The Guardian

Mozambique: the secret rainforest at the heart of an African volcano

A ‘dream team’ of scientists scaled Mount Lico and found a wealth of new species
A unique site in Africa: scientists believe Mount Lico’s rainforest has never been disturbed by humans. Photograph: Jeffrey Barbee/© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org

Standing in a pit in the red soil of a mountaintop forest in northern Mozambique, Dr Simon Willcock was dirty but very excited. “Undisturbed forest is incredibly rare,” he said. “That is why we scaled a 125-metre-tall cliff with a pickaxe.” Willcock, from Bangor University in Wales, knew of no other rainforest in Africa that scientists can confidently say has not been disturbed by humans. “It’s a unique site in Africa,” he said, plunging the axe down into the chest-deep hole with a whump.

Like a villain’s fortress in an old James Bond movie, Mount Lico rises vertically from the land around it, the ancient centre of a volcano with the forest nestled in its crater. It was

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