Guest Contributor | May 20, 2019 | 0
A horde of beelzebubs on their way to Windhoek for first African fly congress
Some 270 scientists and students from 50 countries are on their way to Windhoek for the ninth International Congress of Dipterology to talk just about everything the ordinary non-scientist can imagine about flies. The congress is slated for 25 to 30 November at the Safari Court Conference Centre.
Chair of the congress organising committee, Dr Ashley Kirk-Spriggs, explained in a statement that Dipterology is the study of true or two-winged flies of which there are many thousands of species despite the general misconception that there are only a few.
“Most people believe that there are only a few species of flies, but this is far from the truth. There are in fact over 160,000 species worldwide, 20,000 of which occur in Africa and it has been estimated that upwards of 30,000 species in Africa await discovery and scientific description” said Dr Kirk-Spriggs
The organisers have partnered with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Gobabeb Training and Research Centre and the Namibia Scientific Society to bring the congress to Namibia. The main sponsors are the National Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa and the JRS Biodiversity Foundation of the United States.
“This is the largest scientific meeting worldwide that deals with all aspects of the study of true flies and is being held in Africa for the very first time,” said Dr Kirk-Spriggs adding that he first mooted Namibia as a Dipterology venue back in 2002.
“I first submitted a bid for Namibia to host the Congress, in Brisbane, Australia back in 2002, but at that time the congress went to Japan, so it is especially satisfying for me personally that the congress has finally come to Namibia 16 years later,” he said.
The scientific programme includes four plenary sessions, 23 symposia, 257 oral presentations and 57 poster presentations. Special features of this congress are the launch of the 2019 “Year of the Fly” and the official launch of the Manual of Afrotropical Diptera.
More special features are the two public lectures arranged in partnership with the Namibian Scientific Society. On 27 November Dr Mark Benecke will speak on: “How flies and other insects help us to understand and solve crimes,” and on 29 November Prof. Stephen A. Marshall will hold a talk titled “Bye bye birdie – hello Year of the Fly!”