Monday, 12 October 2015

Mount Roraima

Mount Roraima (SpanishMonte Roraima [ˈmonte roˈɾaima], also known as Tepuy Roraima and Cerro Roraima;PortugueseMonte Roraima [ˈmõtʃi ʁoˈɾajmɐ]) is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateaus in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area is bounded on all sides by cliffs rising 400 metres (1,300 ft). The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela (claiming 85% of its territory), Brazil (5%) and Guyana (10%).
Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela's 30,000-square-kilometre (12,000 sq mi) Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana's Highland Range. The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago in the Precambrian.
The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The triple border point is at 5°12′08″N 60°44′07″W, but the mountain's highest point is Maverick Rock, 2,810 metres (9,219 ft), at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.
Many of the species found on Roraima are unique to the plateau. Plants such as pitcher plants (Heliamphora), Campanula (a bellflower), and the rare Rapatea heather are commonly found on the escarpment and summit. It rains almost every day of the year. Almost the entire surface of the summit is bare sandstone, with only a few bushes (Bonnetia roraimœ) and algae present. Low scanty and bristling vegetation is also found in the small, sandy marshes that intersperse the rocky summit. Most of the nutrients that are present in the soil are washed away by torrents that cascade over the edge, forming some of the highest waterfalls in the world.
There are many examples of unique fauna atop Mount Roraima. Oreophrynella quelchii, commonly called the Roraima Bush Toad, is a diurnal toad usually found on open rock surfaces and shrubland. It is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family and breeds by direct development. The species is currently listed as vulnerable and there is a need for increased education among tourists to make them aware of the importance of not handling these animals in the wild. Close population monitoring is also required, particularly since this species is known only from a single location. The species is protected in Monumento Natural Los Tepuyes in Venezuela, and Parque Nacional Monte Roraima in Brazil.
Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the indigenous people of the region, and it is central to many of their myths and legends. The Pemon and Kapon natives of the Gran Sabana see Mount Roraima as the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by Makunaima, their mythical trickster, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. Roroi in the Pemon language means blue-green and ma means great.

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