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Volume 2385

Hero of the Amazon
By Jairo Uparella
ERB Researcher

"When the last river is all polluted,
When the last river is totally destroyed,
When the last tree is cut down,
When the last animal of the jungle is dead,
Man will know that have lost a great opportunity,
The world will not end,
Man running with it will cry after this,
Our salvation will be our future generations,
If they hear this message"

Some people have the intention to do something extraordinary in order to help others to see the word as a pleasant place to live and to learn. Normally, these kind of people have been charmed by others, by a TV star, an actor of the big screen, or simply by a tale that they heard when they were children.

Kapax had the opportunity to see a lot of Tarzan's movies when he was younger, when many years ago showing a movie in the place where he lives was not easy, because that place is exactly in the middle of a jungle: the Amazon forest.

He is now recognized as a hero of the jungle, “the guardian of the amazon”, “the master of the river and jungle”, and had the strong purpose to swim along the 800 miles of the Magdalena River (so called Yuma River), fighting against the danger currents of this river for more than a month.

His father was a German and his mother an indigene of the Putumayo. His story is related to save and protect the Amazon forest and other regions of Colombia. Besides, he is well-respected and known in Peru and Brazil, where his teachings has been received by people, tribes and villages around the Amazon jungle.

He thinks that in a short time, the rivers and forest could be in worst status if the government and the big companies don’t make the labor of saving them. At his age, he is capable of swimming again if he gets the attention of the central government for that purpose. He wants to tell the world that the earth is claiming for its bad condition, and he is afraid that man one day is going to realize that it could be late. The weather changing due to global warming is another problem that could make more damages. It is known that Amazon has the 30% of the biodiversity and the 20% of fresh water of the earth.

I had the chance to meet him.  Now he is my friend and with all respect, I wanted to take him into the pages of the ERBzine, to the world of ERB, where people like him must be known, with his story and example of life. He is “Just a Tarzan Fan”, too.  He says that everything he made was according to the teachings of Tarzan. He learned a lot of thing through the movies, what Tarzan does and wants for the rivers and jungles of the world. Proudly, he likes to express that he is “Kapax, the guardian of the Amazon”, “the protector of the river”, not a copy of Tarzan.

In 1986 he played his own roll as Kapax in the movie “Kapax del Amazonas” based on a true story of the anthropologist Linda Smaely. ( In the genre of drama, it was a movie that shows the way that the tribe of Yaguas lives, its rituals and many other aspects of them. I was not surprised many years ago, when I started to hear about Kapax. I believed in heroes as Tarzan, and when I got the first issue of the Kapax magazine, I understand immediately that he would be a hero of our country, not the “Tarzan of the Amazon”. They are different in many ways. Kapax is an indigene, from another jungle, with another story. In a comic book or a novel they could be big friends.

Not only has he lived as Tarzan does. Also, he has lived the deception and sadness of having to go back without success to the jungle because the hypocrisy and mediocrity that he found in some people makes him preferring to fight with an Anaconda of 6 meters long or a crocodile; “only the man attack or hurt, not the animals”, he says. He doesn’t understand how is that people that has all of the comfortable and accommodation of the life, doesn’t have any idea of the real problem that the earth is suffering.

Who knows Kapax, knows a noble man, with child ingenuity and that was what I found in his personality, a real man, a gentleman, a man that has nothing to envy to the best student of a great university. He is a master, a professional working first as ecologist helping to the preservation of environment and later as tourist guide. He learned to interpret the signals of the river, of the earth and the sky. He speaks the language of his people, the Yagua tribe.  (Good reference to read: )

Nobody think in the great responsibility that it carries when somebody has decided living his life as a hero like Tarzan. In the context of the psychology, it means more than get the attention from the people that have the tools to make the right things, although, sometimes those people don’t do anything.  It means being according to something, just as the world created by ERB and make it real.

It is true that making something big only to demonstrate that you are superior to others it is not only a nonsense, it is a degeneration of the personality. But, we have seen Kapax speaking even with the President, with the people that have to do with the conservation of the flora and fauna.  It was his responsibility. He made what he could do and he wants to follow teaching to children about his program. He is our hero and many people love and respect him. He is an authentic icon of the Amazon history.  Many people believe in his vocation, as a man who wants to save the lung of the world: the Amazon jungle.

The Amazon is a big area in the middle of South America and his main river is called Amazon, too. It is one of the bigger ecosystems in the world. There are a lot species of mammals as Jaguar, Tapir, Manatee, the Pink River Dolphin and a great variety of Monkeys, also Snakes and Insects. All of them live in a special area called Amacayacu.

One of the big problems which its inhabitant has to confront is the deforestation, fires and indiscriminate hunting. Kapax needs to be surrounded by the right people to lead his program. It means people who wants to save the planet, people who loves the forest, the water, the earth. He is almost alone but he keeps upon his strong position of protecting his land, his culture and his people. We have a lot of things to learn from this man. Teaching to love the earth is a nice work. So Kapax has been teaching a lot of things about the Amazon, its jungle, is fauna and flora and if you want to know the big jungle of South America, Kapax will take you to know many animals of this beautiful place.

He is not apart from other dreamers who were inspired in ERB novels, in Tarzan, to make their jobs, just like Jane Goodall or the remembered Dian Fossey in Africa, who created their own foundations to save apes from extinction. Those are significant works that only few people can do and we must think of those who give their own life making the best to have a world for all living being.  We can mention other heroes, who gave a little of his life as earth keepers, like Bill Roley from Mexico, Chico Mendez from Brazil, Chief Oren Lyons a Canadian Indian, many native people of Northern Australia and even Robert Redford and Dennis Weaver.

That day we met his wife, Maria and his granddaughter Stephanie, at the hotel where he was waiting for us. My nephew Juan Manuel took the photos in spite of the distraction that Kapax produced over him. He was as delighted as we were. He was impressed when we told him the story of Kapax, and his face changed its look with a great surprising when he knew that Kapax swam the Magdalena and Amazon Rivers to show children that the rivers could be dying due to deforestation. Sure it is a wonderful teaching for any kid like him. Mixing a real hero with a great labor is a nice example that people may follow.

Some links to read:

He wrote to me  (also, in Spanish)

Kapax wrote to me

The Amazon was a deep river 40 years ago, more navigable all the year, there were fewer people, it was a paradise, much animal in the forest, much fish, so we could say "the deepest river of the world" but now the change is huge, the Amazon is less deep and wider, due to deforestation and logging. Why are flooded rivers? ... because the rivers have no channel, some people just remember them when the rivers flood, when there are emergencies, … when I have 14 years trying to recover the Magdalena River, and no government has heard me, neither congress, or nothing.

On April 24 (2008), I had knowledge that presidents came from Brazil, Colombia and Peru to my Leticia. I wanted to show them a project to get the support in a ecological campaign with the integration of children of these three countries, by swimming from Atacuary from the border of Colombia-Peru, to Benjamin Constant in Brazil, 150 km of routes in 15 days, bringing to children the message that our Amazon River is our source of life, transportation, is life, today.  All our rivers are calling us, and it was impossible to reach the presidents; I was rejected by the authorities, when I wanted to do something for children; this was for the parade on July 20, as you may notice I was not involved in the march, when it was so important to the presidents, make them knowing the situation of rivers. I know that if we give that message to children, we are doing much.

Indian tribes are very little, Ticuna, Huitoto, but there are several ethnic groups in the Amazon, with whom we share the day and night at the resort.

The company Decameron, has been bringing many tourists, in order to show them a little the jungle paradise, the rare pink dolphins, attractive places such as the Island of the monkeys, such as park Amacayacu, Puerto Nariño, lakes Tarapoto, Marasha, which are known sites of the three borders, every tourist comes to realize that this is a very safe and healthy place for them.

Here, I wait for you…traveling is living, I will be waiting for you at the Amazon.

Finally I want to leave a message for you my friend Jairo, for children, for those who read this article; we are making it for future generations, not just talking, but acting.  I'm ready to work carrying the message to children of our Magdalena River or the Amazon.  I'm not only “Tarzan of the Amazon”, but someone who protects.

“When the last river is all polluted, when the last river is totally destroyed, when the last tree is cut down, when the last animal of the jungle is dead, man will know that have lost a great opportunity, the world will not end, man running with it will cry after this, our salvation will be our future generations, if they hear this message”


Spanish Alternate

El Amazonas hace 40 años era un río más profundo, era más navegable en toda época del año, había menos habitantes, menos población, era un verdadero paraíso, mucho animal en la selva, mucho pescado; cuando si podíamos decir "el río más caudaloso del mundo", pero hoy en día el cambio es enorme, el Amazonas es menos profundo y más ancho, debido a la deforestación y tala de árboles, Por qué se inundan los ríos?... porque los ríos no tienen canal, solo se acuerdan de los ríos cuando hay inundaciones, cuando hay emergencias, ahí si hay bulla, cuando llevo 14 años por recuperar el río Magdalena, y ningún gobierno me ha oído, ni congreso, ni cámara, ni nada.

El 24 de abril del presente año, tuve conocimiento que venia el presidente de Brasil, Perú y Colombia a mi Leticia, quise llevar un proyecto a los tres presidentes para que me apoyaran en una campaña ecológica, para buscar la integración de los niños de estos tres países, haciendo un recorrido nadando desde Atacuary límite Colombia-Perú, hasta Benjamin Constant Brasil, 150 km de recorridos en 15 días, llevando a los niños el mensaje  que nuestro río Amazonas es nuestra fuente de vida, es transporte, es vida, hoy en día nuestros ríos nos están llamando, y fue imposible llegarle a los presidentes, fui desahuciado, rechazado, por las autoridades, cuando quiero hacer algo por los niños, esto fue para el desfile del 20 de julio, como pueden ustedes notar no participe en la marcha, no me dejaron pasar, cuando era algo tan importante para los presidentes, hacerles conocer la situación de los ríos, yo se que si damos ese mensaje a los niños, estamos haciendo mucho.

Tribus indígenas se consiguen muy poco, Ticunas, Huitotos, varias etnias que hay en el Amazonas, con las que compartimos día y noche a nivel turístico.

Por parte de la empresa de acá Decameron, se ha logrado traer muchos turistas, con el fin de dar a mostrar los pocos paisajes, que tenemos en el Amazonas igualmente los pocos delfines rosados, sitios atractivos como la Isla de los micos, como el parque Amacayacu, Puerto Nariño, lagos de Tarapoto, Marasha, que son sitios turísticos que se conocen de las tres fronteras, que todo turista que viene se da cuenta que es un lugar muy sano y seguro para ellos.

Aquí los esperaré viajar es vivir, los espero en el Amazonas.

Por último quiero dejar un mensaje para usted mi amigo Jairo, para los niños, para quienes leen este artículo, que lo hagamos por las futuras generaciones, que no solo hablemos, sino que actuemos, que estoy dispuesto a colaborar llevando el mensaje a los niños, sea en el magdalena o en el Amazonas, que no soy solamente el Tarzán del Amazonas, sino alguien que protege.

"cuando el último río este totalmente contaminado, destruido, cuando el último árbol este derrumbado, cuando nuestro aire este totalmente contaminado, cuando el último animal de la selva haya muerto, el hombre sabrá que habrá perdido de mejores oportunidades, el mundo no se acaba, el ser humano lo esta acabando y llorará después, nuestra salvación será nuestra futuras generaciones si nos oyen estos mensajes".


From Bogota, Colombia
Just a Tarzan Fan
by Jairo Uparella
ERBzine 2114
Investigating Mangani
An Introduction
Prelude to the Mangani Project
ERBzine 2112
The Sounds of 
Spoken Mangani
by Jairo Uparella
ERBzine 2307
ERB Ape Language 
Mangani Dictionaries featuring
The Uparella Mangani Project
ERBzine 2113

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