19 de abril de 2024

Sabbatical 2024 !

In 2024 I managed to do something that for long I wanted to do: to make a 'tour' of African wetlands, just to see what wetlands look like in other parts of the continent. But of course I also wanted to align this with progress in my research and I built contacts with scientists in Germany, Uganda, Ethiopia and Botswana which may hopefully result in a more generalized understanding of African wetlands, about which I hope to publish some day.

I have always mainly focused on the botany of wetlands and I was very happy to discover that after a few weeks in Uganda, I managed to recognize a wide range of species in Ugandan wetlands. I am grateful to my friends and colleagues that I made that explored the Ugandan wetland plants with me: David Mwesiga, Protase Rwabundinore, Paul Ssegawa and James Kalema. Many common species from South Africa can also be found in tropical Africa so in terms of new species to get familiar with, it was not too much of a big step. But I enjoyed seeing new species in Cyperus, Rhynchospora, Scleria, Xyris etc. I also absolutely found it fantastic to also see completely different types of wetlands, especially the 'sudd', which is floating vegetation that becomes a kind of 'floating island' because of the dense root mass of floating sedges (particularly Cyperus pectinatus). But also the extensive papyrus swamps that stretch out for miles and miles are a pretty spectacular element of Ugandan wetlands. Outside of the botanists and outside of the wetland ecologists, I noticed that there are a lot of very enthusiastic naturalists in this country and rightfully so, because the rainforests are truly fantastic ! In most of the small towns across the country, it is not difficult to find really good nature guides, generally birders, but often very open to learn about plants, dragonflies etc. etc. I have been chatting with people a lot about iNaturalist as I think there would be a lot of opportunity to expand the network here as there is a lot of enthusiasm. And of course it is great to work in a country that is very rich in biodiversity but that does not have too many records on iNaturalist yet. Quickly, within just two-and-a-half months of spending my time there, I managed to become the top observer of dragonflies in the country ! I challenge anybody to take me up on this as there are really great species flying around there ! (Also, still asking for help with my IDs of dragonflies in Uganda !)

Ethiopia was an interesting country to visit, but due to political instability, it was not possible to travel widely in the country. However, I was very lucky to be received by my friend Prof. Bikila Workineh, who did tour around a bit with me and I managed to visit a few nice wetlands in the Southwest of the country, which is Coffee country and the wettest part of Ethiopia. The herbarium in Addis Abeba was quite helpful in terms of IDs of plants, but unfortunately they were busy renovating it which meant not all sections were accessible to me.

I am now shortly back in South Africa but will leave for Botswana next month. I have been in the Okavango Delta before, but never had the opportunity to explore it in terms of wetland vegetation since I did my wetland project in South Africa. Still looking forward to a nice time to spend in Africa's beautiful wetlands !

Publicado el 19 de abril de 2024 a las 05:40 PM por erwinsieben erwinsieben | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario