The Coleoptera section at the museum houses the most comprehensive collection of beetles from southern Africa in the World, consisting of more than 1.5 million specimens stored in excess of 4,000 drawers, reflecting the results of more than a century of collecting and research. From early on, the original focus on the then Transvaal extended first across South Africa and then the subregion, and today there exist comprehensive holdings especially from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, with Botswana, southern Mozambique and Lesotho still being somewhat under-represented.
As mentioned above, the original mandate of the collection was to document the Coleoptera fauna of the then Transvaal Republic. This quickly expanded as a result of the annexation of the Transvaal by the British, and the result of meeting these new challenges is reflected in the steadily growing number of species recorded from southern Africa.
Although generally representative, a particular feature of the collection is the strong representation of Tenebrionidae, and thorough coverage of most other beetle families occurring in especially South Africa.
Among some of the earliest individuals to collect beetles for the museum were Dr J.W.B. Gunning, Mr C.J. Swierstra, Mr G. van Dam, Dr Georges van Son, Dr Austin Roberts, Mr P. A. Krantz, Dr H.G. Breijer and Dr A.J.T. Janse. Specific focus came with Dr Charles Koch, founder of the Desert Ecological Research Unit in Gobabeb, Namibia and specialist on especially arid adapted Tenebrionidae.
Dr Sebastian Endrödy-Younga (1934-1999) joined the museum in 1970 and spent over 24 years collecting, curating and describing beetles at the museum. While head of the Department, fellow colleagues included Dr Lilo Schulze, Dr Mary-Louise Penrith, Dr Jan Klimazewski, and Dr Charles Bellamy, and most recently Dr Sibylle Gussmann. With the appointment of the current incumbent, Mr James du G. Harrison, in 2002, the focus of taxonomic and systematic research is on selected groups of Scarabaeidae.
Acquisition of collections and material which have augmented the collection include beetles from Dr Brauns of Willowmore and Mr Neville Duke of Swaziland.
To visit the collection or for further information please contact Ms Ruth Müller (firstname.lastname@example.org) Current staff include Collections Manager Ms Ruth Müller and preparators Mr Jan Legwai and Mrs Susan Mametse.