Jungle Jim and Jungle Jen In The African Rainforest
byJennifer J. Bergin
Book Cover & Preview Text
“FASTER, FASTER, FASTER,” Jungle Jen screamed out as they paddled through the water. “I think I see crocodiles!”
“No worries Jen! Amarii says there are no crocodiles in this part of the Congo River,” assured Jim. “It’s probably rocks!”
“Rocks!??!” Jen yelped. “We better not run over any rocks with this boat! Gulp, I wouldn’t want to sink here!”
Jungle Jim, Jungle Jen, and Amarii are boating along the Congo River through the jungles of West Congo, Africa.
“I am so glad we met Amarii. He knows this jungle,” Jen reassured herself.
“It has been said that there are parts of the Congo where man has never been,” Jungle Jim declared.
“Why would that be?” Jen asked stuttering.
“These parts of the jungle are so wild. No one has ever dared to walk it. It’s too fearsome! It is very dark in there. The plants completely take over. Poisonous plants, plants with spikes, plants with armies of insects on them, and plants that strangle other plants,” Jim said.
“Well those aren’t very nice plants,” Jungle Jen remarked. Jen started to get that wandering look in her eyes….. and there she went drifting off into a daydream…..about her own garden back home…..
“Ahhhemmm…,” Jungle Jim interrupted. “Having sharp spikes, poisons, and dangerous insects helps the trees and plants survive. It is like their very own tree protection! No animal wants to go near them, let alone eat them.”
Jim, Jen, and Amarii slowly paddled through the water enjoying the green, lush jungle around them.
“Oh my gosh! I just saw something move in between those trees. It had lines on it like a zebra!” Jen gasped.
“An okapi!” Jim stated excitedly. “The okapi is sometimes called the forest giraffe.”
“What?! Giraffe? But it looks like a zebra with the black and white lines on the back of it!” Jen questioned.
“Most people think the okapi is related to the zebra, but in fact, it is related to the giraffe. The okapi has a velvety dark brown coat similar to a giraffe and similarly a long neck, tail, and tongue. The giraffe and male okapi both have horns. These horns are part cartilage and turn to bone from the tips down and are covered with skin,” Jim said.
“A giraffe’s neck looks longer than an okapi’s!” Jen noticed.
“Yes!” answered Jim. “Giraffes and okapis behave differently socially. Giraffes tend to hang out together, whereas okapis like being alone.”
“I can’t believe we saw an okapi. They are rarely seen!” Jim said.
Jim, Jen, and Amarii continued to row down the river. Jim was smiling ear-to-ear. He loved to explore. Jen looked uneasy and Amarii carefully looked around.
“As we paddle along the river, I can’t help but notice that there seems to be different layers of trees. Some trees are really tall, then there are those that are medium-sized, and then there are tons of plants and vines along the ground,” Jen noted.
“The jungle grows in layers Jen! The tallest trees are part of the emergent layer, the next tallest trees make up the canopy, under the canopy lies the understory layer, and finally below the understory is the forest floor. Different animals live in the different layers of the jungle,” Jim said.
“Look over there!” Jen yelped with excitement. “I think it is a monkey! Yeahhh I love monkeys. They are so cute the way they swing from tree to tree and along the vines. They make it look so easy. Maybe, just maybe, I have a banana in my backpack to give him.”
Jim smiled, “He’ll know where to find the fruit to eat. They are pros at that. They learn what they can eat and remember when and where to find the food again.”
“He is so adorable! I love his white beard, kinda looks like Santa Claus’s beard,” Jen said.
Jim laughed, “That monkey is called the black and white colobus monkey. These monkeys can even digest poisonous leaves that contain cyanide. Over time, they developed specialized stomachs filled with bacteria that neutralize these poisons. You and I would not be able to eat those leaves.”
“OH my GOSH! What’s that huge bird over there??? AUGHH, crouch down…,” Jen said covering her head and lowering herself into the boat.
Amarii excitedly said, “It’s the crowned eagle! He’s huge and look at him go!”
“But where did the monkey go?” Jen asked.
“He swung away and is hiding. Crowned eagles are more interested in eating monkeys than leaves,” Amarii answered.
Jen gulped, “Why hang around then! Would a crowned eagle be considered a bird of prey?” Jen asked.
“Absolutely!” Jim replied. “To make the bird of prey list, the bird has to be a carnivore (eats living animals), but it also has remarkable eyesight, very sharp talons and bills, strong muscular legs, and extremely sophisticated hunting skills. Wow! What a stunning bird!”
Jen was still crouched down with her hands over her head.
Is it okay to stand up now?” Jen asked.
“Yes, the eagle moved on!” Jim reassured Jen and patted her on the back.
Jim, Jen, and Amarii continued to paddle down the river. They were enjoying looking at all the different trees, plants, and vines. Everything was so green and beautiful.
“Some of the trees look like giant broccoli!” Jen remarked.
Jim laughed. “Yes they sure do. The Congo jungle lies along the imaginary circle that goes around the middle of the Earth,” Jim said.
“The equator!!!” Jen said with excitement.
“Yes and the equator divides the earth into northern and southern parts or hemispheres. There is more sun, heat, and rainfall here than anywhere else in the whole world. Tropical rainforests surround the equator,” Jim said.
“Jungles are so good for the Earth!” Jen stated.
“They sure are. The plants use carbon dioxide-CO2 to make their food. CO2 is one of the greenhouse gases and too much greenhouse gas can lead to global warming. Therefore, jungles help to keep this in check so that the Earth’s air temperatures don’t rise even higher,” Jim said.
“And when plants use CO2 to make food, they release oxygen-O2 back in the air. We need O2 to live and so do the animals. This is the oxygen cycle,” Jen said.
“Just as much as us humans and animals need plants to live, the plants also need us to live! This is so cool! Everything on this planet needs to be here; it is all connected!” Jen concluded.
Jungle Jim and Jungle Jen in the African Rainforest is the second in a series of children’s illustrated chapter books. Join Jim, a biologist and Jen, a city slicker, along with new friends Amarii and Kwaku, on this comical adventure deep in the jungles of Congo, Africa. Laugh and learn as they encounter creepy crawlers of every imaginable type, chimpanzees, gorillas, forest elephants, birds, snakes, and many more in a land less explored where anything can happen. Though the story is fictional, the facts about the animals and geography are real. ☺
Editing Team: Edward and Ruth Madziire
About the Author
Jennifer J. Bergin is a mother, part-time chiropractor, and cartoonist/author. She lives in the Ottawa area with her husband, three children, and two cats. She studies biology at Carleton University.