- February 2021
A new study published in the journal Science Advances shows that Bantu-speaking communities in the Congo rainforest underwent a major population collapse from 1600 to 1400 years ago, probably due to a prolonged disease epidemic, and that significant resettlement did not restart until around 1000 years ago. These findings revise the population history of no less than seven present-day African countries and challenge the commonly held belief that the settlement of Central Africa by Bantu-speaking communities was a continuous process from about 4000 years ago until the start of the transatlantic slave trade.
- February 2021
Afrormosia is among the most exploited timber species from the Congolese rainforest. However, as the trees suffer from regeneration problems, overexploitation may jeopardise the survival of the species. To develop a more sustainable management, researchers are trying to understand the tree's growth pattern through experimental plantations.
- January 2021
The new Virtual Access programme aims to digitise the natural history collections of many European museums. The aim is to digitise, as a priority, those collections for which there is a high demand within the scientific community. The Royal Museum for Central Africa is participating in two projects. The first is to digitise some 2,400 aquatic insects in support of environmental research. The second focuses on bat collections, to provide data in the fight against coronaviruses.
- December 2020
In collaboration with six other museums and universities, the RMCA launched the HOME project to thoroughly evaluate the historical, scientific, and ethical background of human remains in Belgian collections. The aim is to inform policy and stakeholders about their possible final destinations.
- November 2020
Geographer Elise Monsieurs (RMCA) studies the rainfalls that trigger landslides in tropical Africa. For this, she was awarded a prize by the American Geophysical Union, the largest international network of researchers in the field of geosciences.
- November 2020
A team of scientists led by the RMCA advocates for the use of citizen science to better control infectious diseases in Africa. Involving citizen scientists offers great potential for collecting data, valorising local knowledge, and building sustainable partnerships between communities and scientists.
- October 2020
In the conflict region of north-east Congo, a revival of historically-rooted political traditions is accompanied by a growing interest in the past. Many of the material testimonies of this past came to the museum during the colonial period. Can a restored connection with this cultural heritage be a catalyst for peacebuilding processes in the region?
- September 2020
A new international project will try to predict potential pests, produce reliable detection and identification tools and develop an innovative pest management system.
- July 2020
The Mbisa-Congo project contributed to a special issue of the Journal of Fish Biology with four articles, the first authors of which are all Congolese.
- June 2020
A team of Belgian, Congolese and French researchers revealed that the introduction of Nile Tilapia into the Congo Basin was accompanied by the introduction of eight parasite species. Of these eight species, three are now infecting native fish species. The team was able to do this by comparing fish specimens from the collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa with recent specimens. Published in the journal Biological Invasions, their study illustrates the importance of natural history collections as windows on past environments.