The Silencing of Nature’s Symphony
Everyday around us we submerse ourselves into the modern day arena of must have’s and must do’s in our day to day lives. We tend to take the ordinary expectations of the day as apart of the familiar, the things we know we can not live without and often forget how what is around us came to be.
A good example is going to the grocery store, in the dairy aisle, the shelves hold 2 gallon milk jugs, we expect the milk to be there each time we go and why not? It has always been sitting on the shelf waiting for us to come by and add to our buggy, but what we forget about sometimes is without the cow, who was needed to produce the milk that goes in the jug for you to buy, is a very important piece of the equation. But if you are not a dairy farmer or living in rural America, you will tend not to miss the cow until there is no more milk. Then we wonder, what happened when there is no milk.
Now let’s take a simple example of a common item and let’s turn that into a broader spectrum that has an impact greater than our cereal bowl and let me ask you the question, “Can you imagine a world or parts of our world silenced of nature?”
Yes, it is an extreme question and one that seems almost unfathomable but after spending time in the eastern part of the Amazon these past few days, I cringe at saying its not as unfathomable as we would want to think it is. The “unfathomable” is an increasing threat every day in the Amazon as modernization, overpopulation and growing industries break the threshold of what was once fertile, sacred, native lands rich with biodiversity and culture. It’s like an age old adage, that if we don’t “Save the Rainforest”, then the rainforest and jungles will not be there one day. Modern man is reshaping the landscape, certainly not the way nature intended but nevertheless, the landscape is changing, and with this change comes adaptations. Some good, some bad.
So with this prelude, let me share with you a small glimpse of traveling in the Amazon.
To reach the eastern part of Amazonia, one must travel by plane 45 minutes to an hour inland landing on a small airstrip that is the one lane, one building South American aeroport. After arriving, travelers hop into the back of rickety old pickup trucks and are taxied to the riverbanks to board motorized canoes that travel up river 3-9 hours to reach the jungles of the Amazon. The vast Napo river is surrounded by jungles and local villages only minutes after leaving the frontier town, but as we travel further up river, the signs of modernization begin to become apparent as we watch barges filled with oil trucks slowly float down the river back towards town. We see smoke rise over the tree tops as the forests are being cleared and burned to make new roads and we see bulldozers clear cut the land as flames from gas burning off the oil rigs flame into the air. It’s a strong and raw emotion of the changing landscape and the vanishing of the Amazon.
Several hours onward we travel, deeper into the jungles and that fleeting moment of change we saw earlier is quickly diminishing as we pull to the river bank and unload from our motorized canoe. We are now surrounded by nothing but nature, an unadulterated jungle rich in flora and fauna as far as one can see. Almost so much nature, it’s a little unnerving at first, realizing you are deep into the Amazon and the only way back to civy is, well, by the rickety motorized canoe.
Howler monkeys can be heard in the distance and troops of squirrel monkeys jump from tree to tree. Kopak trees tower over all vegetation as the tree’s buttresses reach in all directions on the jungle floor. Birds can be heard in all directions and mealy parrots pass overhead screeching in flocks by the hundreds. It’s sensory overload and at first almost impossible to comprehend standing in such a rich and diverse world. It’s surreal and you feel you are in a 3D anime that has been orchestrated beautifully by Disney. But your not, it’s real and your not only standing in the middle of it, your living it with all your senses.
In a matter of a few short days, the rich diversity of the Amazon is experienced. In less than 48 hours we had already seen seven different types of monkeys and well over 30 species of birds, we called caiman by night while paddling in hand carved indigenous canoes and laughed at the tree that constantly shook next to the dock. The tree shaking is brought to travelers by two very cool Hoatzins, or locally called “stinky turkeys” who, let’s say enjoyed their view of the lake. But what a wealth of wildlife and experiences that the rainforest and jungles provided. It is no doubt a photojournalist’s adventure filled nirvana.
But what we can not forget is the realities that are pressing on communities for change, for modernization and the impacts the change is having on the jungles and the rainforest. In the rich depths of the jungles, the Amazon bursts with life, on the edges of modernization life diminishes quickly, for the animals and insects that do not retreat deeper into the remaining lands and preserves, they are meeting extinction at an alarming rate. A good example is the effects of the flames that burn off excess gasses from the oil rigs. Insects are attracted by the light, the intensity of the flames and heat cause the insects to perish. The insects, endemic to the area potentially were the pollinators of plants that fed some species of animals. Without the insects, the plants can not pollinate, without the plants the animals must relocated to survive.
And we have to be reminded, just like missing our jug of milk because the cow is gone, we have to remember that on the edge of the rainforest and jungles….. Nature’s Symphony is being silenced at an alarming rate.
Signing off tonight from the Amazon.