National Geographic : 2000 Mar
animals, burn fewer trees to clear fields, and damage fewer rivers and mountains by mining. If they also learned how to provide guides, lodging, and transportation, they could con trol the flow of tourists through their home lands as well as profit from it. To Ruiz and Munn this community-based tourism represents the best way to balance pro tection and progress. Munn said that this idea had begun to work in a few places, including Manu. But the concept is hard to implement in remote areas such as Madidi, where the people need training in everything from speaking English to cooking for foreign tastes to chang ing a way of life their families have followed for many generations. AFTER PUINA the terrain grew more lush as we descended into high cloud for est, one of the rarest habitats in the world; much of it has been destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture. While 90 percent of the cloud forest in the northern Andes has been destroyed, here in Madidi it covers layers of mountains to the northern horizon. "You can see more high cloud forest from here than is left in all of Central America," said Munn. But to the east the green was scarred by huge patches of burned forest. It was raining as we headed down a burned over mountainside, stripped to our Skivvies to cross the Rio Mojos, and climbed steep switchbacks. Even the mules scrambled to keep their footing, urged upward by shouts from the muleteers. After five hours we reached the vil lage of Mojos. The Spanish founded it in the 17th century, and it soon became a reduccion, a mission where Indians were forcibly settled, proselytized, and put to work. The settlement had once thrived on trade in corn and cattle, but almost no one used the arduous route to Mojos anymore. The church's walls had long since crumbled, leaving only a stone tower with a crooked crucifix and two chipped bells without clappers. About 15 Quechua farmers and herders lived here in mud huts. I was awakened that night by the cries of an inconsolable child. In the morning Ruiz and I FLOATING ASSETS head downstream as timber workersguide a raft of illegally cut mahogany on the Tuichi (above). Although trees are felled in the park year-round,Januaryfloods expand the area of cut ting by deepening tributaries.Most of Madidi's mahogany, legal and illegal,goes to the United States. Otherforest treasures,like macaw feather headdresses (right), are taken out of the country by visitors.