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The Southern African Reptile Conservation Assessment (SARCA) was launched in May 2005. Its primary aim is to produce a conservation assessment of the reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland over a four-year period (2005–2009). It has the distinction of being the first faunal project of the newly constituted South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) which, previously – as the National Botanical Institute (NBI) – was concerned only with plants. A Plan for Phylogenetic Studies of Southern African Reptiles brings together a comprehensive set of guidelines for a whole section of southern Africa's biodiversity research, and should remain relevant for at least a decade. Areas under study include priorities for systematic studies on southern African reptiles; taxonomic units relevant to conservation planning; mismatches between morphology and genetics; methods, techniques and protocols for phylogenetic studies on southern African reptiles; and a sampling and implementation strategy for phylogenetic studies on southern African reptiles.