Cape Town to take part in City Nature Challenge 2019

Cape Town will be participating in the City Nature Challenge for 2019.

This is the first year of the challenge that an African city is taking part (Nairobi - Kenya and Port Harcourt - Nigeria, are also participating in 2019).

Since we are the Mother City, and claim to be one of the most biodiverse cities on Earth, as well as indisputably the "Capital of the Littlest Kingdom", "Biodiversity Capital of the World" and the "Mother of all Biodisasters", it is only right that we put the City of Cape Town squarely on the Nature Map in the City Nature Challenge.

The task is not a small one. Over 150 cities are entering this year. And we are entering autumn, whereas many are in the throws of spring. No matter. We will rise to the challenge. It is up to us to showcase and display our fauna and flora.

The competition will run just after Easter in April from 26-29 April. Please diarize these dates now and make sure that you are in the city and available. We also need to start planning which reserves, beaches, parks and trails we will be exploring during those four days, and what groups we will focus on: birds, plants, insects, herps or fungi, or whatever.

The City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Management Branch, Environmental Management Department and Table Mountain National Park are both inviting Capetonians to bioblitz our open areas and record everything alive. While the focus is on the wild plants and animals, we also want to record any alien invasives and parkscape inhabitants across the city. The WESSA Friends Groups, and Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) will be helping to coordinate activities in the conservation areas around Cape Town. Please join them on a Bioblitz and help compile species lists for our natural areas - all goggos, animals and plants are game. Please dont forget the school grounds and gardens, churches and halls, and even our houses and buildings: they also teem with wildlife - once you start looking! And the sea! if you dive, sail, sightsee or beachwalk, there is lots to record! And dont forget the night life!

How does it work? Simply take your smartphone and load the iNaturalist app (links at the bottom of this page ). Then sign up to iNaturalist. And you are ready. Do that now! Although the competition is in April, please practice in the meantime, so that you will be slick when the time comes.

All you need to do is make sure that your gps is on and then find something - a plant or animal, or some sign of it like scats, spoor, quills or remains - and take a photograph or two. The iNaturalist App will streamline the process. And send. To save time and data, you can leave the downloading for the evening.

Some rules (sorry there are always rules):
● No people please - definitely no selfies. Your domestic dogs and cats do not count either. Ideally wild animals please, but if in doubt, bag it.
● Use your zoom to take a closeup photo: to qualify we will have to identify your observation (we do that the week afterwards) and small images are impossible: please zoom in as much as possible.
● Only one species per observation. Dont lump them - we need as many as possible.

● Please only post one observation for a species at a place at a time - several photographs are needed for many plants and insects, so keep them on one observation. But if you are going to several venues during the day it is OK to photograph the same species of animals or plants again each time.
● Only observations made within the city limits between midnight and midnight between the 26 and 29 of April will count.

And that is it. Decide on which bioblitzes to join. Make your own teams. Stakeout your favourite natural or city areas. And get ready for the City Nature Challenge 2019. And do a little practising so that you know the ropes for the event.

The competition is worldwide, and over 150 cities are competing in 2019. All will be trying to showcase their nature and encouraging citizen scientists (that is you!) to participate in this endevour. For four days people all around the world interested in nature will be putting their biodiversity onto the map. The competition started between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2016 (Los Angeles won!). In 2017 it went national in the USA, in 2018 it went international and in 2019 Cape Town is participating. Last year in 68 cities, 17,000 people made 441,000 observations of 18,000 species on those four days (see details). The City Nature Challenge is organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles county and the California Academy of Sciences, and run on iNaturalist which is supported by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic.

As we approach the event, we will post more information and material about the City of Cape Town Nature Challenge 2019. Please join this project for updates and bookmark it to see how we are doing (during the event).

Groups on board so far are:

  • City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Management Branch, Environmental Management Department
  • CREW: Custodians or Rare and Endangered Wildflowers
  • WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa) Friends of groups
  • Table Mountain National Park
  • Table Mountain Honorary Rangers
  • Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa.
  • Scouts South Africa
  • SURG: Southern Underwater Research Group

We would like to get schools more involved. If you have any ideas, please contact us.

If you would like to participate, please tell us.

Posted by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo, February 15, 2019 08:08


Beautiful! I can't wait to see all of the observations pouring in from South Africa during the City Nature Challenge! :)

Posted by sambiology over 2 years ago (Flag)

Do invasives/aliens count?

Posted by olvr_a over 2 years ago (Flag)

so theoretically a city could win because it is the most infested with aliens?

Posted by olvr_a over 2 years ago (Flag)

Aliens are part of the biodiversity! Most cities are predominantly aliens ...

Posted by tonyrebelo over 2 years ago (Flag)

How best could young school children take part? I teach a group of 7 to 10 year olds. Would it count for the competition if they used the iNaturalist Seek app which is for children.

Posted by colleenkirkcohen over 2 years ago (Flag)

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