Real Men/Savage Nature: The Rise of African Big Game Hunting, 1870–1914

  • Angela Thompsell
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


The popular fascination with African game hunting can be dated to 1848, when a man named Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming returned to Britain after spending five years hunting in southern Africa. He brought home with him 30 tons of curios and animal trophies, and two years later he opened his collection to the public. For one shilling, visitors could view his ‘multitudinous victories over the native Lords of the forest and plain’. The exotic nature of the exhibit was heightened by the presence of Ruyter, a Khoikhoi man who had accompanied Gordon-Cumming to Britain and who explained ‘to the public the different objects’ on display.1 The show proved a tremendous success, receiving, among other accolades, the gracious approval of Prince Albert. In combination with Gordon-Cumming’s two-volume travelogue, which was reportedly ‘read with as much avidity as a romance by all sorts and conditions of man’,2 the display transformed the former soldier and hunter into an iconic figure. The press described him as ‘the African sportsman’ or, more colourfully, as ‘the lion hunter of Central Africa, in the prime of manhood’.3 After participating in the Great Exhibition in 1851, Gordon-Cumming toured Britain with his collection and finally settled in Scotland in 1858. There he opened a private museum and collected a ‘goodly toll’ from tourists travelling along the Caledonian Canal until his death in 1866.4


Hunting Ground Game Hunting White Rhinoceros Game Population Experienced Hunter 
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Copyright information

© Angela Thompsell 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Thompsell
    • 1
  1. 1.The College at BrockportSUNYUSA

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