Last Januray, Claire and I took a bus to the remote Nicaraguan town of Ayapal; inflated our pack rafts and started floating down the Rio Bocay for what would be a more than two week journey to the Caribbean Sea. We didn’t really know what to expect. What we discovered was a population of indigenous tribes living largely traditional lives in the jungle.
Along the northern coast of Nicaragua, bordering Honduras, lies the Bosawas Reserve. This extensive, largely unexplored rainforest is among the largest in the wester hemisphere, second, only to the Amazon. It is rich in biodiversity, a pristine habitat for many rare and endangered species, and home to two indigenous tribes still surviving in Nicaragua.
There have been years of conflict, between the Maylangna/Miskito tribes and invaders, over the forest’s resources, often resulting in violence. With the ongoing influx of settlers, the two indigenous tribes run a legitimate risk of being eliminated completely.
Between 2009 and 2013, 13 Bosawas natives lost their lives in the fight for control of this
land. A culture centuries old could vanish, and the reserve, although “protected” since 1997, is still proving to be remarkably vulnerable. Deforestation, for example, continues at an alarming rate. Reports have stated that with the current rate of logging, the rainforest could cease to exist in just two decades. The second largest rainforest in the western hemisphere could be gone in less than twenty years.
The Mayangna tribe is actively pressuring the Nicaraguan government to keep this area viable and protected. The tribal leader has traveled 300 km, across the country, to the capital Managua multiple times to protest against the settlers who invade and destroy the reserve.
The country, however, is the second poorest in western hemisphere Central America. People are hungry and desperate, and unfortunately, the reserve is a gem for potential mining and logging operations.