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As part of enhancing biodiversity awareness the Executive Mayor of George, Alderman Leon van Wyk encourages the citizens of George and the Garden Route to participate in the Great Southern Bioblitz (CSB) competition that will run between 28 – 31 October 2022.

According to Christine Ridge-Schnaufer of The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) Eden, the ‘Great Southern BioBlitz’, or ‘GSB’ for short, “is an international period of intense biological surveying to record all the living species within several designated areas across the Southern Hemisphere in Spring.”

“The purpose of this event is to highlight both the immense biodiversity spread across the Southern Hemisphere in the flourishing springtime, as well as to engage the public in science and nature learning using the citizen science platform iNaturalist,” said Ridge-Schnaufer.

“By the end of October, the natural world is on full throttle. Flowers are blooming, insects are emerging, birds are singing, and reptiles are coming out of their winter hibernation. It makes sense for the Southern Hemisphere to observe life at this time of year. The Garden Route has participated in the international City Nature Challenge (CNC) and GSB since 2020 and has been amongst the leaders for biodiversity each time – not really surprising.”

To mark the end of Tourism month (September), Mayor van Wyk visited the Garden Route Botanical Gardens in George on the 27th of September, as one of the sports to show off tourism attractions in George. Cornè Brink of the Garden Route Botanical Gardens took Mayor van Wyk through the tour.

“As the George Municipality, we encourage all the citizens in the George young and old to take pictures using cameras and cellphones of all natural living things on the iNaturalist website throughout the Garden Route Municipality,” said Mayor van Wyk.

“I think it would be great if all of us take a little look at nature out there and start recording this and be part of this whole competition in this wonderful and beautiful natural world we live in.

It is important to know how many wild animals and plants can be found in the area. Are there any threatened species? It is all about Conservation, sustainability, community involvement, making a difference, thinking global and acting global, and of course just wanting to be out in the veld too!

Photos / Observations can be taken using a cell phone or camera (with GPS data) and after registering on iNaturalist must be uploaded onto the website.

Online tutorials are available and answers to any questions can also be found online.

The artificial intelligence of iNaturalist helps with Identifications but is not infallible.

BUT hundreds of experts internationally use iNaturalist (e.g. SANBI) and search for new observations of their specialist field and fine-tune Observations made by Citizen Scientists (you and I !) –  depending on the quality of the photos. And all free of charge.

As each individual becomes more familiar with the functions of iNaturalist, more and more nodes of information can be found, studied and extracted.
Twitter @GSBioblitz
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