Published: Friday 15 December 1995

Amidst the gloom caused by dwindling forests in eastern Paraguay, occasional success stories do emerge to cheer environmentalists. One such model of conservation is the Mbaracayu Nature Reserve, a dense subtropical mix of hardwoods, grasslands and wetlands which houses thousands of species of plants and animals, some extinct or severely endangered.

Despite the fact that the park has also been the traditional hunting ground of the Ache Indians, Mbaracayu remains a fantastic success story chiefly because of the farsighted measures adopted by the park's officials.The Ache Indians were primitive hunters and gatherers whose lives remained unchanged till the 1970s. Thereafter, Mbaracayu officials who are keenly aware that radical steps are necessary to protect the reserve, have wisely included the natives in their efforts.

Among the measures that they plan to adopt are the expansion of the park's borders and demonstrations to show settlers in the area as to how they should farm without cutting down or burning trees. The Ache Indians have worked alongside the officers, who in turn have helped them preserve their culture against the onslaught of modernity.

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