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Ángela Maldonado: The Tireless Defender of The Amazon

Ángela Maldonado is a Colombian activist working for the conservation of monkeys on the Amazonian border between Colombia and Peru, recently awarded the Buffett Award for being a conservation heroine.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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This recognition is given to conservationists because they are the ones who shape the future of our planet.

Maldonado is a Colombian doctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology and Geography at Oxford Brookes University (OBU). Her cause is to fight the illegal wildlife trade in the Amazon.

The National Geographic Society and the Howard G Buffet Foundation honor those who preserve and often protect ecosystems. In 2020, Maldonado was honored for working tirelessly to protect the wildlife and ecosystem of Latin America.

Night Monkey Hunting Ban

Her efforts on this issue began in 2003. However, it wasn't until 2008 that Maldonado's investigation into wildlife trafficking gave her enough information to take action. She was aware that the hunting of night monkeys in the area was primarily for malaria research purposes.

Maldonado and her team made a diagnosis of the situation by talking with the Peruvian and Colombian communities. In this way, they could gather more information and understand how the business works. She found that most of the traffickers lacked economic opportunities.

Also read: These Women are Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

Even when the Colombian authority has allowed the removal of these monkeys, the process remains illegal as most of the rules are not followed. For example, Decree 309 of Colombian law prohibits the commercialization of wildlife.

"Under no circumstances should you trade with wild fauna or flora," says Maldonado during an interview with El Tiempo.

Maldonado's Greatest Contributions

The primatologist is the founder of the Colombian NGO Entropika. They are dedicated to the long-term conservation of biodiversity in the triple Amazon border area between Colombia, Brazil and Peru.

In 2010, Maldonado won the Whitley Gold Award, the Green Oscar, for mitigating the illegal trade in night monkeys.

The environmental organization Entropika was created in 2007 to conserve local biodiversity, collaborating with indigenous communities and other essential actors. For the past ten years, her foundation has been monitoring wildlife populations.

The scientist compares the conservation status of populations in sites exposed to different levels of hunting. In this participatory research, hunters and expert biologists form the work team. With the results, they provide recommendations for the sustainable use of wildlife to indigenous peoples, the Colombian Park System and the environmental authorities of Colombia and Peru.

During their work, they discovered the existence of international trafficking in night monkeys for malaria research. The animals have been illegally taken from Peru and Brazil to Colombia. In 2008, Maldonado initiated an investigation that quantifies this trade and the status of wild populations of night monkeys.

To mitigate this traffic, the primatologist filed a popular benefit lawsuit against the biomedical laboratory that steals these monkeys, the Colombian Ministry of the Environment and the regional environmental authority of the Amazon. In 2014, she won the legal case.

This set a historical precedent in Colombia with regard to the sustainable use of biodiversity and the application of environmental legislation. Ángela Maldonado is the heroine ecological activist of the Amazon.

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