The Lost Mountain is a project about discovery, adventure, and ultimately survival in one of the world’s least-explored and most-threatened habitats. Mt. Namuli, a 7,936-foot granite monolith, is the largest of a group of isolated peaks that tower over the ancient valleys of northern Mozambique. Here, plants and animals have evolved as if on dispersed oceanic islands, so that individual mountains have become refuge to their own unique species of life, many of which have yet to be discovered or described by science. Yet despite these distinctions, it is Mt. Namuli’s linkages to the surrounding landscape and its position along a corridor of mountains stretching from South Africa to the Arabian Peninsula that has gripped the attention of the world.
The Lost Mountain project is a collaboration between an international cadre of scientists, conservationists, global adventurers, and filmmakers. Our objectives are:
- To explore and document the increasingly threatened and largely unknown cliffside and rainforest habitats of Mt. Namuli, with emphasis on new species discovery and expanding known ranges for threatened species.
- To use project partnerships and collaborator networks to build capacity with a key local organization in Mozambique, with a long-term goal of local determination and management of an integrated conservation plan.
- To share the story of Mozambique’s forgotten mountains and the critical role they play in the survival of East African biodiversity.
In January 2012, the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund—an alliance of six global leaders including the World Bank, the MacArthur Foundation, Conservation International, and the Government of Japan—designated Namuli as a Level 1 Priority Key Biodiversity Area. In November 2013, the Lost Mountain team is launching a pioneering biological study of the cliffside habitat of Namuli’s 2,000-foot granite face in an effort to fill the glaring “Namuli Gap” in Eastern Afromontane species distribution. In concert with this expedition, our conservation team will conduct a phase I field assessment to determine the first steps of a viable and actionable integrated conservation plan predicated on involvement of multi-sector stakeholders: from local community members and businesses to NGOs, to local and national governments.
Today’s information driven world demands effective and impactful messaging. The Lost Mountain project includes a team of writers and filmmakers to enable long-term success via local buy-in and sustained global support. Media includes a documentary film, web video shorts, and in-country radio broadcasts to reach Mozambican, Malawian, and global audiences.
The Lost Mountain is currently seeking funding for the full project, expedition and media production in November 2013. Join an already successful project and help create a global dialog about the Lost Mountain today. Contact Majka Burhardt at 970-290-7822 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- First-ever herpetological and entomological study of granite face; additional studies of grasslands and rainforest.
- Identification of new species and range-extensions for known species including King Dwarf Gecko—observed on cliff face but yet to be collected.
- Build new knowledge base of Mt. Namuli that will have impact on global biodiversity, conservation, and our understanding of evolutionary processes.
- Led by Werner Conradie (South Africa), Mark Moffett (Dr. Bugs), Jonathan Mawdsley (Heinz Center), and Dan Portik (Berkeley).
- Opening of new climbing routes on Namuli’s cliff walls to gain first ever access to cliffside habitat.
- Preliminary expedition to Mt. Mulanje, neighboring Malawi’s highest mountain and a critical example of success in inselberg science and conservation.
- Exploration of the linkages between two of southeast Africa’s largest inselbergs.
- Success supported by experience and knowledge gained during the team’s 16-day reconnaissance expedition in November 2011.
- Led by elite rock climbers Majka Burhardt and Kate Rutherford.
- Respond to Mt. Namuli’s designation as a Level 1 Priority Key Biodiversity Area by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund.
- Conduct a Phase I field assessment to determine the first steps of a viable and actionable integrated conservation plan predicated on involvement of multi-sector stakeholders: from local community members and businesses to NGOs, to local and national governments.
- Build capacity with a key local organization in Mozambique, with a long-term goal of local determination and management of an integrated conservation plan.
- Led by Fred Boltz, Senior Vice President for Global Initiatives at Conservation International.
KNOWN IN THE UNKNOWN
Burhardt, joined by climber Sarah Garlick, herpetologist Werner Conradie and filmmaker Paul Yoo, completed a Reconnaissance Expedition to Namuli in November 2011. The successful expedition served as a rapid assessment of the area and established both the viability of technical access to the 2,000-foot face and the presence of new species. Current known and proven elements include:
- Successful exploration of the bottom third of Mt. Namuli’s 2,000-foot granite face via intricate and rugged climbing, accessing previously unexplored cliff-face habitat.
- Verification of extensive species diversity both on Mt. Namuli’s cliff face and in the surrounding rainforest.
- Observation of at least three candidate new species (awaiting confirmation): a frog, a skink, and a gecko, and identification of numerous important species of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants.
- Secured relationships between local communities, including the Queen of Macunha.