These are trying times for all of us. It can be hard to stay focused, it can be hard to stay positive, but there are ways we can make the lockdown more bearable, and even fun! Connecting with nature is important, perhaps now more than ever. Nature is all around us if we take the time to notice (and right now all we have is time!). Connecting with nature has been proven to help us relax, reduce anxiety, and lift our spirits. Nature is good for us because we are part of nature.
If you have a garden, use the lockdown to explore your garden properly. Take your camera (cellphone, “mik-en-druk”, or DSLR, whatever suits your fancy) and see what you can find. Butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, frogs, reptiles, moths, these are but a few of the critters that you might find in your green patch. Keep a species list, take photographs, and whip out all those field guides you’ve been meaning to give a proper read. Try to identify all your garden critters. And, of course, don’t forget to upload your photos to the different sections of the Virtual Museum (where the members of the expert panels will be happy to identify your finds for you).
Okay, so you don’t have a garden? No problem! Step out onto your balcony, or open the window, get some sunshine onto your face and take a deep breath. Grab your binoculars and LOOK! Make a bird list, make a tree list, or sketch the sunrise/sunset. Take photos of any birds that you might see and upload those to the Virtual Museum.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still biomap! Take a wander inside your home, go on a safari in your living room, kitchen, bedroom. Take a closer look, make a game out of it and see who can snap and map the most species inside the house. What do you see? Perhaps you will find one of these, a Marbled Leaf-toed Gecko Afrogecko porphyreus (photo below). These awesome geckos are like your own personal pest control unit, keeping your home free of insects. Remember to upload your photos to ReptileMAP at http://vmus.adu.org.za/
Biomapping can help us all to stay sane and connect with nature. Thank you to all the citizen scientists who have taken on the challenge to biomap at home. You are awesome! Let us know what you find by uploading your discoveries to the Virtual Museum and by sharing your photos on social media. Stay safe, stay curious and stay calm.