Update by Marilize Greyling, project manager

The new year has kicked off with a bang promising a fruitful year for biodiversity surveys and research for the FBIP Waterberg project.

In the month of January, the project will see flora, arachnid, arthropod, mammal, and herpetology surveys.

The year kicked off with the project’s first dung beetle survey.

Dung beetles are vitally important to the health of our ecosystems as they break down and recycle dung into the soil, enabling the nutrients in the dung to cycle throughout the soil ecosystem.

The team is led by Dr. Werner Strumpher (Ditsong National Museum of Natural History), accompanied by Dr Gimo Daniel (National Museum Bloemfontein) and Jacomien Zaayman (UP MSc student focusing on dung beetle taxonomy).

Special conservation concern

The Waterberg Mountain Complex (WMC) in the Limpopo Province is currently the focus of a “multidisciplinary foundational baseline biodiversity data gathering project” after a University of Pretoria researcher was awarded Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP) funding to carry out the Large Project.

Prof Nigel Barker and his team were awarded the funding to carry out the work over a period of three years.

In his proposal for funding Barker said the WMC is a region of special conservation concern and despite being situated a mere 2 to 3 hours from Pretoria, where there is a hub of plant and animal biodiversity scientists, there has never been a comprehensive and structured survey of the region.

READ: Waterberg Mountain Complex in focus as FBIP awards R4m Grant



Dr Werner Strumpher setting up the transect to mark the area for sampling.



Dr Werner Strumpher digging the hole for the placement of the pitfall trap.


Gimo DanielDr Gimo Daniel perfecting the hole for Pitfall trap

JacomienJacomien marking the site.

pitfall trap

The Pitfall trap consists of a two-liter container placed level with the surface of the soil. A soap mixture gets poured into the container, in order for the dung beetles to stay inside once fallen in.


dung ball

A cloth dipped in and filled with fresh dung is placed over the container. Here you can see it starting to work seconds after setup.


Trapped beetles

The traps stay on site for 48 hours and are serviced every day. Once done all materials are removed from site.



Dr Daniel scooping out the dung beetles on a service of the trap. These dung beetles will now be taken to the museums for species identification and abundance studies. A percentage will also be preserved in the National Museum so that it is available for future research.

The Waterberg Research Conference takes place 23-25 January 2024

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