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The Natural Science Collections Facility is a network of South African institutions holding natural science collections, established as part of the Department of Science & Technology’s Research Infrastructure Roadmap and co-ordinated by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Participating institutions are committed to collaborating to achieve the following objectives: 

Collections secured and accessible physically and virtually for research

Data from specimens in collections accessible and used for managing collections, research and decision-making

Research on collections and associated data addresses issues of national and global relevance

Collections and associated research provide services to identify natural science specimens for a range of stakeholders including in the agriculture, health, environmental management and academic sectors

Collections used for serving broader society through education, citizen science and public understanding projects with emphasis on inspiring young scientists and promoting South Africa’s unique biodiversity assets.

Latest News

What is a herbarium and what is a herbarium specimen?

Do you ever remember picking a little flower, then placing it inside a book? After a few days, you would find a dry and completely flattened flower. With a bit of care, this flower could be stuck down on a board and will remain in this state for hundreds of years. Now...

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New species described from South African collections

New species of enigmatic African wasps

New species of enigmatic African wasps

As part of discovery and exploration of the extremely species rich, yet largely unknown wasp fauna in Africa, we recently described a number of new species of parasitoid wasps in the superfamilies Chalcidoidea and Ichneumonoidea, including the first records of two...

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New species of Tarantula

New species of Tarantula

A  new species of tarantula (the Mega Horned Baboon Tarantula,  Ceratogyrus attonitifer) is described in a paper published in the open-access journal African Invertebrates by Drs John Midgley and Ian Engelbrecht. 

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Two new legless lizard species found

Two new legless lizard species found

Two new legless lizard species from the genus Acontias from the Mpumalanga Escarpment were recently described by Werner Conradie and colleagues. These species live under rocks in mountain grasslands and feed on termites. Type material is deposited at Port Elizabeth...

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Iconic specimens

Interesting specimen — Acanthopsis tuba

The Holotype of Acanthopsis tuba was collected by H.W.R. Marloth (1855–1931) in August 1925 at Anenous. Anenous (originally known as P/ani P/nous in Nama) was named after a spring in the corner of the kloof and is located 14 km west of Steinkopf. Marloth, a...

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Use of Collections

Shale Gas Exploration SEA

Biodiversity Chapter of the Shale Gas Exploration Strategic Environmental Assessment. Data from plant and animal collections were used to identify which species occur in the area targeted for shale gas exploration, and to provide the localities from which they have been recorded.

Barcode of Wildlife Project

South Africa participated in an international project that aimed to enable the use of DNA barcoding in investigation and enforcement activities for illegal harvesting and trafficking of threatened and protected plants and animals.

Red List Assessments

South Africa is one of the leading megadiverse countries in terms of carrying out threat assessments for its species.

Virtual Museum

The NSCF aims to increase the accessibility and use of natural science collections for research and also to secure collections.

One mechanism of achieving both these objectives is to establish a “virtual museum” which will take the form of detailed images of important specimens such as types, and to also provide digital access to documents such as historical field notes, old catalogue books and accession registers and other documents related to the collections.  Over the next two years we will initiate a project to digitise specimens and important documents and to make these available online. We also aim to show some of the collection store rooms online to provide a sense of the scope and scale of these for the public who rarely have the chance to see these hidden treasures.