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SANBI celebrates IUCN affirmation that zoological and botanical gardens are powerful conservation resources

SANBI chief executive Shonisani Munzhedzi: “This is our national heritage. SANBI is proud to be a custodian of this treasure”

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) welcomes an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) position statement that says botanic gardens, aquariums, and zoos play an important role in wildlife conservation and species survival.

“Botanical gardens are not mere nice-to-haves,” says Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, chief executive officer at SANBI. “They are vital links in biodiversity protection and species conservation.”

“SANBI is mandated to protect and promote biodiversity and agrees that botanical and well-managed zoological gardens play an important role in species conservation. SANBI affirms its collective determination to continue playing a role in species conservation and biodiversity management in South Africa.”

The position statement issued last Tuesday (October 10, 2023) states that the IUCN at large and the Species Survival Commission in particular recognises the ‘leading role botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos play in the science and practice of conservation’. 

South Africa’s eleven national botanical gardens represent most of the country’s biomes: from the fynbos of the Western Cape to Free State grassland and the succulent biome of the Karoo. “SANBI and its team of researchers, managers, administrators and workers invest time, attention and intellectual capital in studying and preserving the precious treasure of South Africa’s biodiversity so that it may be better understood, preserved and appreciated,” Mr Munzhedzi says.

“Moreover, the work done at the National Zoological Garden in Pretoria, often in collaboration with biologists and dedicated conservationists around the world, is keeping some of the world’s most critically endangered animals safe from extinction. Successful breeding programmes of the pancake tortoise, sungazer lizard and Cape vulture are but three cases in point.”


SANBI welcomes this IUCN acknowledgment of the work of the Institute, and the work of other botanical and zoological gardens around the world. South Africa’s zoological garden and botanical gardens are not only conservation champions, but they are also treasures where people may come and enjoy the inestimable beauty of our biodiversity. This is our birthright and national heritage. SANBI is proud to be a custodian of this treasure.”

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