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 new Iris of the genus Moraea was discovered by Rawsonville resident and conservationist Anso le Roux in a veld near Cape Town in 2009. It has been scientifically described by Dr John Manning (SANBI) and Dr Peter Goldblatt (Missouri Botanical Gardens, USA).
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 and only two populations of this species remain in the wild. It’s IUCN Red List conservation status is currently being assessed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) Threatened Species Programme as Critically Endangered, joining 2577 plant species in South Africa that are threatened with extinction.
South Africa has recently become the first mega-diverse country to assess the IUCN Red List status of all its 20,456 plant species. The assessment shows that one in every four plants in South Africa is of conservation concern and one in eight species is threatened with extinction.
The Moraea vuvuzela is one way in which SANBI and the biodiversity sector will contribute towards ensuring that the legacy of the 2010 world cup lives on after the event is over. The species name and its association with the world cup will go a long way towards preserving this special plant.
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. The grant from BIOPAT will be used to help conserve remaining populations of this unique species.
SANBI is an institute under the Department of Environmental Affairs (an IUCN state member since 1993) responsible for ensuring that biodiversity knowledge influences policy, management and decision making.