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How Drones and GPS Are Helping Indigenous People in Ecuador Save the Amazon

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Kids play in the Aguarico river just outside of the community of Sinangoe, Ecuador, downstream from where the Cofan guardia found gold miners operating on the shores of the river.

SINANGOE, Ecuador — The day begins with everyone drinking a big cup of Yoko. A man called Viejo (“old man,” in Spanish) carves the bark off a special vine found only in the Amazon highlands and mixes it with water. The resulting brew has a gritty texture and a bitter, earthy taste and gives the body instant energy that lasts for hours. After they drink, the indigenous Cofan guardia (Spanish for security force) grab their spears, backpacks, and GPS devices and head off to map their territory, deep in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest.

Armed with machetes, two youth from the community chop through the thick jungle overgrowth to uncover the barely visible path. Suddenly Viejo stops; through the maze of trees and leaves some 20 meters off the trail, he sees the Yoko vine. Since the plant is sacred for the Cofan, they decide this deserves a point on the map.

Edison Lucitante and Juan Herrera arrive with the technology. They both have GPS trackers in their pockets and cell phones, on which they use an application to help them document points of interest like this. Lucitante opens an application called Mapeo, selects the appropriate category for Yoko, types a short description of the plant, and takes a photograph.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !