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Paris - Wikipedia on Wednesday launched a fundraising initiative - dubbed WikiCheese - to photograph France's bewildering varieties of cheese and put them online to help readers tell their Black Brie from their Tymsboro.

The French branch of the online encyclopedia hopes to pull in 5 000 euros (about R70 000) through crowdfunding over the next month to make the project a reality.

The cash would finance the purchase of at least 200 of France's up to 500 types of cheese, an abundance that once led Charles de Gaulle to quip “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”

The purchase of photography equipment to snap the cheeses would also be covered by the money, Wikimedia France wrote on fundraising site Kisskissbankbank(

If WikiCheese's organisers hit their target, they will hold monthly photo sessions and cheese tasting events at the Wikimedia France offices.

“It's the first time that we are using crowdfunding for this type of project,” Wikimedia France Executive Director Nathalie Martin told AFP. “The idea is also to reach a new community by having them help with the photo shoots.”

Once the high-definition photos hit the Internet they will be free for use by anyone.

By Wednesday evening WikiCheese had raked in 2 000 euros. - Sapa-AFP