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The Great Hunters

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The Great Hunters of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Take a walk back in time. Consider what this beautiful world, especially here in Southern Africa, probably looked like not too long ago. Take a look through the eyes of The Great Hunters ...

Can you imagine untold numbers of wild animals traversing the wide open spaces of Southern Africa, completely unrestricted as they probably had done for thousands of years? Can you also imagine what could possibly have gone so wrong in the space of about 150 years that such herds have essentially vanished and almost certainly never ever to be seen again?

The Great Hunters Original Book Cover Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Haresnape, in 1974, compiled a significant amount of information about the Great Hunters (popularly referred to as The Great White Hunters) based upon their own writings which has given us a wonderful glimpse into Africa as it was.

Permission has been given by Professor Haresnape to document much of what he wrote then for the benefit of those millions of people worldwide who have an interest in the future well-being and conservation of our world.

Below is the original preface written by Geoffrey Haresnape in 1974. Thereafter take a look at his introduction to the subject of "The Great Hunters" in 1974 and some reflections he made in 2006 specifically for this website.

Let me leave you with a quote from the book written by William Cotton Oswell in his nineties while he was thinking back to his first great hunt in South Africa ...

"I am sorry now for all the fine old beasts I have killed; but I was young then, there was excitement in the work, I had large numbers of men to feed, and if these are not considered sound excuses for slaughter, the regret is lightened by the knowledge that every animal, save three elephants, was eaten by man, and so put to a good use."

Recent news from the SANParks CEO, Dr David Mabunda...  Read about the new Vuvuzela horn based upon the shape of a kudu horn KuduzelaŽ

Preface to "The Great Hunters" written in 1974

Professor Geoffrey Haresnape This book is made up of passages chosen from some of the leading sportsmen pioneers in southern and central Africa who had the literary skill to make a permanent record of their experiences. I wish to thank the Council of the University of Cape Town for the research leave which made the project possible: also the staff of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (and especially the officials in its Rhodes House department) who gave me ready access to their valuable Africana.

Some of the passages chosen from inclusion were too brief in their original contexts. Others were overlong. In the interests of readability I have where necessary placed extracts together, or have condensed. The illustrations reproduced come mainly from the older hunting narratives. Artists like J. Wolf and E. Whymper usually liked to present dramatic confrontations between sportsmen and living animals. Photography has done little for hunting, replacing these scenes with depressing records of hunters sitting atop heaps of slaughtered big game: the gloating and sterile aftermath of the energies of the conflict.

It is when the camera goes shooting unaccompanied by the gun that it comes into its own as a recorder of wild life.

Acknowledgements are due to the following for permission to use extracts and/ or illustrations. The Wild Life Society of South Africa and the Wolhuter Estate (Memories of a Game Ranger); George G. Harrap and Co. Ltd. ( Fungle Man); Mrs Victor Pohl ( The Dawn and After); Perskor Publishers ( Bushveld Adventures); the Oxford University Press (Farewell the Little People.) For most of my information about geography, plants and animals in the notes I am indebted to the Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa (ed. E. Rosenthal and the Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa.

I hope that this book will be of value to senior pupils and students investigating the English prose of Southern Africa; also that the general reader will find entertainment in these lively and often dangerous adventures.

Geoffrey Haresnape, Cape Town

And the good news ...

Professor Haresnape has agreed that his out of print book can now be offered in pdf format format for all to enjoy ... stay tuned for publication information to be announced at the end of August 2006.