Catalogue - Reprints (Africana - Hunting)

The Wild Sports of Southern Africa
By Capt. William Cornwallis Harris

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Pelham Richardson, Cornhill, London, 1844 (fourth ed.).

Reprints: xx + newly contributed Introduction, 359pp., 26 colour plates, 1 map; new frontispiece.

ISBN (Std) 0 86920 265 0, (Dlx) 0 86920 264 2


THE epic hunting expedition of Capt Cornwallis Harris, an officer of the Indian Army, Bombay, and his companion William Richardson, who travelled from Graaff Reinet in the Cape to the Tropic of Capricorn, more specifically to the capital of Moselekatse (Mzilikazi), king of the Matabele, near present day Rustenburg, in 1836, resulted in two outstanding literary and artistic works of Africana: The Wild Sports of Sourhern Africa, here described, and Portraits of the Game and Wild Animals of Southern Africa - the most highly prized large folio of coloured engravings of South African fauna and scenery.

Twenty-six plates of unsurpassed excellence from the ten-month expedition appear in The Wild Sports of Southern Africa.

The two hunters penetrated areas not yet settled by white men; in fact, their visit coincided with the Great Trek of farmers from the Eastern Cape coast to the distant hinterland. Harris makes perceptive comment on this major historical event. Their route lay across the Orange and Vaal rivers to Mosega and along the Magaliesberg range where they saw 300 elephant in one herd. He apparently crossed the valley where Pretoria now stands possibly the first white man to do so - pushing on to the Limpopo river which was followed to its junction with the Notwani. Striking south, the expedition returned to the Magaliesberg area where the first recorded sable antelope was seen, for many years thereafter known as the Harris buck.
Traversing the Witwatersrand they encountered a herd of several hundred eland. . . then on to the locality of present-day Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein.

The picture painted by Harris is of vast herds of animals swarming across the veld: "herds of quaggas and brindled gnoos estimated to contain 15 000 animals . . . the country being chequered black and white with their congregated masses.

The first edition of this work appeared in 1839. This valuable fourth edition has two additional chapters on the massacre of Retief and his party of Trekkers.


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