Austin Roberts

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Austin Roberts

Austin Roberts (3 January 1883 – 5 May 1948) was a South African zoologist. He is best known for his Birds of South Africa, first published in 1940. He also studied the mammalian fauna of the region: his work The mammals of South Africa was published posthumously in 1951. The 7th edition of Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa which appeared in 2005, is the standard work on the region's birds.


Roberts, son of a church minister Alfred Roberts and flower painter Marianne Fannin, was born in Pretoria and grew up in Potchefstroom, South Africa. He gained much of his early knowledge of zoology from Thomas Ayres (1828–1913), one of South Africa's first amateur ornithologists. Roberts was employed by the Transvaal Museum from 1910 to 1946. From this base he studied the birds and mammals of South Africa. To further research, he established a collection of ca. 30,000 bird and 13,000 mammal specimens at the museum. He was author of several manuscripts and articles in scientific publications. In 1935 the University of Pretoria awarded him an honorary doctorate degree. Austin Roberts died on 5 May 1948 in a motor car accident in the Transkei region.

The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Pretoria is named in his honour.


  • The Mammals of South Africa. Johannesburg 1951–54 (p. m.)
  • Our South African Birds (Ons Suid-Afrikaanse voëls). Cape Times, Cape Town 1941.
  • The Birds of South Africa. H.F.&G.Witherby Ltd., London, 1940.[1]
  • Museums, higher vertebrate zoology and their relationship to human affairs. Pretoria 1935.
  • "Descriptions of some new mammals [and] Some notes on birds and description of new sub-species 1919" [2]


See also


  1. Roberts, Austin; Trustees of the South African Bird Book Fund (1940), The birds of South Africa, Witherby, retrieved 13 August 2014<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Roberts, Austin (1919), Descriptions of some new mammals [and] Some notes on birds and descriptions of new sub-species, University Press, print, retrieved 13 August 2014<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>