How your Photos can Contribute to Bird Mapping and Wildlife Conservation in Africa

Several people, whether on safari or just out enjoying nature around their home area, take photos of birds and other wildlife. Some use very big expensive cameras while others simply use their phones. Whatever your photographic tools or style, your photos can contribute to conservation by building our understanding of wildlife distribution in Africa. That’s the beauty of citizen science in this age of digital technology and the internet! Even if you have no idea what the animal in your photo is, you can submit it to the Virtual Museum of Africa and an expert will eventually identify it and it will go into the database. The VM has projects on all sorts of life forms including birds (including Birds with Odd Plumages, Vulture Map and Photos of Weaver Nests), mammals, reptiles, fish, scorpions, trees and even Mushrooms! (Check it out: The Virtual Museum is great for the African Bird Atlas (which the Kenya Bird Map is a part of), because all bird photos submitted to the VM are linked to the Atlas. If you are already registered on the African Bird Atlas (e.g. Kenya Bird Map, SABAP2, Nigeria Bird Atlas etc), you can simply log into the Virtual Museum using your atlas log in details. Instructions on how to submit photos to the VM are available on the website.

VM screenshot

Another great citizen science website where you can submit your photos to is iNaturalist. This one is great for observations from anywhere in the world, but there are also several Africa-based projects on this website including Mammals of Kenya, Primates of Eastern Africa, Cheetah and Wild Dog Spotting, AfriBats and AfriHerps.

iNaturalist screenshot

Both these websites are great conservation tools as they are building our knowledge of species distributions and they allow anyone to submit photos, even if they can’t identify them, as experts will help ID the photos for them. I would, however, encourage anyone who takes bird photos in Africa to submit their bird photos to the Virtual Museum specifically, because it is linked to the African Bird Atlas directly. For Kenya specifically, there are no projects on iNaturalist that deal with the country’s birds. Your bird photos are therefore much more useful on the Virtual Museum. The VM generally has many more Africa-based projects than iNaturalist (as the VM is purely African and iNaturalist is global), so I would say it is a good rule of thumb to submit at least most of your African photos to the VM rather than iNaturalist (or even submit them to both!).


– Author: Sidney Shema – Kenya Bird Map Project Manager – 

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