The rigs are headed for the geothermal plant at Hell’s Gate, Kenya, which seems not to benefit the man hauling firewood for cooking on the back of his bike. Hell’s Gate National Park borders a Maasai tribal area. For those familiar with The Last Great Ape, Ofir wandered out of the park as an 18 year old and stayed with the Maasai in perhaps the most important experience he had on the path to becoming an activist. Today, the valley through which he walked is an industrial site. The director of the park, when he complained about the incursion of geothermal drilling onto protected land, was removed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Sadly, the geothermal wells could have been drilled diagonally from a distance, allowing both the perpetuation of the park and the development of the power source.
This view, in far western Peru, betrays minimal signs of human habitation, in a few cleared fields on the left side under the engine. The photograph is of land that is almost surely a reserve for uncontacted people, either the Isconahua, the Kapanawa, or the Yavari Tapiche. The remoteness of the region and a lack of political will make protecting the jungle from prospectors virtually impossible. But I found the sight of intact jungle to be a revelation.
As the Dawes Act weakened the tribes in the U.S by parceling out reservation land to individuals, a new law in Kenya is doing the same to the land of the Maasai. Business-minded Kenyans are flooding the savannah, buying up ground that has never before been for sale, and remaking huge swaths of open plains into wheat fields. The photograph is in Narok, the man walking beside the combine a Maasai elder.
These logs traveled off the Amazon River to Pucallpa, Peru. A man working on the deck of the barge saw me trudging through the mud and waved me over. I climbed aboard. I asked him how big was the biggest tree he’d ever seen. He said his uncle had worked as a logger in Africa and he spoke of a tree so large that when struck with an ax, it started to rain.