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Xingu Waters

Source of life at risk of death

Xingu National Park, Mato Grosso state, Brazil

by Ricardo Teles

Published February 2024

Established in 1961, the Xingu National Park was the first large multiethnic indigenous area recognized and demarcated in Brazil and has historically acted as guardians of this vast territory.

Covering an immense area of 2.8 million hectares, the park plays a crucial role in conserving the fauna and flora. Positioned between the Cerrado and the Amazon rainforest biomes, it protects a rich variety of species, many of which are endangered.

However, all this richness of Brazilian biodiversity is at risk. According to Chief Tapi Yawalapiti, one of the main leaders of the Xingu territory, the major problem is related to rampant and criminal deforestation, not within the park but mainly in the surrounding areas outside its borders where the rivers originate. The past three years have been particularly severe. The reduction in water volume in various rivers has been evident in recent years, causing some to cease to exist during the dry period. Worse, some tributaries have disappeared permanently.

Additionally, another significant concern, according to Tapi, is the indiscriminate use of pesticides in the plantations around the park, which ends up poisoning rivers and animals.

Ricardo Teles

Ricardo Teles is a freelance photographer, born in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil. He has been working in São Paulo since 1994 as a photojournalist, and has contributed to the Estado de São Paulo Group agency and newspapers from 1996 to 2000.

As a freelance photographer his work has been published in several national and international magazines, such as Der Spiegel (Germany) and National Geographic Brazil.

Teles is a member of the Focus agency in Germany for which he has covered several stories in Latin America.

His published books include “Saga–A Portrait of German Settlements in Brazil” (1998), which received the Martius Staden Award, and “Terras de Preto – Stories of Nine Rural Afro Communities in Brazil” (2004), which received the Ayrton Senna Human Rights Prize of Journalism.

In 2014, his project “Road of Grains” received the Sony Award in the Travel category; and in 2015, the Picture of the Year Latin America, third prize in the Foods of the World category.

Follow Ricardo Teles on Instagram


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