Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s First Trimester 2016 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

Cangandala Park buildings under the starry night

Cangandala Park buildings under the starry night

The new year in Cangandala Park saw heavy rains and flooding, thwarting efforts to access the giant sable inside the sanctuary.

“Without being able to track and monitor the animals on the ground, we had to settle with inferring the dynamics from the trap cameras’ records, keeping me busy for quite a while. As usual we obtained plenty of photos, and even after filtering the data to exclude blanks, we got around 30,000! These included the usual species, such as giant sable, roan, hybrids, bushbuck, duiker and warthogs.”

This slide show is dedicated to the night life in Cangandala. While the majority of photos recorded by the stealth cameras feature giant sable and hybrids, it’s interesting to keep track of the well known other species in the park.

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Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report with more photos, and previous reports.

Luanda – a rise in crime and long queues in supermarkets. But in rural Angola the people are as friendly as ever, their level of poverty has changed little, they were always poor. And the countryside is as beautiful as ever. Get out of town and experience the diversity of Angola. Then share what you have discovered with a new Facebook page, Angola Ambiente:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/1045499302182009/
The Angola Ambiente Facebook page was set up to give people the opportunity to post interesting observations on all aspects of Angolan natural history. Contributors are encouraged to post photographs and observations in order to further our knowledge of Angolan fauna and flora.

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Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Fourth Trimester 2015 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

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Small herd of giant sable with the bull in lead in Luando reserve.

Both Cangandala and Luando are the only two locations in the world where the Giant Sable can be found. They are protected areas yet this critically endangered mammal continues to be threatened to extinction by poachers. Here is an update from the final months of 2015.

In Cangandala Park, there’s good news and bad news. First, the bad news:

“…there had been a poaching incident with shooting involved which resulted in one of the rangers being wounded…….. “This is another sad reminder that even in Cangandala, poaching still remains a very real threat…”

The good news:

“Other than this tragic event, things seem to be going well in the sanctuary where at least the sable are breeding well and look healthy.”

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                       Lots of calves and young in Canangdala Park.

In Luando Reserve, also good news and bad news. The bad news again involving poachers:

“…..another mutilated giant sable, tragically a very young female who had been collared in 2013 when two years old, and who should now be attending her second calf. It is another animal lost for breeding, so for the population it is as good as dead.”

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Angolan air force tracking injured giant sable in Luando Reserve.

The good news:

“On a positive note, the military decided to step up their support to the shepherds in Luando reserve, making a few joint ground anti-poaching operations with ministry rangers, and subsequently deploying a few weapons to the shepherds who from now on will be better equipped to tackle the poachers.”

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Some more good news, birds and frogs continue to thrive in Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve….

 

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Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report and previous reports.

Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full Second Trimester 2015 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, is now up on our Giant Sable page.

The major defining component in the Park and Reserve during this trimester is, “grass, lots and lots of grass”.

mercury              Mercury, now you see him…

just horns         … now you don’t!

“Mercury has now fully matured, and his behaviour is what would be expected from a master bull, calmly arrogant and imposing.”

005-0027-028-1-0-Mercury marking the territory at salina 19


The birds and the bees of Cangandala National Park (slideshows)

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Survival of the fittest in the park

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And the unknown

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Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report and previous reports.

Paleontologists at work north of Caxito.

Paleontologists at work north of Caxito. Photo courtesy Projecto PaleoAngola.

Dinosaur footprints in diamond mines… the oldest marine turtle in Africa … a 90 million year old new species of sauropod… These are just some of the discoveries unearthed in Angola in the last decade. The Angola Field Group invites you to Ten Years of Exploring Angola’s Paleontological Heritage at the Viking Club, Thursday, August 6, at 7:45 PM, with palaeontologists Dr. Louis Jacobs of Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas and Dr. Octavio Mateus, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Their paleontological fieldwork, which started in May 2005, is carried out annually as part of Projecto PaleoAngola: www.paleoangola.org

Angolatitan, first dinosaur discovered in Angola, 2005. Photo courtesy Projecto PaleoAngola.

Angolatitan, first dinosaur discovered in Angola, 2005. Photo courtesy Projecto PaleoAngola.

The results of the fieldwork in Cretaceous sites in Angola has been extraordinarily spectacular with the discovery of the first dinosaurs of Angola dating from the Early Cretaceous and also the discovery of various reptiles including monosaurs, pleiosaurs, ammonites, and fossilized turtles and whales. Dr. Louis Jacobs is internationally recognized as a dinosaur expert and six fossil species have been named after him. He calls Angola a fossil museum in the ground. Dr. Octavio Mateus, also well known in his field, heads up the  Museu da Lourinha in West Portugal which houses an extensive collection of paleontological specimen.

Angola field group guest presenter Dr. Louis Jacobs.

Angola field group guest presenter Dr. Louis Jacobs. Photo courtesy Projecto PaleoAngola.

Everybody is welcome to attend. In close cooperation with the Viking Club, this event is offered free of charge. The talk will be in English. Beverages and snacks are sold at the Viking Bar which opens at 7:15 PM. Coupons must be purchased. You can download a map showing the location of the Viking Club on our Join Us page. The Viking Club is on the main floor of Edificio Maianga, Rua Marien Nguabi, No 118 in Maianga, across the street from the Panela de Barra restaurant.

For Sale: Photo books, Natural Medicine books and other books about Angola and Huambo Dolls.

Less than 3% of small farms have land deeds.

Less than 3% of small farms have land deeds (photo courtesy Tobias)

Rural land ownership in Angola has always been complex, from the time that the Bantu forced out traditional hunter gatherers, to when the Portuguese moved thousands of Angolans from their traditional lands, to present day questionable land acquisitions by various vested interests. Today, less than 3% of small scale Angolan farmers have deeds for their land. The Angola Field Group invites you to hear What’s Happening to Angola’s Rural Land? at the Viking Club, Thursday July 23 at 7:45 PM.

Most land is held communally with the soba in charge or is owned by the state (photo courtesy  S. Borges)

Most land is held communally with the soba in charge or is owned by the state (photo courtesy S. Borges)

Our presenter, Paulo Filipe, born in Luanda, published his book Nós e a Nossa Terra, in March this year. He graduated from the Africa University in Zimbabwe in 1994 with a major in Agriculture and Natural Resources. He has also studied in the USA and in South Africa but his main interest remains researching the pursuit of ensuring that all Angolans are able to access sufficient, affordable and nutritious food.

Food security is a looming issue in southern Africa

Food security is a looming issue in southern Africa (photo credit S. Borges)

Everybody is welcome to attend. In close cooperation with the Viking Club, this event is offered free of charge. The talk will be in English. Beverages and snacks are sold at the Viking Bar which opens at 7:15 PM. Coupons must be purchased. You can download a map showing the location of the Viking Club on our Join Us page. The Viking Club is on the main floor of Edificio Maianga, Rua Marien Nguabi, No 118 in Maianga, across the street from the Panela de Barra restaurant.

 Do all Angolans have access to affordable and nutritious food?

Do all Angolans have access to affordable and nutritious food?

Basic First Aid Treatment of African Snake Bite and Snake Safety Awareness  – click here to download Word document.
 
 The Most Common Venom / Dangerous Snakes of Angola:
All photos are courtesy of  Wildlife Advisor and reptile expert, Warren Klein.
Scroll down for more details of presentation he gave to the Angola Field Group in April 2015.

African Rock Python / Python sebae

African Rock Python (Python sebae)

Burrowing asp  (Atractaspis sp.)

Burrowing asp (Atractaspis sp.)

Black necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis)

Black necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis)

Boomslang Dispholidus (typus punctatus)

Boomslang Dispholidus (Typus punctatus)

Black tree snake (Thrasops jacksoni)

Black tree snake (Thrasops jacksoni)

Forest cobra  (Naja melanoleuca)

Forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca)

Forest vine snake (Thelotornis kirtlandi)

Forest vine snake (Thelotornis kirtlandi)

Jamesons mamba  (Dendroaspis jamesoni)

Jamesons mamba (Dendroaspis jamesoni)

Puff adder Bitis arietans WKlein

Puff adder (Bitis arietans)

 

Puff adder Soyo

The most dangerous snake in Africa, Puff adder (Bitis arietans) here in defensive posture, can be found around the outskirts of Luanda in suitable habitat

Snakes in Angola.  The diversity of Angolan reptiles is poorly known. Due to the war and difficulty traveling in the country, very little research has been conducted here. There are no field guide books on reptiles specific to Angola; the count of Angolan species diversity remains unknown. But venomous snakes do exist. The Angola Field Group invites you to a presentation, Snakes in Angola and Africa, at the Viking Club, Thursday April 23rd at 7:45 PM with reptiles specialist Warren Klein who will talk about reptiles in general, venomous snakes of Angola and explain basic First Aid treatment of a snake bite.

​Presenter Warren Klein handling a large female python for data collection. The African python, (Python sebae) is the biggest/longest snake in Africa.

​Presenter Warren Klein handling a large female python for data collection. The African python, (Python sebae) is the biggest/longest snake in Africa.

Warren has been the head curator of herpetology at various reptiles parks in South Africa and since 2006 he has been working as the Wildlife Advisor and Reptile Specialist for the Angola LNG project in Soyo, focusing on the identification, safe capture and relocation of snakes and other wildlife. Warren maintains a large captive breeding group of snakes and other reptiles from all around the world at his breeding facility in South Africa.

​Venomous Black necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) in Zaire province.

​Venomous Black necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) in Angola’s Zaire province.

Everybody is welcome to attend. In close cooperation with the Viking Club, this event is offered free of charge. The talk will be in English. Beverages and snacks are sold at the Viking Bar which opens at 7:15 PM. Coupons must be purchased. You can download a map showing the location of the Viking Club on our Join Us page. The Viking Club is on the main floor of Edificio Maianga, Rua Marien Nguabi, No 118 in Maianga, across the street from the Panela de Barra restaurant.

For Sale: Pure raw honey from the Zambezi Valley in Moxico. Photo books, Natural Medicine books and other books about Angola also for sale.

​A Forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca) found in residential area.

​A Forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca) found in residential area in Angola.

​Warren Klein relocating a beautiful forest cobra specimen in Soyo.

​Warren Klein relocating a beautiful forest cobra specimen in Soyo, capital city of Zaire province.

Ivan is now a poor masculine figure, humble  and skinny, feeble and frightened, beaten.

Ivan is now a poor masculine figure, humble
and skinny, feeble and frightened, beaten.

Remarkably, out most popular character – crazy Ivan the Terrible resurfaced! Following an absence that lasted for more than six months we had lost hope to locate him alive and assumed he had probably been another casualty of poachers. Well, he is alive yes, but unfortunately…. he was caught in one of the many infamous snare traps that are constantly being mounted in the park and neighboring areas. He has become a shadow of the Ivan we knew, and if it wasn’t for the white ear tags and VHF collar I would find it hard to accept that he is the same individual… Our old Ivan, strong and proud, mighty and threatening, undefeated… is gone.
His left front leg carries a nasty ring-shaped scar, evidence of the cable snare that almost took his life. The incident must have happened many months ago and he must have gone through hell.

His left front leg carries a nasty ring-shaped scar, evidence of the cable snare that almost took his life. The incident must have happened many months ago and he must have gone through hell.

It is likely that the worst has passed and he will survive, but it is hard to predict if he will make a full recovery. This was yet another shocking proof that the poaching curse is far from resolved, even in Cangandala National Park. It is highly frustrating that in spite of all the effort put into the project by the various stakeholders and the very significant successes obtained over the past few years, still we don’t seem to be winning the war against poaching and the recovery and survival of this magnificent and iconic species hangs by a thread.
 
Visit our Giant Sable page to read biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Second Trimester 2014 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.
 

 

Valley of salt looks like snow.

Valley of salt looks like snow.

Back to the Salt Mines! Saturday and Sunday July 26 & 27, an overnight camping field trip to Ngunza, about 1 hour southwest of Muxima inside the greater Quicama National Park, to explore the ancient and historic salt mines of the Quicama tribe. In 2012 we had a field trip to re-discover the Salt Mines mentioned in historic documents as far back as 1593 (see last year’s post here). We found a large salina but didn’t have time to properly explore. We are now going back to spend more time hiking around the surrounding area.

Land of Baobobs, the Road to Quicama Park via Muxima.

Land of Baobobs, the Road to Quicama Park via Muxima.

Please note:
1. This trip requires several hours of hiking mostly on level ground.
2.  Participants must be self-sufficient in terms of camping.
3. A 4 wheel drive vehicle with high wheel base is required.
4. We will be camping in tall grass, capim, so take along a machete or shovel to level an area to set up your tent. This is the kind of grass that has burrs that attach to clothing.

Field group hiking to the salt flats in 2012. Potential salt domes loom in background

Field group hiking to the salt flats in 2012. Potential salt domes loom in background.

We will leave the city at 6:30 AM, drive via Catete and then right before Muxima we will head south west to Ngunza.  We will be accompanied by Angola Field Group member Serafim Quintino who is a native of Quicama.

Meeting point and further details will be provided once you are confirmed for the trip. As with all our field trips, there is limited space. Sign up at the Angola Field Group presentation on July 10 or by emailing: angolafieldgroup@gmail.com and state:    1)your cell phone number   2)names of all participants including drivers  3)whether you have room for passenger/s (keeping in mind space occupied by camping gear)    4)whether you are travelling from Luanda Sul or downtown Luanda. All Angola Field Group trips are at your own risk. There is a provincial border crossing so you must carry valid documents with you.

We will be camping in grass this high.

We will be camping in grass this high.