“The Cape buffalo is one of the main breeds of safety for Mozambicans. Their increased presence in the savannah means the consumption of a large amount of dry grass, which is fuel for the fires that today, due to climate change, are increasingly spreading, endangering villages and cultures neighboring natural areas.” Carlos Manuel Pinto, one of the principal investigators Maputo Natural History MuseumMozambique.
In his study, papers, books, and catalogs of stuffed insects invaded the huge skull of Syncerus caffer, the scientific name for the African buffalo of the southern regions. “I study buffalo DNA through feces, to understand the migrations of different herds, and the correlations between different herds a sample and interaction with the surrounding environment, in order to understand how restocking works and to manage human-animal conflicts.”
Dr. Pinto is one of several researchers working at the Natural History Museum in Maputo, A biodiversity research centeralong withEduardo Modlin University. Erica Helena Tovilla works in the neighboring biology lab, which was trained in 2016 at the University of Parma thanks to an exchange programme. Work on the classification of fish through DNA analysis. It is one of many researches that Professor Tuvela has been conducting in the laboratories of the Museu in Maputo.
Fish with the wrong names are often sold in markets. By tracking species, we can understand if endangered species have been caught or if they have been misclassified by wholesalers.”
It is also involved in training new Mozambican biologists. Students of the Department of Biological Sciences are welcome to be trained in molecular studies and how to work in the laboratory. In this way they learn the scientific basis for studying biodiversity.” Erica is part of a new generation of African scientists who want to take matters into their own hands Protection of national, marine and terrestrial biodiversityTo protect vital ecosystem services a managed to develop their country, from food security associated with fishing, to soil protection for agriculture. For far too long, biodiversity research has been in the hands of western watchdogs and experts from major universities in the global north. To ensure true protection of biodiversity while respecting the local African population, the transfer of knowledge and the training of local scientific skills becomes important A basic pillar of environmental cooperation. Mozambique is a clear example of how this can have significant impacts.
Biodiversity as a key to development
“Ninety percent of Mozambique’s population lives in rural areas and biodiversity provides a daily tool for survival,” explains Paolo Mesti, project manager of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (IADC).ace) in Mozambique. “It is therefore essential that we know at the local level what benefits biodiversity protection, conservation potential and future conservation can reap.” The African country that suffered from a long civil war that ended in 1992 still exists to this day One of the least developed countries on the continentwith a population of 31 million residing mainly along the 2,770 km coastline, is often home to vital ecosystems such as mangroves, cliffs, bays and sand dunes, and is fundamental to the country’s food security, given that More than 70 percent of the population depends on subsistence farming and fishing.
However, its amazing biodiversity constitutes an essential long-term asset. “Mozambique is a very diverse country, and we don’t even know all the species we have, the species of the marine world, invertebrates, but also birds and megafauna,” explains the museum’s deputy director of research, Daniela de Abreu. “This is a risk, because we risk losing key species forever if we do not accelerate efforts to identify and map species in our country. All research activity must go in this direction in order to intervene consciously thereafter.”
Mozambique – like all countries that are part of the United Nations – has Duty to protect at least 30 percent of the country’s land and sea surfaces by 2030. Today there are already several protected areas, such as the Maputo National Park and the regions of Banhin, Gorongosa, Zenaf and Limpopo. Often, however, national parks e Protected areas are completely dependent on foreign resourcesby researchers and projects carried out by scientists from Europe, the United States and South Africa. When you run out of projects, you risk losing everything. And decisions are not always shared with the regions. “It is therefore necessary to build local scientific networks and skills,” Misty continues. “It is an effort to decolonize biodiversity research and management, in an effort to benefit local development as much as possible.”
The importance of training African scientists
Not only is research necessary: management skills in conservation areas also need to be strengthened. “Maputo National Park must be protected from Mozambicans,” says Miguel Gonçalves, director of the park, a reserve inhabited by elephants, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, leopards and the recently reintroduced hyena. “The park and its biodiversity is a resource we offer to the world but it also serves Mozambique. It is therefore crucial that Mozambicans are well trained and prepared to manage and protect the species in the national park.”
For this in the direction of the garden, New structures have been set up with the support of Aics to host young Mozambican researchers The work on species control and research laboratories, “one of the components of a larger project that includes the creation of a Biodiversity Conservation Center, which will be the first in the country, located in the Museum of Natural History and Laboratory on the island of Inhaca”, explains veterinarian Gianluca Zavarano, thirty-five years old, seven of whom are in Africa To study large mammals. “It will be a matter of strengthening the analysis of terrestrial ecosystems and training new skills communicated to all state institutions.” Young female researchers learned to analyze data about species, observe movements, and Find out which ones its impact on the populationsuch as the young Mozambican woman, Lucina Antonio, who submitted an empirical thesis on the transition between wildlife and livestock from Fasciola hepaticawhich is a flatworm that infects the liver of various animals, including humans, by reproduction.
Conflict between man and animal
Conflict between humans and animals is one of the major problems facing any protected area in modern times. From Trentino to the gardens of South Africa is an important question. “Let’s talk about zoonotic diseases. The attack of predators on the livestock of the rural population or vice versa, the attacks of people on animals to defend crops, to defend farms or even to defend their homes. It is a very complex problem, related to various scientific components,” Zavarano continues during a survey To check the health status of the park’s meteorological stations. “For this, veterinarians, biologists and natural science experts must be trained.”
One of the functions that they will implement in the coming months will be Establishment of a terrestrial species monitoring network, less expensive than radio collars. “In this way, the park experts will have useful information from the system of behavior of animals and their movements in the conservation area and on the trails,” concludes Zavarano. “A solution that government and park managers could replicate across the country.”
Research infrastructures and collaborative projects
On the bay of Inhaca Island, once a Portuguese trading base, bird species abound, such as flamingos who appreciate shallow, calm waters. The coasts are dotted with mangroves that provide refuge to many species, from fiddler crabs to birds such as the trumpeter, which pass by dozens of fish and mollusks. “Mangroves are an amazing ecosystem: they absorb up to five times more carbon dioxide than a forest, they serve to maintain fish stocks by providing an essential place for spawning eggs, and they act as a buffer against the cyclones that often hit Mozambique to reduce ‘coastal erosion’.”
Tell The Incredibles ecosystem services One of these plant formations is the ecologist of Venezuelan origin, Paolo Ramoni. Around it bands of roots tangle in the mud, with the roots emerging like antennae from the ground to capture oxygen. “These roots are their peculiarity, which makes them able to breathe in any condition, even at high tide, and to maximize the absorption of carbon dioxide,” he explains.
Ramone is part of a new collaboration program for Aics, mangrothof 3 million euros, which will study and encourage the reforestation of mangroves, as well Promote alternative community activities to generate income and sustainable use of natural resources, all from a pilot phase on Inhaca Island. The basis is Estação de biology marinha Eduardo Modlane, born in 1951 with the support of the university.
“Here, thanks to the summer school, we will train Mozambican mangrove experts together with Italian students and researchers,” the ecologist continues. The laboratories are expanding, as are the residences of the approximately thirteen researchers currently working on the island that host various biomes, from the southernmost coral reefs on the planet, to vegetation-covered sand dunes, mangroves, and wetlands.
“Mozambican researchers from the university and other institutions in South Africa come to Inhaca Island to conduct research on the protection of marine biodiversity,” explains Professor José Chisewa-Dumbo who runs Estação showing cases with seahorses and eggs from a tortoiseshell in formalin. “At the center is a historical collection of crustaceans, fish and marine organisms that allows us to compare species that existed 50 years ago with those that exist today, and to understand which species are extinct, which have been reintroduced and which have changed. A true comparative catalog.”
Meanwhile, in the center of Maputo, at Museu Optimo Fernando Guivala, is in a taxidermy lab arranging a buffalo head. Everywhere are the heads and bodies of antelopes, gins, and impalas. Here too, the range of mammals, reptiles, fish and insects is enormous, if devastating. “We’re learning new techniques for sample recovery,” Optimo Fernando explains. This is also a way to be aware of The real biodiversity of the country and the changes that occurred.
The museum, which has been supported by the Italian collaboration for years, will soon be fully restored and the new laboratories will be operational. The goal is to make knowledge accessible to everyone. “It is necessary to modernize the museum part to educate our community, our students, from elementary school to university students,” explains Daniela de Abreu. Promoting the flag can strengthen the country and protecting biodiversity. Beginning with science, the seed of enlightenment that can guide us towards the development of a prosperous and equal planet.
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