There are more than 380 mammal species in Kenya. The Mammology Section serves as the national repository and reference center for mammalian natural history collections and its focal point for research and conservation of Kenya’s mammal fauna. This is achieved through research, collecting, cataloging, documentation, preservation disseminating and exhibition of mammal specimens. The section also promotes knowledge and appreciation of mammal fauna in Kenya through publication, seminars, exhibition guided tours to visitors and focal field training and attachments. To that end, the section works with local and international institutions, individual experts and students through research fellowships, affiliations, internships, attachments, volunteers and other forms of collaborations.
Currently the department holds more than 20,000 specimens collection dating way back in 1909. These mainly include stuffed study skins, flat skins, taxidermy (mounted), wet collections, tissue samples, of both small and large sized mammals and skulls. Most of the specimens are from Kenya, a few from Tanzania and Uganda and a small collection originated from West African Countries.
As the taxonomic authority of the country, routine work and service of the section is centered on collection-related research and management. However, a wide range of research themes have become necessary as a response to conservation, societal needs and emerging challenges facing conservation of mammal species. These include the following:
- Taxonomy of East African mammals, particularly the bats, shrews and rodents.
- Climate Change impacts on ecology and conservation of mammals
- Ecological survey of mammals in different ecosystems in Kenya
- Developing Community-based wildlife conservation and research in Kenya
- Assessment of eco-tourism potential of mammals in different ecosystems in Kenya.
- Developing species management plans in collaboration with different stakeholders
- Citizen science public awareness on mammals in Kenya
- Wildlife hunting and human-wildlife conflicts in Kenya
- Bio-geography: distribution of mammals species in different landscapes
- Evolution and Ecology of mammals
- Role of the mammals in the emergence and spread of disease agents of public health interest
- Conservation status assessment on mammals
- Ecology and management of species and targeted populations
- Monitoring of population and habitats
- Identification of species and population of sustainable use
- Indigenous knowledge about mammals
- Taxonomy of pollinator, invasive and pest mammalian species
The section provides several services that include:
- Specimen Identification and reference to researchers, government departments and the general public on mammalian conservation.
- Internship Opportunities- Individuals from Kenya and any other part of the world with interest in learning about or researching on Kenyan mammals can apply for internship or research affiliation with the National Museums of Kenya. The applicants will use their own finances to stay in Kenya/ Nairobi City or to conduct their research work, but will benefit from research expertise at the mammology section such as designing mammal research projects, data collection, species identification, planning of field logistics and preparation of final report.
- Training naturalist guides to identify mammals, how and where to find them in the world and other bush craft skills to enhance satisfaction of tourists.
- Taxidermy is the art and science of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins or skeletons of dead animals for public display or preservation in the museum for future scientific research (genetic studies, staple isotope analysis, species distribution, identification etc.) Through the section, NMK assist public institutions including office of the president, KWS and other licensed private institutions and individuals to prepare and maintain taxidermy animals for their use as full mount and trophy heads.
Ongoing Programs (2015- 2017):
- Bat community and temporal activity patterns in and around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest- (Simon Musila)
- Understanding attitudes and perceptions about bats in Kenya (Simon Musila).
- Creation of awareness on conservation of bats in Kenya through social media: KENYA BATS CONSERVATION NETWORK (KenBAT), a facebook page (Simon Musila)
- Understanding role of bats and rodents in the ecology of diseases of public health concern (Benard Agwanda)
- Citizen science: improving public participation and access to information on mammals of Kenya. (B. Agwanda)
- Understanding diversity and conservation status of mammals in poorly surveyed habitats
- Bio-geography and taxonomy of rodent and shrews of Kenya (B. Agwanda)
- Invasive alien rodent species in Kenya (B. Agwanda).
- Smithsonian Institution
- Field Museums Natural History (FMNH)
- Bat Conservation International (BCI)
- Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS)
- Kenya Forest Service (KFS)
- Nature Kenya
- National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)
- Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
- Department of Resource Survey and Remote Sensing (DRSR)
- Mpala Research Center- Nanyuki
- Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI)
- Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
- Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
- Center for Tropical Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
- Local universities: University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Moi University, Karatina University.
- Simon Musila (Research scientist & Head Mammology Section)
Research Focus Area: Bat and Rodent ecology, wildlife hunting and human-wildlife conflicts
- Bernard Agwanda (Research Scientist & Curator)
Research Focus Area: Taxonomy, evolution and conservation of small mammals; Zoonoses associated with mammals.
- Titus Adhola (Research scientist)
Research Focus Area: Conservation biology of the carnivores and ungulates, ecology of mammals, and Sustainable Dryland Resource Management
- Richard Yego (Research Scientist)
- Immaculate Muthoni (Laboratory Technician)
Research Focus Area: Curation and cataloging of specimens
- Aziza Zuhura (Database Technician)
Research Focus Area: Small mammals taxidermy, Bats, Trapping; Rodents Surveys