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14 September 2010

Call for biodiversity volunteers

The SA National Biodiversity Institute is calling for volunteers to help monitor threatened wildflower, reptile, spider, and butterfly and toad species.

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The SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is calling for volunteers to help monitor threatened wildflower, reptile, spider, and butterfly and toad species.

South Africa's exceptionally rich plant and animal diversity was under major threat, and called on members of the public to join one of its five volunteer monitoring programmes, said a statement.

"To get involved in biodiversity conservation you don't need to have a formal degree or any scientific training. It's easy to play a meaningful role, and it's a lot of fun.

"With only a GPS and a digital camera in hand you can provide us with valuable monitoring data on a range of animals, from small creatures like spiders and butterflies, to beautiful birds and rare plant species.

The valuable monitoring data

"The valuable monitoring data that you help to collect is used to assess species' status against the internationally accredited Red List Categories and Criteria developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)."

The five monitoring programmes included: Conservation of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW); SA Reptile Conservation Assessment (SARCA); SA Butterfly Conservation Assessment (SABCA); SA National Survey of Arachnida (SANSA); and Western Leopard Toad Project.

SANBI also announced the launch - on 15 September - of two new reference guides.

Find out more about biodiversity

"These are useful for those wanting to find out more about biodiversity in South Africa, and about volunteering opportunities."

The guides, "Monitoring Threatened Species in South Africa" and "Threatened Species: A Guide to Red Lists and their use in Conservation", could be downloaded for free from the SANBI website.

While South Africa is one of the five most biodiverse countries in the world, one in every five of the country's mammal and frog species is facing extinction, as is one in every eight plant species, one in every 10 reptile species, and one in every 12 bird species, it said.

Members of the public interested in getting involved could call SANBI on 012-8435000 or visit its website - www.sanbi.org – and go to the threatened biodiversity page under the biodiversity topics tab. (Sapa/ September 2010)

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