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10 Environmental and Animal Activists Who Were Killed for Taking a Stand

10 Environmental and Animal Activists Who Were Killed for Taking a Stand
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Standing up for the environment or animals in the face of overwhelming and powerful opposition can be a courageous but dangerous act. Whether the opposition takes the form of a legal corporation, organized crime, or a gang of rogue poachers, the threats against these do-gooders are all too often deadly ones.

For many activists, unfortunately, taking a stand for what’s right becomes the last thing they ever do.

Between 2002 and 2013, for example, an incredible 908 people in 35 countries were murdered for trying to defend the environment, according to an April 2014 report from Global Witness. During this period only 10 perpetrators were caught and punished for these crimes.

Here just a few committed activists who were killed over the last quarter century fighting for the causes they believed in:

1. Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo – 2011


Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espi­rito Santo, spent decades actively fighting illegal Amazon logging. When they stood up to a powerful local landowner who was evicting rural workers from his property in May 2011, Jose and Maria were murdered by hired thugs riding motorbikes through a rainforest reserve.

2. Chico Mendes – 1988


Chico Mendes, a Brazilian rubber tapper by trade, was another staunch defender of the Amazon rainforest. A trade union leader and all around environmentalist, Mendes gained fame speaking in support of sustainable forest uses and better education for workers’ children. He was assassinated in 1988 at age 44 by a plantation owner with whom he’d battled over logging in a proposed forest reserve area.

3. Jairo Mora Sandoval – 2013

Swimming sea turtle

The body of Costa Rican sea turtle activist Jairo Mora Sandoval, 26, was discovered on a beach on May 31, 2013. He’d been bound, beaten and shot in the head. Maro, a biology student, ardently worked to protect sea turtle eggs from poachers. Presumably, some of those poachers wanted him out of the way.

4. Dr. Karel Van Noppen – 1995

Vet checking cattle

In the 1990s, Dr. Van Noppen, a Belgian government veterinarian and meat inspector, began investigating the illegal use of growth hormones on livestock by farmers who were getting the drugs on the black market. His aggressive war on these drugs led organized crime to put out a contract on his life. In February 1995, assassins shot and killed Dr. Van Noppen while he stood in the doorway of his own home.

5. David Gypsy Chain – 1998

redwood forest

David “Gypsy” Chain, a 24-year-old environmental activist and member of Earth First!, died in September 1998 while protesting logging activity in the Headwaters Forest north of San Francisco. A felled tree struck him and instantly killed him. Activists present with Chain that day assert that the loggers were cutting the trees so they’d purposely fall toward protestors rather than in a safer direction. Loggers said they didn’t know anyone was there and it was an innocent accident.

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4:59AM PDT on Aug 11, 2015

thanks for the article.

6:14AM PDT on Apr 19, 2015

thanks for sharing

7:56PM PDT on Aug 18, 2014

This is extremely scary for me because I'm currently going to college to become an ethologist/zoologist (ethology is a field of zoology). If I can't get something in that specific field, I at least want something that puts me on the front lines of (preferably African) wildlife conservation. Definitely not going to back down though- these poor animals need me. They need all the help they can get.

9:55PM PDT on May 16, 2014

It is hard to see all those good people being killed for what they believed -- saving wildlife. I did notice the murders were all unsolved/unknown/covered up. That sure seems convenient to me. They will be remembered.

5:15AM PDT on May 14, 2014

True heroes

8:17AM PDT on May 5, 2014

How many must die for mankind's greed?

2:30PM PDT on May 1, 2014

These were courageous, unselfish people who were murdered for wrongs committed against all living creatures, including us humans and the planet. We honour them by continuing to recognize evil and wrongs when we see them and by speaking up against these wrongs! Bless them all for their bravery!

9:13AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

thanks for sharing

8:30AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

Thanks for sharing their story. These are truly compassionate and caring people.

7:19AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

"We should stand up and applaud everyone of them." - I agree Kim J

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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