The first time you see an animal in the wild, it is always a great and good surprise. You don´t know when is gonna be, how it will be, and how far you are going to be from him. But when it happens this can make you happy, a joy coming from something as simple as that, but that reminds us that we are not alone, that there are other living beings there, and we interact with them in many different ways. In that moment you get to know that animal, you can listen to him, follow him with your sight and maybe he will look you back, you can see how big or small it is, and how does it moves.
For example, I was waiting for years to see a “monito del monte” or “monkey of the mountains” (Dromiciops gliroides), a small marsupial that lives in Chile. Is one of the four tiny marsupials that live in the country, to have an idea of its size in can measure between 8 and 13 cm from the top of its head to the beginning of its tail. It is famous also because it is hard to find.
On February 2015 I was camping during a volunteer program in the temperate rainforest at Huerquehue National Park, the natural habitat where this animal lives. Until that moment I have only seen photographs, heard and read about him. For 6 nights I looked around the forest branches up in the trees, each time for about 15 min before going to sleep after a long day. I was using a flashlight hoping to see two little white dots, until one night, when I least expected, it was there! Two little eyes looking at me. I looked at him for a while, it was high up on the tree, I grab my camera and tripod, and even though the distance and the darkness make it difficult to focus correctly I managed to get some images, then after some minutes I decided to stop shooting to leave him alone, I leave the place, walked a little bit and all of a sudden I saw another one! This time it was just by my height standing on clear branches, I took some few photographs, taking care not to disturb or frighten him, or showing him to other animals like a Rufous-legged owl, that would have been happy to find this easy prey. I took a last glance, thanks to him, and leave happy to have seen two “monitos del monte” in a row and for the first time.
The last time I saw an animal for the first time it was a Many-coloured Rush Tyrant (Tachuris rubigastra), a bird that lives in the wetlands. In order to see it you have to know where does it lives, how does it moves, and just wait. It happened exactly like that, after waiting it wasn’t long for it to suddenly appear, and there it was, tiny, colorful, and moving constantly around looking for food. It was a memorable moment, I didn´t bother to take my camera, I just wanted to observe it, later I would give myself the time to patiently photographing it.
But, what I am trying to say with all of this? In my opinion, after observing animals for a while, you understand a little more who they are, which are their needs, you learn from them, and start love them more. But also you can realize if we are doing something that has a negative impact on them, something that maybe before you didn´t know that it was wrong. When you get to know another animal you can make better efforts to protect them, so their specie can keep on living on Earth, the same way as we should learn to live all together in the same planet. The first time you see an animal it´s like getting to know a brother, someone a little bit like you, someone that pretty much has the same needs to live, an animal with which we share the world. Probably that´s why most of us feel happiness right away, we see our reflection in the other being.