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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

A Familiar Feeling

Waking up at 5:30 in the morning, we pull on our rubber boots and prepare to help Chris with his mammal population density research. We walk through primary forest, searching for animals along the side of the trail. Chris points out a few tamarind monkeys swinging along, and Claire shrieks as a snake crosses our path.

The work that Fauna Forever does with the birds and mammals of the Amazon, though slow and time consuming, plays an essential role in the conservation of an Amazon suffering from deforestation. Their work serves as one of many examples that show how much easier it is to destroy a resource than it is to conserve it. For example, the forest cannot produce more than 2 or 3 cubic meters of wood per hectare in a year, yet an illegal logging company or gold mining company may raze a hectare in a day or two, dealing irreversible damage to the Amazon. Those 2 or 3 cubic meters per hectare are painfully far behind the hungry appetites of the black markets in tropical wood and illegal gold mining companies. The Amazon showed us a tragic yet awe-inspiring mix of natural beauty and biodiversity contrasted with critical conservation issues. Unfortunately, this overwhelming feeling is all too familiar for the students of today.