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Karamojo Bell

Published by Denis OLeary at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 Denis OLeary


Book cover is based on a photograph by Nevit Dilmen and is reproduced and modified under the

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Use of the photograph does not imply the photographer's endorsement of this article or the author.


It may seem clich├ęd, but if Karamojo Bell had not been a real person, they would have made him up for "Boy's Own" magazine. Apprentice seaman, Boer War cavalry scout, World War 1 pilot, wildlife artist - he lived an adventurous life at a time when such exploits were a commodity exported back to Europe for the masses. But it is for one adventure that history remembers him with the most reverence. At the turn of the century, Bell left home for the wilds of Africa, where he was to be immortalised as one of the world's most prolific elephant hunters.

He was born into a wealthy Scottish family in Clifton Hall near Edinburgh in 1880. His family gave him the rather grandiose name of Walter Dalrymple Maitland Bell. From an early age, he had his sights set on adventure and big game hunting. He later expressed disappointment that the American bison had been hunted almost to extinction, and set a goal of travelling to Africa instead.

His trip there went via North America. After a brief sojourn as an apprentice seaman and had an unsuccessful period on the Yukon gold fields, he joined a Canadian mounted unit and was transferred to South Africa where his two older brothers were fighting in the Boer War. Briefly taken prisoner when his horse was shot from under him, he escaped back to British lines soon after and got through the war unharmed.

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