Saving The Old Man, Oldenburgia Grandis

SANRAL has teamed up with Rhodes University to save a rare, endemic plant species, Oldenburgia grandis, and has now brought this species home to help educate Grahamstown residents in the local botanical gardens.

In conjunction with the transplanting of the species, SANRAL also funded a botanical research project to provide new insights into the reproductive biology of this species.

Before this research, carried out by Rhodes University post-graduate Emma Mostert, very little was known about the reproductive biology or transplantability of Oldenburgia grandis.

The project is funded by SANRAL.

Mostert’s studies focus on the ecology of the species, such as population structure and reproductive biology, including seed production, germination and pollination.

Mostert describes the species as “a very strange plant that looks almost prehistoric, which makes finding out about aspects of its ecology fascinating”.

Steven Robertson, SANRAL Project Manager, said it was standard procedure to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) before starting work on a road project.

SANRAL has also teamed up with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to conduct research on the contribution of national road reserves to conservation in the eastern portion of the Fynbos Biome, which forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, one of the country’s biodiversity hotspots.

This is of particular importance in the Tsitsikamma area as most of the original fynbos has been converted to pine plantations or agricultural land.

“The SANRAL approach to environmental management is an integral feature of the agency’s established record of corporate citizenship. Respect for the natural environment is an important goal for us,” said Simon Peterson, SANRAL Southern Region Manager.