John Walter Soper
John Walter-Soper (popularly known as Jack Soper) was a Londoner born in October 1876, came to Southern Rhodesia via South Africa and settled in Victoria Falls in 1905 where he got his first job as a toll collector at the Victoria Falls Bridge.
In 1906, the toll on the bridge was abolished and he resorted to being the guard at the scenic bridge. In 1908, his friend, Mr Watson took him to Australia considering that he would brighten his life prospects.
Alas, in 1909 he was back in Victoria Falls and started developing interest in trapping wild animals and domesticating them; baboons, leopards and crocodiles mainly. He was an expert in crocodile habits which saw him dubbed the ‘Crocodile King’. In 1910, he opened a curio shop within the Railway Reserve next to Clark’s Curios.
Soper, together with another resident, is recorded as among the first to descend into the bottom of the Falls chasm down the front face of the Falls, at Livingstone Island. He was a close friend of Ted Spencer. He died in 1953.
- National Archives of Zimbabwe Newsletter Vol.2 Issue 3