J. Ffolliott Darling, an Irish collector of zoological specimens, was involved in mining in Zimbabwe, near the village of Mazoe (now Mazowe, some 40 km north of Harare). He was visited there during October-November 1894 by G.A.K. Marshall*, to whom he was distantly related, and the two collected birds together. During that same year and the next, Darling presented insects from Mazowe to the South African Museum in Cape Town. A collection of rodents made by him in Mashonaland was described by W.E. De Winter in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London in 1896, with short field notes by the collector.
By 1896 Darling had moved to the Charter district, centred around the town Enkeldoorn (now Chivhu, some 150 km south of Harare), which was founded that same year. He sent a collection of insects from the district, containing rare and valuable specimens, to the South African Museum, followed in 1897 by a collection of small mammals and reptiles from the same region, preserved in spirits. This collection contained several species new to the museum. He also donated coleoptera collected at Enkeldoorn that year, including a new species represented by a series of 20 specimens, which was named Graphipterus darlingi in his honour by the museum's entomologist, L.A. Péringuey*.
During 1901/1902 Darling, by then a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, read his "Notes on the natural history of Mashonaland", before the Salisbury (now Harare) section of the Rhodesia Scientific Association. Around the same time a list of fishes, batrachians and reptiles collected by him in Mashonaland, with descriptions of new species, was published in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1902) by G.A. Boulenger* of the British Museum (Natural History). Darling was still active in natural history by 1908, for in that year he presented snakes from Zimbabwe to the South African Museum, including three species new to its collection, one of which was not known from southern African at the time. The species named after him included a spider, the African Horned Tarantula (Ceratogyrus darlingi), the Mashona Mole-Rat (Fukomys darlingi), Darling's Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus darlingi) and Darling's Frog (Hyralana darlingi).
By 1915 Darling had returned to Ireland, for in that year he published a note on "The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Co. Roscommon" in The Irish Naturalist. In 1933 his Widow married G.A.K. Marshall.