Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Fight to Save Selvatica

Have you ever seen this photo??? This photo was sold as a souvenir at the park for a while as a black and white style postcard. If you have ever picked up a Selvatica brochure or have been to the "Meet the Staff" page on the Selvatica website, you would have seen this photo. You might be wondering, "Why is the staff posing with a big yellow fire truck instead of something more to do with zip lining?" Well it's because this was one of the most memorable photos ever taken at Selvatica. This photo represents the strength, courage and persistence of our Selvatica Family who bravely fought to save the park from a jungle fire!
One day during the very hot, very dry month of May 2009, one of the staff members mentioned to the park manger that they had gotten a whiff of something burning. Being in the jungle, fifteen kilometers from the main highway, you could imagine that this would be serious cause for alarm. So the park manager and a couple staff members quickly climbed to the tree house where the first zip line begins to get a better look, maybe see where the smell of smoke was coming from. It was apparent at first sight that there was something major happening within 5 kilometers and that action needed to be taken right away! 
"The Bomber"
After a bit of a very stressful wait, the big yellow fire truck was the first to respond to the call for help. It didn't take too long to realize that more help was going to be needed. The state of Quintana Roo had dispatched an airplane to take a survey of the area and to hopefully offer the team the information needed to devise a plan. Because there were other fires burning in the Yucatan Peninsula, resources were going to be limited. What would the next step be? Selvatica quickly became the command center due to the fact that it was the only place that deep into the jungle that has radio and/or cell service, thanks to satellite communications. Despite much effort from the ground, the fire was winning. Then, through the smoke filled sky, appeared a water bombing helicopter coming in for the rescue! 
As the fire began inching closer and closer to the park, the team knew that they would need a great plan and some serious muscle. So here is how it went down...One of the owners of the park commissioned a D9 bulldozer and the team got to work clearing a path. They decided that by clearing a path-like area through the jungle it would remove the fuel source that the fire needed to continue burning. This is a typical method used to prevent fires from advancing in a particular direction. By clearing that area of the jungle it also provided access  for the fire truck. Then they began to strategically set small control fires in accordance to the direction of the wind hoping that the two fires would meet and it would "sandwich" the fire out. 
After almost a week of fighting the fire, smoke and heat, the team was finally feeling like they had the upper hand. With the fire less than 3 kilometers from the park the winds began to change direction. Could this have been the miracle they needed? The fire began to burn toward the control fires and eventually it ran out of fuel. The plan had worked and the fire was dying down. It looked like the park and everyone was going to be OK. In total the fire consumed approximately 6 square kilometers of jungle! That was definitely a close call!
Our First Plantlet
Selvatica has recently started a public campaign to make a difference in not only the jungle, but the world. Every guest that visits the park has the opportunity to plant a seed and name it. We feel that when  you visit Selvatica that you take a part of us with you. This is a chance to leave a small part of your soul with us as well as bear witness to your legacy to the jungle. Once the seedlings reach a healthy stage for transplant, they will be relocated to an area close to our cenote Lukuma. This plantlet, pictured to the left is the first of the seeds to sprout. It is a very exciting event for all of us and gives us all hope for a better future.
You are invited to join the Selvatica Green Ideas page on Facebook! If you have a small or big idea, please feel free to share it with us! 
To see more photos from the fire you can visit our Facebook page Selvatica-The Adventure Kingdom.
Please show your support with the Facebook Like button!!! Thank you!


  1. The Selvatica Family just gets more and more wonderful with every story we hear. You are such an incredible group of people. So smart and selfless! I am honored to have met some of you and very thankful for all the quick action that was taken that day, so I was able to visit two years later! :)

  2. I too am grateful. I think of our trip to Selvatica everyday and what a great experience it was. Thanks to all of you who fought to save the jungle!