Colonel Percy Fawcett Background Information

Percy Fawcett was born 1867 in Torquay, Devon, England to Edward B. and Myra Fawcett. His Indian born father was a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. Percy's elder brother Edward Douglas Fawcett (1866-1960) was a mountain climber, Eastern Occultist, and popular writer of adventure novels.

With his family's background, it is not surprising that Percy Fawcett became an adventurer.

In 1886 Percy received a commission in the Royal Artillery and served in Trincomalee, Ceylon where he also met his wife. Later he worked for the British secret service in North Africa and learned the surveyor's craft. He was also a friend of authors H. Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle, who used Fawcett's Amazonian field reports as an inspiration for The Lost World.

Fawcett's early expeditions

Fawcett's first expedition to South America was in 1906 when he travelled to Brazil to map a jungle area at the border of Brazil and Bolivia at the behest of the Royal Geographic Society; the society had been commissioned to map the area as a third party, unbiased by local national interests. He arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in June. Whilst on the expedition, Fawcett claimed to have seen a giant anaconda, for which he was widely ridiculed by the scientific community. But as we know today, anacondas can grow to a very large size. They even feast on crocodiles. Fawcett also reported sightings of other mysterious animals unknown to zoology, such as a small cat-like dog about the size of a foxhound, which he claimed to have seen twice.

Fawcett made seven expeditions between 1906 and 1924. He mostly got along with the locals through gifts, patience and courteous behaviour. In 1910 Fawcett made a trip to Heath River to find its source. Following his 1913 expedition, he supposedly claimed to have seen dogs with double noses - these may have been Double-nosed Andean tiger hounds. He returned to Britain for active service in the army during World War I, but after the war he returned to Brazil to study local wildlife and archaeology.

Fawcett's last expedition

With funding in place from a London based group of financiers known as The Glove , the expedition finally came together in 1925, consisting of Fawcett, his eldest son Jack, and Jack's best friend Raleigh Rimmell. Fawcett had always preferred small expeditions that could live off the land, believing that a small group would look less like an invasion to the Indians and therefore be less likely to be attacked. Fawcett was no novice in jungle exploration and knew exactly what would be needed and so planned the expedition accordingly. Colonel Fawcett had studied ancient legends and historical records and was convinced a lost city existed somewhere in the Mato Grosso region, a city Fawcett named "Z." Fawcett left behind instructions stating that if his expedition to discover the lost city of Z did not return, no rescue expedition should be sent, lest they suffer the same fate. He said:

I don t want rescue parties coming to look for us. It s too risky. If with all my experience we can t make it, there s not much hope for others. That s one reason why
I'm not telling exactly where we re going. Whether we get through, and emerge again, or leave our bones to rot in there, one thing s certain. The answer to the enigma of ancient South America and perhaps of the prehistoric world may be found when those old cities are located and opened up to scientific research. That the cities exist, I know.

Essential reading for those interested in finding out more about Colonel Fawcett's adventures in the Amazon jungle is the book by Lt.-Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett himself , Exploration Fawcett edited by his son Brian Fawcett (1953) (also published as Lost Trails, Lost Cities.

Exploration Fawcett can be found on internet book websites, including Amazon (UK) from £7.00 or Amazon(Com) from $30.00.

For a first-hand account of the encounter of Fawcett and his companions with the Kalapalo, told by a Kalapalo leader in Kalapalo to anthropologist Ellen Basso, please see Ellen Basso's The Last Cannibals (University of Texas Press) Available from Amazon (UK) from £28.95 or Amazon (Com) $0.72. Read review here.

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