In association with:

In association with:

Day 11: Calm descends upon Klipbokkop

The convoy with its precious cargo of scientists and their samples, left this morning for Johannesburg.  After 10 days of hard work, dedication and passion for their field of study, the group returned to UJ with lots of samples and impressions of new areas visited and time spent together in synergy with fellow scientist.  All round an enriching experience for us all.

It’s with great appreciation that we want to thank our sponsors who supported us over the last 12 years and we hope they will continue partnering with us as the iBOL Barcode of Life project expands over Southern Africa.  

A very special thank you to Toyota SA who’s trusty vehicles “Lead the way” and take us to the various biodiversity hotspots that the scientist has to survey.  Without the Goodyear rubber, we can just as well stay home, and the National Luna fridges that keep the samples fresh, the fish samples frozen, and the water and beer cold adds great value to our outdoor work.  A big thank you to Jurgens CI, Campworld for their sturdy off road trailers that help transporting the massive amount of samples to their various labs, where they will be sorted over the next couple of months.  Also a special thanks to Total who pitched in once again, especially with the price hike in fuel, which was not expected.

With this Toyota Enviro Outreach’s new amount of samples collected, Michelle and her team has work for the next year!  Save journey home to all and a well deserved couple of rest days.

Watch this space next year beginning of April!

Gerhard, Elmarie and the Klipbokkop team. 

PS. On behalf of Millene, who managed the blog with such ease and enthusiasm – well done!

Thank you Total, the official fuel sponsor.

Closing words from Michelle

Prof Michelle van der Bank
An extremely successful Toyota Enviro Outreach has come to an end.  What an amazing experience! Scientists from different backgrounds and experiences worked as a group to achieve a common goal – to DNA barcode South Africa’s rich Biodiversity, which forms part of the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL). All the data generated will be uploaded onto the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), an online informatics platform where it will become part of a growing reference library of DNA barcodes for South African plants and animals that will be freely available for use by the broader scientific and amateur naturalist communities. A total of more than 750 species representing approximately 1450 individuals were collected during this Toyota Enviro Outreach. Many thanks to the scientific team for all their hard work and dedication to the project, to witness your spirit and passion were fantastic.

On behalf of the scientific team and our partners from the International Barcode of Life project I wish to thank Toyota SA for providing a fleet of vehicles and the unique opportunity through the Toyota Enviro Outreach to collect samples for DNA barcoding. Special thanks must go to Gerhard and Elmarie Groenewald and their fantastic team from Klipbokkop Nature Reserve near Worcester; without the logistic support and constant encouragement we would never have achieved our goals. We are also grateful to Cape Nature for providing us with the collecting permits. Finally I wish to thank all our other sponsors (4X4 Mega World, Camp World, National Luna, Good Year, Total) for their support and commitment to the DNA barcoding project.

See you all next year for yet another trip.
Happy Barcoding,
Michelle van der Bank

The snail collection

We obtained some excellent material for the Natal Museum collection, including species that were not previously represented in our collection.

Dr D.G. Herbert
Chief Curator: Mollusca
Natal Museum

Pinwheel snail Klipbokkop

Trachycystis oconnori Klipbokkop and Bainskloof

Tulbaghinia isomerioides Bainskloof

Tulbaghinia isomerioides Bainskloof_1

limestone cannibal snail De Hoop

Day 10: Final day of Collecting

Behind every successful story are always elements of support and team work. The highly successful 2012 Toyota Enviro Outreach has come to an end. While reflecting back over the last 10 days there is no doubt that the combination of generous sponsorship, dedicated and passionate scientists and their assistants and the logistical organization and support of the Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve group has once again made this possible.

The Klipbokkop team has excelled in delivering service of outstanding quality – dozens of airport trips to pick up and drop off members of the different teams and the media were made and no one had to worry about missing a flight!! 

The logistics for the different teams of researchers and journalist and cameramen to get to the locations where the best results can be expected required detail planning and the finds were much better than expected….

At the Klipbokkop venue a state of the art laboratorium was set up to process the different finds and the lab assistance and scientist could work in the proximity of refreshments and the coffee machine.
Lodging was luxurious and the staff made sure that the guests received 5 star - treatment. There is however no doubt that for many of us the highlight of the day was the food. Meals were planned in detail and the presentation, the taste and the well balanced meals were a gourmet experience!!
Gerhard, Elmarie Groenewald and PG, with their dedicated team of Isa, Madeleen, Hendrik, Donovan and Eric should be congratulated on an excellent job done and a big thank you for treating us all like royalties.
Klipbokkop Support team
Eric & Hendrik from Klipbokkop
Donnovin from Klipbokkop
Gerhard & Elmarie Groenewald
Klipbokkop Conference Centre
Find of the day
After finding half a dozen lilies and as many lily boring weevil species, we had the amazing luck to find one weevil actually in association with a lily.  For the first time we can at least record this association! (Shows how profitable it is to have joint expeditions with different biological disciplines).

Brachicerus Sp.

Marine expedition at Kogel Bay

Ferdi de Vos from Toyota SA joining team on-location
Stunning view from Klipbokkop
Toyota Enviro Outreach 2012 Group Photo

Day 9: The Goby and the youth

Find of the day was the Goby (Caffrogobius caffer) found by the fish team in Kamma Bay at Hermanus. This was a special collection because it was a large specimen about 15 cm long while the rest of the specimens were less than 5 cm long! This goby is endemic and common in temperate coastal areas in rocky and tidal shores. The fish team is studying the evolution of this unique goby and its genus to find out why they are restricted to southern Africa and what their relationship is to other genera in the widespread and diverse goby family.

Find of the Day Gobi Caffrogobius  Caffer
Murray Duncan from SAIAB
Some 30 learners from HM Beets Primary School visited the laboratory at Klipbokkop to experience for themselves what happens with their finds of insects that they collected during the last few days. Many of them looked for the first time through the lens of a microscope and also saw how plant material is pressed to conserve them for future DNA identification.

Learners from HM Beets Primary School

Theresa and Salome process the plates to be sent off to the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada. The plates consist of 95 tiny compartments and is filled with a drop of ethanol and a part of the specimen, in this case insects. These examples are numbered and photographed and will be sequenced at the university as part of the iBol project (Barcode of Life) More than 6,000 zoology samples have been processed in this way and thousands more of the plant species.

Salome and Theresa processing the plates to be sent off to Canada
Some of the scientists left this morning for their different destinations

Mollusk team packing for home
Carla Gairifo Santos from Dept of Science and Technology NRF Centre of
Excellence for Invasion Biology on her way back to Stellenbosch
Kevin Cole conservationist and environmentalist

Mr Kevin Cole (mollusc team) employed by the East London museum for 21 years as a conservationist and an environmentalist. He shared his experience of the week:

“A myriad of colours and shapes have expressed themselves in the great diversity of plant and animal species discovered by scientists. This was during the 2012 Toyota Enviro Outreach, Barcoding of Life programme held at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve, a unique ecosystem of great natural beauty, near Worcestor. 

Combining decades of field experience in the sciences of botany, ichthyology , malacology and entomology, hundreds of species have been collected. These will assist researchers and future generations in the identification of many species of both indigenous and alien fauna and flora collected from various localities in the field. Bain’s Kloof, Grootvadersbosch, de Hoop and Betty’s Bay to name a few.

A common goal cemented the various disciplines together at the research laboratory set up at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve. It was encouraging and a privilege to participate in a programme which stimulates a sense of connectedness amongst all the participants. The same connectedness that, undisturbed, is noted between all living matter and the environment which gives it life.

It has been a wonderful week of challenges, surprises and it was a delight to meet and work with committed scientists in the service of understanding and interpreting this part of the Blue Planet we call Earth.”

Day 8: Exploring the floral wealth along the Breede River

The area around the Breede River near Worcester was the destination of the botanist today.  They expected that the river was infested by alien plants and hope to find new invader species and also native plants that have not yet been sampled. A few interesting finds were made like the beautiful flowering bulb Amaryllis Belladonna and the Pearl Acacia Podalyiifollia which is a potential invader and should be contained as soon as possible.

Amaryllis Belladonna
Pearl Acacia Podalyiifollia
Collectors with Lize Haywood of Goodyear SA
Stefan Hugo with Renier Balt and Prof Erik Holm
surveying the embankments of the Breede River
Invasive Sesbania plant
2012 Toyota Outreach as seen from my eyes – Barnabas Daru

Barnabas with Carla
One of the themes of the 2012 Toyota Outreach was invasive species in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). As this draws to a close, the memories and experiences will continue to linger for a long time. The opportunity to work up-close with leading scientists in different fields of biology was particularly rewarding. A highlight was working in a team of like-minded biologist for a common cause – sampling both native and alien species in the CFR. 

While lots of invasive species have been collected, e.g. Acacia Podalyriifolia invading from Australia, other charismatic fynbos species also were sampled. It was surprising how many native species were encountered in flower, as autumn is not the main flowering season in the Cape. Notably were the bulbous Amaryllis, Brunsvigia and Nerine species, with flowers ranging from red to pink. Also prominent were the Oxalis species, often hiding in the shade of nearby shrubs and a diversity of Erica species with flowers ranging from pink, yellow and orange to red.

Overall, the trip has been successful largely for two main reasons. Firstly, it took place in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the CFR famous for its more than 6900 endemic plant species and secondly, the opportunity to participate in gathering information and DNA samples of invasive species in the CFR as alien control is a priority in the region. 

In conclusion I would like to thank ALL the sponsors of the 2012 outreach for the opportunity.

Prof Erik inspecting an imported  fungi used as a biological controller
Prof Erik on invasives 

“Today we visited a streambed, where virtually every plant in sight was a foreign invader – weeds, wattle, blue gum, hakea and sesbania.

Gratifying to find two weevils doing their best on the sesbania. Although they certainly set them back – hopefully enough to curb their unbridled expansion! I presume both were improted for this very purpose.”

A dangerous scenario 
8 Circelium or Elephant dung beetle
How is it possible that a flightless Elephant dung beetle (Circelium) from the Addo Elephant Park area is found in the De Hoop Nature Reserve? This beetle feeds mainly on elephant dung and has no wings to carry it the distance of about 700km between these two areas. The beetle is endemic to that part of the Eastern Cape and is not found anywhere else. This situation can only happen with the intervention of the big invader Homo Sapiens who brought it along in perhaps a tour bus as a souvenir or a keep sake and now the beetle is stranded in a hostile environment for him where it will not survive. Members of the public should be more responsible and consider the consequences of their impulsive or casual actions.
But how can we make a positive contribution to conservation and perhaps take part in this DNA Barcoding Programme? 

SANBI and iSpot
9 Dr. Tony Rebelo from SANBI
The South African National Biodiversity Institute is responsible for exploring, revealing, celebrating and championing biodiversity for the benefit and enjoyment of all South Africans.

The iSpot programme is being pioneered by Dr Tony Rebelo from SANBI, and aimed at serving as an interface to the public. Members of the public can access the web page and post their pictures, observations, questions and comments and the specific location of their observations. Distribution maps are regularly updated and information checked and commented on by specialists. The focus is on both plants and animals and forms part of a framework which was initiated by specialists in the United Kingdom. 

The web address is

Find of the Day: Snuit kewer, Curculionidae

This weevil was introduced as a biological controller, and is encouraging to see that it is found in this area, where it was not introduced.  This is a positive indication that this specific weevil is successful and spreading.

Day 7: Kogelberg Biosphere

The coastal town of Betty’s Bay pride itself with the first and only Biosphere in South Africa proclaimed by UNESCO. 

Kogelberg Biosphere reserve is a protected terrestrial and coastal environment of international conservation importance. All Biosphere reserves are unique categories of protected areas combining both conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. 

Gerhard and the fish and mollusk teams spent the day collecting at the seaside, in tidal pools and in the Palmiet, Rooi Els and Kleinmond River mouths searching with nets and turning over rocks and looking for specimens in kelp and in sea plants. Despite the cold wind and rocky areas all of the researchers were more than pleased with their findings for the day.

Interesting finds and activities

Betty's Bay
Betty's Bay
Sea Anemone
Red Bait
Super Klipfish
Nosestripe Klipfish with its eel-like elongated shape
Find of the Day:
Prof Herman van der Bank inspecting his find of the day
Find of the Day Barbus Andrewi (Witvis)
The fishermen from Cape Town Angling Club who caught the find of the day
The fish was caught today during an angling competition held in the Brandvlei Dam close to Klipbokkop. It is one of the Yellow fish species and this find is the first example for University of Johannesburg. It will be used to compare it with other members of this family.

This family is problematic since they are closely related and cross breeding is common and threatens this popular sport angling fish. Excellent research results exist for this group and this new addition to the global knowledge of biodiversity will be anxiously awaited.

Prof Erik Holm on fynbos insects and biological control 

 Prof Erik Holm in action
The fynbos biome is notoriously vulnerable to aggressive plant invaders, and even to animals like deer. 
Insect invaders are less successful. Apart from the Argentine ant (a century ago), the scary appearance of hornets recently and even more recently the harlequin ladybird, few foreigners seam to make it here. Maybe this is not so surprising, since the biome is not really insect-friendly. The insect variety and endemism not nearly matches that of plants.

The obvious reasons for this lack of insect diversity, is the winter rainfall regime, which rarely offers the two basic needs of insects simultaneously: high temperature and moisture. Also, being a “fire climax”, the system is poor in accumulations of compost and poor in nitrogen generally.

The insects that occur endemically are however, isolated and specialized relics. There is a rich variety of ants and small shrub-woodborers. (Buprestidae) The mountains provide refuges for isolated populations of rare flightless beetles – stag beetles of the genus Colophon and chafers of the germs Ischnestoma. Also the flower visiting monkey beetles Hoplini and fruit chafers (Cetaoniinae) are represented by a veritable explosion of genera and species.

Most of the exotic insects here are introduced agricultural pests, which luckily stick to their alien agricultural host plants. Some were introduced to control plant invasives, like the successful Cocheniel bug and the Cactoblastis moth on prickly pear, and the dozens of parasites introduced against other invaders like Hakea. Since entomologists are extremely careful in their choices of these releases, there has been no single mishap where these introduced species have switched to endemic host plants.

Colophon Beetle