Special Report

Countries Where the Most People Are Killed Defending the Environment

Source: Bob Hilscher / iStock via Getty Images

25. Costa Rica
> Named human rights defenders killed, 2012-2021: 4
> Most common perpetrator: Unspecified (2)
> Population: 5,139,053

Costa Rica has been embroiled in an ongoing conflict between indigenous people and the ranchers that have razed pristine forestland to make way for agricultural activities. Jhery Rivera, 45, from the Broran indigenous community, was murdered in the hamlet of Terraba after local activists claim a group of landowners intimidated and attacked indigenous squatters. In a separate incident, Diego Armando Saborío González, 28, was fatally shot for attempting to protect wild animals on his land from hunters.

Source: Courtesy of Zafar Lund via Facebook

24. Pakistan
> Named human rights defenders killed, 2012-2021: 5
> Most common perpetrator: Poachers (2)
> Population: 225,199,929

The movement to protect marginalized, often indigenous, communities from the forces of landowners, foreign investors, corrupt politicians, and police, army, or other armed belligerents, overlaps with environmental activism. In Pakistan, the assassination of Zafar Lund, 55, exemplifies this tendency. Lund, a prominent human rights activist, was gunned down in front of his home by unidentified assailants, believed to be linked to his work protecting water rights. Other Pakistanis have died in recent years because of their efforts to fight illegal logging and poaching.

23. South Africa
> Named human rights defenders killed, 2012-2021: 5
> Most common perpetrator: Hitmen (3)
> Population: 60,041,996

Mining and poaching are two common targets of environmental activism in South Africa. Among people in the country who have paid the ultimate price for speaking out against mining is Sikhosiphi Rhadebe, 52, who was gunned down in front of his home in the town of Mbizana by two men dressed as police officers. It is believed his work opposing government-supported Australian mining operations in the scenic region of South Africa’s Wild Coast was the reason. Park rangers have also been killed for their work protecting the country’s wildlife from poachers.

Source: Dylan Walters / Wikimedia Commons

22. Uganda
> Named human rights defenders killed, 2012-2021: 5
> Most common perpetrator: Poachers (3)
> Population: 47,123,533

As with other African countries, environmental activists in Uganda have been targeting mining and poaching operations. Yunis Akumu and her husband Enock Darakarim Buchali were burned to death for their involvement in a larger dispute over the leasing of land in the city of Hoima to U.S.-based oil waste management company. The company, McAlester Energy Resources, ceased operations in Uganda after a land deal with local interests displaced more than 200 families.

Source: guenterguni / E+ via Getty Images

21. Chad
> Named human rights defenders killed, 2012-2021: 5
> Most common perpetrator: Unspecified (5)
> Population: 16,914,985

In many parts of Africa, working to protect endangered wildlife can be a dangerous job due to the amount of money poachers can earn from the illicit wildlife trade, particularly from wealthy Chinese and Vietnamese customers. On Sept. 3, 2012, five Chadian park rangers were massacred during dawn Islamic prayers near Zakouma National Park. The killings were linked to their work protecting the last elephant herds in the region.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.