During the national lockdown, most institutions did not allow access to their buildings. This meant that collections at these institutions were not attended to during the lockdown. This had a negative effect on specimens because extended periods of no management may lead to deterioration of specimens. Some researchers at higher education institutions keep specimens from their own research, as well as, those of students in their laboratories.
On a recent visit to the University of Mpumalanga by a KZN Museum staff member there was an opportunity to work on specimens in the Soil Macroinvertebrates laboratory. This laboratory has a private collection of invertebrates from different projects, including those of students. Because the university was inaccessible during the national lockdown most specimen jars were dry because the ethanol had evaporated. This meant that, after the lockdown, all specimens had to be checked then topped up with an appropriate concentration of ethanol. As such, it is advisable that once researchers have finished with their projects, they should donate their collection to a museum because there is better collection management in place. This ensures that specimens are properly looked after all the time.
Photo caption: Dr Nxele topping up ethanol to specimens in the Soil Macroinvertebrates lab at the University of Mpumalanga