From: Amazonia
To: Márcio Ayres

Hello Márcio, Brazilian biologist and naturalist, a very important figure when it comes to conservation, even more so when conservation also includes looking after the other. The care towards the communities, the traditions, the stories, towards me.

I would like to recall a little about your trajectory: passionate about primates, you did your master’s degree with emphasis on primatology at Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), and your doctorate, on the white Uacaris and on my flooded forest, at Cambridge University.

During your doctorate, you searched through my vast territories, a region that was scarcely inhabited. You wanted to observe, as reliably as possible, the behaviour of my Uacaris. I shelter several species of this genus of a primate in my branches, and I wanted to tell you that one of them was named after you! It is a species of black uacari, identified in 2008 and named Cacajao Ayresi. Did you see your last name there?

So, Márcio, I think you can see how important you are to us, and how much your passage on Earth means to me.

For having studied my meadows so much, you went beyond and above. Concerned about illegal deforestation and intense fishing, you played a key role in the creation of the Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável of Mamirauá and of the Amanã, which are not only conservation models, but also projects that combine the protection of biodiversity with the social concerns of the communities that live there. Always thinking about this union, you once said “Poverty alleviation in the Amazon can only be done if we decrease migration from the rural zone to large cities. To keep the population in the rural zones, in addition to providing school, health and medical infrastructure, we need to manage the resources in a sustainable way, with solid scientific bases.” More than that, you also participated in the creation of the Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá (IDSM), which built one of the most revolutionary projects in terms of conservation in my territory: community-based management of pirarucu!

Always ahead of your time, you already knew that the relationship between humans and nature would not be supported by a predatory model. Today we live in a pandemic, governments usurp me, banks “invest” in me and my territory is often seen as a bargaining chip. Cattle tramp and compact my land and my people fight for the right to live and to exist.

But what warms my heart, Márcio, is knowing that just like you, and maybe even because of you, many understand my meaning, understand my vastness and fight for my existence. Thank you very much, José Márcio Corrêa Ayres, may your memory always reside in me, in us.

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