Paul Rosolie’s 13-year journey in the Amazon will show you a completely beautiful, cooperative, wonderful and dangerous part of our planet.
By: Patrick Donovan – Author/Screenwriter
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 9/6/2019
“The Amazonian Jungle/Rainforest are the lungs of our planet. For 13 years, Paul Rosolie has lived in and had a calling that this is where he needs to be. Travel with Paul and see what’s happening and has been happening that is just now coming to light because our lungs are burning. We need to be mindful of this great resource that is being destroyed before our very eyes. Humanity needs to step up and save the Amazon Rainforest.”
– Pat Donovan
JungleKeepers, in collaboration with partner NGOs and Peruvian conservationists, has created an initiative known collectively as Corredor Las Piedras (CLP). Our focus is to create an uninterrupted conservation area stretching along the Las Piedras River. JungleKeepers US is a project of the Multiplier, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which helps us protect and foster a healthy, sustainable, resilient, and equitable world.
Bio about Paul:
Paul Rosolie is a naturalist, explorer, author, and award-winning wildlife filmmaker. For the past decade, he has specialized in threatened ecosystems and species in countries like Indonesia, Brazil, India, and Peru. In the Amazon, Rosolie has described new ecosystems and launched the first-ever study of anacondas in lowland rainforest. He has also spent extensive time traveling with poachers documenting the illegal trade in endangered species. Rosolie’s memoir on Amazonian wildlife and exploration, “Mother of God”, was hailed as “gripping” by Jane Goodall, and The Wall Street Journal applauded Rosolie’s environmental call-to-arms for its ‘rare immediacy and depth’. In 2013 Rosolie spoke at the United Nations Global Forum on Forests while accepting an award for his Amazonian wildlife short film ‘An Unseen World”.
The Girl and the Tiger:
Isha is a girl who loves animals but struggles in the confines of school. When she is sent away to live with her grandparents on the Indian countryside, she discovers a sacred grove where a young Bengal tiger has taken refuge. Isha knows that the ever-shrinking forests of India mean there are few places left for a tiger to hide. When the local villagers also discover the tiger, Isha finds herself embroiled in a life or death cultural controversy.
Isha’s crusade to save the tiger becomes the catalyst of an arduous journey of awakening and survival across the changing landscape of modernizing India. Her encounters with tribal people, elephants, and her search for the wild jungle are the source of her revelations about the human relationship to the natural world in a gripping story of determination, discovery, and coming of age.
From Bear Grylls
Rosolie’s solo adventures in the heart of the Amazon jungle, up close and personal with giant anacondas and jaguars, are gripping. And his dedication to preserving one of the earth’s last wildernesses is where he really sets himself apart. Mother of God is an awe-inspiring read.
An extraordinary book…His vivid writing immerses you in his adventures as he explores an ancient pristine forest where no white man has been, where he encounters amazing creatures and experiences the relentless power of untamed nature…There are parts that will haunt you, scenes you will never forget.
A great adventure with a great and enduring point: we simply must protect these last, vast slices of the planet that still work the way they’re supposed to.
Wall Street Journal
Thanks to fastidious journal-keeping that preserved a wealth of detail and emotion, Rosolie delivers an old-fashioned jungle adventure, one with rare immediacy and depth of feeling for the people and creatures he encounters.
What a fantastic journey this was! Paul Rosolie has captured the attention of millions with his viral video of the Amazon Jungle burning. This topic is so important to the continued survival of our planet, our home, our Mother. This review will be short because the meat of the review reveals incredible backstory and information that only Paul Rosolie would know. He opens up about the indigenous peoples, there are over 20 million there that call the Amazon home. He tells of the farmers, being good family men who are trying to make a living but see financial gain where the United States is now embroiled in a trade war with China. Our Soybean farmers suffer, and other countries are picking up the baton in our stead.
What they are doing is trying to survive but, in the process, they are killing 20% of the world’s oxygen production ever so slowly. Paul has found a way to turn the tide and hire these people to ‘protect’ the Amazon through JungleKeepers, his organization that does that and so much more.
This is a magical journey and you can go there too! Yes, he actually has a company where you can experience the Amazon in real life. Although there are venomous snakes, bugs, and animals (oh my) but you are perfectly safe. There are grandmothers, children, mothers, fathers, brothers and more that live there and enjoy its beauty every day. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to Paul a week ago and I need to tell you that this interview was a journey in and of itself. So, without further ado, here’s the interview that only The Hollywood Times can bring you as an exclusive.
The exclusive interview with PAUL ROSOLIE from JungleKeepers and the man that made the viral video of the Amazon Jungle burning.
THT: Paul, thank you so much for allowing The Hollywood Times to interview you. After seeing the Amazon burning, we’ve all become aware of the real danger that poses to our Mother Earth but it’s too late, right? If not, what do you believe all nations must do to reverse this effect or is there really nothing humanity can do now?
PAUL: No, no, no! I think it’s a very dangerous thing to assume that it is too late because then people are going to stop trying and it’s definitely not too late. I am qualified to say that because for the last 13 years, I’ve been working in the Amazon, India, and Indonesia, and I’ve seen for myself whether it’s too late and it’s not. What it is though, is what we’re seeing, is the fact that we’ve been heavily deforesting our planet for really the last hundred years or more and especially in the last few decades, it has gotten even worse.
What we’re seeing is the point where we’re starting to test the resiliency of some of these systems. So, in the case of the Amazon, we know it’s so important for oxygen, freshwater, biodiversity, and resources. Now we’re seeing an increase in the fires because they [Brazil] has a leader that’s interested in exploiting the Amazon instead of protecting it. It is definitely not too late. In fact, I think that just like the people in the 40s, there was a call to come together for World War II. I think that our generation probably is the most important generation that’s ever lived because we have to save the world!
THT: I agree with that and you know, you just said something was really poignant for me about all nations coming together. There are 196 Nations on this planet. That’s a lot of work.
PAUL: It is! But nature has the…
THT: You believe we’re ready?
PAUL: We have to be ready! The good thing is that you never are ready for anything and you’ve got to take it as it comes. The thing is, you know, we’re so paralyzed by this partisan conflicts that we have going on right now that I think nation-states and political parties…nature has the ability to transcend all of that because we every single person at every level of the economic spectrum depends on nature. That’s the basis of our economies and it’s the basis of all of our wealth. So, at this point, when what’s threatening the ability of natural systems to provide for us at this moment in history is where I think that we’re going to have to be forced to come together because we have to, I mean, you know?
THT: You said the moment you stepped into the Amazon, you knew this is was your calling and there you have been ever since. What was it like as you grew up and what or who inspired your journey to the Amazon?
PAUL: Well as a kid, I was a big fan of Steve Irwin and Jane Goodall and you know, I read a lot about Teddy Roosevelt and he did so much for American conservation in the US as well as exploring the Amazon when he was older. Probably the biggest influence on me was the Bronx Zoo in New York City and seeing the exhibits. They said the rainforest is disappearing and I grew up very stressed out, guilty, and worried that by the time I got old enough, the rainforest would be gone. You see, in my head, there were these incredible places where there was so much life in color and, you know, all this mysterious stuff with giant animals that I never heard of. Then, when I got old enough, I decided I’ve had enough of sitting at a school desk and dropped out of high school and went straight to college. I accelerated my life by two years, and I got a research position in the Amazon. I remember the first time I stepped into the jungle. It was a thousand times more incredible than my imagination had been able to make it. The ancient the leafcutter ants, everything is just so complex and so incredible that I knew instantly that that’s where I belong now.
THT: Tell our readers about the indigenous peoples you’ve met and made friends with down there? Who are there? What are they like?
PAUL: Well, I made friends specifically with this one man named Juan Julio who is a member of the Eseaja Indians. They’re an indigenous community and so he kind of took me in and began teaching me. Jane Goodall once told me not to get a Ph.D. because she said that the work, you’re doing is too important. Don’t waste time going to get a certificate saying that you studied when you can just go study and so, I took that to heart. But what the study that I did do was out with these guys, the Eseaja, and they started once we all became friends and you know sort of developed into the family. They started taking me on expeditions with them once a year. It was like sort of a ceremonial journey into the jungle. We’d go out for a few weeks at a time and then do a little bit of hunting and fishing.
But the real the purpose of it for them was to bond with each other, enjoy the jungle, and explore. It was really a very curious thing. You didn’t have another motive behind it and there was no economic gain and so I would go out with them. I learned what the names of the trees were, how to how to clean different fish, and why it’s better to walk Barefoot even in a place that has so many venomous snakes, thorns, and all the other things, we all would walk Barefoot.
It’s funny because even today when I go down there with researchers from major universities all over the world and these guys are packed to the hilt with over $500 worth of expensive clothing, gear, and gumboots on and they’re completely protected as if they’re going into outer space and I’m wearing shorts, no shirt, no shoes, and walking through the jungle with the local guys. That’s how I’ve learned how to do it and adapt. That’s how I feel like I can be in the best, most intimate contact with the jungle. These guys have really taken me in, taught me, and really given me the tools I think to a) share the jungle with other people and also sort of, b) as a writer, bring people as deep into the jungle as it’s possible and do it through my writing.
THT: It’s funny. You say walk through the jungle in bare feet. I’m a diabetic, I could never try that. That would be a bad thing.
THT: We live in this bubble of technology, cars, processed food and everything else but down there, it’s all about nature, living off of the Earth and caring for her too. We wouldn’t make it, so you have the advantage of being right in the “thick” of it, so-to-speak. There is a question here. What is the strangest thing you’ve eaten? What don’t you like that the indigenous people love and eat regularly? I’ll try anything once, but I don’t have the guts to eat, bugs, or stuff.
PAUL: (Laughter) Man, I’ve eaten everything. We do eat giant Palm Weevil grubs that are about a little bit thicker than your thumb and probably just as long. We eat those and they are pretty tasty. I’m a fan of those. I’m not a fan of brains, however. I don’t like brains very much and I don’t enjoy eating monkeys. They love to eat monkeys and I don’t feel like killing a monkey for lunch. It’s just, you know…I identify too much with monkeys and I just I don’t like that.
Even though I don’t like to eat them, sometimes, when in Rome you got to do as the Romans, so if you’re served dinner [monkey] you got to be respectful and eat…dinner. And I’ve eaten monkey a few times now. I just don’t like it.
The weirdest thing though might have to be the testicles of a Tapir (pronounced Tape-ee-er). The Tapir is the largest Amazonian mammal and is a horse pig-like thing with a prehensile nose. A very strange animal but very important to the ecosystem. But the testicles are huge as the size of oblong tennis balls and they fry up pretty nice. Even though that was strange it wasn’t too bad.
THT: Oh, that’s weird, man. That’s incredible. When you say monkeys, I think immediately of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and chilled monkey brains…
PAUL: (Laughter) oh, yeah!
THT: But anyway, looks like jello in the movie, but…
PAUL: Pretty much.
THT: Moving on. Humanity’s been on this planet for about 200,000 years and the industrial age began around 1760. With the Arctic Ice gone, Alaska’s Ice melted and gone earlier now, the loss of 75% of the 150 glaciers in Glacier National Park and Iceland’s funeral for the first glacier DESTROYED by climate change, Ok (pronounced Ook!), we are definitely in a global climatic change. The Prime Minister of Iceland read a plaque mounted on the summit.
It reads A letter to the future: ‘Ok’ is the first Iceland glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years, all of our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you will know if we did it. August 2019, 415 ppm CO2. Is the Amazon going the way of its icy counterparts? Do you believe that humans are/have accelerated global climate change? What can we do to reverse it? Just look at Hurricane Dorian, man. People are already saying that hurricanes are getting worse.
PAUL: Well, my answer to that is; I tend to not usually rely on talking about climate change too much because for most people climate change… look, 50% of the people on earth live in cities, so they have very limited contact with nature, to begin with. So even just like all the health of our rivers and forest ecosystems is the rather out of touch, so it is with climate change. They [the public] really don’t know much about it and there’s a lot of debate and that’s not very productive. So I tend to stay away from climate change when I give lectures. But, I do believe it’s very real because when you go outside and you work with people that live like the indigenous people that live in the forest and you talk to farmers who, for generations and had farms in the same location, they’ll tell you right away that things are changing.
We used to have cycles and used to be able to rely on these systems to give you the same thing every year and now that’s changing so quickly that it’s, you know, shifting entire biomes, shifting our ecology. I just wrote an op-ed that I’ve met the ghost of climate future because I work in the Amazon where the forest is gigantic and is very small settlement settlements of humans scattered through it.
But I also work in India with humans everywhere and forests are like these tiny little islands scattered through this ocean of humanity. The rainfall there has dropped off and they’re having water crises all over the country. The result of that is that hundreds of millions of people are in a drought situation each year. Their crops are unable to grow and so you have a massive part of the population that has doesn’t know what to do. They’re out of options because they depend on these healthy systems. So it’s very clear the cause and effect are like you said, hurricanes [typhoon’s in India] are getting worse. We are seeing the sea level start to rise and we’re seeing desertification and once something like the Amazon Burns, it’s more likely to burn again.
Again, I certainly don’t think it’s too late. I don’t think that we’re going to have a memorial for the Amazon and if we do…if we do I don’t think that the world is going to look the way it does. I think it’s going to look like something from that Cormac McCarthy movie The Road or Children of Men. It’s going to look like something post-apocalyptic where the sky is gray, and the climate is different in every way. It’s going to have dire consequences. We can’t afford to lose things like that. I think that most of us don’t want to live in a world where we’ve lost the most beautiful complex things that we have. So, from a survival point of view, we can’t afford to lose them but also psychologically, these are very damaging things to be dealing with. I actually feel very bad sometimes posting the hard facts about this stuff because I know that the people reading these things, especially for kids, who are growing up today, are growing up with this idea that we’re destroying the Earth and it’s like we don’t have to be.
There are solutions to all of this stuff. I’m not one of those people that think that we should go live in a log cabin and start hugging trees. I think that you know, technology and medical advances and all these things are great. I love being able to fly on a plane and watch Netflix and do all these things and take pictures, but not at the expense of life itself. Look, what we need to do is reorganize. An example I give is two things: 1) Right after Pearl Harbor happened to the United States, the U.S. government overhauled all of the car production factories and within something like 48 hours, they transformed them into war machines where they were pumping out tanks, aircraft, and other military equipment. They did it practically overnight and that was incredibly quick. So we have the capacity to do that. 2) It’s not too late by any it by any stretch and we can turn this around.
We’ve even seen the EPA, in the U.S., recently, has cleaned things up to such a degree that we used to see the river catching fire in Ohio. We had Bald Eagles going extinct, and now thirty years later, our rivers are much cleaner. I was in New York State and the rivers are crazy clean. That’s why New York City has such beautiful water because the forest is better in upstate New York.
THT: I grew up in Rochester, NY and went to Massawepie Scout Camp in the Adirondacks…
THT: I went to White Face Mountain as well. So the one thing that I caught was desertification, right, which is turning an area that was once lush area into a desert correct?
THT: If you look up a review for a documentary I did Egypt’s Darkest Hour, in Hollywood Times you’ll see the reason why I bring this up. It was found, through science, that the entire Sahara Desert was once a lush, green, beautiful tundra. Then, during the reign of the last Pharaoh, who lived for 94 years…all of a sudden something happened. There were 20 years of drought and the tundra died. Then came the sand and that’s what happened. It turned into the Sahara Desert and Egypt died to what we know what it is today. And that was Egypt’s Darkest Hour and lost kingdom.
What scientist found was people killing each other because they were no longer able to eat or drink. It turned into a post-apocalyptic world for them thousands of years ago and you know, the Amazon is being stripped of its timber, leveled and why are they doing this? What purpose does it serve? Are we powerless to stop this from happening and what can governments do? Eventually, who’s going to mourn for the Amazon and who will cry for it when people just don’t care?
PAUL: We’re not going to lose the Amazon because we’re going to fight for it. But the reason that they’re taking apart these ecosystems, and I’m going to talk about the Amazon, the Congo Indonesia, India…is due to commercial exploitation. So in the Amazon; you have commercial beef which is very unregulated at this point and Bolsonaro wants to take and wreck it further by taking off the regulations. In Indonesia; it’s for palm oil which they put in potato chips, Nutella and hair products. But all of this stuff is short-term profit versus long-term loss. It can so easily be fixed because, money talks and that’s not a bad thing. You know, if we were to go to Brazil and say, hey look, you know, we see that the value of the Amazon in terms of sequestering CO2, in terms of providing medicines, biodiversity in the home for indigenous people, climactic control…all of this stuff and we said look here is some trade incentives to keep your forest standing, we would support them.
We have a big enough economy that we could lean on anybody and say look, it’s more profitable given, and we can have an economist do this in a minute, it’s more profitable to keep your forest standing than to cut it down. They will listen in a second because these people just want money and there’s this false rhetoric out there that where they’ll say well look, you know, the USA deforested 95% of the trees you had on North America, so we should be able to profit off of our environment too, well, but that doesn’t fly. That’s not, they’ll claim racism here but that’s not true because at that time people didn’t realize what we realize now. Now we’re smarter and so yes, the individual people, us the voters, can elect leaders that understand biology. Leaders that understand our connection to nature and how profoundly we depend on it and very, very quickly, actually fix this problem. We’ve done more complex things than convince people not to cut down trees.
This is a very binary thing to fix so it’s so there’s this hope in that, it’s very, very easy to fix this. Here’s how: With the corporations in Indonesia, if we’re not buying their products, if we show them that this isn’t gonna fly well, then they’re going to change overnight because they want to be profitable. So it’s really is in the hands of the everyday people to control these things. It’s even in other countries like Papua New Guinea, you know like oil companies mining companies and all these interests that are destroying forests. We could change this very quickly. It just takes enough awareness and it takes enough to reach and that’s what we saw last week when I posted that video. I think I was sort of the first person to post a video of the burning forest and that’s why it went so viral.
Let me tell you something, people all over the world know this is just devastating; what’s happening to the Amazon, but a few of the things that I noticed that I think is really important to state is that: A) Unlike in California, burning is not a natural part of the Amazon. These forests are not supposed to burn. B) You can’t put out 70 thousand individual fires because they’re not wildfires. So nobody wants to put them out. These are farmers burning the Amazon for agriculture and C) You know, the way to put out the fires is to protect the standing forest not to go down there with a plane and dump just sand on the forest or water on the forest.
I had someone pitch an idea of putting a giant sprinkler system in the Amazon. These are the strategies of people that are uninformed and so the only way to protect the Amazon is to let it [the forest] do its thing, just not keep deforesting it. Especially as Americans, we have the economic prowess to create that change. It’s just a matter of us electing leaders that that will get behind us on these things. We can do anything!
THT: And that will come in 2020. I see a lot of changes coming. So tell me about JungleKeepers. When did you start it? How many acres are under your protection? How many hectares actually is the Amazon? Can you give our readers a sense of its size and have you run into those that want to destroy it? Have you come face-to-face with them and what happens when you do?
PAUL: Well there’s, wow, a lot to unpack here. So, okay. So let me start with…
THT: I can repeat it for you. Tell me about JungleKeepers first and when you started it.
PAUL: I had the idea for JungleKeepers for years and I didn’t have the resources to start it but like everything else, you know, you can only go so far by yourself. I have a great team that I work with that really make things happen. When we all started JungleKeepers, it was probably 2015 and yes, I’ve come face-to-face with the people taking apart the Amazon, but the thing is the people, and this is very important to understand is that most of the deforestation in the Amazon is not being done deliberately. It sort of being done by millions of small farmers that are using roads a big company cut through the forest. All these farmers will go in and they’ll start burning it to make cattle pastures because they don’t really have another option. They see it as the easiest option or because their father did it so a lot of people causing this deforestation, they’re not bad guys.
But yeah at the political level, at the corporate level, when they’re intending to do these things for profit. Yes, those guys could be described as bad guys, but on the ground when I run into poachers, miners, or loggers, a lot of times of they’re the nicest guys in the world. They are family men and they’re good humans. They’re just trying to make a living for themselves and they live way out in the Amazonian backcountry and so when I meet these people what I try to do is just offer them a better job. So JungleKeepers hires the local people and empowers them to protect their own forest.
We’ve seen this in Africa where they just take poachers and hire them to be game rangers. JungleKeepers the idea, the mode is really not to take over but instead to just work with the local people to create a better life for them. So we pay them more and they have an easier job of just going around and making sure the forest stays pristine. It’s safer than cutting trees, setting fires, working with dangerous chemicals, and mining all of that. JungleKeepers started a few years ago and it really depends all on crowdfunding through a yoga community called Moto and Moksha Yoga. It’s all over Montreal in the US and is in other places as well. Actually, we’ve gained our funding through individuals who go to yoga fundraisers and because it’s such a large network we’re able to raise enough money today.
We protect over 30,000 acres of the rainforest and this is like in the primary most important headwaters like the sacred part of the Amazon and that’s where all those rain clouds are being produced that are going to eventually rain down the Amazon. So JungleKeepers to me is my best idea at connecting people to conservation, at working with the local people to empower them to protect their own forest, and to protect the most important parts first.
THT: So that fantastic and I’m really happy that you’ve done this because the information is so important and getting the right information to everyone, I believe, is vital so they can make the correct decision to say. Oh really? I didn’t know that, you know. I thought it was this but it’s really that you know what I mean. Do you remember the animated movie called: FernGully?
PAUL: Huh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember.
THT: My kids used to watch it and it was about a guy who was a logger who was accidentally shrunk down to fairy size and met a fairy named Crysta.
PAUL: Mm, hmm.
THT: Remember this? And they were fighting the evil entity named Hexxus who fed off pollution. They [the loggers] were taking down the Australian Rain Forests. Are there stories that the indigenous peoples have about “us”, who are destroying “their” home, and do they perceive us as evil? If so, do they take protecting their home into their own hands and what have they done to try and stop the deforestation of the Amazon?
PAUL: Yeah well, there’s a bunch of really amazing stories about this. Actually, I visited a tribe called the Dongria Kondh in India and they keep getting crowned as the real-life Avatar because there was a mining company, I believe it was Vedanta and went into the rain forest and tried to push these people out to start mining in their forest. Then the tribal people rose up and actually fought off the mining company. Then in the Amazon, there are stories where indigenous members have gone out into the world because they know the threat is coming from outside. They’ve gone through law school so that they could go back and defend their lands because these people are usually helpless at fighting in the court, you know. They know everything about the forest, but they know very little about these complex lawyer games that we know how to play.
I recently saw a photo of the indigenous people in the Amazon holding signs saying thank you, Leonardo DiCaprio because he’s worked directly with a few organizations that to empower these local people because they don’t want to change their way of life. Yes. They think that the outside world is trying to get them they want to keep living because they have free fish, free food, and free Timber.
They have all the things they need right there and sure, they’re changing little by little but they want to protect their ancestral lands, they want to be in control of their future and they understand that even on a climate level that we’re taking that privilege away from them. They don’t understand why we are we have this apathy that allows us to destroy the things that keep us alive.
One of them one of the most interesting stories I read was, and this came from, I believe, Alaska somewhere. A scientist was working with an indigenous group and he said, “You know, you see the moon?” And the indigenous guy said, “Yeah!” The scientist said, “You know, my people are going there we’ve been there.” And this indigenous man said, “Hold on. I have something very, very important,” and he wrote a message for the people on the moon. The scientist tried to explain, “There are no people on the moon.” And this indigenous man was like, “No, no, no! But if there are you have to give them this message.” Later on, this scientist got the message translated and what it said was “Whatever these people tell you don’t believe them. They’re going to kill you all.”
THT: Oh my God!
THT: Wow, that’s something else, man. Geez.
PAUL: Yeah… (chuckles)
THT: Well, it’s like what the Icelandic people wrote on that plaque: “We know what happened only you will know if we were successful.”
THT: You know, you show volunteers go down there how dangerous is it and how committed one has to be set for the faint of heart that you will be stung bitten and have little monsters growing cycle you like what the Bowfly that was in your arm?
PAUL: Yeah, the Botfly you mean! You know, the Amazon is not as dangerous as people think. I like walked barefoot and I’ve been fine. There are also about 20 million indigenous people that live in the Amazon and you know there are grandmothers and children and they’re all fine. In my eco-tourism company Tamandua, we employ local people as boat drivers, chefs, guides, cooks, and all these different jobs. So instead of having to do extractive things, these people are working for us and earning better pay and that’s also contributing to conservation. But I bring people from all over the world to the jungle from Europe, the U.S., Australia, Asia, and I mean, I had people as young as 11 and as old as 75 or 76 come with me. They all had the time of their life. I mean one time we had a broken arm, but that could’ve happened anywhere. The woman just fell over.
The Amazon jungle itself is not very dangerous. There are no animals that want to kill you or Jaguars in our region. There’s never been a Jaguar attack. The snakes are not interested in you. They just want to hide. You would have to literally step on one to make it bite you so it’s so actually, the Amazon, except for the little stuff like mosquitoes, protozoans and stuff indigenous to the Jungle, the Amazon is not a very dangerous place. Actually, it’s a very inviting jungle. The rivers, in many places, are clean enough to drink and there are medicines flowing through the trees and it’s actually quite nice. So I go down there every year and have a great time. I just brought my parents and they’re in their upper sixties and they had a wonderful time.
THT: Wow! Well, we’ve got about eight minutes left. I want to get a couple more questions in but there’s so much more to talk about. I totally appreciate what you do. I want to go there and maybe take my kids there but that’s a while down the road.
PAUL: Yeah, c’mon man, I’m ready.
THT: Yeah, now that I know you, we can set up a vacation in the Amazon and eat one of those grub worms. That sounds like fun. So how are the governments of Brazil and Peru reacting to what’s happening in their backyard and I bet they really never gave the Amazon rainforest second thought until Sao Paolo turned smoky and dark that day, huh?
PAUL: Well conservation has a long history at this point. A lot of decades and actually in the mid-2000’s is when we actually saw the peak of the Amazonian deforestation and burning. There was a similar amount of international outrage and it did push the leaders in Brazil, at that time to pump up the number of environmental regulations to stop allowing people to burn. Peru on the other hand, that was in Brazil, but in Peru, there’s been a lot of work done and the indigenous people are very aware of how important their resources are. I work in a region called the Madre de Dios region and we’re right just over the border from Brazil. So everything that happens to us happens to Brazil and the Peruvian government has a huge market for eco-tourism there, for wildlife tourism, for photography, for adventure tourism, even Shamanic tours, like Ayahuasca tourism.
So this stuff really helps to put a financial value on the forest and say to them: wow! There are millions of Peruvians who are employed by these foreigners who come so far that for the government officials they see the value in the forest. A lot of times, at least in my region, they’ll see it’s worth more, you know, untouched as a continual source of revenue from tourism, than it would be to cut it down or to mine it.
So, people have been doing a lot of good work. There’s a lot of hope in the world. You got to know where to look but we also need to continually be outraged, really focus, and hunker down and do make a change when it needs to happen. Right now we’ve had a really bad burning in the Amazon. So let’s retaliate, let’s talk tactics, and figure out how we can protect large swaths of the jungle.
Actually last week after going on the news, I’ve been contacted by several different millionaires, powerful people, and celebrities who want to want to lend their hands into making us protect more land which is great because we’re going to be protecting more rain forest. In doing that, we help the rain forest produce more rain and we’re also going to be employing more rangers, park guards, indigenous people, and putting them in charge of patrolling their own backyards. Then we can empower them to keep their own land safe. There is some amazing stuff happening.
THT: Wow, that’s great. I want to thank you so much for what you’re doing for the rain forest throughout the world, but we all need to do more. What do you need? We got about 5 minutes left. How can people contact your effort to sign up, volunteer, donate give it to us hard and straight because unless it affects us; people really don’t care. So make them care, make them realize time is running out.
PAUL: Well, I mean, we’re seeing the effects of climate change. We’re seeing how bad the hurricane is this week. We’re seeing the Amazon on fire. So my mission is to connect people to conservation. So if they want to donate, they can do that through JungleKeepers, which is www.junglekeepers.com. My company Tamandua Expeditions is www.tamanduajungle.com. And again, you’re supporting local people. You’re having a direct impact on local jobs and rain forest conservation by traveling with us.
You get to see the incredible Amazon and for me, I mean, I’m trying right now to do all this work and people lending a hand in terms of helping with legal fees, design work, and web work gives us a lot of different skills that I can use. I’ve been down there and I have insight into what the most important strategic sort of direction is that we can take. People have been reaching out and helping us and it’s really doing a lot of good. So whether it’s donating to JungleKeepers, coming on a trip with Tamandua or just personally giving me more tools to work with every little bit helps. Look, I’ve been put on this Earth for one reason and that protects the rain forest. So I’m going to keep doing that.
THT: Thank you so much. Keep us up to date with your progress because we care here at the Hollywood Times and we want to be your voice, sir. I appreciate you. Thank you for your time.
PAUL: Thank you so much, man. I really appreciate it and let me know if you’d like me to send you a few images or something.
Mother of God official book trailer: https://youtu.be/54JZ_6N0kTc
Uncharted Amazon official trailer: https://youtu.be/qyVrXXTe-bA
Amazon Rain Forrest official trailer: https://youtu.be/AzoYpdV7M_w