The zoological material at the National Museums of Kenya includes valuable scientific information that forms the basis of the current knowledge. However, due to heavy usage, the material is at risk of disappearing. A digitised archive is necessary to allow a wider audience to access the collection.
The National Museum of Kenya holds photographs, illustrations, notes, accession books and original catalogue books. These are crucial material for research in species taxonomy, natural history and distribution. Many of the photographs represent endangered species which have not been photographed since. Such records can be used to tell the historical distribution of biological species compared to habitat destruction. If this information is not preserved and is lost, it may not be possible to know the extent of species decline in Kenya or regionally in Africa.
The material is primarily endangered by the heavy use of the documents. The materials are normally used as references in the department, whichis a factor in their deterioration. Furthermore, storage conditions are far from ideal: documents are kept in humid environments and are subject to theft, disposal, destruction, and accidental fires or flooding.
The project digitised 18 catalogues and field notes relating to mammalogy, ornithology, ichthyology and invertebrate zoology. The material was relocated to the NMK’s archives, where it will be kept in more suitable conditions. Staff at the museum were involved in the digitisation process, which provided them with a new way of preserving the material.