“A fight with a toucan” - Maarten Schäfer

Maarten Schafer
4 min readDec 29, 2019

The Iguassu river meanders through a rainforest called the Mata Atlantica before reaching its apotheosis in the Iguassu falls.

Iguassu Falls

In the 16th century, when the Spanish explorers reached the current Brazilian coast, the Atlantic Rainforest covered the complete coastline from North to South, much further than the eyes could see.

‘Civilisation’ replaced forest with cities and agriculture leaving only 7% of the primary forest. “Who needs trees, if you can have cities and cars?” I think out loud, while we’re following a track through the wilderness towards the river. “But then again, what will we breath when there are no more trees left? Carbon dioxide?”

We decide to follow a trail towards the river to absorb the serene beauty of the wilderness. In my free time I’m an amateur tree hugger and enjoy sitting with my back against a centuries old tree and become ‘one with nature’. “This is a tree hugger’s paradise” I say to myself while closing my eyes and I listen to the sounds of the rainforest.

We hear a group of monkeys up in the trees. The noise approaches slowly and seems to come from different directions. Then we see them, crossing the track one by one, two levels up. They jump from tree to tree, stop and stare at us just as we are staring at them. “Is this the way to the river?” I ask them, while pointing in a random direction. They look at me as if I’m speaking Chinese, and then continue their route without answering. “Let’s assume this is the right direction” I say and lead the way following the trail.

Toucan Attack — Atlantic Rainforest

Suddenly I have the feeling that we’re being watched. I look backwards on the track, but see nothing. I scan the forest, but all I see is trees. Probably there are hundreds of animals watching us, but we do not see a single one. Then I see a black, orange bird high up in the trees. It’s a toucan, observing each and every move we make.

We continue walking, but the bird is following us from the tree tops. He moves down a level and starts shouting at us in toucan language. It’s as if he is yelling: “What do you think you’re doing in my forest!” I look up and reply: “Sorry, but I thought this was a public area and we’re just taking some pictures.” The toucan moves down a branch and continues shouting: “Well, take you pictures somewhere else, this is my forest!” I look at the bird, amazed by its arrogance and reply: “Who do you think you are, Elvis or something?”

Maarten Schafer — A fight with a toucan in the rainforest

The bird comes down to ground level, takes place on a bench of the boardwalk crossing a small stream. He sits there in silence and looks me up and down with a touch of arrogance in its eyes. “You may have a big mouth, but I’m at least ten times bigger than you are” I say with confidence, “so no funny jokes, you hear.”

I approach the bird slowly, but he doesn’t fly away. I take another step closer, and just when I’m taking my camera to make a close-up of this phenomenon, the toucan hops forward, takes the strep of my camera and starts pulling ”I will teach you strangers, stepping into my world without my permission!”

Surprised but not afraid I hold on to my camera and press the button, shooting some random pictures as prove of this assault. “I must say you have a big mouth for a small bird like yourself” I reply. Then the bird lets go of my camera, flies away and positions itself in a tree top and shouts down in toucan language: “And you humans have really small brains, cutting trees and destroying the forest!” he turns his back at us as he finishes his monologue: “Now go forth… and stop multiplying!”

As we continue our way towards the river, I start wondering if this really happened. Was this just imagination, a divine vision, urging us to save the Atlantic Rainforest?

Toucan Attack — Atlantic Rainforest

Maarten Schafer -Schaefer -Author -Keynote Speaker -Storyteller -CoolBrands People
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Maarten Schafer

“I travel the world. I Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time and leave nothing but footprints.”