Frederick Selouse

Frederick Courteney Selous was born in December 31, 1851 in Regents Park, London, as one of the five children of an aristocratic family, third generation of French-Huguenot heritage. His father, Frederick Lokes Slous (original spelling) (1802-1892), was notably Chairman of the London Stock Exchange and his mother, Ann Holgate Sherborn (1827-1913), was a published poetess. He had three sisters, Florence (b. 1850), Annie Berryman (b. 1853), Sybil Jane (b. 1862), and one brother, Edmund Selous (1857-1934), who became a famous ornithologist. The love for outdoors and wildlife was only shared by his brother, however all of the family were artistically inclined, beside being successful in business. At 42, Selous settled in Worplesdon, England, and married 20 year old Marie Catherine Gladys Maddy (b. 1874), daughter of a clergyman Canon Henry William Maddy, and had two sons, Capt. Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous (1898-1918) and Harold Sherborn Selous. A little known fact is that F. C. Selous also had children by at least 3 African wives. He married a Ndebele woman from Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe by whom he had a daughter Magdalen Selous born in1874, a Tswana woman from Bechuanaland now Botswana, who was a sister of the Bamangwato King Khama III, by whom he had a son John Selous born in 1900 and a Manyika woman from Eastern Zimbabwe by whom he had a son, Frederick Fisher (influential settlers could register the births of their half-caste children under different last names in order to protect their reputations . Frederick Fisher was born after his marriage to Marie and maintained correspondence with F. C. Selous for years). Although he never publicly acknowledged his half-caste children, he did pay for their education at South African coloured institutions. He also left them a considerable amount of property in Bulawayo and Salisbury (now Harare). However, a substantial part of the will related to property in the exclusive wealthy Borrowdale area of Salisbury was declared null and void and then appropriated by the white colonial administration, using the fact that these children could not be recognised as legal heirs because their mothers were not married in church or court, but rather according to African traditional custom which was not recognised as legally binding to white men. 

Youth
From a young age, Frederick Courteney Selous was drawn by stories of the times explorers and their adventures. Furthermore, while in school, he started establishing personal collections of various bird eggs and butterflies and studied well natural history sciences. One account, by no means solitary but typical of his behavior, is recalled by his school master at Northamptonshire when he was ten years old “ ... on going around the dormitories to see that all was in order, discovered Freddy Selous, laying bare on the floor clothed only in his night shirt. On being asked the cause of this curious behaviour, he replied "Well, you see, one day I am going to be a hunter in Africa and I am just hardening myself to sleep on the ground. ”

In January 15, 1867, F.C. Selous, at seventeen, was one of the fortunate survivors of the grim Regents Park tragedy, well documented in The Times, when the ice covering the local lake broke with around two hundred skaters, leaving forty dead by drowning and freezing. He escaped by crawling on broken ice slabs to the shore.

He was educated at Rugby, England and abroad in Germany and Austria and prepared to be a doctor, but not followed, as this path was more bestowed upon him by his parents. His love for natural history led to his resolve to study the ways of wild animals in their native haunts. His imagination was strongly fueled by the African exploration and hunting literature, Dr. David Livingstone and William Charles Baldwin in particular, only as to later to become a similar if not greater hero and fictional character himself.

African exploration
Going to South Africa when he was nineteen, he travelled from the Cape of Good Hope to Matabeleland, which he reached early in 1872, and where he was granted permission by Lobengula King of the Ndebele to shoot game anywhere in his dominions. From then until 1890, with a few brief intervals spent in England, Selous hunted and explored over the then little-known regions north of the Transvaal and south of the Congo Basin, shooting elephants, and collecting specimens of all kinds for museums and private collections. His travels added largely to the knowledge of the country now known as Zimbabwe. He made valuable ethnological investigations, and throughout his wanderings - often among people who had never previously seen a white man - he maintained cordial relations with the chiefs and tribes, winning their confidence and esteem, notably so in the case of Lobengula.

In 1890 Selous entered the service of the British South Africa Company, at the request of magnate Cecil Rhodes, acting as guide to the pioneer expedition to Mashonaland. Over 400 miles of road were constructed through a country of forest, mountain and swamp, and in two and a half months Selous took the column safely to its destination. He then went east to Manica, concluding arrangements there which brought the country under British control. Coming to England in December 1892, he was awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in recognition of his extensive explorations and surveys, of which he gave a summary in "Twenty Years in Zambesia".

Military career
 
Selous (front seated) leader of H Troops of Bulawayo Field Force, Matabeleland, 1890s. Rhodesia and World War I
He returned to Africa to take part in the First Matabele War (1893), being wounded during the advance on Bulawayo. It was during this advance that he first met fellow scout Frederick Russell Burnham, who had only just arrived in Africa and who continued on with the small scouting party to Bulawayo and observed the self-destruction of the Ndebele settlement as ordered by King Lobengula. Selous returned to England, married, and in 1896 the couple settled on an estate in Matabeleland when the Second Matabele War broke out. He took a prominent part in the fighting which followed, serving as a leader in the Bulawayo Field Force, and published an account of the campaign entitled Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (1896). It was during this time that he met and fought along side Robert Baden-Powell who was then a Major and newly appointed to the British Army headquarters staff in Matabeleland.

In World War I, at the age of 64, Selous participated in the fighting in East Africa, joining as a Captain in the uniquely composed 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, being awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1916.

Death and legacy
On January 4, 1917, Selous was fighting a bush-war on the banks of the Rufiji river, against the German colonial Schutztruppen, in odds outnumbered one to five. That morning, in combat, during a minor engagement, while creeping forward, he raised his head and binoculars to locate the enemy, and was shot in the head by a German sniper. He was killed instantly.

Shortly after, as an act of gallantry, General von Lettow-Vorbeck, known as "The Lion of Afrika," the supreme commander of the German colonial army, himself an admirer of Selous, wrote a personal condolence note, apologizing for the "ungentlemanly death" incurred by D.S.O. Captain Selous at the hand of the German Army.

President Theodore Roosevelt
His close friend, American president Theodore Roosevelt, upon getting the news, wrote:

“ He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, with just the right alternations between the wilderness and civilization. He helped spread the borders of his people's land. He added much to the sum of human knowledge and interest. He closed his life exactly as such a life ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country while rendering her valiant and effective service. Who could wish a better life or a better death, or desire to leave a more honourable heritage to his family and his nation? ”

He was buried under a tamarind tree, nearby the place of his death, in today's Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, in a modest, flat stone grave with a simple bronze plaque reading: CAPTAIN F.C. SELOUS D.S.O., 25TH ROYAL FUSILIERS, KILLED IN ACTION 4.1.17.

The year following his death, sadly ironic, on exact same day, January 4, 1918, his son, Capt. Frederick Bruce Hatharlay MC, same rank as his father, was killed in combat also by the German army, while serving abroad too, as pilot with Royal Flying Corps, in a mission flight over Menin Road, France.

As part of his African military legacy and morale, an elite Rhodesian military group, the Selous Scouts, were baptised so in his honour.

Selous as a hunter, naturalist and conservationist
 
A studio portrait of young Selous with his Boer 4 bore elephant gun and African spear, 1870s. Beside his powerful ties, like the ones with Theodore Roosevelt and Cecil Rhodes, military achievements or books he left behind, he is mostly remembered as one of world’s most revered hunters, as he went in pursuit of big game hunting not only into his southern African homelands but also reputed wildernesses worldwide, subsequently.

His youth exploits are filled with accounts of trespassing, poaching and brawling, almost all within romanticised and humorous portrayal, but one in particular, in 1870, stands out as more serious: when in Wiesbaden, Prussia, he knocked unconscious a Prussian game warden who tackled him while stealing buzzard eggs for his collection, and had to leave the country at once in order to avoid imprisonment. Then he moved to Austria, and when in Salzburg he went big game hunting for the first time, in the nearby Alps, he shot two chamois. On September 4, 1871, at the age of nineteen, he left England with £400 in his pocket, determined to earn his living as a professional elephant hunter, and by the age of twenty five he was known far and wide in South Africa as one of the most successful ivory hunters of the day.

Selous journeyed in pursuit of big game to Europe (Bavaria, Germany in 1870, Transylvania, Romania in 1899, Mull Island, Scotland in 1894, Sardinia in 1902, Norway in 1907), Asia (Turkey, Persia, Caucasus in 1894-95, 1897, 1907), North America (Wyoming, Rocky Mountains in 1897 and 1898, Eastern Canada in 1900-1901, 1905, Alaska and Yukon in 1904, 1905) and the “dark continent” in a territory that extends from today’s South Africa and Namibia all the way up into central Sudan where he collected virtually every specimen of all medium and large African mammal species. Surprisingly to many, he never hunted in India, a very popular destination with British sportsmen of the day, even more so when in fact at the given time it was the golden age of tiger hunting and shikaris.
 
Theodore Roosevelt and Selous in Africa, ca 1909. In 1909-1910, Selous accompanied American ex-president Teddy Roosevelt in his famous African safari. Contrary to popular belief, Selous did not lead Theodore Roosevelt’s 1909 expedition to British East Africa, the Congo and Egypt. While Selous was a member of this expedition from time to time and helped organize the logistics of the safari, it was in fact led by R. J. Cunninghame. Roosevelt wrote of Selous:

“ Mr. Selous is the last of the big game hunters of Southern Africa; the last of the mighty hunters whose experience lay in the greatest hunting ground which this world has seen since civilised man has appeared herein. ”

In 1907, F.C. Selous founded The Shikar Club, a big-game hunters association, together with two other British Army Captains, Charles Edward Radclyffe and P. B. Vanderbyl, and regularly met at the posh Savoy Hotel in London. President was the Earl of Lonsdale. Another founding member was the artist, explorer and biographer of Selous John Guille Millais.

He was a rifleman icon, and a valued expert in firearms. Early in his hunting career, in mid 1870s, for a gun, Selous favoured a four bore black powder muzzleloader for killing elephant, a 13 lbs short barreled musket firing a quarter pound bullet at with as much as 20 drams (540 grains) of black powder, one of the largest hunting caliber fabricated, literally a small hand cannon. He could wield it even from horseback. Between 1874-1876, with that gun, he slew exactly seventy-eight elephants, but eventually, a double loading incident together with other recoil problems from it, and he finally gave it up as to "upsetting my nerve". Use of a ten bore muzzleloader was made to hunt lions. After black powder muzzleloaders behemoths became obsolete, and metal cased cartridges and smokeless gun powder came into advent despite the fact that he was bombarded with gifts from the finest London gunmakers in hopes of advertisement, and indeed he tried many but was to be found accompanied in his hunt by two rifles, single shot, falling block Farquharson action, Metford barelled rifle in two calibers he loved best: a Romanian .256 Mannlicher for smaller game and a .450 Nitro Express for larger game. His favorite gun makers were Gibbs of Bristol and Holland & Holland of London.[16]. There are quotes as to how Selous was in fact not a crack shot, but a rather ordinary marksman, affirmation yet whom to most agree as being solely another personal statement of modesty from Selous himself. Regardless, he remains a rifleman iconic figure, and following in tradition of others, German gunmaker Blaser and Italian gunmaker Perugini Visini chose to name their top line safari rifles after him, the Selous.

Naturalist and conservationist
Many of the Selous trophies entered into museums and international taxidermy and natural-history collections, notably the Natural History Museum in London. In their Selous Collection they have 524 mammals from three continents, all shot by him, including nineteen African lions. In the last year of his life, while in combat in 1916, he was known to carry his butterfly net in the evening and collect specimens, for the same institution. Overall, more than five thousand plants and animal specimens were donated by him to the Natural History section of the British Museum. This collection was beld from 1881 in the new Natural History Museum in South Kensington (which became an independent institution in 1963). Here, posthumously in 1920, they unveiled a bronze bust of him in the Main Hall, where it stands to this day. He is mentioned wide in foremost taxidermist Rowland Wards catalogues for world's largest animal specimens hunted, where Selous is ranked in many trophy categories, including rhinoceros, elephant and many ungulates. He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Founders Medal in 1893 'in recognition of twenty years' exploration and surveys in South Africa'. In 1896, British zoologist William Edward de Winton (1856-1922), named a new African small Carnivora, Paracynictis selousi, or the Selous mongoose, in his honor. Also, a subspecies of the African Sitatunga antelope, (Tragelaphus spekii selousi), bears his name. Selous was one of the first conservationists. In none of his expeditions was his object the taking of a big bag, but as a hunter-naturalist and slayer of great game he ranked with the most famous of the world's sportsmen. In leading so many hunting expeditions, Selous noticed over time how the impact of European hunters was leading to a significant reduction in the amount of game available in Africa. In 1881 he returned to Britain for a while, saying;

“ Every year elephants were becoming scarcer and wilder south of the Zambezi, so that it had become impossible to make a living by hunting at all. ”

Selouse Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve in southeastern Tanzania is a hunting reserve named in his honor. Established in 1922, it covers an area of more than 17 000 m² (44 800 km²) along the rivers Kilombero, Ruaha, and Rufiji. The area first became a hunting reserve in 1905, although it is rarely visited by humans due to the strong presence of the Tsetse fly. In 1982 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.

Frederick Courteney Selous image remains a classic, romantic portrait of proper Victorian period English gentleman of the colonies, one whose real life adventures and exploits of almost epic proportions generated successful Lost World and Steampunk genre fictional characters like Allan Quatermain, to a large extent an embodiment to the popular "white hunter” concept of the times; yet he remained a modest and stoic pillar in personality all throughout his life. As himself he was featured in the "Young Indiana Jones" and "Rhodes" series. He was widely remembered in real tales of war, exploration and big game hunting as balanced blend between a gentleman officer and epic wild man.
 
F.C. Selous, a gentleman portrait in African safari, with two shot Kori bustards and his Farquharson rifle. 1890s.
 
Appearance and character
Bestowed with exceptional qualities in a man, he excelled at the English sports of the day: cricket, rugby, cycling, swimming and tennis, he loved outdoors the best developing a rugged and robust physique by trekking, packing, marching and hunting for so long. He was also known as an accomplished rider, he waged war and hunted much on horses. To the African locals he was the "best white runner" (in the endurance aspect, similar as to native bushmen's concept). While in England, all his life he played sports, he still did half day 100 mile bycicle races when almost sixty years old. Millais, friend and biographer, wrote: As sport he loved cricket most, and played regularly for his club at Worplesdon taking part in all their matches until 1915…”Big Game Hunters” vs. “Worplesdon” was always a great and solemn occasion.

“ If there was one striking feature in his physiognomy it was his wonderful eyes, as clear and as blue as the summer sea. Nearly every one who came in contact with him noticed his eyes. They were the eyes of the man who looks into the beyond vast spaces. Instinctively one saw in them the hunter and the man of wide views. In social intercourse Selous had a presence that was apt to make other people look insignificant. He was adored by all his friends, and even perfect strangers seemed to come under his magnetism at the first introduction” - J.G. Millais, 1919. All his life, he sported a full beard, which together with his signature hats, makes him an easily recognisable icon:
He wore a double Terai grey slouch hat, slightly on the back oh his head. Khaki knickerbockers, with no puttees, bare legs, except for his socks and shirt open at the neck, with a knotted handkerchief round the neck to keep the sun off, with a long native stick in his hand. He had a rooted objection to wearing a cork helmet. It is impossible to forget the impression he made. He was as straight as a guardsman, with a broad deep chest, with a beautiful healthy look in his face. - Capt. R. M. Haines of South African Force, 1917. ”

Accounts on Miles biography read: He ate less than most men, and never drank anything but tea, which he enjoyed at every meal. Sometimes he drank champagne at big dinners, but rich wines and high feeding had no attractions to him. Occasional accounts of whisky deeds upon meeting old friends exist however. Also, he was fond of his pipe and tobacco. All these never accounted to excess, except tea, fact that further promoted him as the Englishman ideal.

The above facts about Frederick Selouse, are sourced from Wikipedia.