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Why wildlife in vernacular?

The relationship between South Africa's rich wildlife and cultural heritage is so intertwined that it’s difficult to talk about most of the country’s cultures without including wildlife. This close relationship is sadly not replicated in published literature about wildlife. Although some wildlife terminology may exist in the vernacular languages, finding reading material in those languages is not always possible as most reading material is published in Afrikaans and/or English. The indigenous languages are underdeveloped and not-well documented which eventually leads to them being underrepresented in wildlife literature. Wildlife in Vernacular (stylized as WILD VERNAC) is an initiative originating from research into the relationship between biological and cultural diversity in South Africa. This research is conducted by environmental scientist and author Fortunate Mafeta Phaka. Phase one of WILD VERNAC focuses on collecting and studying wildlife knowledge from the underrepresented South African languages. This knowledge will be collected on this website and through direct interviews with people. For the second phase, the website will list names of animals in the country’s different languages. Names are an important part of wildlife knowledge as they help organise wildlife into different groups. The third phase builds on phase 2 by compiling, publishing and distributing the rest of the documented knowledge in different languages.

Contribute by sharing what you know about wildlife.


A directory of local names for South African wildlife.


Learn about South African wildlife in your own language.


There are enough cultures and wildlife to keep WILD VERNAC going for a long time.


Questions, Corrections, and Comments?

Email or send a WhatsApp message if you have any questions or comments. Corrections are warmly welcomed as my vernacular is Sepedi and I'd like to learn how to better write other languages.

Email: wild@wildvernac.org
WhatsApp: 0658563696