|The Maratakka in the
Shaking off a night chill
that creeps into your bones here in the forest, I dashed off to the
river's edge with a mic' in hand to record a distant troupe of howler
monkeys... I'm determined to share their powerful calls with a wider
audience, yet almost simultaniously as the mic' went on, a last authoritative
grunt signalled their silence.... Oh well next time...
The last morning at Roberto's camp: we'll miss the tranquility, the
cool comfort of hammocks hung under high palm-thatched roofs, the dark
glassy waters of the Maratakka River and the other-worldly savannah
that stretches off South to its source. Its hard to contemplate the
threats to a place so vast and nature-rich.
An hour or so into our journey back to Waningen, the most tangible threat
to this environment came into view.... The loading site of a logging
concession. The parched ground stripped of life by heavy machinery,
pools of oil and discarded broken engines, batteries, tyres and all
manner of unsightly rubbish that seem to have no place here, make it
easy to be sensationalist.... To us it's blatant destruction, yet to
the hard-working community of loggers living there, it's a livelihood.
Suddenly Michael and his single-handed parrot catching seems a negligable
threat. Yet all of these dangers are having a slow and uncontrolled
impact that really could destroy this wonderful place. We've been told
that concessions have been sold all the way up the Maratakka and that
bird-catching is a licenced and seasonal practice. But unless the warning
signs laid out to us by the WWF and locals like Roberto, are heeded
and these practices are properly controlled, the future for this area
There will be no more marvelling at the technicolour wonder of the Parrots,
the awkward flight of the Toucan or the graceful white Heron... The
mirror of vegetation on the river's edge will be broken by the ugly
remains of industry. Obviously the demand for timber will never go away,
but neither will the need for a balanced eco-system (the "Real World
Wide Web" as the WWF calls it).
So as the afternoon light fades and the soporific buzz of the boats'
engines calm us all, we're happy knowing that Michael has put aside
the parrot-catching for now to join us tomorrow as we begin the trip
The Bird in Question
Part of the Process