germany is at risk. In the last month, a provincial government has already sold off a natural reserve to companies planning to sow genetically engineered (GE) soya, an unprecedented act. This cannot carry on! That's why the Greenpeace Jaguars have gone into action to defend north-west Argentina's remaining forest.

I'm also asking if you could send on this email to your closest contacts and friends, to those who share with you the desire to defend the forest, in every corner of the world. The participation via email of many people like you has succeeded before in stopping other cases of deforestation. This time too, we're going to win!

Please help us. The destruction of the forests in north-west Argentina means the loss of thousands of animal and plant species, the degredation of the soil and its contamination thanks to the use of pesticides, as well as hundreds of indigenous and local people losing their homes.Emiliano in the forest

Ask President Kirchner to declare a moratorium on deforestation for the entire country! I know I can count on your participation.

Emiliano Ezcurra
Forest Campaign Coordinator
Greenpeace Argentina

"We're here to stop these jaguar forests being destroyed and the land turned into a genetically engineered soya desert," Emiliano said from the Yungas forest.

People being evicted, going hungry, for European steak and hamburgers

The Yungas Rainforest and the Great Chaco American forest are two neighbouring ecosystems. They are rich in biodiversity and wildlife, such as rare jaguars. They are being destroyed at one of the fastest rates in the world -- in order to grow soya for animal feed.

The forest had been destroyed for agriculture for years, but the rate of destruction has accelerated since 1996, when Monsanto introduced GE soya beans into Argentina. Since then, the country has extended its agricultural frontiers to grow GE soya for export as animal feed, at the expense of its threatened forests, wildlife and the homes and livelihoods of many people.

Ramón Ferriera, who lives in the Great Chaco forest, said: "They force us to leave our land, often with guns. Then they come with these powerful machines, knock down all the trees, burn them and plant soya. We see no economic benefit from such great destruction and we lose all we have."

Emiliano Ezcurra says "People go hungry while their land is used to grow soya to feed cows, pigs and chickens... This environmental and social abuse is totally unacceptable. The Argentinean Government must stop the forest destruction and give people who live in the forest the legal right to their land."

Take Action

Call the Argentine embassy in your country now!

More information

Read more about the unique biodiversity which is being destroyed in the Yungas Rainforest and the Great Chaco American forest.