The Last Turtle

I flew for hours over nothing but jungle before landing on a runway where the entire village came to greet us. We were the second group of white people to visit there in the last year. On a map we were at the intersection of Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil. The heart of the Amazon and the middle of nowhere!

In other words, exactly where you’d expect to see the most exotic of exotic animals! The rarest of rare birds and the coolest of cool reptiles! Yet, in this remotest of remotest places, over a five day span I could count on two hands the native wildlife that was left to see.

IT HAD ALL BEEN EATEN!!!

Moments after I posed with this guy, the only turtle any of us witnessed on the Rio Negro, the largest black river in the world, its head was chopped off and into the pot it went!

Last Turtle in the Amazon?

I couldn’t bare to watch.

Nothing was more shocking to any of us than the lack of wildlife. A pet parrot and monkey, two pairs of snow white majestic cockatoos that flew together overhead and this lone turtle that is no more.

We did witness wildlife mind you. Monkeys, birds, lizards…but all of them living in the city where the local population could feast at the McDonalds. Before you think that Big Macs are the the answer to our disappearing wildlife, consider where they graze … the former rainforest that has been cleared at increasing rates with slash and burn agricultural!

This is the true state of the Amazon. It’s what the money hungry “governments” of third world countries don’t want us to find out! They are exploiting our limited natural resources purely for its economic value and to feed our ever increasing population.

I wish this story had a happy ending. Our guide, at 74 and on his 959th expedition, has literally watched the world transformed by us before his tear-filled eyes! We discovered up to ten new-to-science freshwater fish species during our expedition but who knows how long they can survive? We found out with fewer and fewer fish in the river the native Indians have resorted to netting them while they are spawning. As unsustainable as that may be it’s that or they don’t eat.

This is the sad truth nobody wants you to know about our world.