Arm in Arm – Linking Conservation Managers and Local Communities to Achieve Conservation Goals
Citizen science tools and initiatives allow interested parties to participate in advancing scientific knowledge and caring for the environment. Citizen science projects are increasingly being undertaken internationally and have involved contributions from hundreds of thousands of people. Examples, include investigating the invertebrate community in streams as part of the local miniSASS initiative, participating in computer-based research on the Zooniverse platform, and recording Yellowstone National Park geyser eruptions for the Yellowstone Citizen Science initiative. While citizen science is still a burgeoning concept in South Africa, several initiatives have and are being undertaken. For example, the Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) “Mayday for Rivers” project, which entailed a river walk, from source to sea, along the uMngeni River in KwaZulu-Natal in 2012, was aimed at raising public awareness on the state of our rivers. DUCT has subsequently conducted several smaller river walks which have consequently inspired the Kloof Conservancy to complete their own river walk in 2017. Both groups utilised citizen science tools as part of their river walks, to great success. Based on the outcomes from these river walks, we discuss some of the successes and challenges faced, identify useful and interesting information gathered, review management and conservation implications, and advocated for best-practice methods going forward.