National Geographic : 2013 Jun
gorongosa 117 about twelve years old, proved remarkably gifted hunters. They were eager to hear what I had to say about their discoveries. Torcida translated our talk back and forth, and at the end of the two hours I counted a total of 60 species, belonging to 39 families in 13 orders. We found strange insects and arthropods, most very small. There were a lot of Hymenoptera (the order that includes ants, bees, and wasps), Coleoptera (beetles), and Diptera (flies). Though we saw surprisingly few ants per se, one species was identified as a rarely seen driver ant (Do- rylus bequaerti). We also spotted a few birds, reptiles, amphibians, and one mouse. To most of the public the word “wildlife” primarily means mammals and birds, which have suffered heavily on Mount Gorongosa. People yearn to see large wild animals, and I am no exception. But wildlife also includes the little things that run the world—the insects and other invertebrates that form the foundation of ecosystems on the land. So Gorongosa did not disappoint me. On the contrary it fulfilled all the yearnings for adventure and discovery I have felt since my boyhood, when I was the age of my helpers on Mount Gorongosa and was venturing into the forests of Alabama and Florida with a net, spade, and collecting jars. j Naturalists for a day, dozens of children who live on Mount Gorongosa bring Wilson sandwich bags full of specimens to identify during the bioblitz. Mostly they find insects. “On the mountain, the big stuff is gone,” says photographer Joel Sartore.