The Readings of a Couch Potato - The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter by WDM Bell


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Leaky Waders
September 19, 2010, 04:12 PM
All I can say is WOW!

My wife bought this book for me a couple of weeks back as well as some other African Hunting books.

Last night I started reading it, and finished it in a second sitting today.

What a pioneer! Venturing to foreign lands amidst slavers, questionable governments, kings and plain old regular native people...having safari porters killed by crocs and drownings. Bloodbrothers with wealthy natives, exploring a river that seemed mythical and all the while hunting elephants for their ivory and feeding scores of people along the trek.

He actually spent some time in Djibouti...I spent nearly 8 months there a little while back. Maybe I walked in some of the same streets and countryside that Bell walked...kind of cool.

Anyways, a neat book that others may appreciate.

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H&Hhunter
September 19, 2010, 10:26 PM
Bell was a mans man and a cut above even in those brave and heady days of British imperialism. And that is saying something.

I've always thought that hunting ivory in those days would have been an incredible experience. Imagine doing it in malarial ridden areas with no anti malarial drugs, no antibiotics, very basic medical knowledge and truculent natives wanting to kill you at every turn.

It really is amazing any of those guys survived at all.

dogrunner
September 20, 2010, 11:08 AM
Double your pleasure and get a copy of Taylors "African Rifles and Cartridges" as well as "Pondoro".

Sky
September 20, 2010, 11:41 AM
Probably one of the most prolific international writers is a guy from South Africa named Wilber Smith. I have read all of his works and can not praise his writing style and historical fictional novels enough.

H&Hhunter
September 20, 2010, 12:23 PM
Yep Wilbur is a great fiction writer. Pondoro and Bell aren't fiction writers. Well not intentionally anyway. Pondoro definitley had a flare for the dramatic.

JMtoolman
September 22, 2010, 12:24 AM
When you finish those, look for the six books on man eaters by Jim Corbett!!!!

desidog
September 22, 2010, 11:23 AM
It really is amazing any of those guys survived at all.

Is there any record of how many went and did not return? That would be an interesting ratio. Of course, in those days with communication being what it was, I'm sure some who went were not recorded, and some who said they were going went somewhere else.

I was recently reading something on Bell; and that he had smokeless powder, as contrasted to the Swahilis with BP. Can anyone tell me what he did for ammo? Did he bring a whole lot of cartidges, or was he casting and reloading in a tent?

H&Hhunter
September 23, 2010, 01:19 PM
Desidog,

He brought tins of packed ammo and pre arranged shipments of fresh supplies and ammo at bigger settlements. Same as many of the elephant hunters of the day.

As far as ratio's I can't give you a solid number but the fatality rate was pretty high and most of the professional elephant hunters were not publicly known so they would simply disappear and the story of their demise may or may not make it back to the towns. But it wasn't big news.

Most of the ivory hunters had an agent in town that took care of much of the supply needs. Many had bank drafts out with various gun makers and outfitters so that they could order ammo and rifles and supplies and have them delivered. By the time Bell was in Africa many of the larger gun makers had outlets in the African colonies so getting supplies shipped to the bush took weeks or months rather than years. Remember in Bell's time there was already a fairly extensive rail system through many parts of Africa.

Cosmoline
September 23, 2010, 01:28 PM
A fair number died in the sticks, and an even larger number returned with various tropical diseases that crippled them for life. They became a part of the landscape of imperial Europe. Rimbaud makes reference to them with the famous line: "féroces infirmes retour des pays chauds"--fierce invalids back from hot countries. They show up as standard characters in period mysteries as well.

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