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Ceylon Hunting Books

These Ceylon hunting books primarily cover elephant hunting as no tigers existed in Ceylon. In the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was the place to go to hunt Asian elephants and far more were shot there than in India. The elephant in Ceylon existed in huge numbers and caused vast crop devastation so there was a 7 - 10 shillings for each one destroyed. The Ceylon elephants were commonly tuskless so there was not much profit to be gained from ivory.

Major Thomas Rogers, who did not put pen to paper, is credited with shooting the most elephants - more than 1400 in 11 years. As a civil servant and road builder, he became an expert elephant hunter, using a cut-down 16 bore gun, in order to prevent native crop damage. Other hunters also took huge numbers of elephant in Ceylon - Major Thomas Skinner took over 1000, mostly in elephant control efforts, a Captain Gallwey took 1300 elephants, and a Captain Layard took 1000 elephants.

Elephant Hunting In Ceylon
Elephant Hunting In Ceylon

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Samuel W Baker

Samuel W Baker settled in Ceylon in 1848 close to Nuwara Bliya where he tried, "with indifferent success" to run a farm in on English lines.

The Rifle And The Hound In Ceylon

The Rifle And The Hound In Ceylon by Samuel W Baker (1853). "Its wilderness regions were celebrated among English sportsmen - elephant shooting, buffalo shooting, elk hunting and deer coursing". "Riveting account of Baker's method of hunting par force with hounds in pursuit of wild boar". Free eBook

Eight Years' Wandering In Ceylon

Eight Years' Wandering In Ceylon by Samuel W Baker (1855) "It was in the year 1845 that the spirit of wandering allured me toward Ceylon: little did I imagine at that time that I should eventually become a settler." Free eBook

Eight Years In Ceylon

Eight Years In Ceylon by Samuel W Baker (1874) Free eBook is Baker's updated version of 'Eight Years' Wandering In Ceylon'. "Nearly twenty years ago, when settled in the island of Ceylon, I wrote this book. The lapse of this interval of time has produced many important changes; Ceylon has progressed, and is become one of our most prosperous colonies."

See all Samuel W Baker hunting and exploration books

Frank Buck

Capturing Wild Elephants

Capturing Wild Elephants by Frank Buck (1934) is an illustrated true-life story of capturing wild elephants in Ceylon. Includes 32 photographs of not only the elephant captures but of other wildlife such as leopard, a rhinoceros, hornbill bird, the smallest deer in the world and a gigantic bat.

See all Frank Buck books

Lt Col James Campbell

Lt Col James Campbell served with British 48th & 50th Regiments and was commandant of the Galle district of Ceylon.

Excursions, Adventures And Field-Sports In Ceylon

Excursions, Adventures And Field-Sports In Ceylon: Its Commercial And Military Importance, And Numerous Advantages To The British Emigrant by Lt Col James Campbell (1843) 2 volumes. The book includes an account of a fishing and hunting trip for elephant and buffalo which the author seems not to have enjoyed much.

Alfred Clark

Alfred Clark spent 25 years working as an officer of the forestry department in Ceylon. In addition to his sport hunting book, he wrote some light literature with a Ceylon background.

Sport In The Low-Country Of Ceylon

Sport In The Low-Country Of Ceylon by Alfred Clark (1901)is full of information about the habits of the game animals of Ceylon and how best to hunt them. The author says..."It is not expected that experienced sportsmen will learn anything new from the following pages, but it is hoped that the little book will be found useful by strangers and new-comers going on their first shooting trip to the low-country". Free eBook


Ceylon by Alfred Clark (1910) is a general information or travel book about Ceylon covering geography, people, elephants, gems, elephants, tea plantations and much more. Free eBook

The Finding Of Lot's Wife by Alfred Clark (1896) is a fantasy adventure novel set in the desert waste of Syria. Free eBook

A Dark Place Of The Earth by Alfred Clark (1896) is an adventure novel, set in a 'dark place' which is a volcanic island near Ceylon.

In A State Of Nature by Alfred Clark (1899) is a fantasy novel about degenerate lost race in the Arctic.

Philip Kingsland Crowe

Philip Kingsland Crowe (1908 - 1976) was an American ambassador who served in Ceylon, South Africa, Norway and Denmark. He was a keen sportsman and conservationist.

Diversions Of A Diplomat In Ceylon

Diversions Of A Diplomat In Ceylon by Philip Kingsland Crowe (1956) is a memoir by the American diplomat who served as US Ambassador to Ceylon in the early 1950s. He describes his very extensive travels around the country and many of its offshore islands, with numerous sporting anecdotes and much social observation.

See more of Philip Crowe's books on hunting in India

Augustus De Butts

Lieutenant Augustus De Butts (1806 - 1867) served with the Madras Engineers.

Rambles In Ceylon

Rambles In Ceylon by Augustus De Butts (1841) details scenes and impressions of Ceylon including elephant hunting stories. Free eBook

Reginald Farrer

Reginald John Farrer (1880 - 1920) was an important British plant hunter and explorer who travelled extensively in Asia.

In Old Ceylon

In Old Ceylon by Reginald Farrer (1908) describes the natural history, the people, religion, architecture and customs as he travelled from Colombo, Gadaladeniy, Peradeniya, Sigiri Rock, Polonnarua, Kandy, to the Sacred City and various other towns. Free eBook

Jonathan Forbes

Major Jonathan Forbes (1798 - 1877) served with the 78th Highlanders and in the civil service in Ceylon and is credited to have found the summit of Sigiriya while returning on horseback from a trip to Pollonnuruwa in 1831. Sigiriya or Lion Rock is an ancient palace that is dominated by a massive column of rock.

Eleven Years In Ceylon: Comprising Sketches Of The Field Sports And Natural History Of That Colony, And An Account Of Its History And Antiquities by Jonathan Forbes & George Turnour(1840) in 2 volumes and includes the history of Ceylon, the country with many observations of the people and their legends. Lots on elephants, elephant catching and elephant hunting with a certain amount of crocodile and gamebirds shooting. Free eBook Vol I Free eBook Vol II

James Willyams Grylls

The Out-Station: Or Jaunts In The Jungle

The Out-Station: Or Jaunts In The Jungle by James Willyams Grylls (1848) contains much on hunting in Ceylon. Free eBook

S Haughton

Samuel Haughton (b.1849) served with the Ceylon Civil Service and became Registrar General and Government Agent of the Eastern Province of Ceylon.

Sport And Travel

Sport And Travel by S Haughton (1915) was written after he retired from the Ceylon Civil Service and was limited to private circulation only. The first part of the book deals with his experiences as a Revenue Officer in the Mannar and Mullaitivu Districts of Ceylon at the time of a cholera epidemic. He was a keen big game hunter and relates tales of his hunting travels throughout the area for elephant, leopard, bear, sambar, small game and birds.

D J G Hennessy

D J G Hennessy was a police officer, later a Superintendent, whose duties took him to remote stations around Ceylon. He leased an area of jungle and built a house 35 miles from civilisation among the elephants, deer, bears, jackals and snakes (many of which became pets).

Lord Of The Jungle

Lord Of The Jungle by D J G Hennessy (1967) recounts the author's memories of locals, human and animal, with much on hunting elephants.

Green Aisles: A Story Of The Jungles Of Ceylon

Green Aisles: A Story Of The Jungles Of Ceylon by D J G Hennessy (1949) is an account of the Sinhalese people, his many treks, leopard & crocodile hunts and the death of Horatalla, his favourite elephant.

Frederick Lewis

Frederick Lewis was born in Ceylon to English parents who arrived to start planting coffee. Eventually Frederick Lewis changed course to become a tea planter and a pioneer rubber tree planter.

Sixty-Four Years In Ceylon: Reminiscences Of Life And Adventure by Frederick Lewis (1926) is the autobiography of his life as a tea planter in Ceylon.

Marcus W Millett

Marcus W Millett was the officer in charge of the Naval Dockyard at Trincomalee and a keen big game hunter, or an as he puts it, "an old Ceylon shikari".

Marcus W Millett
Marcus W Millett

Jungle Sport In Ceylon

Jungle Sport In Ceylon: From Elephant To Snipe by Marcus W Millett (1914)is the best book on big game hunting ever published covering Ceylon. Free eBook

K W S Mitchell

Tales From Some Eastern Jungles

Tales From Some Eastern Jungles by K W S Mitchell (1928) is about his jungle exploits in Ceylon with much on elephant tracking and capture.

Christopher Ondaatje

The Man-Eater Of Punanai

The Man-Eater Of Punanai: A Journey Of Discovery To The Jungles Of Old Ceylon by Christopher Ondaatje (1993). The author revisits his home in Ceylon and retells the story of the man-eating leopard that terrorized the village Punanai in the early part of this century.

See Christopher Ondaatje's book about Ernest Hemingway in Africa

Heinz Randow

Zoo Hunt In Ceylon

Zoo Hunt In Ceylon by Heinz Randow (translated 1958) is about the author's mission to find and capture wild animals and snakes from Ceylon for European zoos and circuses.

Major Thomas Skinner

Major Thomas Bridges Boucher Skinner (1804 - 1877) served in the Ceylon Rifle Regiment before becoming a prominent road builder in Ceylon, constructing the Colombo-Kandy highway. A keen sportsman, Major Skinner is known to have shot well over a 1000 elephants in Ceylon. He was a colleague and friend of Major Thomas William Rogers, also of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment and administrator for the road network. Major Rogers is most famous for shooting the most elephants - 1400 during an 11 year period. These numbers of elephant shot reflect the huge herds in Ceylon at the time which devastated the crops of the Sinhalese villagers.

Major Thomas Skinner
Major Thomas Skinner

Fifty Years In Ceylon: An Autobiography by Major Thomas Skinner (1891) was edited by his daughter Annie Skinner and contains much on his elephant hunting exploits. Free eBook

John Still

John Still (1880 – 1941) was a British archaeologist, hunter and author who emigrated to Ceylon in 1897, where he worked as a tea planter and in the Foresty Service. He served in Gallipoli in the First World War and spent three years as a prisoner of war in Turkey. He spent much time in the jungles of Ceylon, first hunting and then simply observing animals.

The Jungle Tide

The Jungle Tide by John Still (1930) is a descriptive insight into Sri Lankan history at the end of the British era from the author who was a tea planter, an archaeologist and a hunter. It is personal reflection on his time spend in the jungles and the title reflects his theory of the jungle being locked in an endless battle with civilisation, retreating and returning like a tide through the ages.

Harry Storey

Harry Storey (b.1868) was a British born tea-planter in Ceylon.

Harry Storey
Harry Storey dressed for the jungle

A Ceylon Sportsman's Diary

A Ceylon Sportsman's Diary by Harry Storey (undated) is an account of the author's shooting experiences from 1909 to 1920.

Hunting And Shooting In Ceylon

Hunting And Shooting In Ceylon by Harry Storey (1907). Detailed account of Ceylon from a sporting point of view, drawn from the author's experiences between 1891 and 1906. Includes all representative sports of the day, including several usually overlooked as not dramatic or tropical enough. Snipe shooting, pigeons, small game hunting with dogs, tanks and tank shooting (wildfowling), quails, partridges, spur fowl, jungle fowl, pea fowl and others, descriptions of the hunting districts, elephants, buffalo, the Ceylon elk, deer (red, mouse, hog and spotted), the leopard, bears and water-hole shooting, pigs, fishing. Appendices on regulations, firearms, shikar equipment, shikar terms in Sinhalese and Tamil. Free eBook

Horatio John Suckling

Ceylon: A General Description Of The Island, Historical, Physical, Statistical: By An Officer, Late Of The Ceylon Rifles by Horatio John Suckling (1876) 2 Volumes. Contains much about the natural history of Ceylon. Free eBook

Edward Sullivan

Sir Edward Robert Sullivan (1826 - 1899) was an Irish lawyer and Member of Parliament.

The Bungalow And The Tent: Or A Visit To Ceylon

The Bungalow And The Tent: Or A Visit To Ceylon by Edward Sullivan (1854) is an account of the author's extensive camping tour of Ceylon when he hunted mainly elephant. With understated fortitude, Sullivan related a tale of being left in the agreeable position of standing face to face with an elephant in anything but an amiable mood, with only one shot to rely upon. Besides his elephant hunting adventures in Ceylon, he also stalked bear and wild boar. In addition, he provides considerable information regarding the terrain and the peoples he encountered. Free eBook

Sir James Emerson Tennent

Sir James Emerson Tennent 1804 - 1869) was an Irish politician, traveller and writer. He was appointed colonial secretary of Ceylon, where he remained till 1850.

The Wild Elephant

The Wild Elephant: And The Method Of Capturing And Taming It In Ceylon by Sir James Emerson Tennent (1867) is the author's updated version of the book first published in 1859. It covers the natural behaviour of wild elephants in Ceylon, elephant shooting of which the author heartily disapproves, capture and training and elephant life in captivity. Free eBook

Sketches On Natural History Of Ceylon

Sketches On Natural History Of Ceylon by Sir James Emerson Tennent (1867)..."With Narratives And Anecdotes Illustrative of the Habits And Instincts of the Mammalia, Birds, Reptiles, Fishes, Insects etc. Including A monograph Of The Elephant And a Description of the Mode and Capturing and Training It". Free eBook

The Story Of Guns by Sir James Emerson Tennent (1864)is one of his lighter books in which he, as a former artillery officer, advocates the merits of the Whitworth gun, in opposition to that invented by Sir William Armstrong. Free eBook

John Christopher Willis

John Christopher Willis 1868 - 1958) was an English botanist who became the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Ceylon at the time this guide was written. He later became Director of the botanic gardens at Rio de Janeiro.

Ceylon: A Handbook For The Resident And The Traveller

Ceylon: A Handbook For The Resident And The Traveller by John Christopher Willis (1907) covers geology, geography, zoology, botany, forests, history, customs, sport, hunting, roads, railways, towns, villagees, language and literature of Ceylon. The chapter on sport hunting was written by Harry Storey. Free eBook

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