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

NSCF Launch

The NSCF was formally launched in the evening of the 17 October 2017 at Alpine Heath in the Drakensberg.

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NSCF Forum

The NSCF hosted it’s first Forum from 17-20 October 2017 at Alpine Heath in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg.

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New species described from South African collections

Three new species of southern African horseshoe bats

A new study published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society has increased the diversity of southern African horseshoe bats by three species. One (named Rhinolophus gorongosae) appears to occur only in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique and possibly also on nearby Mount Mecula, and is genetically distinct from neighbouring horseshoe bat populations.

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Iconic specimens

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 on line. 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.