Thursday, 26 June 2008

Brazil seizes cattle to protect rain forest

SÃO PAULO: In an unprecedented move against rogue cattle ranchers in the Amazon, the Brazilian government has seized livestock grazing there illegally.
Officials carted off 3,100 head of cattle that they said were being raised on an ecological reserve in the state of Pará, in an operation intended to serve as a warning to other ranchers grazing an estimated 60,000 head on illegally deforested land in Amazonia, the environment minister, Carlos Minc, said.
"No more being soft," Minc told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Brasília. "Those that don't respect environmental legislation, your cattle are going to become barbecue for Fome Zero," he said, referring to the government's food program for the poor.
Minc said the cattle would be auctioned in two weeks, with the proceeds going to Fome Zero, as well as to health programs for indigenous people and to finance cattle removal operations.
Though Minc announced the strategy Tuesday, the seizure took place June 7 by federal police officers and agents from Ibama, the government environmental agency. The cattle's owner had been fined 3 million reais, or $1.86 million, in 2005 for illegal deforestation and had ignored a court order to remove the livestock.

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