S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Reichenow, Prof Anton (ornithology)

Born: 1 August 1847, Berlin, Germany.
Died: 1941, Place not known.

Anton Reichenow, German ornithologist, was curator of the ornithological collections at the Kaiserliche Zoologische Museum in Berlin. Later he became director of the museum, founder of the Rossitten bird sanctuary, and professor in Berlin. Early in his career he visited West Africa (1872) and published on the birds of East Africa collected by G.A. Fischer. Many of his numerous subsequent papers dealt with the birds of Africa, while his books included the following: Vogelbilder aus fernen zonen. Abbildungen und Beschreibungen der Papageien (Bird images from distant regions. Illustrations and descriptions of the parrots; 1878-1883), Handwörterbuch der zoologie, anthropologie und ethnologie (Pocket dictionary of zoology, anthropology and ethnology; 1880-1900), Die Kennzeichen der Vögel Deutschlands (The characteristics of the birds of Germany; 1902), Die jagdbaren Vögel (The game birds; 1909), Die Vögel. Handbuch der systematischen Ornithologie (The birds. Handbook of systematic ornithology; 2 vols, 1913-1914); and his monumental Die Vögel Afrikas (The birds of Africa; 3 vols, 1900-1905). He was also the editor of the Journal für Ornithologie. As the most influential German ornithologist of his time he dominated work on the birds of German South West Africa (now Namibia) around the beginning of the twentieth century, naming many subspecies from the territory after the collectors or his correspondents. Two bird species of southern Africa commemorate him: Anthreptes reichenowi (Plain-backed Sunbird) and Crytospiza reichenovii (Red-faced Crimsonwing).

Reichenow was elected an honorary member of the South African Ornithologists' Union in 1904, shortly after its formation. In 1906 a paper by him was translated into English by H. Grönvold* as "The nomenclature and mode of measuring the external portions of a bird's anatomy", and published in the Union's Journal (Vol. 2(2), pp. 115-121).

List of sources:
Clancey, P.A. The founders of South West African ornithology. Bokmakierie, 1989, Vol. 41(2), pp. 41-45.

Clinning, C. Southern African bird names explained. Johannesburg: Southern African Ornithological Society, 1989.

Debus, A.G. (ed.) World who's who in science. Chicago: Marquis, 1968.

Hocky, P.A.R. et al (eds). Roberts birds of southern Africa (7th ed.) Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, 2005.

Journal of the South African Ornithologists' Union, 1906, Vol. 2(2), paper by Reichenow; 1909, Vol. 5(3), list of members.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

Compiled by: C. Plug