Ford Wildlife Foundation donates vehicle to ORI in support of coral reef conservation

The Oceanographic Research Institute’s Coral Reef Programme has shifted into top gear thanks to the handover of a new Ford Ranger bakkie to the research team on 17 May 2017. The handover forms part of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s commitment to the conservation and preservation of the environment in sub-Saharan Africa.

South African coral reefs, the continent's southernmost, lie within the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site. The reefs – under threat due to global warming – are considered a biodiversity hotspot and have been the subject of intensive scientific study for the past 25 years under the Oceanographic Research Institute's (ORI) Coral Reef Programme. Current studies are focused in particular on the resilience of the reefs to the effects of global warming.

Ford Wildlife Foundation coordinator Lynda du Plessis; CMH Kempster Ford dealer principal Clive Wainwright; and members of the ORI, Larry Oellermann, Stuart Laing, Camilla Floros, Michael Schleyer and Bruce Mann (kneeling). (Image: uShaka Sea World)

“A number of discoveries have been made during the history of this project, including new coral species and a new genus of soft coral,” says Professor Michael Schleyer, ORI research associate. “Since the reefs are at the limits of coral distribution, the team even had to establish whether the corals reproduce (they do), since those found in South Africa may have come from reproductive activity on more tropical reefs.

“The reefs have been mapped and studies have explained, for example, the effects of human activities on the reefs among both the corals and the reef fish. These are but a few results of the diverse aspects of this challenging programme, a flagship of the Oceanographic Research Institute’s activities,” says Schleyer.

All field operations of the ORI Coral Reef Programme require diving at sea and deploying a diving team with surface support. The ORI is well equipped for the task, with a seagoing vessel and the scuba gear needed for the work, backed by laboratory and research infrastructure. However, safe transport is also required for a team of at least four people, in a vehicle with the capacity to launch and beach a boat. Thanks to the addition of a Ford Ranger, this requirement has now been met.

Ford Wildlife Foundation’s dedication to conservation

For the past 25 years, the Ford Motor Corporation of South Africa (FMCSA) has supported more than 150 conservation projects and invested over R30-million to help maintain wildlife and ecosystems in South Africa. In September 2014, FMCSA officially established the Ford Wildlife Foundation to continue this support.

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