Boyd Alexander

(1873—1910) traveller and ornithologist

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(1873–1910) British army officer and prominent ornithologist who made two dangerous journeys to the African Sahel, and who is considered the most important early twentieth-century explorer of Africa. Boyd Alexander was born in Cranbrook, Kent, England. As a schoolboy he avidly studied and collected birds, and in 1897 he spent four months on the Cape Verde Islands. He received his commission in 1901 but obtained leave the next year to travel to Fernando Póo where he had his most successful birding experience. His first exploration of Africa began in 1904, and he traveled with companions George Goslin (co-leader), Claud Alexander (his brother), P. A. Talbot, and José Lopes, his personal assistant. The Alexander-Goslin Expedition began at the Niger Delta, and when it reached Maiduguri, Claud Alexander was fatally stricken with enteric fever. The group subsequently spent six months mapping southern Lake Chad; this mapping provided the first additional knowledge of the lake by Englishmen since Dixon Denham was there from 1823 to 1824. Talbot returned to England, but the reduced expedition continued across the Congo Free State where, on June 12, 1906, Goslin died of blackwater fever. Returning to England, Alexander quickly wrote From the Niger to the Nile, which was highly received by the geographical establishment, and he was awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in early 1908.


From The Oxford Companion to World Exploration in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.

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