The Green Scorpions round up the troops to Cycle for Cycads; and they need YOUR support!
14 November 2014
In a bid to highlight the plight of cycads, the Green Scorpions will be riding the gruelling Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge for a purpose! All funds raised will go to the University of Johannesburg to be used to support the efforts of the Barcode of Wildlife Project and to strengthen the international DNA database.
Cycads have been on Earth for the last 280 million years and, have survived three mass extinctions. Cycads are the oldest living seeded plants. However, largely due to poaching of these plants from wild populations, South Africa’s 38 cycad species are facing an extinction crisis, with 3 cycad species already extinct in the wild, and a further 12 species listed as critically endangered and on the brink of extinction.
The Environmental Management Inspectorate is a network of environmental enforcement officials from different government departments at national, provincial and municipal level. Although not an official title, the Environmental Management Inspectorate is popularly known as the “Green Scorpions”. The Green Scorpions are responsible for monitoring compliance with and enforcing the environmental laws, including those pertaining to cycads.
The poaching industry predominantly supplies private collections and the cycad trade. Plants are poached from the wild as cycads take years to grow and the larger plants, females and rare species, are in high demand attracting high prices. Removing cycads from the wild to either cut up and export for muthi or to confine to a private collection not only has devastating effects on the continued survival of the species but also on the entire ecosystem of which they form a part. Losing cycads means losing evolutionary time.
One of the ways to tackle this crisis is to raise public awareness. The Department is currently part of a collaborative project that will assist the Green Scorpions by enabling them to identify a species, or part thereof as a particular cycad. This project utilizes DNA sequencing technology, which ultimately will increase the evidentiary value in criminal proceedings against the accused.
The team calls upon YOU to take to the streets of Johannesburg and to show your support and encouragement with posters, pom-poms, cheering, water and lots of green energy!
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