Brian Houghton Hodgson and Mammals

For almost 40 years Brian Houghton Hodgson studied the mammals of Nepal and Darjeeling and discovered 22 new mammal species. The manuscripts contain information about the type specimens for these new species, some of these detail are unpublished making the information contained incredibly useful. The type specimens are those on which the species description is based.

He described the distribution, behaviour and anatomy of the new species and many other mammals. Providing such details about behaviour and distribution was unusual at that time but it does mean that the manuscripts and drawings are incredibly useful today in providing information to compare the current distributions and monitor how these may have changed. Amazingly he also recorded some migration details as well.

As well as being so informative and potentially useful, the drawings are delightful with their own charm and beauty. Do enjoy the few images below and look at the scans the whole of his two volumes on mammals in our online catalogue.

Our library's top 5 Hodgson mammal drawings

Hodgson mammals GIF

Additional information about the volumes on mammals

Roberta Davis, a ZSL Fellow has been volunteering in the Library and has transcribed some of the  pages of Volume 1 of mammals as a taster to give an indication of the contents. Please view the draft of Roberta's draft transcriptions of Volume 1 of Mammals.

The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust has provided funding for the conservation and digitisation of Volume 1 of Mammals. You can view the scans of this volume in the Library catalogue. Use our index for Hodgson's mammal manuscripts to find the pages for particular species or simply browse through the pages.

Volume 2 of mammals has been conserved and repaired with funding from the Mercers’ Company and the Leche Trust. The digital version can be searched from our online catalogue.

Carol Inskipp (author of A Himalayan ornithologist: the life and works of Brian Houghton Hodgson) copied all the Hodgson notes in English on the drawings of birds and mammals in the 1980s. With Carol’s help we have transcribed these into electronic format. Use our index for Hodgson's mammal manuscripts to help you locate information about particular mammals in the scans. 

Status of Nepal's mammals: the national red list 2012 is illustrated with some of the mammal drawings.


Information for this page has been obtained from: Brian Hodgson and the mammals and other animals of Nepal by Ann Datta, pp. 154-171 in The origins of Himalayan studies: Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal and Darjeeling 1820-1858 / edited by David M. Waterhouse, London: Routledge Curzon, 2004. (Royal Asiatic Society Books) The author lists mammal first described by Hodgson and some mammal species named after him.

Hodgson manuscripts

If you'd like to view mammal and bird volumes of the Hogdson manuscripts in person, simply arrange an appointment with library staff to see these exciting materials.

Alternatively, you can download volume 1 and 2 of Hodgson's mammal manuscripts from the ZSL library catalogue online.

Hodgson's hidden gems

‘Further Illustrations of the Antilope Hodgsonii, Abel’ and ‘Description of the Wild Dog of Nepal’, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1833, vol 1, pp. 110-112


The first of these papers adds to Hodgson’s earlier observations about the anatomy, morphology and taxonomy of the Chiru antelope, Antilope Hodgsonii, and the second paper provides a description of the wild dog of Nepal, Canis primaevus, locally named Búánsú, including its appearance, morphology and behaviour.