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«Half of his life is this. A mountain, a valley, the hope to see a golden eagle in the sky of Peneda-Gerês. The golden eagle, a dream of the founder of FAPAS – Portugal’s Wildlife Protection Fund. To secure recognition of the true importance of the biodiversity of our only national park». This was written about him by journalist Abel Coentrão (Fugas, Público, March 24, 2012).
Years and years exploring the Peneda-Gerês National Park (PGNP), he knows it as few do, devoting most of his life to track the golden eagles, the nature, the wildlife of this protected area.
An electrical engineer by training, he worked for multinationals in the energy production sector for two and a half decades, until his hobby became his main activity in 2009, leaving behind something that increasingly conflicted with his ideals and his passion. He focused on his writing, leveraging documentary research, as well as photographic, which he continues to accumulate, immersing into the mountains, mostly alone, traveling endless miles, making public the contents of hundreds of pages of field notes.
His connection to PGNP started at a young age. In one of those distant approaches, in the backseat of his parents' car, he first came to Minas dos Carris, through a forest track that is nowadays a sometimes narrow and stony trail, where you can only walk on foot, challenging and only with proper authorization as it crosses areas of restricted access due to their high wildlife conservation relevance. From those times of adolescence, he kept the immense pleasure of walking in Gerês. Then came the interest and awareness of the need to intervene in nature conservation.
He was among the thirty people who created Quercus in the mid 1980s and ten years later was one of the founders of FAPAS.
The dozens of fieldnotes volumes on more than 1,000 hikes made through remote valleys and rugged hillsides in the PGNP are joined by thousands of photographs and video recordings of natural heritage, some lost forever, among which stands out a collection of golden eagles feathers. Miguel keeps a regular presence on the ground that, from time to time, still gives him lasting, unforgettable moments. As was the case on February 20th, 1999, when he spotted mountain goats (capra pyrenaica) and was the first to report the return of a species that had been extinct a hundred years before. In his notebook he wrote with emotion at that time: “… the binoculars have historically dispelled any doubt. It's 2:50 pm, the mountain goat is back in Portugal! Gerês doesn't look the same to me! A reixelo (adult male), a female and a calf graze freely in the Peneda Gerês National Park!”.
With the wolf, the animal that deeply inspires INDAGATIO, he had countless encounters. Crossings of paths that generate exchanges of looks and "conversations". Wild dialogues that are one of the most intense motivations for continuing to tread the Peneda-Gerês.
He is the national representative of the NGOEs (non-governmental organizations for the environment) in the Strategic Council of the Peneda-Gerês National Park and the Advisory Council for Cooperation of the Gerês-Xurés Transfrontier Biosphere Reserve.
He is a permanent contributor to the newspaper GERESÃO (monthly publication about the municipalities of Amares, Vieira do Minho, Terras de Bouro and Lobios)
He is a resident chronicler of the online magazine WILDER Rewilding your days.
He is one of the coordinators of the Alliance for the Native Forest movement.
About the PGNP he writes editorials, takes part in debates, gives interviews, always transmitting his experience in the territory.
That is why he is also an INDAGATIO ambassador.
Miguel Dantas da Gama runs the page CANHÕES DE PEDRA
CANHÕES DE PEDRA – Estudos em Ecossistemas de Montanha, is a registered trademark created in 1988 for publication of his writing.