Politicians in Brazil plan to build a dam in the Rio Madeira in 2012. The move will destroy the eco-system and local fishing communities in this remote part of the Amazon jungle.

MORE THAN 4,000 square miles of the Amazon have been destroyed by dams. According to the International Rivers Organization, the rapid rate of damming and deforestation is the biggest ecological threat to the Amazon Basin, a region nearly the size of the continental United States.

In December 2009, the Epicocity Project and a team of National Geographic filmmakers and biologists spent 10 days in the Amazon Jungle kayaking the rapids of the Rio Roosevelt. The team took a biodiversity inventory before the ecosystem is forever changed by the dam.

We wrote about the expedition in this article about tweeting and blogging live from the Amazon. Now you can check out the crew’s photos. All photos are © Adam Mills Elliott.


The Epicocity team

1. The Epicocity team: The Teotônio rapids on the Madeira, have claimed many rafters, including many of Teddy Roosevelt’s team, who first took to the rapids in 1914.


Checking out the scene

2. Scoping the scene: Roosevelt wrote about the monster fish he found in the rapids. Today, giant white-fish are just one of the varieties of fish and mammals in the 300-mile stretch of river.


Extreme off-roading

3. Extreme off-roading: Modern equipment helped make the expedition successful.


The team gearing up

4. Gearing up: The team also had an advantage over previous expeditions because of badass paddlers like Trip Jennings and Andy Maser.


Tackling the waters

5. Fierce rapids: This is only the fourth team to ever attempt passage of the remote Rio Roosevelt, nearly inaccessible because of the location and gnarly whitewater.



6. No more fishing: The proposed dam will turn the whitewater into a reservoir. Because passage will be blocked, the native fish will become extinct and local fishing communities will deteriorate.


Giant white-fish

7. Giant white-fish: The team with a catch.


Kayaking the rio

8. Calmer waters: The team only had to make one 4-hour portage, as opposed to Roosevelt’s team, which lost most of their team in frequent portages.


Not just the fish will die

9. Not just the fish will die: The Amazon’s entire ecosystem will collapse if damning, forestation, and mining aren’t stopped.



10. Connect: You can find out more about the team’s adventures on their blog and twitter feed. The Epicocity Project is next headed to Laos.