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Book donation boosts Iimbovane ant project

Ants of Southern Africa book cover

The Iimbovane Outreach Project has received a generous donation of books, which will be used to help in the teaching of biodiversity science to the high school learners.

The donation of 50 copies of the first ever guide to ants of southern Africa, was made possible by the Mapula Trust and the author, Peter Slingsby. While Peter is well renowned for his maps, he is also an avid ant enthusiast and author of several books on rock art of the southern Cape and Cederberg.

His new book, Ants of Southern Africa: a Friendly Guide was published in March 2017.

The donation was handed over during a presentation by Peter where he explained how his lifelong passion for ants translated into a brilliant new field guide. His passion started from a young age, sparked by a book written by the eminent South African entomologist, Sydney Harold Skaife, and continued throughout his adult life.

What struck Peter was the lack of knowledge on ants freely available to the public. He decided to solve this by writing the book which contains high quality photographs of live ants.

“Botanists use dried plants in herbaria, which the public will get bored of, as the need to see the live plants to gain interest; similarly, scientists need pinned ants in a reference collection for studies, the public however, need to see live ants” explains Peter.

With inputs and guidance from some of the world’s leading experts, Peter has filled 256 full-colour pages with descriptions of some 250 species, with mentions of 400 more. The book is filled with fabulous drawings by Peter, photographs by Philip Herbst, and the best of fifty images from iSpot contributors. iSpot is an online community wherein anyone can post and contribute to identification of photographs of any living organism.

Over the years, Peter has worked with several environmental education organisations, teaching children about ants and myrmechochory (seed dispersal by ants). Upon hearing about the work that Iimbovane does, Peter, with the financial support from the Mapula Trust, donated 50 copies of the guide book to the Iimbovane ant project.

Iimbovane is a science outreach project, based at the Stellenbosch University, which uses ants as a model species to teach learners about biodiversity and science.

“This is a very welcome addition to the resources of the Iimbovane project. We will use the donated books during our workshops and field excursions to introduce learners to the full diversity of the species. The brilliant photographs and ants facts will be used to enrich our classroom lessons on ant biology, their social behaviour and biological classification. These books are instrumental in our efforts to educate the youth about biodiversity” says Dorette du Plessis, from the Iimbovane ant project.

For more information about the book, contact Peter at slingsby@icon.co.za

The book can be ordered from www.slingsbymaps.com

Learners from Luhlaza Senior Secondary School

Learners from Luhlaza Senior Secondary School using the donated books to identify ants at a recent Iimbovane workshop (Photo credit: Sophia Turner)