Inside the Dzanga Sangha Rain Forest follows a team of scientists, artists, and filmmakers as they search for the elusive lowland gorilla, rare birds, leopards, a universe of insects, not to mention the powerful elephants for whom the forest is named. The team is guided by local BaAka people through elephant dung, swarms of sweat bees, and unexpected swamps as they explore and record everything they can about the rain forest. Readers learn about the rain forest, from the layers of forest canopy and the lives of the BaAka to practical skills, such as what to do if approached by a gorilla, and how to eat a termite. At the end of the expedition, the team sends back 6,000 pounds of specimens and materials and an incomparable first-hand account of life in the rain forest in order to create a unique walk-through exhibit, complete with sounds and smells.
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A Real-Life Scientific Adventure
Welcome to the expedition. It's hot, humid, green, and shadowy. Less than 1% of the sun's light ever reaches you. Hyraxes and colobus monkeys chatter in the canopy above, little sweat bees crawl over your face. In the evening you hear a BaAka mother serenading her child. And yesterday you tasted your first termite--not back, actually, with its faint almond flavor.
A you-are-there look at both the methods of contemporary science and the ancient, interconnected life of the rain forest. Richly illustrated with photographs and scientific sketches. From the American Museum of Natural History's expedition members' first-hand accounts.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From the preface
There was never any question; it had to be a rain forest. Although tropical rain forests cover only 7 percent of the earth's land surface, they are home to half of the known plant and animal species in the world. As the centerpiece of the American Museum of Natural History's new Hall of Biodiversity, no environment could better illustrate the rich variety and interdependence of plant and animal life.
Museum scientists and designers envisioned an exhibit that would show the wonders of a rain forest along with the ever-growing threats to its existence. By re-creating a lifelike, life-size section of forest, the Museum would give visitors a sense of what it was like to walk beneath the towering, vine-tangled trees. They would hear the calls of birds and chattering of monkeys. And, thanks to a continuously running film, they'd be able to see many rain forest animals as they moved and traveled through the forest.
It would take hundreds of people over 2 years to plan and design the exhibit.
It would take 20 scientists, artists, and filmmakers 6 weeks in a tropical rain forest to research and collect the necessary materials.
It would take another 18 months to build and mount the exhibit.
This is the story of how many people, working together, created a rain forest inside a museum.
Excerpted from Inside the Dzanga-Sangha Rain Forest, Copyright(c) 1998 by Workman Publishing Company, Inc., and the American Museum of Natural History. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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