iNaturalist City Nature Challenge 2019

This year the City of Cape Town will be participating in the City Nature Challenge from 26-29 April 2019. To win across the board we just need 50,000 observations, 3,500 species and 2,000 observers! The 3 500 species should be the easiest. We are the Mother City, the Biodiversity Capital of the World. With 3700 indigenous plant species this should be a cake. But it is autumn – no annuals, few bulbs, nothing flowering: well we don’t want to embarrass everyone else. But it does mean we are going to have to hunt down our species, and the pics are going to have to be good to make an ID. So please start drawing up your target list and planning your four day’s activities. Don’t forget aliens, and insects, and fungi and our marine life! They all count: just no selfies, dogs or cats! And don’t worry about duplication. The game is to take them again if you see them after 500 m. This is about data for monitoring: where do our species occur?

The City will be opening their nature reserves for the competition, so if organizing bioblitzes, walks, tours, show-and-tell or fun activities is your forte then perhaps focus on this target. So feel free to join in and help out, especially if you are affiliated to CREW or WESSA Friends. Scouts and Guides are also on board.

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 endeavour. For four days after Easter 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 and 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. If interested see

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.

The competition will run just after Easter, from 26-29 April 2019. Please diarize these dates now and choose your weapons!

The City of Cape Town Biodiversity Branch are fully on board. The aim is to open and showcase our nature reserves to schools and the public for the four days. this is an opportunity to recruit new iNatters, to reach out to the public and to get everyone excited about our fauna, flora and fungi. At the same time we will collect data for monitoring and documenting species in our national park, open spaces and city. The data will be used by reserve managers to plan and run the reserves more efficiently, and by Red List staff at SANBI to evaluate the conservation status of our species.


To be involved in this project, all you need do post as many biodiversity observations made within the Cape Town Metropole over the four-day period, as possible. If you have not already done so, load the iNaturalist app onto your smartphone. The app will handle all the things needed for an observation. You merely have to find something living, and take a picture or two, and upload. The focus over the four days is observe, observe, observe: don’t worry about making identifications - there is not time. Of course, you can still do it the old way with your camera. But all observations have to be loaded by 2 May, so that we can identify them.

Interested? Please join our project to receive news and updates:

Your observations do not only have to be from a nature reserve or the national park – beaches, urban parks, trails, waterways, gardens, school grounds – anywhere will do, where there is something exciting to photograph (as long as they are from the Cape Town Metropole – see the map on the project for what is in).

Some rules :

● No people please, and definitely no selfies. Your domestic dogs and cats do not count either (but feral ones do!). Ideally wild animals and plants please, but if in doubt, snap it.
● Use your zoom to take a close-up photo. To qualify we will have to identify your observation (we do that the week afterward the Challenge weekend) and small images are impossible to ID. Please zoom in as much as possible and take the clearest possible pictures. This applies to goggos as much as birds (and small flowers)
● Only observations made within the city limits between midnight at the start of 26 April and midnight at the end of 29 of April 2019 (local time) will count.
● Only one species per observation.
● Only post one observation for a species at a place at a time, with place being about 500 m.

As we approach the event, we will post more information and material about the City of Cape Town Nature Challenge 2019.

Your contacts are:
@tonyrebelo for general matters
@lmossop for city nature reserve matters
@gigilaidler ( for training and courses
Eleanor.Hutchings ( for PR, media and school matters


In view of the upcoming iNaturalist City Nature Challenge from 26 – 29 April, a number of free basic “iNat 101” training sessions to help beginners come to grips with the iNaturalist platform have been arranged. Below is a schedule of planned dates for these sessions, which will all take place in the morning. Starting times may be affected by the Load Shedding schedule and will be confirmed closer to the time. Please RSVP to Gigi Laidler at as soon as possible if you wish to book for a session, providing a phone number in addition to your email. 

Please note that you will need to bring your laptop or tablet, your Smartphone and a flash drive with images of a couple of observations that you can upload.

03 April 2019
KRC Seminar Room, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street
04 April 2019
KRC Seminar Room, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street
09 April 2019
KRC Seminar Room, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street
11 April 2019
Colophon Room, CBC, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street
15 April 2019
KRC Seminar Room, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street
17 April 2019
Colophon Room, CBC, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street
24 April 2019
KRC Seminar Room, Kirstenbosch. Cherry Street