Introduction

*THIS SITE IS IN EVOLUTION, CROSS CHECKING DOCUMENTS, NEW TRANSLATIONS AND CONTRIBUTONS BY READERS MAY DETERMINE THE UPDATE OF EXISTING PAGES.

Updated on July 15th, 2011

This ‘research’ is about a controversial figure, the american biologist Charles A.Munn and his organization Tropical Nature. Around 2009 we casually stepped on a lot of disturbing rumours about his involvement in building eco-lodges in South America and his modus operandi in these countries.

Under the umbrella of research (he is a renowned biologist with a long time experience in research) and the excuse of conservation he is building a system of private luxury eco-lodges in areas that are extremely interesting and sensible for wildlife.

The tactics seem to be similar: a local conservation NGO is founded (in most of them he is part of the board or consultant) and this NGO buys land in sensible areas, using the funds of international donors. In these areas he builds ‘his’ lodges, often disregarding local legislation (Peru, Brazil) and getting in conflict with local communities (Bolivia, Ecuador)about the management.

It is unclear how the funds enter the countries and where the profits of these lodges go (see Parliamentary Commission of Investigation, interrogation of C. Munn), being in remote areas some are extremely expensive (see Jaguar Research Center, Pantanal).

The ‘net’ of TN related NGO’s is intricated, they are all intertwined and it seems that funds are moved in between this net.

In 1999 Munn was denounced in Peru for building and operating Sandoval Lake Lodge without permission and license, today it seems he is still involved with it (general manager of the lodge is Victoria Zamalloa Blanco, we guess wife or relative of Daniel Zamalloa Blanco, whose name is frequently found in association with Munn’s, he is listed as ‘director’ of Tropical Nature on tax forms).

In 2003 (concluded in 2006) a Parliamentary Commission of Investigation about Biopiratery in Brazil investigated Charles A. Munn and the NGO BioBrasil he was working with at that time.

BioBrasil disappeared from the net (on tax form 990 of 2006 payments BioBrasil is still between the receivers)

Between 2003 and 2004 relevant changes can be noted on tax forms 990, Peter English (former CEO) is out and new persons appear as directors.

In November 2009 Charles A. Munn was denounced by the Public Ministry of Mato Grosso for Environmental Crimes, destruction and harm of preserved forests, cutting of trees from these forests, directly damaging conservation unities and impeding the regeneration of these forests and unlicenced touristic activities.

He had bought land after the creation of the Parque Estadual Encontro das Aguas (Northern Pantanal) in 2004 and built a luxury tented camp deep inside the park area, operative from 2006, without governmental license.

He is accused to practice feeding of jaguars with dead animals to attract them and guarantee the sight to tourists, an accuse he had already faced in the past in Bahia, in the region As Barreiras he administered together with the late NGO BioBrasil, planting corn fields to attract birds.

The Jaguar Research Center is not a community based project (leading positions seem to be hold predominantly by foreigners), not a research center (if research and conservation is only about observing certain species while earning money on it, well, than all tourists that casually visit these areas and all tourism entrepreneurs should be considered researchers..) but a very profitable venture of Charles A. Munn in Brazil.

Maybe Charles A. Munn is ‘honest’ and really deeply involved with conserving nature at any price, even going against the local law.

This blog hasn’t the pretention to give evidence of dishonesty (this is the job of the Brazilian authorities), even if the evidence of irregular behaviour in more than one occasion seems glaring to us.

We would like it to be on one side a constructive instrument/incitement for all the voiceless people that try to live and work honestly and respectful of nature and local laws in the area. We hope that the very few who have the courage to speak out the truth don’t give up the fight.

On the other side we think it should be imperative for travelers to know who they are dealing with.

2011 update

After having been closed down, dismantled and fined by Brazilian authorities in 2009 the ‘Jaguar Research Center’ is scheduled to reopen on July 1th, 2011 under the name of ‘SouthWild’, same location as far as I know, same owners (Charles A. Munn and his Peruvian wife Mariana Valqui) but different managers (foreigners again).

July 2011 update

SouthWild Jaguar Camp started indeed operating with tourists on the other side of Piquiri river in Mato Grosso do Sul. After about a week it was again embargoed, this time by Enviromental Police of MS. Their collegues in MT should take example…it took them 3 years to put an end to Munn’s operations inside the park.

*All information gathered in this blog is publicly available through the web, nothing has been obtained by any illicit mean. It is only the result of patient searches.

Any additional contribution is welcome of course!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sam
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 12:41:29

    From Birdforum 25/02/2011
    http://www.birdforum.net/archive/index.php/t-167113.html

    “A little behind the scenes stories to understand properly the situation:
    2010 was a nightmare, once the State Environmental Agency (SEMA) tried to close the “Encontro das Aguas State Park” and indeed, they did it for a week or two. All this problem started when a illegal camp was established inside the State Park, operated for two years and call all the attention to its services, “guarateeing” jaguar spotting. Of course, this was far too suspitious, especially due to the background operations during the first year (pig farm for baiting jaguars, for exe.) Pig farm stopped and lot of caiman carcases started to show up along the river banks, just where the “easy” jaguars were seen. Of course, NOBODY saw anybody killing caiman, but only caiman tails (the softest part of meat, normally the one poachers eat) were found along the river banks. This was notified to the SEMA, and they patrolled the State Park, found nothing about poaching or baiting, but found the illegal camp. They notified them to leave the area under a small fine. The camp did not leave, were notified again now with a bigger fine, they did not care, the third time all equipment including motor boats, tents and a vessel were confiscated, and the fine was over a million Brazilian reais. The owners of the camp, are still operating, in 2010 in rented fishing boats and in 2011 they are installing the camp the other side of the river which is another State and the SEMA cannot perturb them (for now I guess).
    SEMA is still trying to close the Encontro das Aguas State Park for tourism, especially jaguar watching, due to the problems they had with the camp and increasing numbers of jaguar attack to people in the pantanal region, not especifically in this area, but you know how are the tabloids, Jaguars are eating people in the Pantanal sells more.”

    Reply

  2. raymond
    Apr 19, 2011 @ 00:42:24

    Mr.Munn can call himself, biologist, researcher, multi-millionair, businessman, but call yourself enviormentalist? No! You are shame, discusting human being.

    Reply

    • tropicalnaturetravel
      Apr 19, 2011 @ 06:40:42

      We kindly ask for constructive contributions, no insults, as they don’t take us anywhere. If you have facts to add to this site we will be glad to public them.
      Thank you

      Reply

    • Lina
      Nov 11, 2011 @ 02:15:03

      First of all, Raymond, I’m assuming you are a brazilian because of the way you spell. Second of all, Brazil’s government is corrupt, and SouthWild’s competitor’s bribed officials to cause Dr. Munn problems. He was indeed operating his camp without a license, but he was told and was under the impression that if his camp was on HIS land, then there was no problem. He was not warned or notified early on that there was a license that he needed to acquire to camp on his land.

      Next, as soon as Dr. Munn found out, he applied for the license and took initiative, but where do you suppose he was to put all the equipment that had already been driven to the camp? Also, when the equipment was confiscated, and the vessel (with a pool and other enjoyable features) which the authorities confiscated, was illegally taken. It is currently in storage, and an item in storage, by LAW is not to be used by anyone, especially park officials. Which many people have seen relaxing on, drinking beer, and swimming in the small pool that sits on the deck.

      You may not know as much as I do about this whole ordeal, but that gives you no right to call Dr. Munn a despicable human being.

      Dr. Munn does indeed employ locals in his company. The guides are locals, the staff are locals, even the minibus driver makes his commute from Cuiaba. His company profits everyone that works for him and lives in Pocone and Cuiaba, and employees of other companies that have chosen to work with SouthWild. The only people that his operation does not suit are local fisherman that lodge in Porto Jofre lodges. The fishermen from these lodges are the ones that throw the occasional fish to the jaguar. Dr. Munn does not use any kind of method to lure the animals to locations to guarantee the jaguars. Also, there has never been a pig farm to feed the jaguars. There are a group of pigs that are kept in the Santa Tereza lodge, but they are just the organic leftovers’ consumers, and quite frankly so much fun to watch play around in the mud.

      So please, raymond, give me one good reason why dr. munn is a despicable human being? I’m curious.

      Reply

  3. tropicalnaturetravel
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 21:06:38

    Latest news from Birdforum 14/07/2011
    http://www.birdforum.net/archive/index.php/t-167113.html
    “Just returned from the pantanal where saw jaguars twice and also got the last news about the so-called South Wild Jaguar Camp (AKA Charles A. Munn jaguar enterprise). The camp started the operation (ilegally again in the other side of the Piquiri river, state of Mato Grosso do Sul) in July 01st, the Environmental Police of Mato Grosso do Sul closed the camp with clients on it less than a week later, clients were move in a hurry to other fishing lodges nearby. Now the operations of the South Wild Jaguar Camp are done in a floating boat as it was last year. Personally had a problem with the camp boatmen who did not respect the rivers regulations and were tresspasing other boats at high speed creating waves and have no guides aboard responsible for the groups to talk to, just the clients and a non English speaking boatmen. Mr. Munn was in the floating boat and saw him couple of times along the river.”

    Reply

  4. tropicalnaturetravel
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 17:56:16

    http://www.oeco.com.br/reportagens/25174-pousada-que-de-observacao-de-oncas-e-fechada-no-pantanal-sul
    Update in portuguese about the close down of South Wild Camp in MS, they were quite quick in comparison to SEMA of Mato Grosso (3 years to get Munn out of MT). Soon a translation in english will follow.

    Reply

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