Pope Benedict XVI send his greetings to the Peruvian people

Pope Benedict XVI sent his “deferential greetings to president Alan Garcia Perez” and to the “beloved Peruvian people” from Rome on Friday, after receiving credentials of the new Peruvian ambassador to the Vatican, Alfonso Rivero Monsalve.

“This meeting reminds us of the deep and profound love this nation has and always had with the church”, the pope expressed to the Peruvian diplomat.

The Holy Father also talked about the “profound changes” Peru is confronted with in regard to “social, political and economic transformations” and he observed that “there are processes that directly affect the people and their values”.

“One knows that Peru wants to have an adequate part of the globalization phenomenon and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by economic growth in order to create wealth and other social benefits obtained in an equitable way”, he declared.

He continued by pointing out that “Peruvians hope that health services or offered properly to all social layers; that education is the patrimony of all, (…) and that integrity reigns instead of corruption which enables the successful operation of various public institutions, thus helping the many suffering people to surpass hunger and misery”.

“The church, which recognizes the competency of the state on social, political and economic questions, assumes its own obligation — deriving from its evangelizing mission — to safeguard and spread the truth about the human person, the meaning of his life and his ultimate destiny, which is God,” the pope said.

Benedicto XVI emphasized that he and the Vatican will continue supporting all social efforts that are already carried out, so that there is always equality of opportunities and that the inalienable rights of each Peruvian are respected.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Half of Peru’s women suffer from varicose veins

Every second Peruvian woman suffers from varicose veins, whether its for genetic or hormonal reasons or the cause of certain lifestyle. This announced Dr. Jaime Ames Silicani, a specialist in endovenous laser treatment and therapies for varicosity.

Silicani explained that varicose veins are more common in women than in men, and are linked with heredity. Other related factors are pregnancy, obesity, menopause, aging, usage of contraceptive pills, hard physical work, prolonged standing, leg injury and abdominal straining.

The doctor maintained that varicose veins can affect any person and can appear on any body part, but most commonly in legs. A varicose vein is dilated (widened), tortuous (twisting) vein, usually involving a superficial vein in the leg, often associated with incompetency of the valves in the vein. These visible and bulging veins are often associated with symptoms such as tired, heavy, or aching limbs. In severe cases, varicose veins can rupture, or open sores (varicose ulcers) can form on the skin.

And as the disease progresses, it may produce swelling on the ankles and legs, skin over the vein may become dry, itchy and thin, leading to eczema (venous eczema), blood clots (varicophlebitis) and hemorrhages.

Varicose veins are usually progressive and cannot be prevented entirely. However, wearing support stockings and maintaining normal weight and regular exercise may be beneficial.

Treatment is not always necessary for varicose veins. Severe cases, especially those involving ulcers, require treatment. Varicose veins are frequently treated by eliminating the varicose veins to let blood flow through the remaining healthy veins. This can be done by surgery or sclerotherapy. Varicose vein surgery is commonly referred to as stripping. Sclerotherapy uses a fine needle to inject a solution directly that irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and the blood to clot. The vein turns into scar tissue that fades from view.

Newer methods for treating varicose veins, such as endovenous laser treatment, radiofrequency ablation, and foam sclerotherapy are not as well studied, especially in the longer term. Open surgery has been performed for over a century.

Wolfy Becker

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters criticizes Bush, loves Peruvian culture

Roger Waters, one of the founders of legendary English rock band Pink Floyd, criticized the policies of U.S. president George W. Bush and said he is an admirer of Peru’s culture, especially of Machu Picchu.

Waters, who arrived in Lima on Saturday for his Monday night concert at the “El Monumental” football stadium, signed autographs for his fans and met with Peruvian foreign trade and tourism minister, Mercedes Aráoz who gave him a t-shirt with the image of Machu Picchu, a typical Peruvian “chullo” cap and two photo books: Peruvian landscapes and Peruvian cuisine.

“I love Machu Picchu”, he told journalists and revealed that he actually tried to book a short trip to the ancient Incan citadel but unfortunately a discrepancy between tour schedule and flight times didn’t allow it. “But I love to cook, too”, he added and slipped the t-shirt over his head.

The musician also advanced that he does not agree with “the policies” of U.S. president Bush and said he supports Mexican protests against a wall on the border between both countries. “They are doing the right thing when they protest. I’m on Mexico’s side”, he said.

Waters’ show tonight will include songs from his latest “Ca Ira” CD, excerpts from “The Wall”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Animals”, and the complete “Dark Side of the Moon”. During his interpretation of “Another brick in the wall”, the band will be accompanied by a choir of twenty 10-16 year old kids from the Cambridge school in Lima. Cambridge, England, is the home town of Roger Waters and the other founding members of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett and David Gilmour.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Myths and legends guarded by Peru’s Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon, apart from housing the most amazing biodiversity, is also home to a myriad of magical myths and mysterious occurrences. I was fortunate enough to have lived in the southern part of the Peruvian Amazon in the Madre de Dios region for 5 months, and I was always captivated by the many mysterious stories and anecdotes locals told me.

I would like to narrate some of these tales which will hopefully have the same enchanting effect on you as they had on me, perhaps even to the extent that you may begin sensing the rainforest’s hot and humid air; hear the buzz, chirp and growl of the animals; and you want to pull out your machete and cut down that ripe bunch of bananas.


El Tunchi

This is one of the spirits that protects the rainforest, and more specifically it is said to be the spirit of people that took their last breath inside the rainforest. The technique of El Tunchi is to whistle a certain tune, always the same short melody, and if you chime in by whistling the exact same tune, the spirit will appear, its wrath will fall upon you and terrorize you.

If you are well-behaved and respect nature by not harming flora and fauna, El Tunchi will just scare you a little and move on. However, if you mow down trees like there’s no tomorrow, pollute the air or displace animals from their habitat, then watch out and take heed! The best advice that even the locals follow religiously, is not to answer its whistle, thus not giving it a chance to “play” with you.

La lupuna

The lupuna is a tree found in various parts of the Amazon. It is one of those beautiful giants of the Amazon, grand, imposing, and well rooted in the jungle’s soil. Its trunk can be as wide as 10 meters (33 ft) when given the time to grow. The lupuna distinguishes itself from other tropical trees because of its “belly”, a part of the trunk that is wider than the rest and bears some resemblance to a human abdomen.

And it has another characteristic: its spirit is also widely known to be a protector of the rainforest. Unfortunately, it is not entirely safe from deforestation but local loggers and lumberjacks are very careful about which lupuna to cut down, because if they choose the wrong species, the tree will take revenge…

You must also show your respect for the lupuna in other ways, which is reflected by the following story:

A local woman was hiking through the jungle and felt a basic human urge. She squatted down near a big tree and relieved her bladder. She returned to town, unaware of what was about to unfold. At nighttime her stomach began to hurt and swelled up to painful proportions. The discomfort kept her from sleeping that night and throughout the next day the pain got worse and the swelling increased.

She called for the help of a shaman, who asked her what she had been doing before the pain started. Had she, by any chance, urinated near a lupuna? The poor woman confirmed and the shaman explained that the lupuna was punishing her for showing such disrespect. “The only solution”, he said, “is to ask the lupuna for forgiveness. If you don’t your stomach will burst and you will die”.

And with these words he went on his way looking for the moody lupuna. The woman waited in agony, hoping that the shaman would succeed in his mission. He found the tree according to her description and spent the night at the lupuna’s feet carrying out his rituals, asking the powerful tree for forgiveness. He took a knife and carefully cut the lupuna’s “belly” and took some of the juice that trickled from the wound. In the morning he returned with this potion and told the punished woman to drink it. Almost immediately the swelling and agonizing pain subsided. By the evening she was up on her feet again, good as new, and with a very important lesson learned!


Sirens

Many rivers feed the Amazon, serving as water highways to transport people and goods. They are intricate eco-systems and home to many fish species. They are also the natural habitat of the infamous, dreaded anaconda. These rivers have their own myths and legends, including the enigmatic sirens.

Traditionally, men are working in the forest for weeks on end, whether to collect Brazil nuts, taking out rubber or trees, or mining gold. During all this time there is not a single woman in sight. Surrounded by nothing but dense forest and male colleagues for weeks, one can imagine their longing for little female contact. Many have reported that they saw beautiful women singing to them from the opposite shore, trying to lure them to the other side of the river. Some couldn’t resist and drowned in the river’s swift currents. The one’s who withstood the attraction told us this tale.

During the rubber boom at the beginning of the 20th century, legends also tell of lonely and desperate men who trapped pink dolphins living in these rivers and lakes, and made love to them. This would then transform the men into male sirens who went to live with the dolphins in the depths of the river. This is said to be the reason why numerous rubber extractors simply disappeared and their bodies were never found.


El Chullanchaqui

This little creature known as Chullanchaqui is also there to protect the rainforest. He is a farmer, and if you come across a clearing in the forest, you might be standing on one of Chullanchaqui’s farms known as “chacras”. If you return to the same place months later, you will find that it is still a clear area, as if someone had been weeding it and took care of it. Chullanchaqui is said to have a very unique appearance: a tiny midget-like man that leaves a peculiar trace. Those who have seen his tracks say he has a tiny left foot and his right side leaves a round hole behind, apparently the mark of a wooden leg. When he appears out of nowhere, it is often to confuse you, he could be calling you, you will barely get a glimpse of him every now and then, so you keep following him. And when you realize that you’ve lost his trail, you are utterly and completely lost in the dense forest.

A farmer told me this story about an encounter he had with Chullanchaqui one night:

“I was on my way back from a hunting trip. It was about 9 o’clock at night, it was dark, and this is a dangerous time to be in the jungle since it also marks the time when animals like snakes and tigers begin their own hunt for prey. I was moving as fast as I could. It was then when I heard someone call my name. It startled me and I held my lantern in the direction from where I had heard the voice. There it was: a small, sturdy little person walking away from me. Because of the darkness and the distance I couldn’t see him very well.

At first I thought it was my neighbor playing a joke on me, so I called out his name and started following him. He moved very fast ans brisk for a little fella that he was and I had a hart time keeping up with him. I told him to slow down, still thinking it could be my neighbor, and I kept running after him as fast as I could. This went on for some time when suddenly I stumbled over something and brought me to my knees. I looked down for a moment trying to find out what it was. When I raised my head again, the creature was gone. Not a sound, not a trace, gone. It seems as if he had fallen off the face of the earth. Then it dawned on me: I just had an encounter with Chullanchaqui.”


What are these creatures really telling us?

All creatures in these myths have one thing in common: They are there to protect flora and fauna of the rainforest from mankind’s harm and exploitation. Whether you believe in these myths or not, they teach us to respect and care for the mighty jungle, and if we do so, it will continue sharing its benevolent powers with us. Don’t forget that the rainforest filters the world’s polluted air, and it is one of the most important parts of the world’s ecosystem. Thus it is our responsibility to listen to the message of these creatures and protect the “lungs of the planet”.

Article by Elise van der Heijden

How to preserve Peru’s Amazon rainforest. Interview with Rhett Butler

Many of those living on the coast or in the mountains of Peru forget that 50% of Peru’s landmass is covered by the Amazon rainforest. So it should be important to all those who live or have an interest in Peru, to be aware of the importance of its rainforest, as well as on a world-wide scale, and to what we as individuals do or can do right now to contribute to the protection of this natural treasure.

We came across this excellent website called Mongabay (http://www.mongabay.com), an incredibly informative and up-to-date resource related to the so called “lungs of the planet”. The site was founded and maintained by the U.S. American Rhett A. Butler, who has been researching and writing about rainforests for over a decade.

Mr Butler was so kind to do an e-mail interview with us in which he explains his website’s main mission, the most important effects of deforestation, and he gives us some suggestions for good rainforest conservation projects.

Clear-cutting in the Amazon

JP: What motivated you to launch your website about rainforests?

Rhett: Mongabay.com was born out of a personal experience on the island of Borneo, when a beautiful tract of lowland forest was converted into wood chips for a paper pulp mill. This was not the first time I had lost such a special place, but the loss of that small section of forest in Borneo created the urgency to start writing about wild lands and wildlife. I wanted to share my experiences with those who hadn’t yet witnessed the magnificence of these places. Thus the initial mission of Mongabay was to make people aware of the significance of rainforests and the biodiversity they contain. While they may be hot, bug-ridden, and remote, these forests have a lot to offer.

JP: What are the effects on climate and animal life if deforestation continues at its current pace, and in how much time will these effects become noticeable or visible?

Rhett: Deforestation is expected to have a significant impact on both global climate and biodiversity. Deforestation currently contributes about one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Because of deforestation, countries like Brazil and Indonesia are some of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide even though their industrial capacity is not as high as other countries. Indonesia may in some years be the third largest greenhouse gas producer because of deforestation and forest fires.

It is unclear when we can expect to see significant impact from climate change in the tropics. Some researchers say 10 years while others say 50. In the Amazon, models indicate that the rainforest is likely to become drier and more susceptible to forest fires. Some of the rainforest may be replaced by savanna.

As for biodiversity, scientists say that habitat destruction currently threatens about one-third of species worldwide. Some believe that 20 percent of species will be extinct by 2050, though there is still lots of uncertainty. While most of the species that are disappearing are small and largely unknown to scientists, projections by Dr. Peter Raven, a famous American biologist, suggest that 565 species of mammals and at least 500 species of birds will go extinct within the next 50 years. He says these estimates are conservative.

JP: Your website includes reports on rainforests in Central and South America, Africa and Asia-Pacific. In which areas would you say the rainforest is most threatened?

Rhett: I’d say Africa because there the populations are the poorest and most dependent on forest use. South America is probably in the best condition, though increasing interest in biofuels might be a concern. Still the governments in Latin America, notably Brazil, are considerably stronger and better able to manage their territory than governments in Africa.

JP: You mention the emergence of new company structures that aim to function with ecological goals as part of their mission. Do you know of any specific companies that currently work this way?

Rhett: Right now a lot of big companies in the United States are trying to make their operations more sustainable by reducing waste and energy usage and using renewable energy. These include Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, 3M, Dupont, Starbucks, and Google, among many others. You are also seeing a lot of interest in the investment community in funding cleaner and greener technologies, mostly because they see it as a way to make money.

As for companies structured specifically for ecological goals, Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company; Clif Bar, a snack food company; Teragen, a firm that uses bamboo for building; and Michelle Kaufmann Designs, a builder of eco-friendly homes, come to mind Though these companies are selling traditional products they are doing it in a way that reduces their impact on the planet with a overriding philosophy of sustainability.

JP: Our readers are based in or have an interest in Peru, a country of which about 50% is covered by rainforest. I read on your web site that deforestation in the Peruvian rainforest is not as large scale as in many other countries, is mostly caused by subsistence farming, and some logging. You mention the Interoceanic Highway project as the largest threat. Could you tell us a bit more about how this project threatens the rainforest, and offer any suggestions for government and locals alike to take action and limit the negative effects?

Rhett: The Interoceanic Highway is probably the greatest threat the Peru’s rainforests, which may be the most biodiverse in the world. The highway could drive deforestation by opening up the interior to agricultural development, especially along the road itself. Further, demand from China for soy and other products will likely increase pressure on forest areas. As for taking action, the Amazon Conservation Association has one of the best programs in place for addressing threats posed by the project. They are onserving areas of forest and working to minimize the impact of the highway. I’d advise people interested in the risks of the highway project to take a look at the Amazon Conservation Association web site.

JP: In order to keep thinking positively, could you give us an example about a rainforest conservation project, that is showing very positive results, a project that could be used for conservationists as an example of best practices to learn from?

Rhett: One of my favorite examples of a successful conservation project is one by the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) in Brazil. Their work is detailed in an article I wrote last year but in summary, they are helping indigenous people in the Amazon protect their native land and pass on their culture to younger generations. They are doing this through a combination of educational programs and cutting-edge technology.

“As forests fall to loggers, miners, and farmers, and the allure of western culture attracts younger generations to cities, extensive knowledge of the forest ecosystem and the secrets of life-saving medicinal plants are forgotten. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity.”

“ACT has pioneered a novel approach to address these problems by enabling Indians to monitor and protect their forest home while passing on their cultural wealth to future generations. ACT is working in partnership with local governments to train Indians in the use of GPS and the Internet to map and catalog their forest home, helping to better manage and protect ancestral rainforests by monitoring deforestation and preventing illegal incursions on their land. At the same time the efforts are strengthening cultural ties between indigenous youths and their parents and grandparents.”

JP: If readers wanted to make a donation to a conservation project in the Amazon right now, which project would you recommend?

Rhett: I’d recommend both the organizations I mentioned above, the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA). ACT works in Brazil, Colombia, and Suriname while ACA is focused in Peru. I also suggest the Tambopata Reserve Society for Peru.

JP: You have spent a lot of time traveling through tropical regions all over the world. Could you describe to us your most beautiful, and your most painful moment during your travels?

Rhett: My most emotionally painful moment was my experience in Borneo. Physically painful would have to be getting attacked by some particularly savage ants in Malaysia. Scariest would be either getting trapped in a mangrove swamp — also in Malaysia — or being chased by a forest elephant in Gabon.

The most beautiful place I’ve ever visited would probably be the tepuis of southern Venezuela. These table-top mountains are the most remarkable formations I have ever seen. However my favorite place is Madagascar. The variety of plant and animal life is amazing, the people are generally friendly and wonderful, and the landscapes can be dramatic. Peru also rates very high on my list, especially Manu National Park and the Andes.

JP: Thank you so much for your time, Rhett. Much appreciated.

If you would like to learn more about the Amazon and other rainforests, please don’t hesitate and visit Rhett’s website at: http://www.mongabay.com

Written by Elise van der Heijden.   All Photos copyright of Mongabay.com

Pope Benedict XVI send his greetings to the Peruvian people

Pope Benedict XVI sent his “deferential greetings to president Alan Garcia Perez” and to the “beloved Peruvian people” from Rome on Friday, after receiving credentials of the new Peruvian ambassador to the Vatican, Alfonso Rivero Monsalve.

“This meeting reminds us of the deep and profound love this nation has and always had with the church”, the pope expressed to the Peruvian diplomat.

The Holy Father also talked about the “profound changes” Peru is confronted with in regard to “social, political and economic transformations” and he observed that “there are processes that directly affect the people and their values”.

“One knows that Peru wants to have an adequate part of the globalization phenomenon and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by economic growth in order to create wealth and other social benefits obtained in an equitable way”, he declared.

He continued by pointing out that “Peruvians hope that health services or offered properly to all social layers; that education is the patrimony of all, (…) and that integrity reigns instead of corruption which enables the successful operation of various public institutions, thus helping the many suffering people to surpass hunger and misery”.

“The church, which recognizes the competency of the state on social, political and economic questions, assumes its own obligation — deriving from its evangelizing mission — to safeguard and spread the truth about the human person, the meaning of his life and his ultimate destiny, which is God,” the pope said.

Benedicto XVI emphasized that he and the Vatican will continue supporting all social efforts that are already carried out, so that there is always equality of opportunities and that the inalienable rights of each Peruvian are respected.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Half of Peru’s women suffer from varicose veins

Every second Peruvian woman suffers from varicose veins, whether its for genetic or hormonal reasons or the cause of certain lifestyle. This announced Dr. Jaime Ames Silicani, a specialist in endovenous laser treatment and therapies for varicosity.

Silicani explained that varicose veins are more common in women than in men, and are linked with heredity. Other related factors are pregnancy, obesity, menopause, aging, usage of contraceptive pills, hard physical work, prolonged standing, leg injury and abdominal straining.

The doctor maintained that varicose veins can affect any person and can appear on any body part, but most commonly in legs. A varicose vein is dilated (widened), tortuous (twisting) vein, usually involving a superficial vein in the leg, often associated with incompetency of the valves in the vein. These visible and bulging veins are often associated with symptoms such as tired, heavy, or aching limbs. In severe cases, varicose veins can rupture, or open sores (varicose ulcers) can form on the skin.

And as the disease progresses, it may produce swelling on the ankles and legs, skin over the vein may become dry, itchy and thin, leading to eczema (venous eczema), blood clots (varicophlebitis) and hemorrhages.

Varicose veins are usually progressive and cannot be prevented entirely. However, wearing support stockings and maintaining normal weight and regular exercise may be beneficial.

Treatment is not always necessary for varicose veins. Severe cases, especially those involving ulcers, require treatment. Varicose veins are frequently treated by eliminating the varicose veins to let blood flow through the remaining healthy veins. This can be done by surgery or sclerotherapy. Varicose vein surgery is commonly referred to as stripping. Sclerotherapy uses a fine needle to inject a solution directly that irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and the blood to clot. The vein turns into scar tissue that fades from view.

Newer methods for treating varicose veins, such as endovenous laser treatment, radiofrequency ablation, and foam sclerotherapy are not as well studied, especially in the longer term. Open surgery has been performed for over a century.

Wolfy Becker

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters criticizes Bush, loves Peruvian culture

Roger Waters, one of the founders of legendary English rock band Pink Floyd, criticized the policies of U.S. president George W. Bush and said he is an admirer of Peru’s culture, especially of Machu Picchu.

Waters, who arrived in Lima on Saturday for his Monday night concert at the “El Monumental” football stadium, signed autographs for his fans and met with Peruvian foreign trade and tourism minister, Mercedes Aráoz who gave him a t-shirt with the image of Machu Picchu, a typical Peruvian “chullo” cap and two photo books: Peruvian landscapes and Peruvian cuisine.

“I love Machu Picchu”, he told journalists and revealed that he actually tried to book a short trip to the ancient Incan citadel but unfortunately a discrepancy between tour schedule and flight times didn’t allow it. “But I love to cook, too”, he added and slipped the t-shirt over his head.

The musician also advanced that he does not agree with “the policies” of U.S. president Bush and said he supports Mexican protests against a wall on the border between both countries. “They are doing the right thing when they protest. I’m on Mexico’s side”, he said.

Waters’ show tonight will include songs from his latest “Ca Ira” CD, excerpts from “The Wall”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Animals”, and the complete “Dark Side of the Moon”. During his interpretation of “Another brick in the wall”, the band will be accompanied by a choir of twenty 10-16 year old kids from the Cambridge school in Lima. Cambridge, England, is the home town of Roger Waters and the other founding members of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett and David Gilmour.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Myths and legends guarded by Peru’s Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon, apart from housing the most amazing biodiversity, is also home to a myriad of magical myths and mysterious occurrences. I was fortunate enough to have lived in the southern part of the Peruvian Amazon in the Madre de Dios region for 5 months, and I was always captivated by the many mysterious stories and anecdotes locals told me.

I would like to narrate some of these tales which will hopefully have the same enchanting effect on you as they had on me, perhaps even to the extent that you may begin sensing the rainforest’s hot and humid air; hear the buzz, chirp and growl of the animals; and you want to pull out your machete and cut down that ripe bunch of bananas.


El Tunchi

This is one of the spirits that protects the rainforest, and more specifically it is said to be the spirit of people that took their last breath inside the rainforest. The technique of El Tunchi is to whistle a certain tune, always the same short melody, and if you chime in by whistling the exact same tune, the spirit will appear, its wrath will fall upon you and terrorize you.

If you are well-behaved and respect nature by not harming flora and fauna, El Tunchi will just scare you a little and move on. However, if you mow down trees like there’s no tomorrow, pollute the air or displace animals from their habitat, then watch out and take heed! The best advice that even the locals follow religiously, is not to answer its whistle, thus not giving it a chance to “play” with you.

La lupuna

The lupuna is a tree found in various parts of the Amazon. It is one of those beautiful giants of the Amazon, grand, imposing, and well rooted in the jungle’s soil. Its trunk can be as wide as 10 meters (33 ft) when given the time to grow. The lupuna distinguishes itself from other tropical trees because of its “belly”, a part of the trunk that is wider than the rest and bears some resemblance to a human abdomen.

And it has another characteristic: its spirit is also widely known to be a protector of the rainforest. Unfortunately, it is not entirely safe from deforestation but local loggers and lumberjacks are very careful about which lupuna to cut down, because if they choose the wrong species, the tree will take revenge…

You must also show your respect for the lupuna in other ways, which is reflected by the following story:

A local woman was hiking through the jungle and felt a basic human urge. She squatted down near a big tree and relieved her bladder. She returned to town, unaware of what was about to unfold. At nighttime her stomach began to hurt and swelled up to painful proportions. The discomfort kept her from sleeping that night and throughout the next day the pain got worse and the swelling increased.

She called for the help of a shaman, who asked her what she had been doing before the pain started. Had she, by any chance, urinated near a lupuna? The poor woman confirmed and the shaman explained that the lupuna was punishing her for showing such disrespect. “The only solution”, he said, “is to ask the lupuna for forgiveness. If you don’t your stomach will burst and you will die”.

And with these words he went on his way looking for the moody lupuna. The woman waited in agony, hoping that the shaman would succeed in his mission. He found the tree according to her description and spent the night at the lupuna’s feet carrying out his rituals, asking the powerful tree for forgiveness. He took a knife and carefully cut the lupuna’s “belly” and took some of the juice that trickled from the wound. In the morning he returned with this potion and told the punished woman to drink it. Almost immediately the swelling and agonizing pain subsided. By the evening she was up on her feet again, good as new, and with a very important lesson learned!


Sirens

Many rivers feed the Amazon, serving as water highways to transport people and goods. They are intricate eco-systems and home to many fish species. They are also the natural habitat of the infamous, dreaded anaconda. These rivers have their own myths and legends, including the enigmatic sirens.

Traditionally, men are working in the forest for weeks on end, whether to collect Brazil nuts, taking out rubber or trees, or mining gold. During all this time there is not a single woman in sight. Surrounded by nothing but dense forest and male colleagues for weeks, one can imagine their longing for little female contact. Many have reported that they saw beautiful women singing to them from the opposite shore, trying to lure them to the other side of the river. Some couldn’t resist and drowned in the river’s swift currents. The one’s who withstood the attraction told us this tale.

During the rubber boom at the beginning of the 20th century, legends also tell of lonely and desperate men who trapped pink dolphins living in these rivers and lakes, and made love to them. This would then transform the men into male sirens who went to live with the dolphins in the depths of the river. This is said to be the reason why numerous rubber extractors simply disappeared and their bodies were never found.


El Chullanchaqui

This little creature known as Chullanchaqui is also there to protect the rainforest. He is a farmer, and if you come across a clearing in the forest, you might be standing on one of Chullanchaqui’s farms known as “chacras”. If you return to the same place months later, you will find that it is still a clear area, as if someone had been weeding it and took care of it. Chullanchaqui is said to have a very unique appearance: a tiny midget-like man that leaves a peculiar trace. Those who have seen his tracks say he has a tiny left foot and his right side leaves a round hole behind, apparently the mark of a wooden leg. When he appears out of nowhere, it is often to confuse you, he could be calling you, you will barely get a glimpse of him every now and then, so you keep following him. And when you realize that you’ve lost his trail, you are utterly and completely lost in the dense forest.

A farmer told me this story about an encounter he had with Chullanchaqui one night:

“I was on my way back from a hunting trip. It was about 9 o’clock at night, it was dark, and this is a dangerous time to be in the jungle since it also marks the time when animals like snakes and tigers begin their own hunt for prey. I was moving as fast as I could. It was then when I heard someone call my name. It startled me and I held my lantern in the direction from where I had heard the voice. There it was: a small, sturdy little person walking away from me. Because of the darkness and the distance I couldn’t see him very well.

At first I thought it was my neighbor playing a joke on me, so I called out his name and started following him. He moved very fast ans brisk for a little fella that he was and I had a hart time keeping up with him. I told him to slow down, still thinking it could be my neighbor, and I kept running after him as fast as I could. This went on for some time when suddenly I stumbled over something and brought me to my knees. I looked down for a moment trying to find out what it was. When I raised my head again, the creature was gone. Not a sound, not a trace, gone. It seems as if he had fallen off the face of the earth. Then it dawned on me: I just had an encounter with Chullanchaqui.”


What are these creatures really telling us?

All creatures in these myths have one thing in common: They are there to protect flora and fauna of the rainforest from mankind’s harm and exploitation. Whether you believe in these myths or not, they teach us to respect and care for the mighty jungle, and if we do so, it will continue sharing its benevolent powers with us. Don’t forget that the rainforest filters the world’s polluted air, and it is one of the most important parts of the world’s ecosystem. Thus it is our responsibility to listen to the message of these creatures and protect the “lungs of the planet”.

Article by Elise van der Heijden

How to preserve Peru’s Amazon rainforest. Interview with Rhett Butler

Many of those living on the coast or in the mountains of Peru forget that 50% of Peru’s landmass is covered by the Amazon rainforest. So it should be important to all those who live or have an interest in Peru, to be aware of the importance of its rainforest, as well as on a world-wide scale, and to what we as individuals do or can do right now to contribute to the protection of this natural treasure.

We came across this excellent website called Mongabay (http://www.mongabay.com), an incredibly informative and up-to-date resource related to the so called “lungs of the planet”. The site was founded and maintained by the U.S. American Rhett A. Butler, who has been researching and writing about rainforests for over a decade.

Mr Butler was so kind to do an e-mail interview with us in which he explains his website’s main mission, the most important effects of deforestation, and he gives us some suggestions for good rainforest conservation projects.

Clear-cutting in the Amazon

JP: What motivated you to launch your website about rainforests?

Rhett: Mongabay.com was born out of a personal experience on the island of Borneo, when a beautiful tract of lowland forest was converted into wood chips for a paper pulp mill. This was not the first time I had lost such a special place, but the loss of that small section of forest in Borneo created the urgency to start writing about wild lands and wildlife. I wanted to share my experiences with those who hadn’t yet witnessed the magnificence of these places. Thus the initial mission of Mongabay was to make people aware of the significance of rainforests and the biodiversity they contain. While they may be hot, bug-ridden, and remote, these forests have a lot to offer.

JP: What are the effects on climate and animal life if deforestation continues at its current pace, and in how much time will these effects become noticeable or visible?

Rhett: Deforestation is expected to have a significant impact on both global climate and biodiversity. Deforestation currently contributes about one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Because of deforestation, countries like Brazil and Indonesia are some of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide even though their industrial capacity is not as high as other countries. Indonesia may in some years be the third largest greenhouse gas producer because of deforestation and forest fires.

It is unclear when we can expect to see significant impact from climate change in the tropics. Some researchers say 10 years while others say 50. In the Amazon, models indicate that the rainforest is likely to become drier and more susceptible to forest fires. Some of the rainforest may be replaced by savanna.

As for biodiversity, scientists say that habitat destruction currently threatens about one-third of species worldwide. Some believe that 20 percent of species will be extinct by 2050, though there is still lots of uncertainty. While most of the species that are disappearing are small and largely unknown to scientists, projections by Dr. Peter Raven, a famous American biologist, suggest that 565 species of mammals and at least 500 species of birds will go extinct within the next 50 years. He says these estimates are conservative.

JP: Your website includes reports on rainforests in Central and South America, Africa and Asia-Pacific. In which areas would you say the rainforest is most threatened?

Rhett: I’d say Africa because there the populations are the poorest and most dependent on forest use. South America is probably in the best condition, though increasing interest in biofuels might be a concern. Still the governments in Latin America, notably Brazil, are considerably stronger and better able to manage their territory than governments in Africa.

JP: You mention the emergence of new company structures that aim to function with ecological goals as part of their mission. Do you know of any specific companies that currently work this way?

Rhett: Right now a lot of big companies in the United States are trying to make their operations more sustainable by reducing waste and energy usage and using renewable energy. These include Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, 3M, Dupont, Starbucks, and Google, among many others. You are also seeing a lot of interest in the investment community in funding cleaner and greener technologies, mostly because they see it as a way to make money.

As for companies structured specifically for ecological goals, Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company; Clif Bar, a snack food company; Teragen, a firm that uses bamboo for building; and Michelle Kaufmann Designs, a builder of eco-friendly homes, come to mind Though these companies are selling traditional products they are doing it in a way that reduces their impact on the planet with a overriding philosophy of sustainability.

JP: Our readers are based in or have an interest in Peru, a country of which about 50% is covered by rainforest. I read on your web site that deforestation in the Peruvian rainforest is not as large scale as in many other countries, is mostly caused by subsistence farming, and some logging. You mention the Interoceanic Highway project as the largest threat. Could you tell us a bit more about how this project threatens the rainforest, and offer any suggestions for government and locals alike to take action and limit the negative effects?

Rhett: The Interoceanic Highway is probably the greatest threat the Peru’s rainforests, which may be the most biodiverse in the world. The highway could drive deforestation by opening up the interior to agricultural development, especially along the road itself. Further, demand from China for soy and other products will likely increase pressure on forest areas. As for taking action, the Amazon Conservation Association has one of the best programs in place for addressing threats posed by the project. They are onserving areas of forest and working to minimize the impact of the highway. I’d advise people interested in the risks of the highway project to take a look at the Amazon Conservation Association web site.

JP: In order to keep thinking positively, could you give us an example about a rainforest conservation project, that is showing very positive results, a project that could be used for conservationists as an example of best practices to learn from?

Rhett: One of my favorite examples of a successful conservation project is one by the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) in Brazil. Their work is detailed in an article I wrote last year but in summary, they are helping indigenous people in the Amazon protect their native land and pass on their culture to younger generations. They are doing this through a combination of educational programs and cutting-edge technology.

“As forests fall to loggers, miners, and farmers, and the allure of western culture attracts younger generations to cities, extensive knowledge of the forest ecosystem and the secrets of life-saving medicinal plants are forgotten. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity.”

“ACT has pioneered a novel approach to address these problems by enabling Indians to monitor and protect their forest home while passing on their cultural wealth to future generations. ACT is working in partnership with local governments to train Indians in the use of GPS and the Internet to map and catalog their forest home, helping to better manage and protect ancestral rainforests by monitoring deforestation and preventing illegal incursions on their land. At the same time the efforts are strengthening cultural ties between indigenous youths and their parents and grandparents.”

JP: If readers wanted to make a donation to a conservation project in the Amazon right now, which project would you recommend?

Rhett: I’d recommend both the organizations I mentioned above, the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA). ACT works in Brazil, Colombia, and Suriname while ACA is focused in Peru. I also suggest the Tambopata Reserve Society for Peru.

JP: You have spent a lot of time traveling through tropical regions all over the world. Could you describe to us your most beautiful, and your most painful moment during your travels?

Rhett: My most emotionally painful moment was my experience in Borneo. Physically painful would have to be getting attacked by some particularly savage ants in Malaysia. Scariest would be either getting trapped in a mangrove swamp — also in Malaysia — or being chased by a forest elephant in Gabon.

The most beautiful place I’ve ever visited would probably be the tepuis of southern Venezuela. These table-top mountains are the most remarkable formations I have ever seen. However my favorite place is Madagascar. The variety of plant and animal life is amazing, the people are generally friendly and wonderful, and the landscapes can be dramatic. Peru also rates very high on my list, especially Manu National Park and the Andes.

JP: Thank you so much for your time, Rhett. Much appreciated.

If you would like to learn more about the Amazon and other rainforests, please don’t hesitate and visit Rhett’s website at: http://www.mongabay.com

Written by Elise van der Heijden.   All Photos copyright of Mongabay.com

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