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5 March 2013

Scientists gather in Kruger National Park for Savanna Science Network Meeting

The Kruger National Park is hosting eminent scientists and researchers from around the world as they attend the Savanna Science Network Meeting.

Kruger National Park Elephants quench their thirst at a waterhole in the Kruger National Park

The Savanna Science Network Meeting provides an opportunity for scientists to share their latest findings conducted in national parks and other conservation areas within savanna vegetation. – Danie Pienaar, head of SANParks Scientific Services.

More than 220 delegates from 78 different institutions in 14 countries are attending the Savanna Science Network Meeting, which is currently taking place at the Nombolo Mdhluli Conference Centre in Skukuza until 8 March 2013. 

Scientists from South African universities, South African National Parks (SANParks) and a number of high-profile overseas universities are speaking at the meeting, where a wide range of ecological-sciences topics are being discussed, including biodiversity, land use and its change effects, rivers, wetlands, freshwater management, climate-change effects, and tourism-related issues, among others.

Danie Pienaar, head of SANParks Scientific Services, said the annual meeting has grown from encouraging scientific dialogue around biological research in the Kruger National Park to now encouraging a broader social-ecological savanna focus.

'The Savanna Science Network Meeting provides an opportunity for scientists to share their latest findings conducted in national parks and other conservation areas within savanna vegetation. This includes numerous research projects and longer-term study programmes within South Africa, also drawing in relevant research and understanding from other protected areas around the world,' he said.

He added that it is an important forum for dialogue and debate about ecological sciences and conservation matters, and a starting point for future research collaborations. SANParks scientists engage and collaborate with a wide range of scientists, research partners and funders from around the world.

According to Pienaar, the networking and dialogue opportunities between academics and park authorities that are facilitated by the meeting are key to promoting insights and proactive evidence-based decision-making. 'It also assists with directing research into priority conservation management needs,' he said.