South Africa has natural wealth almost beyond comparison with exceptional species richness, diversity and endemism. Conservation management and development planning requires sound and in-depth knowledge of the nature and scope of biodiversity to minimise impacts and secure the integrity of biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports. Curation involves the preservation, cataloguing and study of ecological information about plants, animals and fossil species.

Curators plan and oversee the management of collections of plants, animal specimens and archaeological artefacts. They design and manage the exhibition and events around preserved species, sometimes also promoting information to the public. They can also gather samples for collections and preserve and maintain rare specimens using specialised methods. Some curators can assist in administrative processes, encouraging funders to protect and display important environmental data.

Curators can work in an office environment but also spend time organising displays or collecting specimens for exhibitions. Some can preserve artefacts in laboratory settings and can sometimes be exposed to dangerous chemicals.


Curators require an in-depth understanding of plant and animal species and preservation and curation processes and will additionally benefit from:

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Extensive analytical and research skills
  • Strong organisational and administrative ability
  • Excellent scientific communication capabilities


Research the origin, distributions and use of cultural and historical artefacts

Direct classification and cataloguing of materials and objects

Evaluate and preserve records of museum objects

Organise and publicise exhibitions and special displays


B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Biological Sciences specialising in Zoology or Botany at all universities

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Archaeology at UCT and Wits

B.A., B.A. (Hons), M.Sc. in Anthropology at RU, SU, UFS, UJ, UL, UNISA, Unizulu, UP, UWC and Wits


National parks and gardens.

Museums and zoos.

Research institutions. 

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