South Africans are invited to participate in the Great Nature Project, a worldwide celebration of the planet and its living wonders.  This is part of the National Geographic Society’s 150th and the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s centenary celebrations around Heritage Day from 21-29 September.  Merely add an observation and upload your pictures of plants, animals or fungi at and add the “GreatNatureProject” tag.  You can help put our national biodiversity on the world map.

The Great Nature Project is a worldwide celebration of the planet and its living wonders organized by the National Geographic Society.  Everyone is invited to appreciate nature by taking pictures of plants, animals and fungi in their own worlds, and then share these with the whole world. Together we will create a global snapshot of Earth’s incredible biodiversity—and try for a Guinness World Records® title for the largest-ever online album of animal photos!

Spotted-Eagle-Owl in Fish Hoek garden. Photo Viv von der Heyden

Spotted-Eagle-Owl in Fish Hoek garden. Photo Viv von der Heyden

Southern Africa is one of the greatest biodiversity areas on Earth.  South Africa’s biodiversity alone is one of the five richest in the world. Boasting over 50 000 species, South Africa is home to almost 10% of the world’s known bird, fish and plant species, and over 6% of all mammal and reptile species.  Sadly, our proud heritage is under threat of being lost forever. Awareness of our spectacular biodiversity and how endangered it is needs to be created both locally and worldwide.  We need people all over the world to work hard at safeguarding our irreplaceable natural wealth and to reduce biodiversity loss.

We will also be participating in this Great Nature Project, using our citizen science project iSpot.  iSpot is the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s Virtual Museum, aimed at fostering an awareness of nature by bringing laypeople and scientists together in one interactive forum.  iSpot showcases our region’s exceptional fauna and flora and places our biodiversity on the map.

The Great Nature Project is one of the largest initiatives National Geographic has ever undertaken, and we need your help to pull it off. So get outside, explore, and join in a project as big as the world itself.


How to participate:

With the Great Nature Project, we can all share the plants, the animals and the fungi in our region with the whole world.  From our national parks to our back yards, schools and parking lots, use your camera or cell phone and photograph whatever wildlife you see. By participating, you will help celebrate the amazing and diverse life on our planet. You can also help to set a Guinness World Records® title for the largest online animal photo album.  Everyone is welcome to participate.

To join in, snap a picture of any living organism wherever you are, and upload it to iSpot at  Use the tag ‘GreatNatureProject’ (or #GreatNature) and iSpot will do the rest.  No need to add any #animal hashtags – iSpot will tag your picture as to its group.  Please do not duplicate your observations between any of the other participating projects, such as Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, iNaturalist or project Noah – choose only one.  By participating via iSpot you will additionally contribute to our national database of biodiversity.

All photos uploaded between 21 and 29 September 2013 will contribute to the snapshot.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society and the 100th anniversary of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, since its inception as the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.  We view this anniversary as a chance to not only celebrate a wonderful past, but also to look forward to a new age of exploration.  Both the NGS and SANBI have been promoting biodiversity and nature since their inceptions.  Today SANBI is the custodian of South Africa’s biodiversity data, tasked with collating, disseminating and promoting plant and animal data to all users.

iSpot was launched in June 2012 as the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s site for citizen scientists to find out more about nature.  But it is the keen and enthusiastic mentors on iSpot – both knowledgeable laypeople and scientific experts – that make it a fun place to find out more than just a name.  If you are keen on some group of organisms but have wondered how to find out more, or if you have a goggo or herb or shroom that has been bothering you, put it on iSpot to unlock the world of information on it.  Join your Biodiversity Family on iSpot and become an ambassador for our wildlife.  Participate in the Great Nature Project and showcase southern Africa’s diversity to the world.

“The Great Nature Project is at the core of the National Geographic Society’s mission to inspire people to care about the planet,” said National Geographic Vice President of Education Daniel Edelson.  “Through this project, participants can share their world with the whole world. Experiencing and celebrating nature in this way will remind people of all ages about the amazing and diverse life on our planet and inspire them to do their part to help change it for the better.”

To participate join iSpot at and upload your observations with the tag ‘GreatNatureProject’.  Find out more about the project at and


Information received via WESSA


WESSA Western Cape


Tel 021 701 1397