Modern Jungle

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Modern Jungle

BONN, 21 Nov 2016— In Indonesia, the area of 100 soccer fields is burnt to the ground daily. The land is used for unsustainable monocultures such as palm oil plantations.

It is a story about expropriation by zones, modern slavery and more many sad, but mostly well known facts. Will the story ever change from profits for-the-few to profits for-every-being?

Here’s a more realistic perspective of deforestation rarely explored:

I open my eyes and here they are again. These cold, thin, same-sized twigs in front me. An unknown noise woke me up, but I am too tired to check out what is going on outside. Behind me is a cold wall, below me the dusty cold ground, some leaves. It is a tight space. I’m cornered, captive. All alone, I feel sad and I miss my family.

My family was always there for me. My whole life, I was surrounded by friends and family. They kept me safe. I was never alone - I’m still a youngster after all. Not long ago, I started to play with friends without my mother around. Even then, someone always had an eye on us.

I am alone now. I have been alone in this box for many sunrises now. I did not know I could feel so bad. I lie in my corner and close my eyes again. Soon, they all come back: my friends, my family. There was life and its sounds everywhere. Big and small beings, funny, strict and even stupid ones. A lot to see, to discover and to taste. So wonderful. Have you ever climbed a tree? Or even jumped from tree to tree?

The view is spectacular and it is so much fun!

Something is itching me. I scratch. I am awake now. The thin twigs, separating me from the outside are back again. I feel a pain inside. Oh dear! How I miss them! I leave my corner, grasping the thin twigs, watching the outside.

This is another kind of world, a dusty and loud world, one that I have never seen before. The furless, running back and forth, carrying unknown things. Unknown sounds and scents. The fallen trees, collected and carried away. Wondering why they kill all things alive; do they not give food and shelter for so many?

I sob. I close my eyes again and pictures come up of what happened many sunrises ago. The sound of a crash, a treefall in the far. I noticed a continuous, but quiet noise. I almost missed it, almost silent, humming brrr, brrr, brrr. “Sounds like the hungry big cat”, I thought and giggled.

My friends and I made fun of the big cat many times. We always played with it as it was hiding in his bushes with his mumbling stomach, lurking for bait. What a silly cat, we laughed, always falling for the same treats.

Is the hungry cat making the trees fall?, I wondered. On the way to the pond, I asked mommy, but she was not sure if one big cat can do so. She had never seen a cat this strong. “Perhaps it is many big cats.

Taking revenge because we fooled them?” I asked, while I was holding on to her. “I do not know, you should ask daddy or the elders. We meet them later at the pond.”

As we reached the pond, many known faces were there, and new ones. All had noticed the tree falls and this ongoing sound. Especially the elders seemed upset. An unknown face started to speak. He was an elder of a tribe from far away.

He told a shocking story, about a furless tribe, invading their homeland, taking lots of lives. He took a twig: “They chop the trees with a loud, silver stick! Trees older as we, stronger as we, riding many storms out! They touch it, and they fall, crack, crack, craaaack! Just like this twig!” and broke it. “Smaller beings and our babies locked in traps and taken away. They also got my son,...” A sad glimpse followed by anger went over his face. “They take many lives.”

Puzzled, I asked mommy on the way home:

“So, no hungry cats making the noise?”


“What should we do now?”

“I do not know.”

“Have you seen the furless before?”

“No, only heard the stories.”

“I wish it would have just been some cats.”

“Me, too.”

During the sundown I sneaked away from mommy. I hear voices. Curiously, I followed them. This was a gathering of the males, and my daddy was with them. They debated about the rescue of babies and to look for lost members. The trees kept falling in the far. All of a sudden, something grabbed me.

“Here you are!”

It was mommy. She was looking for me and relieved to find me. I told her what I heard. She was not pleased to hear that my daddy wanted to join the others to the rescue. She made a sigh and took me to the gathering: “You hear and learn better, when you sit next to them. When you are grown up, you might face the same problems.”

Many of our strongest joined the displaced for the rescue. My daddy went with them. Only few came back. My daddy did not. My mommy kept waiting. She did not want to leave home. Daddy couldn’t find us otherwise.

Even as the furless came closer, my mommy kept waiting. As they invaded our area and even as they made our tree fall. Mommy fought with them. They caught me.

A biting smell is in the air. It makes me nervous and I look outside. Lights, heat and gray, smelly clouds everywhere. I cannot breath! I panic, but get quickly tired. I set myself to sleep. I see mommy. I grasp myself very tight on mommy‘s fur in our nest. Daddy‘s voice in the far.

I fall into a deep, deep sleep.

Following a series of two-day media training workshops on the UN's post-2015 global development agenda, we will be running feature articles and oped pieces written by some of the young journalists who participated in them. Sponsored by Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, the media workshops are supported by the UN Foundation.

The series of articles will focus on the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by world leaders during the UN General Assembly session in September 2015, and the Climate Change Agreement which came into force in November 2016.

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