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Lieutenant Ludwig Ritter von Höhnel (6 August 1857–23 March 1942) was an Austrian naval officer and explorer.

Von Höhnel was the second-in-command of Count Sámuel Teleki Von Szek's expedition to Northern Kenya in 1887-1888. He and Count Teleki were the first Europeans to see Lake Turkana, which they named Lake Rudolf after the expedition's patron Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and Lake Stefanie (named after Prince Rudolf's wife, Princess Stéphanie of Belgium). Von Höhnel acted as the expeditions's cartographer, scientist and diarist. Teleki and von Höhnel made numerous observations on the climate, flora and fauna of the territories visited and collected more than 400 ethnographical objects, most of them from Maasai and Kikuyu tribes. Their observations provided important contribution to ethnographical knowledge. The scientific results of the journey were published by Höhnel in several articles and in a book written in German and translated into Hungarian and English, entitled The discovery of Lakes Rudolf and Stefanie.

Von Höhnel explored the territory in the vicinity of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1892 with American magnate William Astor Chanler, exploring the north-eastern part of the Mount Kenya massif and the Guasso Nyiro river and was gored by a rhinoceros. Von Höhnel became Emperor's Franz Joseph aide-de-camp in 1899 and later (1905-09) led an official Austro-Hungarian delegation to Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. He also commanded the Austro-Hungarian cruiser "Panther" in a voyage to Australia and Polynesia. Von Höhnel was instrumental in introducing the chamois in New Zealand, negotiating in 1905 6 does and 2 bucks from Neuberg in Austria. They finally arrived in New Zealand on board the “Turakino” in 1907.

Von Höhnel also wrote an autobiography centered on the turbulent years preceding the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, providing insight into African exploration, the Austro-Hungarian Navy and the Habsburg court.


Regarding personal names: Ritter is a title, translated approximately as Knight, not a first or middle name. There is no equivalent female form.



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