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Most dangerous countries for environmentalists

  • Most dangerous countries for environmentalists

    With modern-day society’s voracious appetite for agricultural goods, minerals, and fossil fuels, the extraction of those resources requires an increasing amount of land. In this quest, neighboring communities are often the losers.

    In 2017, 201 environmental and land defenders were murdered—the highest total ever recorded. The vast majority of them came from Latin America where 60% of killings took place. With 57 defenders killed, Brazil saw the most deaths ever registered in one year in any country. To determine which countries are most dangerous for defending the environment, Stacker looked a Global Witness report released in July 2018 to rank the top 22 deadliest countries for environmental and land defenders. The report uses the number of defenders murdered in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

    Global Witness defines a land or environmental defender as anyone working to protect the environment. "They are often ordinary people who may well not define themselves as 'defenders,'" the report states. "Some are indigenous or peasant leaders living in remote mountains or isolated forests, protecting their ancestral lands and traditional livelihoods from mining projects, large-scale agribusiness, hydro-dams, and luxury hotels. Others are park rangers, tackling poaching and illegal logging. They could also be lawyers, journalists, or staff at non-governmental organizations working to expose environmental abuse and land-grabbing."

    The data shown here only represents reported deaths, suggesting the research is unable to account for extremely remote areas or places where reporting such killings would be dangerous or impossible. Still, the data shows the increased risk faced by environmental and land defenders for protecting their communities, lands, and ways of life. Read on to discover the most dangerous countries on earth for environmentalists.

     

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  • #18. Liberia (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 1

    Friday Pyne, a forest ranger in Liberia, was killed by a mob of angry miners operating illegally in the country’s only national forest. Another forest ranger was injured in the attack. Pyne posthumously received the 2018 African Ranger Award from the United States Agency for International Development. His death was a "painful realization” to Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority that "more security and support was needed for park rangers in all of Liberia’s National Parks and Protected Areas,” USAID reported.

    Defender: Friday Pyne

  • #18. Mozambique (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 1

    When a coal mining company started fencing off land used by residents to graze their livestock and collect firewood in western Mozambique, nearby residents began protesting. Hussen António Laitone was shot in his home near the site of a protest organized by local residents. He was not participating in the protest.

    Defender: Hussen António Laitone

  • #18. Tanzania (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 1

    Wildlife conservationist Wayne Lotter was killed on a car ride to the airport in Tanzania’s largest city. He had received numerous death threats related to his activism. Eight people have been arraigned for Lotter’s killing.

    Defender: Wayne Lotter

  • #18. Venezuela (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 1

    Activist Freddy Menare founded the Indigenous Organization of the Uwottuja Peoples. The group fought against various mining operations, including plans to create a mine near Menare's village in southern Venezuela. He was killed on the streets.

    Defender: Freddy Menare

  • #18. Zambia (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 1

    Wildlife ranger Rodrick Ngulube was killed by poachers in Zambia’s West Petauke game management area. He and his fellow rangers were tracking poachers the day before. Following his death, an official from the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Arts said his ministry would do everything possible to deter threats against wildlife rangers and to bring down the levels of poaching in Zambia.

    Defender:  Rodrick Ngulube

  • #11. Argentina (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 2

    One of the activists killed in Argentina was Santiago Maldonado. He vanished after appearing at an indigenous rights protest in Patagonia and his body was later discovered a quarter of a mile from where he was last seen. A year after his death, Amnesty International urged the Argentinian government to do more to investigate his death.

    Defenders: Santiago Maldonado, Rafael Nahuel

  • #11. Dominican Republic (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 2

    Luís Manuel Medina and Leo Martínez were colleagues at a local radio station in the Dominican Republic when they were shot and killed during a live broadcast. The two had collaborated on a popular morning news show, which covered social and political issues and refused to stay away from controversial topics. Medina had spoken at length in the weeks before his murder about Laguna Mallen, a polluted lake that is protected in San Pedro.

    Defenders: Luís Manuel Medina, Leo Martínez

  • #11. Kenya (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 2

    Duba Issa and Roba Duba were both killed by poachers in 2017. Ruthless gangs of armed poachers driven by the price of ivory have been known to make life especially dangerous for wildlife conservationists in the country.

    Defenders: Duba Issa, Roba Duba

  • #11. Myanmar (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 2

    Htay Aung, a land rights defender, went to protest the confiscation of land from local villagers in eastern Myanmar. He was beaten to death. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders condemned the attack and urged Burmese authorities to carry out an investigation into the murder.

    Defenders: Lung Jarm Phe, Htay Aung

  • #11. Pakistan (tie)

    Number of land and environmental defenders murdered in 2017: 2

    Poachers killed Inspector Manzoor and Constable Mushtaq in eastern Pakistan, south of Islamabad, while the two officers were intercepting the illegal hunting of birds. Pakistan’s World Wildlife Fund condemned the killing and urged the country to punish those responsible.

    Defenders: Inspector Manzoor, Constable Mushtaq

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