Namuli 2016 Field Update in Pictures

These 17 images tell the story of Legado Fellow Alum, Grant Bemis’, time working with our field team in May and June as our Field Logistics Manager. Read more about Grant here, and follow his own own journey at withthewinds.com

Recently, I spent 45 days in Mozambique working with a wonderful groupof people who make up a small organization known as Legado. I would like to tell you the story of my journey through Moz with a series of photographs captured through my travels and experiences. Here goes! For me this adventure started years ago, but this specific journey began in May 2016 with two amazing individuals, Rob (Zimbabwean) and Geraldo (Mozambican). Between the two of them they have over 45 years of experience in community based natural resource management in southern Africa. After meeting up with Roberto and Geraldo, we traveled to the small, but bustling, city of Gurue. Gurue is the closest town to Mount Namuli; the mountain and surrounding community are at the heart of Legado. The view from my hotel window was an early reminder of why I keep finding myself back in Mozambique. There is something about the balanced mixture of humanity and lush greenery that just feels so right. After getting a beer, a nights sleep, and a strangely familiar breakfast, Rob and I headed to where we hoped we would find a car mechanic. With local guidance, we meandered our way to a school with an extensive workshop teaching just that. Before venturing into the field, we had to meet up with the rest of our team, Dias and Domingos. Dias, a good friend of mine, and Domingos, a soon to be good friend, both live in Gurue and work for a Mozambican organization called LUPA. LUPA is Legado’s Mozambican partner for the work on Mount Namul,and Dias and Domingos are part of the LUPA field team interfacing with the Namuli communities to co-build a plan for conservation in the area. Now that we have put some faces to the names lets dive in! After settling in and getting a night’s sleep on the mountain, we began our initial tour of the communities. What were we doing? Legado: Namuli aims to develop a community-based sustainable management system around Mount Namuli to conserve its rich and unique biodiversity as well as the critically important ecosystem services it provides to its surrounding inhabitants. We were in Phase III of this work-- interviewing all of the communities encircling Namuli to learn about their natural resource use and needs. Here is Roberto and Domingos enjoying a beautiful day, while waiting to speak with a community leader after a long moto ride. Nelson and Inacio, both born and raised on Namuli, are some very impressive moto drivers as well as wonderful human beings. Even with my poor excuse for Portuguese, it was great getting to know them. We used motos to travel the 30 km in and out of the mountains, where we stayed for three to seven nights at a time to conduct the interviews. Mt. Namuli rising up through the clouds.
Namuli is a 7,936-foot inselberg, is the second highest mountain in Mozambique, and a critical target for conservation in the Eastern Afromontane ecoregion. The Namuli massif is relatively small in extent but incredibly diverse and a part of the unique mountain island chain of inselbergs in northern Mozambique. It is designated as a Level 1 Priority Key Biodiversity Area by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, an Important Bird Area, an Important Plant Area, and an Alliance for Zero Extinction site. (Read the Mount Namuli Biodiversity Brief Here). Mount Namuli is listed as a priority for protection in Mozambique’s 2015-2035 Biodiversity Strategy.
The people of Namuli were extremely welcoming and it was great to be back on the mountain with them after being there in 2014 as part of the expedition which resulted in the film Namuli.. The majority of the people living on Namuli are Lomwe-- and millions of Lomwe and Macua people in the larger region consider the mountain their ancestral home. people in Mozambique and Malawi also identify it as their ancestral home. This crew greeted us while riding into Caruca. Sometimes it’s the little things that really catch your eye. I found these beautiful bugs on my tent, still wet from the morning dew. Nothing like a couple of cutie-pigs to make your day. Agriculture is the staple of living and survival on Namuli and part of Legado’s work is to support permagardening and conservation agriculture to create more robust food systems and economies with the local communities. While there are many people living on and around Mt. Namuli, there is still quite the abundance of wildlife, you just have to stay quiet and keep your eyes open. We expect this to be Juvenile Boomslang, but young snakes are particularly difficult to identify. As the tour continued, this beautiful stretch of path became the familiar road home back to basecamp. This is where the Legado field team is based for their work six months a year (during the dry season). When I left they were about to run their first permagarden training. Our last day of the initial tour brought us to the Nawiri Community. Nestled in a valley on the West side of Namuli’s slopes, Nawiri was one of the more gorgeous locations I spent time in. It’s views like this that I hope can give others a sense of how magical this mountain is-- and how much it’s part of the life of the people living there. Look closely and you can see the cultivated fields underneath the awe-inspiring mountain rock faces. It’s the combination of these two things that Legado is working to preserve and advance in tandem. Having visited all six of the communities surrounding the mountain, it was time to head back to Gurue to debrief and pick up the rest of the field team. Rob, preparing for what’s to come next, takes notes and plans for our time back in Gurue. You can learn more about Legado and support it’s work at www.legadoinitiative.org. Inspired and want to go to Namuli? Check out their Fellows Progam (I was one in 2015), where you get to take part in a 12 day program on disruptive conservation.