The Burning Truth of the Amazon Rainforest | Teen Ink

The Burning Truth of the Amazon Rainforest

October 21, 2021
By OliviaWong08, Dover, Massachusetts
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OliviaWong08, Dover, Massachusetts
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Author's note:

This piece is to show readers what animals might feel when their homes get taken away.

“Seiba!”, Mother called. 

Seiba waddled to the crook in the tree where her nest was. She’d been living in this tree for as far as she could remember. The moon was barely visible. A humid breeze ruffled her feathers. Of course it was humid. After all, it was the Amazon Rainforest. When she got to the trunk of the tree, she could see her mother’s bright toucan beak peeking out of the nest. Streaks of red, orange, and blue shined vividly in the darkness helping Seiba find her way back to the nest. Seiba smelled the sweetness of the berries in the toucans favorite patch. It helped soothe her as she was stepping into the wide opening of the tree.

“It’s time to go to bed.”, Mother said softly. 

“But I don’t want to.”, Seiba’s brother said stubbornly. 

“Well we’re going to learn a lot of new skills tomorrow.”, Mother whispered.  With that in mind, the two chicks drifted off to sleep.

Bang! The family jolted awake. 

“What was that?”, she said sleepily. 

“I don’t know.”, Mother said, trying to stay calm, “I’m going to check it out. You two don’t go anywhere.” Seiba wondered what the sound could’ve been. It wasn’t a sound she ever heard before. It seemed...unnatural. Bang! There it was again! She looked at her brother worriedly. The two chicks stayed quiet trying not to draw attention to the weird noises. Through the sturdy walls of the tree, she could hear other toucans asking one another questions they couldn’t answer about the mysterious noises. She heard her mother talking about the humans that lived nearby. The humans didn’t seem interested in the toucans. They always left them alone. She hopped closer to the opening in the tree, she saw luscious green trees as far as the eye could see. Specks of color here and there of vibrant brush and wildlife. The wind carrying the mist surrounding the rainforest, blew into her face. She saw Mother flapping back in the nest. She backed up to make room for Mother to come in. Then they heard a crash! Everything in the rainforest seemed to jump. This time it wasn’t a mysterious sound. 

“That sounded like a tree falling.”, she pointed out.

“Yes, just a tree falling.”, Mother said, sounding relieved. “Let’s get ready to forage for food”.

The toucans went along there day hunting rodents and picking berries. The toucan chicks had a marvelous time foraging for their own food that day. Right when Seiba caught a mouse, they heard a crash. They all flew to the trees instinctively. 

“Do you think it’s a coincidence?”, the young toucan asked her mother.

“I’m not sure.”, She replied. “But we better go back to the nest.”

So the flock flew back into the safety hollow of the tree wondering what the noises could’ve been. It was a few hours later and they didn't hear any more mysterious noises. The chicks have gotten tired of rough-housing. It was dark and the sun was long gone. The thick black sky was dancing with twinkling stars. Seiba loved looking out into the night. It was always peaceful as if the rainforest was at rest. It was calming. Seiba’s heavy eyelids were falling and she was slowly drifting off to sleep. 

Crack! Boom! Crash!

She flinched. 

“Something seems a bit strange with all these trees falling down.”, Seiba said curiously and slightly frightened.

“Yeah.”, Mother said warily. 

That night Mother stayed up on patrol, watching to keep her chicks safe. Seiba couldn’t fall asleep. She looked at Mother. Her black feathers blending in with the darkness that swallowed everything. She couldn’t help but feel bad for her mother. She knew she was worried about what was out there and about her family. Seiba wanted to say something to her mother to calm her, but she couldn’t find the right words. After a long time, Seiba eventually fell asleep. The next morning, Seiba woke up coughing. Her lungs could barely get enough oxygen. Seiba lifted her head startled. 

“Oh finally you’re awake.”, her brother weezed. “Mother has been trying to wake you up for ages.”

“What’s going on?”, Seiba asked, panicking.

“ There seems to be a fire. A large one.”, Mother said. “We need to fly away from the fire before it comes closer. Oh I hope you chicks are strong enough.”

“We’ll have to try.”, Seiba said determingly.

Seiba looked out all around her. A gray haze fell over the forest. It made her eyes water a bit. Seiba’s family met up with the flock of other relative toucans. 

“Are we all ready to fly?”, Mother asked.

“Yes.”, the chicks said simultaneously.

The flock flew. They couldn’t go higher because the smoke was rising up and because they would get too tired. So they had to fly a few feet from the ground. As they got further away, Seiba could finally breathe fresh air. It was so relieving and she felt grateful for all the lungfulls she could get. After about a few minutes, Seiba’s wings felt tired. She could see the rest of the flock growing tired by the second. She remembered how during flying lessons, Mother told the chicks that toucans can fly but they mostly hop because they aren’t strong fliers.

“Let’s stop here.”, said a toucan out of breath.

“Good idea.”, said another.

All the toucans landed in a group of trees to rest and catch their breath. They were far enough from the fire that they could barely see it. That night the toucans slept in that same tree hoping that tomorrow they would be able to go back to their home. The next morning, Seiba woke up happily. It had been tough the past few nights to sleep with all the strange noises. But Seiba woke up refreshed and energetic. She peered through the leaves on the tree. She didn’t see any smoke. She saw the thick woods that surrounded the forest.

“The flock wants to check out our trees.”, Mother told the chicks. “They want to make sure that they're safe.”

They all flew as best as they could during the long distance only taking a break at their favorite berry patch. When they reached back home, Seiba couldn’t believe her eyes. Big  beastly, yellow things on wheels were cutting down her trees and picking them up to put them on other unnatural moving things. Humans in bright outfits were what looked like driving these large objects. Worst of all, the toucan’s trees were being cut down.

“What happened!”, Mother exclaimed.

“Where are we going to live now?”, her brother sobbed.

She comforted her brother. The rest of the flock was astonished and their eyes filled with tears. Seiba looked back at the trees they slept in last night. 

“Maybe they could make a new nest over there. But then again the humans and objects were moving pretty fast and might catch up.”, Seiba thought. 

In the distance, she saw a small human boy peeping out behind the rough bark of a tree. For a second she thought that they were surrounded. Then she saw the boy was holding out nuts. Seiba realized that he was different. He was wearing brown clothes that matched the wilderness surrounding him instead of those bright green outfits. He stayed low to the ground, slowly inching for the toucans. Some of the other toucans saw him too. Everyone flew to the trees. But not Seiba. She was curious about who this boy was and if he would help.

“Come up here.”, Mother demanded.

Seiba didn’t listen. Instead, she started hopping towards the boy. The boy’s face lit up and smiled. He rolled a round brazil nut towards her. She picked it up with her beak and ate it. He rolled another. Carefully the boy crawled to Seiba. He let out his hand with more nuts and berries in it. Seiba was hesitant to take one at first, but after a while when the boy didn’t move, she knew she could trust the boy, so she  took a bright red berry. Then the boy looked up. The movement almost scared Seiba. The boy saw the construction men cutting down trees.

“They can’t be doing this,” he whispered. “This is too close to our home. It doesn’t look like they have a permit either.”

Even though Seiba couldn’t understand the boy, she knew he could see what’s wrong. She hopped up into his hand trying to tell him to help. He lifted her up slowly towards his face. 

“I’m going to help.”, he said determinedly.

Seiba flapped into the tree beside Mother.

“You shouldn’t trust humans.”', she squaked.

“This human seems to know what’s wrong.”, Seiba replied. “He might know how to help.”

After a long debate, Mother finally let Seiba go with the boy. Seiba fluttered down back into the boy’s hands and he brought her back to his tribe. Seiba saw another human. It was a lot bigger than the boy she was standing on. They talked back and forth, their lips moving quickly. The tall human came with them. The three of them walked back to the trees that were being cut down. The tall human eyes widened in shock. He murmured something to the boy. The boy set Seiba onto a low branch.

“Don’t worry. We’re going to do something about this.”, the boy said while stroking Seiba’s feathers. “This is our home. The Amazon's home.”

A few days later, Seiba flew to where the boy lived hoping he would give her food and wanting to see what the humans are doing about the trees being cut down. When she got there, she saw people in black clothing talking to the boy’s family. They had flashing cars that scared Seiba a little bit. She landed on a tree near the small human. The boy spotted her and started feeding her brown oval shaped nuts.

“Where have you seen trees being burned?”, said a man with black clothing.

“Half a mile west from here.”, says the boy’s father.

After the humans talked back and forth, all the humans went towards Seiba’s old tree. Seiba followed them. She passed by her family still huddling in the trees making new nests, her favorite berry bush, and then she smelled the burning of wood filling her lungs and making her cough. Seiba decided to sit in a high tree away from the smoke. The humans continued their conversation and went to the people in yellow jackets. The boy came up to her and sat under the wide base of the tree. 

“They’re going to arrest the people burning the woods.”, said the boy happily. “The people were trying to make more room for their cattle illegally. But don’t worry, we will have our forest back soon enough.”

Even though Seiba couldn’t understand the boy, she knew that the toucans would have to move on and build new nests but at least something was being done about all the scary noises, the burning, and all the trees being destroyed.

A few months later, the boy returned to Seiba’s new tree. She and her brother helped Mother make a new nest. They lived on a long, sturdy branch now. Their nest was more spacious for the growing chicks.

“How is the toucan family doing?”, asked the boy.

He held out his hands to give them bright purple figs. Seiba and her brother devoured them. The figs were juicy and sweet on the chicks taste buds.

“I hope you’re doing better.”, said the boy. “Don’t worry, I promise that the government will help us protect the rainforest.”

And the boy was right. Their homes were never touched again.

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