Statement: Peter Flack Collection Donation

Iziko Museums of South Africa operate 11 museums in Cape Town. The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections which reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko’s natural history collections are housed at the Iziko South African Museum, comprising more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance.  

Iziko received a donation of a substantial collection of mainly mounted mammal specimens from Mr Peter Flack. These specimens were collected by him over a period of about 30 years. The collection consisting of over 130 full mounts and over 70 shoulder, pedestal, floor and skull mounts mainly of African mammals and a few exotic specimens was delivered to the Iziko South African Museum on the 21 September 2012.

The arrival of the collection was covered by national press and our intention was to publicize this donation through a special exhibition in early 2013. There has already been considerable commentary on it, both positive and negative, so that an early communiqué has become necessary. This collection has raised discussion over the legitimacy of hunting not only from a conservation perspective but also from the perspective of animal rights.

Such a discussion is useful in highlighting real issues about our place in the World and the manner in which we need to change our ways in order to live sustainably and in harmony with our environment.  In accepting this collection, Iziko took the following factors into consideration:

  • The collection is of huge educational value. For many it will provide the only chance they will ever have to see these animals at close quarters.
  • The collection is well documented and of value for research purposes.
  • In the event that Iziko had not accepted this collection, it is likely that the specimens would have been lost to museums and private collections outside of South Africa. We believe that we would have been remiss in our duty as custodians of both the natural and cultural heritage of this country if we had not considered accepting this collection.
  • The animals were hunted legally with the prerequisite permits.
  • Recreational trophy hunting undertaken in a responsible manner supports conservation.  For more on this, see the International Union for Conservation of Nature2012 document “IUCN SSC Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives”.  We are satisfied that the Flack Collection has been collected in a responsible manner that is in keeping with the IUCN’s guiding principles for trophy hunting.  

Iziko Museums of South Africa plans to organize and host a debate to enable a full airing of the varied views on this matter. Hopefully, this opportunity will provide a constructive platform to encourage engagement and share different perspectives.

The Iziko South African Museum offers visitors an understanding of the constantly evolving universe, as well as the biological and cultural diversity of our planet. Exhibitions and programmes hosted here are aimed at creating awareness and understanding of the earth and its biological and cultural diversity, past and present.