As Mooney ascended the 19,341-foot Tanzanian mountain, he used his GPS to mark the altitude and coordinates of the animals he spotted. He observed 15 to 20 birds and small rodents at high altitudes, including a mouse at the 17,000-foot mark. Most of the animals Mooney saw were scavengers, such as white napped ravens, which he assumed traveled to high elevations to feed on the scraps left behind by climbers.
“Working with ASC and Dr. Hardy made both me and my group aware of the effects that this glacier has, not only on Africa and the world, but also on the local communities that depend on it for fresh water,” said Mooney.
He added, “The ice fields on Kilimanjaro will disappear at some point. Water will disappear for the surrounding native populations.”
Mount Kilimanjaro gained global attention in the early 2000s when environmental scientists predicted that its glaciers would completely recede by 2015. Scientists now believe the ice has another 10-50 more years until it vanishes.
Dr. Hardy, who has been studying Kilimanjaro’s glaciers and weather since 2000, considers ASC a “fascinating opportunity to involve citizen science.”
He continued, “There are already so many climbers on the mountain. If we can get them to make simple observations, we can gain a better understanding of the relative abundance of the animals up there, where they hang out, and how the climate has changed over time.”
- P.J. Hoffman