Privacy Policy

WhatSpecies enables you to share your encounters and knowledge of nature with other people. You also share information with us when you use the Website or create an account, and we can use that information to make your WhatSpecies experience even better.

We have tried to explain things in a simple and clear manner. If concepts like cookies, IP addresses and browsers are foreign to you, first familiarise yourself with the basic terminology.

If you have any questions about our privacy policy and practices, contact us.

Back to Privacy and Terms

WhatSpecies (“WhatSpecies”, “we”, “us”, or “our”) is committed to ensuring the protection of the privacy of all visitors (“Visitors”) to our website, as well as all users (“Users”) who have registered an account (“Account”) with us.

You need to read and accept all the provisions in this Policy in order to use the website and/or our services. By accepting this Policy, you are deemed to have read and agreed with all the provisions thereof. If you do not agree with anything in this Policy, then you may not use the website and any of the services available therefrom.

What this Privacy Policy covers

Our privacy policy is a legal document that explains what information we collect, how we collect that information, how we use and protect that information and how you can update your information.

What information we collect and how we use it

We may electronically collect, store and use the following types of information:

Personal and Non-Personal Information

For the purpose of this Privacy Policy we distinguish between two types of information, Personal Information and Non-personal Information.

The term “personal information” is used to describe information that can be associated with a specific person and can be used to identify that person. Information that has been made anonymous so that it does not identify a specific user is not considered to be personal information.

The following information is also not regarded as personal information for purposes of this Policy:

  • Information that has been permanently de-identified and that does not relate or cannot be traced back to you specifically. Such information may be compiled, used, shared and processed otherwise as we deem fit.
  • Non-personal statistical information collected and compiled by us. We own and retain all rights in such information.
  • Information which you have provided voluntarily in an open, public environment or forum including (without limitation) any blog, comments, uploads, or ID suggestions. Since such information has been disclosed in a public forum, it is no longer confidential and does not constitute personal information subject to protection under this Policy. Such public environments are accessible by third parties, and it is possible that third parties may collect and collate and use such information for their own purposes. You should therefore be careful when deciding to share any of your personal information in such public environments.

Account Information. We use the information that registered Users provide (or that we collect) to operate, maintain, enhance, and provide all of the features of the Website and related services, and as may be necessary to comply with any relevant laws. For example, when you register for an account onWhatSpecies (an “Account”), you will provide information such as your name, surname, username and email address. To be able to provide you with a personalised experience in WhatSpecies, you can be asked to update your personal account by providing additional information. Some of this information will always remain private (“Private information”), while other information will be public (“Public information”). If you are a registered User, you agree that we may electronically collect, store and use the following of your information:

Private personal information: Name, surname, email address, country, date of birth, gender.

Public information: Username, biographical information, location, Facebook profile link (optional), Twitter profile link (optional), and a profile picture.

Your name and surname will always remain private, unless you use it as you username, in which case it will be public.

Your email address remains private and will not be exposed to the public or third parties, except in the limited circumstances set forth in this Privacy Policy.

Your date of birth, country and gender is used to verify your age and to improve the WhatSpecies experience in a manner that is relevant for your profile.

More specifically:

  • We use your Private Personal Information to greet you when you access your Account, to manage and administer your use of the Website and fulfil our contractual obligations;
  • We use your e-mail (“Contact Details”) to verify your identity and to inform you of facts relating to your use of the Website (i.e. notifications regarding major updates or content you have posted to the Website, customer service notifications, and to address copyright infringement or defamation issues).

User Content. All your comments, ID Suggestions, and photos, audio clips and video links that you upload to WhatSpecies will also be public and associated with your account. User Content is accessible to everyone, including search engines. User Content may also be shared by other Users via their personal Facebook or Twitter accounts. You are free to remove your User Content from your Account, but due to the nature of Internet sharing there is a strong possibility that copies of your User Content may exist elsewhere.

Activity Details. Your Activity Details are recorded and processed by us as when you upload content on the Website, make comments, suggest IDs, like observations, recruit new members via email or share content to Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Your Activity Details are displayed on your profile page which is a public page visible to all.

Information Obtained from Thrid Party Services. In cases where you have registered for WhatSpecies using your Facebook account, we may obtain information about you from those Third Party Services. This information will be used to enable you to login to WhatSpecies using your Third Party Service (e.g. Facebook) credentials.

Information we obtain from your use of WhatSpecies (“Usage Details”). Whenever you use a website, mobile application or other Internet service, certain information is almost always recorded in an automated way. The same applies when you use WhatSpecies. We collect information about how Visitors use the Service, including Users with an account. Some of the types of information we collect this way includes:

  • Internet protocol address.
    • Generally we use IP Address information to fight spam, malware and identity theft. It might also be used to generate aggregate, non-identifying (non-personal) information about the use of our Services.
  • Cookies.
    • Cookies, by themselves, do not contain information that personally identifies you.. Cookies are used to identify that you have logged in and that your web browser has accessed aspects of the Service. That information may be associated with your account and can be used to personalise your experience on WhatSpecies. If you disable cookies in your web browser, you will not be able to access your account and you will not be able to use the full component of the Service. We do not recommend turning off cookies.
  • Device information, such as operating system version.
    • This information could be used to enhance your experience of using the Service.
    • Hardware settings, browser type, browser language, date and time of your request, referral URL.
      • This information could be used to enhance your experience with the Service and could allow us to improve the Service. It is not, however, used in a manner that would identify you personally.
  • Location information.
    • This information could be used to enhance your experience of using the Service, for example in the map positioning feature when uploading an observation.
  • Browsing habits, click patterns, screen resolution, time spent on pages within the website.
    • This information enables us to understand how individuals use our Service so that we could analyse and improve it. Some information may be associated with the IP Address used to access the Service. Some information may be associated with your Account, for example the help pages you visit and the subjects you search for. This information may also be aggregated as a statistical measure related to all of our users that would not identify you personally. This information could be used to enhance your experience of using the Service.

We may use your Usage Details to (a) remember your information so that you will not have to re-enter it during your visit or the next time you access the Website or Platform; (b) monitor aggregate Website usage metrics such as total number of visitors and pages accessed; and (c) track your observations, comments, and likes and any other activities in connection with your usage of the Website.

Third party applications and services such as Google Analytics may be used to collect and analyse this information.

How we protect and store personal information

Your Account information is protected by a password for your privacy and security. You should not divulge your Account password to anyone. We will never ask you for your password in an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING THE SECRECY OF YOUR UNIQUE PASSWORD AND ACCOUNT INFORMATION AT ALL TIMES.

The personal information of our Users are stored and controlled on our servers in South Africa.  Computer safeguards such as firewalls and data encryption are used, and we and our service providers enforce physical access controls to our buildings and files, and we authorize access to personal information only for those employees who require it to fulfil their job responsibilities.

With whom your information is shared

In certain circumstances we may share the personal information of our Visitors and registered Users with Law enforcement, government officials, fraud detection agencies or other third parties when (a) we are compelled to do so by a subpoena, court order or similar legal procedure; or (b) we need to do so to comply with any law; or (c) we believe in good faith that the disclosure of personal information is necessary to prevent physical harm or financial loss, to report suspected illegal activity, or to investigate violations of our Terms and Conditions.

If WhatSpecies should sell, transfer or close its business, or undergo a merger, consolidation, change in control, transfer of substantial assets, reorganisation or liquidation, then WhatSpecies shall be entitled to transfer, sell or assign any or all information collected via the Website (including your personal information) to one or more relevant third parties, but only to be used by them in accordance with the provisions of this Privacy Policy.

WhatSpecies will not sell or rent any of your personal information to third parties for their marketing purposes and only shares your personal information with third parties as described in this Policy.

How to access and change your information

Should you wish to review or change the details that you have supplied us with at any time you can either amend your details directly by going to your ‘Account’ section in the top right corner and update your account detail or you could contact us.

You consent to the processing of personal information

By accepting this Policy, you consent to our collection, storage, processing and disclosure of your personal information as described in this Policy. Should you terminate your registration with us and/or close your Account, you consent to our retention of the information we have already collected from you for record-keeping purposes only.

Consent to service communications

You consent to receiving occasional service communications concerning activity on your Account. We will not send you any marketing communications without your express permission.

How to contact us about privacy concerns

If you have questions or concerns regarding this Policy, please contact us.

What if we make changes to this policy?

We may change this policy from time to time as explained in our Terms and Conditions, and if we do we’ll post any changes on this page. If you continue to use WhatSpecies after those changes are in effect, you agree to the revised policy. If the changes are significant, we may provide more prominent notice or obtain your consent as required by law.



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WhatSpecies records the rich species biodiversity on our planet.
8.7 million ± 1.3 million species on earth.
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