City Nature Challenge 2019: Cape Town's News

March 08, 2019

Want to help us organize the City Nature Challenge for 2019?

Things are hotting up. How about helping us organize events around the City Nature 2019 Challenge?

Please liaise with your city reserve and park managers before planning events.
Please forward any activities that you are planning to Leighan Mossop – with details of event, venue, organizer contact and time.

Here is a possible list of activities and themes that you might want to consider for your team. This is purely for illustrative purposes, but if you want to plan an entire activity set, you are most welcome to do so! Please remember to discuss with your reserve managers, get media releases out in your local rags, and a copy to Leighan.

Friday 26:
• Your garden, school and open space
• School City Challenge (biodiversity in our school grounds)
• Ant Atlas
• Schools in reserves
• Marasmodes Madness
• Nightlife ….

Saturday 27:
• Bioblitzing our reserves (daytime: 07:17 – 18:09 and civil twilight (for outdoor activities): 06:50 – 18:35)
• Picnic in the green belts
• Monitoring our waterways
• Alien Wasp Alert
• City Trees
• Diving for diversity
• Night surveys (chameleons, frogs, owls, bats) in reserves

Sunday 28:
• Hiking our reserves
• High altitude species
• Forest fungal forays
• Seashore survey (Low Tides: 26 = 14:22, 27 = 16:07, 28 = 17:33, 29 = 06:26, 18:28 – Neap Tides: Spring Tide is a week earlier)
• Moth nightlight challenge

Monday 29:
• Mopping up: following up on species we missed
• Bird Blitz
• Pomp and Ceremony
• Monitoring our rare species
• Alien survey – finding funnies …
• Goggos at home
• Following progress (on the leaderboard and filling gaps!

And don’t forget the identification parties over the week of 30 April to 5 May!

Posted on March 08, 2019 11:45 AM by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 22, 2019

February 15, 2019

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 on February 15, 2019 08:08 AM by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 5 comments | Leave a comment

February 14, 2019

Cape Town City Nature Challenge 2019: FAQ

Frequently asked questions:

Q? Do planted/captive organisms (excluding dogs and cats) count?
• Yes, all living organisms count. But the focus is on wild and natural organisms. Please mark any observations that you definitely know are planted or captive as such. Note that aliens and weeds are wild!

Q? What happens if my plant/goggo cannot be identified?
• Observations that cannot be identified to species level wont add to the species tally, but will still count to the number of observations score. It is important though to take several pictures of different features from different angles, with some closeups. This will help get precise identifications.
• We hope to get experts in many groups to help us with identifications. So with luck most of your observations will be identified to species level.

Q? I hope to do a 20Nm day birding trip to sea (weather permitting). Will the data be included within the City?
• Strictly we are using a 2Nm buffer to the city, but we will make plans to include any Pelagic trips targeting marine birds, fish and mammals during the City Nature Challenge.
On land though, we will only include the city limits: note that Steenbras Dam, Helderberg and Dassenberg are included in the City, as is Cape Point and Table Mountain

Q? Do the insects in my garden count to the totals?
• Most definitely. As do the plants and other animals that they are feeding on or associated with.
So do animals and fungi in your house: the ants, moths and other visitors also count. Please record them all. If you know that your garden or street trees are planted, please mark them as such.

Q? Do I have to register to participate, or is joining iNaturalist enough?
• All you have to do is join iNaturalist and make observations during the four days of the City Nature Challenge (26-29 April 2019) within the City of Cape Town limits - from Bokbaai to Kogelbaai and from Cape Point to Helderberg and Atlantis, and upload them on or before the 4 of May.
• Some groups have special projects we are requesting them to use. So Scouts will add their Scouting project, CREW volunteers will add the Habitat project, and so forth. if you would like to add your own tags or notes you are most welcome.
• At the same time as contributing to the City Nature Challenge, observations will also automatically be contributing to the Nature Reserve, Greenbelt, and other places, checklists and projects. The iNaturalist website will handle that all automatically. All you have to do is photograph and upload with the iNaturalist app.

Q? What happens if the weather turns ugly and we cannot get out on those days?
• There are four days (26-29 April 2019). We will just have to try harder on the best days. In the very worst case scenario of four days of major Easter cold front storms with torrential rain, we will make up for it in 2020.

Q? Why are we having it in autumn, instead of spring when things are happening?
• A very good question. Some say we should organize our own southern hemisphere City Nature Challenge in our austral spring, rather than during the northern spring. Still we have enough biodiversity to match any northern city in spring during our autumn. Let us prove it. Doing it during our spring will just be far too easy.

Q? Who will identify my observations?
• We will have teams to help make identifications after the data collection period of the City Nature Challenge. So your observations will be identified over the next few days from 30 April until 5 May 2019.
• However, it will help if your observation contains good closeups of features, such as heads, legs, wings, and bodies of animals, and flowers, bracts, leaves and stems of plants, and views of the gills or undersides of fungi. Several pictures of different parts from different angles will help considerably with making an accurate identification.
• If you can help with identification, it will be appreciated. We need both experts who know all the local species in a group, as well as those who can help to put observations into families or genera. Please contact your nearest CREW or Botanical Society group to help us. Identifiers can be from all around the world, so please rope in your relatives overseas if they can help!

Q? By when must observations made during the 4 days be uploaded?
• After the four days ((26-29 April 2019)) are up there are a few days grace (until 4 May) to upload. However, we do need to identify the organisms, so as soon as is possible please.

Q? I would like to photograph small things! How do I get good photographs?
• It helps to zoom in. Enlarge the image on your screen before taking the photograph. If you desire, you can use a magnifying glass in front of your smartphone lens.
• One can also buy magnifying accessories at many smartphone stores, that clip onto your phone and can make minute ants look huge. if you can get hold of one and focus on our really small life, it would be really cool!

Q? How can I track progress during the challenge to see how many observations and species and participants there are?
Visit this project, or bookmark this link: It will continuously update as the challenge progresses.
Check out the competition here: (project still to be created).

Q? How do I find out where a species has been recorded in the city?
On the iNaturalist web page, choose Eexplore, and add in the organism name (you can use common names) and the place (City of Cape Town) and you can look at the map, observations, species (if you have chosen a genus or family), and the observers and identifiers in the area. For instance:
King Protea:

Q? How do I find a checkist for a nature reserve or other place?
On the iNaturalist web page, choose More, select places, and enter the name of the place you are interested in. On the page, choose the checklist option below the filters on the left. You can narrow down the checklist to any group, family or genus that your are interested in. For instance:
Helderberg Nature Reserve:
Constantia Green Belt:
Data for more places:
Blaauwberg, Bothasig Fynbos, Botterblom, Bracken, Durbanville, Driftsands, Edith Stephens, False Bay (Rondevlei), Harmony Flats, Helderberg, Kenilworth Race Course, Steenbras, Table Bay (Rietvlei), Table Mountain, Tygerberg, Uitkamp, Witsands, Wolfgat, Zandvlei
Constantia Green Belts, Jack Miller Danie Uys Park, Meadowridge Common, Rondebosch Common
Ardern Arboretum, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Tokai Arboretum
Strandfontein Sewer Works

Posted on February 14, 2019 08:07 PM by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 1 comments | Leave a comment

January 18, 2019

Resources for the City of Cape Town Biodiversity

Resources for the City of Cape Town Biodiversity

Herewith are some resources to help you to plan and explore Cape Town's biodiversity for the City Nature Challenge. We have loaded checklists and places on iNaturalist, so much of this data is a click away. Our aim with the challenge is to improve these resources for both visitors and managers!

The city contains several nature reserves. Many of them have their own places on iNaturalist.
A full list (with access and opening times) can be found here: City Nature Reserves
See them on iNaturalist - this contains the full species lists as from the management plans and iNaturalist observations::
Blaauwberg, Bothasig Fynbos, Botterblom, Bracken, Durbanville, Driftsands, Edith Stephens, False Bay (Rondevlei), Harmony Flats, Helderberg, Kenilworth Race Course, Steenbras, Table Bay (Rietvlei), Table Mountain, Tygerberg, Uitkamp, Witsands, Wolfgat, Zandvlei

Of course, not all of our biodiversity occurs in nature reserves:
There are urban open spaces, parks, rivers, and of course our own gardens. For instance, there is much biodiversity in these areas (lists from iNaturalist):
Constantia Green Belts, Jack Miller Danie Uys Park, Meadowridge Common, Rondebosch Common
and our gardens and arboreta:
Ardern Arboretum, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Tokai Arboretum
Why not document the birds, insects and other wildlife in your garden?

Dont forget our Ramsar Site: Strandfontein Sewer Works

Biodiversity Fact Sheets
01: Peninsula Shale Renosterveld
02: Peninsula Granite Fynbos
03: Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos
04: Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos
05: Cape Flats Dune Sand
06: Cape Flats Sand Fynbos

07: Endemic Species
08: Threatened species
09: How You Can Help

Biodiversity Fact Sheet Supplements
: Glossary; : Endemic Species; : Endemic vegetation Types; : Threatened Species

Biodiversity: Unique Species
Biodiversity: Unique Vegetation
Western Leopard Toad
City Nature Reserves

Posted on January 18, 2019 12:06 PM by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment