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2016-2022 Book Reads > The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred

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message 1: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred by James Aldred No photo available.

Hope you will all join me in our latest group book read. It has been a while.


message 2: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
James Aldred was a wildlife cameraman for the BBC and National Geographic. He spent his working life high up in trees filming the lives of wild animals and birds.


message 3: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky."--Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam


message 4: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
In chapter one, he describes climbing a tree called Goliath in England. I never thought of a giant tree in England. Humans have a way of destroying all living big things.


message 5: by Jimmy (last edited May 24, 2018 09:29AM) (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
In chapter two, he climbs a tree in the Borneo rain forest. They call it "tumparak" which means thunder because he had to remain up there during a lightning storm. Between insects and weather, I could never do something like this.

The lowest branch on this tree is above ground at the height of England's Goliath. It is known as a strangler fig tree. It grows around another large tree and strangles it to death. The dead tree was once a 250-foot hardwood tree. The figs at the top of the new tree provide food for many animals. I was surprised to see so many orangutans up that high.


message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Here are orangutans in fig trees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgZT5...


message 7: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Chapter three is from 1999 in the Congo where he encounters chimps at the Goualougo Triangle. They were special because they had no contact with people. Once again a fig tree is critical to the survival of species. Its limbs twisted through neighboring trees until they melded together. Chimps can kill a man, but these animals seemed only curious.

Here is a story about trying to save those chimps: https://www.cnn.com/2012/02/29/world/...

He then goes to Odzala National Park with its high densities of gorillas and elephants. He uses a liana vine to climb a moabi tree. Ants crawl all over his skin. Later black flies lay eggs in his flesh. And leopards mean all primates have to sleep in a tree.

The moabi tree: http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/wh...

Finally, he meets Apollo the silverback gorilla. Years later ebola will kill 130 of the 143 known gorillas there.


message 8: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
In Chapter 4 in 2001 he visits The Tree of Life in Costa Rica and helping David Attenborough get into the canopy. Every square inch is teaming with life. The rain is far more than is necessary for life.

He encounters howler monkeys. The males are black with white testicles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxzbq...

He finds a hognosed pit viper in his helmet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGmGl...

A cockroach drinks saliva from his open mouth. That one got to me.

David Attenborough: "It's up in the canopy, a hundred or more feet above ground, that the real richness of the forest lies."


message 9: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Chapter 5 is in 2003 at the Castana or Brazil Nut Tree in the Amazonian rain forest of Peru. The entire Amazon has more trees than the total number of humans that have ever lived. Horrible descriptions of insect attacks.

The lovable agouti:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDXPm...


message 10: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Thanks Jimmy! This was my non-fic book of the year for 2017.
Partly because I am a tree climber of course.

When we see the cameras filming nature high in the branches, following creatures moving through the canopy and catching glimpses of the sky, we tend to think it was easy to get the camera up in position. Not so! When all below the canopy is dark, the tree sheds its limbs, as leaves get no light.

James also enabled scientists to climb into trees by going first and providing safe ropes and platforms for them.

Camera gear has become much lighter and more mobile since James began work, but in general people have not, so the challenges still exist.


message 11: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
I particularly enjoyed the harpy eagle nest.


message 12: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Chapter 6 he visits a tree he calls Roaring Meg in Australia. The mountain ash is the second tallest species of tree on earth. They average over 300 feet in height. They live in a fire-climax ecosystem. Fires wipe out the trees but dry their seedpods. Then the fast-growing new trees begin their lives.


message 13: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Astonishing how different species have adapted for fire.


message 14: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Chapter 7 is the Ebana tree in Gabon. Aldred disturbs an African bee's nest and gets attacked while he is 70 feet above ground. He somehow manages to get back to earth.

Here is some info about the tree:

http://www.tropicaltimber.info/specie...


message 15: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
Chapter 8 is the Kayu Besi tree in Papua, New Guinea, with the Korowai people. In one day, they cut down two acres of trees for housing using stone tools.


message 16: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Isn't it astounding....


message 17: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
In Chapter 9 he goes up a Fortaleza tree in Venezuela to film a harpy eagle's nest. Here are some videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T55Vj...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_jMg...


message 18: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
The final chapter is about the Atlas cedar in Morocco. It has had a serious decline, mostly due to climate change.

Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZH1h...


message 19: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
Excellent look at the harpy eagles, thanks! I especially like the sloth fighting back.


message 20: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
There are only three cedar trees; the cedar of Lebanon, the Atlas cedar (blue grey needles) and the deodar. The cedar of lebanon is the oldest tree in recorded history, and is now endangered through climate change. This tree can live up to 3,000 years.

https://www.theguardian.com/environme...


message 21: by Clare (last edited Jan 06, 2019 11:56PM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6640 comments Mod
More tree climbing antics and ideas in the name of raptor preservation.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/the-scien...?


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