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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Jungle

Sitting in the boat the sound of a roaring chainsaw suddenly struck the air. Probably off property our Fauna Forever guide Chris exclaimed. He was talking about Boca Pariamanu property. Where they sustainably cut trees down. But this was off property and was a prime example of how unprotected land gets destroyed in the Amazon daily. We learned a lot about conservation in Boca. From animal conservation when we banded birds to see if the species were healthy in the area, to learning about the density of animals on our mammal walks. If you saw a group of animals off the trail then for every 10 km you walked you would prbably see another group of animals. Stats like these kept me excited in our jungle walks because at any moment a jaguar, tapir, or even giant anteater could be watching you. We also learned about sustainable farming in Boca. They grew most of the food they ate on property in zones specifically designated for agriculture. We picked yucca, guava, bananas, avocado, cacao, and countless other fruits I had no idea came from the jungle. From measuring trees to see if they were growing properly, to helping both chris’s with writing down information I began to see the diversity and importance of keeping the jungle intact. We watched documentaries about uncontacted native peoples and illegal drug trafficking, gold mining, and fishing which causes them to come out of the forest even as early as last year. This truly shocked me because these people live in complete isolation and only come out because of corporate greed. Its hard to change this because 30 percent of Puerto Maldonado’s economy relies on gold mining and even though it felt like the tourism industry was strong, it was only a mere 1/8 of what gold mining. People would be out of work and taking from the rainforest is one of the benefits of living in it. I began to see the differences in community life in boca. The kids loved to do any activity with us, from teaching us to fish with homemade poles, to playing sports with the whole community when we got back after a long day in the sun and humidity. Everyone knows and helps each other out and it’s a whole new dynamic I’ve never seen before.