Spanish citizen Gonzalo Alonso Hernandez and Jairo Mora of Costa Rica had a lot in common: Both were deeply courageous biologists committed to environmental conservation whose dedication may have caused them to die at the hands of despicable criminals.
Costa Rican online news media site El Pais, which is known for its strong defense of environmental affairs, recently published an article from the Spanish EFE news agency on the senseless murder of conservation activist Gonzalo Alonso Hernandez in Brazil. According to that article, Mr. Hernandez lived in and worked in Lidice (link in Portuguese), a district of the Rio Claro prefecture, located about 170 kilometers from the populous city of Rio de Janeiro. He was a strong nature advocate who was very vocal about the nefarious work of poachers and the illegal logging trade.
Mr. Hernandez was 49 years old when he was found dead near a waterfall in the Cunhambebe Park, a site he loved to protect. This dedicated biologist worked at the Terra Institute and was a paid consultant for the Municipal Environmental Protection Council of Lidice. His body was found by a neighbor. Police reports indicate that Mr. Hernandez was shot several times in the head, perhaps at point blank and in a manner corresponding to an execution.
According to Mr. Hernandez’ widow, Maria de Lurdes Pena Campos, her late husband had argued with several individuals who were systematically taking resources from Cunhambebe Park: Poachers, livestock owners without grazing permits, and others who furtively extracted palmito (heart of palm) from this protected nature conservation area. Sheriff Marco Antonio Alves of Lidice believes that the motive of this senseless murder was to silence Mr. Hernandez.
The last time anyone saw Mr. Hernandez was on Sunday, after he dropped off his wife at the Lidice bus terminal so that she could travel to Rio de Janeiro.
This murder recalls the sad demise of Jairo Mora in Costa Rica, who died from a violent attack perpetrated by turtle egg poachers operating in the Caribbean coast. Young Jairo was passionate about protecting marine turtles that massively arrive on the beaches of Costa Rica to nest. Authorities in Costa Rica have made arrests in the case, and the suspects are currently in custody awaiting trial.