C l a u d e    G a s c o n

The worst moment I think I’ve spent in the Amazon, and there have been several worst moments in terms of ten years of doing research here—in general, life is very difficult in the forest and you’re under harsh conditions and wet and moldy and you don’t have air conditioning, etc, etc. but I think the worst moment really that I had, had to be a moment of fear where I was doing work at night with one of my research assistants. We were fairly far from camp and all of a sudden we heard a jaguar calling. Jaguars do call when they are in reproductive mode the males will start grunting. And we heard a jaguar calling a couple hundred yards away from us, and that was all right, it was a kind of a nice experience.

But as we kept walking down the trail, all of a sudden we heard a second male jaguar calling from about 20 yards in front of us. We never did see them, but we were sort of in this situation where one jaguar was between us and the camp. And this was at night and we only had headlamps and no guns or anything, so we essentially had to find a quick way to get around and back on the right side of the trail towards camp. And I must say that that night I did not sleep very well. I dreamt a lot about jaguars sort of sitting and licking their lips and looking at my hammock that night!

(PTK asked Claude about how research done here has an impact on people living far away from the Amazon, and what the value of conserving species, like frogs, might be.)

On the global scale I think there are obviously some very important considerations that have to be taken into account with respect to the preservation and conservation of the Amazon forest itself. And the two main issues have to do with hydrological cycles, or water cycles, rain cycles in the world, and the global warming issue. And we know that both have a distinct link with the presence of the Amazon forest here. In other words, the presence of this large patch of tropical rainforest here in essence controls much of the hydrology of this area and in other parts of the world, meaning that a lot of the moisture and water is actually created and maintained by the presence of this forest and therefore cutting down a lot of it will affect not only rainfall locally, by decreasing rainfall and essentially making it a drier area, but will also have an impact on neighboring countries and the like.

Claude’s Interviews Frogs    1     2     3     4