Message From The Jungle

by | Feb 10, 2002 | Archives

They say they are savages, but the message I saw in the jungle made me wonder who is civilized and who is not!

Dear International Friend, Merri and I just took our first trip to our Amazon Lodge. While traveling there, I read an appropriate book, “Ishmael“. This is the story of a Gorilla becoming the guru for an earnest, but cynical man. The basic premise appears to have a flaw to me, but one moral that made sense is that humanity and agriculture, have became too successful and aggressive in stamping out hunter-gatherer societies and other forms of life that threaten crops. We do this to allow our population and food supply to grow at the cost of reduced diversity.

Yet diversity is a key in life's long term survival! While in the rainforest, we saw many examples of how man and animal, animal and plant and animal and plant work together. For example certain plants offer sap that can be used as food for lemon ants. The ants in turn build nests ion these plants and their highly acid excrement kills off surrounding foliage helping the host plant survive.

In another example termites build large nests in trees. These huge bulbs work in symbiosis with bird nests that drip off the branches of the same trees, like giant bulbs hanging from nets. The termite nests stop animals from climbing the trees and reaching the nests so save the hangers from any intrusion. The birds in turn eat enemy ants of termites.

Another act of symbiosis appears when tiny baby faced squirrel monkeys are surrounded by large, long tail black birds, called “ant birds”. The activity of the monkeys dislodges ants from their nests upon which the birds feast. Yet these cautious birds remain alert and act as sentinels for the monkeys. The jungle works this way everywhere, “You scratch your back and I'll scratch yours”. Tit for tat.

This is a lesson I am not sure mankind has thoroughly learned.

The importance of this fact was driven home again and again on this trip as we were surrounded by one of these last bastions of diversity. The rainforests of the Amazon amount to less than seven percent of the earth's surface but maintain 50% of its life forms and we observed again and again nature's tricks that reminded us of the value of diversity.

One example was the simple way that different trees use different approaches for survival. There is the thick huge tree which simply grows and grows crowding out the rest of the undergrowth. These trees were most notable when they grew to close to the river bank. Their weight caused the earth to break away and collapse. Too much tree too little spoil (perhaps a lesson our large cities should observe).

There were tall, thin trees, with narrow waisted trunks that didn't use many resources nor create burdens on the land yet carried the needed water and nutrition that the green crown and provide what the tree needs to survive in the sunny canopy above.

Finally trees with little top, but huge roots that spread everywhere providing nutrients and a safe anchor in the soggy ground.

There is a time and place for each and as the nature of events change some will win and survive while others do not. Their diversity expands the odds that some trees will continue the evolutionary process.

These lessons and diversity are so important that Merri and I have co-sponsored a foundation, The Land of the Sun and have invested in Amazon Amazing, an eco adventure lodge that helps support the Siona-Secoya Community of which only 43 members still survive.

I hope someday to introduce you in person to these people who live in such balance with nature. They will make you wonder who are civilized and who of us are not! You can read about our entire Amazon journey by clicking here.

Tomorrow we'll return to the jungle of the city and look at Jyske bank's latest multicurrency sandwich recommendations at our International investment & Business Course.

Until then I wish you pleasant survival in the jungle of your choice.