14 September 2010
My trip to the Amazon solidified a life-long passion of mine for conservation and serves as a foundational experience that I can draw on for energy and direction in the future. On lighter terms, it was also an absolute blast and although the time flew by faster than I would have hoped, I could spend days reflecting on the memories I have of Peru and the jungle. From waking up to the sound of Red howler monkeys overhead while sleeping in a hammock at an oxbow lake to quietly stalking a Giant anteater through the jungle to get a photo, they’re difficult to put into words and impossible to think of without smiling broadly.
Beyond the pure epic-ness of the Amazon rainforest, volunteering with Fauna Forever gave me a first-hand view of the application of research in conservation. While studying it in a classroom and postulating about its dire need and potential across the globe, actually seeing the obstacles, hurdles, and tribulations involved with its implementation puts it in an entirely different light. The ruthless power of the unscrupulous gold miners and the infuriating complacency of the corrupt officials turns even the most well-meaning projects into battles, while poverty forces local populations into putting up with dangerous, destructive, and often avoidable activities. Uniting the desires of conservationists with the needs of the inhabitants is essential, and experiencing this war of trade-offs, where entire ecosystems are at stake, up close will drive me in pursuit of future solutions. The work that Fauna Forever is doing is very necessary on the path to sustainable-use of ecosystems and conservation of wildlife and offers an invaluable opportunity for those planning a future in the field of conservation biology.