By Zimkita Mavumengwana & Dane McDonald

karoo biogaps

Cape Town – The FBIP and SANBI is pleased to announce that the Karoo BioGaps Project has come to an end.

The aim of the Karoo BioGaps Project was to assemble foundational species data in the Karoo region.

This was done by undertaking new fieldwork, digitising and georeferencing historical data found in South Africa’s museums and herbaria.

The project conducted detailed surveys for 12 representative taxonomic groups (plants, mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles, as well as six invertebrate groups: bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, scorpions, butterflies and spiders).

It also involved sequencing tissue samples to obtain DNA barcodes, compiling information for species pages, and conducting Red List assessments for certain species.

Through this work a better understanding was gained on which species were widespread, and which were very rare and in need of protection.

Hence it was possible to determine which habitats in the Karoo would be sensitive to proposed future changes in land use and development.

Development projects

The Karoo, a semi-arid region covering more than 40% of the country’s interior, has been earmarked for several large-scale infrastructure development projects, including shale gas exploration and uranium mining.

The natural gas predicted to be present in the Karoo basin is trapped in large shale formations and can only be released by the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’).

The project’s Final Report has been submitted to the National Research Foundation (NRF).

This project was funded by the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP), a Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) Global Change Research (Plan) initiative.

The FBIP is hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and FBIP grants are managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Thank you’s

The Karoo BioGaps Project was undertaken from 2016 to 2019 and involved over 20 institutions led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) together with the FBIP thanks all of the role-players who were involved in the Karoo BioGaps Project.

These include the landowners, scientists, specimen curators, digitisers, georeferencers and people who have liked our page and those who have interacted.

Articles reporting on findings and the highlights of the project will be published on the FBIP website and be shared on FBIP social media pages.