Colombia, wild magic

Colombians tend to get frustrated by the negative image that surrounds their country, especially (but not exclusively so) in relation to drugs.  Yet, as both locals and foreigners alike who have visited Colombia know, there are numerous positives to promote, even though this doesn't always happen. And perhaps the greatest positive is its wonderfully diverse landscape.

Colombians tend to get frustrated by the negative image that surrounds their country, especially (but not exclusively so) in relation to drugs. It can make life difficult when they go abroad, firstly in trying to obtain visas, then if they cross that hurdle, getting through customs of the country in question.

This harmful reputation is one that is largely unmerited for the majority of the country's citizens. However, via film/TV productions, many made by Colombians, it is often promoted both at home and abroad. The likes of the narcotics underworld as well as prostitution that emanate from here make for popular viewing.

Yet, as both locals and foreigners alike who have visited Colombia know, there are numerous positives to promote, even though this doesn't always happen. And perhaps the greatest positive is its wonderfully diverse landscape. Indeed, recognised as the globe’s second-most diverse country on the planet — Brazil being the first — it has pretty much everything you could ask for.

This naturally stunning side to the place has been welcomely and impressively highlighted in a new feature-length documentary titled Colombia Magia Salvaje (literally, ‘Colombia Magic Wild’).

Filmed over the last number of years, the work brought together some of the world’s best nature documentary makers and this certainly shows in the cinematography. Physically witnessing Colombia’s beauty is one thing; making it look just as breathtaking on film is another. Those behind Colombia Magia Salvaje have managed to do this quite well.

The concept is pretty simple: record a host of the land’s distinctive habitats as well as the varied flora and fauna that populate them, with one narrator to give the story behind these places and species, as well as the significance they hold.

The film takes us from Colombia’s majestic snowcapped mountain ranges down to its colourful ocean floors, exploring the many delights in between. Those include the Andean páramos, a vital source of fresh water and home to unique plant species; the vast Amazon jungle, the lungs of the Earth; the tropical rainforest of Chocó, considered the most humid place on the planet; the sprawling Eastern Plains where you’ll find, amongst other treats, what’s seen as the world’s most colourful river; the practically untouched landscape of Chiribiquete National Park; and the marine ecosystems of Colombia’s Atlantic and Pacific waters.

While the documentary will no doubt do its bit to increase tourism numbers in the country, especially when and if it’s made available abroad, it carries another, more important message. All of the places and species explored face survival issues, largely due to damaging human practices; extensive agriculture, mining, pollution, poaching and the like.

The message is clear: if care is not taken and our more destructive ways not amended soon, some of these special habitats and the creatures that inhabit them will be lost forever.

Colombia — as for the majority of countries in Latin America — is a developing country and is entitled to strive for improvement in an economic and infrastructural way.

However doing that while not completely destroying the natural environment is the key challenge; of course this is something that not only Colombia nor Latin America have to face. For one, the global importance of the region’s tropical rainforests means it’s something we all must address.

At the very least, Colombia Magia Salvaje helps to remind us all of that, in a visually impressive, unforgettable way.  

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