Traveling through the Madre de Dios, I had seen forest devastated by logging and hunting as well as places degraded by gold mining and its long-lived mercury contamination. But, in contrast, I had also seen the most secluded and pristine wilderness imaginable and the resulting riot of wildlife. Again and again the inverse rule held: the farther from humans you travel, the more animals you see. Now, traveling upriver on a boat for days I was considerably farther from civilization than I had ever been.
With each bend in the river, the beaches were more crowded with tracks evidencing the visits of large animals, the hulks of basking caiman, and endless flocks of birds. Likewise, tree branches exploded with life. It was a celebration of human absence.
—Excerpts from my first book: Mother of God: An extraordinary journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon
Photo by @thomasstephane