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Interesting Rainforest Facts

When the first early explorers, scientists and botanists visited the Falls they had to be on guard for dangerous animals such as lions, buffalo and elephant.

Here are some interesting facts on Victoria Falls and the Victoria Falls Rainforest that you don't hear everyday.

Fact 1

David Livingstone was the first to describe the Victoria Falls, and viewed them from the island that now bears his name, Livingstone Island. (It is believed that he did not actually set foot on what is now the Zimbabwe side of the Falls during either of his visits.) Livingstone thought that the spray from the Falls would support a natural garden, and he planted a number of peach and apricot stones and some coffee seeds and named the island ‘Garden Island’.

Victoria Falls Rainforest Facts

Fact 2

The first scientific botanist to visit the Victoria Falls was Sir John Kirk, who accompanied David Livingstone on his second visit to the Falls, in 1860, and collected many specimens. There was however, no trace of Livingstone’s garden, which had been trampled by the resident hippo, and the island became known as ‘Livingstone Island’.

Fact 3

The artist Thomas Baines visited in 1862 with the hunter James Chapman, and both were trapped near danger point by an approaching heard of buffalo and had to shoot their way out.

Thomas Baines Victoria Falls print

Buffalo Driven to the Edge of the Chasm opposite Garden Island Victoria Falls, by Thomas Baines

Fact 4

Gladiolus Primulinus
Common form of Gladiolus primulinus

The German explorer Edward Mohr, who visited the Falls in 1870, is thought to be the first use the name ‘rainforest’ in describing the rich flora. George Westbeech, a hunter and trader based in Pandamatenga, was attacked by a lion when he visited and camped at the Falls in 1875 with his newly-wed wife. They were probably the first honeymoon couple at the Falls.

Fact 5

The arrival of the railway and building of the Victoria Falls Bridge in 1905 brought an increased attention to the scientific nature of the Falls, and as well as detailed geology and geography studies, the local flora and fauna was widely described and collected. Included in these samples were some bulbs which were collected in the rain shadow of the Falls by one of the railway engineers and sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England.

Fact 6

The Gladiolus bulbs above, which bore striking yellow flowers, became widely propagated and resulted in the common form of Gladiolus primulinus, known as ‘Maid of the Mist’, which is grown in many gardens across the world.

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