Amazon Giant, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Amazon Giant, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador
There’s an old Cree Indian prophecy that goes "Only after the last tree has been cut down... Only after the last river has been poisoned… Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." I find these words clever yet profoundly insightful, and more meaningful today than ever. Across the globe, vital ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate, a rate matched only by the speed with which the species inhabiting those systems are falling to extinction. This is particularly true in the Neotropics, where an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals are struggling with the catastrophic consequences of widespread deforestation and pollution. Many of the forests’ secrets elude ecologists, secrets whose answers will be essential if we are to protect the awesome biodiversity they contain. I study Neotropical butterfly ecology, with the hope that I may contribute to a better understanding of these wonderful creatures, and help conserve them in an uncertain future. Follow me during my work and adventures throughout Latin America here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just another day in the jungle...

It’s almost cliché, the recounting of that first tropical rainforest experience; how, upon stepping into the steamy dark tangle, one is instantly enthralled by the sounds, the smells, the intense heat and humidity. Yes, with the rainforest it is love at first sight, and there isn’t a true tropical naturalist on Earth that hasn’t told the same story. I’ll be no exception, because for me, my first time in a tropical rainforest was indeed a sort of eureka moment, for lack of a better term. I remember it vividly. Even the simple, or subtle things - like the way the philodendrons seemed to grab for the canopy, or how the lichens covered the tree trunks - fascinated me. From that moment on, I couldn’t spend enough time in the jungle.
But the senses can become trained, and while these moments of intense wonder grow fewer and farther in between with the passage of time, they do still occur – and I had one this morning. I was trying desperately to throw a stone, with string attached, over a liana high in the forest canopy, in order to suspend one of my butterfly traps. I descended a  small ridge to where my stone had fallen, and hacked right through a wasp nest with my machete, getting stung on the eyelid in the process, among several other places. Two more tries, no luck. But then, I nailed it! And just as I began to savor this mini-victory, a pair of scarlet macaws flew raucously overhead. I caught a quick glimpse of them through the leaves, gaudy with suits of brilliant red, yellow, and blue feathers, and with a boisterous call to match. My eye still throbbing from my wasp attack, and the sound of the macaws fading into the distance, there I was – in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, machete in hand, living my childhood dream. Yes, I thought, it’s great to be in the rainforest. It was one of those eureka moments, and I enjoyed it, however fleeting it might have been.

If they hadn't stung me on the eye, I might have felt bad for wrecking their house...

1 comment:

  1. Great post Geoff, I chuckled reading this and at the same time thought - yes, that's how it is! Good to see you're still alive!