Disney’s animated movie “Up!”, featuring the striking landscapes of southeastern Venezuela, has opened in many theaters around the U.S. In an interview to the Associated Press, the film’s director and story supervisor discussed the trip they took to Angel Falls and the tepuis (a table-top mountain) of Venezuela and Brazil during the making of the film. They described it as “the most magnificent trip that most of us would take in our lifetime” and called on tourists to be “respectful of the locations” and not “ruin them ’cause they are really beautiful places.” Watch the trailer featuring Angel Falls below.
Archive for the ‘Nature & Environment’ Category
Posted in Nature & Environment, tagged animals, Art, capybara, Catholic church, chiguire, chiguires, Easter, herbivores, llanos, Nature, rodents, South America, venezuela, wildlife, zoos on April 28, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Venezuela’s plains region is home to the capybara (in Spanish, chigüire), which is the world’s largest rodent. These herbivores can weigh up to 100 pounds and live most of their lives in water. When they are born, they actually swim better than they walk, according to a zookeeper in Parque del Este in Caracas.
Sadly, chigüires are sometimes hunted and eaten for Easter dinner despite the fact that, during Lent, there is a religious prohibition against eating meat. During the time of colonization, the native chigüire was misrepresented to the Catholic church by the Spanish conquistadors, who wrote to the church officials for permission to eat the animal, which was unknown in Europe. The Spaniards said that chigüis lived in the water and resembled fish, conveniently leaving the hair and four feet out of the description.
By and large, chigüires are friends, not food, and people in the llanos keep them as pets. Recently, the chigüire has become a subject for popular art, and can be found on t-shirts and logos everywhere in Venezuela.
Spanish-speakers will enjoy a popular sytirical news blog in Venezuela known as El Chigüire Bipolar.
Posted in Nature & Environment, The Region, tagged Amazon, amazon river, climate change, ecuador, environment, environmentalism, forest, global warming, green, latin america, Nature, news, river, South America, venezuela, Venezuela environment, water on March 30, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Venezuela is the nation with the 10th-largest amount of biodiversity in the world. Efforts to protect that biodiversity are highlighted in a new study by RAISG, or La Red Amazónica de Información Socioambiental Georreferenciada.
According to the study, Venezuela has the second-highest proportion of its Amazon region protected. The Amazonian basin covers an astounding 3 million square miles in South America, overlapping several different countries and encompassing a population of perhaps 33 million. Venezuela has already protected 71.5% of its share — second only to Ecuador’s 79.7%, and far ahead of Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.
RAISG measured Indigenous territory and other protected lands, which are generally the best conserved. Venezuela has 43 national parks. A respect for nature is enshrined in the constitution of Venezuela under a chapter that guarantees all citizens the right to a safe and healthy environment.
Since the Amazon Rainforest is often called the “lungs” of South America, we can breathe a little easier thanks to Venezuela.
Posted in Nature & Environment, Society & Politics, tagged Austria, brazil, caracas, cars, Chavez, Colombia, development, employment, environment, Hugo Chavez, Medellin, metrocable, news, politics, San Augustin, transportation, Travel, venezuela on February 11, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
The “Metrocable” that is set to revolutionize transportation in crowded Caracas will open next month. It will reportedly travel 1.8 kilometers through the following neighborhoods: Parque Central, Hornos de Cal, La Ceiba, El Manguito y San Agustín.
What’s so cool about the Metrocable, you ask? For one, it whisks travelers overland through the clouds to reduce traffic congestion and pollution. It also helps reduce travel time to work for low-income residents in the city’s peripheral areas.
A Reuters article yesterday suggested that this project is well-liked in San Agustín. It prompted one resident to call Hugo Chavez “the only president who has really worked for the poor.” This sentiment is reflected in the statistics: a recent UN study shows poverty has dropped by 16.5% in the last five years.
None of the projects promoted by the Venezuelan government does [have political colors]; they will benefit all Venezuelans.
The technology and materials used to build the Metrocable were purchased from Austria and Brazil. The project may have been inspired by an existing aerial transportation system in Medellin, Colombia. Investments total $149 million, and it should create 200 direct jobs and 250 more indirect ones. It will carry 1,500 people an hour for a total of 15,000 commuters every day. See more pictures of the construction phase here.
Posted in Nature & Environment, The Region, tagged Bolivia, Chavez, Cuba, eco-friendly design, economy, Energy, environment, environmentalism, evo morales, green, housing, Hugo Chavez, Humanitarian, oil, Peru, Petrocasas, recycling, venezuela on February 10, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced today that Bolivia will soon begin building recycled “petrocasas” with the help of Venezuela. These low-cost plastic dwellings are built with waste generated by oil refining, and are providing a solution to economic and environmental pressures. Tens of thousands have already been erected in Venezuela as well as Cuba and Peru. It was in Peru where Morales first saw the petrocasas and the role they played in the country’s recovery after a 2007 earthquake.
With an investment of $80 million, Bolivia will open a factory to produce petrocasas in Oruro. The first recipients will reportedly be the relatives of the victims of Bolivia’s “gas wars” of 2003. The eco-friendly houses will go up in low income areas, including El Alto and Trinidad. The project was announced at an event commemorating the 228th anniversary of the first uprising against the Spanish colonists.
Posted in Nature & Environment, tagged American Museum of Natural History, biodiversity, catfish, climbing catifish, Cuao River, environment, evolution, fish, Francisco Provenzano, ichthyology, Lithogenes wahari, Nature, news, Orinoco River, science, Scott Schaefer, Universidad Central de Venezuela, venezuela on January 22, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Hey science fans! Did you know that Venezuela is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world? You can find animals there that live nowhere else.
Ichthyologists Francisco Provenzano from Universidad Central de Venezuela and Scott Schaefer of the American Museum of Natural History have found a previously unknown species of climbing catfish. Lithogenes wahari appears to be an evolutionary marvel.
One fish was discovered in a remote region of Venezuela’s Amazonas state nearly 20 years ago, but good and plentiful specimens weren’t found until recently. The catfish was eventually found in large numbers in the Cuao River, a tributary of the Orinoco.
The fish are bony and armored, have a “specialized pelvic fin” and a “grasping mouth” that allow them to climb onto rocks in a locomotion similar to that of an inchworm. Lithogenes wahari evolved to adapt to rapidly changing water levels in the Venezuelan Amazon.
Posted in Nature & Environment, Society & Politics, tagged agriculture, economy, farming, food, food crisis, food oil, food security, food sovereignty, food supply, girasol, Hugo Chavez, news, Portuguesa, sunflowers, venezuela, Venezuelan crops, Venezuelan food on January 9, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Sunflowers (girasol in Spanish) grow wild in Venezuela. They are a common sight in fields and on the sides of highways. Despite their beautiful abundance, Venezuela doesn’t produce much sunflower oil. The cultivation of sunflowers has languished for decades while the nation still largely relies on an imported supply of edible oil.
All of that is changing now, as Venezuela’s mission to achieve food sovereignty includes the cultivation and production of sunflowers. Sunflower production was up by 175 percent in the 2006-07 period, increasing from 5,600 tons to 15,500 tons.
President Chavez had this to say about the girasol:
Venezuela has a great potential to grow sunflower. I grew up among sunflowers, but the governments of AD and Copei (the two traditional parties in Venezuela until the late 90′s) put an end to sunflower production (…) They chose to import edible oil… now we have reduced imports. There will come a day when Venezuela will export this product rather than importing it.”
To achieve that goal, the Venezuelan government will build an industrial compound in Turén, Portuguesa state, which includes a sunflower oil processing plant. Portuguesa has particularly impressive sunflower crops.
Posted in Nature & Environment, tagged business, clean energy, economy, Energy, environment, environmentalism, gamesa, latin america, news, oil, oil and environment, PDVSA, politics, renewable energy, spain, venezuela, wind power on December 10, 2008 | 1 Comment »
Venezuela may be known as an oil country, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t taking steps to explore the renewable energy sources of the future.
News came today that the state oil company PDVSA is beginning to invest in wind power. A Spanish company called Gamesa has been contracted to install and maintain machinery that will deliver 100 megawatts of wind power to Venezuela.
The country’s first wind farm will be located in the state of Falcon, an area of the country which juts out into the Caribbean with its arid Coro peninsula. This land mass is so desert-like, it has sand dunes that are protected as part of the Medanos de Coro National Park (pictured here).
According to Reuters, 76 wind turbines will be installed. The pricetag: almost $150 million.
Posted in Nature & Environment, Society & Politics, tagged Bolivarian Cable Car, caracas, environment, green transportation, mass transit, metro, Metro Cable System, Petare, public transportation, San Augustin, Urban Think Tank, venezuela on November 13, 2008 | Leave a Comment »
The city of Caracas is in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains. Many people live in the hills and work in the valley, which can mean a long walk to the bus stop. That’s all about to change for residents of San Augustin, Petare, and other high-altitude Caracas neighborhoods thanks to The Bolivarian Cable Car. Soon, they’ll be able to glide down the side of the hill each morning and back up in the evening.
Work on the Metro Cable Car system began in April 2007, and the first line from San Augustin to Parque Central is slated to open in late 2008. Petare’s line will open in 2011. The Cable Car of San Augustin will benefit more than 40,000 people a day. The Petare line will serve over 100,000.
When the work is finished, overall travel time will be shorter, since there is no traffic up there. Commuters can relax and enjoy a panoramic view of Caracas rather than brake lights on the highways. It is also easier on the environment.
Click here for an article in English about the growth of Venezuela’s public transportation systems.
Click here for links to the Urban Think Tank, an architectural firm that designed the Metro Cable system.
Posted in Nature & Environment, tagged biology, census of marine life, climate change, environment, global warming, marine biology, Nature, ocean, Patricia Miloslavich, science, simon bolivar, venezuela, venezuela and environment, venezuelan scientist, venezuelan scientists, venezuelan universities on November 12, 2008 | 3 Comments »
The world’s first Census of Marine Life is making a splash, and it is doing so with some help from Venezuela.
The census is an enormous effort to take stock of the past, present, and future of marine life with the participation of seventy nations over the course of ten years. The fourth progress report on its findings was given yesterday in Valencia, Spain.
Patricia Miloslavich, Professor of Marine Biology at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, is co-Senior Scientist and coordinator for the areas of the Caribbean and Coastal South America.
Professor Miloslavich is also the curator of the mollusk collection at the Museo de Ciencias Naturales of the Universidad Simón Bolívar.
Miloslavich is quoted in a BBC article on the Census of Marine Life. She points out that the study could help contribute to knowledge about the effects of global warming: “Over the past few years, there has been huge public interest in biodiversity because there is a legitimate concern about the changes being caused by humans.”
Posted in Nature & Environment, The Region, tagged animals, Caripe, cave, cueva del guacharo, guacharo, Monagas, nocturnal birds, oil bird, venezuela, Venezuela nature, Venezuela tourism, Venezuela wildlife, Venzuelan National Park on October 1, 2008 | 3 Comments »
Caripe, in the state of Monagas, Venezuela, is home to a nocturnal bird called the guácharo or “oil bird.” The guácharo (steatornis caripensis) uses echolocation to navigate through the dark cave that bears his name. La Cueva del Guácharo is an enormous cavern that goes deep into the earth of eastern Venezuela. There are underground rivers and many types of cave critters in this national park.
A visitor to the cave probably won’t see the resident birds, but will definitely hear them. From the roof of the cave, they squawk in protest at the intruding flashlights that interrupt their sleep. At sunset, the guácharos wake to leave their cave in search of breakfast. Popular legend says they fly to Brazil for seeds, but the park guides will assure you that this is impossible, since the oil palm fruits they eat are close to the cave. If they went to Brazil, they could never get back in time for bed in the morning.
The cacophony and the spectacle of thousands of guácharos leaving the cave are amazing, and make the cave a favorite attraction for tourists and locals. Many people camp out to see and hear them return in the morning. La Cueva del Guácharo is one more example of Venezuela’s wonderful and diverse natural heritage.
Posted in Arts & Culture, Nature & Environment, tagged Aragua, beaches, birds, camp, Choroni, coconut, Henri Pittier, vacation, Venezuela national parks, Venezuela tourism on September 23, 2008 | Leave a Comment »
Just on the other side of Henri Pittier National Park in Aragua, Venezuela, there is lovely little beach town called Choroni. A tiny mountain road leads you up into the clouds and over, into a forest of tall shade trees, rushing creeks, and lush ferns.
The beach itself is nestled beside the coastal mountains that stretch across Venezuela. Choroni is a favorite destination for nature lovers and sun worshippers alike. Hundreds of varieties of birds live there, and some lizards too. Visitors pitch tents on the beach and camp overnight. You can rent a chair and umbrella and pass the day watching the waves crash between the mountains. Coconut water is a favorite treat, and occasionally you might see some one climb up a palm tree and get a coconut.
The small town of Choroni was constructed in the Spanish style. On the “malecon” or sea wall, there are remnants of an old Spanish fort, complete with cannons. At night, locals and visitors come together on the malecon, to share music, art, souvenirs, food, and drink. Couples and friends sit on the wall and stare into the sea, dreaming of the next time they come to Choroni.