September, 1909 - British East Africa
[Originally titled "British East Africa, September, 1909" within The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, debuting on ABC on March 18, 1992. It was then paired with "Paris, September, 1908" to become "Passion for Life," released on home video on September 18, 2000 for The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.]
In September, 1909, the Jones family travels to British East Africa near Nairobi (capital of Kenya) by invitation from one of Henry Sr.’s classmates. They soon embark on a safari with former President Theodore Roosevelt, who is there to collect specimens for the Smithsonian Institute.
Also present is a man named Frederick Selous, a living legend already revered for all his exploits in big game hunting.
At Kirinyaga (a county in the former central province of Kenya) the Jones family also meets Edmund Heller, a taxidermist that was also working with the Smithsonian Institute.
Once settled in, Roosevelt teaches Indiana how to shoot a rifle and gives him a pair of binoculars to explore the countryside. He also informs him that he is looking for the Fringe-Eared Oryx (found only in southeastern Kenya and northeastern Tanzania), yet he’s perplexed that none have been spotted.
Later on when all the men go hunting, Indiana sneaks away from Ms. Seymour and meets a young boy from the Maasai village that is of similar age. The boys use basic sign language to introduce themselves and spend the rest of the day exploring the country, all the while making a conscious effort in learning each other's language.
When Roosevelt, Selous, and Heller return to the camp, Indiana becomes concerned with the nature of hunting, amplified by his newfound respect for the land and it’s inhabitants. He asks Roosevelt for an explanation as to why they kill so many animals, and the former President explains the importance of cultivating all the different species in museums, so the common man can gain an understanding of wildlife and subsequently appreciate it. Indiana seems to accept that rationale, yet becomes further disillusioned when Selous kills another lion outside the campsite, ultimately left unsure of what’s right and wrong.
The next day Indiana sneaks out with Meto (the young local he befriended) to find the Fringe-Eared Oryx, and thanks to an elder from Meto’s tribe they learn why the rare species has gone missing. Indiana is eager to return to his camp to tell Roosevelt about his findings, yet he gets lost on his way back and is berated by the former President after he’s found by a search party.
The following morning Indiana sneaks out with Meto and they find a pack of Oryx, he subsequently returns to camp and explains to Roosevelt and company what they had overlooked. The Oryx had gone missing because their main food source (the root melon) had been compromised once a great fire had killed off the areas snake population. The snakes had previously controlled the population of mole rats, who without any natural predators began to flourish and burrow themselves underground, consequently eating all of the root melons. This had forced the Oryx to look for food elsewhere.
Determined to get back in good graces with Roosevelt, Indiana leads the hunters to where he had previously found the Oryx, still conflicted on what’s inevitably about to take place. After Roosevelt and his men shoot and kill two Oryx, Indiana courageously grabs the former President’s gun and says “enough,” to which after some consideration Roosevelt surprisingly agrees.
Roosevelt explains that since the Fringe-Eared Oryx were rare, Indiana was correct that killing too many would cause adverse effects throughout the land, considering the circle of life and how many other species might depend on them.
Before they leave Indiana gives Meta his binoculars, and the Jones family embarks on the next chapter of their journey.
In conclusion during his 1909 visit to British East Africa, Indiana has close encounters with:
Frederick Selous - a British explorer, officer, and big game hunter, where even today the National History Museum of London is home to the Selous Collection which displays 524 mammals from 19 continents (including 19 African lions), along with over 5,000 plants and animal specimens donated to the Natural History section of the British Museum. Furthermore the Selous mongoose (Paracynictis selousi) and the African Sitatunga antelope (Tragelaphus spekii selousi) are named after his honor, and he’s the main inspiration behind many fictional characters that popularized the “white hunter” concept of the time period, specifically Allan Quartermine.
Edmund Heller - famous American zoologist who contributed to many significant expeditions around the globe. In his later years he was the curator of mammals at the renowned Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and the director of prominent zoos in both Milwaukee and San Francisco. Species named in his honor include the Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus helleri), the Taita thrush (Turdus helleri), and the puna thistletail (Schizoeaca helleri).
Theodore Roosevelt - the 26th President of the United States who believed in conservatism of the earth and the rights of the common man, Roosevelt is carved into Mount Rushmore along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.