“Please, Nestor, please continue to point out the orchid flowers,” I cried almost breathlessly to the CEO of Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC) while we climbed up the land TiME had just purchased.
“You know we both need these stops so we can catch our breath.” Nestor Allgas and I were trying to keep pace with Dr. Sam Shanee (NPC’s scientist) and Isidoro Altamirano, who were hiking effortlessly across this wonderful Peruvian jungle.
An orchid in TiME’s first land purchase
A few months before I landed in Peru, TiME raised the necessary funds to save this precious parcel of jungle from logging. The 66 hectares of pristine forest, part of the Amazon watershed, was entrusted to Isidoro and his wife, Donatila, to protect it from loggers and hunters. The couple are members of the Yambrasbamba Campesino Community, which works closely with TiME’s partner NPC Peru. We allocated an area within this parcel where they could raise some cows to make a living. This win-win solution was legally signed in two agreements between TiME and NPC and between NPC and Isidoro and Donatila. TiME successfully fundraised the required amount after hundreds of its members, including elementary school kids, from over forty countries donated and voted to save this land.
Left to right: Nestor (NPC CEO), Uri (TiME CEO) and Isidoro in TiME’s first land purchase
Back in the forest, I am wiping the sweat from my forehead and squinting my eyes in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey. It was the threat to this Critically Endangered monkey (there are less than 250 individuals left in the world!) that motivated us and many of TiME’s members to try and save this land. A few days after TiME’s purchase was complete, Isidoro reported that a family had been spotted on the land. This news gave us the ultimate satisfaction—the efforts to establish our new organization were really worthwhile. After two hours of hiking through this lush green paradise, covered with orchids, decorated with butterflies and wonderful birds, we manage to reach the edge of TiME’s land. The scenery is like a dream. I wish I could stay for at least couple of more days. I could not think of a more wonderful piece of land to fulfill my dream in establishing TiME, an organization begun less than two years ago. But Sam interrupts my dreams and thoughts: “We have to get going, I want you to see another piece of land”—one of TiME’s proposed projects for 2017.
One last view, one more picture. I know it will be a while until I’ll be back here. It took me almost two days to fly to Lima, another two hours to fly to Tarapoto, two hours to drive to Moyobamba, the region’s capital, another 3 hours to drive to the small village of La Esperanza, where the NPC office is located, and then another hour to drive on a ragged and muddy road to the trailhead.
The forest TiME’s members saved from logging
Coming back from TiME’s land we cross open grasslands that used to be forests. In some areas we can see tree stumps as if they are monuments to the lost treasure. The sight make me feel sad but at the same time fuels the motivation to continue and make TiME even stronger so we can protect more land around the world.