Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

The Power Forest

Animals
The Power Forest
Carl Safina

In the course of writing a book about what free-living animals learn from each other, I find myself on the Tambopata River in southeast Peru. The nearest town is Puerto Maldonado but from there the trip is all upriver. Wheeled vehicles are useless in this forest, and there are none. The surrounding forest has been officially protected with designations of national reserve and national park.


Perhaps the strangest thing is that while it takes very special skills for humans to exist in the Amazon rainforest, my trip into the forest is amazingly comfortable. I'm here to hang out with scientists of the Tambopata Macaw Project at the Tambopata Research Center, a special privilege. My logistics are all being facilitated by the expert eco-tourism company Rainforest Expeditions, which is why my trip upriver is so easy.

Our first night, we stop at a tourist lodge called Refugio Amazonas. The next day we visit a Harpy Eagle nest with a big chick. I get lucky enough to see mama, too, when she delivers a monkey to her babe.

Harpy Eagle chick.Carl Safina

Adult Harpy Eagle.Carl Safina

From there it is upriver to the Research Center. There I have the enormous privilege of hanging out with researchers Don Brightsmith and Gaby Vigo, spending many hours watching wild macaws at their nests and visiting the "clay licks" from which they derive the sodium they require.

Macaws at clay lick. Carl Safina

Carl Safina

The forest is wholly overwhelming. From ground to canopy, the impression is of a wall of green. Through the ferns of the ground rise saplings and centenarians. Every vertical level is occupied. Trees vary enormously. There are hundreds of species of trees, some with straight dark trunks, spiny trunks, blotchy trunks; some are variegated; some mossy, viney, some bare. Some trees drop prop roots to the ground and others splay head-high buttress roots that emanate from the base of the trees like garden walls.

Within the forest.Carl Safina

Giant fig tree with buttress roots.Carl Safina

Occasionally a troop of peccaries trundles by, or an agouti, while the trees are rustled by howlers, titis, tamarins, capuchins, spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys.

Titi monkey.Carl Safina

But most of my time and attention are devoted to the macaws I've come for. They light the emerald jungle with their flaming bodies.

Scarlet macaws.Carl Safina

Blue-and-yellow macaws.Carl Safina

Seeing flocks of macaws helped me remember how big the natural world is supposed to be. And how beautiful it is—where it remains.

Macaw flock.Carl Safina

If this is not magic enough, the morpho butterflies provide an added shock of beauty, looking like dried leaves when folded in prayerful rest, then weaving their electric blue through the sunshafts and shadows.

Carl Safina

Morpho butterfly.Carl Safina

Overall it's a miraculous glimpse of the original world. May it stay protected from chainsaws and bullets. May we find a way to let it be—this beautiful home of millions of beings—as it has been for millions of years. Because this is where the living world gets its power, and catches its breath.

A resident of Austin, Texas scrapes snow into a bucket to melt it into water on Feb. 19, 2021. Winter storm Uri brought historic cold weather, leaving people in the area without water as pipes broke. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

President Joe Biden is being called on to back newly reintroduced legislation that seeks to remedy the nation's drinking water injustices with boosts to infrastructure and the creation of a water trust fund.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Infants and young children may experience high phthalate levels because they often put plastic products in their mouths. Image Source / Getty Images

By Stephanie Eick

You may not realize it, but you likely encounter phthalates every day. These chemicals are found in many plastics, including food packaging, and they can migrate into food products during processing. They're in personal care products like shampoos, soaps and laundry detergents, and in the vinyl flooring in many homes.

Read More Show Less

Trending

About EcoWatch

An oil pumpjack is seen in a Texas cotton field against a backdrop of wind energy. ChrisBoswell / Getty Images

Many congressional districts with the most clean energy potential are current fossil fuel hubs, potentially reducing political barriers to a just transition away from the energy sources that cause climate change, a Brookings report says.

Read More Show Less
A sea turtle rescued from Israel's devastating oil spill. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP via Getty Images

Rescue workers in Israel are using a surprising cure to save the sea turtles harmed by a devastating oil spill: mayonnaise!

Read More Show Less
A "digital twin of Earth." European Space Agency

As the weather grows more severe, and its damages more expensive and fatal, current weather predictions fall short in providing reliable information on Earth's rapidly changing systems.

Read More Show Less