Several weeks ago, the Newmac Expedition traveled to the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they sought to investigate the legendary mokele-mbembe, believed by some to be the last living dinosaur. But now, the expedition appears to have hit a major snag. Is this the end of the Newmac Expedition?
The Hunt for Mokele-mbembe?
The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They describe the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”
Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in a strange creature known as mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur.
The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”
“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero
The remaining members of the Expedition noted his departure over twitter.
“Joe Marrero has withdrawn from the expedition. We wish him the best on his future adventures.” ~ Newmac Expedition, July 10
As best as we can tell, the Newmac Expedition started out with five principals. According to their website, they are now down to three.
Guerrilla Explorer’s Take
Obviously, we don’t know the full story behind this situation. But the loss of a principal is no small matter. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for the Newmac Expedition. This whole thing is starting to look exactly like what critics claimed it would be…a poorly-planned and perhaps ill-conceived operation. We’ll continue to follow this story as best we can but for now, the future of the Newmac Expedition appears to be in doubt.
WHAAT!!!?? hold on right there! this expedition was looking SO GOOD! how can it fail now, now that its already arrived…i will die a horrible, agonizing death if the participants up and leave…dont you dare….
It’s not like expedition management was that solid to begin with. These guys raised $30,000 from individuals and corporate sponsors like Johnsons Outdoors to basically wander around the Congo for a few months with no specific goals or hypotheses to test. Still, it makes us wonder how much worse it must’ve gotten to drive out one of the principals…!
if you access Stephen McCullah’s Facebook page, he has replied to a friend saying he is home now. Something about not having research permits. I think the expedition is over. Here is his facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Gavin.Foxx
Thanks for the update…we’ll check it out…
Newmacs website is also down.
Thanks Rockfsh! We’re trying to track down the details but we’re not friends with Stephen so we can’t access his Facebook updates. It’s not looking good right now though…
Congo is logistically EXTREMELY difficult and therefore very very very expensive, it costs more to travel around the congo basin than it does to stay in 5-star hotels in Manhattan with limo service. People don;t realize this, especially those who have only traveled in latin america, they wrongly assume that all poor tropical areas are the same… this is a deadly assumption to make. Plus the people of congo are very good at stealing from visitors in many different ways, its vastly different than the kindness of peasant farmers in Ecuador. Plus you have to not die of diseases and other dangers like killer rebel groups who have been at war for decades… I expected this to fail, having worked in central africa myself, its just good nobody died.
Hey Chris – From the looks of it, this expedition was in trouble before it even began for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned. You’re absolutely right…at least no one died or got hurt. We’ve done a lot of traveling but nothing to the Congo. The logistics are pretty daunting. By the way, where’d you work in Central Africa?
also most of the travel inland from the coast is by riverboat (which is very slow and horrible) or aircraft (which is mostly charter flights which are 4-8,000 $usd per hour of flight time).