The Zoology collections in the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe contain valuable historic record of biodiversity, from locations that are not only from Zimbabwe but also from around the world, predominantly in Southern Africa. These records have however been inaccessible to many as most were still in analogue format. Over the year the department have been working tirelessly to digitize their collections and make them easily accessible. Mammalogy and Entomology department received small and regional grants respectively in June 2016, from the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) funded by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the European Union (EU, to digitize their collections and to make the biodiversity data housed in the departments openly and easily accessible for conservation and management strategies. Availability of this data online will also make it easier for individuals, who may not have direct access to the collection to have access.
African Insect Atlas (Regional project)
Our Entomology Curator (Kudzai Mafuwe) has joined forces with colleagues from 5 other African countries in regional project that seeks to improve the accessibility of insect biodiversity information for policy decision making in Africa by end of 2018.
African Insect Atlas Team at the Nairobi National Museum
The objective of the project is to:
- Train museum staff in digitization specimen and geo-referencing techniques
- Guide institutions in choosing appropriate database software
- Digitize and geo-reference more than 150,000 specimen records from African insect collections
- Develop a network of insect-focused leaders who will connect the mobilized data with policy decisions in conservation and sustainability
A digitization workshop attended by representatives of nearly all the regional consortium partners was organized in Nairobi, Kenya. During this workshop, efficient digitization protocols were tailored for each consortium partners based on their Museum specific needs and background, a list of species to be prioritized for digitization was identified, and software tools to be used for the implementation of the project was standardized.
African Insect Atlas Team at the Kenya National Museum attending workshop in Nairobi
A checklist of beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera) from the Matobo World Heritage Site, deposited in the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe has been published by the Entomology Department on the GBIF database and is freely and openly available for use in policy and conservation purposes.
Making the zoology collection at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe accessible through GBIF by end of 2017 (Mammaogy Department)
The project coordinated by Tsitsi Maponga, aimed at making the mammalogy collection at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe accessible through GBIF by end of 2017. A checklist dataset containing 122 species and 23 families of mammals stored in the Mammalogy collection was generated and published on to the GBIF database. The species in the checklist range from small-medium sized carnivores, rodents, primates, and bats. Most of them were collected from Southern Africa, i.e. Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia.
Additional Project Activities
A workshop was conducted between 18 and 19 October 2016 on Introduction to Biodiversity Informatics to train the Museum staff on Data digitizing, Data cleaning and Geo-referencing techniques. The workshop was very informative and well received. All the trained personnel commented that the workshop equipped them with advanced techniques to help them to effectively digitize their collections.
Attendees for the Introduction to Biodiversity Informatics workshop 18-19 October 2016
On the 9th of June 2017 a workshop was conducted on how to publish data and to show the results and findings of the two projects. The two project coordinators presented their findings to a group of curators and curatorial assistants. Both checklists are openly and freely available for download from the GBIF database.
Feedback workshop held on the 9th of July 2017
- “Making the zoology collection at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe accessible through GBIF by end of 2017” – http://www.gbif.org/dataset/f65b57b0-ad64-4e60-a1f5-97c5c483664e
- “A checklist of beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera) from the Matobo World Heritage Site, deposited in the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe” – http://www.nhmbyo.co.zw/ipt/resource?r=matobo_beetles
About the Curators and Project Coordinators
Ms Tsitsi S. Theone Maponga is the present Curator of mammals, and her work includes conserving and computerising the collection. She was recently awarded funding for computerising the Mammalogy collection by GBIF and BID and the project was funded by the European Union. She has done some work on:
- Scavenger behaviour on elephant Carcasses in Hwange National Park
- Elephant impacts on nutrient cycling
- Effects of Mistletoes on ecosystems (particularly plant and mammals), which is currently her PhD study.
- “Making the zoology collection at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe accessible through GBIF by end of 2017”
Ms Kudzai Mafuwe is a curator in the Entomology Department. She was recently awarded funding for digitizing the Entomology collection by GBIF and BID and the project was funded by the European Union. Kudzai is the country coordinator for Zimbabwe Tropical Biology Association (TBA) Alumni and the team have worked on a project to Assess of the Status, Distribution and Threats to Odonata Species in Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe. Ms Mafuwe is also a grantee for The CEPF (The critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund) by BirdLife International for a project titled “Freshwater Odonata Diversity In The Eastern Highlands Of Zimbabwe.”
Ms Kudzai Mafuwe (Curator of Entomology)
This programme is funded by the European Union
Disclaimer: This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union, the content of this document are the sole responsibility of the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe and can under no circumstanced be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.