Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! Sithi uhhmm ingonyama. Siyo nqoba...
These words may not seem familiar in text, but if you heard them sung as an animated sun rose above the African grasslands, they would be.
There may not be any lions roaming the Mesoamerican rainforests, but the opening words in the Lion King are still relevant to the people at Tropical Rainforest Education & Exploration, better known as TREE.
"There comes a lion. Oh yes, it's a lion. We're going to conquer."
That's what the Zulu words mean, in case you hadn't yet tried to figure out what the infamous opening was saying.
No, TREE is not a lion, and we are not going to conquer anything. The Zulu words are not relevant to us in the literal sense. What we want in actuality is the opposite of conquering - we want to conserve. We strive to have the attributed traits of a lion - the bravery, strength, and closeness of a pride - but the conquering is best left out of the jungle. In fact, our main purpose is to take people to explore the jungle and use that experience to help prevent it from being conquered by anybody.
But how can we do this?
Well, in reality we can't directly stop it. Rainforests are resource-rich environments and most of them, including the ones where TREE operates, are located within countries that need to develop these resources for economic purposes. But, there is a difference between clear-cut logging versus selective timber harvesting, mercury intensive mining versus small-scale gold sifting, and invasive tourism versus sustainable ecotourism. This last point is where we start.
Sustainability is a buzzword that is thrown around a lot lately. But what does it really mean? What does it really entail? And can it really be done? At TREE our expeditions not only deliver truly sustainable trips, we also delve deeply into the essence and issues with sustainability. We do this in an interactive, organic way without a classroom, tests, or assignments. We will learn about these things through experience, and through interesting and lively discussions with environmental scientists and community leaders that are interested in creating a more sustainable world. We will also address the different types of logging and mining through similar exploration.
A TREE trip will take you within some of the most interesting and lively cultures in the world, immerse you in pristiine wilderness that you may have thought no longer existed, and you will contribute to conservation simply by participating - nevermind the valuable contributions to sustainability that will inevitably arise from the discussions and experiential learning in the jungle.
TREE is ready to share the wonders of Belize, Guyana, and Jamaica. And ready to contribute to sustainability goals within these countries.
Listen to Rafiki.
It is time.