Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
30 November 2020 | Story Nonsidiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied

Acclaimed South African writer, author, and UFS research fellow Zubeida Jaffer was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her career in journalism during the Standard Bank Sivukile Awards ceremony. 

Passion for journalism spans decades
During the award ceremony on 15 October 2020, Jaffer received the prestigious Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a sustained and extraordinary contribution to journalism. Jaffer said she never chose journalism, but journalism chose her. She said when she first stepped into a newsroom looking for a holiday job in the 1970s, she did not know she had stepped into her future in news reporting. Since then, Jaffer has earned many accolades in the journalism industry as well as in academia. She also became an acclaimed author, and wrote her third book, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, during her time as a writer-in-residence at the UFS. While at the UFS, she founded the online media platform, The Journalist, a platform that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. This portal also links students with academics across the country and will soon be extended to the African continent and the diaspora.

Jaffer said she felt blessed to be recognised among the many journalism pioneers in South Africa. 

“It’s extremely wonderful because it came so out of the blue. This year, with COVID-19, I was digging deep, and trying my best to keep focus. I’m very thankful. It’s made me pause, reflect, and realise that a lot of things I’ve done have been of value. When living your life, it’s not that you’re aware of that all the time. There are many people doing great things who don’t always get this kind of recognition,” Jaffer said.

Still a great need for journalists in South Africa 

Talking about journalism today, Jaffer said: “I am often overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm and determination of young journalists across the country who come from humble backgrounds and inspire those around them. Our country is gripped in a bipolar condition. It is not clear how the healing will come, but it will. The challenge is to keep our minds in balance so that we can be strong enough to root out corruption and gender-based violence, while at the same time fully understanding our blessings as a people.”

UFS alumna Rising Star in Journalism 

In another accolade for the UFS, the Upcoming/Rising Star of the Year award went to former UFS Journalism student Brümilda Swartbooi for her article titled ‘Sy het hard vir ons gewerk’. The article highlighted the senseless killing of a woman outside her workplace, minutes after her husband dropped her off.

Brümilda Swartbooi. Photo: Supplied

News Archive

Researcher uses NRF funding for studies to conserve plant and animal life
2017-04-18

Description: Butterfly Tags: Butterfly

It is difficult to survey all different types of
plants and animals and is therefore necessary to
choose one representative group. Butterflies are
relatively cheap and easy to sample. They are
known to be linked to specific habitats and to
respond to human pressures, such as farming.
Photo: Dr Falko Buschke


Earth is the only planet we know of that contains life. The variety of different plants and animals is remarkable: from the giant whales that swim our oceans, to the tiny mosses that grow on the shaded sides of rocks.  Many of these plants and animals are important to humans. For example, trees provide us with oxygen to breathe, bees pollinate our crops and owls control pests. More importantly though, we can tell a lot about society from the way it cares for nature. Humans are the custodians of the planet and the way we care for nature reflects the way we value life.

Dr Falko Buschke, Lecturer at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, is interested in understanding how the distribution of biodiversity [the variety of living things in nature] in time and space influences the way we should conserve and manage nature.

Earth is losing biodiversity faster than at any time in human history

The planet is losing biodiversity faster than at any time in human history. “There is an urgency to conserve plants and animals before they are lost forever. Nature is complex, so the way we study it should embrace this complexity. We should not rely on limited data on one type of species from one place and assume that it will also apply elsewhere. Instead, it is important that biodiversity research is comprehensive in the types of plants and animals while also considering that ecological and evolutionary processes vary through time and across geographic space,” he said.

To conduct his research, Dr Buschke uses a variety of research tools, including biological data surveyed directly from nature, spatial data from satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems databases, and data generated though custom-built computer simulations.

"There is an urgency to conserve
plants and animals before they
are lost forever."

Field work in the eastern Free State
Although parts of the eastern Free State are considered a global priority for biodiversity conservation, it is mainly privately owned commercial farmland. This means that it is important that plants and animals can survive despite living side by side with agricultural production.

“My project investigates whether the sandstone outcrops, known as inselbergs (island-mountains), are safe havens for plants and animals. Because it is difficult to survey all the different types of plants and animals, it is necessary to choose one representative group. That is where butterflies come in. Butterflies are relatively cheap and easy to sample. They are known to be linked to specific habitats and to respond to human pressures, such as farming,” he said. “Once this butterfly data is collected, it can be linked to satellite information on plant growth patterns. This will provide a clearer picture of whether plants and animals can persist side-by-side with commercial agriculture”.

Dr Buschke has just begun surveys that will carry on until the end of this year. “This 12-month project is funded under the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept