Enjoyable and Informative Yearly Biodiversity Survey at Cape Flats Nature Reserve

Running since 2010 as skills training activity for UWC’s Biodiversity and Conservation Biology students, it exposes them to various monitoring techniques that they will need in their future studies, research and careers.

 

With more interest from different faculties and the public over the years, it was opened up to include everyone interested in nature.

 

The survey is a fun-filled, adventurous event where participants enjoy nature while learning new skills and gaining knowledge from experts in their respective fields. And all one needs is a camera and enthusiasm.

 

According to Laurenda Van Breda, Environmental Education Officer of the UWC Nature Reserve Unit and organiser of the survey, this year, 116 participants joined from various institutes, schools, clubs and communities for a period of 10 days, including an evening survey. The aim was to photograph anything that moved, slithered, crawled, flew or flowered, she said.

 

“This task was taken very seriously; we received nearly 2 000 camera downloads and 695 i-Naturalist uploads with over 330 species seen! All data collected helps toward updating the reserve’s species lists and recording what is found within the endangered Cape Flats Dune Strandveld and critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos vegetation types.”

 

Van Breda revealed that this year’s results were beyond impressive. “A whopping 50 additions were made to our species lists across various biodiversity groups! This far exceeds last year’s additions of 22 species. More unrecorded species are being seen due to several factors which include weather conditions, survey techniques, experts involved and definitely more eyes searching and photographing.”

Over the 10 days of the survey, 162 Sherman traps were set for small mammals, pitfall traps set for insects, spiders and scorpions and mist nets put up for bird ringing.

Every plant, fungi and lichen were scrutinised and photographed and the birds, butterflies and dragonflies carefully stalked. Larger mammals were recorded through our 5 motion sensor camera traps and reptiles were chased and pounced upon by herpetologists.

 

Our insect specialist enthusiastically swooped about the reserve with his giant net adding two threatened species to our list.

 

Minnelise Levendal, newly-appointed Manager of the Unit, said the highlight for most was the evening survey where everyone bundu-bashed in pitch darkness, kitted out with only a headlamp and UV torch. “The reserve was filled with the enchanting sounds of fiery necked nightjars, the chorus of frogs and the excited shrieks of finding scorpions glowing under the UV lights.”

 

Levendal, who experienced the event for the first time, admitted that she was sceptical and scared initially about the night-time bundu bashing, but her fears quickly dissipated as she was caught up in the excitement and anticipation that filled the air. “I loved seeing how much a group of Grade 11 boys from Mount View High School in Hanover Park enjoyed themselves, even begging their teacher to stay longer. It was truly a memorable and rewarding experience, she commented.”

 

If you or your organisation would like to join us next year, contact Laurenda van Breda at [email protected].

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