The specimen collection at BNHS is an invaluable repository of faunal biodiversity of the Indian subcontinent and beyond. This prestigious collection is one of the best from the Oriental region and is the result of the extensive scientific studies, surveys and documentation drives that were undertaken in different regions of the subcontinent and neighbouring areas.
Depositing of specimens collected since 1883 has resulted in one of the finest natural history collections in Asia. Since most of the collections, especially of larger fauna, were brought in during pre-independence days, they include specimens from remote and inaccessible areas not only from India, but also from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Following are the salient features of BNHS collection.
· A total of over 1,20,000 specimens, including nearly 20,000 mammals, 29,000 birds, 5,400 bird eggs, 8,500 amphibians and reptiles and 50,000 insects
· Specimens of rare species like Jerdon’s Courser, Lesser Florican, Bengal Florican, Great Indian Bustard and White-winged Wood Duck
· The extinct Pink-headed Duck is a prized possession of the collection
· Many specimens of rare mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, beetles and other insects
· The bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian collections are catalogued and computerized for easy accessibility
· Specimens have been identified taxonomically to the species level.
Accorded the status of a National Heritage Collection, it is open to students, researchers and amateur nature lovers with prior appointment. Scientists from Indian as well as foreign institutions regularly refer to the collection. In the present context of man-induced changes in the environment and loss of biodiversity, this collection provides valuable references for further study. It provides precise scientific information on the fauna and their geographic distribution.
In many BNHS publications such as Book of Indian Animals, Book of Indian Birds, Book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians and Butterflies of Sikkim Himalayas, the collections were a source of information and illustrations. Specimens even as old as 100 years are in good condition and are easy to handle due to the tireless efforts of the Collection team. The collections serve as the primary stepping stone for many an amateur and professional in their study of the faunal wealth of Indian sub-continent.