Bezhoek hosts delegates from the International Cycad Conference

South Africa is host to the 11th International Cycad Conference this year. It takes place under the auspices of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is organised by the Cycad Society of South Africa who also hosted this prestigious event in 1993.

Although this 6 day conference only starts on the 19th of August, delegates from around the world start to arrive a week before the conference already to visit the various sites where the rare species still exist in the wild.

According to the Department of Agriculture South Africa is one of the world centres of cycad diversity and also one of the global hotspots for threatened cycads. Similar to Rhino and other endangered animal species like the Pangolin, Cycads are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species with some species on the brink of extinction. They grow extremely slow and while the older plants are the target of local as well as international smuggling syndicates the young plants often don’t survive veld fires which is a more frequent occurrence in recent years.

The cycad population at Bezhoek makes it a compulsory stop for both local and international delegates. We hosted our first group of 18 delegates ahead of the Conference together with well known Cycad growers Fanie and Ina Vermaak from Cycad Farm in the Lowveld. Among the guests were our own internationally acclaimed Botanist, Researcher and Educator, Dr Piet Vorster.

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