The Amazon rainforest experienced its worst drought on record in 2023. Many villages became unreachable by river, wildfires raged and wildlife died. Some scientists worry events like these are a sign that the world’s biggest forest is fast approaching a point of no return.
As the cracked and baking river bank towers up on either side of us, Oliveira Tikuna is starting to have doubts about this journey. He’s trying to get to his village, in a metal canoe built to navigate the smallest creeks of the Amazon.
Bom Jesus de Igapo Grande is a community of 40 families in the middle of the forest and has been badly affected by the worst drought recorded in the region.
There was no water to shower. Bananas, cassava, chestnuts and acai crops spoiled because they can’t get to the city fast enough.
And the head of the village, Oliveira’s father, warned anyone elderly or unwell to move closer to town, because they are dangerously far from a hospital.
Oliveira wanted to show us what was happening. He warned it would be a long trip.
But as we turn from the broad Solimões river into the creek that winds towards his village, even he is taken aback. In parts it’s reduced to a trickle no more than 1m (3.3ft) wide. Before long, the boat is lodged in the river bed. It’s time to get out and pull. [Continue reading…]