He says, “The concept is as simple, as it is wonderful and (for some) challenging – to sit by a waterhole, spring or stretch of river for 24 hours and do nothing but count every mammal that comes to drink. What makes the count truly unique, is that the vast majority of folks who take part are ordinary people, like you and me. One does not have to be a scientist. Though for the researchers based in and around Hwange, the annual census is a goldmine of information, particularly sightings of rare and endangered wildlife.”
While most of the world doesn’t have the iconic rhino, elephant or lion, we need to know what we (still) have. Maybe the best way to do that is a simple annual, 24-hour count conducted by volunteers like you and me. After all, many hands make light work!
And, if more of us realise just how much has been lost and how low the numbers are, we may get much more active in challenging our governments to cough up the funding needed to rehabilitate and rewild.
As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets done. An annual, citizen science survey, may be just the thing to get our governments into real action for wildlife.
Some countries such as the UK and Australia already have an annual bird or butterfly count, with broad participation. Similarly, a volunteer army is already dedicating their time to count bugs. Given these activities, and the 50 years of experience from the likes of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, copying the playbook, to scale this up shouldn’t be too difficult.
Certainly, this would need to be centrally co-ordinated and the citizen scientists would need the assistance of the professionals to design the best survey methodology and the best way to amalgamate and analyse the results.