The small mammal collection forms part of the larger TM and AZ accessioned mammal collections that were combined in the late 1990’s. The TM accessioned mammal collection dates back almost to the start of the Transvaal Museum in 1901. The AZ accessioned mammals are from what was an independent collection that began in 1976 to provide comparative material for zooarchaeological analysis, TM and AZ being the prefixes used together with the unique numbers assigned to each specimen incorporated into the collection.
The small mammal collection covers the orders Afrosoricidae, Eulipotyphla, Macroscelidea, Chiroptera, Rodentia, Carnivora (in part), Hyracoidea, Primates (in part), and Lagomorpha. There are also specimens of Carnivora and Primates in the large mammal collection. The specimens are largely representative of South African and to some extent southern African species, with a small number of species extra-limital to this area for comparative purposes. The form of the specimens charts the tradition of specimen preparation over time, in that the older collection is largely dried skins and skulls, with far fewer specimens in alcohol. More recently entire skeletons are also being kept dried, and more specimens of certain taxa, i.e. Chiroptera, are being prepared with the body in alcohol and the skull extracted and cleaned.
The collection also contains some extracted foetuses in alcohol, and bacula in glycerine. Tissue materials extracted prior to the preparation of specimens are currently being stored and managed by BioBank SA. Requests for access to this material should be made to Prof Paul Bartels (Wildlife Biological Resource Centre / BioBankSA, National Zoological Gardens of SA, 082 990-3533, 082 990-3533, firstname.lastname@example.org).
An integral part of each specimen is the information / provenance associated with it, i.e. its identification and sex, and when, where and by whom it was caught. Some specimens also have additional information relating to reproductive condition, external dimensions and habitat. This information is recorded across a number of different data sources, i.e. catalogue books, specimen labels, and index cards, but has not always been consistently captured throughout the history of the collection. The information from the catalogue was captured in an electronic format in the early 1990’s, and is available via SABIF www.sabif.ac.za/, or on request from the curator, using this request form. With the recent migration of the data to Specify it is hoped more of the information associated with specimens will be captured electronically.
Bona fide requests for access / visits to the collection should be made to the curator. Visitors using the collection are requested to sign the visitor’s procedure form. Bona fide loans from the collection may also be requested from the curator. No sampling from specimens is allowed without first having applied using the sampling request form, and received permission from, the curator.