(1753 – 1824) François Levaillant or Le Vaillant was a French author, explorer, naturalist, zoological collector, and noted ornithologist.
Born François Levaillant (or Le Vaillant) in Paramaribo, the capital of Dutch Guiana (Surinam), the son of the French consul. When his father returned to Europe, in 1763, he studied natural history at Metz. He was sent by the Dutch East India Company to the Cape Province of South Africa in 1781, and collected specimens there until 1784. He made three journeys, one around Cape Town and Saldanha Bay, one eastwards from the Cape and the third north of the Orange River and into Great Namaqualand.
On his return he published Voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique (1790, 2 vols.), and Second voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique (1796, 3 vols.), both of which were translated into several languages. These works have been translated and made available in Dutch (by J.D. Pasteur, Leyden and Amsterdam, 1791) and in English (with Introduction by Ian Glenn, in Van Riebeeck Society second series no. 38, Cape Town. under the title Travels into the Interior of Africa via the Cape of Good Hope by F. Vaillant.)
He also published Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d'Afrique (1796–1808, 6 vols.) , Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de paradis (1801–06), Histoire naturelle des cotingas et des todiers (1804) and Histoire naturelle des calaos (1804).
His contribution to theatre and performance in South Africa
The record of his travels through Southern Africa document and are an invaluable resource on some of the earliest European-style performances in Southern Africa.
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