He belonged to the last generation of such elephant hunter professionals as elephant numbers were already in serious decline by 1900. He worked all over Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, the Congo and Malawi. In 1912 he published The Adventures of an Elephant Hunter, in which he made numerous references to his “heavy .577” which he acquired in 1906.
The .577 double-barrelled, detachable lock, ejector rifle was then capable of delivering 7,000 lbs of energy - more than enough to stop a charging elephant in its tracks. Mr Sutherland wrote of his Westley Richards rifle: “After experimenting with and using all kinds of rifles, I find the most effective to be the double .577 with a 750 grains bullet and a charge in axite powder equivalent to a hundred grains of cordite. The heavier double-barrelled .600 bore rifle, with a bullet weighing 900 grains, lacks the penetration of the .577, while its weight (16 lbs. against 13 lbs. of the latter) renders it a much more awkward weapon to handle.
I think the superiority of the .577 over the .450 and .500 rifles, will be evident when I state that I have lost elephants with these two last rifles, while I have bagged others with identical shots from a .577.” He wrote to the company: “I am sending you my double .577 and .318 rifles to be cleaned. Perhaps it may interest you to know that I have shot 322 males, out of a total of 477 elephants . . .233 of these fell to the above .577. I think you will find the rifles as good as ever.”
Mr Sutherland served twice in the British army in Africa in 1905-06 and, then again, during the First World War as an intelligence officer, returning to hunting after the war. He wrote in 1910 of his admiration for the Westley Richards ‘one trigger’ mechanism: “The double .577 rifle is still acting perfectly as when I got it about three years ago. I have shot 120 male elephants with it to date. The one trigger is beyond praise. I would never go back to the old two trigger for worlds. It is so quick especially when in thick bush, and a second shot has to be fired rapidly.”
Poisoned by members of the Azandi tribe in 1929, he survived, though part paralysed, to continue hunting until he died aged sixty, in the Ubangi Shari, in Southern Sudan in 1932. One of Mr Sutherland’s favoured Westley Richards guns, sold recently at Bonhams for £66,000, had also been later owned by his friend and fellow professional hunter, Major G.H. ‘Andy’ Anderson, who accompanied the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) on safari in 1924. Major Anderson wrote African Safaris (1946), which includes accounts of hunting alongside Sutherland.