J. A. Hunter

John Alexander Hunter (30 May 1887 29 March 1963), born near Shearington, Dumfries-shire, Scotland, also known as J. A. Hunter, was a white hunter in Africa from the early 1900s through the 1950s who led many notable safaris. He moved permanently to British East Africa in 1908, where he later led the Livermore expedition, with the aid of A.P.de K.Fourie, that opened up the Ngorongoro Crater to European hunters.[1] He held several world records for big game at various times, and killed over 1,000 rhinos in Kenya, most of them in the Makueni hunting ground, which the Government needed to get rid of, in order to give these lands for re-settlement of the Kamba people. Besides safaris and other control operations for the Kenya Game Department, in Makueni Hunter killed 996 alone, from 26 August 1944 to 31 October 1946. It turned out that those lands were useless for human settlement. In later years, he became concerned about the possible extinction of the wildlife he had so assiduously hunted, and spoke in favour of conservation. His writings were notable for betraying his colonialist attitude, although his writings similarly betrayed a genuine respect and affection for the locales and peoples that he interacted with.

John Alexander Hunter
John Alexander Hunter

(1887-05-30)30 May 1887
Died29 March 1963(1963-03-29) (aged 75)
OccupationProfessional hunter
Spouse(s)Hilda Bunbury
ChildrenDoreen, Sheila, Lesley, Gordon, Dennis, David

In 1918 he married Hilda Bunbury. They had 6 children, Doreen, Sheila, Lesley, Gordon, Dennis and David. His grandson Alex Hunter inherited his way of life and is a safari guide in Kenya.[2] He was a friend and contemporary of Denys Finch Hatton, who was portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie Out of Africa. In his published writings Hunter wrote of his friend and fellow professional hunter, and the tragic circumstances of Hatton's death.[2] In 1958 he built the Hunters' Lodge hotel in Makindu, Kenya where he died in 1963.[3]


White Hunter (1938)

Published by Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd. - London, 1938 [4]
Specifically about his safaris before World War II. The original 1938 edition is a scarce collectors item. Also a later reprint of 1,000 limited editions by Safari Press, 1986.

Contents: Elephant, A "Dead" Elephant Departs, More Elephant, Shot Down Before an Elephant, Encounters with the King of Beasts, I Trip over a Lion, Man-Eating Lions, A Lion's Breath, Filming the Blankety-Blank, A Pride of Lions, Duncan Routs a Trio, Lions in the Kitchen, Buffalo, Filming Buffalo Herds, Rhino, Hippo, Leopard, A Terror of the Night, Crocodile

Hunter (1952)

Published by Hamish Hamilton, UK 1952 [5]
An autobiography recounting 40 years as a white hunter in British East Africa. Including his move from Scotland to Africa as a young man, hunting rogue elephants, working with Masai spear man against lions, exploring the hidden Isle of Fumve, leading a safari across the Serengeti and more.[6]

Contents: Rogue Elephant, Scotland - John Hunter, Africa - Professional Hunter, Serengeti Safari, Clients - Brave and Otherwise, Lion Hunting in Masailand, Masai Spearman, Life and Death of a White Hunter, The Hidden Isle of Fumve, Buffalo Hunting, The Ituri Forest, The Great Makueni Rhino Hunt, Game Warden - A Variety of Rogues, Guns - Men and Fear, Big-Game Photography, The Most Dangerous Game, Homecoming

African Hunter (1954)

Published by Hamish Hamilton, UK 1954.
A condensed version, for younger readers, of J.A. Hunter's famous autobiography, Hunter (1952)[7]

African Bush Adventures (1954) aka. Tales Of The African Frontier

With Daniel P. Mannix, Published by Hamish Hamilton, UK 1954
Also published under the title, Tales Of The African Frontier (Harper & Brothers, USA 1954) [8] and the basis for the 1959 movie, Killers of Kilimanjaro
J.A. Hunter and Daniel P. Mannix re-tell the true life stories of some of Africa's early settlers, slavers, ivory hunters, missionaries, traders and police officers [9]

Contents:Tippu Tib - A Sound of Guns, Colonel Ewart Grogan - Gentleman Adventurer, Joseph Thomson - Explorer, The Reverend Athur Fisher - Missionary, Sir Albert Cook - Pioneer Doctor, Kabarega - The Warrior King of Bunyoro, John Boyes - King of Kikuyu, The Scotch Family McQueen, R.O. Preston of the Lunatic Line, Lord Delamere - the Opening of Kenya, The White Hunters, Major Robert Foran - British East African Police, The Ivory Poachers of the Lado Enclave, Sir Vincent Glenday of the Northern Frontier, Dr LSB Leakey - White Kikuyu

Hunter's Tracks (1957)

Assisted by Alan Wykes. Published by Hamish Hamilton, London, 1957 [10]
Chronicling J.A. Hunter's role in the hunt and capture of an ivory smuggler over 11 chapters, interspersed with reminisces about memorable hunts and characters, including a close call with Crocodiles, a grand safari with a Maharajah, and a hand-to-hand fight with a lion.

Contents: Manhunt I - The Clue, Baboons, Manhunt II - The Cache, A Night to Remember, Manhunt III - The Merchant, The Life and Death of Charles Cottar, Manhunt IV - The Betrayal, Serpents, Manhunt V - The Chase, Great Men - Great Hunters, Manhunt VI - The Chase Continues, An Adventure with Crocodiles, Manhunt VII - The Capture, Regarding Elephants and Rhinos, Manhunt VIII - The Escape, At My Own Risk, Manhunt IX - The Siege, Night on the Mountain, Manhunt X - The Attack, Death of a Terrorist, Manhunt XI - The End, Grand Safari

See also


  1. Jonathan S. Adams (1992). Thomas O. McShane (ed.). The myth of wild Africa: conservation without illusion. University of California Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-520-20671-7.
  2. Sara Wheeler (2009). Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton. Random House. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0-8129-6892-7.
  3. Brian Herne (2001). White Hunters: The Golden Age of African Safaris (2 ed.). Macmillan. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-8050-6736-1.
  4. Hunter, John G. (2000). White Hunter. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-122-1.
  5. Hunter, John G. (2007). Hunter. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-243-0.
  6. J.A. Hunter, Hunter (Tideline, 1986).Dust jacket text,
  7. name=>J.A. Hunter, Hunter's Tracks (Hamish Hamilton, UK 1957).Dust jacket text,
  8. Hunter, John G. (2007). Tales of the African Frontier. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-242-2.
  9. J.A. Hunter, African Bush Adventures (Hamish Hamilton, 1954).Dust jacket text,
  10. Hunter, John G. (2000). Hunter's Tracks. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-121-3.
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