Pico de Príncipe

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Map of the Gulf of Guinea, showing Principe in the chain of islands formed by the Cameroon line of volcanoes.

Pico de Príncipe is a mountain on Príncipe Island, the smaller of the two inhabited islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. The elevation of the mountain is generally given as 948 metres (3,110 ft), making it the highest peak on the island, but a trip to the peak in 1999 found that it may be lower than that, making the nearby Pico Mencorne the highest point.[1] The island is one of the volcanic swells that make up the Cameroon line of extinct and active volcanoes.[2]

Topology[edit]

The mountain is the remains of a volcano that has been inactive for 15.7 million years. The volcanoes on this island were at first primarily basalt, but later phonolite intruded in their cores. The basalt has been deeply eroded, leaving spectacular towers of the harder phonolite rising almost vertically from the rainforest.[3]

The peak has only occasionally been explored, with the first expedition in 1929 having established a base on the top. A second trip was made in 1956, but could not make a serious botanical inventory due to poor weather. The 1999 trip found that the mountain rises from a heavily forested plateau with elevation 600 to 700 metres (2,000 to 2,300 ft). From there, a series of ridges lead to the summit. At higher elevations the trees are more open and there are more epiphytes - plants that grow on the trees. The summit is a small mound surrounded on three sides by precipices.[4]

Ecology[edit]

The 1999 expedition was by members of Ecofac, a Non-Government Organization that plans to assist in conservation through helping to develop ecotourism on the island.[5] The ecology of the forests on and around the mountain has not been well-researched, but some endemic species of birds and orchids have been found, and it seem clear that there are many endemic plants and insects.[4] A proposed conservation zone covering one third of Principe would include this mountain and three others higher than 500m: Mesa (537m), Pico Papagaio (680m) and Pico Mencorne (921m). 28 species of birds have been recorded in the area, of which seven are endemic to Principe and four are of global conservation concern. Other endemic species are the skink Feylinia polylepis, the burrrowing snake Typhlops elegans and the frog Leptoptelis palmatus. An endemic sub-species of the shrew Crocidura poensis is also present.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Becker, Kathleen (2008). São Tomé and Príncipe. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 186. ISBN 1-84162-216-8. 
  2. ^ Burke, Kevin (2001). "Origin of the Cameroon Line of Volcano-Capped Swells". The Journal of Geology 109: 349–362. Bibcode:2001JG....109..349B. doi:10.1086/319977. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  3. ^ Becker, Kathleen (2008). São Tomé and Príncipe. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 3. ISBN 1-84162-216-8. 
  4. ^ a b Jonathan Baillie, Gilles Joffroy and Tariq Stevart (February 2000). "Exploration du Pico de Príncipe". Canopée (Ecofac) 16. Retrieved 2011-02-05. 
  5. ^ Sophie Warne (2003). Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 229. ISBN 1-84162-073-4. 
  6. ^ PATRICE CHRISTY. "São Tomé and Príncipe". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2011-02-05. 

Coordinates: 1°35′0″N 7°23′0″E / 1.58333°N 7.38333°E / 1.58333; 7.38333