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Only after the last tree has been cut down;
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- Cree Indian Prophecy

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Ethics Of Jungle Safety

By Forest Ang

......When in the jungle, discipline yourself.......

I was looking for our own origins.
I was looking for people, who lived in perfect harmony with nature.
Bruno Manser

Year after year, people die in the wild, and most of these deaths can be avoided. The mountaineering and wilderness are filled with stories of preventable accidents, yet every year people continue to make the same predictable mistakes and with the same predictable results - dead. Any experienced mountaineer can tell stories about climbs that had to be aborted or suffered great pain to mount impromptu rescues. On the other hand, search and rescue teams express justifiable anger when they are called upon to risk their lives for someone who violated basic rules of jungle safety and common sense.

These are some of the accidents over the years that happened:

He lost his way. He had steered off course. Four days later he was found death some distance from his route.

He was very tired. He retired into the tent. The next morning he was found death.

They camped on the peak. The lightning strikes. They were burnt to death.

He went for a walk on a marked trail. He was never to be found again till today.

She slipped near a waterfall and fell to her death.

Expedition organisers or leaders play important role in the well being of their members' safety. Many a time, member of a team got lost because he/she could not catch up with the main group. This means not having enough training. This means not adhering to the leaders' advise. This means not prepared for the challenging conditions. Leaders should select team members according to their ability. Coordination and rapport between the members should be built over the training period before an expediton proceeds.

The ethic of the jungle demands that hikers help fellow hikers. It also demands that each hiker be competent, appropriately equipped, and be responsible for themselves. This means, hikers must be fit to take the challenging terrain. This means, hikers should be responsible for keeping themselves out of trouble. This means having the skills and equipment to cope with wilderness conditions and challenges. It also means understanding what those conditions and challenges are - and taking them SERIOUSLY. With a little forethought and responsibility, and with a firm respect for the terrain and environment in which you propose to hike, you can reduce the likelihood of a jungle emergency to almost zero.

Take care!


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All photographs by Forest Ang unless mentioned.
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