SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA, Bolivia — “The day after tomorrow, a cargo of 8,000 board feet of timber must be shipped. As there is little water, they are waiting for the rain. It’s all piled up in the San Salvador area,” says the former logger. He’s referring to a shipment of mara wood (Swietenia macrophylla), extracted by so-called wood pirates who cut down these trees in Amboro National Park in central Bolivia.
Hidden in the thickets of the Amazon rainforest, these gigantic trees, also known as big-leaf mahogany, grow up to 50 meters (165 feet) tall and live more than 100 years. Yet for many, their days are numbered, the roar of chainsaws marking their time of death at the hands of the wood pirates.