Forest’s First Footsteps

Forest’s First Footsteps

“Fancy coming on a trip to Mozambique, to explore a patch of forest that no human has ever stepped foot in before?”

was what I thought a friend Julian Baylis said to me on the phone a few weeks ago.

“[laughing] Love to mate, but I’ve got great crested newts surveys to organise.”

Turns out he wasn’t joking!! (I found someone else to sort the newt surveys).

Myself and a colleague Richard Young are off. We fly on the 8th of May for a two week expedition. What Professor Baylis hadn’t mentioned initially was that in order to do so we’d have to climb the sheer granite cliffs of a volcanic plug to get in, and this was how he knew no one had been in before. Most people aren’t that stupid and those that have been are apparently all dead. Killed, local legend has it, by pygmies throwing snakes at the climbers.

OK, so that was a long time ago, and we’re going with two highly experienced climbers (who are in their 40s and still alive – always an excellent credential for a free climber) and they’re going to rig up the ropes etc. that will be necessary to get us in. I’m imaging being hoisted up on a bosun’s chair type arrangement with an iced G and T clamped in my hand.

Of course there is a serious reason for doing this. There is a very real chance we will discover new species up there. As many of you will know species that are isolated from the rest of their population can undergo a process called speciation which eventually results in new species that are unique to that place. It’s to catalogue and describe these species that is the expedition’s main focus. In the team of 15 or so, there are world experts on the main groups of animals and plants; small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, insects and birds to name a few. The expedition leader is Dr Julian Baylis who has a pedigree in discovering new places and species, you can see his inspirational short film here:  The Lost Forest of Mount Mabu

Not only am I going with Richard Young (another Biocensus director) but Biocensus is proud to announce that we’re also a major funder for this trip.

I am going to write a blog while out there so please sign up here. During the trip I may have to blog via SMS message (we’re hoping there’ll be at least a 2G signal at base camp or satellite SMS options), but don’t worry, the detailed posts and images will follow as soon as data allows so look out for the updates.

Still not sure I should have left those newts?

6 Replies to “Forest’s First Footsteps”

  1. Please sign me up for the blog updates. I’m Richard Young’s sister!

    1. Hello,
      All the posts will automatically be linked to from the Biocensus Twitter and Linkedin accounts and Tim’s Facebook wall. Alternatively, you can now (sorry, it wasn’t there before) tick a box under the comment form to sign up for an email when new posts are published.

  2. Good luck Tim . Get back safe, we Carnot redo the table plan again !
    Love Wendy