Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He was born in London, and was educated at Rugby and in Germany. His love for natural history led to the resolve to study the ways of wild animals in their native haunts. Going to South Africa when he was nineteen he travelled from the Cape of Good Hope to Matabeleland, reached early in 1872, and was granted permission by Lobengula to shoot game anywhere in his dominions.
From that date until 1890, with a few brief intervals spent in England, Selous hunted and explored over the then little-known regions north of the Transvaal and south of the Congo basin, shooting elephants, and collecting specimens of all kinds for museums and private collections. His travels added largely to the knowledge of the country now known as Rhodesia. He made valuable ethnological investigations, and throughout his wanderings - often among people who had never previously seen a white man - he maintained cordial relations with the chiefs and tribes, winning their confidence and esteem, notably so in the case of Lobengula.
In 1890 Selous entered the service of the British South Africa Company, acting as guide to the pioneer expedition to Mashonaland . Over 400 m. of road were constructed through a country of forest, mountain and swamp, and in two and a half months Selous took the column safely to its destination. He then went east to Manica, concluding arrangements there which brought the country under British control. Coming to England in December 1892 he was awarded the Founders medal of the Royal Geographical Society in recognition of his extensive explorations and surveys, of which he gave a summary in "Twenty Years in Zambesia" (Geo. Journal vol. ??, 1893).
He returned to Africa to take part in the first Matabele War (1893), being wounded during the advance on Bulawayo. While back in England he married, but in March 1896 was again settled with his wife on an estate in Matabeleland when the native rebellion broke out. He took a prominent part in the fighting which followed, and published an account of the campaign entitled Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (1896). On the restoration of peace Selous settled in England. He continued, however, to make shooting and hunting expeditions; visiting Asia Minor, Newfoundland, the Canadian Rockies and other parts of the world.
In 1909, Selous lead Theodore Rooseveltís expedition to British East Africa, the Congo and Egypt. This was possibly the largest Safari ever, with a retinue of some 300 people. The official purpose of the expedition was to collect specimens for the Smithsonian Institution. During the trip, Roosevelt and his son Kermit shot over 500 animals. Roosevelt wrote of Selous;
- 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 civilised man has appeared herein.
On his return Roosevelt published an account of the adventure in his 1910 book African Game Trails.
In World War I Selous participated in the fighting in East Africa, where he was killed in a minor engagement at Beho Beho in January 1917.
In none of his expeditions was his object the making of a big bag, but as a hunter-naturalist and slayer of great game he ranked with the most famous of the worlds sportsmen. The Selous Game Reserve of Tanzania was named in his honor.
Paradoxically, Selous was one of the first conservationists. In leading so many hunting expeditions, Selous noticed over time, how the impact of European Colonial hunters was leading to a significant reduction in the amount of game available in Africa. In 1881 he returned to Britain for a while, saying;
- Every year elephants were becoming scarcer and wilder south of the Zambezi, so that it had become impossible to make a living by hunting at all.
Besides the works mentioned he published A Hunters Wanderings in Africa (1881, 5th ed., 1907), Travel and Adventure in South-East Africa (1893), Sport and Travel, East and West (1900), Recent Hunting Trips in British North America (1907), African Nature Notes and Reminiscences (1908), a valuable addition to the knowledge of African fauna, and made numerous contributions to The Geographical Journal , the Field and other journals.
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