Mammal research focuses on the Shortridge Mammal Collection, consisting of over 40,000 specimens of southern African mammals, which is a unique resource for mammalogists interested in systematics, biodiversity, distribution and related topics. Most of the specimens consist of dried skins & skulls. There are alcohol-preserved specimens, mounted specimens and the horns of a variety of mammals. There is also a collection of the skulls and horns of large mammals.
Speciman Storage Boxes in the Comen Shai Mammal Range
The Shortridge Mammal Collection is so called because Captain Guy Chester Shortridge, the director of the museum from 1922 to 1949, collected a large number of specimens in the collection. Shortridge was, among other things, responsible for rescuing the skull and hide of the famous wandering hippo, Huberta, after she was shot and killed in the Keiskamma River in April 1931. The collection comprises rodents (60%), insectivores (10%), carnivores (10%) and chiropters (10%). The remaining 10% of the collection consists of other mammals. About 99% of South African rodents are covered in the collection. About 70% of the collection specimens are South African, the rest were collected from other African countries like Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. The research collections are taxonomically arranged and stored in two rooms named after the longest standing staff member, Comen Shai, who served the museum for 52 years.
A Selectin of Rhino Skulls in the Comen Shai Mammal Range
The entire collection has been computerized on Microsoft Access enabling access to the database. The collection is thus accessible to university students and researchers, both local and international. Researchers may visit the museum by appointment or request a loan of specimens for research purposes. Loans of specimens to local and international researchers are valid for 6 and 9 months respectively. The loan period can be extended on request.