Indifference to the rain-forest plight will kill us all.

The TV programme here in England called #’I bought a rainforest’ showed last night. The show was about Charlie who had bought an area of rainforest in Peru in an effort to conserve it and protect it from deforestation.
His story is similar to my own and his desperation as his dream is shattered is equal to my own.

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It’s easy to sit on the stones of a clear, cool forest stream as the water runs through your toes, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the rainforest, and think life is perfect.
But then your daydreams are crashed into by the sound of tree saws and you’re faced with the reality as you hear and feel the thump of the tree hitting the ground.
People, often those living in towns, often well off, come into the forest or send others to cut down the best trees…the hardwood trees that have taken hundred of years to grow, to sell abroad or to clear the forest for food, soya, production.

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There are two kinds of locals in the rainforest. There are those that don’t want change, who want the forest they love left alone. People who live and work within the forest.
And there are the other kind. The ones who see the rainforest as a thing to be used and abused and flattened if it provides money, however temporary.
The soil of the rainforest is thin it won’t provide decades of farming. I’ve seen fields after a few years…… now useless …stark, dry and treeless, abandoned by the farmers.
I’ve seen streams and rivers polluted and made unusable by mining. I’ve seen thick forest burnt to the ground and with it thousands of animals and birds and insects, some not yet seen by man as new discoveries are being made all the time.

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The forest has evolved over millions of years. The animals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians…the trees, shrubs, plants have evolved to work together. The Brazil-nut tree for instance needs a particular orchid, a specialist bee and a sharp toothed rodent to reproduce.
Take away one item from the forest and the effect on everything around it is dramatic.
The rainforest is not only beautiful with extraordinary wildlife, it provides a third of the oxygen we breath. Cut down the forest and human life on earth ends.

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When are governments around the world going to take this seriously and help the countries with rainforests to protect them or must we just accept the inevitable. Are Charlie and I banging our heads against a wall of indifference.

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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.

Rainforest poetry..In my thoughts and dreams-the beloved forest.

On returning to the UK from my home in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, there was not a day, a night, a moment when the forest was not uppermost in my thoughts. This poem was written during a moment of nostalgia and longing.

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Frogs and Toads of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

Frogs and Toads of the Amazon Rainforest.

Frogs and toads frequented the kitchen. The warmth and humidity were perfect for these amphibians who felt quite at home in the damp conditions.
The Amazon Rainforest contains more than a thousand species of frogs and many of them found their way to my kitchen.
The photo shows one of my favourites. A large frog, orangey brown, with dark stripes. The eyes of these frogs were amazing, dark blue with red flashes surrounded by a golden filigree edge, like precious jewels. Stunning.
I hate cockroaches, the only insects I can’t bear, and these frogs ensured that they, and any other insect which made its way into the kitchen, were not a problem, so were welcome living pest controllers. They moved easily about the wooden walls of the kitchen, securely attached by their sucker like feet and could frequently be found between the large serving spoons, forks, knives, colanders and saucepans that hung from hooks on the walls.

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The brown frogs shared the kitchen with what I believe was a toad. It had greenish-grey warty textured skin, but I thought it handsome.

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The frogs and toads did not stay in the kitchen entirely though. One day I was taking, carefully, the washing from the line, when something large and cold slapped onto my chest. I froze rigid thinking it was a snake, but the frog then jumped back onto the wall, leaving me shaking with fright.

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There were tiny, brightly coloured frogs too. They do not like the walls of the lodge, instead preferring cool, dark, damp places. I found a particularly pretty one; tiny, pink and pale grey with delicately patterned, black markings, in the toe of a Wellington boot. I went to pick this pretty frog up, but my hand was grabbed and pulled away. It was poisonous, as are most small frogs. I learnt on day one in the rainforest that many creatures like closed-in footwear. I was told never to put on a pair of shoes or boots without investigating the toes first with a stick and this I did religiously.

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A fungal infection is decimating frogs worldwide, see Chytrid and virus

Reptiles of the Amazon Rainforest. A fifth of worlds reptiles at risk of extinction.

Research by the Zoological Society has found that a fifth of the worlds reptiles are at risk of extinction. The thought fills me with despair.
The Amazon Rainforest alone has three hundred and seventy eight species of reptiles, including varieties of; Caiman, lizards, geckos, skinks, tortoise, turtles and snakes. These fascinating creatures are necessary for the healthy ecology of a forest. They are an essential part of many food webs providing food for big predators as well as being hunters themselves.
Below are my personal observations and experiences.

Reptiles seen as food:
Yellow-headed sideneck turtle (Podocnemis unifilis):The turtle in the photo was being readied for the cooking pot. That is one of the problems with being a turtle or tortoise in the Amazon. Apparently these animals are tasty and that is leading to their demise in many areas. I frequently saw much larger turtles being openly killed, sold or prepared for the pot.
The Yellow-footed Tortoise( Chelonoidis denticulata): too, is at risk of disappearing thanks to local appetites.
There are laws in place to protect these animals, but the Amazon is a mighty huge place and trying to implement the law is virtually impossible. Only education and community awareness and self-regulation can work.

Reptiles-Lizards, at risk because of changes to their environment caused by deforestation and agriculture:
Northern Tegus and Ameiva lizards.(Tupinambis and Ameiva ameiva)
Already an Ameiva lizard, Ameiva Vittata, only found in a small area of Bolivia, is now thought to be extinct. Ameiva lizards are often beautiful. They come in a variety of colours, the aqua-blue and leaf-green variety are stunning. They are appropriately known as jungle runners. They race through the undergrowth at great speed when disturbed
I could hear them daily about the lodge area. A rustle of leaves, a movement of grasses and suddenly they would tear across the ground and disappear beneath a shrub. As they got used to me they became much calmer and would stop and listen when I spoke to them.
The brown and gold lizards, skinks, that spent a whole day copulating in my bedroom took no notice of me at all. Even when I lay in my hammock for an afternoon siesta and watched them, the male continued to cling to the leg of the female in an amorous embrace.
Their confidence in my harmlessness was not misplaced. I was only too happy to leave them in peace.
Geckos, Hemidactylus frenatus.
These tiny geckos used to stand stock still if noticed. Their bulbous eyes held a look of surprise. When their courage failed them they would shoot off into the shadows.
Amazon lizards are generally not harmful to people, but snakes all to often are. So I gave snakes a wide berth. I often saw Feu-de-lance. These deadly little snakes seemed to like the corner of my bedroom. They were quickly removed by locals, but their favourite corner was always the first thing I looked out for when I entered my room.
Most reptiles eat insects, fruit, vegetables, birds eggs, birds, worms, grubs and caterpillars. Caiman and snakes eat smaller animals. The Northern Tegu, a heavily muscled and handsome lizard, hung around like a dog after lunch waiting for meaty tit-bits from our plate.
I cannot imagine the rainforest without its many reptiles. It would appear barren. Devoid of life. It is a frightening vision.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/15/reptile-species-face-extinction

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Deforestation..Brazil Government Survey.

Amazon Deforestation.

The Brazilian Government has just announced a four year long survey of the Amazon Rainforest to provide detailed data of tree species. It will also provide data on the soil and bio diversity in an area and try to assess the effects of climate change ie drought.
I am so happy to see this happening. A survey will detail all the trees in an area and make it easier to see when trees have been cut and will give a more accurate picture of deforestation.
I know from experience that many trees get cut down and sold without proper Government papers, which are, rightly, difficult to get.
I hope this survey will be highly publicised and involve locals in the collection of data and encourage communities to protect their beautiful environment.
http://gu.com/p/3dc68/tw via @guardian

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Blue-crowned Trogon, a wondrous bird of the Amazon Rainforest.Scientific name: Trogon curucui

The Trogon – Scientific name: Trogon curucui

It’s name sounded like something from a science fiction film and when I saw the illustration of the Trogon in a book, I did wonder if it was not a figment of someone’s imagination.
I had read in the book that Trogons were brightly coloured birds that perched half way between canopy and ground. They are shy and sit quietly for long periods, staying out of sight, making their presence hard to detect and observe.
It seems right then, that my first sighting of this bird, should be part of a strange tale.
It happened early one morning at breakfast. I looked up when I heard a loud, hooting call and saw this vision alight on a branch just metres away from me. I gasped.
The previous day I had been thinking about my problem stay in Brazil: the constant battle with bureaucracy, certain unhelpful people, my difficulties with the language and so on. I was hot and tired, weary of the struggle to get my home built.
It was a warm and sticky afternoon. Pushing my damp hair away from my face I spoke aloud to the trees. “I am so tired,” I said, “If you want me to stay send me a sign,” and then remembering the picture plate I had seen in the book that morning, “A Trogon, will do,” I said, shrugging in despair and feeling foolish talking to the forest.
I was absolutely shocked then when it appeared the next morning. I stared at it, afraid to move, and it just stared right back.
The Blue-crowned Trogons large, round, jet black eyes, are surrounded by a thin band of yellow. It’s head was blackish blue, the back and upper tail a deep turquoise, the wings pale greyish blue edged in black and the breast a soft red. On the underside of it’s long tail were striking black and white stripes. It was extraordinary.
I lifted my camera, it turned away, but did not fly off. Instead it perched on the same branch for quite some time, occasionally turning to look at me with those large, curious eyes.
I felt honoured. After the Trogon had flown off and I had recovered my senses, I turned towards the trees and, of course, loudly thanked the forest.

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