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SARCA Newsletter No.2

28 September 2005

Dear SARCAlites!

Since the previous newsletter there have been several developments, so I'll dive right in.

Eco Challenge and a vehicle for SARCA


Earlier this month, Marius Burger, SARCA's Project Herpetologist, joined the 4x4 Eco Challenge for their competition finals in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Kruger National Park. Johan Marais (SARCA chairman and snake expert) joined the group for about a week, and together with Marius and the Eco Challenge finalists, they collected about 200 records of 47 species. The media gave wonderful coverage with several radio, newspaper and TV features on the SARCA/Eco Challenge collaboration flowing from the event. Details of this excursion can be viewed at: by clicking on "Finals 2005 Winners Announced".


Most important of all, Marius received notification that Eco Challenge and Goodyear Academy will provide a beautiful new Toyota 4x4 bakkie for the 2005/06 summer field season! This is indeed a major boost for SARCA and we hereby express an enormous THANK YOU to Eco Challege for their support. We especially acknowledge the enthusiasm for SARCA shown by the organizer-in-chief of EcoChallenge, Gerhard Groenewald.


The SARCA virtual museum grows apace

  Gerhard Groenewald Gerhard Groenewald and friends.

The previous newsletter noted that 50 records had been entered into SARCA's online virtual museum. That number has grown to 300! The museum collection now comprises records of 103 species with confirmed IDs, submitted by 94 observers! The average standard of the photographs is very pleasing and the panel of experts are generally having little difficulty in identifying the specimens.

Observers should please note the following sample of the supporting information that is required to be submitted with every photograph:

[observer name] Botha W.
[coordinates latitude] 24 34 13 S
[coordinates longitude] 27 23 42 E
[locality] farm Doornhoek; Thabazimbi district; Limpopo.
[country] South Africa
[date] 2005/08/27
[number of photos] 2

The second field, "[SARCA]", is an addition - that's where I put the SARCA record number. It saves me a lot of hassle if I receive the information in this format. Note that the stuff in the square brackets is also needed because that is what the computer uses to work out what bit of information goes where.

The observers who have submitted records since the previous newsletter (number of records in brackets after each name, except where the number is one) are: Alberts A.J. (3), Archer T., Aucamp J. (3), Badenhorst W., Botha M. (3), Botha W. (5), Bowker M.B. (13), Brodman R. (7), Coetzee F. (2), De Beer C., Diedericks G. (3), Dobson R.A. (2), Dorse C. (4), Du Plessis R., During J., Engelbrecht M. (2), Esterhuizen W., Evans S.W. (6), Felmore T. (6), Gibbons B., Groenewald G., Haas F. (12), Harebottle D., Harvey J., Havemann P. (2), Hibbitts T. (5), Holder D. (2), James J.D. (2), James P., James W.J. (2), Janse van Vuuren H., Kok A., Kruger A. (3), Labuschagne L. (2), Laminie P. (3), Landsdiens, Le Roux E.R. (18), Leslie R.W. (8), Lottering A.D.J., Loubser J. (2), Louw A., Manning J. (4), Manson A. (12), Manson L., Marais J. (10), Maritz B. (12), Masterson G. (2), Maya K. (4), Mtshitshi M., Nienaber J.H., Opperman G.J. (4), Oransie J. (2), Phelps T., Pollhammer A., Potgieter M. (2), Pretorius B., Rowley J.J.L. (5), Schroeder I. (7), Snyman C., Snyman T.M., Solomon W. (3), Theron J. (2), Theron S. (2), Trichardt J., Van As J., Van Aswegen D. (2), Van der Meijden A. (4), Van der Spuy A. (4), Van der Westhuizen C., Van Jaarsveld E., Van Wyk A. (3), Van Wyk A.J. (4), Van Zyl A.J., Venter P. (2), Vos P. (7), Webster K. (4).

THANK YOU to each and every one of you! Please keep submitting!

My favourite pics

I've decided to feature a few of my favourite photos from the virtual museum in every newsletter. Please note, these are my personal favourites chosen for no other reason than that I enjoy them, for my own quirky reasons. They are not necessarily the most important pics from a scientific point of view. The following four pics were chosen from SARCA virtual museum records 1-200.

baby tortoise Angulate Tortoise hatchling, by Adam Welz.   Herald Snake Herald Snake, by R.W. Leslie.
Agama Southern Rock Agama in a tree, by I. Schroeder.   lizard Unidentified lizard and offspring, by J.D. James.

SARCA's database is growing

Apart from the database of the virtual museum, data from other sources is accumulating by virtue of the hard work being done by the SARCA Data Technician who is employed with funds obtained from the South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF). Initially our Data Technician was Linda Tsipa, but she has moved on to a better opportunity in the ADU. Fortunately, a replacement in the person of Candice Lakay was readily available, and she has been working for SARCA since the beginning of September. Between Linda and Candice, they have swelled the SARCA database by:

  • McGregor Museum collection: 2209 records
  • Lambiris private collection: 734 records
  • Herpetological literature: 3526 records
  •     TOTAL: 6469 records

    We acknowledge the careful and accurate work performed by these ladies, and we thank SABIF for the financial support to make this valuable effort possible.

      SARCA logo

    SARCA's new logo

    Wendy Foden at SANBI very kindly coordinated the development of a logo for SARCA. The actual design was produced by Nadine van Wyk of SANBI. We thank them both for their efforts in producing what I feel is a very attractive logo for the project. It depicts a Giant Girdled Lizard, also known as Sungazer or Ouvolk, sitting atop the sun that reptiles love so much.

    Pictures from the SARCA launch

    These pics are a bit late, but better late than never. SARCA was launched in May 2005, at the glass house of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town. It was an enjoyable affair, as the photos show.

    Maze & Underhill Kristal Maze of SANBI hands Les Underhill, Director of the ADU, a signed contract for SARCA.   Marius Burger Marius Burger, Project Herpetologist, holds forth to a rapt audience.
    launch guests Sue Kuyper, the ADU's Administrative Officer, Eve Gracie, editor at Black Eagle Publishers, and John Yeld, environmental reporter.
    launch guests Andrew Turner of CapeNature with Jesse Pretorius and Nick Evans from SANBI's IT department.
    students Enthusiastic herpetology students from the University of Stellenbosch: Jenny, Eloise, Susanna and Cindy.

    James Harrison
    SARCA Project Coordinator


    South African National Biodiversity Institute Herpetological Association of Africa Avian Demography Unit

    "SARCA is a joint project of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA), and the Avian Demography Unit (ADU), Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town."



    [ Document posted on 27 Jun 2005 ]

        May 30, 2024, 1:19 am