S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Faure, Prof Jacobus Christian (entomology)

Born: 29 August 1891, Pretoria, South Africa.
Died: 30 May 1973, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Jacobus Christian Faure, entomologist, was the son of Jacobus Christian Faure and his wife Talitha Cumi Lombard. In 1909, after matriculating in Pretoria, he obtained a scholarship which enabled him to continue his studies at Cornell University in the United States. There he obtained the BSc degree in Agriculture as well as an MA degree, the latter with a thesis entitled Thrips tabaci Lindeman and Aelothrips fasciatus Linnaeus, with notes on other species of Thysanoptera (1913). On the basis of his MA degree from Cornell he was admitted also to the MA degree of the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1914. On 4 October 1913 he was appointed as government entomologist in the Division of Entomology, Department of Agriculture, and stationed in Bloemfontein. During the next few years he developed an interest in locusts and sent detailed field notes on them to B.P. Uvarov at the British Museum (Natural History). Uvarov used the notes to support his theory that the phase transformation of locusts (from solitary grasshoppers to swarm locusts) depended on their population density. Meanwhile Faure published his first local paper, "Mosquitoes and malaria" in the Agricultural Journal of the Union of South Africa (1914).

In 1919 he joined the Division of Entomology in Pretoria. The next year he became lecturer in entomology in the Faculty of Agriculture of the Transvaal University College (from 1930 the University of Pretoria) and was promoted to the college's first professor of entomology in 1921. He held this position to his retirement in 1951.

In 1929 Faure obtained funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to conduct breeding experiments with locusts and study their phase transformation under controlled conditions at the University of Pretoria. His meticulous experiments with three species of locusts proved conclusively that population density determined whether locusts will remain solitary grasshoppers or become swarm locusts. The results were published in a classic monograph, "The phases of locusts in South Africa," in the (British) Bulletin of Entomological Research (whole No. 23, 1932). It generated world-wide interest and established his international reputation as an entomologist. He was awarded a PhD degree by Cornell University in 1933 for a thesis with the same title.

Faure received an additional appointment, from 1933 to 1944, as director of locust research in the Department of Agriculture. In this position he focussed his research on methods to combat locust plagues by experimenting with various chemicals to replace the poisonous sodium arsenate then in use, improved methods of applying the pesticides, and using locust bait instead of sprays. In the course of his career he also devoted attention to research on citrus thrips, the army worm and other entomological topics, reporting his results in many scientific papers.

After his retirement in 1951 Faure was immediately appointed as a temporary government entomologist in Pretoria. This enabled him to pursue one of his special interests, namely the taxonomy of the Order Thysanoptera (thrips). He had already described a number of new genera and species belonging to this group between 1925 and 1943. During the ten years following his retirement he published a series of about 20 papers on South African Thysanoptera, most of them in the Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, and became a world authority on the taxon. His collection of Thysanoptera, containing many thousands of specimens, was housed in the National Collection of Insects in Pretoria.

Faure was a dynamic person who played an active role in the development of the University of Pretoria. For a brief period in 1933-1934 he was dean of the Faculty of Agriculture. While still in Bloemfontein in 1917 he became a member of the first council of the South African Biological Society and still held this position in 1930. In May 1933 he was one of the three conveners of a meeting at the University of Pretoria to found the Pretoria Entomological Club. A few years later, in October 1937, he played a leading role in the foundation of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa and served as its first president, for 1937/8. Subsequently he was honorary editor of the society's Journal from 1938 to 1943, establishing it as a publication with high standards. Volume 34 of the journal was dedicated to him in 1971, the year of his eightieth birthday, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to entomological science. He was made an honorary life member of the society in 1956. Other honours bestowed upon him included the award of the Senior Captain Scott Memorial Medal of the South African Biological Society (1933), honorary life membership of the Royal Entomological Society of London (1951), an honorary DSc (Agric.) degree from the University of Pretoria (1961), and his election in 1971 as a patron of the new scientific journal, Acrida, published by l'Association d'Acridologie in Paris, for research papers on locusts and grasshoppers.

Faure was married to Gezina Eileen ("Jess") Neethling, with whom he had two daughters.

List of sources:

Bedford, E.C.G. The early history of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, 1937 to 1960. Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, 1961, Vol. 24, pp. 3-16.

Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. 5, 1987.

Google scholar. http://scholar.google.co.za/ Publications by J.C. Faure.

Jacobus Christian Faure. Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, 1971, Vol. 34(2), pp. 199-206.

Journal of the South African Biological Society, 1969, Vol. 9, pp. 39-40, Senior Captain Scott Memorial Medal.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS), at http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to J.C. Faure / Jacobus C. Faure / Jacobus Christian Faure.

Obituary: J.C. Faure. Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, 1973, Vol. 36(2), p. 231.

South African Journal of Natural History, 1918, Vol. 1; 1922, Vol. 3; and 1930, Vol. 6: Council [of the SA Biological Society].

Union of South Africa. Public Service List, 1914. Pretoria: Government Printer, 1914.

University of the Cape of Good Hope. Calendar, 1916/7, 1917/8.

Compiled by: C. Plug