Challenges and Opportunities of Wiki Loves Earth in Africa

With input from Mermoze Adodo, Joy Agyepong, Mohammed Bachounda, Georges Fodouop, and Olaniyan Olushola

This year, Wiki Loves Earth in Africa and particularly Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly diverse. More African countries participate in the contest in 2019 than ever before, with four countries having joined WLE for the first time. So far, African local contests have helped bring more than four thousands of new free photos of natural heritage to Wikimedia Commons. We looked at the representation of Africa in this year’s contest and asked volunteers who lead local WLE competitions in Africa to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for the contest in their country.

WLE in Africa: Who, Where, and When

First, let’s take a look at who is participating in Wiki Loves Earth from Africa this year. Overall, eight countries from Africa take part in the contest in 2019. Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda make up around 20% of all 37 countries participating this year.

Map of WLE 2019 participating countries (Dario Crespi, CC BY-SA 4.0)

As this list makes clear, the presence of Sub-Saharan Africa is especially visible this year. Seven out of eight African countries participating in WLE are from this region, including all four countries which joined for the first time (Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, and Uganda).

As of June 17th, participants of these eight national competitions have uploaded almost 4,400 images. Given that the local contests in seven African countries will run until June 30th (the contest in Ghana has just ended), this number will, of course, rise significantly.

Wiki Loves Earth as an Opportunity to Show African Natural Beauty

The astonishing beauty of African nature is often underrepresented on the Internet and specifically on the Wikimedia projects, particularly in comparison with prominent natural heritage sites from Europe and North America. Thus, one of the key motivators for African Wikimedia communities to organize Wiki Loves Earth is to help show the beauty of Africa to the world.

For example, the Ghanaian team notes that “Ghana has a lot of natural heritage which hasn’t been well represented on Wikipedia. Regarded as the gateway to Africa, the country has scenic views of its forest reserves, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife sanctuaries, caves, rivers, rocks, and gardens in almost all of its regions. Hence the importance to participate in this competition as a medium to showcase the beauty of Ghana to the world”.

Tassili n’Ajjer National Park, Algeria. This photo won the 2018 edition of Wiki Loves Earth in Algeria (Chettouh Nabil, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Continue reading “Challenges and Opportunities of Wiki Loves Earth in Africa”

How to make Wiki Loves Earth photos visible on Wikipedia: Experience of Sweden and other countries

Wiki Loves Earth aims to create a comprehensive database of natural heritage photos. Yet, it is not enough to only upload photographs to Wikimedia Commons — we should try and make nature heritage visible to readers of Wikipedia. Only around one in four photos uploaded by Wiki Loves Earth participants are used in the articles of Wikipedia and other wiki-projects. In this article, we share how Wiki Loves Earth organizers in Sweden, Ukraine, Greece, and other countries encourage increasing the use of WLE photos on Wikipedia.

Sweden: “Mission of the Month”

Prepared by Eric Bagger, User:Deryni

Aurora borealis in Abisko National Park near Torneträsk lake (Pavel.shyshkouski, CC BY-A 4.0). This image won Wiki Loves Earth in Sweden in 2018 and participated in the Picture of the Year competition on Commons.

Since 2014, Swedish Wikipedia runs a project called “Mission of the Month”, or ”Månadens uppdrag” in Swedish. In this project, you can propose missions to improve Wikipedia. It may be something which needs improvement, but Wikipedia editors typically lack the knowledge or time to make happen — or maybe something you’ve started and want other writers to fill in. Examples of a typical project would be improving an article on robotic rover Opportunity or creating an article about English entomologist Henry Doubleday. Since late 2014, more than 6500 missions have been completed within this project.

Most of the missions concern making new articles or improving existing articles in Swedish Wikipedia. But there have also been missions creating new templates and working for projects in other Wikis. To vote in Picture of the Year might be also an important mission. Notably, this project has been used to help Wiki Loves Earth in Sweden. Within “Mission of the Month”, several writers engaged in missions concerning unidentified pictures for Wiki Loves Earth last year, identifying about one hundred pictures. Volunteers have also helped put photos of natural heritage to Swedish Wikipedia, thus increasing their use.

If you try out the project in your own language version, you will discover how much fun you can have together with your fellow writers, while also helping Wikipedia and Wiki Loves Earth.

Other ways to ways to illustrate Wikipedia

Thematic marathons. Swedish “Mission of the Months” covers numerous small tasks, such as creating or expanding an article. By comparison, some Wikipedia language editions run online marathons devoted entirely to one topic or type of tasks — and illustrating Wikipedia with WLE photos can be one of them.

For example, Ukrainian Wikipedia runs the “Month of Illustrating Wikipedia” right now. It is devoted to Wiki Loves Earth, Wiki Loves Monuments and Scientific Photo Contest. So far, 13 people are working on increasing photo contests’ visibility on Wikipedia, and the event is still running.

Wiki Loves Earth organizers in Greece have a similar experience. They created lists of photographed areas and promoted them to run a small edit marathon on Wikipedia with prizes for most active participants.

Sydoriv Castle, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine (Moahim, CC BY-SA 4.0). It’s one of the quality photos which found its way to Wikipedia articles as a result of the Month of Illustrating Wikipedia in Ukrainian Wikipedia

Edit-a-thons. Perhaps the most popular — and not the most difficult way — to illustrate Wikipedia is to run an edit-a-thon. This is the way used by a lot of countries, from Cameroon and Italy to the Philippines, Albania, and Tunisia. Create a list of unused Wiki Loves Earth photographs, invite contest participants and active Wikipedians, and organize an offline event for them to work on illustrating Wikipedia.

Article contests. Another way to promote information about natural heritage sites is by running an article contest devoted to them. This is the way used by WLE organizers in Spain and several other countries. In 2015, Ukrainian Wikipedia got 265 articles thanks to article contest “Wikipedia Loves Monuments”, which was devoted to Wiki Loves Monuments, another international photo contest organized by wikimedians. Running an article contest is more expensive and time-consuming than some other ways, but it might give more sustainable results in terms of promoting information about natural heritage sites.

Promotion on social media. Finally, why not encourage your participants to illustrate Wikipedia through social media? Pick a beautiful unused photo as an example, post it on Facebook or Instagram, and include a link to the whole list of unused photos, encouraging your followers to help discover beautiful natural heritage to Wikipedia readers.

Raising awareness of nature’s fragility: A perspective of Spanish Wiki Loves Earth winners

By the Spanish Wiki Loves Earth Team

Wiki Loves Earth 2019 is calling. This will be the 5th edition of the contest in Spain, and it is a great moment to celebrate our wiki-photographer-earth-lover community. To do so, we are sharing an interview with María Bolado, winner of the WLE in Spain 2017 edition, and Agustí Descarrega, finalist of the WLE in Spain 2018 edition. These are their thoughts on the contest:

Why did you take part in Wiki Loves Earth 2018? Was it your first time at the contest?

Agustí: Because I love my landscape at Ebro Delta, and I wanted to share it with the rest of the world 😉 It was my second time at the contest.

María: After I bought my camera in 2016, a good friend of mine who was already involved in the Wikimedia movement introduced me to Commons. On Saturdays, we used to search for interesting places in Cantabria without a photo in Commons. The next step was trying it and documenting some natural protected areas. That is how I ended up taking part in Wiki Loves Earth 2017.

Tell us more about your winning picture

María: My family spends weekends and holidays in Bárcena Mayor, a tiny village deep in the heart of Cantabria. The particular spot the picture was taken in is called “Pozo de la Arbencia” and it is in the middle of a beautiful natural protected area, about nine kilometers from Bárcena Mayor. When I was a child, we sometimes had picnics there. It’s a magic place, not easy to find if you don’t know it from before. Its waterfalls are spectacular when the river carries enough water. It was not the case when I took the picture: the previous autumn and winter had been dry. But it is an amazing place all the same.

Waterfalls in Argoza River. María Bolado, CC BY-SA 4.0, First Prize WLE in Spain 2017

Agustí: Mine was taken at the Lighthouse of the Ebro Delta, which is an icon of this fragile natural protected area. It’s important to have it documented: raising awareness helps give value to the area and helps protect this fragile natural environment in actual danger of regression.

Lighthouse of the Ebro Delta. Agustí Descarrega, CC BY-SA 4.0, Second Prize WLE in Spain 2018

Continue reading “Raising awareness of nature’s fragility: A perspective of Spanish Wiki Loves Earth winners”

Take only photos, leave only footprints: Why sustainable tourism is so important for Wiki Loves Earth

Wiki Loves Earth was created to collect a comprehensive database of free photos covering nature protected areas across the world. Yet, another ultimate goal of the contest, arguably not a less important one, is to attract attention to preserving nature. For that, it is crucial that participants take the approach of sustainable tourism and, while taking photos, help nature objects, not harm them. In this article, the Australian Wiki Loves Earth team shares their experience on how to ensure that, and we put this experience in the international perspective.

Australian experience: Take only photos, Leave only footprints

By Australian WLE Team

Over the last few years, Wiki Loves Earth participants have captured many stunning photographs of unique protected places. The world has captured something that had already been lost, whether it to fire, flooding, or some other natural event. We have also lost places due to human activity, such as the construction of roads or trees cutting. Other reasons are more subtle, be it seed collectors searching rare plants, or insect collectors who are looking for that one unique specimen. Another subtle impact is that cultural desecration of the sites which is causing offense to the Indigenous communities.

When Wikimedia Australia joined Wiki Loves Earth, we took a stance of “Take only photos, Leave only footprints”. It’s a saying attributed to the Baltimore Grotto, which was concerned about what impact their activities would have on the environment they want to enjoy. When we started to review Wiki Loves Earth submissions, this motto informed our decision to disqualify photographs whose authors obviously stepped over that mark. For example, we rejected photographs taken on top of rock Uluru, where the Indigenous owners ask that people respect the site’s cultural significance and don’t climb it.

“One mans trash”. This photo was taken on a dive at Rye pier, Victoria which is part of the Mornington Penninsula and Western port biosphere reserve. Katieleeosborne, CC BY-SA 4.0

Continue reading “Take only photos, leave only footprints: Why sustainable tourism is so important for Wiki Loves Earth”

Join Wiki Loves Earth 2019!

On May 1, Wiki Loves Earth starts its sixth year of crowdsourcing photos of natural monuments and provides a chance to win local and international prizes. It has grown to become a truly global and large-scale photo contest, helping attract half a million free photos of natural monuments and protected areas from more than 50 countries.

Wiki Loves Earth is a photo competition which calls for participants to picture nature protected areas and upload their photos to Wikimedia Commons. Photos are uploaded under a free license that enables their free worldwide use on Wikipedia, other Wikimedia projects, and any other project. The previous five contests gathered more than 500,000 photos, and we hope that Wiki Loves Earth 2019 will show even better results.

Wiki Loves Earth is organised through numerous national contests coordinated by local volunteers around the globe. By now 23 countries are on the participating countries list, and we expect more local teams to join. Participants of the contest will compete for international prizes; local teams might also offer their awards.

To participate in the contest, sign up on Wikimedia Commons, find an item or place you are familiar with from the competition list, and upload them to Commons.

You can check whether your country participates in Wiki Loves Earth this year and find more information about it on the Wikimedia Commons page. Rules of the contest are also available on Commons.

If you would like to organize a local contest in your country, contact us at

To stay updated, follow us on social media:

For questions, please contact

Best pictures of Wiki Loves Earth 2018 announced

Our 2018 winner comes from Cape Stolbchaty, the cape at east shore of Kunashir Island1 in Sakhalin OblastRussia which is famous for its columnar basalt formationsPhoto by Ekaterina Vasyagina (, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0“As the sky is all filled with soft amethyst glow, the sunset waves goodbye to stupendously beauteous and resplendent basalt formation of Cape Stolbchaty leaving Vermilion orange sunset”

From the captivatingly craggy and enthrallingly crafted islands to impeccable reflections, from the dazzling rolling hills to scenic seascapes and from whatever it takes to describe the wizardry mother Earth’s artistry to the mesmerized and romanticized brain, encompasses the photographs that grabbed the positions as Top 10 photographs of Wiki Loves Earth 2018 organized by Wikimedia Affiliates, groups and local Wikipedia volunteers.

Wiki Loves Earth is organized annually with the aim to keep widest variety of protected natural sites possible in the spotlight which will eventually bring people closer to the nature through photography and meaningful captures, and also carries the objective to contribute for environmental protection by raising public awareness.

Thousands of photographs numbered 89,835 in total, uploaded from 32 different countries all over the world comprised Wiki Loves Earth 2018, a photography contest organized worldwide since the year 2014, leaving a remarkable statistic that shows 83% of the total 7,659 uploaders being the new ones.

As in 2016 and 2017, there was a special nomination in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year participants were invited to upload photos in a separate category for UNESCO biosphere reserves and UNESCO Global Geoparks across the globe, this year the total uploads reached 3,971 photographs under this category.

Just like the varied range of captures submitted to Wiki Loves Earth every year, the international jury of Wiki Loves Earth 2018 betoken geographic diversity and variety of backgrounds fastened together with their enthusiasm to select the best photographs of natural heritage sites. A perfect mix of personalities from varied professional backgrounds, fond of hobbies that relates to photography, nature or Wikipedia, composes the jury of Wiki Loves Earth 2018: Ananya Mondal (India)Ayokanmi Oyeyemi (Nigeria)Brendan Kenneth Duprey (United States/Eastern Europe)Dietmar Bartz (Germany)Fayçal Rezkallah (Algeria)Fiona Ayerst (South Africa) and Renato Martins (Brazil).

After the thorough assessment are the top 15 prodigious captures that left the jury of Wiki Loves Earth 2018 flabbergasted:

Second place: Bell Island of Franz Josef Land and Eira Lodge of Benjamin Leigh Smith expedition, Russian Arctic National Park. The picture was taken as part of the expedition In the footsteps of two captainsby Maritime Heritage Associations.Photo by Ilya Timin, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Third place: Satchari National Park, Bangladesh. Photo by Abdul Momin, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Fourth place: Hoggar National Park, Assekrem, Tamanrasset, Algeria. Photo by Mohammed Amri, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Fifth place: Autumn at its boom in the valley of Hunza, Gojal Conservancy, Pakistan. Photo by Nasr Rahman, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Sixth place: Swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) near Sukko, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. Photo by Aleksandr Horoshilov, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Seventh place: Sunset in Baixa Grande, an oasis in the middle of National Park Lençóis Maranhenses. Photo by Brunonogaki, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Eighth place: The wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola) is a small wader at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park. Photo by Abdul Momin, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ninth place: Walruses lying on Northbrook IslandRussian Arctic National Park. The picture was taken as part of the expedition In the footsteps of two captains by Maritime Heritage AssociationsPhoto by Ilya Timin, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Tenth place: The shore of Elton Salt Lake, Volgograd Oblast, Russia. Photo by Medvedevphoto (Владимир Медведев), licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Eleventh place: Gypaetus barbatus in flight. Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. Photo by Luca Casale, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Twelveth place: Chestnut-tailed starlingSatchari National Park, Bangladesh. Photo by Md shahanshah bappy, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Thirteenth place: Phoenicopterus roseus at the lake of Tunis, Tunisia. Photo by El Golli Mohamed, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Fourteenth place: Tassili n’Ajjer National Park, Algeria. Photo by Nabil Chettouh, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Fifteenth place: Meteora rock formation with monasteries on top of them, Greece. Photo by Stathis Floros, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The full report of the international jury, explaining the work of the jury, selection process and presenting the results together with comments of the jury, is available here.

Nabin K. Sapkota,
Wiki Loves Earth 2018 International Team

  1. Disputed by Japan↩

Meet the 2018 international jury

Wiki Loves Earth 2018 international jury

From Germany to South Africa and from Brazil to India, the international jury represents the geographic diversity of Wiki Loves Earth. They have a variety of backgrounds: some of them are professional environmentalists, while others are passionate photographers. There is one thing they have in common: their enthusiasm to select the best photos of natural heritage sites.

Meet the seven members of Wiki Loves Earth 2018 international jury who are currently evaluating the photos and will allow us to announce the results shortly: Continue reading “Meet the 2018 international jury”

The Winning Photos from WLE Jordan 2018

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the participants!
This year was the first time Jordan was among participating countries.  Over the course of June, 45 participants uploaded 467 photos of protected areas in Jordan. 115 of the contestants were new participants.

 Viewing Area of Amman National Park. by Jeeda Ghazal Continue reading “The Winning Photos from WLE Jordan 2018”

The Winning Photos from WLE Spain 2018

Our fourth edition of Wiki Loves Earth, the photo contest for those who love natural spaces, was held between May 1 and 31, 2018. Thanks to Wiki Loves Earth and the people who participate in it, those natural spaces, classified as Sites of Community Importance, are documented and valued. The contest aims to collect images with free license in Wikimedia Commons, which are then used to illustrate Wikipedia content, reused in other platforms and enhance the global and free presence of natural heritage on the Internet.

In this 2018 edition, a total of 230 users have participated in the contest; 171 did so for the first time and the rest had already participated in previous editions. Thanks to their contributions, about 2700 photographs were released that allow us to better understand the biodiversity, landscapes and natural spaces of the Spain. Now these images can be disseminated, modified and reused in different supports and platforms. A hundred of them are already being used to illustrate Wikipedia articles in Spanish, English, Catalan, French, Swedish, Basque, Galician, Portuguese or Polish.

Continue reading “The Winning Photos from WLE Spain 2018”

Sixth edition of international photo competition Wiki Loves Earth is open for submissions

In 2013, the pilot version of Wiki Loves Earth was launched in Ukraine, with Wikipedia issuing a call out to the public to contribute their photographs of natural landscape from across the country licence free to their online database. Since then, the photo competition has expanded to over 50 countries and has collected more than 420,000 photographs from over 40,000 participants. And now, for the sixth time, Wiki Loves Earth is seeking photographs from across the world.

The purpose behind the competition is to gather photographs released under a free licence that enables their free use worldwide. The goal of Wikipedia is to make knowledge available to the world for free, and since natural heritage is part of knowledge, Wikipedia want to gather and release to the world free, usable photographs of natural heritage.

This year  27 countries have already announce participating in the international competition. And 18 of them start a contest on May 1 and will run until the May 31st.

Wiki Loves Earth is coordinated by local volunteers. The national juries then submit up to 10 pictures to the international stage of the contest. Last year with 38 participating countries, the international jury had to consider more than 120, 000 candidate pictures!

Anyone can take part in the competition; however, registration on Wikimedia Commons is required. To enter the contest, find an item or place you are familiar with from the competition list, submit a picture you have taken (from past or present), and upload it to Wikimedia Commons beginning May 1  or later, depending on the starting date in the local contest.

The full report of the last year’s international jury, explaining its work, selection process and bringing the results together with comments of the jury, is available here.

We invite everyone to make this year’s contest a great and valuable contribution to free knowledge!

If you would like to join international WLE with your local contest or have any other questions, please, write on
Wiki Loves Earth Wall Calendar 2018