Leo leapfrogs ahead in nature challenge

Leo Rietveld, 8, with his mother, Ashley Millar, brother, Kai Rietveld, and father, Malan Rietveld, at Die Oog, in Bergvliet.

A Hout Bay boy has his eyes on the top-observer crown in a citizen-scientist challenge to spot living creatures in our backyards.

When the City Nature Challenge opened on Friday April 29, Leo Rietveld, 8, was soon ranked close to the top after attending six events, ending with a night walk in Tokai Park (“Prizes up for grabs in city nature challenge,” Bulletin April 28). The Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard pupil had just missed spotting a western leopard toad.

Determined to tick off the toad, he returned to the valley the next day where the Bulletin spotted him at Die Oog in Bergvliet. The shy leopard toad continued to prove elusive, but Leo spotted tadpoles with his little brother, Kai.

Leo’s mother, Ashley Millar said Leo was ranked 20th but still had many observations to upload. As his father, Malan Rietveld, overturned leaves in the search for a toad, Leo was on his hands and knees snapping pictures of plants.

Leo said his love for nature began on a farm in Canada where he loved catching frogs. Last year, he joined the iNaturalist app with the name funfrog2014. On Monday, the family planned to go snorkelling at Smitswinkel Bay and tick off some marine species.

From Friday April 29 to Monday May 2, participants took pictures of plants, animals and fungi and uploaded them to the iNaturalist app. The uploading of pictures and identification of species continues until Sunday May 8.

You can follow the results of the challenge at citynaturechallenge.org

City of Cape Town biodiversity staff Sihle Jonas and Ashton Mouton with CapeNature’s Lesley-Ann Williams, of Heathfield, at Die Oog conservation area.
Sam Futcher with her daughter, Olivia, 6, at Die Oog.
Sam Futcher, who is seen here with a spotted dikkop outside Die Oog in Bergvliet, compared the City Nature Challenge to an Easter egg hunt.
Sean Petersen, of Heathfield, with Bergvliet girl guide leader Morgan Lottering.
Dante Parkin, 9, and Gabriel Parkin, 6, with City recreation and parks officer Ashton Mouton at Meadowridge Common.
Melinda Lottering from the Bergvliet girl guides attended events at Kirstenhof and Rondevlei.
Roger Graham, from the Friends of the Meadowridge Common, points out a beehive.