City Nature Challenge 2019
16 May 2019
By Sigi Howes (Centre for Conservation Education)
It’s official: Cape Town is the most biodiverse city!
This is according to the recent City Nature Challenge.
It was organised by iNaturalist, a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists and biologists, built on the idea of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe.
From 26 – 29 April 2019 the City Nature Challenge was held in many cities across the world (absent were Europe and Australia). Ordinary citizens were encouraged to download the iNaturalist App onto their smartphones, go out into nature, and to photograph as many wild plant and animal species as possible using the App. They could do this in the wild, in parks, nature reserves, their school playgrounds or even their own back gardens.
On Saturday 27 April, teachers from the Centre for Conservation Education, marine scientists from the Long-term Intertidal Monitoring through Participation, Evaluation and Training (LIMPET) Programme, as well as members of the Beach Co-Op led the observations at two of Cape Town’s tidal pools: Glencairn and St James. They had underwater cameras available for use by the public, and assisted the children and their parents who arrived with spotting different species and taking pictures. Maya Pfaff, the leader of the LIMPET Programme uploaded everyone’s photographs, which were then identified according to site and species by a team of scientists at iNaturalist. The names of the species were entered into a database and tallied.
The City of Cape Town won two of the three categories: the most observations conducted (53 763) and the most species photographed (over 4 588). In the latter category Cape Town came in ahead of Hong Kong (2nd), Houston (3rd), Los Angeles (4th), San Francisco (5th), Klang Valley (Malaysia; 6th), San Diego (7th) and La Paz (8th) and of course everyone else! The only category we were beaten in was the most people involved, which was won by Los Angeles. We will do better at this next year.
Congratulations to Russell Stevens (Two Oceans Aquarium) who recorded the 9th highest number of species in Cape Town and Maya Pfaff (LIMPET Programme, including the Centre for Conservation Education) who recorded the 24th highest number of species in the Mother City.
Well done, Cape Town!