The National Tick Collection
Programme Manager: Dr Abdalla Latif
Curator: Heloise Heyne
Ms Nthoana Tau-Mzamane, former CEO and President of the ARC, officially opened the Gertrud Theiler Tick Museum on the 23rd of August 2005.
The museum was named after Dr G Theiler in honor of all the years she dedicated to the collection. The tick species Cosmiomma hippopotamensis was chosen for the logo because this was a tick species that became extinct in South Africa (Brits – Pretoria – Rustenburg area) when its natural host the rhinoceros was hunted out. The tick still occurs naturally in the Kaokoveld, Namibia.
Former CEO and President of the ARC Ms Nthoana
Tau-Mzamane, cutting the ribbon
G. A. Bedford started the Onderstepoort Tick Collection in 1912 with Aponomma exornatum nymphs collected from a water leguaan (Varanus niloticus) in the Onderstepoort locality. From 1939 to 1967 Gertrud Theiler (1939-1980’s) largely extended the collection. During the past century various other tick workers have also contributed toward the collection: J B Walker (1966 – 2000’s), M B Baker, J D Bezuidenhout, A M Spickett, I H Horak, A Latif, H Heyne (current curator) & I McKay to name a few.
Aponomma exornatum (Leguaan tick) Female
Various other acarologists have also exchanged tick specimens and numerous species have been added to the Onderstepoort Tick Collection such as Kolonin from Russia, Tenderoi from Portuguese Africa, Hoogstraal from the USA Navy Laboratories in Cairo, Pe?na-Estrada from Spain, Frans Jongejan from Utrecht and others.
Over the years a number of foreign scientists have also re-identified some of the problematic ticks: Rupert Pegram, Harry Hoogstraal, C. M. Clifford, Rocky Mountain Laboratory (Jim Keirans), Don Arthur and recently Dmitry Apanaskevich who re-identified the Hyalomma collections and re-described Hyalomma glabrum, a tick species that is now recognized as endemic to the Karoo habitat.
The collection comprises more than 2000 collections, mainly from South Africa, but even as far as Nepal. It is the second largest tick collection in the world. Nearly all the widely known tick genera are represented in the Museum and all of the Rhipicephalids of the world is contained in this collection. There are also 43 type specimens, consisting of holotypes, allotypes and paratypes.
The Onderstepoort Tick Collection
Identify accurately, ticks infesting livestock and of medical importance
- Tick population studies central to tick control
- Knowledge of the epidemiological state of a disease
- Disease diagnosis for monitoring and surveillance
- Reduce the threat of introduction of new diseases transmitted by ticks through transport
- To increase confidence and competence of personnel handling tick-borne diseases
View of the museum (desk and microscope bench)
The role of the Tick Museum
We need more people who know ticks
- To encourage this we need simple guides to tick identification and biology
- To disseminate and exchange information we need an African network of tick scientists.
This increased quality of knowledge and number of knowledgeable people will permit the management of tick numbers so that sustainable economic benefit is obtained from controls by acaricides, drugs, and vaccines and also pasture management.
- A reference centre providing bio-systematic services
- A study on the genetic biodiversity of ticks
- A database of African tick species
- Training for African scientists
Males of 3 different species of the genus (Amblyomma (Bont ticks)
THE GERTRUD THEILER TICK MUSEUM IS A NATIONAL ASSET