On September 20, 1999, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay began his “Megatransect” of the Congo River Basin between the Republic of Congo and Gabon. A transect is a survey along a straight line. Fay’s Megatransect covered a distance of about 3,220 kilometers (2,000 miles) and took 456 days to walk. Fay used a GPS unit to record his team's location every 20 seconds. The Megatransect team finished their journey on December 18, 2000.

The purpose of the Megatransect was to document sightings of plants and animals, evidence of human and animal activity, and vegetation patterns across a very remote area. The Congo Basin includes stretches of tropical rain forest, with species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. The Megatransect helped to assess the wilderness in order to determine which areas are most important to protect.

As a result of Fay’s Megatransect, President El Hadj Omar Bongo of Gabon created a national park system of more than 25,900 square kilometers (10,000 square miles).

assess
Verb

to evaluate or determine the amount of.

determine
Verb

to decide.

document
Verb

to keep track of.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

Explorer-in-Residence
Noun

pre-eminent explorers and scientists collaborating with the National Geographic Society to make groundbreaking discoveries that generate critical scientific information, conservation-related initiatives and compelling stories.

Global Positioning System (GPS)
Noun

system of satellites and receiving devices used to determine the location of something on Earth.

national park
Noun

geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

Noun

area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.

remote
Adjective

distant or far away.

survey
Noun

a study or analysis of characteristics of an area or a population.

transect
Noun

area used as a sample of a larger region.

tropical
Adjective

existing in the tropics, the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south.

vegetation
Noun

all the plant life of a specific place.

Noun

environment that has remained essentially undisturbed by human activity.

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