The Bonds Of Africa – Owen Letcher, F.R.G.S
Owen Letcher was among the the vanguard of a new breed of ‘tourist’ trophy sportsmen who made their appearance with the arrival of the railway at the Zambezi. A trip to the railhead at Broken Hill (today’s Kabwe in Zambia) in 1907, prompted Letcher to undertake his first shooting safari into the little patronised but incredibly rich wild-life region of North-Eastern Rhodesia, famed for its scenically beautiful Luangwa valley. Moving through North-Eastern Rhodesia to its boundaries with Nyasaland and Mozambique, he built up his collection of antelope trophy heads. some of them now rarities. In Awemba territory towards the Muehinga. he bagged his first elephant. In the Lake Bangweolo region sittutunga, lechwe and tsessebe
were hunted, also pookoo, reed-buck, hartebeest, and a Crawshay’s variety (Cobus defassa crawshai) of waterbuck. In the Tumbwa swamps there were the handsome black lechwe.
In British East Africa (Kenya) the reader is introduced to the Rift Valley and the Masai, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, jigger fleas, the Uganda railway, and colobus monkeys. Further unrolling of the map revealed such other interest points as Mombasa and Zanzibar, Entebbe, the Ripon Falls. and the mystical allure of the lower Nile and the Egypt of l 911. And so a down-to-earth hunting saga ends as a fascinating tourist extravaganza on the Mediterranean! His narrative is entertaining, informative and vividly colourful.
Letcher was born at Redruth, Cornwall on 27th May 1884, and he became a graduate of the Redruth School of Mines, a background which drew him to the gold-mines of the Witwatersrand. He developed a passion for world travel and big-game hunting in Africa, and authored many books. In World War 1 (1914-18) he served with the South African Forces, under General Smuts in South-West and East Africa. He entered the field of mining journalism in the 1920s and for a number of years he was editor of the South African Mining and Engineering Journal. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. He died