National Geographic : 1976 Aug
(Continuedfrom page 199) Dr. Steyermark pointed out, atop a mountain called Auyan Tepui, botanists found disturbing evidence of the species Homo sapiens-apile of tin cans. Will tourism eventually leave its mark on the world's highest waterfall, cascading nearby? Natural Wonder Has an Apt Name I am happy I got to see Angel Falls as its discoverer, Jimmy Angel, first did in 1935, from the cockpit of a single-engine airplane. The approach is through towering canyons, past mist-wreathed spires that look close enough to touch. The sudden sight of the ma jestic falls, pluming some 3,200 feet down the side of Auyan-Tepui, is breathtaking and startling (page 209). Pouring from an obscure channel about 100 feet from the top, it dis solves into a fine mist at the bottom, caressing the rocks with a touch surely as soft as an angel's wing. I looked, and marveled at the world's good fortune that the falls had not been discovered by a man named Smith. I missed the ground-level view of the falls because "Jungle Rudy" Truffino had told me that the Churin River below the falls was too low for the five-day canoe trip. I believed him, for this hawk-faced Dutch immigrant has lived in the region twenty years. Lately he has seen civilization leave a disturbing imprint on his tropical paradise. "Capybaras used to sit on the lawn in late afternoon," he told me at his quiet tourist camp along the Rio Carrao. "Deer would run past the house, and once I looked up and saw a jaguar watching me, right over there." Now the capybaras, rodents weighing as much as 100 pounds (preceding pages), come out only at night, and jaguars are rarely seen. He blames illegal hunting, unsupervised burn ing of the forest by Indian subsistence farm ers, and low-level flights by DC-9 jets.