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  Re: News from the Jungle
From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2001.05.20 at 03:53:35(6529)
In a message dated Fri, 18 May 2001 10:36:55 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Betsy Feuerstein writes:

<< There are those whom, I have known, who would not
tell a botanist where they collected anything correctly. False information is a
control/power factor and one I would like to see avoided.

The question is, why do they do this? I know that, when I see a rare species in an out-of-the-way spot, I usually just keep my mouth shut, unless I foresee that spot being destroyed in the near future. This is because I have been brought to the conclusion that "hiding out" is the only hope for many species. If it is a sought-after species, the grapevine will carry word of its whereabouts to poachers; if it is a legally-protected species, a landowner is likely to destroy it before the powers-that-be find out, to avoid restrictions on use of the land. That is human nature, and will not change.

An experience I had in Venezuela sums up the situation nicely. We in the Developed World often hear, or read, that "people will only protect what they understand and care about." But is this always true? I was with a group canoeing on a jungle river in Venezuela, when we pulled ashore on a sandbar. On this sandbar was a rookery of black skimmers. To me, they seemed dangerously vulnerable -- the "nests" were mere hollows in the sand, in plain sight, and the birds simply flew away at our approach, rather than attempt to defend their eggs. The local people were poor, and eggs are rich in protein, so when we returned to our field station, I asked the Venezuelan professor whether the birds weren't in danger from egg poachers. He said no, the local people are just not interested in black skimmer eggs, so they do not bother going to the sandbar. Sad to say, I think that may be the only hope for many species -- they will survive only if people are just not interested in distur!
bing them. So perhaps you will
forgive me for keeping mum about my rare-species sightings....

Jason Hernandez

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