The National Museum has recently embarked on a long process of upgrading its Mammal exhibition halls. While we are excited about the prospects of the changes, this mission also presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the composition and layout of the existing mammal displays.
The Free State Province hosts a fairly large diversity of mammal predator species (≈ carnivores). Thirty-nine of our 103 indigenous mammal species can be defined as carnivores. While 19 of these species belong to the order Carnivora, 20 other species are also considered to be carnivores, belonging to the orders Tubulidentata (the Aardvark, which is a specialist ant and termite feeder), Macroscelidea (the Eastern rock sengi or elephant shrew; eats insects and other invertebrates, but also some plant material), Eulipotyphla (including six shrew and one hedgehog species; they eat mostly insects, but also earthworms,
Dr Nico Avenant, mammologist at the National Museum, Bloemfontein, was recently approached to identify two hedgehogs which were allegedly purchased from a pet shop.
The new owners became concerned when they learnt that it is illegal to have hedgehogs in captivity without a permit and took them to the offices of the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) in Bloemfontein.
Florisbad Quaternary Research Station’s Dr Daryl Codron is one of the authors on a paper that presents a mathematical solution which predicts predator kill frequency. The research station is one of the satellites of the National Museum.
Carnivores, unlike herbivores, typically remove whole individuals from prey populations, and so can have enormous effects on prey populations and whole ecosystems. Mammalian carnivores can be divided into those that eat small prey items (invertebrates, reptiles, birds, and small mammals) and those that eat larger prey (large rodents, lagomorphs and antelope).
Jean J. de Klerk1 & Nico L. Avenant1,2
1Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa email@example.com
2*Department of Mammalogy, National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa firstname.lastname@example.org
*Corresponding Author: email@example.com