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Connect with the natural world

- By Kemantha Govender

The Axolotl, a unique amphibian that essentially “never grows up”, will be just one of the many creatures at the annual Yebo Gogga Yebo amaBlomo Exhibition which runs from 13 to 17 May 2015 at Wits University.

The public is invited to learn about this special amphibian and other interesting creatures.  “Nature is pretty cool if we understand it,” says Donald McCallum, Yebo Gogga’s Exhibition Director.

“There are six Axolotls at the Life Sciences Museum at the University. Unlike other amphibians they keep their juvenile gills and paddle-like tail but do develop lungs. The most amazing thing about Axolotls is they can regenerate any part their body,” he says.

McCallum adds that one of the main reasons for hosting this interactive educational exhibition is to get people to think about the living world and natural bio-diversity in different ways.

“There is a disconnection from the living world. We need to understand the role that living creatures play before killing them or destroying their habitats.

“Unfortunately in an urban setting when we encounter pest species in our houses, we begin to think that this is nature. Yet there are thousands of other species who get bad press because of a few pests. We should understand that these species have a role to play and we should embrace that,” says McCallum.

People will be allowed to hold creatures, where possible, to learn how to interact with the natural world.

The theme for this year’s exhibition is Into the Light which is the primary energy source for virtually all life forms. An estimated 5 000 visitors are expected over the five day period.

There will also be public talks during the weekend (16-17 May 2015):

  • Astri Leroy from the Spider Club will educate visitors about the wonderful world of spiders.
  • Wits Professor Marcus Byrne, winner of the Ig Nobel prize for his work on dung beetles, will introduce people to these remarkable and engaging characters.
  • Ella Roberts will share her experiences living on a West coast bird island.
  • Rhino SA, a youth based awareness and outreach organisation, will highlight the plight of the rhino.
  • Dr Andreas Faltenbacher, from Wits University, will deliver a presentation titled Photons – messengers from the distant past.

At least 50 Wits students will volunteer their time to educate young learners and the public and are excited about this opportunity to engage with the community.

Weekend visitors can look forward to an “Amazing Race” type of experience and tasting indigenous spinach, Mopane worm pizzas and teas made from local herbs from the veld. 

Date: 13 to 17 May 2015

Time: 09:00 – 15:30 (weekdays); 10:00 – 16:00 (weekend)

Venue: Oppenheimer Life Sciences Building, Braamfontein Campus East

Free entrance