Henry Cushier Raven (1889-1944) born today in 1889, worked primarily on the distribution of animals in East Asia, the study of sperm and beaked whales, and the comparative anatomy of primates, especially gorillas. In 1912, the Smithsonian Institution and William Louis Abbott were looking for a young collector and explorer to carry on Abbott's work in the East Indies. Hearing good reports regarding Raven, they hired him, and he spent most of the next six years in the islands. His travels in the Pacific took him to Borneo, the Celebes, and the Moluccas. Below is an excerpt from “Field journal of Henry Cushier Raven in Singapore, Java and Borneo and vicinity, dated 22 February 1912 to 2 November 1914” explaining how he procured a specimen during these years.
As a matter of habit when I am near the water I am continually on the watch for the eyes of crocodiles which with a reflector lamp look like red fire. Just as I was boarding the prahn I caught sight of one up stream a few yards. Tambie got his fish harpoon and we paddled to within ten feet of the brute when just as it went to draw down into the water, Tambie speared its neck. There was a swirl of water and a splash or two and we began to be towed up stream. The line to which the dart was fastened was heavy fish cord but very strong. After being towed about ^[] yards, we began to drift down again and finally to come down stream quickly and then upon reaching the place from where we had started, the animal suddenly bit the cord and we lost the dart of the spear and 15 yards of line.
With another spear we paddled up stream for about a mile where we came upon a crocodile at the edge of the water. From the way the eye looked I had taken it to be a small one until within 15 feet I saw its body. I whispered to the men to "undor" (paddle) backwards but the animal heard me speak & turned around, but just as it did so I shot it in the neck and it floundered & splashed at a great rate. We harpooned it and towed it down stream. It is a narrow snouted one & good for its skeleton.
Curious to learn more? Check out his field books on Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center, the PDF of this field book at Smithsonian’s Transcription Center, and publications on Biodiversity Heritage Library.