Touch the Jungle is a rain forest wildlife and habitat protection project sponsored by the US nonprofit Earthways Foundation. Touch The Jungle's work focusing on the Chocó Bio-region of Ecuador, South America. The main interests of this project are:

  • Protect threatened rainforest habitats
  • Protect, rescue, and rehabilitate native animals.
  • Empower local people to preserve the rainforest and protect its wildlife.

These goals are interdependent. Wildlife cannot survive without habitat. The habitat cannot survive if the local people don't protect it. The local people cannot survive without wildlife and the forest. Yet extreme poverty and lack of jobs cause many communities to accept the offers of loggers and miners just to provide their families with the necessities of life. If we want local people to support and protect the rainforest and its wildlife, then we must support them. This Touch The Jungle does, by supporting community projects such as health care and education, and assisting them in developing environmentally-friendly sources of income such as ecotourism.

Since 1995, Touch The Jungle has been working with Playa de Oro, a hunter-gatherer community in Ecuador's Chocó Rainforest. This village has designated all of its 25,000 acres of primary rainforest as a reserve for margays and other endangered jungle cat species. In exchange, Earthways and Touch The Jungle have supported the community's low-impact ecotourism project. This project, which is now entirely in the hands of the local people, involves hosting visitors from all over the world, so that they may experience and better understand both the rainforest and those who live there.

More recently Touch The Jungle has expanded our efforts into the Intag region of Ecuador. Still located in the Chocó Bio-region, climbing in altitude into the Intag area, the Rainforest transits into Cloud Forest and the Tropical Andes. The various communities of Intag have created eco-friendly economic alternatives, such as organic coffee and other agricultural products, handicrafts, alternative energy, and eco-tourism in order to preserve their pristine environment as an alternative against environmentally destructive activities such as mining. Touch The Jungle assists those communities in these eco-friendly projects in various ways to help protect the habitat and wildlife. We include visits to several locations in the Intag region during our group tours to support the community ecotourism efforts. We have built a wildlife rescue center located near Apuela to assist injured or ill wildlife to return to the wild. We assist farmers with nuisance wildlife that destroy crops or steal chickens to help the farmers and wildlife live cooperatively. In cooperation with a local grass-roots organization, DECOIN, we are supporting other Intag Valley environmental and education programs. These include helping build schools and providing needed supplies to communities that are working hard to preserve their forests, watersheds, and wildlife.

Everyone is invited to visit our projects in Ecuador either during your own independent travels or on one of our group tours. Your visit helps support the communities we work with by bringing work and income to their individual community projects.

The following is a video presentation about Playa de Oro/Touch The Jungle provided by The National Wildlife Humane Society.
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