Article ID: CBB001220855

The Biological Exploration of Darfur, 1799--1998 (2012)


Darfur covers an area in excess of 400,000 square kilometres in the west of the Republic of Sudan. The Sultanate of Darfur was an independent entity for eight centuries. Three outsiders in the sultanate commented on its biology before its annexation by Egypt in the 1870s. A naturalist accompanied the Egyptian invasion but the area was overrun by Mahdist forces in 1883, then reverted to independence in 1898 before incorporation into the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan 1916. No outsiders entered Darfur in the period 1883--1916 but information from spies and informers on wildlife and trade in products appeared in Sudan government reports. The period 1916--1955 produced considerable information from officers in the Sudan Political Service (SPS) and from travellers as a by-product of voyages of geographical discovery. After independence in 1956 biological discovery continued with data gathered, especially on the vegetation and its ecology, through rural development projects by their staff as part of their duties and for animal life through the personal interests of some staff: there were also field trips by Sudanese and foreign universities. There has been little new information since the 1980s and it seems there will be restricted future new knowledge. Darfur's biological importance derives from its range of ecosystems, from northern deserts to southern deciduous woodland, because it forms a bridge between west and east and because of the isolated massif of Jebel Marra. Biologically it has been, and is being, affected by human population expansion, spread of cultivation, civil strife and climatic vagary. The combined effects of these factors have had a mainly negative effect on larger mammals, birds and the composition and productivity of the vegetation.

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Authors & Contributors
Backes, David
Olson, Sigurd F.
Schumaker, Lyn
Cueto, Marcos
Miller, Sally M.
Buske, Frank
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Archives of Natural History
Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences
Journal of Historical Geography
Journal of the History of Biology
University of Minnesota Press
Duke University Press
Peter Lang
Smithsonian Institution Press
Rutgers University Press
Liverpool University Press
Natural history
Travel; exploration
Classification in biology
Olson, Sigurd F.
Muir, John
Whitney, Josiah Dwight
Livingstone, David
Jordan, Karl
Linnaeus, Carolus
United States
South America
North America
19th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, early
Yosemite National Park
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (University of California, Berkeley)

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