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Google Earth: How 'lost rainforest' was uncovered in Africa with 12 new animal species


The find was made by Dr Julian Bayliss, an ecologist who was exploring Mount Mulani in Malawi when he spotted a similar mountain in the distance that he could not find any record of. After returning to the UK, Dr Bayliss used Google Earth to pinpoint the coordinates, uncovering what is known as Mount Mabu to the locals – an extremely diverse forest unknown to plant and animal scientists. A team of experts from the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust visited the area now known as the ‘Google Forest’ and, along with Dr Bayliss, they discovered 12 new species of animals including new types of chameleon, snake and butterflies.

Speaking to Google in 2013, Dr Bayliss said: “People say there is nothing left to be discovered in this world, but there are new species to be discovered, lost worlds to be found.

“I was working on an isolated mountain in Malawi and I noticed there were similar mountains over the border in Mozambique.

“There was nothing written about these mountains, so when I returned to the UK, I was able to see Mount Mulanje in southern Malawi, which is a site I knew very well.

“I was then able to look across northern Mozambique and as I zoomed in this dark green patch suddenly emerged

“That was tremendously exciting because I thought this could be a lost rainforest.”

Dr Bayliss went on to reveal one of the new species he spotted himself.

He added: “When you enter into a forest, everything changes, life is buzzing all around you.

“We discovered approximately 12 new species now from Mount Mabu – this is a Nadzikambia baylissi – and I was lucky enough to find the first one of these.

“The knowledge information that we could benefit from as humankind could be sitting here all around us.

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African forests that are unspoiled by logging and other human activity are rare. 

The Mount Mabu forest is surrounded by areas devastated by the Mozambican Civil War. 

Poor road access, and its use as a refuge for local villagers during the war all contributed to its protection. 

No records of previous expeditions or collecting trips have been discovered.

In June 2009, the Mozambique government announced that they would establish conservation measures to prevent commercial logging. 


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