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Bookshelf: Great African Trophies

Bookshelf: Great African Trophies

Great African Trophies
By Diana Rupp
MSRP: $125 (Hardcover)

Trophies are interesting because they cement the memory of experiences gained afield and they evoke dreams of what may come. Author Diana Rupp, who as editor in chief of Sports Afield magazine happens to work alongside her peers in the same building that houses Safari Press and Rowland Ward in Long Beach, Calif., spent two years researching the stories of the greatest game ever taken on the Dark Continent to bring us Great African Trophies.

The result is a trophy-sized showcase of tales and photographs including the world-record elephant (226- and 214-pound tusks), Cape buffalo and gemsbok and more, including the tale, written by German naturalist Hans Besser, of what is likely the largest crocodile ever: a 24.9-foot-long beast he shot on the banks of the Mbaka River in East Africa in 1903.

But while Rupp’s focus is on animals that rank in the top five of each species in the Safari Club International and Rowland Ward record books, she also highlights historic, unlisted and little-known trophies.

Which Westerner shot the first record bongo? Rupp discovered several hallowed names to answer this question including Kermit Roosevelt. But according to her research, the chances are an unknown Austrian ivory hunter may have been the first, in 1905. Several tales of buffalo shot since World War II highlight the “what if it was me?” kind of luck hunters bump into occasionally. Also included is the story and photo of the skin of a poached leopard (8 feet 7 inches long) that could easily cover a lion’s skeleton, discovered on sale by a hunter in a curio shop in West Africa in 2008.

This book is a feast for the eyes and the imagination of hunters who love Africa and its wildlife. Careful readers will also note it traces the history of hunting and wildlife management in Africa over the course of a century.

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