Ian Reginald Nyschens (1923-2006)
, Ivory Hunter
Ian Reginald Nyschens (1923-2006) with an Elephant in the 1940's.
There once was an Africa that few have known, a place wild, unspoiled and untamed. Great herds of animals roamed free in her wilderness. It was this Africa that Ian Nyschens came upon, but she was already dying. Her spirit was slowly being driven from the land by minds tainted with ownership and greed. She became the great love of his life, and she claimed him as one of her own.
Ian Nyschens has been described as an anachronism, a man born out of time. He is known as a skilled hunter of big game, but in truth he was much more than that. He faced many dangers in the wilds, often risking his life, but in common with many of us, his greatest struggle lay within himself.
Ian's career as an elephant hunter began in 1947 in Southern Rhodesia when he found a companion-Faanie Joosten-and the pair of them started hunting for ivory for a living. They roamed far and wide, often outside of the law, as far north as southern Tanzania and as far east as the coast of Mozambique. But Ian's stronghold was the thick jess bush of the Zambezi Valley, a place he loved more than any other. There, visibility was so poor that sometimes a hunter could be close enough to touch an elephant with the barrel of his rifle before he could see it. Ian's life was one fantastic and epic adventure after another.
Ian Nyschens (pronounced "nations") shot as many elephants as Walter Bell did, well over 1,000, and under much more difficult circumstances. He shot most of his elephants with a Rigby .450 No.2. He used the Rigby so much that the barrels separated from use (the solder disengaged), and he had to send it back to London to have it repaired. Not many people use a double rifle to that extent!
Ian was stricken with rheumatic fever as a small boy. When it finally left him he had to learn to walk again. Its legacy was poor eyesight, a defective heart and psoriasis covering much of his skin. A sickly and weak child, his doctors advised he always avoid the sun. He was sent to a convent school in his early years where the nuns were particularly harsh. Here he learned to distrust authority, especially in the name of God.
Immersed in a dysfunctional family, bullied by his peers and misunderstood by his elders, Ian grew towards manhood alienated from the culture into which he was born. He had an uncanny ability to observe the camouflaged nature of man; his penchant for power and domination. He found little to respect here, and by the time Ian reached adulthood there was no place in society for the rebel he had become.
He left the land of his birth and traveled north to Rhodesia, where he applied to join the Game Department. However, a medical examination deemed him unfit. Defiant and undaunted, Ian entered the wilderness that beckoned to him, armed with only a second hand rifle and a few meager possessions. In the cicada silence he studied the pages of a book, the legacy of a great hunter who had walked the way before him. From this book and his own wild knowing, Ian taught himself how to hunt. Nurtured by nature and wearing only a loincloth, his sun starved skin and weakened body grew strong. Ian was born for this land; its wild character matched his own. In his books he speaks generously of these years, but there was another side to this man.
Ian married and had two children, a daughter and a son. For twenty seven years he lived torn between two worlds. In one he became carpenter, mine surface supervisor, and city building inspector. He played polo and polo cross, rehabilitated horses, established a thoroughbred racing stud, and became knowledgeable in politics and history. But Africa had touched his soul, and the wildness in Ian simmered, making him unpredictable, restless, and intense. Ian was married for a time, but his lifestyle was not conducive to domestic bliss, and the marriage did not last.
Once the Kariba Dam was completed in 1959, it flooded a great deal of his beloved Zambezi Valley, and Ian's world began to shrink. He continued to shoot elephant under the control scheme set by Rhodesian authorities, but his footloose days were at an end. He joined the wildlife department as a game ranger for a while, but his unsociable character made for a short career.
Though reckless in his early years, and at times destructive, Ian was a good pupil and Africa taught him well. He grew to care deeply about life, but remained troubled by the ways of his fellow man. While the stories he shared entertained, his intention in the telling was to reveal learning from a time passed.
Before he left this life Ian was sad. During his final days He spoke of his son who died; of great bull elephants; of his fear in the bush and the uncanny presence there of the Divine. He use to utter with passion, ”Nobody understands Africa“.
The wild Africa Ian loved is no more; she too has passed into memory. She took care of his soul while he walked this earth. He was truly her son. Sadly, Ian Nyschens died on 6 December 2006 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Footsteps of an Ivory Hunter
Months of the Sun
Footsteps Of An Ivory Hunter by Ian Nyschens. Most people don't know that Ian Nyschens self published a second book before his death in 2006.This book has stories not covered in Months Of The Sun as well as stories about other hunters including the story of the death of Alan Lowe.This book was self published and is not professionally edited.
Months of the Sun by Ian Nyschens. Forty Years of Elephant Hunting in the Zambezi Valley. Ian's career as an elephant hunter began in 1947 in Southern Rhodesia when he found a companion-Faanie Joosten-and the pair of them started hunting for ivory for a living. They roamed far and wide, often outside of the law, as far north as southern Tanzania and as far east as the coast of Mozambique. But Ian's stronghold was the thick jess bush of the Zambezi Valley, a place he loved more than any other. There, visibility was so poor that sometimes a hunter could be close enough to touch an elephant with the barrel of his rifle before he could see it. Ian's life was one fantastic and epic adventure after another.