Zebras always entice us to look at their sleek bodies, and those stripes – all unique. My love of South Africa and how I am always drawn to the country of Africa and to history … led to this post.
Asbestos Mountains came to the fore when I was looking at the mineral asbestos for my post on Heather’s terrible condition (Mesothelioma) … and I noted the explorer whose name is linked to the Burchell Zebra.
|Fulham Palace entrance|
William John Burchell (1781 – 1863) was an English explorer, naturalist, traveller, artist and author … he was the son of a botanist, who owned Fulham Nursery adjacent to the gardens of the medieval Fulham Palace (the early residences of Bishops of London (11th C until 1975)) which still has an extensive botanical garden.
|Glasshouses in Fulham Palace Garden|
Burchell initially took up botany serving an apprenticeship at Kew – however love intervened, but ... he was sent off by his disapproving parents to St Helena … a long way to be exiled for love!
After arrival and some years, he took advice and set off to the Cape to add to his botanical collection, travelling in South Africa between 1810 and 1815, collecting over 50,000 specimens while exploring unknown tracts of land.
|Namibian stamp for a postcard in 2007|
featuring Burchell's Zebra
He also spent five years in Brazil between 1825 and 1830 – again collecting and recording everything of interest.
|Burchell's Coucal - a species|
His extensive African collections included plants, animal skins, skeletons, insects, seeds, bulbs and fish; the bulk of his plant specimens went to Kew, with the Brazilian insects to Oxford University Museum.
|Burchell's Bubalina - wild|
pomegranate image from Curtis's
Botanical magazine - first published
in 1787 and still going today
He was such a great observer, detailing the habit and habitat, as well as all his drawings and paintings as he went along – in 1819 he was questioned by Parliament about the suitability of South Africa for emigration … the 1820 Settlers followed a year later.
|Eciton Burchellii army ant from Brazil|
with the characteristically shaped
His journals and notebooks survive in Kew, those of his Brazil expedition are missing, as are his diaries relating to his later travels: a man of passion, patience, observation, scholarship and experimentation who was a natural Naturalist – a man trained with an inquiring mind … thank goodness for them and the early information they have left us.
Burchell’s Zebra is extant – the Quagga is extinct
The moose is extant - the Dodo is extinct
Extinct is dead as a Dodo!
|Burchelll's drawing of the Asbestos Mountains|
Extant, per the Oxford Dictionaries, means it is still in existence, surviving, not necessarily alive … Neontology is the study of extant taxa – where species, genera and families, whose members are still alive, such as Burchell’s Zebra and the Moose.
|Descending from the Sneeuberge, Graaff-Reinet|
painted by Burchell (1812)
This post could have got more convoluted as I found other interesting links … but we can find subjects to post about all over the place …
|The wagon commissioned by|
Burchell for his expeditions
So I hope you enjoyed travelling along the dotted path to South Africa, from Fulham, via St Helena, then on to Brazil and back to the archives at Kew and Oxford …
… all arising from the Asbestos Mountains found by the Botanist William Burchell – who had these wonderful creatures named after him.
Heather von St James, who is raising awareness of the disease she suffers from - please read:
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories.