William Cornwallis Harris, the first of Africas great white hunters, was born in 1807. Harris, however, was not the first to arrive in Africa - he arrived in the Cape after William Burchell, who landed in 1810.
He started his journey north in June of 1811. His journey of 4 years took him over a huge distance of 4500 miles, collecting botanical species, and doing limited hunting. He later made the comment that by 1811, the populations of Elephant, Rhino, Hippo, Eland and Ostrich were almost completely depleted.

Burchells book Travels To The Interior was published in1822. This book, along with many others by hunters of old, including Ruark, Hemmingway and Rooseveldt, did much in influencing, and drawing sport hunters to Africa.

Cornwallis Harris landed in 1836, with the sole purpose of hunting, like two men, almost 100 years before him - Livingstone and Baker. His travels took him only 40 miles north of the Limpopo River. He hunted and killed over 400 large animals, and after 5 months, ended up in Graaf Reinet, in January of 1837.

He left Africa in December of 1837, and became the first person who was able to compare African and Asian Big Game Hunting. He died just more than a decade later, in 1848, in India. Both his writings and artwork, did much to influence sport hunters in the years after his passing.

The arrival, and subsequent five year long safari of Cummings, started in 1844. Cummings, operated out of Colesberg, and was regarded as a hard hunter, his preferred hunting method being on horseback in the moonlight. It is said that he used 72 horses during his 5 year safari, which ended in 1849.

 

Prior to this, from 1700 to 1720, saw the first Trekboers moving north. By this time, ivory hunters had shot all of the Elephants in the south Western Cape.

 

The years from 1836 to 1839, are regarded as the hunting heyday in Africa.

 

Legends of years gone by, and those still considered as the all time greats include Karamojo Bell, Rushby, Selby, Kerr, Downey, Hunter, Percival, Rundgren, Cottars, and Brior Blixen.

Still regarded as the greatest of them all, was Fredrick Courtney Selous. Captain Selous was born in London in 1851 and set himself up as a professional hunter in Africa at the age of 20, and began hunting extensively in modern Rhodesia. Though he began his career as a big game hunter his books gained him a world-renowned reputation as a naturalist, due in no small part to his precise observations about the ecology and wildlife. These workscontinue to provide a valuable historical record of the life of an African big game hunter and are a rich record of the fauna of the period. Many of his books are still available on the internet.
 
His most popular book A Hunters Wanderings in Africa, published in 1881, roused tremendous interest about the African interior in Britain. It is an autobiographical account of his life spanning a nine-year period between 1871 and1880 and is still acknowledged to be one of the best books on the African interior.

Selous himself wrote nine books in all, as well as numerous articles on hunting and natural history. Among his books were Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (1896) and African Nature Notes and Reminiscences (1908) which was written with, and at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt who wrote: Mighty hunters, Dutch and English, roamed across the land on foot and on horseback, alone or guiding the huge white-topped ox-wagons; several among their number wrote with power and charm of their adventures; and at the very last the man arose who could tell us more of value than any of his predecessors.

During World War I, Selous became a Captain in the 25th Royal Fusiliers stationed in East Africa. He commanded troops on patrol against German forces along the coast of Tanzania and southern Kenya from Mombasa to Dares Salaam. In January of 1917, Selous and his troops encircled a German force led by General von Lettow-Vorbeck. Outnumbered 5-1, the Fusiliers were attempting to close a road, and prevent the Germans from escaping.

His life came to an abrupt end when he was shot in the head by a sniper during this conflict, a few days after his sixty-fifth birthday on January 04, 1917. Loettow-Verbeck so admired his adversary that he sent a message of condolence.

He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, and he closed his life as such a life ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country, while rendering her valiant and effective service.
US President Theodore Roosevelt said of him: There was never a more welcome guest at the White House than Selous. He told (me and my children) stories of his hunting adventures. He not only spoke simply and naturally, but he acted the part, first as himself, and then of the game, until the whole scene was vivid before our eyes. Mr. Selous is the last of the big game hunters of southern Africa; the last of the mighty hunters whose experience lay in the greatest hunting ground which this world has seen since civilized man has appeared herein.

His hunting career spanned an amazing 44 years up to 1917. Selous was the man who pioneered Elephant hunting on foot, and others he hunted with include Finnaughty, Jan Viljoen, and Petrus Jacobs.

 

He was buried in the African bush he had loved and dedicated his life to. Many people still visit his grave in the area which became the Selous Game Reserve.

 

© Copyright Brad Rolston African Hunting 2008. Graphics & Web Development by Crazy Cat Designs - +2772 887 3951