National Geographic : 2000 Mar
the river. Ruiz would train them how to run it. From the top of a bluff overlooking the for est we marveled at swarms of red-and-green macaws, chestnut-fronted macaws, and white eyed parakeets gliding to their nests in the cliff just below. "This is the best place to see macaws in South America," said Munn. Because Ruiz is a hermit at heart, ten years ago she built a hut far from any trail on a marshy pond fed by the Rio Hondo. She took me to this hidden water-hushed, lovely, but seething with flies and mosquitoes. "That's one reason I think local people are best to protect these areas," said Ruiz, "because it takes some one as crazy as I am to like being in them." As we drifted along, we saw hoatzins, macaws, anhingas, greater anis, purple galli nules, and a handsome black-collared hawk fishing for breakfast. Florencio "Choco" Mano, a Tacana renowned for his forest skills, was fishing too. He perched barefoot on the front of our log boat, his bow nocked with an arrow, and scanned the shallows for the slow swirl of a feeding sdbalo (shad). There! Choco's arrow sang. We would have sabalo for supper. Morning light sharpened the river's edge. A Tacana named Marcelo Quemevo led Munn, Ruiz, and me into the forest to a salt lick. We climbed to a platform, and Quemevo began calling in white-lipped peccaries, making a loud thock against the roof of his mouth with his tongue in imitation of the creatures' habit of clicking their teeth. The answering thocks got closer, and then bristly black shapes mate rialized from the undergrowth, big males in the lead. There must have been 50 of them. One moment they were snuffling in the mud or lift ing their rubbery noses to investigate us; the next, spooked, they had vanished in a tumult of crackling brush and frantic grunts. Where the Rio Hondo meets the Beni, we turned upriver toward Charque, a beauti ful new lodge built entirely by local people that Munn predicted would become one of the top destinations in South America for birders and other tourists. But at the moment the lodges at Charque and Caquiahuara remain closed while Eco Bolivia, the Bolivian POACH ING'S TOLL, a baby peccary cuddles up to a worker at a camp in Madidi (left). The peccary's mother may have been killedfor food; the infant survivedfor just a few days. An orphanedblack-faced spider monkey (above) was raisedas a pet by the logger who killed and ate its mother. "I named it Pulgoso," he says. "Full offleas." Under currentlaw indigenouspeoples can use the park's resources, including its animals, to maintain their traditionalway of life.