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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Successful Toyota Enviro Outreach 2013

An extremely successful Toyota Enviro Outreach has come to an end.  Scientists from different backgrounds and experiences worked as a group to achieve a common goal – to document and DNA barcode the flora of the northern Cape. For the past two weeks we have been collecting plants in one of the most arid parts of the country to gain a better understanding of what’s growing in the region. A total of more than 600 species were collected and we found a few plants we did not expect, like the new species of Trachyandra found in the Gamsberg and Eragrostis sarmentosa collected at Raap en Skraap, which is the first distribution record for this species in the area.  The scientific team will now spend the next few months sorting, identifying and DNA barcoding their plant collections.

Many thanks to the scientific team for all their hard work and dedication to the project, to witness your spirit and passion were fantastic. I have been struck by the enthusiasm of the students getting out in the field and spending late evening processing the plants collected for the day. A special thanks to Renier Balt who was responsibly for the smooth running of the field laboratory. Many thanks also to Karel du Toit, a local, non-professional with a love for succulent plants, who shared his fantastic knowledge with us. It was a real privilege to work with you all.

On behalf of the scientific team and our partners from the International Barcode of Life project I wish to express my deep gratitude to Toyota SA for providing a fleet of vehicles and the unique opportunity through the Toyota Enviro Outreach to collect samples for DNA barcoding and to document the flora of the northern Cape where access is usually difficult if not impossible. I also wish to thank all our other sponsors - 4X4 Mega World, Camp World, Jurgens Safari Trailers, National Luna, Goodyear, Cross Country - for their support and commitment to the DNA barcoding project. We are also grateful to officials from the northern Cape for providing us with the necessary collecting permits. Special thanks must go to Gerhard and Elmarie Groenewald and their fantastic team - Isa, Hendrick, Donovan, Erik and Johan - from Klipbokkop Nature Reserve near Worcester; without the logistic support and constant encouragement we would never have achieved our goals. Many thanks to Millene Balt and Christof Linde for posting comments and pictures on the blog daily.

A final word of thanks goes to the people of South Africa who have encourage us through posting comments on the blog and Facebook and sending us messages via email or inviting us to visit their farms in the region. Your support and encouragement is particularly important for us.

See you all next year for yet another trip.

Happy Plant Hunting and Barcoding,
Michelle van der Bank

Klipbokkop team busy with cleaning the tents, chairs and equipment

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