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      Naturalist in the Guianas

 

The Travels of a 19th Century Adventurer Featured in the Books The Caura and A Naturalist in the Guianas by Eugene André (1850 – 1922)

 

Eugene André The adventurous tours of Eugene André, a 19th century botanist, scientist and geographer are presented in his books The Caura and A Naturalist in the Guianas. These two books carry the reader on a journey which traces the extensive travels of the author through the innermost recesses of the forests of Colombia and Venezuela in 1897 to 1900 and 1900 to 1901. Both books are journals of his expedition in and around the tributaries of the Orinoco which spans the region called the Guianas.

 

His first book The Caura, is a two-part journal comprising in one part, an account of his travels in the Guianas region and in the other, photographs of the expedition team and the indigenous inhabitants called the Waiomgomos. One learns of the customs and lifestyles of the Waiomgomos, their food preparation techniques and excellent craftsmanship in weaving baskets, among other practices.

 

The author expands on the narrative of his adventures in his second book A Naturalist in the Guianas which features thirty four plates/photographs (specifically pictures of the inhabitants, plants and animals) and a map of the route of his expedition on the Caura River.

 

In both books, the reader gets an insight into André’s discoveries of rare orchids, birds, mammals, butterflies and other insects in the forests of the Guianas. André also gives the reader an account of the many difficulties endured by his touring party. They experienced raging tropical storms, terrifying encounters with wild beasts and being shipwrecked in the Arichi rapids of the Caura River. Six of the fourteen explorers succumbed to the hardships of the journey.

 

These books tell a story of survival as well as the joy of discovering new frontiers teeming with diverse forms of plant and animal life. Amply illustrated and well-narrated, they make exciting reading for nature lovers and naturalists.

You can view some of these illustrations online.

 

About the Author

Eugene André, a descendent of an early 19th century French settler to Trinidad, became one of this country’s earliest ornithologists and geographers. From his numerous explorations into the natural landscapes of Columbia and Venezuela, he collected specimens of butterflies and birds which can be found in the Tring Museum in London. André explored these areas for over ten years and is credited with the introduction of the Anthurium andraeanum Linden Ex André (referred to as ‘Caribbean Pinks’ and ‘Caribbean Whites’) to Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean in 1915. He was a member of the Royal Geographical Society and the Zoological Society of London and published accounts of his exploration in many prestigious geographical journals.

 

Bibliography

 

André, Eugene. The Caura. Port of Spain : Mirror Office, 1902.

 

---. A Naturalist in the Guianas. London : Smith, Elder and Co., 1904.

 

“History of the Anthurium Industry.” The UWI St. Augustine Anthurium Website. 10 Jul. 2008.  http://sta.uwi.edu/anthurium/history.asp

 

“Wild Venezuela : Interesting Adventures of a Bird Collector Along the Great Caura River.” Rev. of A Naturalist in the Guianas, by Eugene André. The New York Times 13 Jun. 1903: BR17. 10 Jul. 2008  http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D03E1DE1F3AE733A25757C1A9639C946597D6CF

 

 

 

 

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