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Did you know there are many different communities of indigenous rainforest people, who each speak their own language and have their own ancient traditions? Two examples are the the Ashaninka from Peru and the Baka Pygmies from Cameroon. Most rainforest people HUNT and FISH in the forest to feed their families. They use blowpipes, fishing spears or bows and arrows to hunt birds, monkeys, rodents and fish.

Rainforest people are HUNTER-GATHERERS, which mean they move from place to place to find food.

Many forest people believe that animals have a SPIRIT, which will be angered if the animal is killed cruelly or for the wrong purposes. Killing animals is therefore done with respect, following the customs of the tribe. They grow crops of maize, manioc, bananas, plantains, beans, yams and sweet potatoes in gardens close to the villages. Growing crops like this is called SHIFTING FARMING. Communities will burn small patches of land to grow crops, and then leave the soil to recover for 10 to 15 years. This way the soil and the rainforest plants are not permanently damaged. This type of farming is SUSTAINABLE, which means they use the rainforest without destroying it, so future generations of rainforest people can use and live in the forest too.

They also collect avocados, mangoes, pineapples, nuts and honey from the forest. Sometimes they even collect insects such as caterpillars, grubs and tarantulas.

YUMMY! Rainforest people also know how to fish, using SPEARS or NETS.

The community knows a lot about the plants that grow and which can be used to cure illness. They also take sick people to a SHAMAN, which means ‘one who sees’. They believe that a Shaman can speak to the spirit world to find out what is causing the illness. In South Africa we call that person a “sangoma” or a witchdoctor.

Here is a STAFF that is used in a healing ritual.

Did you know that in the Western World, we also use hundreds of medicines that come from rainforest plants? Because there are so many plants in the rainforest that have never been identified, it is possible that some could be used to cure serious diseases. One of the problems about destroying the forest is that these plants can become extinct before we ever know of their healing properties.

Rainforest people have a vast knowledge of how to use rainforest plants - almost everything that they use in everyday life comes from the rainforest, including dyes, hammocks, clothes, jewellery, poisons for hunting, face paints, spears, blowpipes, nets, drinks and rope. Can you think of the type of clothes that might be worn by rainforest people?

Because of the hot, humid climate, most tropical rainforest people wear very little! Often they wear strips of cloth or string tied around their waists. Many rainforest people also wear BODY PAINT. They use special colours and patterns to show important stages in their lives. They believe that it helps them to get in touch with the spirits. For ceremonial occasions, body paint is accompanied by body ornaments, feathers and headdresses to make elaborate costumes. Rainforest People sometimes live with all their family members under one roof called a communal house. This can sometimes house hundreds of people! How many people would you live with if your parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins all lived together under one roof? Houses are made out of forest materials, such as palm leaves, trees and clay. They are often built on stilts for protection from mud, rain and animals.

HAMMOCKS or sleeping mats are used for beds. There are usually separate huts at the edge of the village for cooking and community meetings.

Rainforest people hold traditional ceremonies, dance, sing, play musical instruments such as flutes or drums, bathe, and have wrestling matches to enjoy themselves. Children spend their time helping out in the garden, weaving or hunting.

Most children are taught how to cook, hunt and to make crafts at home. Some go to government schools to learn maths, history, or languages. If they are lucky, the school classes will be taught in their own language. In Cameroon most children do not go to government schools because it is expensive.

The rainforests of the world are under threat. Their trees are valuable as wood and the land where the forests stand can be used for other things such as farms. Because most of the rainforests exist in poor countries, the governments are often forced to exploit them to make money.

Once rainforests are gone, the land becomes less fertile, and the soil washes away. The trees can no longer provide their valuable services, such as absorbing CARBON DIOXIDE, which is a gas that contributes to CLIMATE CHANGE. Often the long term value of the rainforests is ignored in favour of short-term profits.

When the forest is cut down in a process called LOGGING, the wood can be used to make houses, or to burn for heat. Very often it is EXPORTED to other countries. Because many countries are poor, they are forced to cut down large areas of the forest to make money quickly. Cutting down the forest in an UNSUSTAINABLE way, so that it cannot recover, means that future generations of the country will be even poorer as they will have less NATURAL RESOURCES to use. Logging can also cause flooding, which can make many people and animals homeless.

Can you think of some things in your home or school that are made of wood? It is important that when we buy wood we make sure it has not come from a rainforest that has been destroyed.

Farmers can make money from growing crops on former rainforest lands. Once the crops use up the nutrients in the soil, it quickly become thin and poor, and before long nothing can grow. After a few years, the land is abandoned and more trees are burnt to make way for the farms. One of the biggest crops that is grown in the Amazon is SOYA BEAN. The beans are then used to feed cows, or to make oil or to be used in food products. In Cameroon MAIZE is grown and is used as the staple diet.

Rainforest land is often cleared to provide grazing lands for cows. The meat from the cows is exported to make things like hamburgers. After some time, the grazing lands become barren and ranchers move their cows onto new lands which causes further rainforest deforestation. This cycle is very destructive as the ranches move further and further into the rainforests, often disturbing rainforest communities.

HYDROELECTRIC DAMS are built on rivers in rainforests to provide ELECTRICITY. Once the dam is built, a large area of rainforest has to be flooded by the reservoir of water behind the dam. The people who live there have to be moved.

The ground that the forests stand on often contains valuable NATURAL RESOURCES such as metals, minerals, rocks and oil, leaving it vulnerable to EXPLOITATION. Can you think which materials in the pictures below might have come from the rainforest?

GOLD and DIAMONDS are often mined in forest areas. ALUMINIUM, which is used to make drink and food cans, comes from rock called bauxite, which is also extracted from the ground in large amounts. OIL is drilled in the forest too. Communities can be thrown off their land to make way for mining and drilling. Sometimes the water from the rivers they use for cooking and washing becomes polluted and they become sick. Fish in the rivers also die, so the communities have less to eat.

Governments, and mining and logging companies build roads into the rainforest. You may think that a road does not take up much space, but when people move into the area, they build new towns, villages and more roads. Often they set up their farms in the rainforest.

These activities DO take up a lot of space, and a lot of rainforest can be lost.

Once a road has been built, it makes it a lot easier for the loggers, miners and ranchers to take their wood and farm produce to places where it can be exported, speeding up the rate of deforestation .

When governments declare rainforest areas as national parks or reserves, they often force people living in them to leave. This makes the forest people homeless. They have no access to their forests for food, shelter and medicines.

National parks and reserves can be designed to protect the rainforests from destruction. As traditional rainforest communities are experts at looking after the rainforest, they are the best guardians of the forests. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE WORLD'S RAINFORESTS ARE PROTECTED AND USED RESPONSIBLY! The rainforest is home to millions of people who live in or depend on the rainforest for their livelihoods. If the rainforests are destroyed, they are left homeless, and without a way to work and support their families.

So what can you do to help the rainforest?

1) Choose wood carefully Make sure that your home and school do not buy wood that comes from rainforests, such as mahogany, ivoko, sapele, vamin and rosewood. Ask the salesperson where the wood came from. You can check in the 'Good Wood Guide' published by Friends of the Earth. 2) Spread the word! You can show the rest of your school, friends and family what you have learned about the rainforests by making a display! You can draw pictures and write your own stories about the people and animals who live in the rainforest. Here are some activities that other school children have done to raise money. Ask your teacher to help you organise an event, and send the money you raise to the Rainforest Foundation. * Hold a Sponsored event * You can do a sponsored run, walk, swim, bike ride, jog, hop, three-legged race, book read, skip, ramble, football match, dance, silence - in fact, you can do a sponsored anything as long as it is safe and you have permission! It can be more fun and easier if you do your event in a group. Once you have thought of a good idea, the next thing to do is to ask your teacher to help you organise it. • Hold an Own Clothes Day * Ask your teachers to help you organise a day when everyone is allowed to wear their own clothes to school and to bring a donation. Why not have a rainforest theme where everyone wears something green?

Ask your family and friends to sponsor you, but remember, never ask for money from strangers. * Hold a Rainforest Event * Organise a play, dance routine, talent or fashion show or an art exhibition of your class paintings and ask people to make a donation to come and see your art and performances! * Do an odd job for the Rainforest Foundation * Ask your parents if you can do a chore such as a carwash, litter collection, or odd jobs in the garden. The money that you earn will help other people to protect their homes in the rainforest.

Although rainforests like this one only cover about one twentieth of the earth's surface, they contain more than half of all the animals and plants in the whole world.

Did you know there are over 30 million different SPECIES of plant and animals in the rainforest? You do now! Like most big cats, jaguars enjoy water. Jaguars are strong swimmers, and will follow their prey into the water during the chase! Despite being feared in the jungle for his amazing hunting skills, all jaguars are ENDANGERED. This means that the survival of the species is threatened, and that their numbers are less than they used to be. Many species are endangered because when the rainforest is cut down, they have nowhere to live and their food becomes scarce. Other animals such as hairy gorillas, giant long-nosed anteaters, the strange sounding Amazon umbrella bird, and the Queen Alexandra's bird-wing butterfly (who, as their

name suggests have butterfly wings as big as birds wings), are endangered, among many others. In the rainforest, plants grow in LAYERS. The BOTTOM LAYER, or forest floor, is made up of plants and ferns. The lower layer of trees is called the UNDERSTORY. The next layer up is the CANOPY LAYER where most of the animals and insects live. The TOP LAYER consists of giant trees up to 75 metres tall that tower over the rest of the forest!

Many rainforest plants are very useful. Food such as pineapple, banana, grapefruit, avocado and coconut originated there, as did many spices like chocolate, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger and paprika.

The Sloth lives high up in the trees, and spends a lot of her day hanging upside down. You may think that a sloth can enjoy the peace and quiet up in the roof of the forest, but she has a lot of company up there!

Animals such as orangutans, tree porcupines, and tree frogs go up to the branches of the trees where there are always flowers, leaves, fruits and nuts to eat. The Sloth is a MAMMAL. Do you know what this is? A mammal is a WARM-BLOODED animal with a back bone. Mammals give birth to living young which are nourished with their mother's milk. The Tamarin monkey is a PRIMATE. Primates are mammals that are biologically very closely related to humans, with over 98% of the same genes!

Part of the tamarin family is ENDANGERED as a great deal of their home in the rainforest in South America is being cut down. Two types of species in this family, the Golden Lion Tamarins in Brazil and the Cotton-Top tamarins in Colombia, face EXTINCTION. Extinction is very serious. It means that if the last animal of that species dies, the species will never exist again on earth."

Gorillas

Gorillas live in the rainforests in Africa. They are found mainly in coastal West Africa, Congo and Cameroon but also in Zaire, Rwanda and Uganda. Gorillas mainly eat fruit, leaves, stems and other plant matter. They sometimes eat meat, insects and eggs. They live in social groups, which are led by a dominant male. The male in charge is called the silverback due to the grey fur on his back. The group includes several females and young. There are three sub-species of gorilla: The mountain gorilla The western lowland gorilla The eastern lowland gorilla

Unfortunately many animals and plants have already been made extinct by the loss of their homes in the rainforests.

Because scientists have not identified most of the world's animal and plant species, many may be lost before we even have a chance to find them.
The Bat is a mammal. He likes to go out at night and fly through the forest, collecting insects in his mouth mid-flight. How do you think a bat stops himself from flying into trees? He has special skills that allow him to produce sounds that bounce of the things around him, like an ECHO. The sounds are too high pitched for us to hear though!

Can you tell us about other members of the bat family? The largest type of bat in the world is the Malay fruit bat. They live in the forests of Southeast Asia. They have such huge wings that they also have the name of Flying Fox. Their wing span is 1.7 meters - much bigger than the distance between your hands if you spread your arms as wide as you can!" Not all bats are big though. The smallest bat in the rainforest is the Kitti's hog-nosed bat. Their wings are a only 15 centimeters wide with their wings open - measure it and see how small they are!

There are thousands of types of birds in the rainforest. Many of them have very brightly coloured feathers, which act as CAMOUFLAGE to disguise them as flowers or fruit. Eagles, toucans, birds of paradise, macaws, parrots and parakeets are some of the birds that I see flying around my home in the rainforest.

Look at this Toucan’s beautiful yellow beak. Toucans are one of the noisiest jungle birds, with a croak like a frog that can be heard for half a mile!

The Anaconda is the world's biggest snake. He eats other animals which he catches by squeezing them to death. Anacondas have been known to kill humans, so be careful you don't step on him! Like all snakes, he is a REPTILE. Reptiles are COLD-BLOODED which means that his body temperature is the same as his surroundings. AMPHIBIANS are also cold-blooded. An amphibian is an animal that can live in water and on the land. Lizards, snakes, frogs, crocodiles and turtles are some of the types of amphibians that you can find in rainforests.

The Jesus Christ lizard has a very special talent. He can actually

run on water! Jesus Christ lizards have very long tails which help them to run very quickly. These lizards perform this impressive feat when chasing prey or escaping danger.

There are millions of insect species in the rainforest, so I hope you aren't scared of creepy crawlies!

Insects are fascinating creatures - some smell with their antennae, taste with their feet and have five eyes - or no eyes at all! Insects that live in the forest include spiders, butterflies, stick insects, beetles and mosquitoes.

We better be careful though - there is a type of spider which can eat frogs and some tarantulas which are big enough to eat birds!

The animals, birds and insects of the forest are amazing. That is why it is important that the forests that we live in are protected, to make sure we don't disappear from the earth forever!
Credits & Thanks to http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/camer.html www.rainforestfoundationuk.org www.wikipedia.org

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