The Management Team of Gorongosa National Park would like to congratulate Dr Susana Carvalho, the Park’s Associate Director of Paleontology & Primatology, for winning the Philip Leverhulme Prize. The prize recognizes the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising. According to the Press Release from Oxford University, Susana is tackling the other best-known African primate model for human evolutionary origins, the savannah baboon. This is the unfolding Paleo-Primate Project in Gorongosa, Mozambique. Why here? Because Mozambique presents the last unstudied link in the great African Rift that runs from East to South Africa, wherein lie the two cradles of humankind. This prize will allow Susana to set up a Primate Models Research Lab, and base in Oxford the large-scale projects that are starting. This includes laboratory and field equipment, lab supplies, travel and subsistence during field trips to Guinea (to study tool transport by chimpanzees), Kenya, Koobi Fora (for archaeological excavations in Pliocene deposits), and Mozambique, Gorongosa National Park (archaeological and paleoanthropological surveys of this unexplored part of the Rift Valley). A pilot season of the PPP team in 2016 has already confirmed that Gorongosa contains key information to understand the evolution of African ecosystems and, particularly, the evolution of human ancestors.
The Gorongosa Restoration Project integrates conservation and human development with the understanding that a healthy ecosystem will benefit human beings, who in turn will be motivated to support Gorongosa Park objectives. Scientific research is an integral part of the long-term Gorongosa restoration effort, as a deep understanding of Gorongosa’s ecosystem will help park managers to make informed conservation decisions. The E.O.Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory, opened in March 2014, positions Gorongosa to become a premier research hub in southern Africa. The laboratory has already attracted regional, national, and international attention. Scientists from Mozambican and international institutions, such as Universities of Eduardo Mondlane and Lúrio in Mozambique, Coimbra University in Portugal, and Universities of Harvard and Princeton in the USA, have been conducting research in the Park. One of the laboratory’s most critical roles is to provide training to the next generation of Mozambican scientists in the Park, and also to send them to universities for advanced degrees. Several students, receiving full or partial financial assistance from the laboratory, have already begun studying for future careers as veterinarians, ecologists and lab technicians at universities. If you would like more information about this topic, or would like to schedule an interview with those involved in the project, please call Vasco Galante at +258 822970010 or email [email protected]