Ditsong, National Museum of Natural History. Part 2

The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, formerly the Transvaal Museum, is a natural history museum situated in Pretoria, South Africa. It is located on Paul Kruger Street, between Visagie and Minnaar Streets, opposite the Pretoria City Hall. Wikipedia




A welcome sign on the front door of the museum that can be found in Paul Kruger Street in Pretoria, South Africa.




The main entrance hall of the museum. This imposing African Elephant is reminiscent of the elephant display that can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum in the USA.




This is the lower level of the Austin Roberts Bird Hall that boasts in excess of 800 South African bird species with general feeding, behavior, migration and flight of bird’s information on display.




The wandering albatross and the southern royal albatross are the largest of the albatrosses and are among the largest of flying birds. They have the largest wingspans of any bird, being up to 3.5 m from tip to tip, although the average is a little over 3 m.

A male wandering albatross caught by members of the Antarctic research ship USNS Eltanin in the Tasman Sea on 18 September 1965, was found to have a wingspan of 3,63m.




The Dodo is a lesson in extinction. Found by Dutch soldiers around 1600 on an island in the Indian Ocean, the Dodo became extinct less than 80 years later because of deforestation, hunting, and destruction of their nests by animals brought to the island by the Dutch.

Dodos, distant relatives of pigeons and other doves, are often referenced as an example of human-caused extinction.

Its habitat destroyed and its eggs prey to new predators, the last surviving dodo died somewhere in the increasingly sparse forests of Mauritius in 1693.




Emperors are the biggest of the 18 species of penguin found today, and one of the largest of all birds. They are approximately 120cm tall (about the height of a six year old child) and weigh in at around 40 kg, though their weight does fluctuate dramatically throughout the year.

Did you know?

Emperors can swim underwater for up to 22 minutes.

A group of penguins in the water is called a raft.

They’re the deepest diving birds; one was recorded diving 565m deep!

Emperor penguins may be the only birds to never set foot on land. They are entirely dependent on sea ice. They utilize holes in the ice to enter the water in order to hunt for fish, squid, and krill. They also need thick, stable ice as a platform for raising chicks.




An early sound recording set-up for capturing bird calls. Currently the technology has become digital and so advanced that the opportunity to see, or even utilize, equipment like this is now extremely limited.




Hadeda roosts in flocks on trees and produces loud calls at sunrise. Sensory pits along the tips of their bills enable them to locate worms and insects just beneath the surface of soft earth. These monogamous birds form strong bonds with a single partner with some pairings observed to last more than a year.

It is also known as the “flying vuvuzela,” recalling the noise of the plastic horn used by stadium fans during the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa in 2010.

I believe that the Hadeda is the only bird that’s scared of heights. Listen to the sound of its call when it next flies past you…I will say no more!

The Zulu word for Hadeda is inkankane, which derives from the word amankanka meaning ‘nasal passages’ and alludes to the noise that this infernal bird makes. Although described as a “good luck bird”, I have no idea why.



This is a Gorgonosid which was part of a larger group of animals called synapsids that included modern mammals as its only living member. Some synapsids are called “mammal-like reptiles” because they possess some, but not all, the features of mammals.

Gorgonopsia (from the Greek Gorgon, a mythological beast, and óps ‘aspect’) is an extinct clade of sabre-toothed therapsids from the Middle to Upper Permian roughly 265 to 252 million years ago.

All gorgonopsians were predatory, while the herbivorous end of the empire was composed of pareiasaurs – a group of armored reptiles – and the dicynodonts, also therapsids like their gorgonopsian neighbors but much smaller and with tusks for digging up roots and tubers.

It may have also had fur, but it still laid eggs, though it isn’t known for sure whether or not it took care of its young, unlike the true mammals or other mammal-like reptiles (i.e. Thrinaxodon).

They became extinct in the Permian–Triassic extinction event. They were the major predators of their day. They had large, powerful, square-shaped jaws with huge, sabre-like canine and interlaced, socket-like teeth. Many fossils have been found in South Africa. (Wikipedia)




The entrance to Genesis of Life II exhibition hall that focusses on mammals. Three of the most unusual displays for me? A Bison, a bull Moose and a cow being milked.




Why do Zebra stallions fight? Fighting and intimidation are used to establish dominance over rivals and once a harem is formed the stallion will fiercely defend it against other males using physical aggression and vocalizations.

Zebras also have very different temperaments to horses. They’re far more aggressive and a lot more dangerous. Zebras have been known to kick each other to death, they will viciously bite any human that comes too close, and there are even many accounts of zebras killing lions.

A horse can weigh around 380–600 kg. However, horses are built for sprinting and sports, while zebras are built for fighting and kicking. In a fight between a zebra and an average horse, zebra will probably win due to a 1360kg force kick that can cripple a lion.




This diorama shows a stand off between a leopard and early man, referred to in this instance as Robust ‘ape-men’ (Australopithecus robustus) in Swartkrans are around 1.5 million years ago.




A view of the Pretoria City Hall as seen from an upstairs window of the Ditsong Natural History Museum.

The Tshwane metro said it had no choice but to fix up a “catastrophic” R100-million renovation job done on the city hall in the centre of Pretoria under the previous administration.

It is currently fenced off in its entirety as plans to refurbish it kicked off in July for the 2019/20 financial year. It is estimated that the renovations could take 2-3 years to complete.




This rare meteorite was found in 1936 that can be viewed in the National Geoscience Museum that forms a part of the Ditsong Natural History Museum.




Is this display finished or unfinished?




To find out more about what the museum offers, click on the logo above.




Check out the archived and current interviews… click on the image above.






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