Posted on the 25th July 2016

The Karoo is seen as an important development area for South Africa, and there needs to be responsible decision-making around developments such as shale gas exploration, farming, mining, renewable energy infrastructure and the Square Kilometre Array, etc.
Currently the Karoo is poorly surveyed for biodiversity and there are large gaps in our understanding of which species occur in which parts of the Karoo. This hampers efforts to determine priority habitats that may be sensitive to future proposed changes in landuse.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), together with a consortium of institutions has launched the Karoo BioGaps Project ( for a focussed approach to gathering biodiversity data across the Karoo in support of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Fundamental Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP). Funding was limited, so plants and ten animal taxa were identified for intensive surveying over the period of the project.
For the Karoo BioGaps project, 60 Pentads were randomly selected for Point Sites that are representative of all the different Karoo land types for formal sampling, adhering to set protocols for each of the selected animal and plant taxa to be studied. These selected Pentads will now be intensively sampled by specialist teams covering eleven animal and plant taxa over the next two years or so. To supplement the intensive surveys, Citizen Scientists will be encouraged to submit observations and records to internet platforms such as such as the ADU’s Virtual Museum ( and iSpot (
Through this appeal, we particularly wish to draw on the support of SABAP2 bird atlasers to focus on opportunities to atlas these designated Pentads (particularly when planning to travel on holiday), in addition to any other contributions of biodiversity observations submitted to iSpot and the Virtual Museum.
We would really appreciate your assistance with encouraging birders to visit the karoo for “Pentad bashing” and to focus on the targeted Pentads listed in the attached document, as well as the Karoo in general, and request that you distribute the attached appeal to your membership to contribute to the project.
Please let me know how we can work together to increase the number of checklists submitted for our target Pentads. Even though we are focussing on our 60 target Pentads, coverage of any Karoo Pentads must also be supported.
With best wishes,
Gigi Laidler
CREW Research Support
Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW)
South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Kirstenbosch Research Centre, Rhodes Ave, Newlands
Private Bag X7, Claremont, 7735 CAPE TOWN, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 799 8766
Mobile: +27 82 485 8399 or when offline:
Karoo BioGaps Project


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