Celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity
Nature’s role in providing food, water, energy, medicines and a variety of materials, is essential for man’s physical well-being and for maintaining culture. Through its ecological and evolutionary processes, nature sustains the quality of the air, fresh water and soils on which humanity depends. From the distribution of fresh water, to regulating climate; providing pollination to pest control; and reducing the impact of natural hazards and disasters, these biotic and abiotic components of nature, are the foundation upon which we receive these irreplaceable goods and services.
The decline of biodiversity, globally, is racing at an unprecedented speed, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying. The direct drivers of change in nature are land and sea use change; exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and the invasion of alien species. Those drivers result from a number of underlying causes that include production and consumption patterns, human population dynamics and trends, trade, unsustainable technological innovations, and locally through global governance.
The impacts of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation on society, goes beyond the decline/disturbance in the provision of ecosystem goods and services; as we observe the world grappling with a zoonotic disease, Covid-19. It has been proven that biodiversity loss through the over-exploitation of natural resources, illegal wildlife trade, and unsustainable land use changes are key trigger points and potential roots for the emergence of new and deadly zoonotic diseases.
It is clear, that there is no better time than the present to shift focus, raise awareness and foster change for the world and South Africans to nurture nature, for the well-being of people and the environment.
The 22nd May 2021 marks the annual celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) under the theme ‘We’re part of the Solution for Nature’. A theme that resonates especially across South Africa, with respect to our mega-diverse flora and fauna, is part of efforts to raise awareness of the role that not only biodiversity plays for people, but the potential role that people can serve for biodiversity and the associated challenges.
‘We’re part of the Solution #forNature’, was chosen to be a continuation of the momentum that was generated in 2020 under the theme “Our solutions are in nature”, which promoted the message that biodiversity is the solution to a number of sustainable development challenges. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better.
To celebrate 2021 IDB, the DFFE is set to host the Groot Marico game gonation and loan event on 22 May 2021 at the Aphamo Boerdery in the North West Province. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Biodiversity Day 2021 will also be mainly celebrated virtually.
About the Groot Marico Biosphere Reserve and the game donation and loan event
Groot Marico, situated in the North West province of South Africa, forms part of the Marico Biosphere Reserve (MBR) as declared by UNESCO in 2018 and spans a total of 447 268 ha, of which 21 499 ha is zoned under the core area for its high conservation value. Falling within a Highveld-Bushveld eco-tone the Marico Biosphere Reserve covers diverse landscapes and vegetation types that support a plethora of special fauna and flora species. Additionally, the unique ‘waterscape’ of the MBR features dolomitic aquifers and intricately linked rivers and wetland systems, which give rise to a number of natural springs and streams, feeding into the country’s natural water supply. This mosaic of natural features further supports the survival of a number of endangered and unique fauna including the leopard, brown hyena, caracal, black mamba and a variety of other reptile species as well as over 300 bird species. The Marico Biosphere Reserve also importantly serves as the habitat for a variety of game species and a few of South Africa’s iconic mammals such as the African elephant, the black rhinoceros and the lion.
These biodiverse and picturesque landscapes are however threatened by invasive alien plants, surface and groundwater pollution, veld fires and unsustainable water extraction.
Biosphere reserves serve to foster the integration of conservation, sustainable development and scientific research and education, within an ecologically significant area. The sustainable development zone within the MBR promotes economic activities such as dryland subsistence agriculture which dominates the land use activities, livestock grazing, game farming on the natural vegetation and tourism. Furthermore, the MBR supports citizen science, scientific research, and education and knowledge exchange linked to local and national levels of conservation and development.
Biodiversity economy and sustainable use: game donation and loan event
Biodiversity conservation through sustainable use and management requires effort and partnerships between the state, private sector and communities. The Convention on Biological Diversity recognises that sustainable wildlife management is the sound management of wildlife species to sustain their populations and habitat over time, and considers the socio-economic needs of human populations. It is upon this ambit that the DFFE through SANParks embarked on a game donation/loan programme which forms part of a national initiative that aims to support and promote social and economic development, benefit sharing and improved living conditions for communities through biodiversity, while expanding on areas under conservation.
The Groot Marico Game Donation and Loan event is proposed to take place on 22 May 2021 at the Aphamo Boerdery in the North West Province. Through ‘Window 2’, a programme within the SANParks Wildlife Economy sector, approved a total of 3474 animals to be donated/loaned, and these are inclusive of the following species: Giraffe, Eland, kudu, gemsbok, impala, springbok, zebra, red hartebeest, blue and black wildebeest; all of which are categorised as 'least concern' under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species Database. The Groot Marico collaboration between DFFE and SANParks will see the handover of the 3022 animals to 31 approved beneficiaries at the Koedoeberg Game Farm in the North West Province.
The SANParks game donation and loan programmes follows a set of predetermined criteria that applicants need to meet in order to be considered for inclusion in such programmes. Integrating the International Day for Biodiversity 2021’s theme, We’re Part of the Solution for Nature, the following criteria exhibits the important connectivity between the game donation and loan event and the IDB 2021:
- Ensuring to protect the ecological integrity of the park through implementing appropriate wildlife population management plans; promoting the survival of endangered species and fosters ways to improve the conflict between human and wildlife
- The types of species and conservation status are considered; the suitability of the new habitat; and overall long-term benefits to biodiversity conservation are maintained and secured
The local communities receiving the animals and those beneficiaries are known to have long-standing traditions of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. The wealth of traditional knowledge in conservation management coupled with the practical experience the community members/beneficiaries possess is expected to support this venture and ensure its sustainability.