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Alistair Graham Papers

Identifier: MSS 0393

Scope and Content

The Alistair Graham Papers house the papers of Alistair D. Graham, a Kenyan wildlife conservation biologist specializing in crocodiles and their habitats, and an expert in aerial surveys of wildlife populations. The collection documents his work with Wildlife Services, Ltd. (East Africa's first wildlife consultancy firm), co-founded by Graham and Ian Parker in 1964, and Graham's subsequent consulting and research. Contents date from 1964 to 1998, consisting of original field data sheets, aerial and other photographs, data tabulations, analysis, maps, reports, and articles related to Graham's work in Kenya, Botswana, Uganda, and Ethiopia. The collection is organized in a single series, organized chronologically to reflect project groupings named by the creator as follows:

Lake Rudolf: Data were collected between July 1965 and September 1966 from quasi-random shot sample surveys of natural Nile crocodile populations at Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) in northern Kenya. Approximately 550 original field data sheets recording 15,000 morphometric measurements are included, along with photographs of the natural habitat. Graham's 1968 M.Sc. thesis included here in typescript was a partial analysis of this research. Wildlife Services, Ltd. also published a version in 1969, available in Marston Science Library circulating collections and online.

Murchison Falls: Surveys of nesting site numbers and distribution at Kabalega Falls National Park (formerly Murchison Falls), Uganda allow the documentation of changes in these crocodile populations. Materials include field data and notes from 1967 and 1969, maps of nests plotted onto 1:50,000 scale maps, and a draft typescript report to the Director of Uganda National Parks (1986).

Aberdare National Park: Field notes with tables of dimensional data, a map, and photos from a 1970 and 1973 study of 38 natural dam waterholes at Aberdare National Park, Kenya are included. Such details were not published in Graham's 1979 Azania journal article co-authored with F. W. Woodley, making these data useful for future research assessing change over time.

Okavango Delta: Research in Botswana's Okavango River floodplain (Bot/71/506) employed five aerial surveys conducted from 1973 to 1987 documenting crocodile nesting sites unreachable by boat. Black and white photographic prints of the nests are included. Nest sites identified by surveys were plotted onto 1:12,000 scale dyeline print enlargements on AK polygraph paper from the original 1:70,000 scale aerial photographs taken at 7,010 meters (Source contract 1/74D; September 1974). While some large pieces of the 1987 prints were torn off, all plotted data remain. Plots represent all nest sites observed to 1987, and were transferred to a composite 1:50,000 scale topographical map also included here. Methods and results were reported in the included unpublished 1988 draft manuscript co-authored with Ian Games, "Monitoring an exploited Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus Laurenti) population on the Okavango River, Botswana." An unrelated, unattributed 2 page typescript story relating to Paga (Ghana) crocodile superstitions is included in a folder with Graham's 1979 response to K. L. Tinley, who in 1978 critiqued his FAO report of the Okavango research.

Kalahari, Botswana: Four aerial surveys 1978-1979 created the first record of the number and distribution of large herbivores in a 240,000 km2 area of the Kalahari along with an extensive range assessment. The included 1980 report Botswana Countrywide Animal and Range Assessment project (7 volumes) did not publish the supporting maps included here, one of which documents flight lines undertaken for these surveys.

Ethiopia: An aerial survey in 1998 at Ch'amo Hāyk' and Ābaya Hāyk' (Lakes Chamo and Abaya) in the Ethiopian Rift Valley produced the first known survey data relating to crocodiles, hippopotamus, and fishing boats in these two lakes, which support Ethiopia's largest crocodile populations. Original maps and census data, with additional data on the pattern of crocodile nesting on Lake Chamo, are included. The field map from an aerial survey of Nechisar National Park (adjoining the two lakes) may be the first available.

The collection overall offers insight into the development of professional wildlife conservation and management practices in East and Southern African during the second half of the 20th century. Maps and other data in the collection were the first time that their subject animal populations or features were systematically mapped, so they constitute unique baseline references for future research. The data on crocodile morphology, population demographics, and locations of nesting sites are of particular interest for further research.


  • 1964-1998
  • Majority of material found within 1965-1979



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Alistair D. Graham (b. October 25, 1938) was born in Kisumu, Kenya. He graduated from Rhodes University, South Africa, with a Zoology degree and earned a Masters in Ecology from the University of East Africa. His first job was as a game warden with the Kenya Game Department starting in 1961. Graham co-founded with Ian Parker East Africa's first wildlife consultancy firm, Wildlife Services, Ltd. in 1964. In 1974 he moved to Botswana to survey crocodiles in the Okavango River area and large mammals in the Kalahari Desert. After working on a crocodile project in New Guinea in 1979, he moved in 1981 to Darwin, Australia, and founded Janamba Croc Farm, one of Australia's first commercial crocodile farms. He continued consulting on wildlife projects in Africa until 2003, when he became Conservator for the Australian National Parks of the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island. Later, he worked for the Department of Parks and Wildlife in Western Australia. Graham has published: The Lake Rudolf crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus Laurenti) population (Wildlife Services, Ltd., 1969), The gardeners of Eden (Allen and Unwin, 1973), Eyelids of Morning (New York Graphic Society, 1973), as well as many reports and articles. He lives in Western Australia with his wife Jane, two daughters, and three grandchildren.


1.28 Linear feet (3 Boxes and 1 map roll)

Language of Materials



Alistair D. Graham, a Kenyan wildlife conservation biologist specializing in crocodiles, co-founded Wildlife Services, Ltd. in 1964. Included here are original field data sheets recording morphometric measurements of Nile crocodile populations at Lake Turkana, maps of crocodile nesting sites in the Okavango Delta, and original data from other sites such as Kabalega Falls National Park (Uganda) and Nechisar National Park (Ethiopia). The collection documents professional wildlife conservation and management practices in East and Southern Africa during the second half of the 20th century. Several of the surveys were the first time their subject populations were mapped, so they may serve as baseline references for future research.


The collection consists of a single series, arranged chronologically.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Alistair Graham in September, 2014.

Related Material

The following are significantly related: Bob Campbell Papers, Graham and Brian Child African Wildlife and Range Management Collection, Records of the East African Professional Hunters Association, Larry D. Harris Papers, and the Ian Parker Collection Relating to East African Wildlife Conservation.

Processing Notes

Most published materials, including monographs and some reports, were retained but located in circulating collections. The Ugandan Annual Report of the Game Department (1925-1949; with scattered missing issues) and Annual Report of the Game and Fisheries Department (1951-1969; also incomplete) include issues held only in a few US libraries.

A Guide to the Alistair Graham Papers
Finding aid created by Dan Reboussin with Janna Royal
June 2017
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America