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Join us, on the 1st of December, at the Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town for the Western Cape Field Guide Association of South Africa meeting! The theme is ‘Below Ground.’ Talks will include the biodiversity of South African shores, a field guide book about the habits and life of South African ants, NSRI and the work they do in the community and marine guiding.

The programme will be packed with great speakers, FGASA news, Guide of the Year Award, and time for networking. There will also be a special tour after the meeting of the observatory. 



8h00 - 8h30     Tea and coffee

8h30 - 8h45     Opening 

8h55 - 9h40     Peter Slingsby - Talk (Ants and his new guidebook Ants of South Africa: the ant book for all')

9h45 - 10h30   George and Margo Branch - Talk (Their new edition of Living Shores)

10h30 - 10h45 Tea Break

10h50 - 11h40 Arrie Combrink - Talk (NSRI and Marine Guiding)

11h40 - 12h00 Guide of the Year Award and Special Mention

12h00 - 13h00 Lunch

13h00 - 13h45 Tour of the Astronomical Observatory

Books and maps by Peter Slingsby and books by George and Margo Branch will be available to purchase at a discounted price – See list below. Please bring cash to purchase.


'In order to under-stand the language of animals and plants, one must first of all learn its A B C, but of far more importance are the things you must unlearn. We will therefore begin at the very beginning'

Eugéne Marais ~ The Soul of the White Ant


A Bit about the speakers

George and Margo Branch

George M. Branch began his career with a focus on the ecology of limpets, which are more diverse and do more extraordinary things than anywhere else in the world. That passion developed into a broader exploration of rocky-shore ecology, competition, predation and other forms of interactions, and he shifted from an observational approach to experimental field work. George Branch is renowned for his marine research at UCT, where he taught and supervised over 70 postgraduate students. He is the recipient of many national and international awards.

Margo Branch is an award-winning marine scientist, author and illustrator. She helped develop the education and volunteer programmes at Two Oceans Aquarium and the Coastcare marine poster series. Margo and George have spent a lifetime exploring coastal shores and have published widely on topics from mushrooms, trees and fynbos to marine life, and share a passion for communicating the wonders of the marine world.

Peter Slingsby

He is a cartographer and has been most of his life, who publishes his own maps of hiking and touring areas, mainly in the Western Cape but including areas such as the Wild Coast. He also has a strong interest in place names and their origins. He has been an environmental educator, the author of seven novels for teenagers/ young people, four of which have won awards, the author of books on walks, flowers, and ants. He is happily married and has three offspring and 3.5 grandchildren. He enjoys red wine and travelling, especially in dry places like the Tankwa. His interest in ants arose in his youth when he met the great Sydney Skaife, of which more in his talk. He was indifferently educated at various institutions of both higher and lower education, the most important of which taught him to read and write. Oh, and an interest in history, landscapes, his country and card games.

Arrie Combrink

In 2007 Arrie Combrink took a major step in his life and moved to Stillbaai with his wife and two children and started his guiding career. He did Level 1 at nature College and had the privilege of working for a few weeks at Kagga Kamma. During a few years he did numerous day-and-multi-day trips with primary and high School pupils raging from survival camps to field and marine guiding.  He assists Cape nature in some of their community committmens as well and even catches a few snakes for them to be released. He is now station commander at national Sea Rescue Institute, who are committed to the community and do a lot of land and sea medical emergency calls, though their primary function and mandate is sea rescue and assistance. He is also involved in presenting Water Wise programmes at a primary school in Melkhautfontein and ‘Ouma Lena se huis,’ a centre for the less privileged.

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