A New Year Thought…A Roar of Protest

A New Year thought…..’A Roar of Protest’…..message for my followers.

For those of us who care about the world we live in ie the wildlife, the forests, the oceans and seas, this year has been particularly distressing.
Every day the media shows the shrivelled bodies of elephants killed for their tusks; the silence of huge palm plantations devoid of wildlife, emptied of the extraordinary Orangutans; the destruction of forests and with them the massive diversity of life they hold; ocean reefs broken up and destroyed by mining and oil exploration; rivers and seas polluted by plastic, mineral and oil products; mountains covered in refuse or flattened for development; cities covered with clouds of thick, poisonous fogs; indigenous people displaced, bullied and sometimes killed for their land.
And so much more.

I have this horrific vision of a future when all we hold so dear has been destroyed for money, and replaced by Disney like complexes where forests and wildlife and oceans are seen in the form of holograms and cinematic affects and, of course, will make some corporations, perhaps the very ones who destroyed the real thing, a whole lot more money.
Despite the occasional feelings of despair I feel-I must, because it’s in my nature-Hope.
I will make my voice heard by protesting, signing petitions, writing articles and using social media. Feeble as it might be, my voice will be joined by others and together we will become a roar of protest.

That is my Hope.

Happy New Year to all my followers……

Two glorious sunsets..the first seen in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil, the other in Torquay, Devon, England.

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Don’t let us let us see the sun set forever on our beautiful blue planet. I’ll fight for its existence, its forests, its wildlife, its oceans and seas. I hope you’ll join me.

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Plastic Bottle Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest

Plastic bottle pollution is a big problem in Brazil, especially when it comes to polluting the Amazon river and its tributaries.
Tourists are told to drink only bottled water and Brazilians prefer to do the same if they can afford it. Soft drinks in plastic bottles are also popular. That means there is a massive problem with empty plastic bottles, which rarely get recycled.
Apparently in 2011 only 2% of all waste was being recycled. I doubt that figure has changed much.

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Sold in bulk, there is little use for the bottle once used…though some are cut in half and used to bail out leaky canoes.
One brilliant Brazilian invented a way of using plastic bottles to make indoor lights, but there are only so many lights you can have in your home, before you have a surplus.
I did see recycling bins in some eco-hotels, but more often saw bottles thrown into the undergrowth, rivers, streets or overflowing street bins.
It would be a great pity if the massive islands of plastic waste we see floating in oceans around the world were replicated on the mighty Amazon.

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This bag of rubbish was collected by us after several days of celebration by local youngsters in an area of outstanding beauty at the back of my forest. This is what it should look like, pristine, wild, quiet and peaceful.

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Fungi. Amazon Rainforest Fungi.

Fungi is an essential feature of the rainforest. It decomposes organisms and absorbs the nutrients, returning them to the soil. But, fungi also have other functions within the ecosystem. An interesting one is the wood-decaying fungi which eat holes in tree trunks enabling wood peckers to find a nest hole. They may also have a role in the weather system, have medicinal properties and a recent find–a plastic eating one, which could solve one of the planets greatest problems…plastic pollution.
Fungus can be seen growing on fallen, rotting trees and branches in the forest. It may stay on the wood for many days, or at other times it will bloom for only a short while, shrivelling up and dying at the first touch of a suns ray. That’s what happened to the first fungi I photographed. It bloomed quickly on a tree trunk after a heavy rainfall. As soon as the sun came out, it died off, leaving no sign it had ever been there.

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The tiny, white fungus I found while on a trek in the forest. It seemed quite hardy. (Possibly Lentinus)

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The Red Fungus (Pycnoporus sanguineus) I believe was another hardy, woody fungi. Again found on a forest trek. It is thought to have important medicinal benefits.

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The yellow/orange, mushroom-shaped, fungus I found growing in the ground after we had burnt some piles of leaves, branches, twigs etc. the ashes can be seen on the ground.

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Unfortunately I am not an expert, so am unable to name most of the fungi I have seen. Any fungi expert wishing to help me out and add to my knowledge would be most welcome to point out names and be credited in the post.

Plastic Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest & Rivers, Brazil. Part One.

Plastic Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest & Rivers, Lake Manacapuru, Brazil. Part One.

The beautiful waterfall area is used by people from the local town, particularly when I am not there, as a picnic and recreational area.
On one occasion I went there with some friends for a picnic. The first thing I noticed as we rowed our canoes close to the area was silence. The birds had disappeared from the entrance to the waterfall and all along the stream.
I could hear, long before reaching the area, that an afternoon party was in full flow. Loud music blasted from large loudspeakers. Young people hollered, sung and laughed and screamed loudly, chasing each other through the trees and scarring the trunks of trees with deep knife slashes. Families with children picnicked along the shore of the river, disposing of their waste under bushes.
My friends and I walked through the stream and along the banks, picking up the rubbish that had been discarded, including: broken glass alcohol bottles; open, razor sharp lidded, cans; coloured plastic bags; polystyrene food containers; cellophane and metallic coloured sweet wrappers and used nappies. We filled the bottom of two canoes with the rubbish and this was only one days pollution.

One thing that surprised me on my visits to my home in the rainforest, was the amount of rubbish you see floating in the rivers. Plastic is a particular problem. It is sad to find what initially looks like a pristine, untouched, stretch of primary forest or fast flowing river and see, bobbing in the water or washed up on banks, or tangled around roots and branches – gaudy plastic strips, bags and bottles. We, travelling in canoes, always scooped them up, but there were always plenty more pieces of rubbish to take their place.
Plastic pollution is becoming a big problem in many beautiful parts of the world, in rivers and on seas, forming islands of imperishable waste. Sadly parts of the magnificent Amazon rainforest and river are fast becoming polluted, uninhabitable and barren too.
We, in the west, have made mistakes, polluted our rivers and seas and countryside and are now trying to repair the damage. I wish Brazilians would learn from our mistakes and not commit the same ones. They have a chance to rub our faces in our stupidity and show us how it is done. They have a wonderful rainforest, something truly special and unique. It is not so very hard to keep it that way, is it ?
The photo is of one of the two canoes we filled with rubbish from the waterfall area. One weekends rubbish.

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Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest & Rivers, Brazil. Part Two.

Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest and rivers, Brazil. Part Two.

A glimpse into one tiny nook of the UK’s vast ocean depths uncovered two drink cans, one bottle, and a rusty food tin http://gu.com/p/3e3xv/tw This, to me, horrifying discovery made me think further about pollution.

Despite my rainforest being a days canoe ride from a town and the forest being quite isolated, I still had to put up with pollution floating in with the river. It also came from the neighbouring properties many miles away and from supplies brought in from workmen on my lodge.
I had noticed that when locals finished with something; a torch battery, a piece of ragged clothing, an empty water bottle, bent nails, torn plastic bags etc, they just chucked them. They would throw them into the undergrowth. Out of sight, out of mind.
When the rivers rose in the wet season, the discarded rubbish floated up from the soil and ended up in uncontaminated rivers and streams and onto pristine river banks.
In the dry season tree branches could often be seen hung with gaudy coloured strips of plastic left by the receding waters.
With my poor Portugese I tried to explain to locals how batteries are poisonous to the rivers and therefore to the fish they ate daily. I also tried to explain about plastic pollution and its effect on wildlife and the environment. I insisted that nothing got thrown in my forest, but got put in bags to be disposed of properly.
And I spent a great deal of time walking around the shores of the river picking up litter that had floated ashore.
The contamination of the rivers by mining and industry is also a big problem in some areas. The use of chemicals causing permanent damage to the environment.

I walk around the streets of the sea-side town I live in, in the UK, and see the same careless throwing of rubbish onto the roads and pavements and bobbing on the sea surface.
And pollution from passing ships, as happened recently, when a discharge of engine oil killed and contaminated hundreds of birds, is a constant problem with the heavy maritime traffic that passes our coast.
Pollution is a world-wide problem. Each one of us has a part to play to reduce it. And every Government has a job to do to curb it and protect its people and the planet. It’s not for others to worry about, its for each and every one of us.
Those drink cans or that empty bottle could have been thrown by anyone of us and it reached the deepest area of ocean. We are turning this wonderful blue planet into a rubbish dump.
Note in the photos, below the Kingfisher a piece of a black plastic bag and along the bank of the river, in the foreground, two tin cans and a bottle.

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Black Vulture…South American…Catharista Uruba. Amazon Rainforest Bird.

Black Vultures. Catharista Uruba. ( Diary- Dry Season) Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

One morning a loud flap of wings and a shuffle behind me caused me to turn around and there stood, three South American Black Vultures.
I was sitting on the wooden harbour boards, birdwatching. I had just finished washing up in the river water and the soft clouds hiding the glaring sun for a while allowed me to sit and stare.
The vultures surprised me as they landed within feet of me. They came to at least my shoulders and at full stretch the top of my head. When one became agitated and fully spread its wings, it seemed huge, vampire like and threatening. I knew them to be scavengers and therefore not dangerous or aggressive, but their large size was still oppressive.
They looked up when I turned, waited, and when I didn’t respond to them in a negative way, went on picking at the ground clearing it of any bits of fish and meat that had fallen from plates whilst cleaning or during preparation. I occasionally had to shush them away, when they came within pecking distance, eliciting from them a hiss or grunt of irritation, otherwise we cohabited peacefully.
In a clear blue Amazon sky, the sharp, black shapes of the vultures can be seen flying very high, circling slowly, using their incredible eyesight and acute sense of smell, to search the forest and river banks.
The dry season brought benefits to the vultures, who were able to take advantage of the misfortune of the rivers animals. Caiman and dolphins caught out by the swiftly disappearing river, were left high and dry on the sandy banks and the vultures quickly disposed of them.
Vultures are strange looking, not very attractive, not very exciting, but probably the most important bird in the forest. They are essential to the ecology of a region by clearing away the dead bodies of animals and keeping areas clean, as they do in my harbour.
They were always welcomed and tolerated and rather admired.

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Plastic Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest. Part One.

Plastic Pollution in the Amazon Rainforest, Lake Manacapuru.

The beautiful waterfall area is used by people from the local town, particularly when I am not there, as a picnic and recreational area.
On one occasion I went there with some friends for a picnic. The first thing I noticed as we rowed our canoes close to the area was silence. The birds had disappeared from the entrance to the waterfall and all along the stream.
I could hear, long before reaching the area, that an afternoon party was in full flow. Loud music blasted from large loudspeakers. Young people hollered, sung and laughed and screamed loudly, chasing each other through the trees and scarring the trunks of trees with deep knife slashes. Families with children picnicked along the shore of the river, disposing of their waste under bushes.
My friends and I walked through the stream and along the banks, picking up the rubbish that had been discarded, including: broken glass alcohol bottles; open, razor sharp lidded, cans; coloured plastic bags; polystyrene food containers; cellophane and metallic coloured sweet wrappers and used nappies. We filled the bottom of two canoes with the rubbish and this was only one days pollution.

One thing that surprised me on my visits to my home in the rainforest, was the amount of rubbish you see floating in the rivers. Plastic is a particular problem. It is sad to find what initially looks like a pristine, untouched, stretch of primary forest or fast flowing river and see, bobbing in the water or washed up on banks, or tangled around roots and branches – gaudy plastic strips, bags and bottles. We, travelling in canoes, always scooped them up, but there were always plenty more pieces of rubbish to take their place.
Plastic pollution is becoming a big problem in many beautiful parts of the world, in rivers and on seas, forming islands of imperishable waste. Sadly parts of the magnificent Amazon rainforest and river are fast becoming polluted, uninhabitable and barren too.
We, in the west, have made mistakes, polluted our rivers and seas and countryside and are now trying to repair the damage. I wish Brazilians would learn from our mistakes and not commit the same ones. They have a chance to rub our faces in our stupidity and show us how it is done. They have a wonderful rainforest, something truly special and unique. It is not so very hard to keep it that way, is it ?
The photo is of one of the two canoes we filled with rubbish from the waterfall area. One weekends rubbish.

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