Mungo Park

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Selkirkshire,
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Virgo
Birthday
Birthplace
Selkirkshire,

Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer who attempted to trace the Niger River’s true course. He is believed to be the first Westerner to travel to the Niger River’s central portion. He was famous for his exploits during the perilous explorations he undertook and died while attempting to locate the source of the Niger River. Born in Selkirkshire, Scotland, as the son of a prosperous farmer, his parents initially desired that he pursue a religious career. However, life had other plans for him, and he continued his education at the University of Edinburgh, eventually becoming a trained medical surgeon. He was then appointed assistant surgeon on the East India Company’s ship Worcester and assigned to Benkulen, Sumatra. He gained valuable experience while studying the plant and animal life in Sumatra. He was then appointed by the African Association to investigate the true course of the Niger River, and embarked on his first expedition in 1795. He encountered several exciting, albeit dangerous, adventures during this journey, but was unable to locate the source of the Niger. After a few years, he embarked on another expedition to Africa, but perished along with the rest of his party.

Childhood & Adolescence

Mungo Park was born on 11 September 1771 in Selkirkshire, Scotland, into a prosperous farming family. He had a large family.

He was educated well. He was tutored initially at home before being assigned to Selkirk grammar school. He was a bright young man with a strong interest in the natural sciences.

He was apprenticed to Thomas Anderson, a surgeon, at the age of 14. In October 1788, he enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied medicine and botany.

He also spent a year in Professor John Walker’s natural history course. In 1791, he completed his medical studies.

Career of Mungo

Park knew naturalist and botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who recommended him for an interesting position as an assistant surgeon on the East India Company’s ship ‘Worcester’ in 1791.

In 1793, he sailed to Benkulen in Sumatra with the crew. He examined and studied the local flora and fauna and, upon his return in 1794, delivered a lecture to the Linnaean Society in which he described eight new Sumatran fish. He also presented Banks with a collection of various rare Sumatran plants.

The experience he gained on this trip sparked an interest in continuing his explorations. The African Association was looking for a successor to Major Daniel Houghton, who was sent to discover the Niger River’s course in 1790 and died in the Sahara.

Mungo Park accepted the position after Sir Joseph Banks recommended him. Park began his exploration in June 1795 at the mouth of the Gambia River and traveled approximately 200 miles to Pisania, a British trading post.

In December 1795, he began his exploration of the unknown interiors, accompanied by two local guides. The journey was perilous, and he was imprisoned by a Moorish chief.

He escaped on 1 July 1796, armed only with a horse and a pocket compass. Finally, on 21 July, he arrived at Ségou, the long-desired Niger River, becoming the first European to do so.

He was forced to come to a halt after following the river downstream for approximately 80 miles to Silla. By this point, his resources had been depleted, and he was unable to continue exploring the river’s course. He returned, disappointed.

On his return journey, he took a different route and stayed close to the Niger River all the way to Bamako, tracing its course for approximately 300 miles. He became ill in Kamalia and was on the verge of death when he sought assistance from a man who allowed him to stay at his home for seven months while he recovered.

After regaining his health, he returned to Pisania in June 1797 and was back in Scotland by December of that year. His return sparked widespread public excitement, as he had been presumed dead. He detailed his expedition in a book titled ‘Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa’, which was published in 1799.

He returned home and practiced medicine for a few years before being invited to lead another expedition to the Niger by the government. In January 1805, he set sail from Portsmouth for Gambia on his second expedition. He was appointed captain by the government and led a party of approximately 40 men.

This expedition proved to be extremely difficult, as several men died en route from dysentery and fever, and those who survived were severely weakened by disease. In mid-August, the expedition arrived in Niger with only 11 Europeans still alive. Later, news reached Scotland that the expedition’s few survivors had perished as well.

Significant Exploration of Mungo Park

Mungo Park is best remembered for his exploration of Africa’s central Niger River. Despite the difficulties of his journey, he made several significant observations about Africa and its inhabitants. He detailed his experiences in his book ‘Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa,’ which became a bestseller and established him as a celebrity.

Personal History and Legacies

He married Allison, the daughter of Thomas Anderson, with whom he had previously apprenticed. He was close to his brother-in-law Alexander Anderson, who accompanied him on his second African exploration.

Mungo Park embarked on his second expedition to explore the Niger River’s course in January 1805, accompanied by approximately 40 men. The expedition, however, was a disaster, and he lost several men to disease and other causes over the following months.

Despite the difficulties, he persisted and continued the journey even as his party of men dwindled drastically. It was later discovered that in 1806, all of the expedition’s remaining members, including Park, were attacked and drowned at Bussa by local inhabitants.

Mungo Park Medal was established in his honor by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in recognition of his outstanding contributions to geographical knowledge through exploration.

Estimated Net Worth

Mungo Park’s estimated net worth as of 18 December 2015 is at least $92.5 Thousand dollars. Mungo Park owns over 7,537 shares of Clean Diesel Technologies worth more than $11,125 and has sold CDTI stock worth more than $81,359 over the last 11 years.