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A Cattle Boom is the Amazon’s Doom

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Commercial activities threaten the health and future of the Amazon. The culprit? Cattle.

The Amazon rainforest — the world’s largest — is shrinking. What used to be a dense tropical forest spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes, has now been reduced by 17% (and weakened by as much as 75%), with further loss only projected to increase. Nearly 80% of this loss is due to one industry: cattle ranching.

Cattle Beyond Control

Today, the total number of cattle in Brazil is 230 million — the second largest in the world. The country has grown to become the planet’s largest exporter of beef, and now has over 90 million cattle grazing in what used to be the dense tropical forests of the Amazon, a head count which has increased at a rate four times that of the national average. What used to be only 5 million cattle in the 1960s has since quadrupled to unsustainable levels.

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