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Vol. 1



John Anderson

‘I endorse the ideals of Gondwana Alive because

it approaches, as I see it, the very core of two
concerns most dear to me¾
the children of
today’s world and the children of tomorrow’s
– President Nelson Mandela
‘It is my hope that this book will reach out to
all the people of the world and serve as a
catalyst for action to steer us away from the
dangerous course of business-as-usual.’
– Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Gideon Smith

Bruce Rubidge

Prof. Bruce Rubidge (b. 1956)¾
Director of the Bernard Price
Institute for Palaeontology, Witwatersrand University; a major
scholar of the mammal-like reptiles and custodian of the world’s
largest collection of fossil vertebrates from the Pangaean phase
of Earth history; was raised on the family sheep farm, Wellwood,
in the central Karoo, where his grandfather built up a peerless
fossil collection and museum.

Prof. Paul Libero Fatti (b. 1944)¾
Head of the Dept. of
Statistics & Actuarial Science, Witwatersrand University; a past
President of both the Statistical Association and the Operations
Research Society of South Africa; served for nine years as
President of the Mountain Club of South Africa; leader of
climbing expeditions to the Patagonian Andes, Canadian Arctic
and elsewhere, notching several dramatic first ascents.
Dr Lee R. Berger (b. 1966)¾
Leader of the PalaeoAnthropology Research Group, Witwatersrand University;
awarded the first National Geographic Society’s Prize for
Research and Exploration (1997) and has recently been
appointed to the Explorers Roundtable of the National
Geographic Society; at 33 years of age, Lee is the youngest
among us and represents a link deep into the coming century.
Prof. Erik Holm (b. 1945)¾
Retired Professor of Entomology
(19811996), University of Pretoria; coeditor of the standard
textbook “Insects of Southern Africa” (1985) and a lifelong
beetle specialist; active champion for the popularisation of
biological science, with seven popular books and 20 years of
regular radio talks to his credit; enjoys superb skill as an artist,
musician, actor and philosopher.

‘We are endangering the future of life on
Earth. The Gondwana Alive project calls us to
take action before it is utterly too late.’
– Jane Goodall
‘The Regius Professor of Geology in the
University of Cambridge read our petition
with care. We were a group of geology
students. It was 1946 . . . we were not allowed
to dream about Gondwana.’
– Sir David Attenborough

ISBN 1-919795-43-X

carefully about the potential consequences of
our actions, I suspect nothing will.’
– HRH The Prince of Wales
‘As a boy studying Buddhism, I learned the
importance of a caring attitude towards the
– HH The Dalai Lama
‘. . . this is why Gondwana Alive is so important
a project. One that will help us to understand
the natural world, sustain it and assure the
future of us all.’
– James E. Lovelock

“Promoting biodiversity &
stemming the Sixth Extinction”


Gondwana Alive
Promoting biodiversity &
stemming the Sixth Extinction

‘. . .we must surely recognise that the ark has
been seriously holed below the waterline. The
Gondwana Alive project is an important and
timely contribution to raising awareness . . .’
– Richard Leakey

Imagine an asteroid the diameter of central Sydney
slamming into the Earth. We humans are that asteroid.
Humankind is rapidly bringing about the extinction of life
worldwide, irreversibly destroying the natural beauty and
diversity of our Earth, impotently converting our planet to
a sad, sullen slum. We are forging the Sixth Global
Extinction: the fifth was that caused, we believe, by a
massive asteroid 65 million years ago that brought the
reign of the dinosaurs to an abrupt close. We must act
now to stop the Sixth Extinction. In ten years time we
will have lost the opportunity. We cannot pass the
neither to any metaphysical authority, or to
coming generations.
The Gondwana Alive Society takes up this challenge with
a three-fronted approach: assembling and spreading the
relevant knowledge; canvassing a critical mass of
concerned opinion globally; sustaining action through the
coming decades by initiating an annual Gondwana
Alive—later Pangaea Alive—olympiad.
Since the stakes could not be higher, Gondwana Alive
aims, like Icarus, yet tempered by Daedalus, for the Sun.

In this booklet, an impressionistic-expressionistic
miscellany, the aims, ideals and scope of the project are
sketched out. It represents a genre of communication
perhaps difficult to classify: nestling somewhere between
a brochure and a book, embracing both science and art,
aimed at both mind and spirit. New territory demands
new rules. Four distinct categories of audience are
addressed: 1) the authors of the book on biodiversity,
past, present and future, to appear in the first year of the
new millennium; 2) endorsers of the book and wider
project; 3) potential sponsors¾
among the top billionaires, corporations and foundations
around the world; 4) the public, stimulating an initial
awareness of the project.
As with most books¾
novels aside¾
or magazines,
Towards Gondwana Alive is for browsing, dipping into;
and the scholar, scientist, social activist or industrialist
will, naturally, browse quite differently.

‘This is just the kind of projection of science to
the public we need worldwide to save
biodiversity . . .’
– Prof. Edward O. Wilson
‘Let us hope that this book will make people
aware of the fascinating variety of Nature
whose future is now at stake.’
– Sir Andrew & Lady Richenda Huxley

The project: lobbying a critical mass of opinion

Preview booklet: “Towards Gondwana Alive”

John M Anderson (ed.)

Prof. Maarten de Wit (b. 1947)¾
University of Cape Town; a
top ranking geologist and geophysicist in South Africa and
globally; creator of the “Geological Map of Gondwana” (1988)
and Organising Chairman of the 10th International Gondwana
Symposium (South Africa, 1998); perhaps his favourite piece of
work, for social as well as scientific reasons, was his book
“Minerals and Mining in Antarctica” (1985); was a Hockey Blue at
Cambridge, whilst doing his PhD.

‘What better place [“Capensis”] then to see the
flowering of Gondwana Alive, a visionary book
that may, no that must! help stem the
inhumanity of human kind and so prevent the
Sixth Extinction.’
– David Bellamy

‘If this doesn’t give us cause to think more


Gondwana Alive

de Wit

“Gondwana Alive”

The book: “Gondwana Alive” (due in 2000)

With messages & endorsements from
President Nelson Mandela,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
The Dalai Lama, HRH The Prince of Wales,
Sir David Attenborough & others
John M Anderson (ed.)

9 781919 795430 >


Around 100 authors internationally, each a leader in their
speciality, are contributing to this 550-page, full-colour
book. It is for the evolutionary biologists to place the
present demise of nature in global context. At the book’s
core is to trace the patterns and causes of biodiversity
change through the past 500 million years of Earth
through the vicissitudes of five major global
and into the bizarre anthropocentric present. Only through understanding the past can we gauge
the present and anticipate the future.
To be accessible and relevant to all, Gondwana Alive will
be published in three editions: scientific, layperson and
scholars’. One explicit goal is to distribute a copy of the
scholars’ edition free to every school in the Gondwana
South America, Africa, India, South East Asia
and Australasia¾
to help stimulate a new curriculum of

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