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Buffalo City home to 2nd largest mammal specimen collection in southern hemisphere

Amathole Museum in King William's Town is recognised as housing the second largest mammal specimen collection in the southern hemisphere.

The Shortridge Mammal Collection consist of over 40,000 specimens of southern African mammals, which is a unique resource for mammalogists interested in systematics, biodiversity, distribution and related topics.

Most of the specimens consist of dried skins & skulls. There are alcohol-preserved specimens, mounted specimens and the horns of a variety of mammals. There is also a collection of the skulls and horns of large mammals.

The Shortridge Mammal Collection is named for Captain Guy Chester Shortridge, the director of the museum from 1922 to 1949, who collected a large number of the specimens in the collection.

Shortridge was, among other things, responsible for rescuing the skull and hide of the famous wandering hippo, Huberta, after she was shot and killed in the Keiskamma River in April 1931.

The collection comprises rodents (60%), insectivores (10%), carnivores (10%) and chiropters (10%).

The remaining 10% of the collection consists of other mammals. About 99% of South African rodents are covered in the collection. About 70% of the collection specimens are South African, the rest were collected from other African countries like Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya.

The research collections are taxonomically arranged and stored in two rooms named after the longest standing staff member, Comen Shai, who served the museum for 52 years.

The entire collection has been computerized on Microsoft Access enabling access to the database. The collection is thus accessible to university students and researchers, both local and international.

Researchers may visit the museum by appointment or request a loan of specimens for research purposes. Loans of specimens to local and international researchers are valid for 6 and 9 months respectively. The loan period can be extended on request.

For more information contact the museum on 043 642 4506 or visit their website here.

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