Assessment of Lepidoptera pollinator species diversity data in East Africa.




Project Brief
Start Date: January 2017,
Duration: Three Years
Grant: JRS Biodiversity Foundation
Project PI: Esther N. Kioko (PhD)
Senior Research Scientist and Head, Zoology Department, National Museums of Kenya,
Partner Institutions:
i. Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences,College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University. Kampala, Uganda. Prof. Anne Akol Email:
ii. National Museum and House of Culture,National Museum of Tanzania, , Dar es Salaam. Adelaide Sallema (MSc), E-mail:
Project Summary:
Moths and butterflies (Order: Lepidoptera) provide vital ecosystem services as pollinators of both crops and wild flora. This project is digitizing collections in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania targeting Lepidoptera pollinator specimens. The target Lepidoptera collections held in the museums are being enhanced with specimens collected from the field. The target species are in three families, Sphingidae (hawkmoths), Hesperiidae (skipper butterflies) and Papilionidae (swallowtail butterflies). The field work focuses biodiversity hotspot localities, the Eastern Arc Mountains in Kenya (Taita hills forest), Tanzania (East Usambara forest) and Mabira forest in Uganda. Research is being done in the forests and the surrounding farmlands to capture the diversity in both landscapes.

The project is training on specimen collection techniques, species identification, curation and digitization and data publishing. The Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT), a free open source software tool used to publish and share biodiversity datasets through GBIF Network which is already in use in the region and is being used among others. Three regional workshops will held within the project period for the key partner institutions to develop a strong working collaboration and standard operating procedures for the project activities and to involve other key stakeholders especially the data users. As lack of knowledge and capacity in Lepidopteran pollinator biodiversity informatics and taxonomy are major constraints in the region, the project is building the capacity of technical staff in the region and training three young scientists at MSc. level.










NMK JRS Project Poster Nov 2017 (1)

NMK JRS Book of Abstracts November 2017 F

NMK JRS Workshop Presentations November 2017

Collection Registry


The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Collection Registry was operationalised in 2011, with the appointment of the first ever Collection Registrar. It is domiciled in the Directorate of Research and Collection and vested with the core function of coordinating collections management activities in all the institutional repositories and display galleries. The section is responsible for managing information associated with the collections and ensuring access by end-users.

To enhance appreciation of the natural and cultural diversity of Kenya by organizing and disseminating NMK collections and collection information for research, education and recreation.


  • To monitor that collections are stored in a safe, secure environment that is pest free and conserved using appropriate techniques.
  • Safekeeping of collections records and their maintenenace in good and updated condition.
  • Coordinate development and maintenence of electronic data storage of all NMK collections.
  • In liason with Public Relations and Marketing and ICT departments, ensuring that links to collection databases with appropriate safeguards are created in the website to increase public access to information.
  • Establishing a system of ready retrieval and dispatch of information.
  • Attending to queries and requests for information on collections and specimens.
  • Monitoring the transfers of specimens and initiating retrieval of those overdue.
  • Advising Director, Research and Collections, on all matters relating to management of collections data.

Types of collection and use
NMK’s collections date over 100 years and range in size from Microscopic slides to large skeleton mammals and fishes collected from various locations of Kenya and East Africa.

  • Biological collections consist mainly of preserved botanical and zoological specimens including; plant, mammalogical, herpetological, ornithological, ichihyological and palynological specimens. Live specimens of plants are cultivated in the botanic garden at the Museums headquarters while fishes and insects are kept at departmental aquaria and insectaries, respectively. Most of the collections are backed up by a fast-growing collection ofDNA samples.
  • Archaeological collections consist of artifacts, ecofacts, features and in-situ specimens at various heritage sites.
  •  Palaeontological collections comprise of fossils, casts and in-situ specimens gazette as national sites and monuments.
  • Ethnographical collection comprise historical and ethnographic objects
  • Library collections consist of books, journals and reprints.
  • Archival collections consist of NMK and official Kenya government records as well as special collections of field study reports and manuscripts.

Biological and palaeontological specimens form the basis for research on distribution, evolution, and speciation. Together with associated metadata, these collections give basic information on life history and traits of organisms thus availing critical baselines for conservation and resource management. Archeological and anthropological artifacts on the other hand illustrate the evolution of culture and technology through human history.

Summary statistics of NMK collections

Department Number of Collections Comparison to the global collection
 Botany  1 007 000  Live specimens of endangered, endemic and useful plants are maintained in the Botanic Garden
 Cultural Heritage  50 000 Contains cultural heritage materials from all Ethnic groups in Kenya
– a great resource in National Unity/Identity building.
 Earth Sciences  1 316 056 This includes the largest fossil collection in Africa and richest Hominin fossil collection in the world.
 Resource Centre  3 617 018 This includes the second most important public archive in Kenya, after the Kenya National Archives.
The library is jointly managed with Nature Kenya, The East Africa Natural History Society


 3 149 099 The zoology collection is the largest in Tropical Africa.
Specimens are maintained under respective taxonomic units; Birds (30,000), Mammals (30,000), Fishes (48,500, Herpeto-fauna (28,500) and (invertebrates (3 million).
An additional 12,091 modern bone specimens are maintained in the osteology section.



Museum Number of Collections Nature of Collection

Nairobi (Casting) 260 Painted Positive Casts

Nairobi (Casting) 3,200 Molds

Meru438Ethnographical, live reptiles & primates

Kitale 3,331                             Live reptiles & Ethnographical

Kisumu 2,233                             Live reptiles & Ethnographical

Kapenguria 200                                          Ethnographical



Fort Jesus          356, 970                           Archaeological, Ethnographical, Library



Workshops and trainings

Collection management seminars, workshops and conferences (Dates and schedules announced on case-by-case basis)


Dr. Alfreda K. Ibui-Registrar of Collections

Dr. Francis Oruya- Principal System Analyst/Prog.

Mrs. Mary Nyateng- ICT Assitant

Mr. Henry S. Saitabau- DRC Administrative Assistant

Miss Diana Kathambi- Volunteer


Zoology department

The Department of Zoology within the Directorate of Research and Collections is a department currently organized into six Sections: Ornithology, Mammalogy, Invertebrate Zoology, Ichthyology, Herpetology, and Osteology. Each section holds specimen collection of the respective taxonomic groups and a number of research programs are run within each section.


To collect, document, preserve, study and present Kenya’s past and present natural heritage, and enhance knowledge, appreciation, respect, management and use of these resources for the benefit of Kenya and the world.

Main Aim

The main objective of Zoology Department is to enhance the conservation of irreplaceable biodiversity (invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians, fishes, birds and mammals) through conducting action-oriented research, taxonomic studies, monitoring, training, documenting and disseminating information on faunal biodiversity and their habitats and managing Kenya’s priceless collection of faunal natural heritage. To this end, Zoology Department holds collections of international repute and importance in Ornithology, Mammalogy, Invertebrate, Ichthyology, Herpetology, and Osteology sections, and has been at the fore front of African research in these fields.

The department collaborates with other national and international institutions and professionals in order to enhance quality of scientific results. The Zoology Department presently has sixty staff: 37 researchers, 21 technicians, and four support staff. In addition, there are 8 research fellows. Each Section has its own staff who in addition to implementing the department’s research programs, also actively build and curate collections, train graduate and undergraduate students, develop exhibits and other public programs, and serve the diverse needs of the public and scientific communities.

Collection Management (Curation)

Our natural history collections is one of the most extensive natural history collections within the continent, contains materials covering important groups within the animal kingdom. Our specimen collection boasts over 2 million invertebrates, 30,000 bird study skins, mammals (21,000), fish (43,000), reptiles and amphibians (30,000).

The Zoology Department also manages Kenya’s priceless collection of wet tissues, blood, nests, eggs, and skeletons (12,000) and is rated as the best in Africa. Our reference collections are used by researchers from all over the world for taxonomical studies (including DNA studies), medical studies, agricultural studies, forensic sciences, and for reference by researchers, visiting students, tourists and artists. The collection is also a depository for collections from other parts of Africa

Research and Monitoring

Zoology Department is involved with research on faunal diversity including the identification of species and ecosystems in Kenya and the sustainable monitoring of biological components of biodiversity. The Zoology department develops and implements research in a range of aspects of the science of faunal biodiversity management and conservation. In collaboration with many national and international institutions, the department runs a busy schedule of research programs, mainly on threatened species and their habitats.

These research programmes are as a result of global challenges such as those highlighted by Millennium Development Goals, Conservation of Biological Diversity (CBD), and International Agreements for Sustainable Use and Conservation of Natural resources and the Environment. Research results from the department also contributes to internal conventions and agreements e.g. the CITES, Ramsar, CBD etc that aim at protecting our ecosystems through various programs.

Education, Training, Public Awareness and Information Dissemination

The Zoology Department provides specialized training at several levels to strengthen the national capacity to conduct zoological research work and to acquire, process, store and disseminate information on biodiversity to the public through exhibitions, publications, and specially organized education programmes through its state of art research and teaching. Zoology department also help in contribution of technical skills and information resources to the general public and scientific community. The department assists in the development of exhibitions at the Nairobi National Museums and elsewhere both in the country and world at large.

Herpetology Section

Herpetology section houses the national reference collection for reptiles (crocodiles, tortoises, terrapins, marine turtles, lizards,

Ichthyology Section

The Ichthyology section was established in 1997 with a vision to develop and curate substantial reference collections East African

The Invertebrates Zoology Section

The Invertebrates Zoology Section houses and deals with animals belonging to seven main groups (phylum): mollusks, roundworms,

The Mammology Section

There are more than 380 mammal species in Kenya. The Mammology Section serves as the national repository and reference center for

Ornithology Section

The Ornithology Section is a leading center for Ornithological research in Kenya and Africa. The section aims to contribute

Osteology Section

Osteology is a section in the Zoology Department that collects and

Resource Centre

The NMK Resource centre maintains a comprehensive reference collection for research.
The objectives of Resource Centre are to collect, organize, preserve, disseminate and improve access to information in support of the institutions mandate in order to facilitate research and develop a one stop shop for information resources.
The center has two operational sections i.e. Library and Archives which hold indispensable resources for research, exhibition development, and educational programmes among others.
I together with National Museums of Kenya fraternity urge everyone to visit National Museums of Kenya libraries and archives country wide to realize the importance of information.

Join us and be part of this family.


The joint Library of the National Museums of Kenya and East African Natural

Maktaba Awards 2015

National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Main Library attained second position during the 6th edition of Library of the Year Awards dubbed “MAKTABA AWARDS 2015”, having


The Childrens corner of the library features a great variety of books that help the children develop academically and also socially.


The memorandum on the policy of the National Museum of Kenya on

Directorate Brief


The Directorate of Research and Collection (DRC) is the research arm of NMK which is vested with the core function of conducting research on the cultural and natural heritage of the country as well as collecting and managing the national collection. The Directorate has existed since the concept of a museum in Kenya was started with collections by the early nature enthusiasts. The current Directorate’s name came into being after the last organizational restructuring which was implemented in 2007.

The DRC is vested with the mandate of developing and implementing research projects that are focused on a sustainable use, conservation and preservation of Kenya’s heritage. The collection that arise from the research and collection activities are identified, deposited and curated in the directorates’ repositories. These form the core of national reference collection of natural as well as cultural heritage and are the basis for education, research and conservation in the various fields covered.

Research activities and programmes undertaken in the Directorate result in a steady stream of scholarly publications, a wealth of grey literature and increased national reference collection which is currently estimated over four million. Capacity for research comprises some 35 Doctorate and over 57 Master degree level officers. The Directorate, furthermore, plays a key role in education, training and public awareness. It provides specialized training at several levels to strengthen the national capacity to conduct heritage research work. A significant number of research staff members are often called upon by local universities to offer specialized courses whose expertise is only available at NMK.

Through its grant-making activities, the Directorate contributes to the fund raising initiative of the organization. The directorate is responsible for Kenya’s international/ Multilateral Environmental agreements and conventions, namely Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. NMK serves as the Scientific Authority for Ramsar convention for which is the National Focal Point. In order to perform its roles effectively, the Directorate of Research and Collections has the following six research departments:

Botany department :

Generation, documentation and dissemination of plant and fungi collection, knowledge, information and innovations.

Centre for Biodiversity:

Development and implementation of sustainable biodiversity, environmental and indigenous knowledge systems, policies, technologies and innovations.

Cultural Heritage department:

Generation, documentation and dissemination of cultural and indigenous knowledge systems, policies, technologies and innovations.

Earth Sciences department :

Generation, documentation and dissemination of knowledge about our common ancestry in the context of geological and environmental change.

Resource Centre:

Collection, documentation, re-packaging, preservation and dissemination of heritage information, knowledge and innovation.

Zoology department:

Generation, documentation and dissemination of zoological collection, knowledge, information and innovations.

Collection Registry:

To enhance appreciation of the natural and cultural diversity of Kenya by organizing and disseminating NMK collections and collection information for research, education and recreation.

DRC Staff List

For information about permits, rules and regulations click here

Earth Sciences Department


The Department of Earth sciences is one of the core Research Departments of the National Museums of Kenya. The department has four main Objectives, namely:

  1. Carrying out Paleontological, Archaeological, Palynological/ Palaeobotanical and geological research both field and laboratory based.
  2. Documentation, management and conservation of Palaeontological, Archaeological Palynological/ Palaeobotanical and geological collections for future reference and comparative studies
  3. Dissemination of scientific information to the scientific community and the public in general
  4. Training both local and international university students specializing in palaeontology, Archaeology, Geology, palynology/ palaeobotany and other related fields.

The Department is internationally recognized for its contribution in prehistoric studies and has one of the largest and some of the best collections found the world over.

Our Mission

We strive to unearth human ancestry in the context of geological and environment history.

Our Vision

To be a centre of excellence in earth sciences research for development.

Archaeology section

The Archaeology Section at the National Museums of Kenya is mandated with all field and laboratory archaeological research

Palaeontology Section

Palaeontology, which deals with the study of ancient life especially mammalian evolution, human evolution and Palaeoenvironmental

Palynology and Palaeobotany Section

Palynology and Palaeobotany Section is in the Department of Earth Sciences, National Museums of Kenya. The section’s main aim is to

Geology Section 

Geology is the study of the materials that compose the Earth’s crust. The staffs in the section analyze rocks, minerals, formations and other structures in order to understand how the earth has changed and evolved over time.

Centre for Biodiversity


Following a request by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) the Kenya government set up the Center for Biodiversity (CBD) at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). The center role was to coordinate country studies and direct its subsequent operations in consultations with the relevant government bodies with Kenya’s ratification toon the convention on biological diversity (CBD), demands on the center have intensified and its coordinating role of NMK’s multidisciplinary biodiversity research and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) become more active. The center also acts as an interface between biological science and other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and economics


To help fulfill national obligations to biodiversity conservation by developing a research and action programs that will gather, analyze and disseminate biodiversity information required for sustainable utilization of biological resources.


  • Contact a country wide inventory of key components of Kenya‘s biodiversity selected for their economic and ecological importance.
  • Develop capacity to analyze biological data in order to identify key sites of biodiversity interest within Kenya and use this to provide and distribute comprehensive and factual information to those charged with making land use decisions.
  • Develop quantifiable sampling protocol for focal groups and establish permanent sampling plots in order to identify and monitor activities, which have an impact on biodiversity.
  • Using taxonomic and field based knowledge, studies selected organisms and there biological environment, inorder to advice the formulation of effective and sustainable conservation policy.

Conventions addressed by the Centre

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Global Strategy for Plants Conservation
  • Global Taxonomy Initiative
  • Africa pollinator Initiative.
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and flora (CITES)
  • Ramsar Convention

The functions of the Centre for Biodiversity are fulfilled under the following sections:

  • Phytochemistry
  • Molecular genetics
  • Marine and Wetlands
  • Coastal Forest Conservation Unit

Research Projects and activities

  • KIPEPEO Butterfly farming

A community based enterprise that markets and sells products from Arabuko Sokoke forest including butterfly pupae, honey and mushroom

  •  A forest Butterfly Exhibition at Mombasa: Promoting sustainable useof coastal biodiversity.

A proposed butterfly house to be built at Fort Jesus will comprise an additional and secure market for Arabuko Sokoke butterfly farmers as well as an opportunity to exhibit and showcase coastal diversity and cultural values

  • Kwale Forest Landscape Project.

Gazettment of additional Kaya forest sites and strengthening of the management structure including demarcation of sites. It also aims to improve the livelihood activities of local communities

  •  Sustainable harvesting and resilience of Cyperus papyrus in wetlands of Kenya.It’s a PhD project which aimsat investigating sustainableharvesting regimes and population genetic diversityof papyrus for conservation purposes 

Strategic Development Partners in Research and Capacity Building

  • Global Environmental Facility (GEF)
  • SIDA
  • Royal Netherlands Embassy
  • UNEP
  • Smithsonian Institute
  • Belgium
  • BIOTA-Zoologisches Forschungs museums Alexander Koenig (ZFMK)
  • WWF
  • National Research Organization
  • Universities

Kenya Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK) Section.

The Kenya resource center for indigenousknowledge (KENRIK) is a