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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Breeding of unique game requires a balance between conservation and sustainable use
2014-05-20

 

Game bred for qualities such as unconventional hair colour or horn quality, may on the long term have unexpected consequences for biodiversity and game farming.

This is according to the inaugural lecture of Prof Paul Grobler from the Department of Genetics at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Prof Grobler feels that the consequences of selective breeding should be examined carefully, as there is currently much speculation on the subject without sound scientific information to back it.

“At the moment, colour variation invokes much interest among game farmers and breeders. Unusual colour variants are already available in different game species. These unusual animals usually fetch much higher prices at auctions compared to prices for the ‘normal’ individuals of the species.”

Examples of these unusual variants are springbuck being bred in white, black or copper colours, the black-backed or ‘saddleback’ impala, and the gold-coloured and royal wildebeest.

A black-backed impala was recently sold for R5,7 million.

“Based on genetic theory, good reason exists why these practices need to be monitored, but one should also take care not to make the assumption that selective breeding will inevitably lead to problems,” warns Prof Grobler.

Grobler says that negative characteristics in a species can sometimes unwittingly be expressed during the selection process for a unique colour. “It is seen, for example, in purebred dogs where the breeding of a new race sometimes brings underlying genetic deviations in the species to the front.” He also believes that some of these animals may not be able to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

“However, one should also look at the positive side: because of the good demand for game, including unusual variants, there is much more game in South Africa today than in many decades. Balance should be found between the aims of conservation and the sustainable utilisation of game.”

Research at the UFS’s Department of Genetics is now trying to establish the genetic effects of intensive game breeding and predict the impact on biodiversity.

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