Explorers 17. Margaret Fountaine

Margaret Elizabeth Fountaine (1862–1940) traveled in Southern Africa in 1908 and 1909, collecting, studying, breeding and sketching butterflies. Between 1890 and 1940 she traveled to sixty countries on six continents. She died on a path on Mount St. Benedict in Trinidad; it is said she had a butterfly net in her hand. Whattaway to go!Continue reading “Explorers 17. Margaret Fountaine”

Explorers 16. Andersson

Karl Johan Andersson (1827 – 1867) more often used his anglicised name, Charles John Andersson; Swedish/English trader, miner, hunter; and amateur naturalist and ornithologist. He explored and collected in Sweden as a young man. He was the son of British bear hunter Llewellyn Lloyd, ‘impoverished but of good family,’ and a Swedish lady, a servantContinue reading “Explorers 16. Andersson”

Explorers 15. Galton

Francis Galton, (1822–1911) was an English polymath, geographer, meteorologist and much else. We are mainly interested here in his 1850 expedition to Namibia. For the rest – and there is a lot of it! – refer to the sources at the bottom. Grandson of Erasmus Darwin and cousin and contemporary of Charles Darwin, Galton isContinue reading “Explorers 15. Galton”

Explorers 14. Gerrard

William Tyrer Gerrard sent a stuffed aardvark to Derby! How cool or how bad ass is that? You receive a parcel from your botanical collector: Here are some flowers and some leaves; oh, and one aardvark! Poor bloody aardvark had to stare out on grey Pommie skies from then on. I went looking for hisContinue reading “Explorers 14. Gerrard”

Explorers 13. Chapman

James Chapman (1831-1872) – our first South African-born explorer, hunter, trader and photographer. Enough Swedes, Scots and Frogs, here’s a homeboy! Again, if you want really accurate history, you’ve stumbled on the wrong place – but check the sources! A son of James Chapman and Elizabeth Greeff of Malmesbury, he was educated in Cape TownContinue reading “Explorers 13. Chapman”

Explorers 12. Baines

(John) Thomas Baines (1820–1875) – was an English artist and explorer of British colonial southern Africa and Australia. He was most famous for his beautiful paintings – especially of ‘Baines Baobabs’ and the mighty Falls, Mosi oa Tunya. Apprenticed to a coach painter at an early age, he left England aged 22 for South AfricaContinue reading “Explorers 12. Baines”

Explorers 11. Livingstone

The Big One, but David Livingstone (1813-1873) – is not my kind of explorer. He certainly explored, but he didn’t study. My kind of explorer searched for knowledge of the local fauna and flora, found new birds, new frogs, new bugs and new plants. One of them wrote he explored ‘in pursuit of knowledge,’ butContinue reading “Explorers 11. Livingstone”

Explorers 10. Smith

Here’s another real explorer! Andrew Smith (1797-1872) – British army surgeon, traveler, collector, author, committee man and naturalist. As a boy he was apprenticed part-time to a medical doctor while studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Sent to the Cape Colony in 1821, he was stationed in Grahamstown until the middle of 1825. DuringContinue reading “Explorers 10. Smith”

sort-of Explorer 9. Barrow

I have ‘explored Africa’ by being flown in a Cessna by a local pilot, picked up in a Toyota by a local guide and cooked for by a local chef, so whilst all our explorers were shown around by locals, when the ‘locals’ are actually officials of the colony and they’re taking you to establishedContinue reading “sort-of Explorer 9. Barrow”

Explorers 8. Burchell

I’m exploring the explorers who were lucky enough to see ‘Africa In The Earlies.’ Before the anthropocene. Before plastic. This guy is one of the best. I mean, just look at his wagon! It even beats my kombi! And my 1975 Bushman Tracker1 Off-Road trailer! William John Burchell (1781-1863) – naturalist and explorer, was theContinue reading “Explorers 8. Burchell”

Explorers 7. Wahlberg

Johan August Wahlberg (1810 – 1856) was another Swedish naturalist and explorer. He traveled in southern Africa between 1838 and 1856, especially in Natal and South West Africa, sending thousands of natural history specimens back to Sweden. The journals of his travels are generally brief and objective (and I haven’t been able to find themContinue reading “Explorers 7. Wahlberg”

Explorers 6. Delegorgue

Louis Adulphe Joseph Delegorgue (1814-1850) – French hunter, naturalist, collector and author, was orphaned at the age of four and brought up in the home of his grandfather at Douai, where he largely educated himself and was introduced to natural history. Though he had inherited enough to be well provided for, Delegorgue joined the merchantContinue reading “Explorers 6. Delegorgue”

Europeans ‘Discovered’ Africa? They did?

While I’m talking about explorers, I’ll try and be careful about calling them discoverers or claiming they ‘discovered’ anything. Usually wherever they went they were met by friendly local people who helped them amazingly generously. Often they would simply not have been able to explore without this help. They were guided to water and toldContinue reading “Europeans ‘Discovered’ Africa? They did?”

Explorers 5. Levaillant

I love reading about these early explorers, so I decided to write short sketches on some of them. Here’s my fifth, perhaps the most flamboyant and famous of the bunch. His accounts, like mine, may occasionally need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but his contributions were definitely huge. His main researcher –Continue reading “Explorers 5. Levaillant”

Explorers 4. Gordon

These guys saw Southern Africa before the Anthropocene – lucky fishes! I love reading about their fresh look on the amazing African fauna and flora as their local guides showed them around. Robert Jacob Gordon (1743 – 1795) – was a Dutch explorer, soldier, artist, naturalist and linguist of Scottish descent. Starting in 1773 heContinue reading “Explorers 4. Gordon”

Explorers 3. Masson

As I travel around Southern Africa I often think, ‘I wonder what it was like here before we spoilt it’. I especially would love to have seen the open grasslands, one of the habitats we have changed the most. I imagine the highveld grasslands unfenced; miles of grass with koppies; very few trees, but whereverContinue reading “Explorers 3. Masson”