Since I make a living as a naturalist and have the good fortune to travel to many wild places throughout the world, people invariably ask me a very unfair question. What is your favorite spot? My pat answer is the place I am right now Of course that is not the answer they want. So when I am forced to choose it comes down not to one but two places, the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania and the Ecuadorean part of the Amazon Basin. You are listening to sounds of the Amazon night that I recorded a couple of years ago. I am there right now. Yesterday I took a short flight across the Andes from Quito at 9300 down to the oil boom town of Coca along the Napo River, one of the tributaries of the Amazon. There we were met and driven by bus (the entire floor of which was covered by petroleum) to a boat launch. We boarded a motorized canoe, about 40 feet long and 7 feet wide and then traveled for 3 hours down river. We got off the boat and scrambled up a steep hillside and walked along an elevated wooden path through the flooded jungle floor to Lake Mandicocha, a small lake known for its piranha and the very rare zigzag heron.
Several native guides loaded us into very small rickety dugout canoes and paddled us across the lake to the La Selva Jungle Lodge, our home for the next five days. I have used this Lodge in the past. I believe that an important way to save large areas of wilderness, like the Amazon Basin, is through proper eco-tourism, which must be conducted with sensitivity and care. La Selva won an Eco-tourism award several years ago. They employ the local people and provide the schools with supplies. They started a women’s cooperative to sale handicrafts. And most importantly they do not allow tour groups to visit the nearby villages which often severely alters the local culture. My hope is that groups like mine will provide the native people enough resources so that the sounds I hear coming from the rain forest will not be from chain saws or oil rigs.
This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.