A non-profit organisation focused on research in the arid zone of southern Africa

AZEF 2011: Interactions in the Arid Zone

3-6 October 2011, Nieuwoudtville 


Through the broad theme "Interactions in the Arid Zone", keynote speakers, presenters as well as posters highlighted the underlying complexity and inter-dependence of ecological and well as social systems in the semi-arid and arid areas of southern Africa.


Some of the exciting speakers were Dr Justin O'Riain (well-known mammalian behavioural ecologist), Sarah Frazee (Director Conservation South Africa), Dr Bob Scholes (CSIR Fellow, and well-known ecologist), Dr Michel Verstraete (European Commission), Professor Tim O'Connor (SAEON scientist and grazing expert), Professor Wijnand Swart (University of Free State), Quinton Martins (ace leopard researcher), and Dr Alan Ellis (pollination biologist).

A good take-home message for delegates was the extent to which ecologists and land managers working within the Arid Zone need to engage each other on a consistent and regular basis, given some of the clear mutual misunderstandings evidenced on very critical issues. The issue of 'problem animals' comprises one, but by no means the only topic in this regard.  

Field trips:

  • Hantam National Botanical Garden
  • The Kokerboom Forest
  • Knersvlakte Nature Reserve
  • Papkuilsfontein Farm
  • Avontuur Conservancy area
  • Evening field trip with Christy Bragg to see the very shy porcupines of the area


Best presentation by a student: Igshaan Samuals (ARC)

Best poster by a student: Claire Davis (CSIR) 


This forum was facilitated by the National Research Foundation (NRF – who supported the attendance of 8 students), SAEON Arid Lands Node who contributed towards the running costs, Indigo Development and Change, the Hantam National Botanical Gardens, and Namaqua Wines.