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My journey into the Biodiversity Sector has begun!

posted 27 Feb 2017, 03:03 by Linda Dyani

By Someleze Mgcuwa

Lao Tzu once said that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. In June 2013 I took that first step, without even knowing that it’s a step in a right direction, It has become a norm in my community for young people to seek employment after Matric due to lack of funds to further our education. When I was presented with the Groen Sebenza (SANBI initiative) opportunity, I saw it as an employment at first, I didn’t even think twice in accepting it as such opportunities are very rare neither to be found nor to reach the rural communities. The term “Biodiversity” was very new to me, but this didn’t pull me back I was eager to learn all about it and see it what actually entails.  I started off by collecting biodiversity specimens ranging from plants, spiders to insects, each of these required that we undergo a training first as it was all new stuff to us; learning the terminology used in each of these organisms we had to collect was a challenge, but my determination and hard work paid off!  My well pinned and mounted insects specimens, as well as plant specimens filed at the Schonland Herbarium are the reminders of how hard work can pay one off.

That was my first step, it didn’t happen overnight as one would think a step will do, there were so many ups and downs. As I continued walking I remembered that a journey to success doesn’t end with a road block, one has to continue walking even if the going gets tougher.

At the beginning of last year I took another step, moving from Pirie Mission (my village) to the “City of Saints” Grahamstown, where I was working as Herbarium Assistant at the Selmar Schonland Herbarium and a CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) field Project Assistant. As a herbarium assistant I was mounting, filling and identifying specimens. For the CREW Eastern Cape Node I was assisting during the field trips by preparing field equipment prior to the trip, data collection and capturing as well as designing identification guides for the volunteers to search for threatened plant species in their respective areas.

My Groen Sebenza contract was going to expire, by the end of November 2015, but Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) extended this journey to another one year and five months. In September 2016 a better opportunity knocks at my door and I opened the door to become a Herbarium Digitizer for Karoo BioGaps for SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute), sadly I have to terminate the contract with BotSoc. As a digitizer I’m transcribing the specimen data on Brahms (Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System) database and imaging the specimens. Now I can say loud and clear that the journey to make my mark in the biodiversity sector continues…

Linda Dyani,
27 Feb 2017, 03:03