Citizen science

SANBI is involved in citizen science initiatives through iNaturalist and virtual museum projects such as the South African Bird Atlas Project.

iNaturalist is unique in that it encompasses all biodiversity –  plants, invertebrates, birds, fungi, fish, mammals and diseases – in a national database of biodiversity distribution records. Users can access forums, distribution maps, taxonomy, keys, surveys, and link to the Encyclopaedia of Life or the South African Red List for any species. If you would like to be part of an iNaturalist bioblitz and join scholars, novices, scientists and conservationists and blitz a site to capture as many observations as possible, please contact

Projects currently run through iNaturalist include:

  • Alien Early Detection & Rapid Response “Every year new alien species start to go wild. Help us stop them …”
  • CREW Site Sheet “The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers monitors our rare flora. Join us in this fun project and help save our flora…”.
  • Dying Fynbos “to create a database of dying plant reports in the fynbos…”
  • First & Last Records For Season “to document changing patterns associated with climate change…”
  • Illegal Harvesting “to document illegal harvesting, poaching, liberating or whatever…”
  • Karoo BioGaps “to document fauna and flora in the Greater Karoo region…”
  • Reared from larval stage “animals collected as juveniles or eggs and reared up to adults…”
  • Redlist “to assist in redlist evaluation. Anyone may contribute…”
  • Roadkill “to record animals killed on our roads…”
  • SeaKeys “SeaKeys is the first large collaborative project funded by the FBIP. Join one of our projects: Sea Coral Atlas, Echinoderm Atlas, Sea Slug Atlas, Seaweed Atlas, Sea Shell Atlas & Sea Fish Atlas…”
  • Strandings “for strandings along the southern African coast…”
  • Used Medicinally “for observations depicting the use of organisms by the medicinal, muti, magical and marketing community…”
  • VEGMAPhoto “to collect representative photographs of vegetation types…”
  • WLT Monitoring “to collect images that can be used as a fingerprinting to monitor populations of Western Leopard Toad…”

The booklet Biodiversity early warning systems: South African citizen scientists monitoring change edited by Phoebe Barnard and Marienne de Villiers is a result of a collaboration between SANBI, the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.  The booklet is a celebration of the achievements of our citizen scientists and can be downloaded from the ADU website (4.2 MB).