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Shining a light on the Unsung Heroes of SA’s natural history

Birds

DITSONG National Museum of Natural History unsung heroes curators
Preparators at work during the Vernay-Lang Kalahari expedition in 1930.
DITSONG National Museum of Natural History unsung heroes curators
Saul Sithole (right) with Austin Roberts and Vivian FitzSimons after a collection trip in the 1930s.

1928-1991: Saul Sithole
Saul Sithole accompanied Austin Roberts on many field trips, where he assisted in the collection, skinning, and preparation of bird and mammal specimens (from 1910-1948 birds and mammals were in one section – higher vertebrates). This included supervising the specimen preparation on the Vernay-Lang Kalahari Expedition in 1930. On this trip, he also accompanied Mr Vernay in pursuit of big game. Sithole’s meticulous specimen preparation over the course of many years of service meant he made a considerable contribution to the current collections.

Other preparators have included Jacob Mokoena (1959-1998), and later Richard Setekge.

Bird Specimen collection and preparation
In the past, birds were shot, but more recently they are caught using nets and traps.
    
The preparation techniques are similar to those used in the mammals collection, which is to prepare dry specimens or specimens preserved in alcohol. The dry specimens are either a clean skeleton, or a prepared skin.

  • DITSONG National Museum of Natural History unsung heroes curators
  • DITSONG National Museum of Natural History unsung heroes curators
  • DITSONG National Museum of Natural History unsung heroes curators
  • DITSONG National Museum of Natural History unsung heroes curators

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