The old forest of Mt. Secone

The old forest of Mt. Secone

It’s hot, it’s steep and we’ve been climbing for three hours. As we crest the ridge we see for the first time, the huge trees and deep green foliage of old forest. The trees, with vast buttress roots, tower above the forest floor, while vines and other types plants sway in the breeze. Birds and monkeys call from the canopy, while butterflies bounce through patches of sunlight. It’s the achytypal image of rain forest, and the primeval habitat that has stood here for time immemorial.

This is Mount Secone and myself and four others have been tasked by Julian to find a route into this forest and to establish a satellite camp. As we move down off the ridge and into the forest the atmosphere changes. In fact all aspects of one’s senses change. It is a lot cooler (which is very welcome), it smells different. Damper, more earthy, and it also sounds quite different, especially to the ears of an ornithologist like myself. Very different species of bird occupy in this type of habitat and it’s instantly apparent. These patches of old forest are depressingly rare in this landscape but based on previous work on nearby Mount Mabu, frequently turn up new species of animals and hence the reason we have made the effort to climb up here.

After a bit of wandering around we find the only bit of flat ground available that is near a water source and set about clearing the ground for the tents. I say we, but as always in this part of the world we have attracted a sizeable group of local Mozambicans and they are eager to help, and they set about this camp building with astonishing industry. Soon the tents are up and a camp fire merrily burning in a fire pit while a kettle is put on for tea (no need for standards to drop). Put this into Google and you will see where we camped. -15.7359590, 37.2887450

We have a few hours of daylight left so decide to put out a few trail cameras to film animal runs as well as 15 small mammal traps. Catching and identifying the rodents here is one of the very real chances we’ll have of finding a tnew species. These are Sherman traps and they catch the animals alive.

As it gets dark we cook our dinner with the background sounds of the jungle at night. Bush babies, bats as well as a multitude of insects and frogs. An ancient place and atmosphere, and one I feel very lucky to be immersed in.

The next morning we check the traps. Of the 15 traps we put out, 12 have caught!! But more of that next time….

6 Replies to “The old forest of Mt. Secone”

  1. So exciting!
    Can’t wait to hear what you have seen! Primate list please!

  2. The updates are great Tim, am with you all in spirit! Sounds like a tough trek, but worth it to be in such a special forest. Must be fab to be hearing and seeing so many new birds for you. Good to see Rich on fire duties 🙂 Ah the cliff-hanger… looking forward to hearing what you caught, amazing success rate! D x

  3. This is a very exciting story and it is going in my homework on the Danger of Deforestation, thank you Julian and the team for finding this hidden forest. :-D.