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The History of the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa



1983: The Lepidoptera Study Group of Southern Africa was formed as an organisation promoting the knowledge of butterflies and moths in southern Africa. The organisation has subsequently grown in both size and influence  and currently has over  250 members, with active South African regional branches in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape (members in the Free State and North West provinces are in corporated into the Gauteng-based branch: the Highveld Buttermoth Club). Regional representatives exist in many African countries.

1985: Establishment of the Ruimsig Entomological Reserve in Roodepoort to conserve Aloeides dentatis dentatis, the Roodepoort Copper.

1989: The South African Red Data Book - Butterflies was published, authored by the Henning brothers, with assistance and knowledge provided by many of our members. 

1992: "A Practical Guide to Butterflies and Moths" published, to assist newcomers to Lepidoptera study.

1996: The Society changed its name to the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa (LepSoc Africa), and formed a close association with the African Butterfly Research Institution in Nairobi, Kenya.

1997: The Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve was established near Knysna, to conserve Orachrysops niobe. 

1998: Lepibase (a database) was initiated, along with a data-collating system (Lepidops). Lepibase now holds hundreds  of thousands of records, provided by LepSoc Africa members, and is a valuable resource for researchers and people or organisations involved in the study and conservation of African Lepidoptera. 

2002: The Coega Copper Reserve for Aloeides clarki near Port Elizabeth was established. 

2004: Mark Williams published the first edition of "Afrotropical Butterflies and Skippers”, which is now available to all lpidopterists globally via the Metamorphosis website.

2005: The Alice Glockner Nature Reserve was founded in Gauteng, with the most viable populations of the Heidelberg Copper (Chrysoritis aureus).

2005: LepSoc Africa, the Animal Demographic Unit (ADU) of the University of Cape Town, and the South African National Biodiversity Institute established a partnership to tackle the Southern African Butterfly Conservation Assessment (SABCA) project. Its aim was to create a database containing all the available data about our butterflies' distribution and abundance, in order to scientifically establish each taxon's conservation status.

2010: Following (and resulting from) the highly successful SABCA project, and LepiMAP projects were initiated. The LepiMAP project has a different focus – to continue collecting distribution data in Southern Africa and to expand the scope of record collection to the whole of Africa and to include moths as well as butterflies. 

2011: COREL (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Lepidoptera) project commenced, aiming to use the information from SABCA to focus on the threatened species and prevent them from going extinct.

2011: Metamorphosis, the Society’s scientific journal, went electronic, and not only were all current  articles published on a new website www.metamorphosis.org.za,   but all previous editions were converted to PDFs and made freely available on this website. 

2012: The Caterpillar Rearing Group (CGR) was established. The goal of this project is to study caterpillar–adult-host plant associations, especially those related to moths, which were (and still are) largely unknown. Since its inception, the CRG has recorded over 1000 previously unknown such associations.

2013: SABCA culminated in the publication of the "Conservation Assessment of the Butterflies of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland - Red List and Atlas".

2013: LepiMap project commenced, continuing the citizen scientist recording of Lepidoptera distribution and expanding it to the whole of Africa.

2015-2018: The Southern African Lepidoptera Conservation Assessment (SALCA) project was completed, revising the SABCA assessments of butterflies and conducting the first assessment of South African moths, as part of the National Biodiversity Assessment by SANBI.

2016-2018: Karoo BioGaps project completed, assisting government (through SANBI) with filling gaps in biodiversity knowledge of the Karoo region.  

2016: Butterfly Evolutionary Diversity (BED) project initiated.

2018: Aloeides phylogenetic project launched as a part of the BED project.


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 © 2024 | LEPSOC AFRICA | Official Lepidopterists' Society of Africa | www.lepsocafrica.org
      METAMORPHOSIS ISSN 1018-6490 (PRINT) ISSN 2307-5031 (ONLINE) | www.metamorphosis.org.za

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