Frederick Selous

Frederick Selous

Adventurous. This is the most suitable adjective to describe Frederick Selous’ life.

He was born in London in the middle of the 19th Century of a high-ranking family. His father thought of making a doctor of him, but his love for nature was stronger. He was, nontheless, very well educated.

His mind was constantly focused on exploration and hunting. In Africa. He was 20 when he left for South Africa where he started his professional hunting career, helped by local kings and chiefs, with whom he was able to maintain very good relationships.

During his hunting trips he did interesting ethnological research and collected so many specimens that museums and personal collections were able to benefit from it to a large extent.

His love for insects, and in particular for butterflies, has filled London’s British Museum.

During his staying in South Africa, he met Cecil Rhodes, founder of the British South Africa Company. Selous serviced in this Company mainly to find gold, but he also contributed to the foundation of Rhodesia in 1890 and participated to other campaigns.

During the First World War he fought in East Africa against the Germans. In a brave combat in which he was outnumbered, he was shot in the head and died. It was on January of 1917 and Selous was 66 years old.

The place in which he found his heroic death is inside what we call today ‘Selous Game Reserve’, in Southern Tanzania.

He has been considered a hunting icon during his life, so much that he organized a gigantic safari for Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, during which many specimens were collected and sent to the famous Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

Selous wrote nine books on his detailed natural observation of plants and animals.

The Selous Game Reserve is named in his honour. He rests inside the Reserve, under a tree, in the place in which he died.