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Soutpan is a town in the Lejweleputswa District in the Free State province of South Africa. Afrikaans for ‘salt pan or depression’, the name is derived from a large geographical feature of that type, on the slopes of which the Florisbad archaeological site is situated. This natural spring is an important site for palaeontology and zoology, as it is the spot at which many fossils, such as the, now extinct, Pelorovis (giant buffalo) and the world renowned Florisbad skull, were discovered. The latter refers to a hominid skull that has been estimated to be some 260 000 years old, it is an important link in understanding the development of the human family tree.

On 18 May 2019 the National Museum opened up some of its collections to the public for a behind the scenes visit. This was done to celebrate International Museum Day; a day organised by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) to raise awareness on the importance of museums and the roles they play in the development of society and culture. This day has been celebrated since 1977. The theme set for 2019 was “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The future of tradition.”

The Ornithology Department of the National Museum is calling upon members of the public to look out for the Red- Billed Buffalo- weaver in the Free State and to report any sightings. From the distribution data available, this weaver is now extinct to the Free State. Deforestation of large tracks of camel thorn savannah for agriculture and firewood has been identified as the likely cause of the local extinction of this weaver.

The Red-billed Buffalo-weaver is a large, heavy-billed weaver that has a red to orange coloured bill. The male has black plumage and its flank feathers are mottled with white. The female’s plumage is more brownish black and the feathers on the belly are slightly scaled.