Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A view from the jungle

I've been in the jungle. Not any old jungle - and with no convenient walkway to effect an escape if it all got a bit much. No, this jungle was deep inside the Yasuni National Park. This is what it looks like at daybreak:



I know we can be bombarded with demands to protect the environment, treasure its diversity, make sure we keep enough trees to keep us all breathing. But, having spend a few days somewhere that, at the moment, is truly remote, I begin to understand some of the challenges. 

It is surprisingly noisy. At night the frogs croak you to sleep. In the morning the parrots and the howler monkeys make sure you wake with the sunrise. I stayed close to a lake: at first glance the tea-black water is still and mysterious. Then the hump of a turtle appears, the plop of a fish, the beady eyes of a caiman. (These are the black caiman, the big ones, and aggressive). 

Down a small creek we saw a pair of giant otters - so rare they are now classified as endangered. A metropolis of insect life, including a tarantula and a small beetle that squirts poisonous wee. We saw tiny flycatchers, multi-colours parakeets, toucans (how do they not fall over, with beak that big), vultures and a harpy eagle.

Any old jungle? Possibly, except this corner of the rainforest escaped an ice age and so has some of the greatest diversity of plants, trees, insects, birds and mammals in the world.  

And, deep under the ground, is oil. Already the oil companies and circling. 

I stayed in an eco-project, deep inside the National Park. The only way to get there is by boat (for hours) and - at this time of year when the water levels are low - by walking for over an hour. Not even a track for a 4x4 to pollute the air. Water is purified on site. Waste is filtered. We had to use soap and shampoo provided so that no unwelcome chemical could pollute the place.

It has been set up by the local indigenous community, and is run entirely by them, thus providing employment for one group of people - and making sure that they will continue to treasure the forest, not only for the benefit of those of us privileged enough to visit, but also to protect these precious trees and birds and mammals. And surely they are the best people to run it, for they know one toxic tree from a tame one, can spot a tiny monkey from 150 metres, and know exactly which log to sit on and which is home to fire ants.

And it's stunningly beautiful. Please, big oil men, put your greed to one side, just for once.

12 comments:

  1. Oh Jo. What an absolutely wonderful place to be! Of all the places you've been on your travels, I don't think you've ever been to an area that escaped an ice age before. I would love to have done that boat trip and walk with you, and I dread to think what will happen if the oil men get their way. No, please no.

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    1. My thoughts exactly, Val. It's a precious place.

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  2. What an experience Jo. I hope they manage to preserve it. I can't blog from my iPad at all. I use two apps that I downloaded free from the App Store one is called BlogGo and one is called Blogger. You can do your whole blogpost and download your photos to them from iPad. They interact with your blog so you can work between both. Hope this helps.

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    1. My lovely son-in-law has been in touch with the same advice. It's not easy downloading here, as connections are very slow, but he has given me ways round it - to try when I've time. Not today, as I'm off up a volcano!

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    2. You should be able to put them on Facebook from your iPad too. Enjoy the volcano,I hope it's sleeping.

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  3. Wow! You illustrated your trip beautifully without a single photo. How special. I so hope the oil men stay away but...

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    1. Oh so do I, Ros - as long as the oil price stays low they will, but greed seems to be everywhere.

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  4. Jo, I am so envious of you!! The things you have seen in your travels.....and the animals.... lucky lady!

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    1. I do know how privileges I am, Carol.

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  5. Another reason to hope the oil price stays low, to keep these vultures out. I hope you'll give us full details of this place when you return - and of course some pictures. Although, really, your words are as good as pictures.

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  6. I agree with Rosalind, you did not need photos, I felt as if I was there with you in that wonderful place, teeming with incredible life. When is mankind going to wake up to the fact that we should be saving these places instead of destroying them?

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  7. I hear what you are saying and I hope oil men do, too. That one image encapsulates what you have described so far so well. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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