• John Mendelsohn

Feasts of Grasses

Updated: Jul 25

ORC has enjoyed visits from several eminent scientists and conservationists in the past year: Paul Maritz (conservationist and software developer), Pasquale Scaturro (explorer extraordinaire), Rich Roberts (New England Biolabs geneticist and Nobel Laureate), Brian Huntley (retired and renowned ecologist and conservationist), and Nuno Ferrand (Scientific Coordinator of CIBIO-InBIO and Full Professor at the Department of Biology of the Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto), for example.

Most recently, William Bond (emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town and Fellow of the Royal Society) spent a week with us. William is a giant: physically, intellectually, and personably. As a plant ecologist, his special interest is in savannas and grasslands. He understands the workings of plants better than most. Professor Bond thinks of how he would grow, or defend himself, or reproduce if he were a tree growing on the slopes of a hill in a desert, or a tuft of grass grappling to maintain a roothold as soil is washed away, for instance.

William also dishes up feasts of ideas: small, big, disturbing, and counterintuitive hypotheses, but all provoking serious thought. Some suggest alternative perspectives on global warming, especially in highlighting the value of grasses in reflecting heat and absorbing carbon. Added to these and multiple other values, grasses also have beautiful shades, designs and details.

It is in William Bond’s honour that these slides of playful grasses growing on Ongava during the past two summers are shared.

From left: Grass supporting Red hartebeest at sunset; Cornelis van der Waal and William Bond