A group of researchers have discovered two new species of dog-faced bats in South America. Researchers have described two new species of dog-faced bats: the Freeman’s dog-faced bat from Panama and the Waorani dog-faced bat from Ecuador. At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History the scientists compared their field observations, including DNA, sound recordings and body measurements of the bats, with existing museum collections and confirmed that the bat was a new species. The team first came across the bats in 2012.
Copper mining in southern Ecuador has incited numerous confrontations between indigenous communities and a Chinese mining company. The country’s leading environmental organization, Acción Ecológica, has been criticizing the government’s handling of these conflicts. In response to the criticism, the Ecuadorian government has tried to shut down Acción Ecológica, making the environmental NGO one target of what seems to be a larger government campaign against vocal civil society organizations.
On December 31, 2015, Peru’s Minister of Production passed a resolution that banned fishing of manta rays, among other stipulations. The resolution requires that mantas that are caught must be released immediately back into the ocean. The largest known populations of giant manta rays live in Peru and Ecuador. Ecuador began protecting manta rays in 2010, and Peru’s new ban adds to this protection. Other countries, including the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, and the Philippines, have passed regulations for manta ray protection.
Concurrent with the official COP21 negotiations in Paris, leaders of indigenous nations from North and South America were in Paris demanding justice for violations of the rights of the earth. In 2010, in Bolivia, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth gave rise to the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature as an alternative to the COP meetings. This year, the tribunal reviewed several cases that dealt with Ecuador’s oil exploitation, particularly in Yasuni National Park.
The Canadian Supreme Court ruled to allow a group of Ecuadorians to attempt to collect billions of dollars in environmental damages in a Canadian court. Ecuador has been embroiled in a 13-year legal battle with the company over the contamination of a rainforest in Ecuador, where Texaco operated. Chevron, which bought Texaco, has yet to pay the $9.5 billion judgment, arguing that the pollution was caused by the Ecuadorian national oil company and that the judgment was a product of corruption. The Ecuadorians will attempt to seize the assets of Chevron's subsidiary in an Ontario court.
Ecuador halted environmental cooperation deals with Germany worth some 43 million euros to the Latin American country after German lawmakers tried to visit an Amazon rainforest recently opened for oil production, the foreign minister said December 19. President Rafael Correa in 2007 asked wealthy countries to donate $3.6 billion to help protect the environmentally sensitive rainforest known as Yasuni in exchange for promises not to drill for the oil beneath it. In 2013, he scrapped the plan and authorized drilling after the proposal brought in a fraction of what he had sought.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) agreed to hear an appeal by Chevron Corp of a lower court’s decision that would allow Ecuadorean villagers to pursue a $9.51 billion lawsuit in Ontario. The SCC’s decision to hear the case is the latest episode in a drawn-out conflict between Chevron and villagers of Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region in the Amazon. In November, Ecuador’s National Court of Justice upheld a 2011 verdict that held that Chevron was responsible for pollution in the Amazon rainforest caused by Texaco, an oil firm that was absorbed by Chevron.
Ecuador has approved plans for oil production in untouched parts of the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rainforest, abandoning plans to accept payment not to drill there. President Rafael Correa said the nation had no choice but to go ahead, as wealthy nations have yet to back his conservation plan.
Plaintiffs in the Ecuadorian case against Chevron have filed a lawsuit in Brazil, seeking to enforce an $18 billion court ruling against the oil giant. The initial case concerned pollution from Texaco, which was later acquired by Chevron, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the company, working with Ecuador's state-owned oil company, dumped drilling waste into unlined pits that is alleged to have caused illnesses among indigenous people. The plaintiffs sought a judgment that would force Chevron to pay both the cost of cleanup and damages to injured groups.