Enchantment .2- The Dark Side

Posted: April 6, 2014 in journal, Women, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.”―Jean-Paul Sartre, The Words —

Night Lines graphite on paper 8x10

Night Lines
graphite on paper
8×10—-

An after thought…

When I left Galapagos, Ecuador had just raised the number of tourist allowed into the island to 35,000 per year.  The big ships were already arriving and making visitation of nesting sites awkward as the small boats had to wait for all the passengers from the big boats to embark and disembark their passengers.  There were limits on how many people could be on any island at any given time.  Already numerous deaths of animals were occurring due to introduced vegetation or water pollution. Land iguanas were dying with boated bellies, sea-lion and seals were developing eye infections, marine iguanas were dying because the regular green algae was being overtaken by an introduced red algae.. The introduction of foreign vegetate, plant and trees combined with and animals; the continued practice of overfishing decimating many ocean species, the foreign elements replacing the natural ones and the animals are left without defense.  Then there is the human element, the physical slaughter of sea lions for their skin, not to mention other atrocities.  Guides were not adhering strictly to the rules of take nothing, leave only footprints and the inevitable consequence was beginning to show on all the islands.

Today I cannot image how the islands must look and cringe at the thought.  Over 140,000 tourists come to Galapagos every year, over 25,000 people now live on 3 islands, there are 3 airports, and over 4 billion a year is generated in tourist dollars. What was once one plane twice a week is now six planes a day.  The math is quite simple.

The increase of tourist affected all the animals in different ways. The effects of the human population growth can only be stated as an uncontrolled disaster; eventually there will no longer be a Galapagos, just the memory and photographs.

In 2007 the Unesco’s World Heritage Committee finally put the Galapagos Islands on the endangered list not only for the multiple species but also the entire archipelago.  In 2010 it was removed from the list under extreme protest from the International Union for the Conservancy of Nature siting that even though the Ecuadorian Government was making strides, it was not enough to save the islands.  The human population on the islands continues to increase at 8% a year.  The Ecuadorian Park Service rules have so many holes and loopholes, very little can be enforced.

I had become an environmentalist during my years on the islands and when I boarded the plane back to the USA, I left with a heavy heart, knowing that the first generation of guides would probably be the last to hold tight the need to protect the animals.   I was proud to have done my part but sad at the same time, knowing I was leaving a bit of magic, watching the enchantment fade and that nothing there would ever be the same again.

Humans never really learn and are indeed poor stewards of this planet.

 

 

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Comments
  1. It is so very well written. A social concern well highlighted. Everyone should learn to have a mind so beautiful like yours. Hope we all learn the wonderful message conveyed here. 🙂

    Like

  2. reocochran says:

    It is wonderful how you are still trying to spread an environmentalist message. I wish more people had firsthand knowledge like you do! This makes me saddened that you know we are not good stewards of our world. Great message! Smiles, Robin

    Like

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