Herpetology – Is the study of amphibians and reptiles and is derived from the Greek herpein meaning to creep.
The department of Herpetology was established in 1956, following the appointment of Mr. Donald G. Broadley (see Past Curators) as Honorary Curator of Herpetology at the National Museum in Bulawayo. At this time the collections of reptiles and amphibians comprised less than 1000 specimens. Broadley joined the National Museums service in June 1961 as Assistant Keeper of Zoology at the Umtali (now Mutare) Museum, and the National Herpetological Collections (now 600 specimens) were transferred to Umtali. Numerous expeditions to Rhodesia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique had boosted the collections to 40 000 specimens when the Department was transferred back to Bulawayo soon after independence in 1981.
Although Dr. Broadley retired in June 1995, he continued to work on the collections as a Research Associate, and was eventually appointed Curator Emeritus in June 2010. Dr. Broadley has produced 280 herpetological publications, including books and a new field guide, Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana, is soon to be released. Dr. Broadley has so far described 6 new genera, 2 new subgenera, and 103 new species or subspecies. The National Herpetological Collection now contain ca. 52 000 specimens, including 93 primary types and 963 paratypes. It is the second largest collection of African Herpetofauna after the Transvaal Museum in South Africa although it is more comprehensive in scope and covers most of the Zambesiaca region which includes Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.