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Local citizen scientists contribute significantly to global biodiversity survey

Local citizen scientists contribute significantly to global biodiversity survey

Over the final weekend of November, a collaborative effort among scientists, naturalists, and volunteers from the southern hemisphere culminated in the Great Southern Bioblitz, a comprehensive four-day undertaking aimed at surveying all living organisms within specified regions.

Coordinated by the Gobabeb – Namib Research Institute, Namibia played an integral role in this multinational endeavor. Several observation teams fanned out across the Zambezi Region, contributing over 5,400 observations encompassing more than a thousand plant and animal species.

Utilizing the citizen science platform iNaturalist (, observers documented their findings, leveraging the app’s capability to upload photographs and seek identification assistance from numerous global experts and volunteer naturalists.

Collaborating with the University of Namibia (UNAM) Wildlife Management and Ecotourism Studies students along with local schools, the Gobabeb team not only surveyed species but also conducted biodiversity educational sessions for 200 students from five schools in Katima Mulilo.

Dr. Laura Erculei, Principal at Wild Kids Academy, expressed, “The BioBlitz has been an incredible journey into nature for us. Our learners showed impressive enthusiasm, and we realized there’s so much more to learn. We’re grateful to Gobabeb for introducing us to the project and are happy to contribute to its success.”

Reflecting on the experience, Punaete Kandjii, a UNAM student, emphasized, “Participating in the Bioblitz made me realize the critical role of Namibian youth. These encounters teach us about life’s diversity and deeply connect us with nature, instilling a desire to conserve ecosystems.”

The event received support from the United Nations Development Programme and the German Agency for International Cooperation (giz). Additionally, the Ministry for Environment, Forestry, and Tourism generously granted National Park access.

The Great Southern Bioblitz, now involving research institutions, universities, communities, and individual naturalists across three continents, saw Namibia secure the 10th position out of 138 projects globally and the 6th position among the 37 projects in southern Africa. The top-performing project hailed from Overstrand, South Africa, documenting nearly 15,000 observations and over 2000 confirmed species.

Bioblitz events serve as a testament to global biodiversity while fostering public engagement with nature. These initiatives provide scientists with valuable insights into species distribution worldwide, spanning natural environments and human habitats alike.


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