Research and logistics took a little field trip after breakfast this morning. The nine of us grabbed cameras, nets, and rubber bands (for stunning lizards) and made our way down the lakeside to explore the first few steps of the Cuito River.
With the first swipe of his net Dr. Paul Skelton caught over 20+ specimens spanning 5 species. The most exciting catch was an adult mormyrid. The African electric fish is nocturnal and notoriously hard to catch being that has the same brain to body size ratio as humans.
Our herpetologists added three new reptile records to Cuito 2016 expedition and two new to the river system. Two are serpent like lizards specially adapted to this environment. They have significantly reduced their limbs to the point of vestigial toes. One being more comfortable in the grass and the other in the sand, they move over the ground as if they are swimming.
Botanist David Goyder also had an exciting day, collecting a yet to be identified insectivorous (carnivores) plant more delicate than others successful in the area. In a nutrient poor environment, this little guy has developed sticky pores on their leaves to capture insects.
As dinner was about to be served, our scout team returned from a successful mission. They were able to find and retrieve data from the main trading village in the area, Tempue. This was a primary objective we were able to accomplish well ahead of schedule. While satellite images showed large roads heading to the village, they have been inactive since 1985 when the bridges were destroyed during the war. Small motorcycle bridges have replaced them making Tempue much harder to reach by car than previously believed. It also strongly suggests that we can expect villages along the Cuito River bank to have little to no contact with the outside world apart from these single tire paths.
The whole team is back together, at least for tonight. Just to make sure you get to see something pretty, here are a couple images Abhi collected...