Departments

Zoology

Beryl with a Black-footed Cat kitten during the November field trip on this projectThe Zoology Department is housed within the McGregor Museum complex, which is situated in Kimberley, the capital of the province of Northern Cape, South Africa. This province shares borders with Botswana and Namibia and is the largest in South Africa, covering approximately one third of the country. It is a province of wide-open spaces, low population pressures and startling contrasts. It encompasses dramatic landscape features like the life-giving Orange River, tranquil Kalahari and well-known Namaqualand with its diamond- bearing coastline. The Northern Cape is further characterised by a substantial and interesting faunal diversity, which is enriched by a score of endemic species, as well as certain species uniquely adapted to cope with the beautiful, but often harsh, semi-arid environment. The Zoology Department is responsible for researching and documenting this natural treasure and, where possible, to disseminate and share the relevant knowledge with all interested parties.

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Both Pale Chanting Goshawks, but the adult female on the left and the juvenile on the right   A Roan antelope seen on Inglewood Game Farm during field work   Lesser Flamingo on Kamfers Dam during the filming of a children's wildlife TV series

Collections

Aims & Functions

To research and document the fauna of the Northern Cape Province, South Africa, and where possible, to disseminate and share the relevant knowledge with all interested parties. The mammal, bird and lower vertebrate collections are currently the only zoological collections under museum management in the Northern Cape. All the collections are available on loan or for visitations by bone fide researchers or organisations.

Mammals

The collection, although containing only 8 000 specimens, boasts a high representation of the species found within the Northern Cape. Of special value are about 5 000 small mammal specimens collected between 1985 and 1990, many of which have extended known distribution patterns, but for which no publications have yet been concluded. This collection is fully documented (accessioned, catalogued, distribution maps, etc.) and currently in the process of being computerised.

Birds

A relatively small collection of nearly 3 000 specimens which is fully documented (accessioned, catalogued, distribution maps, etc.) and completely computerised.  Some recent acquisitions include the type specimens of the new Long-tailed Pipit (Anthus longicaudatus) that were recently described in the Kimberley area.

Lower Vertebrates

Also known as the Power Collection after the late J.H. Power, famous herpetologist and first director of the Museum, this collection of about 4 000 specimens remains only partly documented. Included in the collection are a number of the Power type specimens, as well as a fair number of specimens exchanged with the American Museum of Natural History from central Africa. Many specimens still await identification or verification. The collection is also currently in the process of being re-bottled.

Invertebrates

The Museum previously housed a large and substantial invertebrate collection. Due to a lack of staffing and inadequate curation, the entire collection was given over on a permanent loan to the National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa for curation and safekeeping.

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Drawing blood from a White-backed Vulture chick   A valuable Black Mamba specimen recently acquired from near Olifantshoek   A Black-footed  Cat, sedated and collared

Research Projects                                                             

  • The Zoology Department is involved with a number of ongoing research projects in the Northern Cape Province.

  • SMALL MAMMAL, BIRD, REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN SURVEYS - (Collections, distribution patterns, habitat preference and ecological status)

  • SPRINGBOK RESEARCH - (Population dynamics and utilisation)

  • PIPIT RESEARCH in conjunction with and Dr Gary Voelker (University of Memphis) - (Taxonomy)

  • RESEARCH FOR VARIOUS ECOLOGICAL DISPLAYS

  • BIRD RINGING - (Movement patterns, longevity)

  • BLACK-FOOTED CAT RESEARCH – with Dr Alex Sliwa (Wuppertac Zoo) Report 2006, Dr Jason Herrick (Cincinwati Zoo) and Dr Nadine Lamberski, (San Diego Zoo).

  • ECOLOGIC AL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS for various NGOs.

  • Upgrading of and researching of new displays.

  • Distributional research applying the various collections.

 **Get in touch with Beryl Wilson for additional information

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