A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a 24 hour time period.
On the 14th of August 2012, this coming together of people and scientist took place in Nieuwoudtville. The event was organized by Indigo development and change in collaboration with CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers). Local community members, high school learners, conservation agencies, students, volunteers and researchers were in attendance.
The festivities of the day were set in motion by Indigo development and change Director Bettina Koelle who welcomed all present, whilst CREW Research Assistant from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Sarah-Leigh Hutchinson delivered a presentation on the various uses and applications of iSpot. CREW Programme Manager, Ismail Ebrahim facilitated practical demonstrations to the participants on how to create and upload images onto iSpot for identification. This was a very exciting moment particularly for the learners, many of whom encountered their first experience of working on a computer. iSpot is an online tool that allows the public and scientists to contribute information to SANBI’s conservation and species databases.
Exciting finds of the day were led by Vathiswa Zikishe, CREW Project Coordinator who prepared a quick identification guide on threatened species flowering between August and September at the Avontuur Nature Reserve. Romulea sabulosa (listed as Vulnerable), Heterorachis aculeata (listed as Vulnerable), and Babiana sambucina ssp longibracteata (listed as Endangered) and Phylica affinis (listed as Endangered) were found. Other living organisms such as earthworms and insects were spotted and are now viewable on iSpot.
BioBlitz participants were taken on guided field trips to the Hantam National Botanical Garden and to Avontuur Nature Reserve by Hantam National Botanical Garden Curator Eugene Marinus, Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) Project Manager Noel Oettle, and four international interns who are currently being hosted at the EMG and Indigo development and change’s offices in Nieuwoudtville.
This BioBlitz event was a great success as it demonstrated the advantages and benefits of working in a non- traditional scientific field study. It offered community members the chance to engage with local biodiversity, learn what is important to conserve, and to engage with basic taxanomic information. In turn scientists are encouraged to share their skills and enjoy the science in a fun, free and fascinating environment.
BioBlitz spotting can be viewed on www.ispot.org