"Endangered: A Bird and a Tribe"

"The fate of a mysterious hummingbird — and that of the indigenous population that shares its territory — hangs by a thread."

"Alberto was calm when he asked us to leave. He was young, maybe 20 or so. But he was the keeper of this craggy terrain, far above the green tree line, in the northernmost mountain range in Colombia.

The land, a rugged and remote landscape of silvery rock and six gleaming lagoons, is sacred to Alberto’s people, the indigenous Kogi tribe, which has called it home for centuries. It was a stressful responsibility for him to be put in charge of the territory, and he was eager to ensure that we came and left the area quickly.

It didn’t matter that a few days before, we had surrendered rice, oatmeal, and 30,000 pesos (about $10) to a middle-aged Kogi man, Santiago, encountered during our ascent. Santiago had demanded the goods before letting us continue upward to the lagoons; his young companion glowered at us, gripping a rusty machete. But Alberto, who, like most Kogi did not share his last name with me, nor even seemed interested in using one, said another Kogi leader was coming up the next day, and that he needed to be able to say that he had "

Alexandra Ossola reports for Undark July 20, 2016.

Source: Undark, 07/21/2016