Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe


Ichthyology – Is the study of fish and comes from the Greek “ikhthus” meaning fish.

Nobuhle Sithole
Nobuhle Sithole

Collection of the fishes of Zimbabwe began in the early 1900 and the oldest specimens are a series of line-spotted barbs from Springvale farm just outside Bulawayo in 1911.

Museum staff continued to make sporadic collections although no Ichthyologist was ever recruited until Rex Jubb became Honorary Curator of Ichthyology in 1956 at the Queen Victoria Museum in Harare. In 1961 Dr. Alex Maar took over this Honorarium, and it was only in 1971 when Graham Bell-Cross became the first full-time Ichthyologist.

In 1982 the collection was moved to the Natural History Museum when John Minshull became the Ichthyologist. The collection grew rapidly with major collections from the Eastern Highlands, Zambezi and Okavango river systems and is now the second largest collection of freshwater fishes on the African continent.

Two thirds of the collection is Zimbabwean in origin and the rest of the specimens are from all over southern, central and eastern Africa and the first “Fishes of Rhodesia” was published by the Museum Trustees in 1976 and updated as the “Fishes of Zimbabwe” in 1987.

Besides show casing the diversity of the fish fauna of Zimbabwe, on display in the Ichthyology gallery is one of the few specimens in the world of a Coelacanth collected off the coast of the Comoros Islands.

Current and Future Research Areas

The present Curator, Mrs. Sithole, besides working on computersing the collection, is working on the effects of the Large Mouth bass in dams in the Matobo Hills.

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