Wynne's Diary

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Thomas Herbert Elliot Jackson (1903-1968)

T.H.E.Jackson, known to his many friends as "Pinkie", was murdered by a criminal gang at his home near Kitale, Kenya, on the night of May 22nd, 1968.
Pinkie Jackson was born in Dorset, England, on January 12th 1903. His father, Brigadier General H.K.Jackson, hoped that his son eventually would enter professional military service and enrolled him at Wellington College. Young Jackson, however, showed little inclination for the army and after Wellington went to Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire.
In 1923, after a brief visit to Kenya, he went to India to work on an indigo plantation. Kenya, however, had made an impression, and the following year he returned there to stay. After a time spent learning to grow coffee with Mr Maxwell Trench near Nyeri, he settled on a farm of his own on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, where he was soon joined by his father and family. Coffee had not been grown in that area before but was eventually established by Jackson and his father, and after many vicissitudes the farm "Kapretwa" blossomed forth, to become one of the finest and most successful coffee estates in the district.
At the outbreak of World War 2 Jackson joined the Officer Cadet Training Unit and was later drafted to the 4th King's African Rifles. After some service with this regiment he was sent by the Kenya Government to raise and train a company of Turkana Irregulars for duty on the troubled Abyssinian frontier. Later he was charged with the military administration of a large area in northern Somalia. By the end of the war he had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
The war over, Jackson returned to Kapretwa and continued to improve and develop it in subsequent years. Among the other things he pioneered the growing of tea and built the first processing plant in the Kitale district. At the start of the Mau Mau emergency in 1953 he volunteered and served in a senior capacity in the Embu district. From then on he devoted his time to his farm, to his superb garden and to his entomological activities.
Jackson had been an enthusiastic naturalist from his early youth. He became an excellent field ornithologist and botanist, and over the years built up one of the most beautiful gardens in Kenya as well as an outstanding collection of local and exotic orchids. His most absorbing interest, however, was entomology, which he pursued throughout his life. In 1935 he took part in the British Museum Ruwenzori expedition, with the dipterist T.W.Edwards and the botanist George Taylor (now Sir George Taylor, Director of Kew Gardens), and collected vast numbers of insects, particularly butterflies, moths and beetles, most of which are now in the British Museum.
Not long after that Jackson began to form his own collection of butterflies. From the beginning he devoted particular attention to their early stages, and his first papers were concerned with life histories he discovered. His collection, which he built with the same diligence and enthusiasm that marked his every undertaking, grew rapidly, particularly in his favourite groups, the Nymphalidae and the Lycaenidae and their allies.
He collected widely in Africa himself, in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and southern Ethiopia. He was one of the first to explore entomologically the Kigezi district of southern Uganda, a mountainous region where, in the Kayonza forest, he found many new species.
Jackson also trained several African collectors whom he sent not only to areas in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, but also to Middle Congo, Cameroun, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. At the time of his death he was negotiating with the government of Gabon to send one of them to that country. These men were not ordinary collectors, but highly trained specialists. One was particularly adept at finding the eggs and larvae of the genus Iolaus, large, handsome blue and white hairstreaks whose larvae feed on the parasitic plant Loranthus, high in the forest canopy. Through the efforts of this man Jackson thus obtained long, perfect series of a host of species of this genus and its relatives, many of them new or previously little known. Another of his collectors specialised in finding nests of the any genus Crematogaster and in building platforms high up in infested trees to collect the liptenids associated with these ants.
Whenever he had the chance Jackson would go to the British Museum to study the rich African collections and to compare the increasing numbers of new or little known species that he or his collectors had found. Through that institution he was put in contact, in 1938 or 39, with M. Henri Stempffer of Paris, the world's foremost authority on African Lycaenidae. This was to be a most fortunate association, a happy combination of collector and specialist, both of rare ability and great productivity.
Jackson published relatively little himself. He began rather late (he was 34 years old when his first paper appeared), and his early articles came out at considerable intervals. From the late 1950's, however, he began to publish more, and the last decade of his life saw more from his pen than all the preceding years. His most important papers, perhaps, are the the one written in collaboration with V.G.L.van Someren (1960) on mimicry in African butterflies, and the series of taxonomic articles on the very difficult liptenid genus Epitola and its allies (1962a, 1964, 1964a, 1967).
Jackson's collection had grown to be one of the largest assemblages of African butterflies anywhere, and certainly the largest on the continent. And this despite the fact that he gave away duplicate specimens by the thousands to anyone or to any institution he thought would put them to good use: to Stempffer, to the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris), to the Musée Royale de l'Afrique Centrale (Tervuren), to Carnegie Museum, to the National Museum of Kenya, to the British Museum. The latter institution further received over the years the types of nearly all the many forms named by Jackson or by Stempffer from Jackson's material.
In 1961 Jackson began to feel that his collection itself should be more readily available to scientists and in June of that year gave half of it, some 65,000 specimens, to the British Museum. The other half, along with his fine entomological library, he willed to the National Museum of Kenya, where it now is.
Mere words can scarcely do justice to Pinkie Jackson's many personal qualities. His great charm and warmth of personality won him close friends wherever he went. He was an ideal companion in the field, and a delightful correspondent, full of enthusiasm, extremely knowledgeable, and always articulate.
The brutal murder of this unfailingly kind, generous and wise man was a great shock to all who knew him and a grievous loss to his many friends and relatives and to African entomology.

R.H.Carcasson, Centennial Museum, Vancouver, Canada
Harry K Clench, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

Thomas, "Pinkie", on a fishing trip, probably late 1940s....