On The Road: Getting to know colourful creatures in the Ecuadorian Amazon

The exuberance of life in the rainforest is beginning to overwhelm us. Our guide José Macanilla has just pointed out a tiny red Dendrobates frog.

It can afford to be garish because it oozes deadly poison, with which the native Huaorani people coat their blowgun darts when they hunt monkeys. Mischievous troops of 10 different primate species live in the canopy overhead and are much prized by the immense Harpy Eagle. With feet as large as a human hand, it flies by at high speed and wrests its prey from the treetops.

Macaws, toucans and parrots share the Harpy's skies, and myriad other birds greet each dawn with a splendid chorus.

On the ground live herds of peccaries, some 200-strong; capybara, the world's largest rodent; and the great cats – jaguars and pumas. Rivers and lagoons teem with fish, giant otter, pink river-dolphin, anaconda and Black Cayman. A single pond can sustain a greater variety of life than all the rivers of Europe.

We are visiting the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, a top-notch research facility surrounded by pristine jungle in the Ecuadorean Amazon. While we explore trails and meet scientists, the Amazon is making headlines. A new study by the World Bank warns that the combined effects of global climate change, deforestation and fires could destroy 65 per cent of the Amazon by 2075, with substantial impacts as soon as 2025. The demise of the Amazon would drive its unique species and peoples to extinction and further accelerate worldwide climatic chaos.

Such tragedy must be averted. Since 2007, the Ecuadorean government has offered to forgo petroleum development in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) block, downstream from the Biodiversity Station and inside Yasuní National Park. This innovative proposal would leave the local jungle intact, keep 846 million barrels of crude underground, avoid the release of 407 million tons of CO2, and set an important precedent. In exchange Ecuador is asking for US$3.5bn, one half of the expected revenues from ITT petroleum.

Tourism also offers hope for the Amazon by providing an economic alternative for people like José, and encouraging authorities to favour conservation over resource extraction.

Footprint Ecuador & Galápagos Handbook (£14.99) is available now

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent