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Name: NEUMANN, Arthur Henry

image of individualimage of individualimage of individual

Nee: 'Bwana Nyama'

Birth Date: 12.6.1850 Hockliffe, Bedfordshire

Death Date: 29.5.1907 London, suicide

Nationality: British

First Date: 1887 - first left for Natal in 1868

Profession: Advised on the survey of the route of Uganda Railway. Also a celebrated elephant hunter

Area: All over - nearly killed twice by a lioness, thrice by elephant and once by a rhino

Book Reference: Gillett, Nature, Kenya Diary, Wanderings, Rundgren, Lorian, EAHB 1905, EAS, North, Curtis, Into Africa, Elephant, IBEA, EAHB 1906, UJ, EAHB 1904, Sportsmen, Chandler

General Information:

Desperately wounded by female elephant who pushed her tusk right through his body. After months of pain eventually carried to coast.
First distinguished himself in the Zulu War of 1879 as under officer to Macleod of Macleod. Could speak Boer Dutch, Zulu and several native languages. A life long friend of Frederick Jackson and Sir Clement Hill. Intensely shy and modest. The kindest of men, the greatest elephant hunter of all time. The greatest disappointment in his life was when, on his return to the coast after 2 years hunting elephants about Lake Rudolf he heard that Count Teleki had claimed its discovery.  
Nature - Nearly killed near Lake Rudolph by a cow elephant with calf. His rifle failed to fire.  
Kenya Diary - Mar. 1903 - Elmenteita - met Neumann, whose name was given to the hartebeest. He is a professional ivory hunter, conducting his work somewhere around Lake Rudolph. He is a quiet, unassuming little man, with a faraway and rather sad outlook on life. We had a long chat together about game and the glories of the simple wild life in Africa. Neumann's native name is 'Bwana Nyama', or the Lord of the Meat. This was given to him on account of his fussiness in always insisting on his meat having a fly-proof cloth tied round it, a precaution the natives could not understand. ........  Wanderings - Left home for Natal in 1868 and took up the work of coffee-planting on an estate near Verulam .....tried his hand as a gold digger in the Transvaal but soon returned to Natal. ....... settled in Swaziland and established a trading post ..... In 1877 he spent most of his time shooting in the Transvaal and Swaziland but at the outbreak of the Zulu War in 1879 he joined one of the native contingents and was made a Captain. ........... between 1880 and 1887 he travelled and hunted on the Limpopo and Sabi rivers. ..... In 1888 went north to Mombasa to make inquiries as to the possibilities of hunting elephants in the new Colony of BEA. The cost of making such an expedition deterred him. Nevertheless he returned to Mombasa in 1890 and took service under the EA Company. His first work was to travel inland with 4 other white men to the Victoria Nyanza to find a route for the projected railway. ....... On his return from this journey .... he again went with 60 men to try and find an easier way. One night the Masai attacked the camp and Arthur, who had just risen from his bed, and was in the act of unfastening his rifle from the tent-pole got a spear through his forearm. ...... on his return to the Coast he was offered a magistracy in Zululand. This he accepted, but in one year he was tired of the monotonous work, and returned to Mombasa in 1893, where he organised his first big expedition after elephants. In the following 3 years he spent all his time wandering in the far interior, then quite unknown, amongst Ndorobo savages in the neighbourhood of Mount Kenya and the Lorogi Mountains head waters of the Mackenzie River, a branch of the Tana. ..... From here he made his first trip to the waterless country south of Rudolf, which was a failure and no elephants were killed. ..... Dec. 1894 to Rudolf, to the north east of the lake at Bumi he found many fine old bulls. Three bulls that he killed one day had tusks 113 lbs. and 111 lbs., 112 1/2 lbs. and 108 lbs., 76 1/2 lbs. and 66 lbs. ........ It was at Bumi that he met with a serious accident. An enraged cow elephant charged him, the .303 missed fire, and Neumann was so closely pursued he could not dodge. The cow got him down and pummelled him with her head and tusk, crushing in his ribs. He was then carried to camp by his natives .... drank milk for weeks. ......... Returned to Mombasa Oct. 1st 1896 and sold the ivory which realised a large sum of money. It was a great disappointment to him to find on his arrival that Count Teleki had already described the new Great Lake of Rudolph, of which Neumann himself thought he was the discoverer. ....... Became firm friends with Millais whom he met in 1896. .......... He was a man of extremely shy, hypersensitive nature, and subject to alternate fits of gaiety or depression, but when happy was of such a charming, lovable temperament to all who knew him intimately that his society was a continuous pleasure. In crowds he was like a hunted fox, and it was indeed strange to see a man who would cheerfully face a wounded lion or elephant thrown into a very panic of nervousness by the traffic of Piccadilly. ........... In later years he imagined that nearly every one disliked him, and this obsession grew upon him to such an extent that he avoided all intercourse with people who were often most anxious to be kind to him. ........ In Nov. 1899 he went to SA to take part in the second Boer War ..... had a very narrow escape at Spion Kop, a bullet going through his hat and passing through his hair. ...... Early in 1902 he again returned to EA and went up to the Mt. Kenya country, where he intended to stay for some years ...... (letter to Millais) - 'I tell you what it is, Millais; I take but damned little interest nowadays in shooting any other beast but the elephant; but him I worship - I have become a true Ndorobo in that. Nothing else thrills me; but the spell of the elephant is as potent as ever.' .......... Early in 1905 a big move in the direction of game preservation in EA took place. Neumann thought he saw in it the germ of personal spite and jealousy ...... it galled him to think that native hunters, and especially Arab ivory traders, would in future be allowed to continue to kill or employ others to kill, elephants, whilst he, who had been a pioneer and a man who had made many of the most recalcitrant tribes peaceful, and had taken all risks, should be debarred from killing elephants even far away in the wilderness, where the Govt. still had no real authority or could prove 'occupation'. ...... In virile language he describes the man whom he considers his chief enemy: "It seems that your intrepid, sanctimonious, giraffe-slaying, bastard-missionary, self appointed protector of beasts (other than those defenceless ones he is able to pot himself) and almighty law-giver for Africa in general, psalmsmiter-in-chief, this stroll-through-the-country-and-know-more-about-it-than-anybody-else coadjutator of yours in the Game-Preserving Society has been trying to put a spoke in the wheel of your humble servant. May Allah reward him!" ......... 1906 - Neumann was now forced to accept that his advenmturous life as an elephant hunter was finished ...... Arrived home in Oct. 1906 and had a severe attack of influenza which left him weak and depressed. In April he came to stay with me [Millais] and seemed to have quite recovered his spirits and good health, and talked of returning shortly to Africa and building a small house on the slopes of Mt. Kenya ..... He then left to pay a visit in the West of England, and returned at once to his rooms in London (on May 27th 1907), where he died suddenly. ........ spirit materialisation ? ..... Neumann appeared to Naomi Jackson at her convent school in Belgium ........ Naomi said "Did he die because a woman wouldn't love him ?" ........ (much more)  
Rundgren - Lyell said - 'Neumann has probably shot twice as many elephants as any other man. ...... over 1000.' From a careful study of his record, I consider 250 the outside limit.  
Lorian - Meru - The well-known hunter, Neumann, used to live in a camp not very far from Lower Meru; the place is called "Kampa ya Bwana Myamangu" (his native name) to this day.  
EAHB 1905 - IBEA Co. General Africa Staff - appointed 19th May 1890
The African Standard - 26-2-1903 - Invited to the wedding of H.R. Phelips & Miss Jacquette Edith Lambe in Mombasa
North - Company appt. 19/5/1890; arr. Mombasa from England 12/6/1890 on s.s. Africa; road cutting along Sabaki River 1890; Luba's on way to Kampala Feb 1891; wounded at Sotik on way back to coast May 1891; left Company & dep. for SA 1892; hunting in Lake Rudolph area 1894-6; Entebbe 19/8/1901; Nairobi 1902
Curtis - p. 151 - 'Arthur Neumann' - 'The author of Elephant Hunting in East Equatorial Africa, a classic of hunting, was born in England in 1850. He was a coffee farmer in Natal at 18, then a trader in Swaziland. Between 1880 and 1887 he was hunting the Limpopo and Sabi Rivers. Like his contemporary Selous, Neumann gradually moved north. He arrived in Mombasa in 1888 and on his way up country took a Maasai spear through the arm. In the early Nineties he did three years of route survey work for the railway. Then began the long series of elephant hunts in northern Kenya of which he wrote, 'I take but little interest in shooting any other beast but the elephant; him I worship.' On safari he was a great devotee of what he called 'the yellow wine', as were many of the early hunters, perhaps because champagne stood up to the Red Sea better than still wines. His suicide in 1907, the year after his return to England, is attributed to an unfortunate love affair.'Having transcribed his last diary,' writes Tony Dyer, 'I cannot look out of my office window to the north, into the mountains he hunted, without thinking of that sad, brave, lonely man.'
Into Africa - Safari leaders - Neumann, who lived closest of any European to his men, may have been best of all, though in England he was an antisocial loner. Coming back once after a gruelling day's hunt, the rain pelting down, he found no fire and no dry wood gathered, and the maize meal left in the wet. Calmly, he sent some men off for wood while he split the dry heart out of a log and then built a fire that was 'the comfort of the whole camp'. Then he divided the meat he had brought, cleaned his guns, and only then had 'my hot sponge-down, so that it was eleven o'clock before I got any dinner'. Neumann rarely punished. Unlike many Europeans he did not resort to flogging, 'except in the most extreme cases, such as looting ….. Or grossly insulting ones headman, proved by ample evidence.'
Elephant - A.H. Neumann, in the opinion of many competent judges of his day, was the greatest elephant hunter of all time. His book "Elephant Hunting in East Africa" gives some idea of the man, who was just such another sahib as Cunninghame. On one occasion an elephant got him down, and he was three months recovering from the damage, for the elephant, kneeling on him, made three jabs, pushing his left tusk through Neumann's arm and again between his ribs, narrowly missing his lung, pounded his chest with the upper part of his trunk, smashing some ribs, and knocking most of the skin off his face. This accident was the result of the rifle misfiring. He lay helpless for two months within ear-shot of a dangerous tribe of savages, who, however, left him alone. He was unable to sleep for a month and could not lie down because of his wounds, which were incidentally, complicated by malaria and dysentery. Needless to say this did not stop him from hunting again directly he was strong enough to stand. Neumann was very particular about his hands, and was the only man I have ever heard of who always wore gloves on safari.
Uganda Journal - Vol 23, p.146 - Captain Smith's Expedition to Lake Victoria - April 1891 - " … I am very sorry that Neumann has left. Gone to take a Magistracy in Zululand. He is a first-rate, though decidedly peculiar chap. …
Sportsmen - No work on big game hunting would be complete without mention of that intrepid elephant hunter, the late Mr Arthur Neumann, whose qualities as a hunter and as a soldier won him the unstinted admiration of all with whom he came in contact. A graceful tribute has been paid to his memory by his lifelong friend and some time commander, the Macleod of Macleod, who has lent to the editor some interesting personal memoirs and data, as well as his valuable work, "Elephant Hunting in East Equatorial Africa". Popular as big game hunting is today it is questionable if many of its most successful followers do not sometimes sigh for the more hazardous conditions of 3 or 4 decades ago, when the native presented a danger even more formidable than the fiercest encounters with lion or rhino. The late Mr Neumann was the son of an English clergyman and was born in 1851. The spirit of adventure, strong within him, led him to go out to South Africa when only 18 years of age and, mainly in the neighbourhood of Swaziland he hunted and traded with the natives, enlisting their sympathies by his courage and daring and gaining their respect and admiration by reason of his fair dealing. The readiness with which he acquired the tongue of the various tribes was also another link between them and later this knowledge was turned to good account as interpreter on the staff of The Macleod on the Transvaal-Swaziland border, during the Zulu War. He was supposedly the first to shoot big game in the country around Lake Rudolph, though after 2 years there, shooting elephant all the time in the densest parts of the country, the discovery of the lake was claimed by another sportsman, a fact which Arthur Neumann stated was one of the greatest disappointments of his life. Prior to the British occupation of East Africa and Uganda, Mr Neumann had in some of his trips realised as much as £2,000 for the ivory, and on his last trip, extending over 2 years, his sales of ivory reached £3,000, though from the expenses and his generous treatment of the natives the profit was very little. Writing of him on August 6th 1913, The Macleod says, "After the Zulu War he became a great elephant hunter; he was, I think, the first to shoot round Lake Rudolph, where he found finer ivory and larger elephants than anywhere else. He once shot 3 elephants in one afternoon, the 6 tusks, the largest now in my possession at Dunvegan Castle, weighing, respectively, 117 1/2 lbs, 109 lbs, 117 lbs, 104 lbs, 96 lbs and 95 1/2 lbs" ………………….. [more]

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