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quietly. The woman next to me undid a ponytail and shook her hair free, then leaned
over and whispered, “A third of these people have no idea why some of us are pleasantly
agitated. Of the remainder,” she said with a big grin, “some of you are fantasizing about
being a bat and the rest of us are wishing we were that flower.”
Science yields tangible facts as well as more subtle rewards. Looking into a bushmas-
ter's face—staring down those eyes and pits, mesmerized by that flickering tongue—we
confront unbridgeable gaps where knowledge gives way to wonder. As spectators to the
coevolutionary dance of flowers and pollinators, we are reminded that life's very com-
plexity expands the realms of imagination, that even biochemistry, its much-deserved
acclaim notwithstanding, will never fully fathom the cognitive barrier between a viper
and us, nor diminish the poetry of a nectar-feeding bat. There are things we will never
understand, and as Pablo Neruda said in Bestiario, we'll always want to “go farther and
deeper.” 15 Whether campesino or game guard, bird watcher or herpetologist, we need
these profound mysteries, above all for drawing us out of ourselves, as reminders that
the cosmos doesn't turn on individual lives. To those ends and more, La Selva preserves
a spectacular piece of Costa Rican rainforest, and Bwindi has been declared a Ugandan
national park. Wild places are still inhabited by bushmasters and jaguars. For now at
least, Vincent Bashekura's gorillas are safe.
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