Junker, Wilhelm

JUNKER, WILHELM (1840-1892), German explorer of Africa, was born at Moscow on the 6th of April 1840. He studied medicine at Dorpat, Gottingen, Berlin and Prague, but did not practise for long. After a series of short journeys to Iceland, Tunis and Lower Egypt, he remained almost continuously in eastern Equatorial Africa from 1875 to 1886, making first Khartum and afterwards Lado the base of his expeditions, Junker was a leisurely traveller and a careful observer; his main object was to study the peoples with whom he came into contact, and to collect specimens of plants and animals, and the result of his investigations in these particulars is given in his Reisen in Afrika (3 vols., Vienna, 1889-1891), a work of high merit. An English translation by A. H. Keane was published in 1890-1892. Perhaps the greatest service he rendered to geographical science was his investigation of the Nile-Congo watershed, when he successfully combated Georg Schweinfurth's hydrographical theories and established the identity of the Welle and Ubangi. The Mahdist rising prevented his return to Europe through the Sudan, as he had planned to do, in 1884, and an expedition, fitted out in 1885 by his brother in St Petersburg, failed to reach him. Junker then determined to go south. Leaving Wadelai on the and of January 1886 he travelled by way of Uganda and Tabora and reached Zanzibar in December 1886. In 1887 he received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. As an explorer Junker is entitled to high rank, his ethnographical observations in the Niam-Niam (Azandeh) country being especially valuable. He died at St Petersburg on the 13th of February 1892.

See the biographical notice by E. G. Ravenstein in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society (1892), pp. 185-187.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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