An Indigenous Reserve located along the Amazon River in Colombia has been expanded, now covering almost 25,000 hectares, giving native people more authority to freely occupy their ancestral land and act as guardians of the territory.
“The expansion is extremely important to us […] because we have a lot to protect,” explains Sintia Cahuache, authority of the La Libertad reserve. “Out there is the Mayancu [a Yagua spiritual entity] which is very sacred to us; then there are the animals, nature […]”
People from Yagua, Ticuna, Cocama, and Yacuna Indigenous groups started to advocate for the Colombian government to recognize their territory as an Indigenous Reserve 25 years ago. Located at the meeting point of Colombia, Brazil, and Peru, their ancestors used to migrate between the three countries. First covering 2,670 hectares, the La Libertad Indigenous Reserve was added 21,921 hectares for a total area of 24,681 hectares, with more than 60% of the expansion composed of unmodified tropical lowland forests. It is home to 489 people from the four ethnic groups. The addition recognizes the territorial rights of these Indigenous Peoples while protecting thousands of hectares of rainforest ecosystems and Amazon River tributaries. Indeed, the region is home to at least 468 registered species of birds, unique mammals, and three of the four endangered Amazonian aquatic mammals.