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ADU page in African Birdlife, March-April 2014 

ADU page in African Birdlife

Les Underhill

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2014-04-09 Les Underhill 
Advisory Board for the Animal Demography Unit 

The governance of the Animal Demography Unit takes a big stride forward with the appointment of an Advisory Board. Prior to this most projects had their own committees which oversaw the management of activities. The need to have an overarching structure in place is one of the outcomes of a strategy planning exercise undertaken recently.

We are delighted that the following people have accepted nomination to our Advisory Board: Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, Ashwell Glasson, Hermann Staude, John Donaldson, Peter Greaves, Res Altwegg, Robert Morrell, Sue Kuyper and Les Underhill.

The Advisory Board represents a wide diversity of stakeholders. The Board will be having its first meeting during April. The appointment of the Advisory Board marks the commencement of a new phase in the development of the Animal Demography Unit.


2014-04-03 Megan Loftie-Eaton 
An exciting record for OdonataMAP!! 

A very exciting record has been submitted to OdonataMAP!! This beautiful dragonfly is a Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii). Laurenda Van Breda writes: "In the first week of March 2014 a very small dragonfly was found in the Cape Flats Nature Reserve and identified as the Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebrvii), confirmed to be rare in the Western Cape. The few records for this species in the Western Cape range from Citrusdal to East London. No records for the Cape Peninsula have ever been recorded!! And this is the first record of this awesome dragonfly for the Cape Peninsula!"

"The dragonfly experts (Prof. Michael Samways from Stellenbosch University and Prof. Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra from Leiden University) have been consulted and the photograph confirmed as this species. Further confirmation was received when a breeding pair of Black Perchers was discovered in the reserve at a different locality on 13 March 2014. Diplacodes lefebrvii has officially been added to the OdonataMAP database as the first record for the Cape Peninsula!!"

Thank you Laurenda for submitting this amazing record to OdonataMAP!! Here is the link to the record: --- If you have any photos of dragonflies or damselflies please submit them to OdonataMAP at


2014-03-18 Megan Loftie-Eaton 

Sappi TREE TUESDAY has the spotlight on the Wing-leaved Wooden-pear / Wild Jasmine / Vlerksteelhoutpeer (Schrebera alata). Wild Jasmine is a quick-growing evergreen tree or shrub, 4–15 m tall, with a greyish or light brown bark. The leaves are opposite and pinnately compound with few leaflet pairs and a single terminal one. The leaves are shiny dark green above, paler beneath and smooth or velvety when young. The flowers are sweet-scented, trumpet-shaped, and white to pink, with reddish brown hairs near the mouth of the corolla tube.

Schrebera alata

This beautiful tree occurs on the margins of forest or bushveld in Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. It is also found in Swaziland, through southern Mozambique, and north to tropical Africa. The wild jasmine's scented flowers attract bees to the garden, while hawk-moths and dusk-flying skipper butterflies are also often seen sipping nectar from the tubular flowers.

References: Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of southern Africa, edn 3: 913. Struik, Cape Town.

Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. & McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park: 536, 537. Jacana, Johannesburg.


2014-03-09 Les Underhill 
Citizen Science Week : Saturday 8 March to Sunday 16 March 

Citizen Science Week 8-16 March

Ultimately, the goal of all the data collection by the ADU’s citizen scientists is to have an impact on biodiversity conservation. The wealth of data and information contributed by our citizen scientists, collated and curated at the ADU, and analysed by our students and staff and by many other people, has improved biodiversity conservation in southern Africa. Together we are making a difference!

Citizen Science Week celebrates the participation and involvement of citizen scientists in building our digital biodiversity databases, totalling some 18 million records. The objective of our "Citizen Science Week" is to give all citizen scientists a chance to become a community with the objective of collecting and submitting as much biodiversity data in digital format as we are able during the week. Citizen Science Week runs from Saturday 8 March to Sunday 16 March, so it includes two weekends.

We want to involve as many of our existing citizen scientists as possible. We want to recruit new people to our citizen science team. We want to collect as much biodiversity data as possible: so we will try to count the total number of records entering the various databases, and try to determine the total number of different species we record. We want to encourage Team Citizen Science.


We would be delighted if our citizen scientists participated in more than one project, and especially if they participated in one they had not been involved in before. So we want our bird atlasers to participate in LepiMAP, The Atlas of African Lepidoptera, our bird ringers to take pictures of weavers' nests for PHOWN, PHOtos of Weaver Nests, and our CAR counters to give bird atlasing a try, etc. We particularly want to grow awareness and participation in the growing family of virtual museums: see


This is also a great opportunity to try to expand the citizen science team. The best way to do this is to invite someone new to join you atlasing, ringing, counting, virtual museuming. And to show them the project protocols – for example, exactly how to go about bird atlasing.

These celebrations honour you, the citizen scientist. Thank you for your on-going support from all of us at the ADU.


2014-03-03 Megan Loftie-Eaton 
We celebrate 70 000 Virtual Museum records 

70000 virtual museum records

We have hit 70000 records submitted to the Virtual Museum projects through the Virtual Museum website at – it is only two months back that we celebrated 60000! This amazing achievement is all thanks to YOU, the awesome ADU contributors and citizen scientists! We value each and every record and we appreciate your support beyond measure! WELL DONE!!!!