The Ecological, Economic, and Cultural Legacies of the Mule in Southeast Brazil

in Society & Animals
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Abstract

Resulting from cross-breeding a horse and a donkey, the mule influenced southeast Brazil’s economic development perhaps more so than any other domesticated animal; the mule served as the key transport vehicle during both Brazil’s 18th century gold era and 19th century coffee era. In enabling mining and agriculture products to traverse mountainous terrain to reach port cities near São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the mule played a central role in the region’s economic and ecological history. Although the mule has not been southeast Brazil’s primary transport method since the train’s arrival in the 1870s, rural and urban dwellers still employ the mule over short distances near two protected landmasses despite declining generational interest and use. More recently, with increasing leisure use as a companion animal, the mule stimulates tourism and local economic patterns via large gatherings while serving as a cultural symbol of Brazil’s patrimony.

The Ecological, Economic, and Cultural Legacies of the Mule in Southeast Brazil

in Society & Animals

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References

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Figures

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    Satellite imagery depicting the topography of Southeast Brazil
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    Topographic map depicting the Itatiaia National Park, Pedra Branca State Park, and the Trilha de Ouro
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    Charcoal transportation via mules in the Rio de Janeiro mountains
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    Trail aspects of the Trilha de Ouro between Mambucaba, Rio de Janeiro, and São José do Barreiro, São Paulo
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    Mules with milk jugs outside São José do Barreiro, São Paulo, and pulling bags of bed linens in Mangaratiba, Rio de Janeiro
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    Local tourists meeting laden mules after crossing the mountainous Itatiaia National Park
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    The 100-kilometer, three-hour driving route is in blue between Serra Negra, Minas Gerais, and Maromba, Rio de Janeiro. The five-hour, 16-kilometer mountain trail used by mules is in red. The insert is an angled view showing the mountainous topography along the travessia.
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    Erosive effects of mules on the landscape during the travessia
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    Two mules laden with bananas in the Pedra Branca State Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • View in gallery
    Farmer unloading feed off a mule after a return trip up the mountain in Pedra Branca State Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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