Chameleon Bursary

Chameleon-BursaryOver the years Gary and Kathy Jordan had noticed the prevalence of chameleons in the indigenous bushes and shrubs around the Jordan cellar. This soon became an attraction for visitors to the farm. The Jordans have always protected this gentle, natural pest-controller, the Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum). “In African folklore, chameleons are believed to have magical powers,” says Gary, “and this inspired the name for our Chameleon Range of wines.

Although Chameleons are generally not found in vineyards as they prefer dense, evergreen shrubs, it was a concern in the wine industry that Chameleons might be harmed by machine harvesters and vineyard pesticides. In a study carried out in February 2007 at Jordan Winery by scientists working for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), based at Kirstenbosch, it was found that Chameleons are not found in the vineyards at Jordan, but in abundance in the shrubs and trees around the vineyard areas. “This study motivated us to initiate the Jordan Chameleon Research Bursary,” says Kathy, “whereby the tuition and research costs of a PhD student will be funded by a percentage of the proceeds from the worldwide sales of our Jordan Chameleon Range.” “This will have a huge conservation benefit for the Cape Dwarf Chameleon, a species unique to a small part of the Western Cape,” adds Gary.

The Jordan Chameleon Research Bursary will be awarded annually to a PhD student in the specific study of Chameleon research in the Cape winegrowing areas. The selection of the successful student will take place by committee, including representatives from SANBI, local universities and Jordan Winery. A report on the findings and an article suitable for publication will be presented at Jordan Winery every year.

To date the following students have benefitted from the bursary.
Darren Houniet MSc 2008, University of Cape Town: The effects of environment and niche on the distributions of dwarf chameleons, present and future:

  • Kevin Hopkins MSc 2009, University of Stellenbosch: Population Genetics and Morphological Variation in the Cape Dwarf Chameleon, Bradypodion pumilum
  • Jessica da Silva PhD candidate, University of Stellenbosch: Landscape genetics and conservation planning of Dwarf Chameleons in South Africa: A comparative analysis of two radiation clades from KwaZulu-Natal and the Cape Floristic Region.

The latest recipient of the Jordan Chameleon Bursary is Hanlie Engelbrecht. Hanlie commenced her PhD in Herpetology during July 2013 (based at SANBI-Kirstenbosch, registered at Stellenbosch University). For her PhD she is studying the evolutionary impact of the savanna biome on the historical radiation of widespread reptiles across south-eastern Africa. At least three snake species will be used as indicator taxa.

She has recently been to Montpellier, France for a species distribution modelling training, and next is a five week fieldwork trip in Mozambique.

Jordan produces three wines in their Chameleon range, a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay; a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and the latest addition, a Rosé, a blend of Syrah and Merlot. From August 2007, each bottle of Chameleon wine will carry a tag explaining the benefit the contribution from the sales will make to the conservation of the Cape Dwarf Chameleon.

For more information, contact Thea van der Merwe on [email protected]