African Game Trails
Roosevelt had always been a zealous hunter, whether it be birds for his collection as a boy, food for his table in North Dakota or much bigger game.
After his term as President ended in 1909, Roosevelt set out for Africa on a hunting expedition to stock the Smithsonian with exhibits of Africa’s biggest and most exotic specimens.
African Game Trails, TR’s account of the trip, begins in Mombassa (now in Kenya) and covers pursuit of game across the Eastern portion of the Dark Continent, from within site of the Snows of Kilimanjaro and across the Great Rift Valley. Traveling with TR were an assortment of guides and guests, including his son, Kermit. Professional hunters on the trip included Englishmen Courteney Selous and Edward North Buxton, Scotsman R.J. Cunighame, and Australian Leslie Tartlton. Naturalists for the expedition were Leiutenant Colonel Edgar A. Mearns, Edmund Heller (the primary taxidermist for the party) and J. Alden Loring of New York.
The guns TR used on the expedition were:
Army Springfield, .30-calibre
Double Barrell Holland 500-450
TR also carried with him a Fox No. 12 shot gun (“No better gun was ever made”). For the larger game, TR used the Holland, which some would later refer to as his “Big Stick” and which is on display in the Frazier Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Several rhino were taken with the big Holland. The Winchester was used on “medium”-sized game such as giraffe, and the Springfield was used mostly on small antelope-like specimens like reedbuck, etc.
The expedition relied upon a large number of the resident population for porters, cooks, game preparation following a kill, and gun-bearers. Roosevelt gives his impression of both the native Africans and the European settlers in the area at the time. The Masai warriors and their cattle are often discussed. It has become more common of late for TR’s comments about the native population to be criticized. In fact, references as “savages” are in the book. However, there are many complimentary references by TR to the Africans. TR does not simply dismiss the native Africans but analyzes their customs, dress, behavior, etc., including the differences between the Muslim “Moslem” and non-Muslim Africans.
The following is a list of the game taken by T.R. and Kermit Roosevelt with their rifles. This is taken from page 568 of African Game Trails.
|Game Animal||By T.R.||By Kermit|
|Big or Grevy’s zebra||5||5|
|Bushbuck (East African)||2||4|
|Bushbuck (Uganda harnessed)||1||2|
|Bushbuck (Nile harnessed)||3||3|
|Big Hartebeest (Jackson’s)||14||7|
|Big Hartebeest (Uganda)||1||3|
|Big Hartebeest (Nilotic)||8||4|
|Big Gazelle (Granti)||5||3|
|Big Gazelle (Robertsi)||4||6|
|Big Gazelle (Notata)||8||1|
|Red ground monkey||1|
|Black and white monkey||5||4|
|Grand Total: 512|
Go to Books By Theodore Roosevelt