Although the Thomson's Gazelle ("Gazella thomsoni") the most numerous gazelle in East Africa is fairly well known, the explorer after whom it was named is now almost completely forgotten. During the era of African Exploration, Joseph Thomson ranked alongside such stalwarts as Livingstone and Stanley. He made substantial contributions to the natural and geographical knowledge of previously unexplored regions of Nigeria, Congo and morocco. His most impressive achievement was the exploration in 1882 of large areas of modern Kenya, which had previous been barred to outsiders by the Masai tribe. He accomplished this through a combination of audacity and diplomacy. His reputation for heroic endurance was accompanied by an ability to make surveys over vast areas with ease and accuracy. Observers were often astonished at his youthful "boy scout" appearance. Unlike many of his fellow explorers, he is reputed to have never fired a shot in anger and never to have left an unnecessary grave. He died at a relatively young age due to the destruction of his health caused by a series of tropical diseases. A memorial with a bust was placed near the cemetery in which he was buried, opposite the school which he attended as a boy.
Cause of death: Pneumonia following a series of tropical diseases