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Missão para salvar o delta do Okavango, em África
Texto: David Quammen | Fotografias: Cory Richards

Uma expedição ambiciosa no Okavango, um dos grandes deltas do mundo revela as ameaças que este enfrenta e a riqueza de vida que sustenta

Uma expedição ambiciosa no Okavango, um dos grandes deltas do mundo revela as ameaças que este enfrenta e a riqueza de vida que sustenta.

Visto do espaço, o delta do Okavango parece uma gigantesca flor espalmada sobre a paisagem do Norte do Botswana, com o caule inclinado para sudoeste, em direcção à fronteira com a Namíbia, e as pétalas de água prateada estendendo-se por 150 quilómetros, sobre a bacia do Kalahari. É uma das grandes zonas húmidas do planeta, uma enorme mancha composta por canais, lagoas e charcos sazonais que alimentam a vida numa região seriamente árida.


Complexos e em permanente mudança, os padrões da água e da terra sustentam a biodiversidade do delta do Okavango, no Botswana. Abrindo trilhos que se transformam em canais, os elefantes contribuem para o dinamismo da região.


Este delta não desagua no mar. Contido inteiramente na bacia, detém-se junto de um perímetro a sudeste e desaparece nas profundezas das areias do Kalahari. Podemos pensar nele como o maior oásis do mundo, um refúgio alagadiço que sustenta elefantes, hipopótamos, crocodilos e mabecos, antílopes das regiões húmidas, facoqueros e búfalos, leões e zebras e uma enorme diversidade e abundância de aves – para não mencionar uma indústria turística que vale centenas de milhões de euros por ano. Do espaço, porém, não se vêem os hipopótamos. Não se vêem os mabecos escondidos à sombra dos arbustos, nem as expressões de felicidade dos visitantes. E, sobretudo, não se vê a origem de toda aquela água.

A água provém quase inteiramente de Angola, país vizinho do Botswana, mas não fronteiriço. Começa nas terras altas húmidas do centro de Angola e flui em direcção ao Sudeste do país, rapidamente através de um canal principal, o Cubango, e depois mais lentamente através de outro, o Cuíto, onde forma lagos que também são nascentes. Escorre lentamente através das planícies de aluvião cobertas de capim, dos depósitos de turfa e da areia subjacente e infiltra-se até aos afluentes. Os rios Cuíto e Cubango convergem na fronteira meridional de Angola, formando um rio maior, o Okavango, que atravessa a estreita faixa Caprivi, na Namíbia, até atingir o Botswana. Chegam aqui, em média, 9,4 biliões de litros de água por ano. Sem esta dádiva líquida, fornecida todos os anos por Angola ao Botswana, o delta do Okavango deixaria de existir. A paisagem mudaria e não incluiria certamente hipopótamos, sitatungas ou pigargos-africanos.

As alterações que actualmente ocorrem, ou previsivelmente ocorrerão, no Sudeste de Angola tornam mais provável esta perspectiva sombria.
É por essa razão que os rios Cuíto e Cubango foram atraindo, silenciosamente, interesses em círculos importantes. E foi por esta razão que um grupo internacional de cientistas, funcionários governamentais, políticos e bravos exploradores, unidos por um fervoroso biólogo sul-africano especializado em conservação chamado Steve Boyes, iniciaram um grande projecto de exploração, recolha de dados e conservação da natureza, o Projecto Okavango Wilderness, com o apoio da National Geographic Society. Os membros deste grupo reconhecem que o bem-estar e o futuro do delta do Okavango estão em risco e que o bem-estar e o futuro do Sudeste de Angola estão igualmente em risco.


Termiteiras construídas no delta criam refúgios para babuínos-negros.


“O tempo está contado”, disse Steve, quando nos sentámos num acampamento junto ao rio Cubango no início deste ano, após um longo dia passado a remar os nossos mokoros (as canoas típicas do Okavango) rio abaixo. Apaixonado pela natureza, Steve teve vários empregos ao longo dos anos: foi empregado de bar, naturalista, guia e director de acampamento no delta do Okavango. Pelo caminho, concluiu o doutoramento. Em 2007 consciencializou-se plenamente da questão levantada pela origem da água e tentou alertar o povo do Botswana, mas a reacção colectiva foi maioritariamente marcada pelo fatalismo.

“Simplesmente, não estavam interessados”, disse. Essa apatia impeliu-o a agir. “Vamos fazer isto”, jurou. “Vamos tentar compreender este sistema.” Na verdade, para além de compreendê-lo, Steve esperava contribuir para a sua protecção.

Em 2017, Angola talvez pareça um local improvável para esforços de conservação visionários, mas também pode oferecer oportunidades invulgares. É um país muito afectado pela guerra, mas agora vive em paz. Desde o início da década de 1960 até ao início do novo milénio, Angola esteve no topo da lista de países a não visitar, excepto por mercenários ou compradores de diamantes.

A antiga colónia portuguesa conquistou a independência em 1975 após uma guerra de libertação sangrenta, seguida de 27 anos de guerra civil. Foi campo de batalha entre superpotências, polvilhada de minas terrestres: um cenário de grande sofrimento e conflito.


Estas hienas foram surpreendidas por uma armadilha fotográfica no delta do Okavango, onde estes carnívoros, que atacam em grupo, abundam. Também elas se adaptam ao mosaico de habitats do delta, das zonas húmidas aos desertos.



A situação alterou-se drasticamente a partir de 2002, quando a UNITA sofreu uma derrota esmagadora, após a qual grandes quantidades de petróleo começaram a fluir para exportação e os negócios floresceram. “O aspecto mais importante que temos para transmitir ao mundo é que Angola é agora um país estável”, disse a ministra do ambiente, Maria de Fátima Monteiro Jardim, num encontro em Luanda, a capital do país. “Estamos comprometidos com a preservação da natureza”, afirmou. O significado desse compromisso no terreno é fulcral, mas desconhecido.

A equipa de Steve Boyes tem a bênção oficial de Angola e conta com apoio internacional generalizado para realizar um estudo ambicioso sobre os rios Cuíto e Cubango, explorando cada quilómetro e alguns dos seus afluentes, examinando a sua vida selvagem, recolhendo amostras para avaliar a qualidade da água, observando a presença e o seu impacte ao longo das margens, criando um amplo e publicamente acessível conjunto de dados e tentando compreender quanta da água potável do Sudeste de Angola dá vida ao delta do Okavango, no Botswana.

Copyright © 2018 National Geographic. Todos os direitos reservados.


Para todos os membros recentes ou pessoas não registradas, muito obrigado por continuarem a acessar o fórum, a vossa ajuda é muito importante. Caso estejam interessados cliquem em «Last Page» para aceder às fotos mais recentes pois o tópico começa pela «página 1». É importante ressaltar que nem todas as fotos desde o inicio da expedição serão colocadas neste tópico, apenas algumas fotos deste ano e as que forem surgindo com o tempo.
 

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National Geographic have declared 2018 as the Year of the Bird, commemorating bird conservation initiatives and renewing commitments to protecting birds worldwide for the coming 100 years.







Over 1300 bird species across the globe are threatened as a result of human activities.
Every month, Year of Bird organisers will announce a simple but effective way that we can all play a part in bird conservation.







In 2018 the Okavango Wilderness Project will continue with our expeditions in Angola, this year focussing on the Cuando River.







We look forward to undertaking bird surveys and hopefully add to Angola's bird list and range extensions.







The show is beautiful and enticing, but please bring us water too!
The skies over the Okavango Delta have come alive with the atmospheric turmoil of boiling water, but the rains don’t seem to be following suit!
The water level of the Okavango Delta have dropped dramatically recently with the onslaught of the summer heat and its relentless evaporation, and now we need the rains to provide the topup before the life giving floods come down from Angola! We pray the rains are falling up north.







Living close to the water, being the water!
Our next megatransect surveying the health of Africa’s freshwater systems is going to take us down the entire course of the Cuando River, from its source, through Angola, Zambia and Namibia, across the Linyanti Swamps, into Botswana, through the Selinda Spillway, and finally crossing our beloved Okavango Delta!







The most anxious moment of an expedition is that moment when we are just about to leave a world dominated by humans, in order study the world that does not require humans, the pristine wilderness.
The moment when you can plan no more, and it is time to do!
As we approach the third anniversary of exploring the Water Tower of the Okavango-Cuando-Zambezi we realise how much we have discovered and how much there is still to unveil in one of the last wildernesses of Angola and the world.


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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Biodiversity is the sustainer of life on earth. As extinction rates are almost 900x faster than before the proliferation of the humankind, and we sitting in the throes of earth’s sixth mass extinction, the first to be caused by one of earth very own creations, we are in dire need of protecting the last wild places that remain as sources and museums of earth’s biodiversity. #intotheokavango is working tirelessly to present the strongest argument for protecting the headwaters of the Okavango, Cuando, Zambezi, and Kwanza systems in Angola to preserve this fountain of precious, clean water and the biodiversity still thriving in this region. We all need to add our voices to this argument to ensure the future of life!






Space for the big cats to roam.
Wildlife around the world is surrounded by inhospitable land, and this land is closing in on them.
Big predators, like this leopard, need large territories to sustain them, and we need to ensure this space is set aside for them. #intotheokavango will never stop fighting for these last wildernesses, starting with the headwaters of the Okavango-Cuando-Zambezi-Kwanza river systems.






Three-banded plover. Butterflies.






Getting to the one of the remotest regions in Angola, or even Africa, is no small task! Although the road is long and hard, the beauty that is enveloping around you as you go deeper and deeper, captivated body and mind. Join us on #Cuando18 to follow the team’s progress as they continue the scientific exploration of the sources of the Okavango, Cuando and Zambezi systems.






Mists over the Rio Lungue-Bungu! The Lungue-Bungu river is the main feeder to the Zambezi river from its western upper catchment in Angola.





On this current expedition the scientists are focusing their research efforts on the northern section of the prosposed Lisima Lwa Mwono protected area, #lisima18.





The second drone shot is of our first encampment, which was close to Sachisse village, where the peat bed agriculture can be seen. This peat is incredible important carbon sink and must be protected, the draining of these peat beds for agriculture breaks them down and releases the valuable stored carbon. We need to protect this peat worldwide!


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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White-fronted bee-eater nesting cavities in the banks of the Lungue-Bungu River.






Welwitsch’s Bat, only the 3rd record for Angola! (3rd photo is showing this location and past records).






The last record was from the 1950’s and the record before was from the 1850’s, so 60+ years since it being recorded in Angola.






This is a depiction of the rarity of this species, but also how the study of natural history came to a near halt through the years of civil war.






The morning air is thick with moisture. Even if it doesn’t rain, a great amount of moisture condenses out of this highland air and is absorbed into this massive sand-sponge where some of southern Africa’s greatest rivers are borne! We need to protect places like these, for the water, for the air, for us!





No better way to start your day! Waking up with the first light of the morning flowing through your tent walls, pulling on something waterproof and warm to fend off the dew and cold, and arriving at the fire to sit with your friends and team enjoy a cup of coffee, sometime in silence, sometimes a cacophony of chatter, these are the moments we miss most!





Only 29km from its source, the Lungue bungo river rushes toward the great Zambezi taking with it many of the species we are documenting during the #lisima18 biodiversity expedition undertaken by @intotheokavango and #natgeo. The clean, pure fast-flowing water beckons the #cuando18 river exploration team. Soon we embark on an epic 4-month mission down the Cuando river on dugout canoes.


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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While we complete the #lisima18 scientific surveys at lake Cuanavale, expedition leader @christurtleboyes connects with his mokoro in anticipation of the upcoming #Cuando18 expedition.






Contemplating the events of the day. An amazing time to discuss the teams diverse findings, from deep peat deposits, to unique fish found in nearby oxbow lakes, to bats species documented in the country for the first time in 50 years, these are time to share and listen. What a privilege it is to discover with this amazing team in this amazing environment. Photo by @jessartes






Isabel Fontes, @isabel_fontes66, trabalha nas áreas de nutrição e saúde em geral, está a trabalhar connosco para junto das comunidades aprender e partilhar conhecimento sobre hábitos alimentares e medicina sustentável.






Isabel Fontes works on nutrition and health in general, she’s working with us visiting the communities to learn and share knowledge about dietary habits and sustainable medicine.


















Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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Moments before sunrise spent contemplating the life of our beautiful female Golden Orb Spider that has her web over the pathway down to the Cuanavale Source Lake. She seems extremely efficient at what she does with her larder of wrapped up treats hanging above her. We do not see many of these spiders in this area, great to have her here!






An amazing team, doing amazing work! Another incredible gathering of minds and expertise to unravel the secrets of this scarcely documented region. Keep an eye out to meet the individuals and the fascinating work underway!






Moonrise after dinner! As we finished another hearty meal of rice n beans, the moon creeped itself over the ridge and lit up our post-refuel satisfaction. Simplicity is key to our productivity and interaction with this remote environment.






Delving into the historic records stored in these rare sub-tropical peat deposits. Here Meriska Singh @meriska.singh carefully catalogues the peat core taken from the flood plains of the Lungue-Bungu River.
















A lot of passion in this team! Meticulously documenting the biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates, Ferdy de Moor and Helen James exude enthusiasm and energy in maximizing their knowledge of this system. Ferdy de Moor is an expert in cadisflies, while Helen James on mayflies, their teaming up for his #lisima18 expedition has been invaluable to science. Here Ferdy attends his custom-built infrared camera trap for capturing insects in flight at night, and Helen in the background collecting specimens from the white sheet with UV light attractant.


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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We are only 4 days from launching our next megatransect! The anticipation for life on the river is boiling in us all! Purpose, beauty, and endless new horizon! Join us on #cuando18 over the next 4-5 months of discovery!






The wildest places have no roads. The expedition team has had to build a temporary bridge in order to get the mokoros closer to our launch point near the source of the Kembo River. This is one of the two major Angolan rivers (along with the Cuando) that our team will simultaneously follow from their sources starting tomorrow. Half the team on the Kembo, half on the Cuando. The upper stretches are unnavigable by mokoro and will be walked. We will attempt to follow these rivers to their confluence, and all the way to their end in Botswana many months from now. Photo by @steve.spence.tv






Can you spot our camp? While the environment works its magic on us, transforming our souls for the better, it is crucial that we leave it exactly the way we found it. To do this, the team goes to extraordinary lengths to minimise our footprint - all our considerable electronics work off solar, we use biodegradable soap, biodegradable insect repellant and sunscreen in cream form (never aerosols), organic waste is composted, loo paper is burnt (very carefully) and everything else is brought back with us to dispose of in a responsible manner. Our lives become simpler, easier and less complicated once jettisoned of physical, material and mental baggage. Photo by @kyle_n_gordon Text by Tara Kilachand.






From the #Kembo18 River team: We spent the last three days exploring the source of the Kembo and its headwaters on foot. Our first contact with people on this expedition were with Danny, Donny and Mattheus, three young Tshokwe fishermen with stick rods, a hand axe and their tilapia catch dangling from their wrists. They giggled and followed us for a couple of hours, bemused by the strangers in their forest that mulled over the animal tracks and testing the water in their lake. A young buzzard took off from the reeds ahead of us with an egret in its talons, only to drop it mid-air. The boys excitedly crossed through the shallows to claim their unexpected prize. Photo and text by @jameskydd.






From the #Kembo18 river team: Our first day of paddling down the Kembo has been relatively serene - with few of the obstacles that may be headed our way. Curves as twisty as a pretzel, currents that can send even the most experienced poler lurching to regain balance and a maze thick with tree branches that catch us from above and below. Now imagine navigating all of this in mokoros laden with food, power supplies, camera equipment and people - that’s about 300kgs per mokoro!





From the #kembo18 team: After a day’s walk through an ancient miombo woodland we came to a place we knew only from satellite imagery. As we continued the forest began to clear ahead of us into the beginning of a valley. The trees gave way to a path of grass, and soon the grass gave way to a floodplain of sedges, indicators of water below the surface.






The ground was littered with the tracks of roan antelope and oribi, and flocks of marsh widowbirds rose to the air like seeds from a dandelion. At the first sign of mud we found a bushpig wallow, lined with a tiny regatta of yellow butterflies. Suddenly there was water above ground; at first it was hard to tell if it was even moving, but a few hundred meters down the first trickle could clearly be heard: source water!






Perhaps those very water droplets below our feet will someday touch the feet of the great elephant herds of the Linyanti roughly two thousand kilometres downstream...
Photos and text by @jameskydd


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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Temboé, Província do Moxico

Our chance to start understanding the ecological players of this incredible system. Every evening, as soon as we have found a suitable campsite, @frowinbecker on the #kembo18 expedition and @goetzneef on the #cuando18 expedition, carefully set their fyke nets to survey the fish diversity of the area.






#intotheokavango have surveyed over 4000km of river over the last 3 years, and currently have the most extensive continuous sampling transects of rivers in this manner. Can’t wait to see the multitude of species found, and maybe a new one?!






From the #kembo18 team: Like a duck paddling in water, the smooth glide of the mokoro is a deceptive indicator of the dexterity required to keep its balance. Something we discovered all too painfully over the last couple of days as we tried to battle through a passage clogged with water berry trees - it’s the green patch just ahead of the mokoro in the photo. Their candelabra-like branches, so effective at sieving the river’s water of plant debri, was also incredibly efficient at keeping us from making headway. Under the brutal sun, with little blues and monarchs licking the salt-rich sweat off our arms, the team cut a narrow passage through, causing one mokoro to list and rapidly start filling with water. Eventually we had to haul all six mokoros out of the water and along the banks to bypass the unnavigable sections, just about collapsing into camp for another night spent under a sky littered with stars. Text by Tara Kilachand.






Puy lentil and pumpkin stew. Garlic thyme bread. Freshly sprouted mung beans. Even vet koek which we greedily dust in honey and cinnamon. This year camp food has evolved well beyond just rice and beans.
This is entirely thanks to #kembo18 team camp managers @kyle_n_gordon (pictured here) and @rocksoon_ who are dab hands at pulling gourmet-worthy treats from a wood fire. Waking up well before dawn to get the coffee brewing, they are probably some of the hardest working members, setting up and dismantling camp after a full day of paddling on the river, including putting up a makeshift kitchen with condiments and dishwashing tables, and calculating with NASA-like precision the exact grams of food the team consumes with each meal (though appetites can sometimes stretch this to breaking point). Photo by @jameskydd Text by Tara Kilachand.






From the #Kembo18 team: We know to expect the unexpected. Sometimes we drift in serenity on the turquoise water of the upper Kembo River, but things change so quickly on these waters. What sounds like a gentle trickle ahead can in a moment turn into a capsize or a two hour portage. The moments of tension keep us present, the moments of exhaustion make us feel alive. Every day the environment changes around us, and makes us feel honoured to witness a river inch by inch. We saw our first crocodile of this expedition: a 3m beauty that actually bumped into @christurtleboyes in the lead mokoro before hiding on the bottom below us. The waterberry trees continue to make our progress slow, and our enforced campsite is on a very thick and steep bank of the river, but it made the curried rice and beans a delight and the campfire something to savour.





From the #Cuando18 team: We can’t stop being amazed by the clarity and purity of the water of the upper Cuando river, as well as the water of all other streams and rivers that originate from this region of Angola. The water is so transparent that our mokoros seem to be floating in the air. The sandy soil, the dense evergreen grass and its root-system along the riverbanks filter thoroughly every drop of rain from impurities. The white Kalahari sand of the riverbed further reflects the sunlight and the effect is breathtaking as seen in this aerial image. Photo & text by @kodilu / @angolaimagebank for The NatGeo Okavango Wilderness Project / Expedition





Temboé, Província do Moxico

Sharing the experience! Provoking thought! Even after paddling all day through unknown river courses, this team is still so energized by the experiences of the day to be able to burn into the midnight oil on slow satellite internet connections to try translate some of the beauty, the thoughts, and the purpose of what is being achieved out here. At least the setting isn’t too bad for late night office sessions!? Photo and text by @christurtleboyes


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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Ever tried rolling a sleeping bag back to the slim little tube it was the day you bought it? That's what it feels like each time we pack and unpack our mokoros. Things that fit nice and neatly the day before seem to magically expand overnight making the process of repacking more of a learned art than an exact science. This photo - taken right after a capsize when everything from a single mokoro was laid out to dry - shows just how much we pack into quite a trim space. It also shows the dreaded water berry trees - they are the dark thickets on either side of the river - that caused the capsize.






Exploring the crystal clear upper reaches of the Cuando River in the SE Angolan highlands has revealed a forgotten paradise known only to the Luchaze people who live here. They call this place, these rivers, streams and Miombo woodlands, "Lisima lya Mwono", the "Source of Life".






That is what they are, but this magical, wild place is burning every year, burning for bushmeat hunting. This damage cannot continue. The hunters are trying to support their families by destroying their natural heritage. In partnership with the Angolan government, we must find a different way for them to do this. Photo by @mauro_s3rgio






Explorar as águas cristalinas do rio Cuando, nas terras altas do sudeste de Angola, revelou-nos um paraíso esquecido, conhecido apenas pelos Luchazes, o povo que mora aqui. Eles chamam este lugar, estes rios, córregos e florestas de Miombo, "Lisima lya Mwono", a "Fonte da Vida".






Isso é o que eles são, mas este lugar mágico e selvagem vem sendo queimado a cada ano, queimado por carne de caça. Este dano não pode continuar. Os caçadores estão a lutar para sustentar as suas famílias, enquanto destroem a sua herança natural. Em parceria com o governo angolano, temos que encontrar uma maneira diferente de fazer isso.





The twelve members of the #Kembo18 team come from seven different countries: India, the USA, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Angola and Botswana. Ralph Moshupa is from Botswana, from a tiny ba’Yei village called Jedibe on an island in the heart of the Okavango Delta. His father, Comet, was with @drsteveboyes and @christurtleboyes on their first expedition through the Okavango in 2011. This is Ralph’s first visit to Angola, his first real encounter with fast flowing water, and his first time paddling (instead of poling) for such extended periods on a mokoro. Yesterday he learned that he has a new granddaughter, and we wish her a joyful healthy life blessed with pure water and nature in abundance. It will be many months before he gets to meet her. Photo and text by @jameskydd






From the #Cuando18 team: Again we are lucky to have found another beautiful campsite that tonight is illuminated by a half moon which helps show our way back to the tents from the campfire where we just had our dinner - the tastiest beans and rice in the world! So far this is the flattest ground we’ve had and the white Kalahari sand offers additional, natural cushioning for our tired bodies. Awesome! While gathered around the campfire we heard the call of a jackal in the distance. Exciting! Before going off to bed, we stand to stare in amazement at the starry sky that even the moon can’t outshine. There is zero light pollution around us for hundreds of kilometers. We wish everyone a nice and peaceful evening. Photo by @kodilu / @angolaimagebank for The NatGeo Okavango Wilderness Project


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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In the mist belt of the Angolan Highlands we have unabated views of the stars at night, but mornings bring the clouds straight to our tents in the frigid mornings. An amazing fading mist that runs from the rising sun to announce another beautiful day in this paradise. Photo: @mauro_s3rgio












Our support team of @rainervonbrandis @skootyb and @maansbooysen are instrumental in getting us to places (like the Cuanavale source from where we began the expedition) and getting things to us (like the very vital resupply we received from them a few days ago). Their land journeys often involve many hours spent criss-crossing the woodlands in their land cruisers - and on occasion using the hood to gaze at a starlit sky. Photo by @rainervonbrandis






From the #Kembo18 team:
Another day has passed and still this river forest will not release us from its clutches. From where we sit at the campfire tonight we can hear the tiny waterfall that we camped next to last night. While the #Cuando18 team are making 20km a day as the crow flies towards our meeting point at the confluence, this is the third day in a row that we have made only about 1km of straight line progress. The current is strong and the branches of the waterberry trees constantly reach out hungrily towards our mokoros, ready to swallow the slightest error in judgement. After another frustrating and stressful three hours on the water expedition leader @christurtleboyes anchored his mokoro to the bank and walked ahead to see what waited for us. On return, though his body language already spoke volumes, he used a word I had not heard him use before. “Impossible....”. The moment has come that we have been dreading since that first week of the #Cuito15 expedition. Tomorrow we will don the harnesses and attempt to haul our mokoros over land.






Field researcher @frowinbecker conducts and manages all research activities on the #kembo18 expedition. These range from wetland bird observations, setting traps for invasive species like the Australian redclaw crayfish (photo 1) to sampling the river’s fish (photo 2), recording bat calls and testing the quality of the very water that breathes life into this dynamic system (photo 3). Identifying, as well as understanding keystone drivers and potential threats to the natural environment lays the foundation for its protection. Collecting this information helps policy makers and the public to realise the value of certain ecosystems - whether cultural, economic or environmental. As a Namibian himself, Frowin cherishes the opportunity to directly contribute to the long-term environmental protection and water security of his home country and the entire region - the primary objective of @intotheokavango Photos by @jameskydd.












Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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We heard the rumbling of rapids, but saw none on the river? So we set up camp and explored up a tributary following the sound of boiling water, to find this beautiful hollow buried in the trees. After clambering down through the canopy of the trees we found this place of peaceful white noise, I could have stayed there much longer, but the journey down the Kembo River, #kembo18, must continue with many more discoveries to come!






From the #Cuando18 team: what everyone was hoping for. Paddling starts at 9am and very little can stop us before our 1pm lunch break. Having passed a few of these heavenly river side beaches, our paddle strokes growing heavy, and the sun pounding down on us, anticipation mounted. Such a relief to put our feet (or in some cases whole bodies) in the cool crystal clear waters of the Cuando river we are exploring. Text by @lukemanson, photo by @kodilu / @angolaimagebank for The NatGeo Okavango Wilderness Project / Expedition.






From the #kembo18 river team: We wake at dawn, heading immediately to the fire, to cup a warm tin of oily coffee and let the fire dry off the condensation clinging to our clothes. The mist swirls around us and we luxuriate in this moment - the stillness of a day just beginning, before the caffeine kicks in and the slog begins. Text by Tara Kilachand. Photo by @jameskydd.






The trees of the Kembo River block our path at every turn. The last five days we have progressed five kilometres as the crow flies. So much rests on the shoulders of expedition leader @christurtleboyes. As the days pass and the confluence with the Cuando seems somehow further away, the stresses will mount. He is inevitably responsible for everything from rationing supplies to team morale (which by the way, is high). Most importantly, right now, he is the path finder, the navigator in the lead mokoro. The first to face the sudden turns and hidden surprises in the current, the first to be sucked towards the waiting arms of the trees, and the first to have to forge a tunnel through this seemingly endless water forest.
Photo and text by @jameskydd.






From the #kembo18 river team: We are changing. Our voices are softer, our limbs now purposeful in their movement, our minds cleared of mental cobwebs. Our senses are heightened: to the alarm call of a bulbul (a snake or owl perhaps?), to the therapeutic crackle of the evening fire, to a rustling in the bushes that astonishes all of us when a baby oribi scampers out of it. Instead of the cacophonous assault of urban noises we live by the river's symphony, to the gurgles, gushes and gulps that alert us to changes in the water's flow. Mother Nature has made mothers of us all - we are now finely attuned to the cries and coos of what is around us, attending to the calls like a new mother to her infant. We hear the crescendo of wind as it whooshes in from afar, the drum bass of a bee drone as they swarm to find a new hive. A jackal alarm calling in the distance and a hyena howling in the late hours of the night. These sounds delight and thrill us because they tell us that these forgotten places have life in them yet, and that nurtured once more and allowed to regenerate they will teem. Photo by @jameskydd | Text by Tara Kilachand.





From the #kembo18 river team: No matter how arduous the day's paddle, our days rarely end at dinner. That's when field technician @frowinbecker cameraman @jessecharlesg (pictured here) photographer @jameskydd and social media storyteller Tara Kilachand head to the two production tents to start sifting through the day's findings. All scientific data is uploaded to a web-based platform where it is made freely available to the public (this includes the heart rates of the team captains as they paddle), terabytes worth of video and drone footage is downloaded and backed up, and photographs and text pulled together for stories and posts. Working off a temperamental and achingly slow satellite wifi router provides its own set of challenges, often keeping the team up well past bedtime. But this lets us do something our explorer ancestors would have probably deeply appreciated - giving people at home real time updates of a journey deep into the heart of remote wilderness. Photo by @jameskydd.





Every time our tents come down they are joined with the near certainty that we will not be returning to this place again. Our blood sweat and tears bond us in a way no other experiences can. While we miss our families, we realize here a new kind of family. Photo by: @mauro_s3rgio


Créditos : Into the Okavango

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·



A little piece of paradise! Each night we have the privilege to find a new campsite and then wander, laden with gear, to find that perfect piece of flat land that will be home for the evening. Even after the longest of days on the water, energy will be found to go that extra bit further with the bags to make the most of your one evening and morning in this magical new place! Photo and text by @christurtleboyes.






Singue. Stick insect. Bicho-pau. A perfect example of living as one with the surrounding environment. Maybe one day we can turn our footsteps into something as neutral as this insect. Photo: @mauro_s3rgio
#IntoTheOkavango #HomeStay2017 #AngolanExpedition

Singue. Stick insect. Bicho-pau. Um exemplo perfeito de como viver em uníssimo com o ambiente. Talvez um dia as nossas pegadas possam ser tão neutras como este insecto.







Soba André, the ruler of Samununga, is certainly one of the most memorable figures of our visits to the villages. Always welcoming us with open arms, he makes sure we have everything we need from his community to do our work and to feel welcome when we get here. This cooperation allows us to accelerate the programs of environmental education, "homestay" or accommodation in the village, tourist guides and gastronomic experience in Samununga. Without his friendly assistance, our stay would probably be a nightmare! Photo and text: @mauro_s3rgio #IntoTheOkavango #HomeStay2017 #AngolanExpedition

Soba André, o soberano de Samununga, é certamente uma das incontornáveis figuras das nossas visitas pelas aldeias. Sempre nos recebendo de abraços abertos, ele certifica-se que temos tudo que precisamos da sua comunidade para desempenharmos o nosso trabalho e para que nos sintamos bem-vindos quando aqui chegamos. Esta cooperação permite-nos acelerar os programas de educação ambiental, "homestay" ou alojamento na aldeia, guias turísticos e experiência gastronômica dentro de Samununga. Sem a sua simpática colaboração, a nossa estadia seria provavelmente um pesadelo!






It doesn't matter if you are in the busy corners of Luanda or in the middle of the forest in Moxico. Fridays in Angola represent the prelude of freedom. We put aside all the work, struggle or anything that bothered us during the week to connect with everything that makes us humans! Photo and text by @mauro_s3rgio #IntoTheOkavango #HomeStay2017 #AngolanExpedition

Não importa se estás na correria de Luanda ou no meio da floresta do Moxico. Sextas em Angola representam o prelúdio da liberdade. Colocamos tudo no chão, trabalho, lutas ou qualquer outra coisa que nos tenha aquecido a cabeça durante a semana e conectamos com o que nos torna humanos!






Our first stop is almost like our second home. We have been working more and more with the people in Tchindjanga, including education outreach activities for the children. They are the future of the Water Tower and with their engagement we can potentialise the protection of this place. Photo and text by: @mauro_s3rgio #Intotheokavango #Homestay2017 #AngolanExpedition

A nossa primeira paragem é quase como uma segunda casa. Temos estado a trabalhar mais e mais com a população de Tchindjanga incluindo programas de consciencialização ambiental para as crianças. Elas são o futuro da Torre de Água e com o envolvimento delas podemos potencializar a proteção deste lugar.

















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Discussion Starter · #14 ·




From the #Cuando18 team: After 16 days on the Cuando river and a few hundred kilometers downstream from its source, the water is still drinkable straight from the river as seen in the photos above. One of our angolan polers, Jeremias Kwatoco, has a special technique of directing the water to his mouth using his hands while @goetzneef uses a mug.







One of the aims (among many others) of the project and the expeditions is to ensure that the waters of these rivers continue to be unpolluted and potable, and that the surrounding land remains pristine and wild for future generations of both humans and wildlife. Photo & text by @kodilu / @angolaimagebank for The NatGeo Okavango Wilderness Project / Expedition







From the #kembo18 river team: When we make camp every evening, the first thing we do is unpack the mokoros completely. What’s in them? Other than vital supplies, here’s an assorted list of some of the things we carry with us: 20 litres of gooey Angolan honey, 50 loo rolls (white gold) three solar panels and the heavy batteries they charge, machetes and saws, containers for sprouting our mung beans and proving bread dough (a much treasured treat), a 360 camera for recording the habitat, two drones and enough camera gear to fill several pelican cases, a water sensor, a bat recorder, buckets for washing ourselves and our dishes, and 18kgs of coffee (vital for our mental well-being). Photo by @jameskydd #intotheokavango #insidenatgeo #natgeo


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Amazing wilderness and a spectacular landscape, i hope Angolans move away from stashing money abroad and realize just what a good income they could have with the development of tourism. it will take the South Africans to be invited in first to show them how it's done, but this will be a good thing because in Africa people only learn when they see some else making a good income from an activity first hand. but there's plenty to go round if your quick to learn and willing to invest with patience. a good steady lifetime income is better then trying to hit the jackpot and that's what tourism offers. even for the villagers, a nice well equipped campsite for visitors could bring a nice extra income over the year with just a little investment and training from the government.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·




From the #kembo18 team: As winter sets in here in the Angolan highlands we are reminded of the constancy of impermanence.
We see the vegetation petrify in kaleidoscopic shapes, and know the forest is moulting, and that creatures of all sizes are completing and starting life cycles with every passing moment.

This is a lesson we are reminded of daily - to not hold fast onto things that will leave us, that will fade and crumble and turn to dust and ash and perhaps transform into something else altogether. Like this diary that went into the river when we capsized and came out soaked and misshapen, with some pages smudged beyond recognition and others like this one with a perhaps more interesting dimension than it had before. Text by Tara Kilachand.







From the #Cuando18 team: Winter has kicked in with very wet, misty and cold mornings. These dragonflies are fully exposed to the elements, waiting for the sun to come out and warm them up for the day ahead. Photo/text by @goetzneef







From the #kembo18 team: The first full moon of this river expedition, the first of what could potentially turn out to be five that we will witness out here! It’s 4.30am and as I look out over this breathtaking vista, am filled with both excitement and trepidation at this mammoth task ahead of us - the exploration of the Cuando river system. The first 60-odd km of the Kembo have been agonisingly slow. On some days we’ve advanced less than a kilometer. Definitely a test of our patience and combined willpower. The next 2,400km will test us in ways I can’t even imagine. Photo and text by @kyle_n_gordon


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·


Into the Okavango - Wilderness Project
Link Aqui








About the Okavango Wilderness Project



The greater Okavango River Basin is the largest freshwater wetland in southern Africa—and the main source of water for a million people. Its delta, located in northern Botswana, is one of Africa’s richest places for biodiversity, and home to the world’s largest remaining elephant population as well as lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hundreds of species of birds. But the delta’s future is uncertain. Its health is linked to that of rivers that originate in Angola, then converge and flow through Namibia into Botswana. These rivers are vital to the region’s future, but are currently unprotected outside of Botswana.

Beginning in 2015, National Geographic Explorer Dr. Steve Boyes and an interdisciplinary team including Angolan, Namibian, and South African scientists began working together to explore and protect the rivers in Angola. Through a series of unique canoe- and mountain bike–based expeditions into the least known, most inaccessible parts of the watershed in southeastern Angola, they have been surveying the sources of the river systems and collecting data to help inform strategies to protect them.

The team is using their scientific and survey work to build connections among governments, non-governmental organizations, and local communities to help inform planning for the long-term goal of establishing sustainable management of the Okavango watershed’s source rivers to protect them forever.



Cuando Source Lakes and River Transect

#INTOTHEOKAVANGO
MAY THROUGH JULY 2018




Cuando Source Lake and River Transect


TOP IMAGE: PETE MULLER

The Route

The Okavango Wilderness Project’s 2018 expedition focuses on the eastern-most section of their survey area in Angola. This year’s ambitious trek will take the team down the length of the Cuando River, a journey that will allow them to explore the intersection of the Okavango and Zambezi Basins, two of the largest in southern Africa.

The Cuando River expedition will take the team through four countries, originating in the central plateau of Angola, straddling the border of Zambia, flowing through Namibia, and culminating in the Linyanti swamps on the border of Botswana. If seasonal flooding allows, the Okavango Wilderness Project team will be able to study the unique floodway that develops in years of particularly high rainfall and connects the Okavango and Zambezi Basins through the Selinda Spillway.

Much of the 2018 expedition will cover uncharted territory among the vast marshy floodplains and endless channels of southeastern Angola.

The Mission

This expedition marks the culmination of a four-year endeavor to explore the vast wilderness surrounding the source lakes of the Angolan highlands and trace the water that feeds the Okavango Delta from its source. The team’s previous treks explored the two other major river systems that feed the Okavango Delta: the Cuito and the Cubango Rivers. This year, the Okavango Wilderness Project is studying the Cuando River, venturing into the heart of the region and trekking through the remote reaches of the Basin in search of evidence of Africa’s most iconic wildlife.

The team will start at the origin of the river in the Angolan highlands, setting up camera traps and conducting surveys to document the biodiversity in the area before setting off down the Cuando River. Two teams will launch separately at two of the river’s tributaries before reuniting at the confluence of the rivers. As they make their way south in their mokoros, or traditional canoes, the team will continuously gather data on wildlife and water quality to better understand the impact of human activity in the region and inform the development of policies to protect this important landscape.

© 1996 - 2018 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.

 

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From the #kembo18 river team: Mokoro captains and step-brothers Elias (at right) and Augusto have grown up living off the river - fishing, bathing, poling down it in wooden mokoros since they were children. Though grateful for the employment opportunity with this project they have different aspirations for their future: 20-year-old Augusto wishes to teach Portuguese and maths and 28-year-old Elias wants to be an automobile mechanic.
Their wish for the future of this river?

Elias says he would like people to have the curiosity to learn about the river, to be filled with the need to come experience this environment and enjoy what this area of the country has to offer. Seeing firsthand the challenges these ecosystems face from human pressure, he confesses he feels sad. "We depend on this environment to survive," he says. "Trees also need air just like us so destroying this environment means destroying ourselves." Text by Tara Kilachand #intotheokavango #natgeo #insidenatgeo







From the #kembo18 river team: 3.2km straight line. With the trees opening up and the river's current pushing us forward we were finally able to cover more than our usual 1km yesterday. This was no small achievement compared to our average slog these past weeks and a hopeful indication of how close we are to reaching the flood plains. Snaking our way through hairpin bends we are ever grateful to the Kembo for what it shows us - schools of northern barred minnows dart below the dimpled waters, canopies of goblet-shaped weaver nests hang overhead and our first sightings of wooly-necked and saddle-billed storks! Photo by @christurtleboyes.


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From the #kembo18 team: Hot meets cold! In the early morning, the bitter cold of the highland winter evening meets the warming glow of our sun, which slowly heats the mists that have gathered, and dissipates this water back into the atmosphere. The sun continues to heat up this river’s water through the day to such an extent that it is so much warmer than the chilled evening air that it literally ‘boils’ out at night. When filling a wash bucket from the river late at night, you walk away with steam wafting out.

This almost daily morning event is a beautiful spectacle of light and shadows, but it is also integral in the functioning of this land, with large amounts of water entering the terrestrial environment each day through it. Photo and text by @christurtleboyes.








From the #kembo18 river team: The 360 camera, used to photographically document the habitat, inadvertently captured this moment seconds after @frowinbecker and @kyle_n_gordon (just about seen on the left side of the frame in the river) capsized as they overshot a corner, and the current sent them crashing into a tree. This is the fifth capsize in three weeks - and while sobering for the team, we are now primed to react with lightning quick reflexes.

Elias and Augusto dived into the river to fish out bags and bottles and lunch boxes that were quickly being carried away by the rapids, the rest anchored quickly and hauled the mokoro out to the nearest bank (the right side of the frame shows Frowin trying to do just that). As a result the capsize resulted in minimal damage - just a sleepless and chilly night for Frowin in his wet sleeping bag.


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Chipual, Moxico
Créditos : Into the Okavango

From the #Cuando18 team: a few days ago we camped next to one of the lagoons along the Cuando river. The next morning at sunrise the air was so still (and so cold) that the surface of the water was smooth as a perfect mirror reflecting and multiplying the beauty of the water-lilies. Perfection and art in nature at its best! Photo & text by @kodilu / @angolaimagebank for The NatGeo Okavango Wilderness Project / Expedition















 
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