Gold mining in the Amazon is a widespread, growing, and hugely destructive industry. The price of gold has rocketed in recent years, making mining a lucrative business. The mining process uses mercury, which then enters the ecosystem, a poison of danger to both animal and human health. Vast canyons of wasteland are left behind.
The Amazon Aid Foundation has produced a documentary on gold mining in the Amazon, filmed in the Madre de Dios region where I undertook my fieldwork (and where I spent many days working to catch birds for sampling right next to a sporadically operating mine). Even this short trailer is devastating to watch. (I have posted this before as part of a longer description of working in the field, but feel it is worth its own post, as every time I watch it I still can’t quite believe my eyes).