Entomology Department
The Entomology Department’s holdings consists of approximately 141 000 preserved insects including 872 type specimens. It is one of the most diverse insect collections in South Africa, consisting of 25 out of the known 29 known insect orders on earth. The most extensive groups are Lepidoptera (51 000) and Coleoptera (36 000). We have one of the largest butterfly collections in South Africa including the donated collection of well-known lepidopterist, Ivor Migdoll. Also under the care of the entomology department are the Arachnology (700 alcohol- preserved specimens) and Echinodermata (36 alcohol- preserved and dried specimens) collections.
The collection’s growth is dependent on collection of specimens during field trips, donations from researchers and scientists, incidental collections and research projects conducted by the museum’s entomologists. The department’s daily activities are curation (processing, specimen cataloguing, storing and preservation of specimens), data capture and facilitating external access to the collection through loans, visitors and provision of specimen data to researchers.
The Entomology collection is accessible to local and international scientists, who have relevant research interests, primarily taxonomic entomology, insect biogeography and conservation studies. We also provide samples from the collection for museum outreach events such as exhibitions and behind the scenes tours.
Ornithology Department
The Ornithology Department houses a world-class collection of bird study skins and other ornithological specimens, including eggs, nests, skeletons, open wings and specimens preserved in ethanol. The bird study skins comprise the core of the collection and number nearly 40 000. This ranks the collection as one of the top three on the continent. These study skins are also globally renowned for the quality of their preparation, far exceeding that of other African museums.
The study skin collection houses an unparalleled assemblage of holotypes and paratypes of (mainly) southern African subspecies. A recent landmark book on geographical variation in southern African birds was largely based on examination of this collection. The collection also boasts the largest collection of bird study skins in existence from Mozambique. The collection is in constant demand by a wide variety of outside stakeholders, including scientists, students, bird hobbyists and artists. Regular behind-the-scenes tours are conducted through the collection by Bird Department staff.
Mammalogy Department
The Mammal Department represents the newest department of the Museum that was only established in June 1989. From small beginnings, the Museum’s mammal collection has grown rapidly and currently comprises well over 17 000 specimens.
The DNSM Chiroptera (bat) collection comprises 3500 specimens; 125 species belonging to 10 families and 42 genera that have been collected from at least 20 different countries. Seventy-five percent of the collection comprises bats from the southern African subregion.
The collection boasts 36 type specimens belonging to five African small mammal species. A type specimen usually refers to a physical specimen/s, selected as reference material when a species is first described.
  • Neoromicia roseaveri  – Rosevear’s Serotine bat [holotype & paratype]
  • Rhinolophus cohenae – Cohen’s Horseshoe bat [holotype & paratypes]
  • Rhinolophus mabuensi s – Mabu Horseshoe bat [holotype & paratypes]
  • Rhinolophus mossambicus – Mozambican Horseshoe bat [holotype & paratypes]
  • Otomops harrisoni – Harrison’s Giant Mastiff bat [paratype]