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Mr. Pilette's (Crossley's) Ground-Thrush ... mostly in French (1 Viewer)

Björn Bergenholtz

(former alias "Calalp")
Fumbling my way through Congo (on my desk), I found yet another Book on this subject, that maybe could give us some additional info on the man commemorated in ...

pilettei as in:
• the subspecies (Zoothera) Geokichla crossleyi pilettei SCHOUTEDEN 1918 (here) as "G. [Geocichla] Gurneyi Pilettei n. sp.":
Cette forme nouvelle a été découverte par M. PILETTE à Lesse, 13- VII. Je suis heureux de pouvoir la lui dédier.
• and in the invalid "Cr. [Cryptospiza] Jacksoni SHARPE et ssp. Pilettei n. ssp" SCHOUTEDEN 1918 (Same paper, p. 276):
C'est avec plaisir que je la dédie à M. Pilette, qui l'a récoltée et à qui notre Musée doit de si belles collections.
The type itself, of the latter, is found here.

Mr Pilette is also mentioned (looks more like praised) in the start of this long Paper, here, and (not surprising!) in several, loads and loads of entries for other birds:
Enfin, au cours d'un voyage de chasse fait dans la région des Lacs, en 1912-1913, et durant lequel il a exploré toute la zone comprise entre le lac Albert et le Tanganyika, un ami dévoué de notre Musée, M. André Pilette, a rassemblé pour nous une collection ornithologique de tout premiér ordre tant par le nombre et la variété des matériaux recueillis que par les soins donnés à l'étiquetage des spécimens. Il n'a pas récolté moins de 364 des 535 espèces que j'énumère ici !
Today's HBW Alive Key explain this eponym as:
André Pilette (fl. 1912) Belgian collector in the Congo (syn. Cryptospiza jacksoni, subsp. Geokichla crossleyi).
... which I think I could strech a little bit further (this said with lack of French), into: the Belgian adventurer, collector and Colonial Official (proper title?) André Pilette (fl.1921), "Chargé de Mission par Monsieur le Ministre des Colonies" ... from 1908 until ca.1921 ...still at his Post in April 1921 (here, p.75).

Not much, but something ...

Maybe even more could be found in À travers l'Afrique Équatoriale (1914), here (in French), written by André Pilette himself, about when and how he crossed Central Africa, from Mombasa in the East, to Congo in the West, in 1912-1913 (at least partly by Car!) ... he started out in 1911, from Marseille, France (at the start by Boat I assue). ;)

Ajoutons que gràce au zèle désintéressé de M. André Pilette le Musée du Congo belge à Tervueren a pu s'enrichir d'une magnifique collection zoologique, produit des chasses qui font l'objet des récits de son livre

[here, bottom p.193 (from a review, I think, of the Book above, 2nd Edition, 1919)]

Is he somehow (officially) connected to the "Musée Royal du Congo Belge à Tervuren"? Or only a supporting friend/collaborator ... ?

Anyone understanding French who can tell us anything more than my stumbling, fumbling attempts above!?

Either way: enjoy!


PS. Not to confuse with the Belgian racing driver by the same name. That guy was apparently born in 1918 (6th of October) and seems to have passed away in 1993.
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Based on his book, just after a voyage to India and Tibet, he felt inclined to go to, and hunt in, Africa. At this point, he contacted the museum, which led to a negotiation with the Minister of the Colonies. In the end, he was indeed given a mission (i.e., to travel and collect as many specimens as he could for the museum). This does not seem to have been a real long term 'post' or position, thus. I don't think this really made him "an official" either.

So he went, and travelled across Africa for 19 months, starting from Mombassa on the Indian Ocean in Feb 1912, and ending in Banana on the Atlantic in Sep 1913. Then he presumably sailed back to Belgium, delivered the specimens, and wrote his book.

It may be that he returned around 1921, even if I would prefer to see more evidence before being fully affirmative.
(The document you found were he is mentioned with the date 1921 is an inventory of papers kept in an archive at the museum. For him, this archive appears to have included a box, with a set of maps dated 1908-1921 and a drawing of an itinerary dated 1921. What this means about what he did at this date may not be fully clear, however -- in particular, he (or even someone else) could in principle have produced a drawing, in 1921, of an itinerary he had followed in 1913. On the other hand, the localities that are listed for the "1921" itinerary seem significantly away from the 1912-13 itinerary as mapped in his book; thus it might indeed be another mission.)
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Ok, thanks Laurent, helpful as ever :t: ... thereby this somewhat failed "strech" of mine didn´t lead us much furter ... simply into (fl.1913), and only possibly into 1921.

Well, well, a tiny, tiny step forward ... better than nothing.
André Pilette do seems to have been alive in 1921!

In "IX-X" (September-October) 1921, a certain "A. Pilette, M.R.C.B" collected a specimen of the wasp Sphex nigrohirtus (in Sphecidae) ... see; here (p.11). Surely the abbreviation M.R.C.B must be Musée Royal du Congo Belge ... ?

It ought to be him, doesn´t it?

And he probably was still going strong even a few years later than that, well into the 1920's ... !

See this specimen of the Moth "Metarctia flavivena"; here (bottom page). And how about this link?

At least he seems to have been in Katanga, Congo, in 1923, here and here (p.24)

Well, thats all I can find on Mr Pilette. I'm done on this one.

Take it for what it´s worth!

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The Eponym Dictionary of Birds claims:
Crossley's Ground Thrush ssp. Zoothera crossleyi pilettei Schouteden, 1918
Dusky Crimsonwing ssp. Cryptospiza jacksoni pilettei Schouteden, 1918 NCR; NRM
André Pilette (DNF) was a Belgian hunter and collector in the Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). He wrote À Travers l'Afrique Équatoriale (1914).

But of course do not solve his life dates.
Could it be that the major problem was we had the wrong first name? Here

Alfred Pilette (1866-1927)

I admit it does say

Dès décembre 1892, il repart en Afrique, pour le compte, cette fois, de la société qui l'a engagé en qualité d'agent commercial.
Rentré en Belgique en septembre 1895, il repart le 6 février suivant pour un troisième séjour au Congo. Toujours au service de la
Société du Haut-Congo, il devient gravement malade en juillet 1898 et quitte alors définitivement l'Afrique.

But everything else fits. Think it's perfectly conceivable that he came back to Africa after his illness as a semi-retired adventurer.


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Nothing new, just a (somewhat late) confirmation of the years of Mr Pilette (as given by Paul in post #7) ...

In TYPE SPECIMENS OF BIRDS IN THE ROYAL MUSEUM FOR CENTRAL AFRICA, TERVUREN, by Louette, Meirte, Louage & Reygel (2010, Revised Edition, here), ... we find the following text [my blue and bolds], in the Introduction/Preface (p.7):
Biographical information of some of the other early remarkable Belgian bird collectors for the RMCA in the Belgian colonies (at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century) can be found in publications by the ‘Commission de la Biographie Coloniale Belge’ later ‘Commission de la Biographie Belge d’Outre-mer’ (1948-1998): Cpt. A. Cabra 1862-1932 [vol. III: 105], Ch. de la Kéthulle 1865-1903 [vol. I: 573], Col. H. Hackars 1881-1940 [vol. IV: 366], Cdt. P. Nahan 1867-1930 [vol. II: 729], A. Pillette [sic!] 1866-1927 [vol. IV: 704], Gal. E. Storms 1846-1918 [vol. I: 899], J. M. Vrydagh 1905-1962 [vol. VIIA: 482], Lt. A. Weyns 1854-1944 [vol. IV: 943]. Undoubtedly, other biographical sources exist, e.g. for L. Burgeon 1884-1947 [vol. VI: 147], see also de Witte (1949), for G. F. de Witte 1897-1980, see Misonne (1980), for Cdt. Henry Pauwels, a famous collector of Gorilla gorilla, see Van Schuylenbergh (2006: 331).

But, note that the "A. Pilette" spelling/version (with single-l) is far more common (on the labels mentioned) in the same Paper (for example/s, see pp. 146, 199, 268, etc., etc.). "Our Bird" Cryptospiza jacksoni pilettei SCHOUTEDEN, 1918 is found on p.251.

Thus, at this point, if nothing else turns up, I'd stick to: A. [Alfred] Pilette (1866–1927).

Also note that the following guys, mentioned in the same Preface, were equally commemorated in various Bird names:
  • "Cpt. A. Cabra 1862-1932 [vol. III: 105]" (cabrae)
  • "Ch. de la Kéthulle 1865-1903 [vol. I: 573]" (kethullei)
  • [...]
  • "Cdt. P. Nahan 1867-1930 [vol. II: 729]" (nahani)
  • [...]
  • "Gal. E. Storms 1846-1918 [vol. I: 899]" (stormsi)
  • [...]
  • "Lt. A. Weyns 1854-1944 [vol. IV: 943]" (weynsi)
  • [...]
  • "G. F. de Witte 1897-1980, ..." (dewittei)
  • "Cdt. Henry Pauwels, ... " (pauwelsi)

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