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Name: PICKERING, William A. 'Bill'

Birth Date: 1883

Death Date: 1914 killed by a rogue elephant in the Belgian Congo

First Date: 1905

Profession: Barman at the Norfolk Hotel and, later, elephant hunter in the Lado Enclave

Area: Nairobi, Mombasa, Lado Enclave

Book Reference: Drumkey, EAHB 1907, Chandler, Cuckoo, Safari Trail, Nimrod, Adventurers, Long Grass, UJ

General Information:

Chandler - William A. Pickering (1883-1914) - Elephant hunter of the Lado Enclave in the 1900s. John Boyes called him (1927) "above the average as a hunter". Pickering was born in London and served in the British Army until 1905, fighting in South Africa during the Boer War. Upon entering civilian life, he went to Mombasa where he accidentally shot and killed a Hindu bystander while carelessly handling a handgun. He spent 3 months in jail for this mishap and paid a heavy fine. Pickering continued to have more than his share of bad luck, including being captured by Belgian troops about 1907 before the Belgians evacuated the Lado region. Held for poaching, he managed to escape and fled through the jungle, barefoot and almost naked. He finally reached safety in the camp of another hunter named Knowles. For a time he went legitimate, working for the Uganda Public Works Department. ……………….. Pickering is another one whose death has been told in a number of variations, the result of the evolution of the story as told over sundowners.. The following is the most popular version.. Pickering, age 31, was hunting for ivory in the Lado Enclave. He had just shot one of the greatest elephants ever, a monstrous bull with tusks that weighed 191 and 193 pounds. His very next time out, Pickering froze up when charged by a male elephant; he was paralyzed and just couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger of his .577 Express (another version claims that his rifle simply misfired). The bull knocked him down, stepped on his chest, and pulled his head off with his trunk. ……..
Cuckoo - A young non-commissioned officer of the Royal Artillery had recently bought his discharge from the Army in S. Africa, and came to EA in search of fortune. Pickering was a fine type of soldier, with a splendid record in the Army. Before the passengers landed he was showing an automatic pistol to a companion and, for some unklnown reason, the weapon went off suddenly. He always swore - and Foran believed him - that there was no reason to think the pistol loaded and he did not press the trigger. Unfortunately the bullet killed a Sikh deck passenger from Zanzibar. Foran had to arrest him on a charge of manslaughter, much against the grain, for he was convinced the whole affair was accidental. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 3 months simple imprisonment.  When he had served the sentence Foran helped him to Nairobi. He secured a post as barman in the Norfolk Hotel, and saved money while in such employment. Some time later he went up to the Lado Enclave to shoot for elephant ivory, leading a highly adventurous and profitable life there for some years. He was finally killed by a rogue elephant during one of his daring expeditions into the "No Man's Land" of the Congo.                                                                                                           Safari Trail - One of the toughest of them all whose head was torn from his shoulders.
Nimrod - The second biggest tusks obtained by a white man were just over 190 lbs. These were the achievement of a man called Pickering who got them in the Lado Enclave; but they didn't do him much good, because the next elephant he met charged him and ripped his head from his shoulders.
Adventurers - 1909 - Koba - .... I met Pickering, another hunter also out for ivory. He was killed by an elephant a few years later. ...... natives told me that Pickering ...... had been captured by the Belgians, who had taken everything he had, including his tent, guns, and all the ivory in his possession. ......... Pickering said that he had been made a prisoner by the Belgians, and been very badly treated by them. They had even stolen his boots, but he had contrived to escape and had come into Doran's camp without anything on his feet, and with very little clothing. ..... ..... Pickering was a man above the average as a hunter, who came to Nairobi after the railway had reached there. He worked for a long time with Knowles, taking up elephant poaching for lack of anything better to do. He served for a time in the Uganda PWD, but through his gun misfiring was eventually killed by an elephant that tore his head off, flung it, otherwise uninjured, into the bush (where it was found) and smashed his body to pulp by kneading it with his knees.
Long Grass - Billy Pickering, who shot one of the best tuskers on record, almost 200 pounds of ivory on each side. The very next day after his triumph, he drew a bead on another bull, which charged him after a shift in the wind. His gunbearer later reported that although Pickering raised and aimed the rifle, he seemed paralyzed and did not fire as the elephant barreled down on him. Pickering must have known what fate had up her sleeve for him since he never even tried to run. For openers, the bull literally ripped Billy's head from his body, pitching it quite a respectable distance away in the bush, where it was later found by a fellow hunter named Clarke, sent to scoop up the remains. Strangely, Clarke, who was an old hand himself, had a similar thing happen to him a short while later. He was about to ventilate a nice bull from a canoe, a relatively safe position, but he could not force his finger to press the trigger. Although the bull never saw him and did not charge, that afternoon wrapped up Clarke's hunting career. He never fired another shot.
Uganda Journal - Vol 24, p. 217 - Ivory Poaching in the Lado Enclave by R.O. Collins - …… Two prominent elephant poachers, Pickering and Knowles, were captured by the Congolese who, after confiscating all their equipment, goods and ivory, expelled them from the Enclave. Pickering was later killed by an elephant, while Knowles retired to a business life in England where he died quietly.
Nature - A tough character, he shot an elephant with nearly record tusks - 190 lbs and just under 190 lbs. - shot in the Lado Enclave in 1910. [Not in Rowland Ward]
Mills Norfolk - A one-time barman during Major Ringer's time was another Bill, Bill Pickering, who met a nasty end. A former NCO in the Royal Artillery he arrived in British East Africa in 1906 and acted as barman at the Norfolk for a spell. Surrounded as he always must have been by the great hunters of the day, with their everlasting stories of do-or-die hunts, Bill Pickering went off in the ivory rush to the Lado Enclave, a part of Central Africa which, with the death of King Leopold of Belgium became no-man's land in 1909. .….…… It was said that a good marksman could kill 7 to 10 elephants at a time and some men made £15000 in 6 months. Billy Pickering  only made his grave; a bull elephant tore off his head with its trunk and then trampled on his body for good measure. Bill's head, quite intact, was found in a nearby bush.

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