Rare life forms


Reaction score
-34 S; 22 E
Many species are disappearing due to humans!!!

Over here, habitat loss due to agriculture, mining, forestry and urbanization seriously impinges on many rare and localized taxa.

I depise all the machines eating up all the beans!


So if you know of any or have a picture post it up.

ps what happened to all the tunnelers saving the woods?
pps you'll be gifted if you ever see this one in the wild!
Why thank you it is rather Royal!

We're working on enticing private land users into conserving whatever natural stands are left on farms (via tax rebates for unploughed land). Some are willing to conserve others are not. Everyone wants money and think there's nothing in conservation. Fortunately the above flower is in a reserve to stay. Many others are falling by the wayside and greed in general. It's bloody difficult and we lose valuable ground daily.
You see we cannot buy all the wild back-which unfortunately seems to be the fastest way to save things-conservation is under subsidised. People here do not value the intrinsic beauty of nature enough yet gladly punt it for the tourism industry. Urban sprawl is moving way too fast here-the government has a challenge to house everyone yet most ppl seem to still live in shacks. On the other hand the bloody rich (some foreigners too) are intent on developing huge tracts of land in 1 go for capital gains (a case in point is near Cape Town where a rich vakkin german wants to develop a huge seaside mountain slope which should be in the Table Mountain National Park). Also gov. officials are quite corrupt and often sell of state/public land to developers thus taking it away from everyone and of course transforming the wilderness - literally overnight. I think these sort of ppl should all live in the squalid industrial areas for good once they made their money.

Ok we're still working on it. :Smile3:
Mmmmmm, and msembryanthumums - bung one up please Subbie - technicolour darlings I have had in my garden....(South African daisies)

Yes, GENETIC RESOURCES is the buzzword...

Do you know about the global seedbanks run by the UN since the 1940s and '50s? Such as IPGRIs (International Plant Genetic Resource Institutes) and CIGAR? These institutes have been attempting to collect valuable germplasm and genetic resources which have been freely given between states so that the major world crops can be kept healthy thru recombination/breeding....that is ONE GOOD REASON why it is important to preserve biodiversity because our food safety relies on our crops remaining healthy - some of the stories concerning the race to save major cereals and other staples from diseases have been a result of the international seed banks - imagine trying to save an important crop knowing that out in the world there probably is a resistant genetic sequence that if bred/developed into the seed at risk will confer resistance....and it happens all the time because CIGAR and others have huge stocks - so as with many rice stories, they save the crop with a gene from another rice strain collected elsewhere (hooray!) maybe thousands of miles away and save the day and lives....and they haven't had to use genetic engineering in the past to do it...

and of course plants for medicines - 80% of the world relies on traditional herbal medicines - but that is arguing for saving species for instrumental (human-centred ) reasons...

Obviously the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the major global means by which biological diversity can also be preserved in situ, but the UN have also attempted to preserve biological diversity and traditional knowledge associated with 'citizen science' practised by peasants/tribes/third and fourth world farmers and shamen, through WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

WIPO is an attempt to set up a 'regime' (a set of soft laws, hard laws and practices) whereby certain cultural products such as arts, textiles, music, and interestingly genetic resources such as plants, can become the 'intellectual property' of those communities who develo[ped them. It is, of course, outrageous that multinational seed companies can come to a country (or the seedbanks), extract genetic resources and sequences and then patent those 'useful' sequences. As you know, landraces of important primary products such as potatoes (swooon the Andes), wheat/sativa, rice (India has about 3-7000 varieties of rice) have been developed over hundreds and thousands of years (see Vavilov) and yet there have been serious attempts by MNCs to patent those products preventing local people from using the seeds because they risk infringing patent rights (see the fuss in India over Neem...)

HOWEVER - I am slightly wary of patenting/IPRs as the way for conserving genetic resources because it appears to encourage capital appropriation of genetic resources - many tribes and farmers (of which the global majority may be women) have traditionally swapped seeds with one another in order to preserve genetic diversity and integrity of their crops and thus prevent disease. If you look at the countries in which blood donation has become a business and people are paid for it you find that they have much worse problems that i societies where blood is freely donated within some welfare state...therefore, in a global capitalist system the penetration of agriculture and pastoralism with capital means that resource relationships are changed in potentially harmful ways.

To my mind, biological science has become a potentially radical epistemological tool by which I mean that genetic research has shown us that we share most of our DNA with the apes and other animals, that morphology is exceedingly unimportant and malluable within the genetic code accounting for a very tiny set of sequences (yet we all seem to judge on appearances!), ands that essentially we are all symbiotic with one another in the recent past or present...therefore, biology should be utilised as a political and ethical means to ensure that we do not hurt nonhuman life because they are part of our world and they should have some intrinsic value - because whatever you use to try and distinguish human from nonhuman life such as rationality, or 'knowing the word of god', or some genetic differentiation, it doesn't work (I won't digress here but if you wanna know more..)..

BUT what you have at present is biology used in the pursuit of a profit and 'capital accumulation' - whilst in situ genetic resources are being depleted biotechnologists are instructed to create new genetic resources/sequences ex situ within the laboratory - which can then be patented WHILE IN SITU BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY AND GENETIC RESOURCES ARE BEING LOST - ITS STUPID!!!!! - Leave life alone!!
And its absolutely schizophrenic - lets spend millions and billions of cash on creating new genetic resources while we're losing in situ biological diversity (see UN Red Book Lists)

So, biology has been usurped as a radical liberatory tool that can help create a more harmonious world for human and nonhuman life by the pursuit of capital, profit motive, and the desire for intellectual property rights....biology can help us to see we're all related but what some people are trying to do is to appropriate that knowledge in the pursuit of profit...in the UK when you train to be a biologist at PhD level they give you classes in intellectual property so you know, either for the public or private sector, how to recognise potentially profitable sequences or processes (you can patent either) and then get patenting - forget using that knowledge as part of an agenda to help the planet - 'wealth creation' is of more utility to society at present or certainly easier to achieve - and biologists CAN become exceedingly rich if they hit the right seam...but as I say, it is up to biologists to make their ethical decisions - and many are vocal about the appropriation of life by capital

As you might have seen this week, the UK govt has tried to ban fox hunting which, if successful, should be seen as an historic milestone in an 'ever-expanding concept of rights' - in other historical times women and black people have not been regarded as fully human and not accorded their rights - but as the circle of rights expands other groups will become included - and nonhuman life is next - after that will hopefully be ecosystems...

I know that conservation ecology has been going thru an interesting theoretical reflexive period at present with a questioning of the role of local people in conservation practices - many of these people have been kept out of the 'development/conservation' process - like Leakey wanting to shoot local poachers - but some of the current thinking about African conservation is arguing that the African environment is naturally unstable and subject, historically, to anthropogenic and environmental pressures whereby crops and ecosystems have become stressed and degraded - but the suggestion is is that this is a natural state of African savannas etc...the people then move on while the land recovers...

but it is interesting that stress might be a natural feature of African environments. This view then leads to a reappraisal of the role of local communities in their environment and allows the parameters for 'harm'/degradation of land by local communities to be expanded.. Indeed, the current argument suggests that very recent paradigms of conservation have been a result of a 'colonial science' that has viewed land and ecosystems in an instrumental manner and ignored local people's traditional knowledge...it is interesting to think that African environmental histories may be a 'natural' cycle of boom and bust!

But land rights are so bound up with colonialism and neo-colonialism in Africa - SA property is being heavily marketed in the UK now - land is cheap and tourism/holiday homes/ and business places are now regarded as acceptable - I do want to talk about land rights abit more but I'm running out of time -

I know you dislike Mugabe but it took them 20 years to start widescale 'land reform' there and it will always be a contentious issue - 70% of land owned by 10(?) % of the population? Leaving aside the democracy issue (difficult I know) the land issue is THE issue for them as a recently freed state.

But in Azania I just hope the rainbow alliance is green too
Errr....that was me above - must have run out of time and it entered me as a guest...so I'm expecting to be well looked after (hint hint )

BUT I'm back! because I couldn't further edit as a 'guest' - yes....conservation ecology and African land rights: the stupid tourist trade may bring back colonial landholding patterns (yet save the environment, possibly, thru ecotourism) but surely the best way is for local people to have possession of the land - not some multinational hotel chain or rich bigwig - and any arguments that local people would damage their environment could be challenged thru the new conservation paradigm I was discussing up there

Now I'm finished

Meijin - Roaaarrrrrrr!!!!!
It's all about people and the environment now-a little too much focus on the people.
Still same bullshit as bulldozers keep ripping away.
Yes red data lists are being updated here.
IPR's are a serious concern that profits go to locals.
Seed banking is being done (wanted to get a field job but can't 'cos I'm white-local politics) here via the UK (Millenium Seed Bank Project-MSBP). I will reapply as no one is willing to work for peanuts 12hrs or more a day with only 1 weekend off a month for 1 year. Not altogether satisfying but at least some are saving it-even if we have to buy seed back in 20 years/200 years when wsaid habitat becomes independent again. Politicians here are not buying into saving seed here so there it goes.


Lots more to say will soon.

ps those are monkeybeetles tucking in...cool hey!
I know what you mean about the focus on people - if one complains then one is accused of chauvinism - but that's just the 'fallacy of misplaced misanthropy' assuming that being ecocentric is being against humans....

But as I say, it is interesting (to my mind) that conservation ecology may have been dominated by an approach that doesn't see how humans have been integrated into their environment until very recently. Of course moving people around because you can has been a key feature of colonial oppression and it may be that for some peoples they have lost their rootedness in their original environments - that has also been the case for many peoples in the UK over the last 300 years due to the enclosure of land that was 'necessary' to create the 'agricultural revolution' (i.e.throw off the inefficient strip-farmers from their lands and hive-off common land used for hunting and fishing in the winter) and of course the industrial revolution and subsequent urbanisation and gross division of labour has meant that many people have no idea about their families or roots only 200-300 years ago - a massive displacement of people from their land...

But it also depends who gets to define 'wealth' - altho' I accept that the pressures to house people and get them the basics like electricity in SA is really crucial...but 'wealth' can also mean biotic wealth and I'm sure that many traditional healers out there use these materials too....
but as far as what sort of development the govt chooses, they can also learn by the West's mistakes - reject nuclear power in favour of alternative energies for example - big investments must be being made ...but as I've never been to SA I don't really know how debate is 'discursively created' ...who is deciding what gets on the agenda...but there must be a recognition given the background of the parties in power that 'development' must also be sustainable to some degree...

If it's any consolation taxonomy is the cinderella bioscience discipline in the UK too - have you come across the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI)? Another UN scheme...not enough of them globally to do the collating so a big initiative since 2000 or so....see www.unep.org
Ok ta
I think I've heard of the GTI. To be honest my taxonomy is lacking as I advanced into Ecology, however I have a head for figures and names so that helps above the usual ecologist (being modest). I know lot's of young and old people doing taxonomy though - I keep going to the Herbarium to identify specimens and re-id them. Incidentally that reminds me I must mail this Scottisch geezer whois just down here to study Senecio (daisy)-I want him to take me out (he offered) to some sites. Senecio has many poisonous species-yehoo-which can kill animals (livestock) JahJah!
True you know-just had a talk yesterday by an Argentinian-he saoid it's similar to home -transformed wise- and thought this place would be full of reserves. See we have loads of initiatives but nothing beats mining. Hopefully more will be reserved in the Cape Lowlands.
The Colonial legacy of reserves excluding people is/was all over Africa not just restricted to apartheid here. Basically that system is corruptable. Local authorities were used to keep ppl off areas whilst guards would take bribes to allow grazing or felling of trees. The village system and local management of forests with co-operation of local authorities occurs in Tanzania-a good case study there-which overturned the "state" forests.

As for Europe sheet the place has been done over. The controls are set. It would be nice to farm wildflowers there. I would like to re-introduce the bison hehe.
I feel glad to be working on a project that is looking to restore endangered habitats in the North East of England. The restoration of wetland habitats will benefit levels of biodiversity and also have knock on effects that go towards helping to reduce global climate change and also the water shortages that are becomeing all the more worrying in the UK.

i only hope that the project work that i carry out is actually used by people who actually do the retoration work and doesn't end up in the bottom of someones drawers being left alone.

*crosses fingers*
Hey that sounds great Biggins-that's what I want to do soon (not one day!).
We have not even started restoration/rehabilitation work on agricultural landscapes. It's only been vaguely attempted on mine dump areas to date (unlike usa).
There should be a lot of that work in UK/Europe now- which goes along with the set-aside schemes. Let me know if you could organize a job there for me?
Yeah Biggins - cheers for that and good for you (and the environment)

There will be a lot of physical geographers joining in on freshwater ecological projects in the near future because of the EU Rivers Project which kicks off in 2005 - trying to get all european rivers up to the same standard...I'll see if I can find a reference when I have a minute...but it will be a mega project.