Land of the Lost Birds

In January of 2016, a group of ornithologists ventured into the Gran Caldera de Luba, an extinct volcanic crater in Equatorial Guinea off the west coast of Africa to study birds. The country is a former Spanish colony under the rule of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, currently the longest-ruling leader in Africa, and boasts one of the most, remote, bio diverse and understudied ecosystems on Earth. Until 12,000 years ago, the island of Bioko was part of the mainland. Rising sea levels cut off the island and transformed it into a biological ark with the plant and animal life evolving isolated from their counterparts on the mainland. The country’s economy is based entirely on oil extraction and exportation, and construction, development and expansion are now threatening one of few, most wild and pristine places left on the planet. This essay documents an expedition into the remote southern end of Bioko as scientists race to document what is left.

In January of 2016, a group of ornithologists ventured into the Gran Caldera de Luba, an extinct volcanic crater in Equatorial Guinea off the west coast of Africa to study birds. The country is a former Spanish colony under the rule of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, currently the longest-ruling leader in Africa, and boasts one of the most, remote, bio diverse and understudied ecosystems on Earth. Until 12,000 years ago, the island of Bioko was part of the mainland. Rising sea levels cut off the island and transformed it into a biological ark with the plant and animal life evolving isolated from their counterparts on the mainland. The country’s economy is based entirely on oil extraction and exportation, and construction, development and expansion are now threatening one of few, most wild and pristine places left on the planet. This essay documents an expedition into the remote southern end of Bioko as scientists race to document what is left.

Johnston Atoll

Johnston Atoll

The Defenders

The Defenders