Mount Gorongosa is one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems. Home to an incredibly wide range of wildlife, the rainforest is a region rich in unique animals — many of which are also endemic species. Here’s a peek at some of the curious creatures that call Gorongosa’s rainforest home.
What is an Endemic Species?
Also known as some of Earth’s rarest creatures, endemic species are found only in specific geographic locations and have developed over many years in biologically isolated areas. Gorongosa’s location at the end of the Great African Rift Valley, a huge and lush valley that’s separated by natural barriers from other nearby ecosystems, has created an isolated habitat for many of those species. Because of that, Gorongosa’s endemic species can only thrive within the biome of Gorongosa National Park –– which makes it even more important for us to protect their habitat!
Mount Gorongosa Katydid
The Mount Gorongosa Katydid is a small but mighty creature that was first discovered as a new species in 2012. Living in the dense understory of the rainforest at the top of the mountain, it’s a nocturnal insect that dominates the mountain’s nighttime acoustic landscape, singing loudly to all who can listen. Unfortunately for humans, the katydid’s sing at a frequency several times higher than what an average person can hear, so scientists have to use special equipment to detect and record the sound waves. But for the katydids, these high-pitched tunes are a critical way for mating females to find calling males!
Green Headed Oriole
Mount Gorongosa’s Green Headed Oriole is a unique kind of Green Headed Oriole that is distinguishable by the white panel on its wings. The orioles feed on a mostly plant based diet of fruits, seeds, and nectar, with an occasional foray into insects and insect larvae. They’re one of the world’s rarest birds, and the only of its kind with a white marking!
Mount Gorongosa Pygmy Chameleon
Chameleons may be common animals in Gorongosa and across the African continent, but the Mount Gorongosa Pygmy Chameleon is unique to the area! The lizard was discovered in 1971 by botanists studying the mountain’s unique flora. Mount Gorongosa Pygmy Chameleons are only a few inches long (about the size of a pinky finger) and spend their days hunting small insects on the forest floor with their long, sticky tongues. There, they are so perfectly camouflaged that few mountain inhabitants are even aware of their presence!
Gorongosa Spiny Crustacean
This new species was only very recently discovered — so recently, in fact, that the species doesn’t yet have a name! These spiny land crustaceans are the only ones of their kind ever found on the African continent and have an uncanny resemblance to porcupines, as they are covered entirely in protective spines. Only a few species similar to them have been found in the entire world, in the rainforests of Madagascar and on a few Pacific islands.
These four creatures are just a few of the many animals found on Mount Gorongosa. As scientists further explore the region, they continue to discover new and unique plants, animals, and insects native to the area. And with every coffee purchase, you help support the incredible ecosystem they call home!