View a video titled “A Weekend Away on a Turtle Research Trip” produced by Robyn Fox, February 2015.
The Angola Field Group was invited to visit Project Kitabanga at its location in Zaire province. Here we joined some university students patrol the 3 kilometer stretch of protected beach. The Science Faculty at Agostinho Neto University has been running its research project at Kissemba Beach since 2011. Project Kitabanga started in 2003 at Palmeirinhas Beach, south of Luanda. The Angola Field Group began its annual Turtle Trips in 2004.
Click here to download the 8-page PDF “Luanda—the largest illegal ivory market in southern Africa”, by Esmond Martin and Lucy Vigne, from Pachyderm No. 55 January–June 2014.
From 29 to 31, 2013, the Angola Field Group was invited to camp at and visit “The Kumbira Forest Project”, a project which aims at protecting forests for the benefit of threatened Angolan birds. Kumbira is the largest remaining forest of the central Angolan Escarpment also known as the Scarp. Located in Kwanza Sul, the Scarp is one of the most interesting areas in the country in terms of biodiversity, and has 14 out of the 15 endemic bird species, six of which are threatened.
During colonial times, most of the forests of the scarp were converted into coffee plantations by clearing vegetation from under the trees, leaving the tall canopy mostly intact resulting in what is known as “coffee forests”. Then came the civil war and the plantations were abandoned. This allowed the recovery of the understory vegetation which may have been beneficial for the bird community, especially the endemics. Now that the war is over, subsistence farms are appearing all over Kumbira and the other Scarp forests. Not only understory vegetation but also canopy forest is being destroyed to plant sun-loving crops such as cassava, maize, banana and sweet potatoes. Charcoal production and logging has also been observed in the area.
We visited Aimy Caceres, the Peruvian biologist and PhD student researching this project, and learn about the efforts being undertaken to ensure the conservation of the forest. More information and photos at her blog: http://kumbiraforest.blogspot.com
On Thursday, May 30, 2013, the Angola Field Group hosted a presentation about the marine turtle conservation project initiated ten years ago by the Science Faculty of Agostinho Neto University (UAN). The Kitabanga Project started at Palmeirinhas Beach south of Luanda and now has extended to Bentiaba in Namibe province, Kissembo in Zaire province as well as the beach near the mouth of Rio Longa. Our guest speaker is Dr. Michel Morais who teaches in the Biology department at UAN.
Climbing Mount Moco – May 2010 Field Trip
Mount Moco is in the mountainous province of Huambo, on the road from Alto Hama to Lobito. We set up camp over half a kilometer from the village of Kanjonde, formerly known as Moco, which means knife in Umbundu.
At sunrise we headed out of camp to climb to the top of Angola – it was a long tough climb over uneven terrain scattered with rocks hidden under high grass but the stillness and beauty of the constantly changing scenery compensated for aching muscles. We descended from 1950 meters to1850 meters and then climbed up to 2620 meters. Only the first part of the trek had a trail. We crossed through four ravines and rivers and passed through miombo woodland before reaching the plateau at the base of the final ascent to the peak.
All photos by Henriette Koning.
In the two photos below, hippos viewed on the Queve River near Ebo in the province of Kwanza Sul during the July 2010 field trip. To book a trip to see the hippos, contact Raul Jose at email@example.com or visit his website: www.hospedaria-ebo.com
The Okavango is a truly unique river facing a very unique set of challenges at a pivotal time in its history. Unlike most rivers of the world, the Okavango flows not into the sea, but into the vast expanse of sand; the Kalahari Desert! The river starts as the Cuito and Cubango tributaries in the highland plateau of Angola where most of the water flows in from an approximately 120,000 km catchment area of diverse and somewhat unchartered geographical and ecological characteristics. Serving a lifeline of clean water for people, livelihoods and ecosystems, the river then flows in a narrow channel forming the border between Angola and Namibia for 1000km. The river crosses Namibia and enters Botswana in Mohembo spreading out to form the panhandle. The waters of the River then spill into the Okavango Delta; a unique wetland of global significance, one of the largest desert oases in the world!
Unlike most rivers of the world, the waters of the Okavango are clear and contain few dissolved chemicals, solutes or pollutants. The riparian landscapes along many of the waterways remain pristine and natural plant and aquatic life remains healthy. The river safely and securely supports people, their livestock and a myriad of livelihoods ranging from artisanal fisheries to small scale agriculture. The Okavango Delta, a unique and fragile ecosystem is a significant source of tourism income and cultural value to the people of Botswana.
This near pristine status of the Okavango is a byproduct of history and geopolitics orchestrated far beyond the borders of the River Basin that shaped the Southern Africa of today. Nevertheless the current situation offers the “guardians” of the Okavango a unique and time-bound opportunity to forge a plan to “have the cake and eat it too”; the opportunity to channel the rich resources of the River towards much needed socio-economic development without compromising the immense value inherent to the current ecological integrity of the system.
Thanks to Chaminda Rajapakse, Project Manager, Environment Protection and Sustainable Management of the Okavango River Basin Project (EPSMO) for providing this information. EPSMO is a joint initiative of the Governments of Angola, Botswana and Namibia represented by the Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
FIELD TRIP PHOTO GALLERY:
Angola Field Group Members gather together in front of a baobob tree during the August 2, 2009 field trip to the Miradouro da Lua (the Lunar Landscape)