The Great Southern Bioblitz is almost here! It takes place from Friday 22 October to Monday 25 October 2021. Residents of the City of Tshwane will be joining the residents of many other cities in the Southern Hemisphere, in Africa, South America and Australia, to document our biodiversity in our spring-time.
As many people as possible are encouraged to take part anywhere within the borders of the City of Tshwane, using the iNaturalist app and your smart phone to photograph plants, insects, birds, spiders, wild animals and fungi (no humans or domestic pets though). You can do this in your own gardens, looking out for butterflies or birds or other interesting wild creatures, or even the spiders and geckos which come into your houses. Even better, go to our green and nature areas where the spring flowers are starting to bloom and there are many species of grass and trees to look at, as well as many different insects, birds and other wildlife.
For those of you who have not used iNaturalist before, or who have forgotten the basics, here are some tips.
1. The photos must be taken using the iNaturalist app on your smart phone. Download the free iNaturalist app (the logo is a green bird) and sign in with a username and a Gmail email account. You can also download the app on your computer and use a camera as long as the camera can show your location with a GPS.
2. During the Bioblitz you must enable your location to be seen on your smart phone (this is to prove that the photo was taken within the boundaries of Tshwane and during the time of the challenge). To do this – go to “Settings” on your phone, scroll down to “Location” and tap to switch it on.
3. You can automatically upload the photos as you take them but this does use a lot of data. So it is better to upload them when your phone can be on Wi-Fi. I would advise you to open the iNaturalist app, at the top click the “menu” (three horizontal lines) icon and scroll down to “Settings” and switch off “Automatic Upload”. While you are in “Settings” you can click “Suggest species” and you can also click “Show Scientific names first”, and “Show common names” (many of the common names are American though which can be disconcerting), and you can also make the Common names place South Africa.
4. When you are ready to take your photo, open the iNaturalist app. At the bottom click the green circle with a white cross in it – it will give options for whether you would like to take a photo or record a sound – click the “take a photo” option. (note: the” record a sound” option can be used to record a bird call or a frog sound).
When taking a photo, try to get as much detail as possible which would help to identify the object, e.g. a plant. You can take a photo of the flower, then click the “camera” icon next to your picture at the top to take another photo of the same plant, such as the stem and leaves or top of leaf and underside of leaf. You are given the option after each photo to say ‘OK’ or to ‘Retry’. Once you are happy with your photos of the plant, click the green circle with the white “tick”. This will upload your series of photos of the same item.
5. You will be asked “What did you see?” – If you know the name, preferably the scientific name, of the object, put it in. Or just say “Plant”.
There might be a suggestion as to what the species is – if you agree, then click the suggestion.
6. To take a photo of another object, click the green circle with the white cross in it and do as above.
7. Practice a bit before the date of the Great Southern Bioblitz to get comfortable with all this.
Identifications of all the photos taken in Tshwane during the Great Southern Bioblitz: Identifiers will be needed to help identify all the photos. This is best done on your computer. So if you are able to help, especially if you are knowledgeable about plants or birds or insects, please go to the website for Tshwane’s challenge and help as much as you can: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/great-southern-bioblitz-2021-tshwane
For more information:
Great Southern Bioblitz 2021 Southern Africa umbrella