How Google helped Kew to put Mount Mabu on the conservation map
In the week that Google celebrates some of the new scientific discoveries enabled by Google Earth, Kew looks back to 2005 when a team of scientists, led by Kew's Jonathan Timberlake, found the hidden paradise of Mount Mabu in Mozambique.
05 Oct 2011
Jonathan Timberlake and team reached the peak of Mount Mabu for the very first time in 2008
Discovering Mount Mabu
In 2008, Kew scientists led the first extensive expedition to the previously unmapped Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique – a vast, pristine area of medium altitude forest bursting with plants and animals, a number of which were found to be new to science. Its abundance of wildlife captured the imagination of the world’s press and put Mozambique’s natural beauty firmly in the spotlight.
A short history
Up until 2005, only local villagers knew that Mount Mabu existed. At this time, a team of eagle-eyed scientists, led by Kew's Jonathan Timberlake, found this hidden paradise using Google Earth while looking for potential conservation sites.
In October and November 2008 an international team of 28 scientists and support staff from the UK, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Belgium and Switzerland organised the first expedition to Mount Mabu and hiked up it, reaching its peak.
During the expedition they found many exotic plants, including a rarely seen orchid, and wildlife including pygmy chameleons, Swynnerton's robin and butterflies such as the small striped swordtail and emperor swallowtail. Three new species of butterfly and a previously undiscovered species of forest adder were also discovered. The team brought back over 500 plant specimens to record in Kew's Herbarium.
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