Vizcarra has inherited the task of making critical decisions on the long-term, global benefit of an intact Amazon against short-term profits from mining, extraction and both legal and illegal logging.Nowhere is this struggle for balance more critical than in the country’s nature reserves and national parks such as Manu National Park.Manu is renowned as one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, with greater numbers of certain plants and animals than any other park on the planet.Critics cite a legacy of neglect and question whether the Vizcarra administration will do any better enforcing the nation’s environmental protection laws. MANU NATIONAL PARK, Peru — There was movement in the understory deep in the dense rainforest off Trail 6. We saw a shadow scurry left to right, followed by more rustling. White-lipped peccary. Several of them.“You’re going to be as quiet as you’ve ever been in your life,” biologist Miles Silman told me as he stepped off the trail, lifting his muddied, shin-high rubber boots and setting them down softly, silently. I followed, mimicking his steps, looking for spongy footfalls, avoiding branches. Silman is with Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and has been doing field research in these jungles for more than a quarter of a century.It had already been a productive early-morning hike in Cocha Cashu Biological Station (CCBS), a world-renowned tropical ecology field station in the middle of Manu National Park in the southern Peruvian Amazon.Manu is equally renowned as the world’s richest biodiversity hotspot. It has a greater number of species — trees, frogs, birds such as horned screamers and hoatzins, butterflies, primates such as emperor tamarin and howler monkeys, snakes, big cats such as jaguar and puma, and oddball mammals such as giant otters, tapir, capybara, giant anteaters and spectacled bears — than any other park on the planet.The dense, untrammeled jungle in Cocha Cashu, where nature is in near-perfect balance. Photo courtesy Jason Houston.We set out in search of peccary after we had already marveled at a fist-sized pygmy marmoset with an even tinier baby clinging to her furry, brown back. Squirrel and spider monkeys, working in tandem, leaped through the canopy in search of fruiting fig trees. A flock of jet-black, razor-billed curassows, the size of wild turkeys and just as graceless in flight, crashed from tree to tree. A twig-thin snake the color of leaf litter slithered underfoot. Spiderwebs with shining interior spirals alerted birds and bats to steer clear.If ever there were a Garden of Eden, a lightly trammeled old-growth forest with soaring trees and nature in near-perfect harmony, Cocha Cashu is it. But like everything else in the tropics, the entire ecosystem is struggling from the effects of global warming. And Manu, established in 1973 and roughly the size of Connecticut, is also under threat from human incursions inside and outside its borders, just like so many other Peruvian nature preserves.
Heading out of the city? Then try these places. PuneChef Cheeru and Praful ChandavarkarMalaka SpiceWalk in to Malaka Spice, Pune’s first standalone Pan-Asian restaurant, which dishes out cuisine from the far east countries. The stylish yet cosy restaurant doubles up as an art gallery for upcoming artists. It also has,Heading out of the city? Then try these places.PuneChef Cheeru and Praful ChandavarkarMalaka SpiceWalk in to Malaka Spice, Pune’s first standalone Pan-Asian restaurant, which dishes out cuisine from the far east countries. The stylish yet cosy restaurant doubles up as an art gallery for upcoming artists. It also has a store that sells T-shirts, lamps and bric-a-brac. Meal for two: Rs 2,000 inclusive of taxes.Where: Lane 5, Koregaon Park.Tel: 09823064050.Owner Damayanti Raje Bhosale at AraliyaAraliyaThe store has more than 50 designers on board offering styles for various occasions and prices. Located at Koregaon Park, Araliya also hosts art exhibitions, music launches, wine soirees and soon plans to start poetry reading sessions. Cost: Leggings for Rs 4,500, top with mythological motifs for Rs 5,500 and mesh earrings for Rs 1,400.Where: Lane No 5, Koregaon Park.Tel: 020-65007535.BangaloreAuthor AnitaNair, musician Stanley Pinto with chef Abhijit Saha at CaperberryCaperberryPick any spot and get comfortable at Caperberry. The cosy restaurant serves modern European cuisine. During lunch besides a la carte options Caperberry serves three course executive meals comprising salads, soups and desserts. Meal for two: Rs 1,000 plus taxes.Where: 48/1, Ground Floor, The Estate, 121, Dickenson Road, Bangalore -560042.Tel: 080-25594567; www.caperberry.in Radhika Poddar at CinnamonCinnamonGo to Cinnamon to witness a slice of India. The store owned by Radhika Poddar houses handwoven saris, home decor products and contemporary jewellery. Don’t miss reversible silk saris from Varanasi, scented candles from Kerala and bidri work (a specialised metal handcraft craft) from Andhra Pradesh. Cost: Rs 100 for candles in coconut shells to Rs 25,000 for a sari.Where: 11 Walton Road, Off Lavelle Road.Tel: 080 22212426. MumbaiadvertisementFashion designer Pria Kataria Puri undergoing amarine plant stem facialMyrahIf you are looking for Asian spa treatments, Myrah is a destination. Located at Juhu, the luxury day spa offers Balinese, Thai and Chinese treatments, among others. Don’t miss their signature therapy, royal hibiscus, and caviar body envelopment, a full body wrap that tones the skin. Cost: Treatments range between Rs 1,000 to Rs 9,000 plus taxes.Where: 11 Palm Spring Society Behind Shoppers Stop, Juhu. Tel: 022 26253963; www.myrahspa.com Mora TaaraWhen you enter Mora Taara you are greeted by a pleasant clutter of home decor items like a sleeping elephant and a baby Buddha made out of sandstone. This home accessories and gifts store sources products from China, Thailand and even Mexico: like a cat statue made of resin. Cost: Rs 100 for an ivory candle and Rs 1,00,000 for a drift wood table.Where: G-6 Maini mansion, Peddar Road.Tel: 022-65754822; email@example.com PunjabAmrinder Singh Chopra, CEO of The Kikar LodgeThe Kikar LodgeNestled in the foothills of the Shivaliks, Kikar Lodge is spread over 1,800 acres of forest. This private forest reserve is around 70 kms from Chandigarh via Mohali and Ropar. Besides watching wild animals and birds in their natural habitat, guests interested in adventure sports can try rappelling, quad biking and zip lining. Where: Village Kangar, Nurpur Bedi District Ropar Tel: 09478964971; www.thekikarlodge.comHyderabadNagarjuna at NN Give a break to desi ghee and head to star Akkikneni Nagarjuna’s restaurant N for a meal cooked in minimal butter or oil. This Hyderabad restaurant offers a mix of Italian, Mediterranean and Thai. Fresh salads are a good option for vegetarians. Others can relish N signatures like rock shrimp tempura and beef steak tenderloin with porcini mushroom sauce.Meal for two: Rs 2,500 plus taxes. Where: Road No 36, Jubille Hills.Tel: 040-20012009. KolkataByLoom Handmade explains ByLoom best. The colourful handwoven saris from the inhouse label Bailou, designed by Bappaditya Biswas, 39, and his wife Rumi, 38, have already made a name for themselves in the city. Bailou loyalists include Amitav Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Kirron Kher and Amit Chaudhuri. Cost: Handmade soaps for Rs 45 to Bailou’s saris for Rs 40,000 plus taxes.Where: 58 B Hindustan Park. Tel: 033 24198727.