In honour of the first Soccer World Cup held on the African continent, a newly discovered Iris species from Worcester Valley in the Western Cape has been named Moraea vuvuzela after the distinctive horn that has captured the unique spirit of the event.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ) has become the patron of this flowering beauty by paying a substantial donation to BIOPAT to foster taxonomy and biodiversity research in South Africa through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). BIOPAT is a German-based non-profit-making association set up to raise funds, through donation, for use in developing taxonomic descriptions of biodiversity.
The new Iris of the genus Moraea was discovered by Rawsonville resident and conservationist Anso le Roux in a veld near Cape Town. Indeed, Moraea vuvuzela occurs only in South African in the Western Cape in the area between Worcester and Villiersdorp. Most of its natural habitat has been transformed for vineyard cultivation. It’s IUCN Red List conservation status is currently being assessed by SANBI’s Threatened Species programme as Critically Endangered, joining 2577 plant species in South Africa that are threatened with extinction. The BIOPAT funding will be used to help conserve remaining populations of this unique species.
The Moraea vuvuzela which features pretty pale yellow flowers has been scientifically described by Dr John Manning (SANBI) and Dr Peter Goldblatt (Missouri Botanical Gardens, USA).
In addition to commemorating the country’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World CupTM, this initiative also serves to underscore the successful cooperation between Germany and South Africa in preparing for this event.
According to Dr Abrahamse, CEO of SANBI, “we were so pleased to have been involved in the describing and the naming of this lovely plant. We know that long after the 2010 World Cup has gone, its legacy will live on in many positive respects. The Moraea vuvuzela is one way in which SANBI and the biodiversity sector will contribute towards this important legacy. I believe that this association will go a long way towards preserving this special plant, which is being named at a very special time for South Africa.”
Dr Claus Bätke, President of BIOPAT e.V., expressed his delight too: “It was a great honour for our little association, BIOPAT, to be able to contribute to this fantastic international event with such a charming symbol.”
A certificate testifying to this name patronship will be handed over to the Deputy Minister of the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, Mr Gert Oosthuizen, by GTZ-Country Director Mr Peter Conze, on 10 July 2010 at ’Ke Nako Africa’, which is part of the International Football Village in Johannesburg (Birchwood Hotel & Conference Centre).
In describing how the name came about, Abrahamse proudly explains that while discussing various options for the name at SANBI headquarters in Pretoria, one of the general staff members, Ms Poppy Nkosi (who retired from SANBI earlier this year, but was visiting on the day), overheard the conversation. She suggested the name ‘vuvuzela’…and the rest, as they say, is history.