The City Nature Challenge is an annual four-day ‘bioblitz' to motivate people around the world to find and document wildlife in their cities. Although there is a friendly competition to see which city can gather the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the event, the 2021 City Nature Challenge will focus on the healing power of nature, and on celebrating the thousands of nature enthusiasts around the world documenting local biodiversity.
At the Princess Vlei bioblitz, 440 observations were made by 38 observers, with 170 species identified. These included plants, birds, toads, and insects.
‘One of our focus areas is conservation and travel which includes adventure, that is how this comes in. These activities are great to help them feel more relaxed, and to enable them to get out of the community and see something different … this is my first time at Princess Vlei … I loved the whole vlei itself, and all the small living organisms.’
Kiana Samuels, a grade 9 learner from Brave, commented on how she enjoyed coming to the vlei to learn more about how important plants are to humans. Dominique Fortuin enjoyed scattering seeds, and Iqrah Anders liked learning about how plants are used medicinally and for other purposes.
The Leisure Education Trust sponsors talented students, and encourages them to engage in community activities. Four of these learners were so inspired they came to both the morning and afternoon session at Princess Vlei and also attended the session at Rondebosch Common on Saturday
One of these was Vanshika Patel, a Grade 11 learner from Rylands High. Vanshika said that she had not heard of iNaturalist before the event, but that she enjoyed taking pictures of different plants and learning more about them after uploading them on the app.
‘I found all the flowers that I took pictures of really interesting because they were all so pretty and colourful. I would definitely encourage other young people to get involved because getting involved in conservation allows us to learn more interesting and new things about the nature.’
The event offered us an opportunity to scatter seeds in our restoration areas, and to monitor the plants that were put in last year. A number of protea seedlings are thriving, and some are ready to flower - the first proteas to flower at Princess Vlei for over fifty years.