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SAEON in the media

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An article in SANParks Times of March 2018, Riparian forest on the Limpopo is shrinking, mentions that researchers from SANParks, the Organisation of Tropical Studies (OTS) and SAEON have been monitoring the large riverine canopy trees growing in Mapungubwe. SAEON’s Prof. Tim O'Connor found that drought stress, interactions with creepers and flooding contributed most to mortality, even when elephants were present in low numbers. Monitoring by SANParks and SAEON since these animals returned to Mapungubwe shows that although they do play a major role in the mortality of fever and ana trees, there is also a large proportion of various tree species dying without any sign of elephant damage.

Arid Lands Node

An article by Joh Henschel, manager of SAEON’s Arid Lands Node, titled Grasses move up the mountain, appeared in the March 2018 edition of SANParks Times. The article describes how SAEON initiated temperature monitoring at 16 sites between Camdeboo National Park’s Gannaleegte area near Graaff-Reinet, and the peak of the Compassberg mountain range near Nieu-Bethesda.

SAEON botanist and scientist, Dr Helga van der Merwe, and her husband sold their farm Soekop to the Tankwa Karoo National Park. Soekop’s vegetation reflects that of the Succulent Karoo, but also contains some of the Roggeveld vegetation, which even includes some mountain renosterveld. An article on the acquisition, titled Tankwa secures the Succulent Karoo Biome, appeared in the March 2018 edition of SANParks Times.

An article on the vital research undertaken in South Africa’s arid lands by SAEON scientists Dr Helga van der Merwe, Dr Sue Milton-Dean and Gina Arena, Veldbestuur in droogte nou uiters belangrik, appeared in Landbouweekblad of 20 April.

Veld & Flora published an article written by SAEON’s Gina Arena in their March 2018 edition titled Kraalaalwyn: an oasis in the drought.

The January/February 2018 edition of Prince Albert Friend published two articles written by Yondela Nqadala, an intern at Renu-Karoo/Wolwekraal Nature Reserve: Plants that defend themselves with poison and Eco-circle: A way around the drought.

Elwandle Coastal Node

SAEON’s Dr Tommy Bornman will join an international team of scientists from institutions around the world on a major international scientific expedition to survey the underside of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, document the rich and little-studied marine life of the western Endurance, which was trapped, crushed by the ice and sunk there in 1915. Articles on the expedition appeared in Engineering News, Times LIVE, The Herald, Business LIVE, The Green TimesThe South African, New Age and Southern Suburbs Tatler, and on 702, Cape Talk, KFM and DefenceWeb.

Egagasini Node

An article in Fishing Industry News of 1 February 2018, titled Exploring the deep – what impact does trawling have on the environment?, mentions the Benthic Trawl Experiment in which SAEON had been involved over the past five years.

A YouTube video clip on Scifest Africa, SA science festival sort to curb shortage of scientists in the country, features SAEON’s award-winning exhibition stand at Water World and the SAEON Egagasini’s Node Thomas Mtontsi and Grant van der Heever.

SAEON ocean scientist Dr Neil Malan was quoted in an article titled Foreigners jump on Cape iceberg plan that was published in Sunday Times of 1 April 2018. The article also refers to Neil’s recent article in SAEON eNews, Are icebergs a realistic option for augmenting Cape Town’s water supply?

SAEON’s Dr Juliet Hermes, manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node, was quoted in an article titled Childhood love of the ocean flows into current discovery that was published in Sunday Times of 15 April. The article describes the discovery of a previously unknown coastal current off the coast of Madagascar by a Cape Town PhD student, Juliano Ramanantsoa, who originally hails from Madagascar.

A meeting report co-authored by Dr Hermes, What's the Best Way to Responsibly Collect Ocean Data?, was published on

Fynbos Node

Dr Nicky Allsopp, manager of SAEON’s Fynbos Node, was interviewed for an article titled Why April rainfall is key to staving off Cape Town’s Day Zero. The article was published in News 24, AllAfrica, The Huffington Post SA, Mail & Guardian, All4Women, Cape Business News, Polity and Engineering News on April 9.

Aquifer drilling threatens biodiversity and water security, an article by SAEON’s Dr Jasper Slingsby, was published in Green Times on March 16.

In a follow-up article in Daily Maverick of 12 March 2018, titled Dry land; How the race for water could leave us high and dry, Part 2, Dr Jasper Slingsby is quoted on the issue of drilling for water in the Western Cape. SAEON is also mentioned: “It is now going to be critical that we resource organisations like SAEON and DEADP to monitor the impacts of drilling as it starts happening. We will have to build a new cohort of eco-hydrologists who can understand the impacts of changing hydrology on groundwater dependent ecosystems.”

Part one of the above-mentioned Dry land; How the race for water could leave us high and dry was re-published in Forestry South Africa of 19 April. In it Dr Jasper Slingsby’s argues that “drilling into the Cape's unconfined aquifers could provide limited short-term augmentation to the water supply, but (cancel) the insurance policy we need, since rainfall is predicted to become ever less certain".

An opinion piece co-written by Dr Slingsby, titled Alien trees are a major threat to water supply - so why doesn't this reflect in Cape Town's draft budget? was published in Daily Maverick of 2 May. This also secured coverage on 702, Cape Talk and KFM.

An article titled Drilling threatens internationally protected floral region, published in Yiba on March 16, further debates the issue. Author Adam West is one of five ecological scientists from the University of Cape Town and SAEON who have raised a red flag about drilling the Table Mountain and Cape Flats aquifers, specifically in the Steenbras Dam vicinity.

Grasslands-Forests-Wetlands Node

FameLab 2018 finalist, Nobuhle Mweli, a researcher with SAEON and previously a DST-National Research Foundation intern hosted by the SAEON Grasslands-Wetlands-Forests Node, featured in a supplement on FameLab  in Mail & Guardian (4 May)

An article titled Saving the Vazi wetlands, on the World Wetlands Day event in Northern KwaZulu-Natal hosted by the Isibusiso Esihle Science Discovery Centre and supported by SAEON, was published in IMIESA on 1 March 2018. Further articles on the event included the following:

uLwazi Node

An article titled Improving Visibility, on the launch of the second edition of the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, was published in Engineering News of 8 March 2018. In the article SAEON’s chief data and information manager, Wim Hugo, is quoted as saying that there is a need to merge and decipher all the variables to build the decision support tools that can allow business people and citizens to make informed decisions based on the relative ranking of impact, risks and vulnerabilities.

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