Bandeira do Brasil

Bandeira do Brasil

Friday, March 8, 2013

EVER SEEN AN ACQUA COWBOY?

The world's largest wetland, the Pantanal in South America, is a paradise for wildlife. Its annual cycles of flooding and drought create a strikingly beautiful and rich ecosystem. It is a haven for almost 5,000 species of animals and plants, and attracts about a million tourists a year – joining the eight million people who live there. The region's 'ecosystems services', such as irrigation of agriculture and wildlife tourism, have been valued at $112bn a year.


Living in the immense area of Pantanal with its adversities, is the native man of the region: the pantaneiro. He is known as peão, integrated with everything around, he knows that all the actions of nature, inundations and dry season, are responsible for the richness and life of Pantanal. The area has been used for cattle farming for decades. Pantaneiro ‘cowboys’ and their cattle herds have a history of living in harmony with the Pantanal wildlife.

 
The long distances and the difficult access to other regions have made the pantaneiro man used to isolation and loneliness. Once in a while the pantaneiro´s solitude is broken when a group of pantaneiros get together to herd cattle, sometimes 250,000 heads, or when they participate in the traditional parties in the neighboring farms. Herding  cattle can make days turn into weeks as the men travel by horse, taking thousands of cattle to dry pastures so they can eat, or escape flooded areas.
 
After leaving the animals by themselves for a few months, the peão brings them back to their original pastures or takes them to be sold in a nearby city. This kind of trip resembles American cowboys´ journeys through the Middle West, but in this case, the travelers traverse a wetland area. In that isolated region the most usual means of transport is the pantaneiro horse, resistant to work inside the water, and crafts of varied sizes and types.


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