When electricity is scarce, water is not drinkable, the weather is not always in your favor, mosquitoes, and many other insects bother you 24h a day, and phone reception is poor, we realize how dependent of technology and comfort we are.
This January I had the incredible opportunity to travel to southern Peru jungle … and unlike all “tourist travel” that you can find to go to Tambopata, this was INSANE! Twenty young people pulled out of their comfort zone and put to work from carpentry to medicine. Because in the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center “Amazon Shelter” they need your hands and time, other than money.
I found a course of wildlife management in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios and I thought: “Why not?” So I grabbed my backpack and I went into the jungle for 12 days with three pairs of pants, three t-shirts and 19 other guys who I did not know.
As the days passed, we were getting used to the hot temperatures, sounds, smells, and all who lived with us, including monkeys, deer, peccaries, turtles, macaws and countless insects.
We helped in the Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, but also learned about these animals into the wild. We learned that wild animals are definitely not pets. You cannot try to domesticate an animal that was born to be part of an ecosystem.
Each animal has a habitat, a lifestyle, a predator and a prey, and this is what makes them unique and amazing. We learned that if you want to see them you can easily go to a zoo and see how they get bored in 10 square meters. But if you want to see birds eating clay as a routine activity in the wild, you have to get up at 4 in the morning and go cautiously observe them from a small boat in the middle of the Tambopata River; that if you want to see amphibians, you have to go into the jungle in the middle of the night, making sure that nothing mortal stings you, work your way with a machete and be aware in every step you take; that if you want to see alligators, you have to go in the river at night with a boat, a headlamp and go patiently look for the reflection of their eyes. But that none of this is the rule. That you can collide with a herd of capybaras and stay amazed just because they’re there, right in front of you, just staring.
It’s amazing how the mentality of people and the idea that man is the center of the universe can move an entire economy based on illegal wildlife traffic. It’s amazing how many humans feel observers of nature when in fact we are all part of it. But it is also amazing what a person can do if he/she changes a bit the way he/she thinks and try to convince others.
For more information visit www.amazonshelter.org