Mozambique: News species discovered on Mt. Mabu

Northern Mozambique in southern Africa had been overlooked by science
due to inhospitable terrain and decades of civil war in the country.
However, while scrolling around on Google Earth, an internet map that
allows the viewer to look at satellite images of anywhere on the
globe, scientists discovered an unexpected patch of green. A
British-led expedition was sent to see what was on the ground and
found 7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity, known as Mount
Mabu.In just three weeks, scientists led by a team from the Royal
Botanic Gardens in Kew found hundreds of different plant species,
birds, butterflies, monkeys and a new species of giant snake. The
samples which the team took are now back in Britain for analysis. So
far three new butterflies and one new species of snake have been
discovered but it is believed there are at least two more new species
of plants and perhaps more new insects to discover. Julian Bayliss, a
scientist for Kew based in the region, discovered Mount Mabu while
searching on Google Earth for a possible conservation project. He was
looking at areas of land 5,400ft (1,600m) above sea level where more
rainfall means there is likely to be forest. To his surprise he found
the patches of green that denote wooded areas, in places that had not
previously been explored.

After taking a closer look on more detailed
satellite maps, he went to have a look. An expedition was organised
for this autumn with 28 scientists from the UK, Mozambique, Malawi,
Tanzania and Switzerland. The group was able to stay at an abandoned
tea estate but had to hack through difficult terrain and use 70
porters in order to carry out their investigations. Within weeks they
had discovered three new species of Lepidoptera butterfly and a new
member of the Gaboon viper family of snakes that can kill a human in a
single bite. There were also blue duiker antelope, samango monkeys,
elephant shrews, almost 200 different types of butterflies and
thousands of tropical plants. Jonathan Timberlake, expedition leader,
said digital imagery has helped scientists to discover more about the
world. He believes there may be other small pockets of biodiversity
around the world that are yet to be discovered that could be stumbled
upon by searching on Google Earth, especially in areas like Mozambique
or Papua New Guinea which have not been fully explored yet. Mr
Timberlake said discovering new species is not only important to
science but helps to highlight conservation efforts in parts of the
world threatened by logging and development. Mount Mabu itself is
under threat as Mozambique’s economy grows and people use the wood for
fuel or clear the land to grow crops. “We cannot say we have
discovered all the biodiversity areas in the world, there are still
ones to discover and it helps to find new species to make people
realise what is out there,” he said.

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

Comments (2)

Jannie PanamaFebruary 4th, 2010 at 12:31 am

As a Newbie, I am always exploring online for articles that can help me get further ahead. Thanks a million!

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