THE EXTRAVAGANT RICHNESS OF AN UNTAMED WORLD
So far, the expedition team has discovered 11 species new to science, more than 60 species potentially new to science, and more than 90 species previously unknown in Angola. In terms of sheer numbers, an impressive 470 species of birds have been observed. Camera trap surveys have revealed the presence of Africa’s iconic predators including lions, cheetahs, and leopards.
One of the most exciting discoveries has been seeing endangered African wild dogs at the source lakes, an animal that was presumed to have gone locally extinct. Evidence of elephants has also been observed in the southern reaches of the watershed, indicating that the area could potentially host the herds known to frequent the Okavango Delta—but only if this important corridor can be effectively protected.
Years of past warfare in the Angolan highlands have left the region littered with landmines. While the land remains sparsely populated, the local communities have few resources and look to bushmeat hunting for both food and income. As landmines are decommissioned and roads open up, the potential for increased hunting and unregulated development skyrockets. Today, human-set fires along the river—set to drive game out of hiding—represent one of the greatest threats to the Cuito.
GLOBE BY MARTIN GAMACHE, ART OF THE MAPPABLE; PHOTOGRAPHS BY CORY RICHARDS (ELEPHANTS AND SPOTTED DOG); CHRIS BOYES (“WATER”), GÖTZ NEEF (“BIODIVERSITY”), KOSTADIN LUCHANSKY (“COMMUNITY”).