Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Parents help son find new species

Allan and Monica Bayliss with their cook Barnet
Allan and Monica Bayliss helped catch butterflies on the Namuli trip

The parents of a scientist, who found new species via a web map, have told how they helped him turn up new samples on a later trip to another region.

Julian Bayliss, 39, had been part of an earlier expedition to Mozambique, and was curious about an area of green which scientists had ignored.

Mr Bayliss, from near Wrexham, went to Mount Mabu and found unrecorded species of plant and wildlife.

His parents Allan and Monica joined him on a later expedition to Mount Namuli.

Julian Bayliss asked his parents along on the second trip to Mount Namuli to help.

On the earlier expedition in November 2008 to Mount Mabu, he went to the unexplored area with a friend after spotting it on the Google Earth Map.

It included 7,000 hectares of forest, but had not been explored because of inhospitable terrain and a civil war.

He had led previous expeditions in the north of the southern African country, and then put forward a proposal for a full expedition of the region.

Julian Bayliss
Julian Bayliss has led numerous expeditions in Mozambique

Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, then went to Mount Mabu.

They discovered hundreds of previously unknown plant species, birds, butterflies, monkeys and a new species of giant snake.

They also brought back hundreds of plant species which are still being analysed, and news of the breakthrough made headlines around the world.

Julian's parents then joined their son on the follow-up expedition to Mount Namuli, which had been explored previously. There they caught butterflies and bats and helped to discover further unrecorded species.

Namuli, which had previously been explored in mid-2007, is also a forest in a mountainous area that is part of the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) Darwin Initiative project.

Of the Namuli trip, Allan Bayliss, a solicitor and retired chief clerk to the magistrates in Flintshire, said: "Each day we went out into the forest either helping Julian with his traps for butterflies or more practically helping with the bat netting".

"Julian had some loose ends he wanted to tie up. He was looking for a particular butterfly and had with him two of the best butterfly experts in Africa.

Pygmy chameleon
The tiny pygmy chameleon was one of the new species discovered

"He found the butterfly he was looking for. I was with him when he found a new kind of crab, a most peculiar looking crab with one large claw.

"The expedition doctor was an ornithologist and she found the first recording of a very rare bird.

"They also found the pygmy bat, which is rather special and the first on that mountain."

Julian Bayliss works for the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust in Malawi, and other partners involved in the project with Kew are the Mozambique Agrarian Research Institute (IIAM), and Birdlife International.

Of the Mabu discovery, Allan said Julian had done the "initial reconnaissance".

"He and another person, together with his cook, went out and he rang us in great excitement at what he had found - a forest that no one knew about so rich in animal and plant life," said Allan, who lives in Hope Mountain, between Mold and Wrexham.

"Of course the local people knew about it but Western scientists didn't.

Allan, Monica and Julian Bayliss
Allan and Monica Bayliss are proud of their son Julian and his work

"It had simply been overlooked because of the terrain, the war of independence followed by the civil war.

"Julian was very excited, came back and told Kew where he has been employed for the last three years, and that was how it all came about."

Not even in Kew were there any specimens from Mabu, or even any mention of it.

Jonathan Timberlake, of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who led the Mabu expedition and heads work in Mozambique, said: "The phenomenal diversity is just mind-boggling: seeing how things are adapted to little niches, to me this is the incredible thing.

"Even today we cannot say we know all of the world's key areas for biodiversity - there are still new ones to discover."

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