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  • Visible from space,

  • the Okavango Delta

  • is Africa's largest remaining intact wetland wilderness.

  • This shining delta in landlocked Botswana is the jewel of the Kalahari,

  • more valuable than diamonds through the world's largest diamond producer

  • and celebrated in 2014

  • as our planet's 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Now, what you see here are the two major tributaries,

  • the Cuito and the Cubango,

  • disappearing up north into the little-known Angolan highlands.

  • This is the largest undeveloped river basin on the planet,

  • spanning an area larger than California.

  • These vast, undeveloped Angolan watersheds were frozen in time

  • by 27 years of civil war.

  • In fact, Africa's largest tank battle since World War II

  • was fought over a bridge crossing the Okavango's Cuito River.

  • There on the right,

  • disappearing off into the unknown,

  • into the "Terra do fim do mundo" --

  • the land at the end of the earth,

  • as it was known by the first Portuguese explorers.

  • In 2001, at the age of 22,

  • I took a job as head of housekeeping at Vundumtiki Camp

  • in the Okavango Delta ...

  • a patchwork mosaic of channels, floodplains, lagoons

  • and thousands upon thousands of islands to explore.

  • Home to the largest remaining population of elephants on the planet.

  • Rhinos are airlifted in C130s to find sanctuary in this wilderness.

  • Lion,

  • leopard,

  • hyena,

  • wild dog,

  • cheetah,

  • ancient baobab trees that stand like cathedrals

  • under the Milky Way.

  • Here, I discovered something obvious:

  • wilderness is our natural habitat, too.

  • We need these last wild places to reconnect with who we really are.

  • We --

  • all seven billion of us --

  • must never forget we are a biological species

  • forever bound to this particular biological world.

  • Like the waves connected to the ocean,

  • we cannot exist apart from it --

  • a constant flow of atoms and energy between individuals and species

  • around the world in a day

  • and out into the cosmos.

  • Our fates are forever connected to the millions of species

  • we rely on directly and indirectly every day.

  • Four years ago,

  • it was declared that 50 percent of all wildlife around the world

  • had disappeared in just 40 years.

  • This is a mass drowning of 15,000 wildebeests

  • that I witnessed in the Maasai Mara two years ago.

  • This is definitely our fault.

  • By 2020, global wildlife populations are projected to have fallen

  • by a staggering two-thirds.

  • We are the sixth extinction

  • because we left no safe space for millions of species

  • to sustainably coexist.

  • Now, since 2010, I have poled myself eight times across the Okavango Delta

  • to conduct detailed scientific surveys

  • along a 200-mile, 18-day research transect.

  • Now, why am I doing this?

  • Why am I risking my life each year?

  • I'm doing this because we need this information

  • to benchmark this near-pristine wilderness

  • before upstream development happens.

  • These are the Wayeyi river bushmen, the people of the Okavango Delta.

  • They have taught me all I know about the Mother Okavango --

  • about presence in the wild.

  • Our shared pilgrimage across the Okavango Delta each year

  • in our mokoros or dugout canoes --

  • remembers millenia living in the wild.

  • Ten thousand years ago,

  • our entire world was wilderness.

  • Today, wilderness is all that remains of that world, now gone.

  • Ten thousand years ago, we were as we are today:

  • a modern, dreaming intelligence unlike anything seen before.

  • Living in the wilderness is what taught us to speak,

  • to seek technologies like fire and stone, bow and arrow,

  • medicine and poison,

  • to domesticate plants and animals

  • and rely on each other and all living things around us.

  • We are these last wildernesses --

  • every one of us.

  • Over 80 percent of our planet's land surface

  • is now experiencing measurable human impact:

  • habitat destruction

  • and illegal wildlife trade are decimating global wildlife populations.

  • We urgently need to create safe space for these wild animals.

  • So in late 2014,

  • we launched an ambitious project to do just that:

  • explore and protect.

  • By mid-May 2015,

  • we had pioneered access through active minefields

  • to the undocumented source lake of the Cuito River --

  • this otherworldly place;

  • an ancient, untouched wilderness.

  • By the 21st of May,

  • we had launched the Okavango megatransect ...

  • in seven dugout canoes;

  • 1,500 miles, 121 days later,

  • all of the poling, paddling and intensive research

  • got us across the entire river basin to Lake Xau in the Kalahari Desert,

  • 480 kilometers past the Okavango Delta.

  • My entire world became the water:

  • every ripple, eddy, lily pad and current ...

  • any sign of danger,

  • every sign of life.

  • Now imagine millions of sweat bees choking the air around you,

  • flesh-eating bacteria,

  • the constant threat of a landmine going off

  • or an unseen hippo capsizing your mokoro.

  • These are the scenes moments after a hippo did just that --

  • thrusting its tusks through the hull of my boat.

  • You can see the two holes --

  • puncture wounds in the base of the hull --

  • absolutely terrifying

  • and completely my fault.

  • (Laughter)

  • Many, many portages,

  • tree blockages and capsizes in rocky rapids.

  • You're living on rice and beans,

  • bathing in a bucket of cold water

  • and paddling a marathon six to eight hours every single day.

  • After 121 days of this,

  • I'd forgotten the PIN numbers to my bank accounts

  • and logins for social media --

  • a complete systems reboot.

  • You ask me now if I miss it,

  • and I will tell you I am still there.

  • Now why do we need to save places we hardly ever go?

  • Why do we need to save places

  • where you have to risk your life to be there?

  • Now, I'm not a religious or particularly spiritual person,

  • but in the wild,

  • I believe I've experienced the birthplace of religion.

  • Standing in front of an elephant far away from anywhere

  • is the closest I will ever get to God.

  • Moses, Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus,

  • the Hindu teachers, prophets and mystics,

  • all went into the wilderness --

  • up into the mountains, into the desert,

  • to sit quietly and listen for those secrets

  • that were to guide their societies for millennia.

  • I go into the Okavango on my mokoro.

  • You must join me one day.

  • Over 50 percent of the remaining wilderness is unprotected.

  • A huge opportunity --

  • a chance for us all.

  • We need to act with great urgency.

  • Since the 2015 megatransect,

  • we have explored all major rivers of the Okavango River basin,

  • covering a life-changing 4,000 miles of detailed research transects

  • on our dugout canoes

  • and our fat-tire mountain bikes.

  • We now have 57 top scientists

  • rediscovering what we call the Okavango-Zambezi water tower --

  • this vast, post-war wilderness with undocumented source lakes,

  • unnamed waterfalls in what is Africa's largest remaining Miombo woodland.

  • We've now discovered 24 new species to science

  • and hundreds of species not known to be there.

  • This year, we start the process, with the Angolan government,

  • to establish one of the largest systems of protected areas in the world

  • to preserve the Okavango-Zambezi water tower

  • we have been exploring.

  • Downstream, this represents water security for millions of people

  • and more than half of the elephants remaining on this planet.

  • There is no doubt this is the biggest conservation opportunity in Africa

  • in decades.

  • Over the next 10 to 15 years,

  • we need to make an unprecedented investment

  • in the preservation of wilderness around the world.

  • To me,

  • preserving wilderness is far more than simply protecting ecosystems

  • that clean the water we drink and create the air we breathe.

  • Preserving wilderness protects our basic human right to be wild --

  • our basic human rights to explore.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

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B1 US TED wilderness delta wild largest river

【TED】Steve Boyes: How we're saving one of Earth's last wild places (How we're saving one of Earth's last wild places | Steve Boyes)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/07/25
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