Costa Rica

“My Cessna plane lands on a small strip in Puerto Jimenez, the largest town on the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula. As I step onto the hot tarmac I am welcomed by the moist kiss of tropical air. I spend the first days in the Osa getting accustomed to the heat – and a humidity that dampens the bedsheets – at the idyllic Iguana Lodge, where lush forest meets roaring sea. Days and nights are filled with the crashing of waves as they pound charcoal-grey volcanic sands that stretch for mile upon deserted mile, absorbing the heat of the tropical sun like exposed metal and burning bare skin on contact. The sound of the waves is joined occasionally by the screech of scarlet macaws as they pass overhead, ruby red flashes against a sapphire sky, or by the rumble and crack of thunder followed by the clatter of raindrops on iron roofs. Once in a while the sound of thrashing branches overhead signals the arrival of White-faced Monkeys in search of fruit, sending Jesus Christ Lizards skittering into the undergrowth on lanky hind legs. On some mornings howler monkeys deliver a guttural wake-up call that would rouse the dead; if I didn’t know better I would think that they were in the room with me.”

Haiti

“A sadness echoes through the brown hillsides of Haiti, ricocheting off craggy limestone outcrops once cloaked in verdant forest. Where the delicate whistle of the La Selle Grass frog once rose from moist leaf litter under a canopy of tree ferns, wind now whips dust into spiraling clouds and scatters it into the air around me. As I scour the grassy slopes of the Massif de la Selle, the site where the La Selle Grass Frog was last seen a quarter of a century ago, the frog starts to feel like a poignant symbol of a Haiti past. I bow my head and keep looking.”

MOZART & VENTRILOQIUAL FROGS SOUND A NOTE OF HOPE AND WARNING FOR HAITI’S RECOVERY from Robin Moore on Vimeo.

Colombia

“Few things are as effective at keeping biologists out of unexplored forests bristling with life as chance encounters with gun-toting guerillas, ruthless paramilitary groups and landmines. It is no surprise then that northern Colombia – whose remote forests are a hideout for leftist guerillas, right-wing death squads and a mélange of armed groups in between – harbor many species unseen in decades. Despite the allure of potential discoveries and rediscoveries, it would have taken some serious arm-twisting to convince me to traipse through the forests of Antioquia and Chocó in northwest Colombia only a few years ago. But with the restoration of relative stability to the region, a unique opportunity to search for such lost species as the Mesopotamia Beaked Toad, last seen in 1914, beckons.”

 

BOOK EXCERPT

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