Honduras Lost Cities Will Be Protected From Deforestation And Looters

Two newly discovered lost cities will be protected from deforestation and looters. Early last week, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández announced that armed forces were deployed to the Mosquitia region to preserve the ancient ruins. Although it is not confirmed, the cities are rumored to include the legendary “White City” and the “City of the Monkey God.”

The suspected site was initially discovered during a 2012 aerial survey. However, the area was not physically explored until 2014.

As reported by National Geographic, researchers with Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History organized an expedition based on the results of the aerial survey. They were joined by archaeologists and researchers from the United States.

Mesoamerican archaeologist Christopher Fisher said he and his colleagues were stunned to find the site largely undisturbed. The ruins, which are estimated to be more than 600 years old, include more than 50 artifacts.

Although the objects were not excavated, they include ceremonial items, sculptures, and vessels. The researchers also mapped the foundations of several plazas and at least one pyramid structure.

To prevent looting, the researchers have not revealed the specific location of the lost cities. However, they confirmed the ruins cover an area of “more than a mile through the valley.” Ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin, who joined the expedition, said the site of the lost city “is clearly the most undisturbed rain forest in Central America.” Unfortunately, the entire region is in danger of deforestation. The researchers are also concerned looters will find, and destroy, the ancient ruins.

In response to the ongoing concern, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández vowed to protect the lost cities. Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History Director Virgilio Paredes-Trapero said the forces will focus on preserving the lost cities. However, they were ordered to patrol the entire Mosquitia region, as other significant, and undiscovered, sites may exist.

In recent years the Mosquitia region has experienced extensive damage due to illegal deforestation. American filmmaker Steve Elkins, who documented the expedition, said Honduras officials are currently working a plan to restore the damage.

“The Mosquitia is a jewel, for the people of Honduras and for the world… And it’s disappearing before our eyes… But now Honduras is going to put the kibosh on that… They’ve even said they’re going to replant the denuded landscape, to bring the jungle back, which is a very bold move.”

Although deforestation and looting are ongoing threats to the Honduras jungle, and the lost cities, officials have vowed to renew the damage and prevent further destruction.

[Image via Wikimedia]