Learn about endangered turtles, ornithology careers, Africans penguins and many other fascinating members of our earth at the FREE Biodiversity Expo from 5 to 8 May at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
With over 30 exhibitors plus a conservation challenge and important discussions this is the platform to learn about biodiversity and its practical applications.
Endangered species are common and fighting for the survival of these species is a vital focus in order to conserve our planet. The Peace Parks Foundation is part of a joint initiative between South Africa and Mozambique with the objective of giving critically endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles a fighting chance of survival.
Did you know that the pristine shoreline of East Africa is now a haven for marine turtles? This wasn’t always the case.
many turtles killed for food
Each year, the marine turtles labour tirelessly, returning to the same site to dig their nests and lay their precious eggs. Unfortunately, many turtles and their eggs have been killed for food, traditional medicine, or for their shells which fetch a small price as tourist trinkets. The international distribution of their breeding areas meant that no comprehensive records were kept before the mid 1990s, by which time it became clear that their numbers were on the decline.
The Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area Turtle Monitoring Programme has successfully standardised data-capture techniques recorded data in a uniform way. Members of the local communities are now trained and appointed as turtle monitors, conducting daily patrols throughout the nesting and hatching season.
This wonderful story of conservation and collaboration is just one of the many that will be on show at the FREE Biodiversity Expo.
Innovative approaches for escalating challenges
The Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town will be showing their work and discussing ideas for careers at their innovative display.
Securing a sustainable future in the face of escalating global environmental change requires innovative approaches to conserving biodiversity and this is the Fitztitue’s (as it is commonly known) focus. It is the only ornithological research institute in the Southern Hemisphere and arguably one of the most active in the world in terms of its programmes of both ornithological research and education.
It has produced more than 300 MSc and PhD students from 40 countries, 23 being in Africa. The Fitztitute has five permanent academic staff members and some 60 postgraduate students and Post-doctoral Fellows. In addition to undertaking scientific research, the Fitztitute has been conscious of its responsibility to share its work with the public.
With a vision to build on the successes of the past to ensure even greater contributions to science, conservation, education and outreach in the future the Fitztitute stand is definitely the place to visit if you are considering a career in Ornithology.
How to save the African Penguins
BirdLife South Africa will also have a stand at the upcoming fourth Biodiversity Expo. You can learn about the African Penguin and how you can assist in saving them from extinction.
There are many fascinating projects that the BirdLife South Africa Seabird Division, but the African Penguin is one that captures the imagination of all who have seen these highly visible and quirky birds. Unlike many other seabirds, the African Penguin is easy to find at two major Cape Town attractions, Boulders Beach and Robben Island.
Many people do not realise that within their lifetime, this iconic species could become extinct! The African Penguin is officially listed as Endangered by the World Conservation Union (the IUCN).
Over the last 50 years the African Penguin population has declined by about 80% – from 141,000 pairs in the 1950s to less than 25,000 pairs in 2010! This is even more shocking considering that in the early 1900s it is thought that they numbered in the millions. It is vital that these declines are halted as the African Penguin is the only penguin species found in Africa and lives nowhere else but along the coast of South Africa and Namibia.
Scientists have suggested that the main reason for the decrease in recent times is a lack of food. Penguins eat mainly sardine and anchovy – fish which are targets of a large commercial fishery. Fishing effort has increased immensely in the last 50 years resulting in more fish being taken out of the sea. To make things worse, fish stocks have moved from the west coast, where most of the penguin colonies are, to the south coast.
You could even join Elma Pollard, Editor of the Green Times for a one-day ‘Write for Earth’ course on 5 May from 09:00 to 16:00. She will explore how we can communicate science with the general public in such a way that our readers are engaged, energized and hooked for more with the view to bridging the gap between science and society. For further information please contact Elma.