ESSENTIAL YOU ACCOMPANY FIRST SCIENTIFIC VISIT SINCE 1916 TO FLAMINGO COLONY MARCH FIFTEEN STOP PARTY CONSISTS ARTHUR VERNAY PRESIDENT BAHAMAS FLAMINGO PROTECTION SOCIETY COMMA ROBERT MURPHY OF AMERICAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM AND SELF STOP FAIL NOT BRYCE
The text of a telegram in 1956 sent by OSS operative Ivar Felix Bryce to his friend Ian Fleming. Fleming joined Arthur Vernay to the remote island of Inagua where the silence of the vast sea would inspire Crab Key, the base of his villain Dr No and Fleming used Bryce's middle-name Felix for his CIA operative. Photographs of the group by the ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy survive in archives. James Bond, of course, was named after the ornithologist who wrote the Birds of the West Indies.
|From Raymond Benson (2012). The James Bond Bedside Companion. Crossroad Press. [ Fair Use ]|
Arthur Vernay had then retired to Nassau and was involved in flamingo conservation in the Bahamas in 1956. Surprisingly, he had never been interested in birds or wildlife until 1921. He had moved from England to New York, and starting as an elevator operator, began an antique store and rose to wealth and power - an unbelievable rags to riches story. His interest in the wild was, rather surprisingly, sparked off by a visit to the Biligirirangan Hills, to the estate of R.C. Morris in 1921.
|Vernay with J.C. Faunthorpe of UP (the United Provinces) in 1923|
|Taxidermic mount in the Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall at the AMNH|
Jonas, Louis. 1930. The mounting of an elephant group. Proceedings of the American Association of Museums, New Series, no. 11, Washington, DC.
A (not recommended for the sensitive) video showing the preparation of it can be found here
|The Goan skinner in this is not N.A. Baptista but a certain Fernandez (right) |
with Charles McCann during the Vernay Hopwood Expedition
R.C. Morris also accompanied the group - see BNHS note
|Major Guy Rowley, Arthur S.|
Vernay, and Colonel Randolph C. Morris. “Singkaling Hkamti
to Hahti, Mar. 1935.” Photograph by H. C. Raven. Image
VHC-M16, American Museum of Natural History Library
|View from Honnametti, the Honnametti rock is at the left|
|A diorama in the Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall - probably inspired by a scene from the Biligirirangans.|
Vernay went on several other expeditions, one with another wealthy explorer Charles Suydam Cutting. The Vernay-Cutting expedition was aided by British intelligence officer and amateur botanist F.M. Bailey. In Africa, he was joined by another ornithologist who also worked as an OSS operative - Rudyerd Boulton.
|Vernay, unknown Tibetan and Suydam Cutting in Tibet from Cutting's The Fire Ox and Other Years (1940)|
Another photo in the Smithsonian Archives shows them in Lhasa with a Lhasa Apso at their feet.
Cutting would introduce Lhasa Apsos into the United States. He gifted dachshunds to the Dalai Lama in return.
While all these images capture the age of expeditions and unknown frontiers, one wonders if modern field biologists sometimes, and in vain, try and relive the same. Worse still, are conservation projects, funded by wealthy corporates, utilized to post so-called experts into wilderness areas where the local people themselves are treated the way the so-called "natives" were treated in colonial times. Wildlife movies often dwell on the romance of travel - showing how the wildernesses were reached by helicopters, 4-wheel drives or by hacking their way through jungle while glossing over the fact that local people live right near those locations without much ado.
With government funding drying up in many science fields, will biologists go to the billionaires again?
As usual the writing of this note is a byproduct of improving Wikipedia entries - in this case - for references and more details do look up