Botswana - iNaturalist World Tour

We're in Botswana for the 51st stop on the iNaturalist World Tour - part of a Southern Africa duo (we'll be in Namibia tomorrow). The top observer is @botswanabugs based on the Eastern side of Botswana near the second top observer @tuli, a retired botanist and insect enthusiast. @robert_taylor, an ecologist based in northern Botswana, has activity centered near the Okavango Delta region along with @ricky_taylor, @joachim, and @dewald2. @muir, now based in Alaska, did research in the Kalahari in a previous life where his Botswana observations are centered. There is a cluster of top observers in the 4-corners area (@craigpeter, @echo-lawrence, @supergan). The 4-corners area is where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe meet and is gateway to some iconic parks like Chobe National Park and sights like Victoria Falls.


The number of observations per month jumped towards the end of 2017. This coincides with when the Southern Africa community formerly on iSpot joined iNaturalist as described here. But its a bit odd because migrated observations from iSpot had their original iSpot creation dates preserved, so its unclear exactly why the rate of newly created observations jumped up here. There have been some home grown activity in Botswana such as this Okavanga Fishes project orchestrated by @tshepibotumile thanks to short lived funding by JRS and the heroic volunteer efforts of @robert_taylor. You can read more about @robert_taylor in this Observation of the Week post about a sighting of his from Namibia.


Most of the top identifiers joined iNaturalist with the arrival of the Southern Africa community described above including @alanhorstmann who is the top identifiers overall and leads in leads Botswana bird IDs in addition to having expertise in southern African plants. @colin25 is the second top identifier and leads fungi, @beetledude leads insects, @wynand_uys leads in arachnids and fish, and @alexdreyer leads in plants. This move was orchestrated by @tonyrebelo, an ecologist at SANBI and also a top identifier in Botswana. Other top identifiers in Botswana predate the arrival of this community including @jakob who's been a dominant force in the African community on iNaturalist since its early days and @johnnybirder an ecologist originally from South Africa now based in the US. Many thanks to other top identifiers such as @calebcam and @ldacosta.


What can we do to get more people using iNaturalist in Botswana? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@botswanabugs @tuli @robert_taylor @joachim @dewald2 @alanhorstmann @colin25 @johnnybirder @jakob @tonyrebelo

We’ll be back tomorrow in nearby Namibia!

Posted by loarie loarie, August 13, 2019 18:44

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Thanks @loarie. I discovered iNaturalist in Jan 2018 after retiring as a long-term school Science teacher. I do wish somebody had introduced me to iNat much earlier. It would have been so useful for student research projects, wildlife clubs and environmental clubs in the schools I worked in. Inat would have been a godsend ! I dont really think iNat has started taking off yet in Botswana. The engines are just being revved up ! I think it would be helpful if the bigwigs in iNaturalist could communicate directly with the bigwigs in Botswana's Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism, Director of Museums, Coordinator of Research , Heads of Biology Depts in Universities and Game Park Managers. Perhaps Govt Depts in Botswana still need to develop policies about Citizen Science. It may help if there is a direct Top Person to Top Person communication , to show that iNat is truly global, growing, immensely valuable, very large-scale and certainly here to stay and is not going to run away and will cost Botswana nothing at all !

Botswana still needs to consider having City Nature Challenges in its towns and villages even if on a small scale, but a start should be made. Information about the next City Nature Challenge in 2020 needs to be available. Again, perhaps iNaturalist could send information about the City Nature Challenge directly to political and civic leaders throughout Africa to arouse more interest in the global competition. There were only three cities from Africa taking part in 2019 ! Not very good.

Lastly, please could the iNaturalist computers also produce population-weighted league tables. I think information about number of observations per 1000 people, number observers per 1000 and number of identifiers per 1000 people show a lot about the iNat interest or iNat apathy of a country and may be a good measure of how active the people in smaller countries are. My rough calculations in July 2019 suggest that USA had about 30 observations per 1000 people of its population while Botswana had 9 observations per 1000. Botswana has far to go to catch up with USA !

Very lastly, I would like to thank @tonyrebelo , far away in Cape Town for all his IDs, initiatives and advice given to iNaturalists in Botswana.

Thanks from Botswanabugs

Posted by botswanabugs 6 days ago (Flag)
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@loarie Please spell Botswana properly !

Posted by botswanabugs 6 days ago (Flag)
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@botswanabugs I just fixed the misspellings. Oops!

Posted by carrieseltzer 6 days ago (Flag)
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I was responsible for a couple of the pre-2017 mini-peaks, glad to see observations become much more sustained in past couple years. I'm curious to hear from @robert_taylor or anybody else with links to Botswana's nature tourism industry, particularly in the delta and N Botswana: what is the potential pay-off for iNat outreach and adoption by some of the touring companies and lodges? Also curious about @botswanabugs suggestions about government engagement.

Posted by muir 6 days ago (Flag)
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@muir Its interesting that some smaller and private reserves/parks seem to me to have no iNat observations at all, within them even though some have vigorous educational programmes for youth. The only touring company I have seen making use of iNat is perhaps Wilderness Safaris which has recently started posting observations @wilderness_botswana. Hopefully other touring companies will copy.

If Government does have or develops policies to promote Citizen Science, as other countries do, then wouldn't iNaturalist be an ideal platform ? I do suggest that iNaturalist does aim to influence political leadership. The current President of Botswana, I think was once an Environmental Education Officer !

Posted by botswanabugs 6 days ago (Flag)
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What happened with Puerto Rico? Me and my collabs were waiting for it :/
Yesterday it was posted in iNat:
*Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, but we're covering it separately as part of the World Tour because it has its own ISO 3166 code. As we proceed especially to more of the smaller islands, we'll encounter this situation again where outlying territories are highlighted separately from their associated country."

Posted by langlands 5 days ago (Flag)
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@langlands Puerto Rico will be on Friday (the update is usually posted around noon Pacific Time). You can see the sequence here: https://inaturalist.github.io/internationals_all.html

Posted by carrieseltzer 5 days ago (Flag)
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@carrieseltzer Excellent! may be that the ranking is dynamic and as days pass we have a new sorting. For example now Canada is number 2 taking over Mexico thanks to summertime :)

Posted by langlands 5 days ago (Flag)
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@langlands For the purposes of the World Tour, the stats have been updated just once a month, so the ranking of Puerto Rico won't change before the feature, but do keep adding observations and maybe the next sorting will move it up ;-)

Posted by carrieseltzer 5 days ago (Flag)
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@carrieseltzer please consider additional rankings that take into account the population of countries. The number of observations per 1000 people or the number of observers or identifiers per 1000. This may better show the popularity of iNat in a country.. An easy, millisecond job for an iNat computer.

Posted by botswanabugs 5 days ago (Flag)
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@dhjacobs @wongun @fubr @andrew_hankey @troos @sedgesrock @peterslingsby @qgrobler @wolfachim Thanks so much for your expertise and all your IDs of Botswana's plants and insects.

Posted by botswanabugs 5 days ago (Flag)

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