The great Russian explorer Nikolay Mikhailovich Przhevalsky (1839-1888) made an indelible contribution to the world’s atlases, and its store of zoological and botanical knowledge, as a consequence of his four arduous and dangerous expeditions through the Central Asia of Western Mongolia, Eastern Turkestan and Northern Tibet.
While the British, French, Germans and others were known for exploring Darkest Africa, Przhevalsky explored Central Asia. He was an avid hunter and a skilled botanist. He described several animal species previously unknown to European science: Przewalski’s horse, Przewalski’s gazelle, and the Wild Bactrian camel, all of which are now endangered.
He never reached his ultimate goal, the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet, due to the Tibetans’ distrust of all foreigners. His attempt caught the interest of the British in India.
He mounted four major expeditions in the 1870s and 1880s under the auspices of the Russian Imperial Geographical Society. He wrote several books about his experiences at least one of which was translated into English, “Travels in Mongolia in the Tangut Country, and the Solitudes of Northern Thibet, 1870-’73.”