If you are a nature lover interested in getting to know the great outdoors of Cape Town, then this is something to diarise in April! For the first time, Cape Town is participating in the City Nature Challenge – a global annual event that is only in its fourth year of operation and already has more than double last year’s numbers participating. This is a challenge to residents and tourists in over 150 cities to photograph as many living organisms as they can within their city and urban nature reserves over four days from April 26 to 29. Launched in 2016 in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the City Nature Challenge has grown exponentially, and this year Cape Town is among three African cities and over 150 cities in the world partaking in the global BioBlitz.
See your city differently
This initiative to assess the biodiversity of urban areas throughout the world is an exciting and adventurous way to spend time outdoors and pay attention to what plants and creatures live among us. It is so easy to get lost in the cityscapes and forget that there are mosses and insects and algae and weeds that are found in every nook and cranny. Not only that; there are floral kingdoms and forests and birds and mammals that live on the outskirts of our cities, existing alongside us as we go on with our daily lives. The City Nature Challenge is something that encourages us, our families, and our children to pay attention to our natural world and to be a part of the global documentation of the biodiversity makes this a challenge worth participating in.
How to take part in the City Nature Challenge in Cape Town
Taking part is easy, and it even requires using your smartphone! The challenge is so accessible for city dwellers and requires nothing more than downloading the iNaturalist app, signing in, and uploading pictures of every species of fauna and flora you find in your city and surrounding nature reserves. As participants, you are the data collectors, sending thousands of pieces of evidence to the teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences. Here, the data is analysed and the results form part of globally important biodiversity studies and scientific research.
In Cape Town, official activities for participants will be held in designated urban nature reserves on the 26, 27, 28, and 29 April, so families and friends are encouraged to get out and enjoy the sunshine while exploring and discovering as much of the natural world around them as possible. The impact the City Nature Challenge has had around the world since it first kicked off in 2016 is invaluable. There were only 1000 participants in the first year, generating almost 20 000 observations, which resulted in over 2500 species recorded in San Franciso and Los Angeles. By the third year, 68 global cities took part and with the help of 17 000 participants, 18 000 species were identified, and 599 rare/endangered/threatened species were noted observed around the world. This year, Cape Town has joined the party alongside Port Harcourt in Nigeria and Nairobi in Kenya, plus some 150 other cities up for the challenge. The results will undoubtedly be mind-blowing!
BioBlitz the city!
If you’re going to be in Cape Town as a traveller over the specified dates, or you are a Capetonian looking to be a part of an important global nature study, we encourage you to get out there and BioBlitz your city! And if you’ve got a competitive bone or two in your body, you’ll be happy to know that Cape Town is home to one of only six recognised floristic kingdoms in the world. It is already on the map in terms of biodiversity and its incredible protected floral kingdom is internationally recognised and protected as a World Heritage Site. This is such an innovative way to connect people to nature and to engage tourists in the city with a global movement for nature. Don’t miss the opportunity! Follow updates and progress for the Cape Town event on the iNaturalist website profile here.