J. A. Hunter

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John Alexander Hunter
Born John Alexander Hunter
(1887-05-30)30 May 1887
Died 29 March 1963(1963-03-29) (aged 75)
Occupation Professional hunter
Spouse(s) Hilda Bunbury
Children Doreen, Sheila, Lesley, Gordon, Dennis, David

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 favor 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.

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]


He wrote several books, some autobiographical, some fiction, based on his life experiences. The original editions are largely out of print, but there is a move to re-publish them. They include:

  • Hunter,[4] an autobiography
  • Hunter's Tracks,[5] includes various reminiscences, beginning with the story of John Hunter's role in the capture of the shady kingpin of a gang of ivory poachers and smugglers
  • White Hunter,[6] specifically about his safaris before World War II
  • Tales Of The African Frontier (with Daniel P. Mannix),[7] about the early days of East Africa

Based on John Hunter:

  • African Hunter, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1954
  • African Bush Adventures (with Daniel P. Mannix),[8] Hamish Hamilton, London, 1952
  • Killers of Kilimanjaro, made into a movie in 1959.


  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. ^ a b 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. (2007). Hunter. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-243-0. 
  5. ^ Hunter, John G. (2000). Hunter's Tracks. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-121-3. 
  6. ^ Hunter, John G. (2000). White Hunter. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-122-1. 
  7. ^ Hunter, John G. (2007). Tales of the African Frontier. Long Beach, CA: Safari Press. ISBN 1-57157-242-2. 
  8. ^ Hunter, John Alexander, Mannix, D., African Bush Adventures. Pub: Hamish Hamilton, London (1954)