Mornings start earlier than most of us would like; fortunately, the morning chorus of birds in the campsite provides a welcoming atmosphere. Red-capped Robin-Chats sing chirpy songs, while greenbuls and bulbuls provide the background chorus. A couple of Nerina Trogons and Livingstone Turacos add color and beauty to the scene.
There are friendly visitors and foes in the campsite. Vervet monkeys invade the area and force people out of their tents to protect their belongings. The campers even take turns doing “kettie” duty at the kitchen to deter the monkeys. In the morning, the ladies’ ablution block is greeted by a pile of monkey faces in front of the full-length mirror.
Following the monkeys, a gang of banded mongoose raids the dustbins and begs for scraps of food. They are cute and not as cheeky as the monkeys. The giant bush babies also visit after dark, and it confuses some visitors why they are allowed in the kitchen while the monkeys are chased away.
Among the friendly visitors are the local bushbuck and red duiker, which graze around the campsite and pose for photographs. However, mosquitoes are also present and very hungry after the long winter, so everyone is using mosquito repellents like Peaceful Sleep and Tabard.
The rain is a welcome visitor as the scientists are waiting for the creepy crawlies to appear. They have a backup plan to move the open-air labs under canopies and gazebos to ensure continuous processing.
Gerhard Groenewald of Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve is the leader of the logistical support group. He organizes 4×4 wheel drivers’ Eco Challenges, takes game rangers and park officials across borders to visit neighboring parks, and is knowledgeable about environmental issues and related fields of study. In 2009, he joined the iBol project, combining his passion for environmental conservation and off-road travel.
The Toyota Enviro Outreach of 2011 is a highly successful event, and Gerhard credits this achievement to the continued involvement of many sponsors. These sponsors are involved in at least six research projects running continuously. Toyota provides Hilux and Fortuner vehicles for transportation, National Luna supplies reliable fridges and freezers, Good Year is a valued sponsor for the past 11 years, Cross Country sponsors vehicle insurance, CAMPWORLD provides tents and off-road trailers, Mega World supplies camping equipment and accessories for the vehicles, and Total sponsors a significant portion of the fuel for the trips.
The Toyota Enviro Outreach of 2011 is in its final stages, and some of the researchers will soon be leaving. Participants share their thoughts before departing. Prof Erik Holm believes that the project marks the beginning of a new era in biology and emphasizes the shared interest and aim of the bio-science community. Dr. Andrew Deacon expresses his privilege in being part of the project and highlights the enjoyment of the coastal environment and living his passion for biodiversity. Danie van der Walt reflects on the destruction of the natural world and the loss of biotic diversity and sees the TEO project as an ambitious and valuable effort.
The TEO DNA coding team consists of renowned scientists from various fields who display dedication and enthusiasm while hunting down species in the region. The project is ambitious and requires the support of the entire country.
Renier Balt, a citizen scientist, stresses the importance of citizens and nature lovers contributing to the project to reduce the costs and help find species. He mentions the ViTH project (Virtual Tree Herbarium) as a step in the right direction for interested individuals. Renier sees the TEO project as world-class and the gateway for bio-scientists to meet, share, and participate in iBol (International Barcode of Life).
The text includes mentions of various individuals, their experiences, and their perspectives on the Toyota Enviro Outreach project and the importance of biodiversity research.