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Title: African Nature Notes and Reminiscences
Author: Selous, Frederick Courteney
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "African Nature Notes and Reminiscences" ***

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  =A HUNTER'S WANDERINGS IN AFRICA.= Nine Years amongst the Game of
     the Far Interior of South Africa. By FREDERICK COURTENEY SELOUS.
     Illustrated. Fifth Edition. 7s. 6d. net.


     Illustrations and Map. 25s. net.

  =SUNSHINE AND STORM IN RHODESIA.= Fully Illustrated, with Map. 10s.
     6d. net.












African Nature Notes














The chapters comprised in the present volume were written at various
times during the last ten years. Some of them have already appeared in
print in the pages of the _Field, Land and Water_, and other papers,
but the majority have remained in manuscript until now. The greatest
part of the matter in the chapters on the "Lion" was written some
years ago, and was intended to be the commencement of a book dealing
entirely with the life-history of South African mammals. When, however,
I was asked by Mr. Rowland Ward to contribute to a book he was about
to publish on the _Great and Small Game of Africa_, all the articles
in which would be written by men who had personally studied the habits
of the animals they described, I gave up the idea of myself writing a
less comprehensive work on similar lines, and became one of the chief
contributors to Mr. Ward's large and valuable publication.

My manuscript notes on the lion and some other animals were then
consigned to the seclusion of a drawer in my study, from which they
would probably never again have emerged had it not been for the fact
that during the autumn of 1905 I had the honour to be the guest of
President Roosevelt at the White House in Washington.

I found that President Roosevelt's knowledge of wild animals was not
confined to the big game of North America, with which he has made
himself so intimately acquainted by long personal experience, but that
he also possessed a most comprehensive acquaintance with the habits
of the fauna of the whole world, derived from the careful study of
practically every book that has been written on the subject.

In the course of conversation, President Roosevelt remarked that he
wished I would bring out another book, adding to the natural history
notes which I had already written on the big game of South Africa;
and on my telling him that I had some manuscript notes on the lion
and other animals which I had once intended to publish, but had
subsequently put on one side, he requested me to let him see them.
On my return to England I at once posted these articles to President
Roosevelt, who was kind enough to say that he had found them so
interesting that he earnestly hoped I would add to them and bring
out another book. Thus encouraged, I set about the revision of all
my recent writings dealing with the natural history of South African
animals which had not been published in book form, and after arranging
them in chapters, sent the whole of the manuscript to President
Roosevelt, at the same time asking him to be good enough to look
through them, if he could find the time to do so, and telling him that
if he thought them of sufficient interest to publish in the form of a
book, how much I should appreciate it, if he were able to write me a
few lines by way of introduction, since the publication of the book
would be entirely due to the kind encouragement and inspiration I had
received from himself. This request met with a most kind and generous
response, for which I shall ever feel most grateful, for, in the
midst of all his multifarious and harassing public duties, President
Roosevelt contrived to find the time to write an introduction to my
book, which adds to it a most interesting and valuable chapter.

The title I have given to my book, _African Nature Notes and
Reminiscences_, though it perhaps lacks terseness, nevertheless
exactly describes its scope, and although the chapters dealing with
the "Tse-tse" Fly and the subject of Protective Coloration and the
Influence of Environment on large mammals may have no interest except
for a small number of naturalists, I trust that much of the matter
contained in the remaining seventeen articles will appeal to a much
wider public.

I must once more acknowledge my indebtedness to President Roosevelt,
not only for the very interesting "Foreword" he has contributed to this
book, but also for the constant encouragement he has given me during
its preparation.

My best thanks are also due to Mr. Max C. Fleischmann of Cincinnati for
the very remarkable account which will be found at the end of Chapter
X. of the struggle between a crocodile and a rhinoceros, of which he
was an eye-witness; as well as to my friend Mr. E. Caldwell for the
great pains he has taken to render the ten illustrations emanating from
his able pencil as lifelike as possible.

As it is possible that some of those who may glance through this book
may be versed in South African languages, and may remark that I have
sometimes represented the Masarwa Bushmen as speaking in the Sechwana
language, and at others in the dialect spoken by the Matabele, it may
perhaps be as well to explain that whilst the greater part of the
Bushmen living between the Limpopo and the Zambesi were the serfs of
Bechwana masters, a few of those living near the western border of
Matabeleland had become the vassals of certain Matabele headmen, by
whom they were employed as hunters and trappers. Besides their own
language--which is almost impossible of acquirement by a European--all
the Bushmen I ever met spoke that of their masters as well. This was
usually Sechwana, but sometimes Sintabele--the language of the Matabele

                                F. C. SELOUS.

    _Dec. 31, 1907_.


Mr. Selous is the last of the big-game hunters of South Africa; the
last of the mighty hunters whose experiences lay in the greatest
hunting ground which this world has seen since civilized man has
appeared therein. There are still many happy hunting grounds to be
found by adventure-loving wilderness wanderers of sufficient hardihood
and prowess; and in Central Africa the hunting grounds are of a
character to satisfy the most exacting hunter of to-day. Nevertheless,
they none of them quite equal South Africa as it once was, whether
as regards the extraordinary multitude of big-game animals, the
extraordinary variety of the species, or the bold attraction of the
conditions under which the hunting was carried on.

Mr. Selous is much more than a mere big-game hunter, however; he is by
instinct a keen field naturalist, an observer with a power of seeing,
and of remembering what he has seen; and finally he is a writer who
possesses to a very marked and unusual degree the power vividly and
accurately to put on paper his observations. Such a combination of
qualities is rare indeed, and the lack of any one of them effectually
prevents any man from doing work as valuable as Mr. Selous has done.
No ordinary naturalist fills the place at all. Big game exists only in
the remote wilderness. Throughout historic time it has receded steadily
before the advance of civilized man, and now the retrogression--or,
to be more accurate, the extermination--is going on with appalling
rapidity. The ordinary naturalist, if he goes into the haunts of
big game, is apt to find numerous small animals of interest, and he
naturally devotes an altogether disproportionate share of his time to
these. Yet such time is almost wasted; for the little animals, and
especially the insects and small birds, remain in the land long after
the big game has vanished, and can then be studied at leisure by hosts
of observers. The observation of the great beasts of the marsh and
the mountain, the desert and the forest, must be made by those hardy
adventurers who, unless explorers by profession, are almost certainly
men to whom the chase itself is a dominant attraction. But the great
majority of these hunters have no power whatever of seeing accurately.
There is no fonder delusion than the belief that the average old hunter
knows all about the animals of the wilderness. The Bushman may; but,
as Mr. Selous has shown, neither the average English, Boer, nor Kafir
hunter in South Africa does; and neither does the white or Indian
hunter in North America. Any one who doubts this can be referred to
what Mr. Selous has elsewhere said concerning the rhinoceroses of South
Africa and the astounding misinformation about them which the average
South African hunter of every type believed and perpetuated; and in my
own experience I have found that most white and Indian hunters in the
Rocky Mountains are just as little to be trusted when, for instance,
they speak of the grizzly bear and the cougar--two animals which always
tend to excite their imaginations. Finally, the few accurate observers
among the men who have seen much of big game are apt wholly to lack the
power of expression, and this means that their knowledge can benefit
no one. The love of nature, the love of outdoor life, is growing in
our race, and it is well that it should grow. Therefore we should prize
exceedingly all contributions of worth to the life-histories of the
great, splendid, terrible beasts whose lives add an immense majesty
to the far-off wilds, and who inevitably pass away before the onrush
of the greedy, energetic, forceful men, usually both unscrupulous and
short-sighted, who make up the vanguard of civilization.

Mr. Selous has hunted in many parts of the world, but his most
noteworthy experiences were in Africa, south of the Zambezi, when the
dry uplands, and the valleys of the dwindling rivers, and the thick
coast jungle belt, still held a fauna as vast and varied as that of
the Pleistocene. Mighty hunters, Dutch and English, roamed hither and
thither across the land on foot and on horseback, alone, or guiding
the huge white-topped ox-wagons; several among their number wrote with
power and charm of their adventures; and at the very last the man arose
who could tell us more of value than any of his predecessors.

Mr. Selous by his observations illustrates the great desirability of
having the views of the closet naturalist tested by competent field
observers. In a previous volume he has effectively answered those
amiable closet theorists who once advanced the Rousseau-like belief
that in the state of nature hunted creatures suffered but little from
either pain or terror; the truth being that, in the easy conditions
of civilized life, we hardly even conceive of pain and horror as they
were in times primeval; while it is only in nightmares that we now
realize the maddened, hideous terror which our remote ancestors so
often underwent, and which is a common incident in the lives of all
harmless wild creatures. In the first two chapters of the present
volume, Mr. Selous' remarks on the fallacy of much of the theory of
protective coloration are excellent. The whole subject is one fraught
with difficulty and deserving of far more careful study than has ever
yet been given it. That the general pattern of coloration, so to speak,
of birds and mammals of the snowy North as compared to the South, of
a dry desert as compared to a wet forest region, is due to the effect
of the environment I have no question; and Mr. Selous' observations
and arguments show that the protective theory has been ridiculously
overworked in trying to account for coloration like that of the
zebra and giraffe, for instance; but there is much that as yet it is
difficult to explain.

The most conspicuous colors of nature, for instance, are, under
ordinary circumstances, black and white. Yet we continually find
black, and sometimes white, animals thriving as well as their more
dull-colored compeers under conditions that certainly seem as if they
ought to favor the latter. The white goat of the Rocky Mountains may
be helped by its coloration in winter, but in summer its white coat
advertises its presence to every man or beast within range of vision,
and this at the very time when the little white kids are most in need
of protection. Eagles are formidable foes of these little kids, and
undoubtedly their white color is a disadvantage to them in the struggle
for existence, when they are compared with the dull-colored lambs
of the mountain sheep of the same general habitat. The sheep tend
to become mainly or entirely white at the northern portion of their
range--thereby becoming exceedingly conspicuous in summer--but change
to grays and browns from the semi-Arctic regions southward. The goats,
however, remain white everywhere.

Again, birds and mammals of the far North tend to be white, but one
of the typical far northern birds is the jet black raven. It is hard
to believe that the color of the snowy owl assists it in getting
its prey, or that its color hampers the raven. The northern weasels
and northern hares of America both turn white in winter. Thru most
of their range the various species of these weasels and hares exist
side by side with the close kinsmen of the weasel, the mink and the
sable, and at the southern boundary of their range side by side with
the small gray rabbits; none of which change their color any more than
the lynx and fox do, and yet in the struggle for life seem to be put
to no disadvantage thereby. The Arctic hare changes color as does the
ptarmigan. The ordinary snow-shoe rabbits and jack-rabbits of the woods
and plains south of the Arctic hare region also change their color;
but the grouse which inhabit the same woods or open plains, such as
the ruffed, the sharp-tailed and the spruce, unlike their northern
kinsman, the ptarmigan, undergo no seasonal change. Around my ranch
on the Little Missouri, the jack-rabbits all turned white in winter;
the little cotton-tail rabbits did not; yet as far as I could see both
species were equally at home and fared equally well.

When a boy, shooting on the edges of the desert in Egypt, I was imprest
with the fact that the sand grouse, rosy bullfinches, sand larks and
sand chats all in the coloration of their upper parts harmonized
strikingly with the surroundings, while the bold black and white
chats were peculiarly noticeable, and yet as far as I could see held
their own as well in the struggle for existence. But as regards the
first-named birds it seemed to me at the time that their coloration was
probably protective, for in the breeding season the males of some of
them showed striking colors, but always underneath, where they would
not attract the attention of foes.

Mr. Selous also shows that the "signal" or "mutual recognition"
theory of coloration has been at the least carried to an extreme by
closet naturalists. The prongbuck of North America has the power
of erecting the glistening white hairs on its rump until it looks
like a chrysanthemum; but there seems scarcely any need of this as
a signal; for prongbucks live out on the bare plains, never seek to
avoid observation, are very conspicuous beasts, and have eyes like
telescopes, so that one of them can easily see another a mile or
two off. According to my experience--but of course the experience
of any one man is of limited value, and affords little ground for
generalization--the "chrysanthemum" is shown when the beast is much
aroused by curiosity or excitement.

Mr. Selous' chapters on the lion possess a peculiar interest, for they
represent without any exception the best study we have of the great,
tawny, maned cat. No one observer can possibly cover the entire ground
in a case such as this, for individual animals differ markedly from one
another in many essential traits, and all the animals of one species
in one locality sometimes differ markedly from all the animals of the
same species in another locality (as I have myself found, in some
extraordinary particulars, in the case of the grizzly bear). Therefore,
especially with a beast like the lion, one of the most interesting of
all beasts, it is necessary for the naturalist to have at hand the
observations of many different men; but no other single observer has
left a record of the lion of such value to the naturalist as Mr. Selous.

One of the most interesting of Mr. Selous' chapters is that containing
his notes on wild dogs, on hunting hounds, and on cheetahs. Especially
noteworthy are his experiences in actually running down and overtaking
by sheer speed of horse and hound both the wild dog and the cheetah.
These experiences are literally inexplicable with our present
knowledge; and therefore it is all the more valuable to have them
recorded, Mr. Selous' own account of the speed of wild dogs and the
statements of many competent observers about cheetahs--as for instance,
of that mighty hunter, Sir Samuel Baker--make it clear that under
ordinary circumstances both wild dogs and cheetahs, when running after
their game, go at a speed far surpassing that of a horse. Yet in these
instances given by Mr. Selous, he and his companions with their camp
dogs once fairly ran down a pack of wild dogs; and twice he fairly
ran down full-grown cheetahs. In the last case it is possible that
the hunted cheetah, not at first realizing his danger, did not put
forth his full speed at the beginning, and, not being a long-winded
animal, was exhausted and unable to spurt when he really discovered his
peril. But with the hunting dogs it is hard to imagine any explanation
unless they were gorged with food. In coursing wolves with greyhounds,
I have noticed that the dogs will speedily run into even an old dog
wolf, if he is found lying by a carcase on which he has feasted, under
conditions which would almost certainly have insured his escape if
he had been in good running trim. I once saw a cougar, an old male,
jump from a ledge of rock surrounded by hounds and come down hill for
several hundred yards thru the snow. The hounds started almost on even
terms with him, but he drew away from them at once, and when he reached
the bottom of the hill, was a good distance ahead; but by this time
he had shot his bolt, and after going up hill for a very few yards
he climbed into a low evergreen tree, which I reached almost as soon
as the hounds. His lungs were then working like bellows, and it was
obvious he could have gone no distance further.

The book of nature has many difficult passages, and some of them seem
mutually contradictory. It is a good thing to have capable observers
who can record faithfully what they find therein, and who are not in
the least afraid of putting down two observations which are in seeming
conflict. Allied species often differ so radically in their habits
that, with our present knowledge, not even a guess can be made as to
the reason for the difference; this makes it all the more necessary
that there should be a multitude of trustworthy observations. Mr.
Selous points out, for instance, the extraordinary difference in
pugnacity between the fighting roan and sable antelopes, on the one
hand, and on the other, the koodoo and the mild eland. There is quite
as great difference between far more closely allied species, or even
between individuals of one species in one place and those of the same
species in another place. Sometimes the reasons for the difference are
apparent; all carnivores in India, with its dense, feeble population,
would at times naturally take to man-killing. In other cases, at least
a guess may be hazarded. The wolf of America has never been dangerous
to man, as his no larger or more formidable brother of Asia and Europe
has been from time immemorial; yet the difference may be accounted for
by the difference of environment. But it is hard to say why the cougar,
which is just about the size of the great spotted cats, and which preys
on practically the same animals, should not be dangerous to man, while
they are singularly formidable fighters when at bay. The largest cougar
I ever killed was eight feet long and weighed over two hundred pounds.
Very few African leopards or Indian panthers would surpass these
measurements, and this particular animal had been preying not only on
deer, but on horses and cattle; yet I killed him with no danger to
myself, under circumstances which would probably have insured a charge
from one of the big spotted cats of Africa or Asia, or, for the matter
of that, from a South American jaguar. And by the way, in reading of
the ravages committed by leopards among the hounds of the sport-loving
planters of Ceylon, it has always seemed to me strange that these
planters did not turn the tables on the aggressors by training packs
especially to hunt them. Such a pack as that with which I have hunted
the cougar and the black bear in the Rocky Mountains would, I am sure,
give a good account of any leopard or panther that ever lived. All that
would be needed would be a good pack of trained hounds and six or eight
first-class fighting dogs in order, as I thoroughly believe, completely
to clear out the leopard from any given locality.

Mr. Selous' notes on the Cape buffalo and tsetse fly are extremely
interesting. But indeed this is true of all that he has written,
both of the great game beasts themselves and of his adventures in
hunting them. His book is a genuine contribution alike to hunting
lore and to natural history. It should be welcomed by every lover of
the chase and by every man who cares for the wild, free life of the
wilderness. It should be no less welcome to all who are interested in
the life-histories of the most formidable and interesting of the beasts
that dwell in our world to-day.

                              THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

      _May 23, 1907_.




  Harmony of colour in nature--Theory of protective coloration--Sexual
     selection--Conspicuous colours not harmful--The influence of
     environment--The leucoryx--The Barbary sheep--The Sardinian
     moufflon--African butterflies--Coloration of the musk ox
     and caribou--Arctic hares and foxes--Coloration of mammals
     in the Yukon Territory--The chamois in winter--Examples of
     conspicuous coloration in African mammals--Colour not always
     protective--Carnivorous animals usually hunt by scent--Wild
     dogs and wolves--Wild dog and sable antelope--Sense of smell
     in herbivorous animals--Sight of antelopes--Experience with
     waterbuck--Dull sight of caribou--Demeanour of wild animals when
     alarmed--Small antelopes--Lions--Large antelopes--Difficulty of
     seeing wild animals sometimes exaggerated--Powers of sight of
     Bushmen--Colour not protective against animals which hunt by
     night and by scent--Animals in motion easy to see--Restlessness
     of wild animals--Lions attacking bullocks--Zebras the principal
     prey of lions since the disappearance of buffaloes--Appearance of
     zebras--Undoubtedly conspicuous animals in open country--Zebras
     by moonlight--Strong smell of zebras--Conspicuous antelopes in
     East Africa--Effect of the juxtaposition of black and white--Bold
     coloration of the sable antelope                         Pages 1-23



  Occasional resemblance of African mammals to natural
     objects--Hartebeests--Elephants--Giraffes--Coloration of
     the Somali giraffe--Giraffes not in need of a protective
     coloration--Koodoos and sable antelopes--Acute sense of hearing
     in the moose--Possible explanation of large size of ears in
     the African tragelaphine antelopes--Coloration of bushbucks,
     situtungas, and inyalas--Leopards the only enemies of the
     smaller bush-haunting antelopes--Recognition marks--Must render
     animals conspicuous to friend and foe alike--Ranges of allied
     species of antelopes seldom overlap--Hybridisation sometimes
     takes place--Wonderful coloration of the bontebok--Coloration
     distinctly conspicuous and therefore not protective--Recognition
     marks unnecessary--Coloration of the blesbok--The blesbok
     merely a duller coloured bontebok--Difference in the habitat
     of the two species--The coloration of both species may be due
     to the influence of their respective environments--The weak
     point in the theory of protective coloration when applied to
     large mammals--Hares and foxes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic
     regions--The efficacy of colour protection at once destroyed by
     movement--Buffaloes and lions--General conclusions regarding the
     theory of protective coloration as applied to large mammals
                                                             Pages 24-43



  The lion--Native names for--Character of--Death of Ponto--Picture in
     Gordon Cumming's book--Death of Hendrik--Number of natives killed
     by lions--Usual mode of seizure--A trooper's adventure--Poisonous
     nature of lion's bite--Story of the Tsavo man-eaters--Death of
     Mr. Ryall--Story of the tragedy--Precautions by natives against
     lions--Remains of a lion's victim found--Four women killed--Lion
     killed--Carcase burned--Story of the Majili man-eater--Man-eating
     lions usually old animals--Strength of lions--Large ox killed
     by single lion--Buffaloes killed by lions--Ox slowly killed by
     family of lions--Lions usually silent when attacking and killing
     their prey--Camp approached by three lions--Various ways of
     killing game--Favourite food of lions--Giraffes rarely killed
     by lions--Evidence as to lions attacking elephants--Michael
     Engelbreght's story--Mr. Arnot's letter describing the killing of
     an elephant cow by six lions                            Pages 44-66


  NOTES ON THE LION (_continued_)

  Depredations of lions in Mashunaland--Sad death of Mr. Teale--Great
     slaughter of pigs by a lioness--Mode of entering a cattle
     kraal--Method of killing prey--Sharpness of lion's claws--Mode of
     seizing a horse in motion--Lion chasing koodoos--Lions lying in
     wait for oxen--How a lion charges--Black Jantje's story--Numbing
     effect of lion's bite--Cruelty in nature--Appearance of wild
     lions--Colour of eyes--Lions at bay--A crouching lion--A lucky
     shot--The cat a lion in miniature--A danger signal--Social habits
     of lions--Troops of lions--Lions on the Mababi plain--Difference
     between cubs of one litter--Individual differences in lions--Great
     variation in the development of the mane--Lion probably first
     evolved in a cold climate--Still found in Europe in the time of
     Herodotus--Effect of cold on growth of lion's mane      Pages 67-84


  NOTES ON THE LION (_concluded_)

  Method of opening a carcase--Removal of paunch and entrails--Lions
     skilful butchers--Paunch and entrails not usually eaten--Lions
     not bone-eaters--Will eat putrid meat--Will sometimes devour
     their own kind--Number of cubs at birth--Check on inordinate
     increase of carnivorous animals--The lion's roar--Diversity
     of opinion concerning its power--Probable explanation--Volume
     of sound when several lions roar in unison--A nerve-shaking
     experience--Lions silent when approaching their prey--Roar after
     killing--And in answer to one another--Lions only roar freely in
     undisturbed districts--Lions essentially game-killers--But change
     their habits with circumstances--Killing lions with spear and
     shield--Bambaleli's splendid courage--Lions killed by Bushmen with
     poisoned arrows--Behaviour of domestic animals in the presence of
     lions--Cattle sometimes terrified, at other times show no fear
                                                             Pages 85-97



  Character of hyænas--Contrasted with that of wolves--Story
     illustrating the strength and audacity of a spotted hyæna--How a
     goat was seized and carried off--A mean trick--Boldness of hyænas
     near native villages--More suspicious in the wilderness--Very
     destructive to native live stock--Will sometimes enter native
     huts--Giving an old woman to the hyænas--How the smelling out
     of witches benefited the hyænas--"Come out, missionary, and
     give us the witch"--Number of hyænas infesting Matabeleland in
     olden times--Trials for witchcraft in Matabeleland--Food of
     hyænas--Strength of jaws--Charged by a wounded hyæna--Heavy trap
     broken up--Killing hyænas with set guns--Hyæna held by dogs--Hyæna
     attacked by wild dogs--Pace of hyænas--Curious experience on
     the Mababi plain--The hyæna's howl--Rhinoceros calf killed by
     hyænas--Smell of hyænas--Hyæna meat a delicacy--Small cows and
     donkeys easily killed by hyænas--Size and weight of the spotted
     hyæna--Number of whelps                                Pages 98-118



  Wild dogs not very numerous--Hunt in packs--Attack herd of
     buffaloes--First experience with wild dogs--Impala antelope
     killed--Koodoo cow driven into shed--Koodoo driven to
     waggon--Wild dogs not dangerous to human beings--Greatly feared
     by all antelopes--Wild dog pursuing sable antelope--Great pace
     displayed--Wild dogs capable of running down every kind of African
     antelope--General opinion as to the running powers of wild
     dogs--Curious incidents--Chasing wild dogs with tame ones--One
     wild dog galloped over and shot--Two others caught and worried
     by tame dogs--Wild dog shamming dead--Clever escape--Chetahs
     overtaken on horseback--Three chetahs seen--Two females
     passed--Male galloped down--A second chetah overtaken--Great speed
     of trained Indian chetahs--Three chetah cubs found--Brought up by
     bitch                                                 Pages 119-129



  Extinction of the blaauwbok and the true quagga--Threatened
     extermination of the black and white rhinoceros and the buffalo
     in South Africa--Former abundance of game--Scene in the valley
     of Dett witnessed by the author in 1873--Buffaloes protected
     by the Cape Government--But few survivors in other parts of
     South Africa--Abundance of buffaloes in former times--Extent of
     their range--Still plentiful in places up to 1896--The terrible
     epidemic of rinderpest--Character of the African buffalo--A
     matter of individual experience--Comparison of buffalo with the
     lion and elephant--Danger of following wounded buffaloes into
     thick cover--Personal experiences--Well-known sportsman killed
     by a buffalo--Usual action of buffaloes when wounded--Difficult
     to stop when actually charging--The moaning bellow of a dying
     buffalo--Probable reasons for some apparently unprovoked attacks
     by buffaloes--Speed of buffaloes--Colour, texture, and abundance
     of coat at different ages--Abundance of buffaloes along the Chobi
     river--Demeanour of old buffalo bulls--"God's cattle"--Elephants
     waiting for a herd of buffaloes to leave a pool of water before
     themselves coming down to drink                       Pages 130-148



  Connection between buffaloes and tse-tse flies--Sir Alfred Sharpe's
     views--Buffaloes and tse-tse flies both once abundant in the
     valley of the Limpopo and many other districts south of the
     Zambesi, in which both have now become extinct--Permanence
     of all kinds of game other than buffaloes in districts from
     which the tse-tse fly has disappeared--Experience of Mr. Percy
     Reid--Sudden increase of tse-tse flies between Leshuma and
     Kazungula during 1888--Disappearance of the tse-tse fly from
     the country to the north of Lake N'gami after the extermination
     of the buffalo--History of the country between the Gwai and
     Daka rivers--And of the country between the Chobi and the
     Zambesi--Climatic and other conditions necessary to the existence
     of the tse-tse fly--Never found at a high altitude above the
     sea--Nor on open plains or in large reed beds--"Fly" areas usually
     but not always well defined--Tse-tse flies most numerous in hot
     weather--Bite of the tse-tse fly fatal to all domestic animals,
     except native goats and perhaps pigs--Donkeys more resistant to
     tse-tse fly poison than horses or cattle--Tse-tse flies active on
     warm nights--Effect of tse-tse fly bites on human beings
                                                           Pages 149-177



  Character of the black rhinoceros--Its practical extermination in
     South Africa at a very trifling cost to human life--No case
     known to author of a Boer hunter having been killed by a black
     rhinoceros--Accidents to English hunters--Harris's opinion of
     and experiences with the black rhinoceros--Seemingly unnecessary
     slaughter of these animals--Large numbers shot by Oswell and
     Vardon--Divergence of opinion concerning disposition of the two
     so-called different species of black rhinoceroses--Experiences
     of Gordon Cumming, Andersson, and Baldwin with these
     animals--Victims of the ferocity of the black rhinoceros
     extraordinarily few in South Africa--The author's experiences
     with these animals--Sudden rise in the value of short rhinoceros
     horns--Its fatal effect--Dull sight of the black rhinoceros--Keen
     scent--Inquisitiveness--Blind rush of the black rhinoceros when
     wounded--An advancing rhinoceros shot in the head--Author chased
     by black rhinoceroses when on horseback--Curious experience
     near Thamma-Setjie--Black rhinoceroses charging through
     caravans--Coming to camp fires at night--Author's doubts as to the
     extreme ferocity of black rhinoceroses in general--Testimony of
     experienced hunters as to the character of the black rhinoceros
     in the countries north of the Zambesi--Captain Stigand severely
     injured by one of these animals--Experiences of Mr. Vaughan
     Kirby--Extraordinary number of black rhinoceroses in East
     Africa--Experiences of A. H. Neumann and F. J. Jackson with
     these animals--Views of Sir James Hayes-Sadler--Great numbers of
     rhinoceroses lately shot in East Africa without loss of life to
     hunters--Superiority of modern weapons--President Roosevelt's
     letter--Mr. Fleischmann's remarkable account of a combat between
     a rhinoceros and a crocodile--Possible explanation of seeming
     helplessness of the rhinoceros                        Pages 178-204



  Appearance of the giraffe--Not a vanishing species--Immense
     range--Habitat--Native mounted hunters--Destruction of giraffes
     and other game by Europeans--Necessity of restraining native
     hunters--Discussion as to the possibility of the giraffe existing
     for long periods without drinking--Water-conserving tubers--Wild
     water-melons--Habits of elephants after much persecution--Possible
     explanation of the belief that giraffes can dispense with
     water--Giraffes seen in the act of drinking--Giraffes absolutely
     voiceless--Partial to open, park-like country--Difficult
     to approach on foot--Giraffes very keen-scented--Hunting
     giraffes with Bushmen trackers--Exhilarating sport--Pace of
     the giraffe--The easiest way to kill giraffes--Driving wounded
     giraffes to camp--Two curious experiences with giraffes--"Stink
     bulls"--Excellence of the meat of a fat giraffe cow--Height of
     giraffes--Giraffes only occasionally killed by lions--Young
     giraffe attacked by leopards                          Pages 205-221



  The inyala, a rare and beautiful animal--Seldom shot by
     Englishmen--Account of, by Mr. Baldwin--Further observations
     of, by the Hon. W. H. Drummond--Inyala-shooting and fever
     almost synonymous--Distribution of the inyala--Curious antelope
     shot by Captain Faulkner--Start on journey in search of
     inyalas--Reach Delagoa Bay--Meet Mr. Wissels--Voyage to the
     Maputa river--Depredations of locusts--Elephants still found
     in the Matuta district--A quick run up the river--Reach Bella
     Vista--Talk with Portuguese officer--Hippopotamuses seen--Change
     of weather--Longman engages four lady porters--Start for
     Mr. Wissels's station--Sleep at Amatonga kraal--Description
     of people--Cross the Maputa river--Reedbuck shot--Rainy
     weather--Reach Mr. Wissels's station                  Pages 222-238



  Receive information concerning the haunts of the inyala--Heavy
     thunderstorm--Start for Gugawi's kraal--Cross the Usutu
     river--Reach Gugawi's--Go out hunting--Crested guinea-fowl
     seen--Two inyalas shot--Angas's description of the inyala
     antelope--Inyala skins prepared for mounting--Now safe in
     Natural History Museum--A third inyala shot--One missed--Move
     farther up the Usutu river--Country denuded of game--Bushbucks
     scarce--Hippopotamuses in river--Heavy thunderstorm--Two more male
     inyalas shot--Start on return journey to Delagoa Bay--Tedious
     journey--Intense heat--End of trip--Slight attacks of fever
                                                           Pages 239-253



  Number of African antelopes--The eland--Roan and sable antelopes--The
     greater koodoo--Other antelopes--The gemsbuck--Limited
     range--Habitat--Keen sight--Speed and endurance--Chase
     after four gemsbucks--Two shot--Sight of vultures--Oxen
     frightened--Horse wounded by lioness--Gemsbuck bull shot--Visit
     from natives--Gemsbuck and zebras--Gemsbucks ridden to a
     standstill--Fine specimens shot--Length of horns--Character of the
     gemsbuck--Probably unaffected by the rinderpest--Likely to survive
     for long time                                         Pages 254-269



  Contrast between Rhodesia to-day and long ago--The old days the
     best--White rhinoceroses and elephants drinking--A night on the
     Sikumi river--Abundance of big game--A white rhinoceros visits my
     camp--My queerest experience--Meet with two black rhinoceroses--A
     near approach--Rhinoceros knocked down--Apparently dead--Commence
     to cut it up--Rhinoceros regains consciousness--Gets on its
     legs--And runs off--Another curious experience--Buffaloes and
     tse-tse flies--Meeting with lioness--Hammer of rifle lost--Bushmen
     sent in search of it--Lions met with--Lion and lioness stand close
     to me--The chance of a lifetime--Rifle misses fire--Lions run
     off--Lion again seen--Rifle useless--Throw it at the lion--The
     irony of fate                                         Pages 270-282



  Travelling through the wilderness--Find deep pool of water--Meet
     with two tsessebe antelopes--Shoot them both--Cover one
     of them with dry grass to keep off vultures--Ride back to
     waggon--Return to pool of water--Find tsessebe antelope
     gone--Never recovered--Journey to Bamangwato--Gemsbuck seen--Stalk
     spoilt--Long, stern chase--Gemsbuck wounded--Lost through glare of
     setting sun--Wildebeest seen--Return to waggon--Arrival of Count
     von Schweinitz--Lost gemsbuck found--Two hartebeests shot
                                                           Pages 283-292



  Southern Rhodesia--Country farther west still a primeval
     wilderness--Seldom traversed by white men--Scarcity of
     water--Remarkable rain-storm--Porcupine flooded out--Every hollow
     filled with water--All game in good condition--Many varieties
     encountered--Large herd of elephants--Four large bulls--Wariness
     of elephants--Lions roaring near camp--Search for them on
     the following morning--Large male seen and chased into thick
     bush--Successful encounter with a second male         Pages 293-301



  Decrease of game in South Africa--Journey from Mashunaland to the
     East African coast--Find country full of game--Elephants--Great
     herds of buffaloes--Five old bulls--Bushbucks--Other antelopes
     and zebras--Curiosity of the latter animals--Wart-hogs, bush-pigs,
     and hippopotamuses--Numbers of carnivorous animals--Three lions
     seen--Fine male wounded, and subsequently killed      Pages 302-311



  Travelling through the desert--Large number of bullocks--Long
     distances between permanent waters--Heavy sand--Start for
     Mahakabi--Intense heat--Sufferings of the poor oxen--No water
     at Mahakabi--Search for water with Bushmen guides--Another
     disappointment--Ride all night--Reach the Luali river--Bullocks
     lost--Dick's account of the catastrophe--Fear the worst--Ride to
     Shoshong for assistance--Return to Klabala--Meet wagons
                                                           Pages 312-327



  First Bushmen seen by author in 1872--Armed with bows and
     arrows--Large areas of country uninhabited except by Bushmen--The
     Masarwa--Origin of the word "Vaalpens"--Dwarf race mentioned
     by Professor Keane--Notes on the language of the Bushmen north
     of the Orange river--Apparently very similar to that spoken
     by the Koranas--The author's faithful Korana servant--The
     Nero family--Physical dissimilarity between the Koranas and
     the Masarwa--Stature of Bushmen met with north of the Orange
     river--Probably a pure race--The Bakalahari--Livingstone's account
     of them--Khama's kindness to them--Habits and mode of life of the
     Masarwa--Their weapons--Bows and poisoned arrows--Food of the
     Bushmen--Bush children tracking tortoises--Terrible privations
     sometimes endured by Bushmen--Provision against famine--A giraffe
     hunt--Rotten ostrich egg found by Bushmen and eaten--Fundamental
     difference of nature between Bushmen and civilised races not
     great--Personal experiences with Bushmen--Their marvellous
     endurance--Skill as hunters and trackers--Incident with
     lion--Family affection amongst Bushmen--Not unworthy members of
     the human race                                        Pages 328-348

  INDEX                                                              349



                                                             FACING PAGE




     THEY DEVOURED IT"                                               103

     WAY"                                                            146


  No. 1. Shows the Rhinoceros holding its own, but unable to reach the
     bank                                                            202

  No. 2. Shows the Rhinoceros still struggling, but in deeper water  202

  No. 3. Shows the Rhinoceros after it had turned round, and just
     before it got into deep water and was pulled under              202

     UPON"                                                           242

     ME"                                                             258


  THE LAST OF SOUTH AFRICA'S GAME HAUNTS                             302



  Harmony of colour in nature--Theory of protective coloration--Sexual
     selection--Conspicuous colours not harmful--The influence of
     environment--The leucoryx--The Barbary sheep--The Sardinian
     moufflon--African butterflies--Coloration of the musk ox
     and caribou--Arctic hares and foxes--Coloration of mammals
     in the Yukon Territory--The chamois in winter--Examples of
     conspicuous coloration in African mammals--Colour not always
     protective--Carnivorous animals usually hunt by scent--Wild
     dogs and wolves--Wild dog and sable antelope--Sense of smell
     in herbivorous animals--Sight of antelopes--Experience with
     waterbuck--Dull sight of caribou--Demeanour of wild animals when
     alarmed--Small antelopes--Lions--Large antelopes--Difficulty of
     seeing wild animals sometimes exaggerated--Powers of sight of
     Bushmen--Colour not protective against animals which hunt by
     night and by scent--Animals in motion easy to see--Restlessness
     of wild animals--Lions attacking bullocks--Zebras the principal
     prey of lions since the disappearance of buffaloes--Appearance of
     zebras--Undoubtedly conspicuous animals in open country--Zebras
     by moonlight--Strong smell of zebras--Conspicuous antelopes in
     East Africa--Effect of the juxtaposition of black and white--Bold
     coloration of the sable antelope.

Although there are certain striking exceptions to the general rule,
yet, broadly speaking, it cannot be gainsaid that living organisms are
usually coloured in such a way as to make them difficult of detection
by the human eye amongst their natural surroundings. Every collecting
entomologist knows how closely certain species of butterflies when
resting with closed wings in shady forests resemble dead leaves, or
moths the bark of trees. Birds too, especially those which nest on the
ground, often harmonise with their surroundings in a most marvellous

In the open treeless regions within the Arctic Circle, as well as on
bare mountain ranges, nearly all the resident species of animals and
birds turn white in winter, when their whole visible world is covered
with an unbroken mantle of pure white snow, and become brown or grey
during the short period of summer.

In treeless deserts again within the tropics, where the rainfall is
very scanty and the climate excessively hot and dry, with intense
sunlight throughout the year, all resident living organisms, mammals,
birds, reptiles, and insects, are found to be of a dull coloration
which harmonises in the most wonderful way with the sandy or stony soil
on which they live. It is also very often the case that animals which
live in forests where the foliage is not too dense to allow the sun to
penetrate are spotted or striped, whilst those which live in really
thick jungle or amongst deep gloomy ravines are of a uniform dark

Now a most interesting question arises as to the true causes which have
brought about the extraordinary variations of colour to be seen in
living organisms inhabiting different parts of the world.

It is, I believe, the general opinion of modern naturalists that,
putting aside cases where brilliant colours may have been produced
amongst birds and insects by the action of the law of sexual selection,
the coloration of all living organisms is protective, "serving," as
that distinguished naturalist Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace puts it, when
discussing the subject of the coloration of mammals, "to conceal
herbivorous species from their enemies, and enabling carnivorous
animals to approach their prey unperceived."

Many very striking facts can be adduced in support of this theory,
and no doubt it is of advantage to most species of mammals, birds,
reptiles, and insects to harmonise in colour with their surroundings;
but there are many instances in nature, especially amongst birds and
insects, where a very striking and conspicuous coloration does not
appear to have been prejudicial to the life of a species.

The highly decorative but very conspicuously coloured plumage to be
seen in the males of many species of birds, especially during the
breeding season, was considered by the immortal Darwin to be due to
the influence of sexual selection, and whatever may be urged against
the correctness of this theory, it is supported by a long array of
indisputable facts.

Great, however, as is the divergence between the plumage of the males
and females in many species of birds, not only during the breeding
season, but in a great number of cases at all times of year, and
however gaudy and conspicuous the coloration of the former may be
compared with that of the latter, such conspicuous coloration never
appears to be prejudicial to the life of a species, though in some
cases the brighter coloured male assists the female in incubation, and
it would thus appear that in all such cases the sombre coloured plumage
of the female was not absolutely necessary for purposes of protection
against enemies.

I therefore think that if it is admitted that bright and conspicuous
colours have been evolved in living organisms through the action of the
law of sexual selection, without detriment to the life of the species
in which such conspicuous colours are shown, it must be conceded that
a coloration harmonising with its surroundings is not a necessity of
existence in all cases to all species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and
insects, and that it is therefore quite possible that where living
organisms agree very closely in colour with their surroundings, such
harmonious coloration may have been produced by some other agency than
the need for protection by colour, and I would suggest that in addition
to the influence exerted in the evolution of colour in living organisms
by the action of sexual selection, and the necessity for protection
against enemies, a third factor has also been at work, which I will
call the influence of environment.

It is worthy of remark, I think, that in hot, dry deserts, where the
climatic conditions are stable, and where the general colour of the
landscape is therefore very much the same all the year round, _all_
the resident species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects are what
is called protectively coloured, that is to say, they are _all_ of a
dull brown or greyish coloration,[1] which harmonises beautifully with
their parched, dull-coloured environment. In the leucoryx, the Saharan
representative of the gemsbuck of South-Western Africa, all the black
markings which are so conspicuous in the latter animal have disappeared
or become pale brown, whilst the general colour of the body has been
bleached to a dirty white. Now, no one can persuade me that if the
leucoryx were coloured exactly like its near relative the gemsbuck,
it would suffer one iota more, in the open country in which it lives,
from the attacks of carnivorous animals than it does at present, and I
therefore believe that the faded colour of the leucoryx, as compared
with that of the gemsbuck or the beisa antelope, has not been brought
about in order to serve as a protection against enemies, but is
directly due to the influence of its desert environment, and constant
exposure to strong sunlight on treeless plains. Again, from the point
of view of a carnivorous animal hunting for food by daylight and by
sight, no two countries could be more alike than the open karoos of the
Cape Colony and the plains in the neighbourhood of Lakes Nakuru and
Elmenteita in British East Africa, where the grass is always kept very
short by the large herds of game, as well as by the cattle, sheep, and
goats belonging to the Masai, which pasture there. Before the advent
of Europeans, the carnivorous animals inhabiting the Cape Colony were
exactly the same as those found to-day in East Africa, viz. lions,
leopards, chetahs, wild dogs, and hyænas. In both districts lions
were once numerous, and in both zebras formed the principal food of
these carnivora. But whereas _Equus granti_, the form of zebra found
on the plains near Lake Nakuru, is the most brilliantly coloured
representative of the genus to which it belongs, with jet black
stripes on a pure white ground, the now extinct form of zebra--_Equus
quagga_--which once abounded on the plains of the Cape Colony, was of
a dull grey brown in ground colour, with darker brown stripes on the
head, neck, and fore-part of the body alone. Now, these two races of
zebras, both living on bare, open plains, could not both have been
coloured in the best possible way to escape being seen by the lions
which constantly preyed upon them. If, as has been contended, the
juxtaposition of the black and white stripes in Grant's zebras renders
these animals not only inconspicuous, but almost invisible under strong
sunlight on an open plain, and is, in fact, the supreme triumph of
protective coloration in large mammals, why had the quaggas of the
Cape Colony become dull brown, for they also lived on open plains in
strong sunlight, and needed protection from the lions every bit as much
as their congeners of East Africa? Moreover, I think all naturalists
and embryologists are agreed that _Equus quagga_ was the descendant of
boldly striped ancestors.

[1] The cock ostrich is, I think, the only exception to this rule, and
in the case of this remarkable bird the influence of sexual selection
has probably been more potent than that of a dull-coloured, monotonous

To my mind the loss of stripes in the quagga was entirely due to the
environment in which this species had lived for long ages; for on the
karoos of the Cape Colony everything is of one dull brown colour,
whether on hill or plain, and no shade is to be found anywhere, for
the whole country is without trees. The air, too, is intensely hot and
dry, and the rainfall scanty. In these semi-deserts of South-Western
Africa, not only did the quaggas lose their black stripes, but the
elands also lost the white stripes of their immediate ancestors, whilst
the blesboks had already lost much of the white to be seen in the body
colouring of the bonteboks, from which they are descended, and had
become of a much duller colour generally. In East Africa, however, the
plains are surrounded by well-wooded hills, which give some colour to
the landscape, whilst the rainfall every year is heavy. If it is not
the influence of their several environments which has brought about the
differences between the well-striped elands and zebras of East Africa
and their dull-coloured relatives that once lived in the karoos of the
Cape Colony, the theory of protective coloration must be equally at
fault, for in spite of the fact that in both countries both races of
these animals have been hunted by lions from time immemorial on open
plains, and under precisely similar conditions, they developed very
different schemes of coloration.

The Barbary sheep, again, which inhabits the dry hills bordering
the deserts of Northern Africa, where the vegetation is parched and
scanty at all seasons of the year, and the rocks of a red brown colour,
is itself of a uniform reddish brown which harmonises exactly with
its surroundings, and makes it very difficult to detect when lying
at rest amongst rocks. This perfect harmony of coloration with its
surroundings in the Barbary sheep may have been brought about by the
need of protection from enemies, but seems to me far more likely to
have been caused by the influence of the colour of its environment, for
its four-footed foes hunt by scent and by night far more than by sight
during the daytime.

The male moufflon of Sardinia, which lives in a temperate climate where
the colours of its surroundings are much brighter and more diversified
than is the case in the habitat of the Barbary sheep, is a much more
conspicuously coloured animal than the latter, or than the females
of its own kind. As the females and young of the Sardinian moufflon,
which are of a uniform brown colour, are more difficult to see than
the males in their somewhat conspicuous autumn and winter coats, the
latter cannot be said to be protectively coloured. Either through the
influence of sexual selection or that of an environment the general
colour of which varies very greatly at different seasons of the year,
the male of the Sardinian moufflon becomes during autumn and winter
conspicuously coloured compared with the female, without detriment,
however, to the well-being of the species.

During my long sojourn in the interior of South Africa, I made large
collections of butterflies. There was one species (_Precis artaxia_,
Hewits) which always puzzled me. This handsome insect is only found
in shady forests, is seldom seen flying until disturbed, and always
sits on the ground amongst dead leaves. Though handsomely coloured
on the upper side, when its wings are closed it closely resembles a
dead leaf. It has a little tail on the lower wing which looks exactly
like the stalk of a leaf, and from this tail a dark brown line runs
through both wings (which on the under sides are light brown) to the
apex of the upper wing. One would naturally be inclined to look upon
this wonderful resemblance to a dead leaf in a butterfly sitting with
closed wings on the ground amongst real dead leaves as a remarkable
instance of protective form and coloration. And of course it may be
that this is the correct explanation. But what enemy is this butterfly
protected against? Upon hundreds of different occasions I have ridden
and walked through the forests where _Precis artaxia_ was numerous, and
I have caught and preserved many specimens of these butterflies, but
never once did I see a bird attempting to catch one of them. Indeed,
birds of all kinds were scarce in the forests where these insects were
to be found. I now think that the form and colour of the under wings of
_Precis artaxia_ have more probably been produced by the influence of
its environment than by the need for protection.

During the rainy season in South Africa, the open glades in the
forests bordering the rivers are gay with multitudes of brightly
coloured butterflies of many different species, and after a night's
rain butterflies of various kinds may often be seen settling in masses
round pools of water along waggon roads. Most of these butterflies are
conspicuously coloured, though they are in perfect harmony with the
sunlit flowers which spring up at the time of year when they appear. I
cannot, however, believe that the need for protection against birds or
other enemies has had anything whatever to do with the determination of
their various colours, as in all my experience (and I have been all my
life a close observer of nature) I have never once seen a bird feeding
upon butterflies in Africa.

The coloration of certain animals in the Arctic and sub-Arctic Regions
is somewhat remarkable, as at certain seasons it is conspicuously out
of harmony with its surroundings, and cannot therefore be protective.
The musk ox retains its dark brown coat the whole year round, although
it lives almost constantly amidst a snowy environment. Mr. Wallace
tells us that the reason why the musk ox does not turn white is because
it has no enemies to fear, and therefore has no need of a protective
coloration. He says: "Then we have that thoroughly Arctic animal
the musk sheep, which is brown and conspicuous; but this animal is
gregarious, and its safety depends on its association in small herds.
It is therefore of more importance for it to be able to recognise its
kind at a distance than to be concealed from its enemies, against which
it can well protect itself so long as it keeps together in a compact
body." As, however, according to the experience of Arctic travellers,
large numbers of young musk oxen are annually killed by wolves, this
explanation of a case in which an animal is manifestly not protectively
coloured does not seem altogether satisfactory. Mr. Wallace, it may be
noted, calls special attention to the coloration of the giraffe, which
he considers to be protective; yet nothing, I think, is more certain
than that a far smaller percentage of giraffes are killed annually by
lions in Africa than of musk oxen by wolves in Arctic America. If this
is so, the musk ox has more need of protective coloration than the
giraffe. The musk ox is, I think, the only one amongst the few truly
Arctic mammals which does not turn white during the winter months,
for, unlike the barren ground caribou, it does not migrate southwards
in the autumn to the dark spruce forests, which change of habitat
no doubt has had an influence on the colour of the latter animals;
since Peary's caribou, the most northerly form of the genus, whose
habitat lies far within the Arctic Circle, where trees of any kind are
non-existent, is almost absolutely white in colour. In spite, however,
of the fact that the caribou inhabiting Ellesmere Land and the adjacent
land masses are white, and therefore harmonise well in colour with the
snowy wastes amongst which they live, they form the principal food of
the white wolves inhabiting the same regions, which hunt them by scent
and run them down just as easily as the grey and black wolves of Alaska
capture the dark-coloured and very conspicuous caribou which frequent
the mountain ranges of that country. It appears to me that the colour
of a caribou's coat, whether it be white, black, or brown, cannot
afford it any protection against wolves, which probably possess as keen
a sense of scent as any animals in the world, and must surely hunt
entirely by scent during the long dark months of the Arctic winter. If
this is so, then the great diversity in the coloration of the various
species of caribou inhabiting the North American Continent must be due
to some other cause than the necessity for protection against wolves,
practically their only four-footed enemies.

Speaking of other Arctic animals, Mr. Wallace believes that the
Arctic fox _of necessity_ turns white in winter in order to enable it
to capture the white Arctic hares upon which it chiefly lives. Very
little, however, is known as to the life-history of these two animals.
But if the Arctic foxes hunt by scent, as they almost certainly do,
during the constant darkness of the long Arctic winter, and the hares
burrow beneath the snow, and are caught as a rule when completely
hidden from sight below its surface, I think it is arguable that the
influence of environment has been at least as potent a factor in
bringing about the white coloration of these animals in winter as the
necessity for protective coloration. At any rate, in Alaska and the
Yukon Territory of Canada, where the country is covered with snow for
more than half the year, and where the hares are white throughout
the long winter, the foxes are red, black, or a mixture of these two
colours, all the year round, and the lynxes grey; yet these two species
of carnivorous animals depend almost entirely on the hares for their
food supply. It is somewhat remarkable that in the sub-Arctic forests
of Alaska and the Yukon Territory, where the cold is intense and the
ground covered with snow for so many months of every year, only the
hares and the stoats amongst mammals turn white in winter. But in
these countries the land is covered for the most part with dark spruce
forests, the influence of which--if there is anything in the influence
of environment--may have been greater in determining the coloration of
the mammals of this district than that of the snow-covered ground.

During winter in the Yukon Territory, moose turn very dark in colour
on the under parts of the body, and at this season of the year leave
the thick forests and live in the comparatively open valleys amongst
willow and birch scrub, where they are said to stand out like haystacks
amidst their snowy surroundings. The local race of caribou (_Rangifer
osborni_), which live all the year round on the treeless mountain
plateaus, are very dark in colour (with the exception of their necks),
and, as I myself can testify, stand out very plainly when the open
ground they frequent is covered with snow. Of the various races of
wild sheep inhabiting the mountains of Alaska, the Yukon Territory,
and Northern British Columbia, some are white all the year round,
and therefore very conspicuous in summer when there is no snow on
the ground, though difficult to detect in the winter; some are grey,
with white heads, necks, and rumps; whilst others are nearly black,
and therefore very conspicuous in winter. Of the predatory animals
the large timber wolves are, as a rule, pale greyish brown with black
hairs on their backs and shoulders, but a considerable number are
quite black; the foxes are either red or black, or of the intermediate
coloration known as "cross"; whilst the wolverines, martens, and minks
are rich dark brown, and the lynxes neutral grey. The stoat or ermine
is the only carnivorous animal which turns white in winter in these

It would thus appear that in the sub-Arctic Regions of North America
the coloration of mammals does not obviously serve the purpose of
concealing the herbivorous species from their enemies, or of enabling
carnivorous animals to approach their prey unperceived. To come nearer
home, we find that whereas in the Alpine regions of Europe the mountain
hare turns white in winter, the chamois living in the same snow-covered
ground becomes deep black. It is true that in winter chamois often
leave the open mountains and live amongst the higher forests, where
it may be said that their dark colour harmonises well with the dark
foliage of the spruce trees; but I have hunted chamois in December in
the mountains of Transylvania, when they were in full winter coat,
and I certainly found that their dark coloration often made them

Turning to Africa, we have many instances of what seen in the open
and at short range cannot possibly be called anything but conspicuous
coloration, such as the jet black and pure white striping of the East
African form of Burchell's zebra; the deep glossy black body and neck,
with snow-white belly and parti-coloured face, of the sable antelope;
the black and white face of the gemsbuck; the pure white face and rump
of the bontebok, combined with the beautiful dark brown neck and sides
and lilac tinted back; or the juxtaposition of the black and white
in Thomson's gazelle--only to mention a few of the most noteworthy

To me it seems that the influence of environment might very well be
deemed sufficient of itself to cause all animals that have lived for
long ages in treeless deserts under constant strong sunlight to assume
the dull brown coloration which they undoubtedly possess; whilst Arctic
conditions might be expected to cause the whitening of an animal's hair
in the winter, or the play of the sun's light through the leaves and
branches of trees and bushes to be responsible for a spotted or striped
coat. In the case of a combination of black and white--the two most
conspicuous colours in nature--such as may be seen in the adult cock
ostrich or male sable antelope, why should it not be supposed that the
law of sexual selection has come into play, as it probably has done in
the production of the lion's mane and the exaggerated size of the horns
in the male koodoo.

Having spent many years of my life in the constant pursuit of African
game, I have certainly been afforded opportunities such as have been
enjoyed by but few civilised men of becoming intimately acquainted with
the habits and life-history of many species of animals living in that
continent, and all that I have learnt during my long experience as a
hunter compels me to doubt the correctness of the now very generally
accepted theories that all the wonderfully diversified colours of
mammals--the stripes of the zebra, the blotched coat of the giraffe,
the spots of the bushbuck, the white face and rump of the bontebok, to
mention only a few--have been evolved either as a means of protection
from enemies or for the purpose of mutual recognition by animals of
the same species in times of sudden alarm. Sexual selection and the
influence of environment must, I think, have been equally potent
factors in the evolution of colours in mammals, birds, reptiles, and

In all recent articles which I have read by well-known naturalists on
these subjects, it appears to be assumed that both carnivorous and
herbivorous animals trust entirely to their sense of sight, the former
to find their prey, and the latter to detect and avoid the approach of
their enemies. Yet nothing is more certain than that all carnivorous
animals hunt almost entirely by scent, until they have closely
approached their quarry, and usually by night, when all the animals on
which they prey must look very much alike as far as colour is concerned.

The wild dogs of Africa and the wolves of northern latitudes are not so
completely nocturnal, it is true, as the large Felidae, but the former
I know, and the latter I have every reason to believe, hunt, as a rule,
by night and only occasionally in the daytime. In both these animals
the sense of smell is enormously developed, and must be of far greater
use to them in procuring food than the sense of sight, however acute
that may be. In all my wanderings I have only seen African wild dogs
chasing game in the daytime on four occasions. I once saw a single wild
dog chasing a sable antelope in the daytime. This wild dog--which was,
however, then too far away to enable me to see what it was--first ran
past the sable antelope and behind it from where I was watching. It
must then have been running on the trail, with its nose on the ground,
and must have passed quite close to the animal it was pursuing without
seeing it. Its nose, however, kept it on the antelope's tracks and
soon brought it to close quarters, and then of course it continued
the chase by sight. Now if this is the usual proceeding of African
wild dogs, and I am convinced that it is, the value of assimilative
coloration to animals on which the wild dog preys cannot be very great.

But not only do all carnivorous animals hunt by scent, and rely far
more upon their olfactory organs than upon their keenness of sight
to procure food, but, as all practical hunters very well know, the
sense of smell is also very highly developed in all, or at any rate
in most, of the animals on which the carnivora prey, and personally I
am persuaded that all browsing and grazing animals in Africa trust as
much to their noses as to their eyes both to avoid danger and to find
members of their own species. The eyes of antelopes are quick to detect
a moving object, but they are by no means quick to notice any unusual
colour in a stationary object. I will relate an anecdote illustrating
this point.

Early in 1883, I reached the spot on the Hanyani river in Mashunaland
where I intended to establish my hunting camp for the season. Whilst
my Kafirs were chopping down trees to build the cattle enclosures, I
climbed to the top of the ridge at the foot of which I was having my
camp made.

It was late in the afternoon, and I was sitting on a rock looking over
the open country to the south, when I heard a slight noise, and turning
my eyes saw a fine male waterbuck coming towards me up the ridge. I
sat perfectly still, and it presently walked slowly past within three
yards of me and then went on along the ridge, into the forest beyond.
As it passed me I noticed its shining wet nose, and the way in which
its nostrils kept constantly opening and shutting at every step. It was
evidently listening to the noise that my Kafirs were making chopping
down small trees at the foot of the ridge, but as it could not get
their wind did not take alarm.

Of course, if I had made the very slightest movement, this waterbuck
would have seen me instantly; but had it possessed much sense of
colour, the contrast between the red brown of my sunburnt arms and face
and the light-coloured shirt I was wearing would have attracted its
attention, as I was sitting on a stone, on the top of a ridge which
was quite free from trees or bush. I have never had any other African
antelopes pass so close to me as this without seeing me, but many have
fed slowly past me, as I sat watching them, with a tree or a bush
behind me but nothing between myself and them, at distances of from 20
to 50 yards.

Both in Newfoundland and in the Yukon Territory of Canada, I have had
caribou walk almost over me when sitting in front of them on their
line of march on ground devoid of any cover whatever. In such cases,
of course, the wind was blowing from these animals towards where I was
sitting, and I remained absolutely motionless.

As a rule, when wild animals notice something suspicious approaching,
say a man on horseback, and cannot get the scent of it, they run off
before it gets near them or circle round to try and get the wind of
it. But the smaller African antelopes, steinbucks, duikers, oribis,
and reedbucks will occasionally, while keeping their eyes fixed on
the unfamiliar object, crouch slowly down, and then, with their necks
stretched along the ground, lie watching. I have ridden past a few
oribis, steinbucks, and reedbucks within a few yards, as they lay
absolutely motionless on the ground watching me. To pull in one's
horse with the intention of shooting such a crouching antelope was
the instant signal for it to jump up and bound away. Lions too, when
they see a human being and imagine that they themselves have not been
observed, will often lie flat on the ground watching, and will not move
until very closely approached. I imagine that these carnivora secure
nearly all their prey by approaching herds of game below the wind, and
when they have got pretty near lying flat on the ground, perfectly
motionless except for the twitching of the end of their tails, which
they never seem able to control, and then waiting till one or other of
the unsuspecting animals feeds close up to them, when they rush upon
and seize it before it has time to turn. If a lion, however, fails
to make good his hold with one of his fore-paws over the muzzle of a
buffalo or one of the heavier antelopes, and cannot fix his teeth in
their throats or necks, they often manage to throw him off and escape.

It is perhaps worthy of remark that I have never known a case of one
of the larger antelopes trying to escape observation by lying down.
Gemsbucks, roan and sable antelopes, elands, koodoos, hartebeests,
indeed all the large African antelopes, directly they see anything
suspicious, face towards it, and stand looking at it, holding their
heads high, and not in any way shielding their bodies and only exposing
their faces to view, which, when marked with black and white, as in
the case of the gemsbuck and roan antelope, are supposed, though quite
erroneously, to render these animals invisible.

I am inclined to think, but it is only my personal opinion, that the
difficulty of seeing wild animals in their natural surroundings has
been greatly exaggerated by travellers who were not hunters, and whose
eyesight therefore, although of normal strength, had not been trained
by practice to see animals quickly in every kind of environment.

I am quite sure that to a South-African Bushman there is no such
thing as protective coloration in nature. If an animal is behind a
rock or a thick bush, he of course cannot see it, but his eyes are
so well trained, he knows so exactly the appearance of every animal
to be met with in the country in which he and his ancestors have
spent their lives as hunters for countless ages, that he will not
miss seeing any living thing that comes within his range of vision no
matter what its surroundings may be. Bantu Kafirs are often called
savages, and their quickness of sight extolled; but Kafirs are not
real savages, and though there are good hunters amongst them, such
men will form but a small percentage of any one tribe. To realise to
what a pitch of perfection the human eyesight can be trained, not in
seeing immense distances but in picking up an animal within a moderate
range immediately it is physically possible to see it, it is necessary
to hunt with real savages like the Masarwa Bushmen of South-Western
Africa, who depend on their eyesight for a living.

Now, if carnivorous animals had throughout the ages depended on their
eyesight for their daily food as the Bushmen have done, which is what
naturalists who believe in the value of protective coloration to large
mammals must imagine to be the case, surely their eyesight would have
become so perfected that no colour or combination of colours could
have concealed any of the animals on which they habitually preyed from
their view. As a matter of fact, however, carnivorous animals hunt as a
rule by scent and not by sight, and usually at night when herbivorous
animals are moving about feeding or going to drink. At such a time it
appears to me that the value of a coloration that assimilated perfectly
with an animal's natural surroundings during the daytime would be very
small as a protection from the attacks of carnivora which hunted by
night and by scent.

Reverting again to the question of quickness of eyesight, I will say
that, although a Boer or an English hunter can never hope to become as
keen-sighted as a Bushman, his eyes will nevertheless improve so much
in power after a few years spent in the constant pursuit of game, that
the difficulty of distinguishing wild animals amongst their native
haunts will be very much less than it was when he first commenced to
hunt, or than it must always be to a traveller or sportsman who has not
had a long experience of hunting.

However difficult an animal may be to see as long as it is lying down
or standing motionless, as soon as it moves it becomes very apparent to
the human eye; and, as I have had ample experience that any movement
made by a man is very quickly noticed by a lion, leopard, hyæna, or
wild dog, I am quite sure that all these carnivora, if lying watching
for prey by daylight, would at once see any animal moving about feeding
anywhere near them; and all herbivorous animals move about and feed
early in the morning and late in the evening, the very times when
carnivorous animals would be most likely to be looking for game by

During the heat of the day carnivorous animals are very seldom seen,
as at that time they sleep, and most herbivorous animals do the same.
But even when resting, wild animals are seldom motionless. Elephants
and rhinoceroses are constantly moving their ears, whilst giraffes,
elands, buffaloes, zebras, and other animals seldom stand for many
seconds together without swishing their tails. All these movements at
once attract the attention of the trained human eye, and I am very sure
would be equally apparent to the sight of a lion or a leopard, were
these animals to hunt by sight and during the daytime. But, speaking
generally, they do not do so, though doubtless should antelopes or
other animals unconsciously feed close up to where a lion happened
to be lying resting and waiting for night before commencing active
hunting, he would very likely make a rush and try and seize one of
them if he could. Upon two occasions I have had my bullocks attacked
in the middle of the day, once by a single lioness, and on the other
occasion by a party of four lions, two lions and two lionesses. But how
many old hunters have seen lions actually hunting in the full light
of day? Personally, in all the long years I was hunting big game in
Africa--years during which I must have walked or ridden many thousands
of miles through country full of game, and where lions were often
numerous--I only once saw one of these animals hunting by daylight.
This lion was pursuing four koodoo cows on a cool cloudy winter's

As a rule, lions do not commence to hunt before darkness has set
in. They then seek their prey by scent, either smelling the animals
directly or following their tracks. They understand as well as the most
experienced human hunter the art of approaching game below the wind,
when hunting singly; but when there are several lions hunting together,
I believe that some of them will sometimes creep close up to a herd of
game below the wind, whilst one or more of their number go round to the
other side. The buffaloes, zebras, or antelopes at once get the scent
of these latter, and run off right on to the lions lying waiting below
the wind, which then get a good chance to seize and pull down one of
the frightened animals. As lions have played this game with my cattle
upon several occasions, I presume that they often act in the same way
with wild animals.

No matter how dark the night may be, a lion has no difficulty in
seizing an ox, a horse, or a donkey exactly in the right way, and I
have no doubt that he does the same in the case of all the different
kinds of game upon which he preys. Now that the buffaloes have been
almost exterminated by the rinderpest in most parts of Africa, the
zebra undoubtedly forms the favourite food of the lion. For every zebra
that is killed by daylight probably at least a hundred are killed
during the night, when, except by moonlight, they would appear to a
lion very much the same, as far as coloration goes, as a black ox, a
dark grey wildebeest, or a red hartebeest, all of which animals look
black by night if they are near enough to be seen at all.

I have had innumerable opportunities of looking at wild zebras, and
when met with on open ground they certainly have always appeared to me
to be very conspicuous animals, except just at dawn and late in the
evening, when they are not so easy to see as animals of some uniform
dark colour, such as hartebeests.

In Southern Africa, between the Limpopo and the Zambesi rivers,
Burchell's zebras used to be very plentiful in all the uninhabited
parts of the country, and although they were often met with feeding
or resting in districts covered with open forest or scattered bush,
I found them always very partial to open ground, where they were as
plainly visible as a troop of horses. In East Africa the local race of
Burchell's zebra is remarkable for the whiteness of the ground colour
of the body and the intense blackness of the superimposed stripes.
These beautiful animals congregate in large herds on the bare open
plains traversed by the Uganda Railway, and probably form the chief
food of the lions living in that district.

When in East Africa a few years ago, I took special note of the
appearance of zebras at different distances on the open plains between
Lakes Nakuru and Elmenteita. I found that in the bright African
sunlight I could see with the naked eye the black and white striping
of their coats up to a distance which I estimated at about 400 yards.
Beyond that distance they looked of a uniform dark colour when the sun
was behind them, and almost white when the sun was shining on them.
But at whatever distance they happened to be on the open plain between
myself and the horizon, their forms showed up quite as distinctly as
those of a herd of cattle or horses. Never in my life have I seen
the sun shining on zebras in such a way as to cause them to become
invisible or even in any way inconspicuous on an open plain, and I
have seen thousands upon thousands of Burchell's zebras. Should these
animals be approached when standing amongst trees with the leaf on,
they are not at all easy to see, and the whisking of their tails will
probably be the first thing to catch one's eye; but in open ground,
and that is where they are usually met with, no animals could be
more conspicuous. I have seen zebras too by moonlight, but that was
many years ago, and I did not then take any special note of their
appearance; but my impression is that they were no more invisible than
other animals, but looked whitish in colour when the moon was shining
on them, and very dark when it was behind them. As, however, zebras
have a very strong smell, and lions usually hunt them by scent and at
night, I cannot think that their coloration, whether it be conspicuous
or not, matters very much to them, though I look upon the theory that
the brilliantly striped coats of these animals render them in reality
inconspicuous as absolutely untenable, as it is not in accordance with

When in East Africa I came to the conclusion that not only the zebras,
but also the impala antelopes--which are of a much richer and darker
red than in South Africa--were conspicuously coloured, and therefore
very easy to see; whilst the broad black lateral band dividing the
snow-white belly from the fawn-coloured side in Thomson's gazelles
showed these little animals up with the most startling distinctness on
the bare open plains they inhabit.

To my eyes, and in the bright sunlight of Africa, the juxtaposition
of black and white markings, so often seen on the faces of African
antelopes, has never seemed to produce an indistinct blur of colour
except at a considerable distance. At any distance up to 300 yards the
black and white face-markings of the gemsbuck, the roan, and the sable
antelope always appeared to me to be distinctly visible, and they have
often been the first parts of these animals to catch my eye.

It is all very well to say that a male sable antelope, in spite of
its bold colouring, is often very difficult to see. That is no doubt
the case, but that only means that there is no colour in nature, and
no possible combination of colours, which at a certain distance, if
stationary, would not be found to harmonise well with some portions
of, or objects in, an African landscape. Speaking generally, however,
the coloration of a sable antelope bull makes him a very conspicuous
object to a trained human eye, and also, one would suppose, to that of
a carnivorous animal, were it watching for prey by daylight.



  Occasional resemblance of African mammals to natural
        objects--Hartebeests--Elephants--Giraffes--Coloration of
        the Somali giraffe--Giraffes not in need of a protective
        coloration--Koodoos and sable antelopes--Acute sense of hearing
        in the moose--Possible explanation of large size of ears in
        the African tragelaphine antelopes--Coloration of bushbucks,
        situtungas, and inyalas--Leopards the only enemies of the
        smaller bush-haunting antelopes--Recognition marks--Must
        render animals conspicuous to friend and foe alike--Ranges
        of allied species of antelopes seldom overlap--Hybridisation
        sometimes takes place--Wonderful coloration of the
        bontebok--Coloration distinctly conspicuous and therefore
        not protective--Recognition marks unnecessary--Coloration
        of the blesbok--The blesbok merely a duller coloured
        bontebok--Difference in the habitat of the two species--The
        coloration of both species may be due to the influence of
        their respective environments--The weak point in the theory of
        protective coloration when applied to large mammals--Hares and
        foxes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic Regions--The efficacy of
        colour protection at once destroyed by movement--Buffaloes and
        lions--General conclusions regarding the theory of protective
        coloration as applied to large mammals.

Certain observations have been made and theories propounded on the
occasional resemblance of African mammals to natural objects, which
have never seemed to me to have much significance, although they are
often referred to as valuable observations by writers on natural

Thus it has been said that hartebeests, which are red in colour,
derive protection from their enemies owing to their resemblance not
only in colour but also in shape to ant-heaps, and that giraffes gain
an advantage in the struggle for life owing to the fact that their
long necks look like tree-trunks and their heads and horns like broken

Well, hartebeests are red in colour wherever they are found all over
Africa. Ant-heaps are only red when they are built of red soil. In
parts of the Bechwanaland Protectorate, where the Cape hartebeest used
to be common, the ant-heaps are a glaring white. In East Africa, in
different portions of which territory hartebeests of three species are
very numerous, all of which are bright red in colour, red ant-heaps
are certainly not a conspicuous feature in all parts of the country,
and there were, if my memory serves me, very few ant-heaps of any size
on the plains where I met with either Coke's, Neumann's, or Jackson's
hartebeests.[2] But even in those districts where the ant-heaps
are red in colour, and neither very much larger nor smaller than
hartebeests, they are usually of one even rounded shape, and it would
only be here and there, where two had been thrown up together forming
a double-humped structure, that anything resembling one of these
animals could be seen. Such unusual natural objects must be anything
but common, and cannot, I believe, have had any effect in determining
the bodily shape of hartebeests, though, if the coloration of animals
is influenced by their environment, red soil and red ant-heaps may have
had their influence on the colour of the ancestral form from which all
the various but nearly allied species of hartebeests have been derived.

[2] The plains along the railway line between Simba and Nairobi, the
open country between Lakes Nakuru and Elmenteita, or the neighbourhood
of the road between Landiani and Ravine Station.

I was once hunting in 1885 with a Boer friend (Cornelis van Rooyen)
near the Umfuli river in Mashunaland. We were riding slowly along,
followed by some Kafirs, and driving a donkey carrying corn for the
horses in front of us, when we saw what we took to be some boulders
of black rock in the open forest ahead, but some distance away, as we
were crossing an open valley at the time. In this particular part of
the country great boulders of black rock were a common feature in the
landscape. Suddenly our donkey pricked his ears, and stretching out his
nose, commenced to bray loudly. Immediately one of the black rocks,
as we had thought them to be, moved, and we soon saw that what we had
taken for rocks were elephants. Our donkey had smelt them before either
my friend or myself or any of our Kafirs had been able to distinguish
what they were. As, however, elephants are only occasionally
encountered in forests through which great boulders of black rock
are scattered, I do not believe that these huge quadrupeds have been
moulded to the shape of rocks by the need of a protective resemblance
to inanimate objects, any more than I think that the abnormal shape of
certain ant-heaps has had anything to do with the production of the
high wither and drooping hind-quarters of the hartebeest.

As to the theory that the long neck and the peculiarly formed head
of the giraffe have been evolved in order to protect this remarkable
animal against its carnivorous foes, by giving it the appearance of
a dead or decayed tree, I personally consider such an idea to be so
fantastic and extravagant as to be unworthy of serious consideration.

In the course of my own hunting experience, I have shot a great many
giraffes to obtain a supply of food for my native followers, and under
the guidance of Bushmen have followed on the tracks of many herds of
these animals until I at length sighted them. In certain parts of the
country frequented by giraffes in Southern Africa, large camel-thorn
trees (_Acacia giraffae_) grow either singly or a few together amongst
a wide expanse of wait-a-bit thorn scrub, which is from 6 to 12 feet
high. From time to time these large trees die and decay, until nothing
is left but a tall straight stem, standing up like a telegraph pole
(only a good deal thicker) amongst the surrounding scrub. When, whilst
following on giraffe spoor through such country, something suddenly
comes in view protruding from the bush, perhaps a mile ahead, the
Bushmen will stop and take a good look at it. Of course at a very great
distance it is impossible for even a Bushman to distinguish between the
tall straight stem of a dead tree standing up out of low bush and the
neck of a solitary old bull giraffe. But if the latter, it is sure soon
to move, unless it is standing watching its human enemies approaching,
in which case it will not be very far away, and I have never known a
Bushman to mistake a giraffe for a tree at any reasonable distance.

As regards the coloration of the species of giraffe inhabiting
South and South-Western Africa, it assimilates very well with its
surroundings, when amongst trees and bush; but as giraffes spend a
great deal of their time passing through open stretches of country
on their way from one feeding-ground to another, they are often very
conspicuous animals.

With respect to the Somali giraffe (_Giraffa reticulata_), a photograph
taken by the photographer who accompanied one of Lord Delamere's
expeditions, showing some of these animals feeding amongst mimosa
trees, gives the impression of a most marvellous harmonisation of
colour and arrangement of marking with their surroundings. But I
cannot help thinking that the facts of the case have been very much
exaggerated in this photograph, which has eliminated all colours from
the picture except black and white. In life, the foliage of the mimosa
is very thin, and I think it probable that the rich dark chestnut
blotches divided by white lines of the Somali giraffe would show
through it at least as distinctly as would the colours of the southern
giraffe in a like position. The Somali giraffe cannot constantly live
amongst mimosa trees, as these only grow in valleys near streams or
dried-up watercourses, and only cover a small proportion of any country
I have yet seen either in South or East Africa.

I must say that I rather distrust the camera as a true interpreter of
nature, as I have seen so many photographs of the nests of small birds
in bushes in which it was very difficult even for a trained eye to
find the nest at all, although in all probability it would have been
comparatively easy to detect these nests in the actual bushes in which
they were placed.

Speaking of the Somali giraffe, Colonel J. J. Harrison, in a footnote
to a photograph of one of these animals shot by himself right out
in open country, which appeared in the _Bystander_ for January 30,
1907, says: "These handsome coloured giraffes are very striking when
seen standing in the sun. Of a rich bright chestnut colour, with pure
white rings, they stand out splendidly as compared with the dull grey
colouring of the more southern giraffe."

However, it appears to me that to whatever extent the coloration of
the various races of giraffes harmonises with their surroundings,
that result must have been brought about by the influence of their
environment rather than by the need of protective coloration, for
I cannot believe that the struggle for life against the attacks
of carnivorous animals can have been sufficiently severe to have
influenced the colour and the arrangement of markings in giraffes.
That lions occasionally attack and kill giraffes is an undoubted fact,
and, as I shall relate in a subsequent chapter, I have also known a
case of a very young giraffe having been attacked by two leopards; but
in South Africa giraffes are found in the greatest numbers in those
parts of the country where, except during the rainy season, there is
very little surface water, and where other species of game are far from
plentiful. Into such districts lions do not often penetrate, and when
giraffes are found in country where there is plenty of water, zebras,
buffaloes, and antelopes of various kinds will also be numerous, and
these animals will certainly be preyed upon in preference. At any rate,
my own experience would lead me to believe that although lions can and
do kill giraffes upon occasion, they do not habitually prey upon these
animals. Moreover, when giraffes are killed by lions, they are in all
probability followed by scent and killed in the dark.

Altogether, the theory that the colour of the giraffe has been evolved
by the necessity for concealment and protection from the attacks of
carnivorous animals does not seem to me to be at all well supported by
the life-history of that animal as seen by a practical hunter; but the
fact that the coloration of this remarkable animal assimilates very
well with the dull and monotonous shades of the trees and bushes in
the parched and waterless districts it usually frequents, is a strong
argument in favour of there being a law which, working through the
ages, tends to bring the colours of all organic beings into harmony
with their surroundings, irrespective of any special benefit they
may receive in the way of protection from enemies by such harmonious

Turning to the striped and spotted forest antelopes inhabiting
various parts of Africa, I think there is some misconception amongst
naturalists who have not visited that country as to the general
surroundings amongst which the various species live. The magnificent
koodoo, with his long spiral horns, striped body, spotted cheeks, nose
marked with a white arrow, and throat adorned with a long fringe of
hair, is often spoken of as an inhabitant of dense jungle. This is,
however, by no means the case, for although koodoos are never found on
open plains, they are, on the other hand, seldom met with in really
dense jungle.

The range of the koodoo to the south of the Zambesi extends farther to
the south and west than that of the sable antelope, but I think I am
justified in saying that up to the time of the deplorable visitation
of rinderpest in 1896, wherever, between the Limpopo and the Zambesi,
sable antelopes were to be met with, there koodoos were also to
be found, and outside of districts infested by the "tse-tse" fly,
excepting amongst rocky hills, I have never met with the latter animals
in any country where I was not able to gallop after them on horseback.

Living as they do in surroundings so very similar to those frequented
by sable antelopes, I have never been able to understand why koodoos
should have such much larger ears than the former animals. I have never
been struck with the acute sense of hearing in koodoos as I have been
in the case of the moose of North America, and I should scarcely think
that this sense would often save them from the noiseless approach of
such animals as lions or leopards, to which they very frequently fall a
prey, judging by the number of the remains of koodoo bulls which I have
found that had been killed by the former animals.

I have often wondered whether the large size of the ears observable in
the African tragelaphine antelopes, which are all forests dwellers
(with the exception of the situtunga, which lives in dense beds of
reeds), may not be useful to them by enabling the males and females
to hear one another's calls during the mating season. The large
ears and exquisite sense of hearing of the moose, which is also a
forest-dwelling animal, have undoubtedly been developed for the purpose
of enabling the males and females to find one another in the breeding
season, and not for protection against the attacks of wolves. I have
frequently heard both koodoos and bushbucks calling by night and also
in the early morning. The noise they make is a sort of bark or cough.

Antelopes inhabiting open plains are very gregarious, and in the
daytime would always be able to find their mates by sight. I have never
heard them making anything but low grunting noises. As it is often
assumed by naturalists that all bush-haunting species of antelopes have
very large ears, it is perhaps worth noticing that in the little blue
buck and the red bush duiker of South-East Africa, which both live
in dense jungle near the coast, the ears are very small; whilst in
the steinbuck, on the other hand, which is always found in very open
country and never in thick bush, the ears are very large--both long and

The coloration observable in the different races of bushbucks
inhabiting different localities, as well as in the situtunga and inyala
antelopes, is, I think, very interesting and suggestive. It may, I
think, be taken for granted that all the races of African bushbucks
have been derived from an ancestral form which was both striped and
spotted; but in the bushbucks found near the coast of the Cape Colony
and Natal, the adult males are deep dark brown in colour, often
absolutely devoid of any white spots or stripes on face or body, whilst
the adult females are yellowish red, with only a few white spots on
the flanks. Now these most southerly of the African bushbucks live
in really dense bush, and often in deep ravines, where the sun never
penetrates. Their habitat too being near the sea-coast, the climate
must be damper than in the interior of the continent. In the northern
parts of Mashunaland and along the Central Zambesi and Chobi rivers
the bushbucks live in forest and bush which is seldom very dense,
and through most of which the sunlight plays constantly. In these
districts the males are, when adult, beautifully striped and spotted,
and the ground colour of their coats is rich red and dark brown, the
females being of a dark rich red and also well striped and spotted.
The situtunga antelopes live (on the Chobi and Central Zambesi) in
immense beds of reeds which are always of one dull monotonous greyish
green or brown. The adult animals are, as might be expected by those
who believe in the direct influence of environment, of a uniform light
brown colour, except that the spots on the cheeks and the arrow-shaped
mark across the nose, present in most tragelaphine antelopes, are
still discernible. In the inyala antelope, which inhabits thick jungly
tracts of bush along the south-east coast of Africa, the adult male
is of a deep dark grey in general body colour, with a few scarcely
visible vertical white stripes. The young males and the adult females
are, however, of a brilliant light red colour, profusely striped and
spotted with white. The young of all bushbucks and of the inyala are
reddish in ground colour, striped and spotted with white. The fœtal
young of the situtunga found in the marshes of the Chobi are of the
colour of a dark moleskin beautifully banded and spotted with pale
yellow, and it is, I think, a very remarkable fact that these stripes
and spots are identical in position with those found on the adult Chobi
bushbuck, which is strong evidence, I think, that both these animals
are descended from one ancestral form.

Now the only animal that preys habitually on bushbucks, inyalas, and
situtungas is the leopard, and as leopards hunt by night and by scent,
I cannot believe that the very different outward appearance of the
various races of bushbucks inhabiting different parts of Africa is to
be accounted for by the theory of protective coloration. The males
and females of the Cape bushbuck and of the inyala antelope are very
different one from another in the colour of their coats, but this does
not seem to be prejudicial to either sex, though there is absolutely no
difference in their habits or their habitat. In all the different races
of bushbucks, however, with which I am acquainted, the males are much
darker in colour than the females, so that it is not so very surprising
that in the case of the inyala and the Cape bushbuck the males should
have been the first to lose their stripes and spots in a sombre
environment. In the case of the Cape bushbuck the adult females have
already lost all the stripes and most of the spots of the ancestral
form. The female inyala is, however, one of the most distinctly striped
and spotted representatives of the tragelaphine group.

I cannot see that facts support the opinion that the uniform dull brown
coloration of both sexes of the southern race of situtunga has been
brought about for the purpose of protection from carnivorous enemies.
During the daytime these animals live in the midst of beds of reeds
growing in water where they cannot be approached except by wading; but
at night they are often killed by leopards, and perhaps sometimes by
lions, whilst feeding just outside the reed beds, on open ground which
has perhaps been recently swept by a veld fire, and where young reeds
and grass are just sprouting. At such a time their actual colour can
be of no more use in the way of protecting them from their keen-scented
feline foes than if it were black or red or grey. To me it seems far
more probable that the situtunga has gradually lost the stripes and
spots of the ancestral form from which it is derived, and assumed a
uniform dull brown coloration, because it has lived for ages amongst
reed beds of one dull monotonous colour, than because a uniform brown
coat affords it a special protection against carnivorous foes.

I gather from the writings of Mr. A. R. Wallace and other well-known
naturalists that, whereas the coloration of all animals is supposed to
be due to the need of protection from carnivorous beasts, many species
have developed in addition what are known as recognition marks, to
enable them to distinguish members of their own species from nearly
allied forms, or to help them to quickly recognise and rejoin the
members of the herd or family from which they may have been separated.

That many large mammals belonging to different genera, and living
in widely separated parts of the globe, are marked with conspicuous
patches of white on the rump, neck, or face, or throw up bushy tails
when running, showing a large white under surface, is an indisputable
fact, though it is not possible to say that the possession of such
a conspicuous coloration is absolutely necessary to the well-being
of any particular species, because there will nearly always be other
species living in the same country, and subject to the attacks of the
same predatory animals, in which these so-called recognition marks are
absent. However, on the supposition that carnivorous animals hunt by
sight, it seems to me that no animal can be said to be protectively
coloured which is marked in any way so conspicuously as to be
recognisable by others of its own species at a distance, for it would
be equally recognisable by all predatory animals, and caribou and
white-tailed deer or African antelopes cannot escape from wolves or
wild dogs by running like rabbits into burrows.

Personally, I cannot see why large antelopes which live in herds on
open plains should require special recognition marks, as in such
localities the bulk of an animal's whole body would be plainly
visible at a great distance no matter what its colour might be. If an
antelope became separated from its fellows by night, all so-called
recognition marks would be invisible at a very short distance. It must
be remembered, however, that every species of animal has a peculiar and
very distinctive smell of its own, and my own observations would lead
me to believe that most wild animals recognise one another, as a rule,
more by scent than by sight.

It seems difficult to believe that there can be any truth in the theory
suggested by Mr. Wallace, that recognition marks have been developed in
certain species of large mammals because they are necessary to enable
nearly allied species of animals to know their own kind at a glance,
and so prevent interbreeding; for the ranges of very nearly allied
forms of one genus, such as the various species of hartebeests and
oryxes, or the bontebok and the blesbok, very seldom overlap, and so
each species keeps true of necessity and without the help of special
recognition marks. Where the ranges of two nearly allied species do
overlap interbreeding probably will take place.

There seems little doubt that the species of hartebeest known as
Neumann's hartebeest has interbred with Jackson's hartebeest in
certain districts where the ranges of the two species meet. In the
neighbourhood of Lake Nakuru, in British East Africa, I shot, in
February 1903, a hartebeest which was not a Jackson's hartebeest, but
which closely resembled an animal of that species in the character of
its horns and the measurements of its skull, whilst all the others in
the same herd appeared to be true Neumann's. I have known too of one
undoubted case of the interbreeding of the South African hartebeest
(_B. Caama_) with the tsessebe (_Damaliseus lunatus_).

This animal (an adult male) was shot by my friend Cornelis van
Rooyen in Western Matabeleland, where the ranges of the two species
just overlap. In coloration it was like a tsessebe, but had the
comparatively bushy tail of the hartebeest, whilst its skull and horns
(which are, I am glad to say, in the collection of the Natural History
Museum at South Kensington) are exactly intermediate between those
of the two parent species. This skull has been very unsatisfactorily
labelled "supposed hybrid between _B. Caama_ and _D. lunatus_." But as,
when I presented it to the Natural History Museum, I gave at the same
time a full description of the animal to which it had belonged, which I
got from the man who actually shot it, there is no supposition in the
matter. If the skull and horns in question are not those of a hybrid
between the South African hartebeest and the tsessebe, then they must
belong to an animal still unknown to science.

There is, I think, no large mammal in the whole world whose coat shows
a greater richness of bloom and a more abrupt contrast of colours than
the bontebok, so called by the old Dutch colonists of the Cape because
of its many coloured hide, for _bont_ means spotted, or blotched, or
variegated. The whole neck, the chest, the sides and under parts of
the head, and the sides of the body of this remarkable antelope are of
a rich dark brown, and the central part of the back is of a beautiful
purple lilac; whilst, in strong contrast to these rich dark colours,
the whole front of the face, a good-sized patch on the rump, the whole
belly, and the legs are of a pure and brilliant white. In life, and
when they are in good condition, a wonderful sheen plays and shimmers
over the glossy coats of these beautifully coloured animals, which
fully atones for the want of grace and refinement in the shape of their
heads and the heavy build of their bodies.

Now, a practical acquaintance with the very limited extent of country
in which the bontebok has been evolved, and where the survivors of the
race still live, makes it quite impossible for me to believe that the
extraordinarily brilliant colouring of this species of antelope can
have been gradually developed in order to make it inconspicuous and
therefore difficult of detection by carnivorous animals, nor can I
believe that it has been evolved for the purpose of mutual recognition
between individuals of the species; for although the snow-white blaze
down the face or the white rump patch might very well subserve such a
purpose, I see no necessity, looking to the habitat and the habits of
the bontebok, for special recognition marks.

Now, before proceeding further, I think I ought to say a word as to the
points of resemblance and the differences between the bontebok and its
near ally the blesbok.

In the latter, the wonderful contrasts of colour to be seen in the
former are considerably toned down; but the difference between the
two species is merely superficial. The general body colour of the
blesbok is dark brown, but not so dark as on the neck and sides of
the bontebok, and the delicate purply lilac colour of the back in the
latter species is altogether wanting in the former. In the blesbok,
too, the colour of the rump just above the tail, which in the bontebok
is snow-white, is brown, though of a paler shade than any other
part of the body. In the blesbok, too, the white face "blaze" is
not continuous from the horns downwards as in the bontebok, but is
interrupted above the eyes by a bar of brown. The legs, too, in the
blesbok are not so white as in the bontebok, and whilst the horns of
the latter species are always perfectly black, in the former they are
of a greenish colour.

In a word, the differences between the bontebok and the blesbok are
confined to the intensity of the colours on various portions of their
hides, the former being much more brilliantly coloured than the latter.

Owing to the fact that the early Dutch settlers at the Cape first met
with the antelopes which they called bonteboks on the plains near
Cape Agulhas, and subsequently at first gave the same name to the
nearly allied species which was discovered about one hundred years
later in the neighbourhood of the Orange river, although these latter
were undoubtedly blesboks and not bonteboks, a great confusion arose
between these two nearly allied species, which I think that I was the
first to clear up, in the article on the bontebok which I contributed
to the _Great and Small Game of Africa_, published by Rowland Ward,
Limited, in 1899. I cannot go into all the arguments I then used, but
there can be no doubt that the animals which Captain (afterwards Sir
Cornwallis) Harris first met with on the bontebok flats near the Orange
river, in the Colesburg division of the Cape Colony, were blesboks
and not bonteboks, and that all the millions of antelopes of the same
species which he subsequently saw to the north of the Orange river and
thought to be bonteboks were also all blesboks, and that he never saw
a bontebok at all until after his return to the Cape, when he made a
special journey to Cape Agulhas to secure specimens of that species,
as he was "anxious to ascertain whether the animal rigorously protected
in the neighbourhood of Cape Agulhas differed in any respect from that
found in the interior, _as pretended by the colonists_."

I think myself that the correct determination of the true distribution
of these two nearly allied species of antelopes is of the utmost
importance to the question as to the influence of environment on the
coloration of animals.

I imagine that the white-faced bontebok was evolved from the same
ancestral form as the topi and the tiang of East and Northern Africa,
for the new-born bontebok as well as the blesbok has a blackish brown
face, and I believe--however fantastic this belief may appear to
be--that the wonderfully rich and varied coloration of this remarkable
antelope has been brought about purely through the influence of its
exceptional environment. The plains where these animals live lie along
the shore of a deep blue sea, the ground beneath their feet is at
certain seasons of the year carpeted with wild flowers, which grow
in such profusion that they give a distinct colour to the landscape,
whilst above them rises a range of mountains of a considerable
altitude, the upper parts of which are often covered with a mantle of
pure white snow. I cannot imagine how any one who has seen bonteboks
on the plains they inhabit can believe that their white rumps, faces,
bellies, and legs, contrasting as they do so vividly with the dark
rich brown of their sides and necks, can afford them any protection
against their carnivorous foes; nor, although a white rump or face is
a conspicuous mark, can I see the necessity of recognition marks for
animals which live on open plains where the vegetation is short, and
where an animal's whole body can be seen at a long distance.

In the blesbok, which also lives on open plains, the white rump patch
so conspicuous in the bontebok has become pale brown, as, I think,
through the influence of the dull monotonous colours of the dreary,
dull-coloured country in which it lives. Ages ago no doubt the bontebok
spread northwards through the karroo into the countries beyond the
Orange and the Vaal rivers, but the gradual desiccation of the whole
of South-Western Africa, which has been going on for a very long
time, must have gradually driven all the bonteboks outside the Cape
peninsula northwards to the Orange river, and completely separated
them from their relatives still living near Cape Agulhas. These latter
have retained all their richness of coloration brought about by the
influence of their very striking surroundings, the deep blue of the
sea, the snow on the mountains, and the bloom of innumerable wild
flowers. The northern herds moved into open plains, in themselves very
similar to the plains near Cape Agulhas, but they are never carpeted
with wild flowers, nor are they skirted by a deep blue sea, nor ever
overlooked by snow-covered mountains. Is it not possible that the
differences which exist to-day between the coloration of the bontebok
and the blesbok are entirely the result of the absence of any kind of
colour but various monotonous shades of brown in the countries in which
the latter species has now been living for a long period of time?

Not only has the rich and beautifully variegated body colouring of the
bontebok become an almost uniform dark brown in the blesbok, but the
snow-white disc on the rump of the former animal has turned to a pale
brown in the latter, whilst the area of white on the face and legs of
the bontebok has already been considerably contracted in the blesbok.

Personally, I look upon the blesbok as a faded bontebok; faded because
it moved northwards out of the richly coloured environment in which it
was first evolved into the dull-coloured plains of its present habitat,
where it subsequently became isolated owing to the desiccation of the
intervening country.

Could the opening up of Africa by the destructive civilised races have
been delayed for a few hundred or a few thousand years, the blesbok
would no doubt have lost the white blaze down the face as completely
as it has lost the white disc over the tail, which is so conspicuous
a feature in the coloration of its immediate ancestor, the bontebok.
To those who believe that every spot or stripe or patch of colour on
every animal is a beautiful illustration of the truth of the theory
of protective coloration, this may seem a very fanciful idea. Yet I
feel convinced that the influence of environment has played a greater
part than is generally believed in the evolution of colour in living
organisms. The weak point in the theory of protective coloration when
applied to large mammals is the fact that all carnivorous animals are
nocturnal and seek their prey habitually by night and by scent, and
only occasionally by daylight and by sight.

I submit that the beautiful case in the Central Hall of the Natural
History Museum at South Kensington--showing an Arctic fox, in its
white winter coat, approaching a Polar hare, also in winter dress, and
an ermine (stoat) hunting for ptarmigan (evidently by sight)--gives
an entirely false view of the struggle for life as carried on by
animals inhabiting the Arctic Regions, for it conveys the idea of the
carnivorous animals of those snow-covered wastes hunting for their prey
in a bright light and by eyesight alone.

But the truth is that the Arctic winter, during the long continuance of
which all living resident creatures, with the exception of the musk ox,
become white,[3] is one long night, in the gloom of which the wolves
and the foxes and the ermines (stoats) search for and find their prey
by scent alone, just as foxes, stoats, and weasels do in this country.
As long as a hare gives out any scent at all, a fox will be able to
follow and find it. The fact that the hare has turned white in the
snow-covered ground in which it is living will not help it as long as
it throws out the scent of its species, nor can it be shown that the
foxes of the sub-Arctic regions, which never turn white in winter, have
any greater difficulty in approaching and killing the white hares on
which they live than the white Arctic foxes experience in catching the
Polar hares.

[3] I do not admit that the raven is a truly Arctic bird. Nansen, in
_Farthest North_, although he kept careful records of all the birds
seen during the three years his expedition lasted, never mentions
having seen a raven, which I believe has only penetrated into the
Arctic Regions, as an excursionist, in comparatively recent times,
following the whaling ships, and living on the carcases of the whales
and seals killed.

There is one other point regarding the protection afforded by colour
to large mammals against carnivorous foes which I think has not been
sufficiently considered by naturalists, and that is, that no matter how
well the colour of an animal may harmonise with its surroundings as
long as it remains perfectly still, as soon as it moves "it jumps to
the eyes," as the French say, no matter what its colour may be. What
is called protective coloration to be effective must be motionless.
Movement, even very slight movement, at once destroys its efficacy. But
no herbivorous animals can remain constantly motionless. They lie down
and rest certainly during the heat of the day, which is, however, just
the time when all carnivorous animals are sleeping. At night and in the
early mornings and late evenings they move about feeding, and it is at
such times that carnivorous animals hunt for their prey. In the dark
these latter are undoubtedly guided by scent and not by sight, and I
cannot see that it matters much to them whether the beasts on which
they prey are black or red or grey or spotted or striped; whilst, if
they should happen to be still hunting after daylight, any antelopes
or other animals feeding and moving about within their range of vision
would at once be seen whatever their colour might be. Every old hunter
knows how easy it is to overlook any animal, no matter what its colour
or surroundings, as long as it is motionless, and how easy it is to see
it as soon as ever it moves.

I have never yet heard any explanation given of the black, and
therefore most conspicuous, coloration of the Cape buffalo. If any
animals needed protective coloration buffaloes certainly did, for in
the interior of South Africa they formed the favourite food of the
lion, and enormous numbers of them must have been annually killed by
these powerful carnivora, which seemed to live with and follow the
larger herds in all their wanderings.

It certainly seems very strange to me that giraffes, which are very
seldom killed by lions or other carnivora, should have found it
necessary to evolve a colour which harmonises with their surroundings,
as a protection against such foes, whilst buffaloes, which in many
districts used once to form the principal food for the lions living
in the same countries, have retained throughout the ages a coloration
which is everywhere except in deep shade singularly conspicuous.
Altogether, a very long experience of the larger mammals inhabiting
Africa and some other parts of the world has convinced me that neither
the need of protection against carnivorous foes nor the theory of
recognition marks can satisfactorily explain all the wonderful
diversity of colour to be seen in the coats of wild animals.



  The lion--Native names for--Character of--Death of Ponto--Picture in
     Gordon Cumming's book--Death of Hendrik--Number of natives killed
     by lions--Usual mode of seizure--A trooper's adventure--Poisonous
     nature of lion's bite--Story of the Tsavo man-eaters--Death of
     Mr. Ryall--Story of the tragedy--Precautions by natives against
     lions--Remains of a lion's victim found--Four women killed--Lion
     killed--Carcase burned--Story of the Majili man-eater--Man-eating
     lions usually old animals--Strength of lions--Large ox killed
     by single lion--Buffaloes killed by lions--Ox slowly killed by
     family of lions--Lions usually silent when attacking and killing
     their prey--Camp approached by three lions--Various ways of
     killing game--Favourite food of lions--Giraffes rarely killed
     by lions--Evidence as to lions attacking elephants--Michael
     Engelbreght's story--Mr. Arnot's letter describing the killing of
     an elephant cow by six lions.

Of all the multifarious forms of life with which the great African
Continent has been so bountifully stocked, none, not even excepting
the "half-reasoning elephant" or the "armed rhinoceros," has been
responsible for such a wealth of anecdote and story, or has stirred the
heart and imagination of mankind to such a degree, as the lion--the
great and terrible meat-eating cat, the monarch of the African
wilderness, by night at least, whose life means constant death to all
his fellow-brutes, from the ponderous buffalo to the light-footed
gazelle, and fear, and often destruction too, to the human inhabitants
of the countries through which he roams.

How often has not the single word "Simba," "Tauw," "Shumba," "Silouān,"
or any other native African synonym for the lion, sent the blood
tingling through the veins of a European traveller or hunter; or when
whispered or screamed in the darkness of the night in a native village
or encampment, brought terror to the hearts of dark-skinned men and

When met in the light of day, a lion may be bold and aggressive,
retiring, or even cowardly, according to its individual character and
the circumstances under which it is encountered; but no one, I think,
who has had anything like a long experience of the nature and habits of
these great carnivora can doubt that by night, particularly on a dark
rainy night, a hungry lion is a terrible and terrifying beast to deal

One day towards the end of the year 1878, my friend Mr. Alfred Cross
left our main camp on the Umfuli river in Mashunaland, and taking an
empty waggon with him, went off to buy corn at some native villages
about twenty miles distant. That same afternoon he outspanned early
near a small stream running into the Umfuli, as a heavy thunderstorm
was threatening. A kraal was made for the oxen, behind which the Kafir
boys arranged a shelter for themselves of boughs and dry grass as a
protection from the anticipated downpour of rain. They also collected
a lot of dry wood in order to be able to keep up a good fire. The
waggon-driver, a native of the Cape Colony, made his bed under the
waggon, to the front wheel of which Mr. Cross's horse was fastened.
As one of the hind oxen kept breaking out of the kraal, it was tied
up by itself to the hind yoke close in front of the waggon. The trek
chain, with the other yokes attached to it, was then stretched straight
out along the ground in front of the waggon. Soon after dark the
thunderstorm, which had been gathering all the afternoon, burst forth
with terrific violence. The rain fell in sheets, soon extinguishing the
fires that had been lighted by the Kafirs, and the blinding flashes
of lightning which continually lit up both heaven and earth with
blue-white light were quickly succeeded by crashing peals of thunder.

The storm had lasted some time and the rain had almost ceased, when the
ox which was tied up all alone to the after yoke of the waggon began to
jump backwards and forwards over the disselboom--the waggon pole.

Cross, who was then lying down inside the waggon, raised himself to a
sitting position, and whilst calling to the ox to quiet it, crawled
forward, and raising the fore sheet, looked out. Just then a vivid
flash of lightning lit up the inky blackness of the night just for
one brief moment. But the brilliant light revealed to my friend every
detail of the surrounding landscape, and showed him with startling
distinctness the form of a big male lion lying flat on the ground
not ten yards in front of the frightened ox, which it would probably
already have seized, had it not been for Cross's loud shouting. The
lion had been no doubt creeping silently towards its would-be prey,
which had already become aware of its proximity, when my friend's
voice caused it to halt and lie flat on the ground watching. By this
time Cross's dog, a well-bred pointer, which had been lying on the
driver's blankets under the waggon, had become aware that something was
wrong--though the lion was no doubt making its approach against the
wind--and was standing just behind the ox, growling.

Directly the position of the lion was revealed to him by the lightning,
Cross seized his rifle, and calling to the waggon-driver to jump up
and hold his horse, took aim in the direction of the crouching brute,
waiting for another flash of lightning. This was not long delayed, and
showed the lion still lying flat on the ground close in front of the
waggon. Cross fired at once. Encouraged by the report of the rifle,
poor Ponto rushed boldly forward, past the terrified ox, into the black
night, barking loudly. A yelp of fright or pain suddenly succeeded
the bold barking of the dog, and poor Ponto's voice was stilled for
ever. He had rushed right into the lion's jaws, and had been instantly
killed and carried off. Fires were then made up again, but the lion,
apparently satisfied with a somewhat light repast, did not give any
further trouble. On the following morning Cross could find no part of
Ponto but the head. All the rest of him had apparently been eaten.

I remember even to-day, and with perfect distinctness, though I have
not seen it for many years, a certain picture in Gordon Cumming's
well-known book on African hunting, and the fearful fascination it
always had for me when I was a small boy. That picture represented a
great gaunt lion in the act of seizing one of the hunter's Hottentot
servants--poor Hendrik--as he lay asleep by the camp fire; but it
left to the imagination all the horror and agony of mind suffered by
the poor wretch, when so rudely awakened at dead of night and swiftly
dragged away into the darkness to a cruel death, in spite of the
gallant attempts of his comrades to save him.

During the sixty odd years that have elapsed since this tragedy was
enacted on the banks of the Limpopo, many a similar incident has taken
place. Some of these occurrences have come within the knowledge of,
and been described by, European travellers and hunters, yet these have
been but isolated cases, and can only represent a very small percentage
of the number of natives that have been dragged away from their camp
fires, or even killed in their huts, by hungry lions within recent

As a rule, I think, a lion seizes a sleeping man by the head, and in
that case, unless it is a very old and weakly animal, death must be
usually instantaneous, as its great fang teeth will be driven into the
brain through the thickest negro skull.

I have known of two instances of men having been seized at night by the
shoulder. This, I think, is likely to happen to a sleeping man lying
on his side with one shoulder raised, especially if his recumbent form
should happen to be covered with a blanket, in which case the most
prominent part of him would very likely be mistaken by a lion for his

In the early 'nineties of the last century, two troopers of the
British South Africa Company's Police started one afternoon from
the neighbourhood of Lo Magondi's kraal to ride into Salisbury, the
capital of Mashunaland, a distance of about seventy miles. They rode
until dark, and then off-saddling their horses, tied them to a tree,
and after having had something to eat and cooked a pot of tea, lay
down by the side of the camp fire they had kindled, intending to sleep
until the moon rose and then continue their journey by its light.
About midnight, however, and when it was very dark, for the moon had
not yet risen, a prowling lion came up to their lonely bivouac, and,
disregarding their horses, seized one of them by the shoulder and at
once dragged him away into the darkness. His companion, awakened by his
cries, quickly realised what had happened, and snatching up his rifle,
ran to his friend's assistance and fired two or three shots into the
air in quick succession. This so startled the lion that it dropped its
prospective supper and made off. The wounded man, it was found, had
received a severe bite in the shoulder when the lion first seized him,
but fortunately had not suffered any further injuries, and was able to
proceed with his friend to Salisbury as soon as the moon had risen.
He had to be sent to the Hospital on his arrival there, as, although
his hurts were not very serious, any wound indicted by the teeth of a
lion is, as a rule, very difficult to heal unless carefully attended
to at once and cauterised with a strong lotion of carbolic acid. Dr.
Livingstone has described how he suffered for years from the bite of
a lion; and I have myself seen wounds from the teeth of one of these
animals in a horse's neck, which had never been properly attended
to, still suppurating thirteen months after they had been inflicted;
whilst, on the other hand, I have seen wounds from the bite of a lion,
which were cauterised at once, heal up very quickly and never reopen.

Of all the lion stories that I have ever heard or read, I think none
equals in dramatic interest the thrilling narrative of Mr. J. H.
Patterson's[4] experiences with two man-eaters during the construction
of the Uganda Railway in 1898. This very remarkable story, a brief
account of which I first read some years ago with the most absorbing
interest in the _Field_ newspaper, has now, I am glad to say, been
incorporated in the record of his experiences in East Africa which
Colonel Patterson has recently published under the title of _The
Man-Eaters of Tsavo_. Mr. Patterson (as he then was) at last succeeded
in ridding the country of both of these dread beasts, but not before
they had killed and eaten twenty-eight Indian coolies employed upon the
construction of the Uganda Railway, and caused such a panic through
the country-side, that at one time it looked as if the building of the
railway would have to be abandoned altogether for the time being.

[4] This gentleman greatly distinguished himself in the late South
African War, and is now Lieut. Col. Patterson, D.S.O.

The death of Mr. C. H. Ryall, the Assistant Superintendent of the
East African Police Force, who was killed by a man-eating lion inside
a railway carriage on the Uganda Railway, is also a most interesting
episode, as it shows how extraordinarily bold a hungry lion may become,
when in search of prey during the hours of darkness.

When in East Africa a few years ago, I met both the other two Europeans
(Mr. Huebner, a German, and Mr. Parenti, an Italian) who were in the
carriage with Mr. Ryall when he was killed, and I heard the story of
the tragedy from their lips.

The railway carriage in question, which contained a small saloon and
an adjoining servants' compartment, had been pulled on to a siding,
close to a small station on the Uganda Railway, in order to give its
occupants the chance of getting a shot at a man-eating lion which had
lately been giving trouble in the neighbourhood--either as it came
prowling about during the night or by hunting it up the next morning.
There was a small window on each side of the little saloon, and a
sliding door at the end of the carriage. Both the windows and the door
were wide open. Mr. Ryall took the first watch, and seems to have taken
up a position on one of the seats of the carriage, with his back to the
open window. His head and shoulders would therefore probably have been
visible to the eyes of a nocturnal animal from outside.

Mr. Huebner turned in and went to sleep on one of the top berths in the
carriage, and Mr. Parenti made his bed on the floor. It is probable, I
think, that Mr. Ryall also went to sleep after a time. What happened
afterwards I will now relate as it was told to me by Mr. Parenti. "I
was awakened from a sound sleep by the sensation of a weight holding
me down on the floor, and for a moment was unable to move. Then the
weight was taken off me, and I raised my head with a jerk. My face
immediately came in contact with a soft hairy body, and I became
conscious of a disagreeable smell. In an instant I realised that there
was a lion in the railway carriage, and that at that moment it was
killing poor Mr. Ryall, as I heard a sort of gurgling noise, the only
sound he ever made."

Mr. Huebner seems to have awakened at the same time, and to have at
once jumped down on to the floor of the carriage, where he and Mr.
Parenti and the lion were all mixed up together. At this time the
weight of the lion and the struggling men combined slightly tipped the
carriage to one side, causing the sliding door to close automatically,
and thus materially increasing the horror of the situation. Mr.
Parenti, as soon as he could collect his thoughts, made his escape
from the carriage through the open window opposite to the one against
which poor Mr. Ryall had been sitting when the lion seized him, and Mr.
Huebner burst open the door communicating with the smaller compartment
occupied by Mr. Ryall's two Indian servants, who, having become aware
that there was a lion in the other room with the "Sahibs," were holding
the door against the crowd with all their strength. Mr. Huebner,
however, who is a heavy, powerful man, soon overcame their resistance.

To do it justice, this lion does not seem to have had any wish to make
itself unnecessarily disagreeable. It wanted something to eat, but,
having got hold of Mr. Ryall, seems never to have paid the smallest
attention to any one else. In all probability, I think, it had seen
its victim's back and head from outside against the open window, and,
coming round to the open door, had entered the carriage and made
straight for him, treading on Mr. Parenti's sleeping form as it crossed
the floor. It seized Mr. Ryall by the throat just under the jaw, and
must have reared itself up, probably resting its fore-paws on the
seat of the carriage, to have done so. Mr. Ryall must have been killed
by the first bite almost instantaneously, as he never seems to have
struggled or made any noise but a low gurgling sound.

The windows of the carriages on the Uganda Railway are small, but after
having killed Mr. Ryall, this lion--a big male--succeeded in carrying
off his body through the comparatively small opening. It probably never
relaxed its hold on his throat until it had got his dead body safely
out of the carriage and pulled it away to some distance.

The half-eaten remains of the unfortunate man were recovered the next
day nearly a mile away from the railway carriage in which he had met
his death; but the lion was nowhere to be found, and in spite of a
large reward offered for its destruction, it was some time before this
bold and dangerous beast was disposed of. At last, however, it was
caught alive in a big cage-trap made by a Mr. Costello, who at that
time was the station-master at Makindu, on the Uganda Railway. After
having been photographed, this lion was shot. This photograph was shown
me by Mr. Costello himself, who told me that the captured animal was
old and mangy, with very worn teeth and claws, and a short, scrubby
mane. He thought that there could be no reasonable doubt that it was
the lion that had killed poor Mr. Ryall, but of course nobody can be
absolutely certain on this point.

Natives living in very small communities, in wild districts where game
being still abundant, lions also are consequently fairly numerous, are
often troubled at night by these animals. In such cases a man-eating
lion usually proves to be an old and almost worn-out beast, which
having grown too weak to catch and kill its usual prey, has been driven
by hunger to approach the haunts of men. Urged on by its desperate
need, such a lion knows no fear, and will not hesitate to enter a small
native village or even to force its way into a hut in search of food.

In 1879, whilst hunting elephants in the country to the east of the
Chobi or Quito river, I met with a very primitive tribe of natives
living in families or very small communities in isolated villages along
the bank of the river. Their huts were of the flimsiest description,
being formed of a light framework of poles, over which a few grass mats
had been stretched; but the two or three, up to half a dozen, ill-made
huts which formed each village were always surrounded and protected by
a carefully made stockade, the poles forming which were all sharpened
at the end and hardened by having been charred in the fire, and so
placed that they slanted outwards and would have been very difficult to
surmount from the outside. The natives informed me that they had taken
this trouble as a defence against lions.


One morning, in this same district, I came upon most of the skeleton
of a man who had been killed and eaten by a lion a few days before.
He had evidently been sitting or lying by a fire when caught, and had
probably been overtaken by darkness when on his way from one village to
another. This man's spears lay close to his bones, so that he must have
been holding them in his hand when he was seized. None of my Kafirs
would touch them. Apparently it was not etiquette to meddle with the
belongings of a dead man, though I think that most of the members of
my retinue would not have been above stealing anything they might have
found lying about, belonging to a live one.

In April 1878 a lion entered a small Banyai village near the river
Umay, in Northern Matabeleland, a short time after I had left it, and,
not being able to make its way into any of the huts through the small
doorways, all of which had been very carefully barricaded, climbed on
the roof of one of them, and tearing away the grass thatching, forced
its way in from the top. There were three or four women inside the
hut, and it killed them all; but, having gorged itself, was apparently
unable to make its escape through the roof again, and was speared to
death by the men of the village the next morning through the framework
of the hut, after the mud plaster had been removed in places.

A native servant of my own, whom I had left behind in this village,
was present when this lion was killed, and he told me that, as soon
as it was dead, a huge bonfire was built, on which the carcase of the
man-eater was thrown, and the fire kept up until it was quite consumed.

The most cunning and destructive man-eating lion--probably because it
was not an old and weakly animal, but in the prime of life--that I ever
heard of in South Africa was one which once haunted the neighbourhood
of the Majili river, a tributary of the central Zambesi from the north.
I gave some account of the doings of this bold and ferocious beast
in the course of an article which I contributed to the pages of the
_Fortnightly Review_ some twenty years ago, and as I have the kind
permission of the editor and proprietor of that publication to do so, I
will now retell the story as I originally heard it from one of my own
native servants shortly after the occurrences related took place.

In the early part of 1886 two half-caste elephant-hunters, Henry Wall
and Black Jantje--the latter for several years both before and after
this time a trusted servant of my own--crossed the Zambesi at its
junction with the Quito or Chobi, in order to hunt elephants in the
country to the north between the Majili and Ungwesi rivers.

They soon heard from the natives that there was a man-eating lion in
the district which had already killed several people, and they were
therefore careful to see that a strong fence was made every night
behind their camp, and sufficient dry wood collected to keep up good
fires during the hours of darkness. The two half-civilised hunters were
accustomed to sleep by themselves within a strong semicircular fence,
the open end of which was protected by a large fire. All but one of
their native boys--wild Batongas and Masubias--slept together, lying in
a row with a strong fence behind them and a succession of fires near
their feet. The boy who would not sleep with the others, always lay by
one or other of the fires by himself.

One night, Henry Wall, who was a very light sleeper, and had perhaps
been dreaming of lions, was awakened, as he afterwards declared, by
the sound of a low growl or purr close to him. Springing to his feet,
he shouted out, "De leeuw is hier!" ("The lion's here!"); "wake up,
Jantje!" But Jantje and all the Kafirs were fast asleep, and it was
not until they had been awakened and questioned that it was discovered
that the man who had been lying by one of the fires all alone was
gone. Where he had gone and why was not left long in doubt, for almost
immediately a lion was heard eating his remains close behind the
encampment. Henry Wall and Jantje at once fired in the direction of the
sound, on which the lion retired to a safer distance with its prey.

As soon as it was broad daylight, the hunters took up the spoor of the
lion, which was, they told me, quite easy to follow through the dewy
grass. It was not long before they saw it walking slowly along with its
head half-turned, holding the dead man by one shoulder, so that his
legs dragged at its side. As soon as it became aware that it was being
followed, it dropped its prey, and wheeling round, stood looking at its
pursuers, twitching its tail and growling angrily.

Henry Wall, who was a very good shot and a cool and courageous man, now
tried to fire, but the old, clumsy, muzzle-loading elephant gun he was
using only snapped the cap. At this juncture Jantje, who was a little
to one side, was unable to fire because there was a bush in his way,
and before Henry Wall could get another cap on the nipple of his gun,
the Kafir who carried his second weapon fired at and missed the lion,
which instantly turned and, running into a patch of bush, made good its

On examination, it was found that the dead man had been seized by the
head. He must have been killed instantaneously, as the two upper canine
teeth had been driven through the top of the skull, whilst one of the
lower ones had entered beneath the jaw and broken the bone. During the
night the corpse had been disembowelled and all the flesh eaten off the
thighs and buttocks.

A few days later, a native family was attacked not far from the scene
of the episode I have just recounted, and almost certainly by the same

All over Africa, wherever game is plentiful, it is customary for the
natives, at the season when their crops are ripening, to build huts
in their fields, in which they spend the night and endeavour to keep
buffaloes, elephants, and all kinds of antelopes out of their corn by
shouting and beating tom-toms. The huts are often built on the top of
platforms raised ten or twelve feet above the ground and reached by a
ladder. The native family in question occupied two huts--a large one
built on the ground and a small one on the top of a platform. The
large hut was occupied by a woman and her two children, whilst her
husband kept watch alone in the little open hut above.

One night the dread man-eater of the Majili came prowling round, and
scenting the native on the platform, either sprang up and seized him
with its teeth, or more probably, I think, half clambered up by the
help of the ladder, and dragged him from his shelter with its claws. At
any rate, it bore him to the ground and speedily killed him, but not
before he had made a good deal of noise, as reported afterwards by his
children. His wife, awakened by the cries of her husband, opened the
door of her hut and rushed out, leaving the two children inside. The
lion at once left the man, who was then dead, and seizing the woman,
quickly killed her. It never returned to the body of the man at all,
but ate all the fleshy parts of the woman, retiring into the bush
before daylight, and never revisiting the corpses.

All through the dry season this lion kept the natives in the
neighbourhood of the Majili river in a constant state of alarm, and
whilst adding steadily to the number of its victims, baffled every
attempt made to hunt it down and destroy it. After having been away
for some months, hunting elephants in the country farther north, Henry
Wall and Black Jantje once again camped on the Majili river on their
way back to the Zambesi, and for the second time the man-eater paid
them a visit. This time Jantje was awake, and hearing, as he told me,
a low purring growl, jumped up, calling out, "Daat's de leeuw wieder!"
("That's the lion again!").

At the same time one of the Kafirs stood up holding his hand to his

"What's the matter with you?" asked Jantje, going up to him.

"I don't know," answered the man; "something hit me on the head."

At this moment Jantje saw by the light of the fire blood running down
his neck, and called out, "Wake, wake, it was the lion I heard! Wake,
wake, and see if every one is here!"

It soon appeared that one of the Kafirs was missing, and this is no
doubt what had happened. The lion must have crept or sprung in amongst
the sleepers, and seizing one of them by the head, must have killed
him instantly and carried him off. But in doing so it must have struck
the man lying next him on the head with one of its paws, and inflicted
a slight scalp wound with one of its claws. The body of the man who
had been carried off was not recovered, because, as Henry Wall and
Jantje told me, the rest of the Kafirs would give them no assistance in
following up the lion the next day.

This dangerous man-eater was at last mortally wounded by the spears
of two young men whom it attacked in broad daylight close to a small
native village. One of these youths died the same evening from the
mauling he received in the encounter, but he had driven his spear into
the lion's chest when it attacked him, and his companion had also
struck it in the side with a light throwing spear. The next day, all
the men from the two or three little villages in the neighbourhood
turned out and followed up the bloody tracks of the wounded lion. They
had not far to go, for the grim beast lay dead, with the two spears
still sticking in it, within a short distance from the spot where it
had attacked the two young men the previous day. As is the custom when
man-eating lions are killed in the interior of Africa, a great quantity
of dry wood was then collected, and a huge fire lighted, on which the
carcase was thrown and utterly consumed.

There is one rather curious fact in connection with the history of
this notorious man-eating lion which I omitted from the first account
I wrote of its doings, but which I will now relate, as it is of
interest. Soon after dark on the night of the second attack on their
camp, Henry Wall and Jantje and all their boys heard the sudden rush
of an affrighted herd of buffaloes, which had been feeding in the open
ground between their camp and the Majili river. Suddenly there was the
loud and agonised bellow of a buffalo in pain and terror, and they all
knew that one of these animals had been seized by a lion. The following
morning they found a buffalo cow lying dead not two hundred yards from
their camp, with its head twisted in under it and its neck dislocated.
It had the claw-marks usual in such cases over the muzzle and on the
shoulder, showing the manner in which it had been seized, but after
having been killed it had not been touched. The tracks of the lion,
however, led from the carcase of the buffalo to the hunters' camp, and
I think that there can be no doubt that it was the same animal which
killed the buffalo that a few hours later carried off a human being.
If so, it proves two things. Firstly, that this man-eating lion must
have been in its prime, for it requires a strong and vigorous male lion
to kill a full-grown buffalo cow or a heavy bullock neatly and quickly
by breaking its neck; and secondly, that it preferred human flesh to
that of a buffalo. It must either have seen the gleam of the camp fires
for the first time immediately after it had killed the buffalo, and
abandoned the carcase in the hope of obtaining more succulent food,
or, if it was aware of the neighbourhood of the hunters' camp before
it attacked the buffalo, it must have killed the latter out of sheer

Though similar cases of lions becoming confirmed man-eaters when in
the prime of life and still in the enjoyment of their full strength
and vigour do from time to time occur--the celebrated Tsavo man-eaters
which played such havoc amongst the construction camps on the Uganda
Railway were reported to have been far from old--yet it cannot be
denied that in the vast majority of cases a lion only takes to killing
human beings in its declining years, and when its strength is failing.

On this subject, Dr. Livingstone wrote many years ago: "A man-eater is
invariably an old lion, and when he overcomes his fear of man so far
as to come to villages for goats, the people remark, 'His teeth are
worn, he will soon kill men.' They at once acknowledge the necessity of
instant action and turn out to kill him."

Speaking generally, nothing truer could have been written than these
sentences; but there are exceptions to every rule, and when a strong
and vigorous lion does take to preying upon human beings, it is
naturally not so easy to hunt down and destroy as would be an old and
weakly beast, whose "teeth are worn."

An adult male lion is probably possessed of greater strength in
proportion to its size and weight than any other African animal. It
will kill with astonishing ease and dexterity a full-grown buffalo cow
or the heaviest bullock, and probably sometimes a buffalo bull or a
giraffe. I never remember, however, to have seen the carcase of an old
buffalo bull that had palpably been killed by a single lion, whilst
I have shot several buffalo bulls that had escaped from lions after
receiving very severe wounds from their teeth and claws. I once had a
very good opportunity of noting the manner in which a big male lion
killed a heavy ox, which would certainly have scaled more than twice
its own weight. This ox was killed during the night, but as the lion
was immediately driven from the carcase, it had no time to inflict any
wound upon it other than those made when it first seized its victim,
and the ground being soft from recent rain, every step taken by both
the ox and the lion during the brief struggle was plainly visible. The
lion had evidently crept close up to where the ox was lying (within
forty yards of my waggon), and had either attacked it where it lay
or just as it was rising to its feet. It had not jumped upon its
victim, but throughout the struggle had always kept its hind-feet on
the ground. The only wounds that had been inflicted on the ox were
claw-marks on the nose and on the top of the left shoulder-blade, and
the lion had evidently seized it by the muzzle with its left paw and on
the top of the shoulder with the right, and had simply held it, pulling
its head in towards its chest. The ox had plunged forward, dragging
the lion with it for a few yards, and had then fallen with its head
twisted right under it and its neck dislocated. Whether the lion had
broken the ox's neck by its own strength, or whether the dislocation
was due to the way in which it fell with its head twisted in under it,
I cannot say; but my experience is that when a single lion tries to
kill an ox or a buffalo, it invariably seizes it over the muzzle with
one paw, and usually succeeds in either breaking its victim's neck
or causing it to break it itself by its own weight in falling. When
several lions attack an ox or buffalo, they will often bite and tear it
all over and take a long time to kill it. Upon several occasions I have
listened to the protracted bellowing of buffaloes being thus mauled to
death. Upon one occasion a party of five lions stampeded my oxen as
they lay round the waggon, and very soon seized and pulled down one
of them. The wretched creature bellowed most fearfully, and must have
been suffering terribly. Hastily lighting torches of long dry grass,
several of my Kafirs and I ran to help it. The blazing grass scared
the lions off, and they left the ox before the light of the torches
reached them. The wounded animal immediately got up and rushed off
again into the darkness, but had not gone far before its loud bellowing
told us the lions had got hold of it once more. They took some time to
kill it, but its agonised bellowings gradually died away in low moans,
until at length all was again quiet. During the approach of these five
lions to my camp, and the subsequent chase and long-drawn-out killing
of the ox, not one of them made the slightest sound; and as far as my
own personal experience goes, with one exception, whenever lions have
reconnoitred or attacked my camp at night, and bitten or killed any
of my native followers or cattle or horses, they have done all their
stalking and killing without making a sound. If disturbed, however,
they always growl loudly. On the occasion I have referred to as an
exception to this rule, three lions--as we learnt the next morning by
the spoor--came quite close up to my bivouac one night in Northern
Mashunaland, and one of them gave a very loud roar which woke us all
up. I was travelling at the time with a small cart and eight oxen,
which were tied to the yokes, and were right in the open, unprotected
either by fires or any kind of kraal or fence. My two horses were
tied to one of the wheels, and my few native servants and myself were
lying close to them, with a small fence of soft bush behind us. The
three lions that came so near us in the night could not have been very
hungry, or they would assuredly have seized one of my oxen. Perhaps the
one that so suddenly roared only did so with the idea of frightening
the oxen, and if one of them had broken the raw hide thong with which
it was fastened to the yoke, and run off away from our camp, all three
of them would very likely have pursued and killed it. Fortunately,
neither my oxen nor my horses showed much fear on this occasion, and
although the former pulled a bit, they did not break their thongs,
and we soon quieted them and then built up some big fires. The lions
passed on up the little river near which we were camped, and before
long began to roar loudly, a pretty good sign, I think, that they had
already dined and were not hunting. Why, when a family of four or five
lions are hunting together, one of their number being an old male, they
should kill an ox so much less artistically than the old male would
have done, if he had been alone, I do not know. Possibly the eagerness
of each member of the party renders a scientific attack by any one of
them impossible, or perhaps the older lions allow the younger ones to
do the killing for practice. There is no doubt, I think, that lions
know that the head, throat, and the back of the neck are the most vital
spots in all animals on which they prey. Human beings are nearly always
seized by the head or neck; horses, donkeys, and zebras are almost
invariably killed by bites in the back of the neck just behind the
ears, or by bites in the throat; whilst they either dislocate the necks
of heavy animals like buffaloes, or hold them in such a way that they
can hardly help falling and breaking their own necks. The lion which
broke the neck of one of my oxen, as I have described above, escaped
punishment when it returned to the carcase the following evening owing
to my rifle missing fire. It then visited a mining camp close at hand,
and forcing its way into an enclosure in which there were fourteen
sheep and goats and one calf, it killed every one of these unfortunate
animals. I shot this lion early the following morning and then examined
its victims. Every one of them, the calf as well as the sheep and
goats, had been killed by a single bite in the head. In each case the
upper canine teeth had been driven through the top of the skull or the
back of the neck just behind the ears. I once came on a young elephant
only a few minutes after it had been killed by a lion. The only wounds
I could find were deep tooth-marks in the throat.

Lions kill and eat every kind of wild animal in Africa with the
exception of the Pachydermata--though they occasionally catch and
kill a young elephant or rhinoceros that has been separated from its
mother--but as long as buffaloes and zebras are plentiful in the
countries they inhabit, they will kill far more of these than of any
other animal. Quaggas and Burchell's zebras probably formed their
chief food on the plains of the Cape Colony, the Orange River Colony,
and the Transvaal before those countries were settled by Europeans;
whilst farther north, where great numbers of buffaloes frequented the
neighbourhood of every river, the lions lived almost entirely on these
animals, following the herds in all their wanderings, just as in North
America the prairie wolves were always in attendance on the bisons.
Giraffes are sometimes killed by lions, but according to my experience
only very rarely; no doubt because they must be very awkward animals
to pull down, and also for the reason that, generally speaking, they
inhabit dry, waterless stretches of country, throughout which game is
usually only sparsely distributed and into which lions do not penetrate.

Although I have excluded the Pachydermata from the list of animals on
which lions prey, there nevertheless seems to be good evidence that
these carnivora do sometimes attack and kill good-sized cow elephants.

I well remember an old Boer hunter, Michael Engelbreght, telling me of
an unsuccessful attack made by lions on a cow elephant within a short
distance of the shooting hole where he was lying one night watching
for elephants coming to drink at Tamasanka vley on the old road to the
Zambesi. This incident had occurred only a few nights before I met
Engelbreght at the vley in question. But it happened so long ago (in
1874) that I cannot remember anything more than that the elephant was
held up by the lions for some hours, and that the trumpeting of the
former was accompanied by the loud growling of the latter, and that
when my informant examined the ground where the combat had taken place,
the next morning, he found a great deal of thorn bush trampled down
by the elephant, and some blood on the ground. The former, however,
although probably it had been badly bitten in the trunk and legs, had
kept the lions from its throat, and had finally beaten them off and
made good its retreat. Michael Engelbreght was at that time a man of
over sixty years of age, and as he had been a hunter from his youth
upwards, in the golden days of South African hunting, he must have had
a vast experience of the habits of wild animals, but I well remember
that he spoke of this incident of an elephant having been attacked by
lions as wonderful and almost incredible.

I have, however, heard of another case of an elephant having been
attacked and killed by lions.

When passing through Kimberley in 1895, I met my old friend Mr. F.
S. Arnot, who has done such splendid work as a pioneer missionary in
Central Africa, and who is an absolutely reliable man, and he then told
me a story of an elephant having been killed by lions near Lake Mweru.
Hearing last year that Mr. Arnot was in England, I wrote and asked him
if he would kindly tell me this story again, as I wanted to put it
on record. In the course of his answer to my letter Mr. Arnot wrote:
"The lion story I told you may appear rather _tall_ to some, but when
travelling between Lakes Tanganyika and Mweru, in November 1894, and
when skirting the northern end of the great Mweru Marsh--a regular
elephants' stronghold--my men suddenly left me _en masse_--they were
a raw set of men--returning presently with elephant flesh. They then
told me that our guides having informed them that they had that morning
seen six hungry lions attack and pull down a full-grown cow elephant,
just ahead of where we then were, they had left me so suddenly in order
to drive the lions off and get some meat. Unfortunately, I did not see
the lions myself, but there could be no doubt about the truth of our
guides' statement, for I saw the lions' spoor and the carcase of the
dead elephant. The tusks were very small, but my men brought them. They
may have weighed from four to five pounds each."

As the tusks were so small, this elephant could hardly have been a
full-grown cow; but it must have been a good-sized animal, probably a
young cow about three-parts grown. It is a great pity that Mr. Arnot
did not examine the carcase carefully and ascertain exactly how the
elephant had been killed. As the natives, however, asserted positively
that they had seen six lions attack and kill it, and as Mr. Arnot is
fully convinced that their story was true, I think it ought to be
accepted as a fact, especially as cases of full-grown elephants having
been killed by tigers in India and Burma have been put on record.


  NOTES ON THE LION (_continued_)

  Depredations of lions in Mashunaland--Sad death of Mr. Teale--Great
     slaughter of pigs by a lioness--Mode of entering a cattle
     kraal--Method of killing prey--Sharpness of lion's claws--Mode of
     seizing a horse in motion--Lion chasing koodoos--Lions lying in
     wait for oxen--How a lion charges--Black Jantje's story--Numbing
     effect of lion's bite--Cruelty in nature--Appearance of wild
     lions--Colour of eyes--Lions at bay--A crouching lion--A lucky
     shot--The cat a lion in miniature--A danger signal--Social habits
     of lions--Troops of lions--Lions on the Mababi plain--Difference
     between cubs of one litter--Individual differences in lions--Great
     variation in the development of the mane--Lion probably first
     evolved in a cold climate--Still found in Europe in the time of
     Herodotus--Effect of cold on growth of lion's mane.

When a previously uninhabited piece of country is invaded and settled
up by a tribe of natives or by Europeans, lions are always very
troublesome, as they look upon all the newly introduced domestic
animals as some new species of game specially brought into the country
for their benefit.

For the first few months after Mr. Rhodes's pioneers entered
Mashunaland in 1890, I kept as accurate an account as I could of the
number of horses, donkeys, oxen, sheep, goats, and pigs that were
killed by lions, and it soon amounted to more than two hundred. During
the same time two white men were killed and several others severely
injured by lions. The saddest case was that of a young man named Teale,
who had come to Mashunaland in the hope of making his fortune by
market-gardening. He was outspanned one night near a native village not
far from Umtali, where he had gone to buy grain. His four oxen were
tied to the yokes, and he with his native driver was sleeping on the
ground beneath his two-wheeled cart, when he was seized and carried off
by a lion. What the lion did not eat of him, the hyænas probably got,
as nothing was ever found but his head and one foot with the boot still
on it.

A rather curious incident happened the following year at a farm on
the Hanyani river about forty miles from Salisbury. The owner of the
farm--from whom I heard this story (which was fully corroborated by
his native servants)--was breeding pigs, and had a large number of
these animals in a series of pens, separated from one another by low
partitions, but all under one thatched roof. One night a lioness
managed to force her way into the piggery between two poles, and after
having satisfied her hunger, was apparently unable to find her way out
again, and either became angry or frightened, or else must have been
overcome with an almost insatiable lust for killing. At any rate, she
wandered backwards and forwards through the pens and killed almost all
the pigs, over a hundred altogether, each one with a bite in the head
or the back of the neck. She had only eaten portions of two young pigs.
She managed to effect her escape before daylight, but returned the
following night, and was shot by a set gun. I saw her skull, which was
that of a full-grown lioness with good teeth.

There appears to be a considerable difference of opinion as to the
means usually adopted by lions to effect an entrance by night into a
cattle kraal or a camp surrounded by a fence. They are often said to
leap boldly over high fences and stockades. In my own experience I
have not known them do this. They will walk through any opening in
an enclosure, but in the absence of such a means of ingress, I have
always found that they got inside by creeping through the fence, even
when it was low and very thick and thorny. I have known a lion to walk
round and round a stockaded cattle kraal, and at last force its way
in by pressing two poles apart and squeezing through the opening thus
made. Should lions, however, be disturbed and suddenly fired at whilst
feeding on a bullock which they have killed inside an enclosure, they
will almost always jump over the fence in their hurry to escape.

I have never seen any evidence of a lion's killing its prey by striking
it a heavy blow with one of its paws, and I believe that it always
endeavours to kill by biting, and only uses its claws for holding or
pulling an animal to its mouth. I have seen both a lion and a lioness
bayed by dogs repeatedly throw out their fore-paws like lightning
when one of these latter came near them; but the movement was not in
the nature of a blow, but rather an attempt to hook one of the dogs
in their claws and draw it to them. Lions, I think, must often lose
their prey through the very sharpness of their claws, which cut like
knives through the skin and flesh of a heavy animal in motion. I have
known several instances of a lion overtaking a horse that had only had
a short start. In such a case a lion will not land with a flying leap
right on to a horse's back. It gallops close along the ground until it
is almost under the horse's tail, and then, rearing itself up on its
hind-legs, seizes it on either flank, endeavouring to hold it with the
protruded claws of its great fore-paws. But almost invariably in such
a case it fails to stop a galloping horse, its claws simply cutting
great gashes through skin and flesh. I once saw a lion chasing four
koodoos in broad daylight, though on a cold cloudy morning. It was
galloping after them flat along the ground as hard as it could go,
and looked like an enormous mastiff, especially as, though a male,
it had but little mane. On another occasion, late one evening, I saw
a lion and two lionesses lying in wait for some cattle of mine which
were feeding towards them. Every now and then one or other of the lions
would raise its head for a moment above the grass to see that the oxen
were still coming on, lowering it again after one quick look. But for
my intervention, these lions would probably have lain quite still until
one or other of the oxen had fed close up to them, when they would
have seized it by the head before it had time to turn. As lions nearly
always hunt by scent and by night, they no doubt come up wind and
approach as near as possible to a herd of game before making an attack,
and probably often lie quite still until some animal feeds right on to
them. In a country where game is plentiful, one would imagine that on
a dark night lions must have but little trouble in securing food, and
this is no doubt the case, as these carnivora become excessively fat
wherever game is really plentiful.

When a lion charges, it does not come on in great leaps, nor does it
strike its adversary a crushing blow with its paw. It comes along
close to the ground like a great dog and bites, often so low that
its forefeet can hardly be off the ground. Two Boer hunters of my
acquaintance were both of them first bitten in the thigh. Shortly after
the opening up of Mashunaland, too, an Englishman and a Dane were both
seized in the same way by charging lions when hunting near the Pungwe
river, in Portuguese East Africa, the latter dying from his wounds. In
1877 an Englishman was charged by an unwounded lion in Mashunaland and
severely bitten in the groin; and in the following year, in the same
locality, an old Hottentot servant of mine was badly bitten in the
small of the back when running away from a charging lion which he had
previously wounded. All these wounds were so low down that they must
have been inflicted when the lion's forefeet were on the ground. On the
other hand, many cases are on record of men standing facing charging
lions being seized by the left forearm and sometimes by the shoulder.
I do not remember to have heard of a case of a man being bitten in the
head in a frontal charge, but one of my old servants, "Black Jantje,"
described to me very minutely the way in which he saw from a distance
of only a few yards a Bushman killed by a wounded lion. When the lion
charged every one ran, and just as "Black Jantje" reached a small
tree, it dashed past him and the next instant caught up to a Bushman.
It appeared, Jantje told me, to rear itself up, and placing a forepaw
on each shoulder, gave the unfortunate savage a bite in the head.
There were no wounds on the man's shoulders, but his skull was bitten
through, and he was dashed to the ground with such violence that the
skin was knocked off both his knees. The wounded lion made no further
attack, but walking slowly away to the foot of a neighbouring tree, lay
down and presently died within a few yards of its dead enemy. Two cases
have come within my experience of lions charging home, and after having
thrown their adversaries to the ground with one severe bite, leaving
them without further molestation. I have known personally a number
of men who had been mauled by lions. Every one of them was bitten,
not struck by the lion's paw. Indeed, most of them were absolutely
untouched by the lion's claws.

I once made the acquaintance of a fine old Boer hunter with whom I
subsequently became very intimate, just after he had been very severely
mauled by a lion. On asking him if he had felt much pain when the
lion was biting him--he had eleven deep tooth wounds in the one thigh,
besides others in the left arm and hand, and described the lion as
having "chewed" him--he answered, "Ja, ik at byung sair gekrij" ("Yes,
I felt much pain"); and some Kafirs have also told me that they have
suffered much when being bitten by lions. It is possible that old
Petrus Jacobs and my Kafir informants did really feel some pain at
the time when they were being bitten, but in the case of Europeans,
at any rate, who probably possess very highly-strung nervous systems,
all the first-hand evidence I have been able to gather goes to prove
that the bite of a lion or a tiger is practically painless. I imagine
that the reason of this is, that the tremendous energy exerted by a
lion in biting is equivalent to a heavy blow, which produces such a
shock to the nervous system that all sensation is for the time being
deadened, as it would be by a heavy blow from a sledge-hammer. I do not
think that any kind of wounds from either blows or bullets or bites
are likely to give any appreciable pain if inflicted swiftly when the
blood is up; but they become painful enough very soon afterwards. When
animals are killed quickly by lions, they too probably suffer very
little, if at all, but no one who has listened, as I have done, to the
bellowing of an ox or a buffalo being killed by inches could possibly
say that such an animal's sufferings were not very great. I once had a
fine stallion donkey killed by a hyæna within a short distance of my
bivouac. It had first been seized between the hind-legs by its foul
assailant, and its screams were perfectly heart-rending, and haunted
me for a long time afterwards. My Kafirs and I ran to the poor brute's
assistance at once, but were too late to save it, as a great hole had
been torn in its belly, out of which half its entrails were hanging.
No; it is useless for the scientist or the divine to tell an old hunter
that there is no cruelty in nature, because the man who has spent many
years of his life in a wild country knows by actual experience that
such an assertion is not true. But let me return to my lions.

In appearance a full-maned, well-proportioned lion lying in peaceful
repose in a European menagerie, gazing placidly and thoughtfully out
of sleepy, brownish yellow eyes at the human crowd beyond the bars of
its cage, is a truly dignified and majestic-looking animal; and if a
fine specimen of a wild lion could be viewed at close quarters and at
a moment when it was lying or standing with its massive mane-encircled
head well raised, content with itself and all the world, after a good
meal, and entirely unconscious of danger, it also would doubtless
look both dignified and majestic, though I doubt if it could ever
look quite so reposeful as the typical lion of the picture-books; for
although wild lions are sometimes caught fast asleep, they are usually
alert and watchful. I have spoken of the eyes of lions that have grown
up in captivity as being brownish in colour and somewhat sleepy in
expression, and that is the impression I have received from looking
at the lions in the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park. On the other
hand, I remember the colour of the eyes of wild lions as being of a
flaming yellow, which retains its fierce brilliancy for many hours
after death. Should a lion be shot through the loins and injured in
such a way that, its hind-quarters being paralysed, it can be closely
approached without danger, its fierce eyes seem ablaze with bright
yellow flame, and give complete expression to the awful fury by which
it is possessed. It is worth mentioning, I think, that when visiting
the Zoological Gardens at Clifton, a couple of years ago, I noticed
that the eyes of the lions and tigers there were in most cases of a
flaming yellow, as they are, according to my experience, in wild lions.
In some of them, however, the eyes were brownish and sleepy-looking.

When walking, wild lions hold the head rather low, lower than the line
of the back, and although, when suddenly encountered, they will raise
it for a moment to take a look at the intruder, they will soon lower
it again and either trot away with a low growl or else stand watching.
A wild lion looks his best and his worst, intensely savage but not at
all majestic, when standing at bay. I have the pictures of four male
lions, that I had chased on horseback and brought to bay, very vividly
impressed on my memory. One was wounded, though only slightly, the
other three as yet untouched. They all stood fairly facing me, their
heads held well down below their mane-crowned shoulders, their fierce
yellow eyes gleaming, and their ears laid flat, like the ears of an
angry cat or leopard. All the time they stood at bay they kept up a
constant succession of loud, rumbling growls and flicked their tails
continually from side to side, throwing them suddenly into the air
before charging with louder, hoarser growls.

In one respect the behaviour of these four angry lions was quite
different from that of an angry cat or leopard, or even tiger. There
was no suspicion of snarling about them. Their mouths were held
slightly open, but instead of the upper lip being drawn up so as to
expose the upper canine teeth, it was drawn down so as to completely
cover them. They stood thus with their mouths held slightly open,
growling savagely and twitching their tails from side to side, until
two of them charged before I fired at them, and the other two I fired
at and killed before they could make up their minds to charge. Now this
abstention from all suspicion of snarling which I remember so well in
the case of four different lions when driven to bay, and the fact that
I do not carry in my mind the picture of any lion snarling that I have
ever shot, makes me wonder whether it is correct to depict an angry
lion as snarling like an angry cat or leopard. This is a small matter,
no doubt, but one which I think it is worth while inquiring into, as if
an angry lion really does not snarl, it differs in this respect from
all other members of the cat tribe.

I once galloped almost on to a lion lying flat on the ground in grass
only about a foot in height before I saw it. When I at last made it
out, I was directly in front of, and probably less than twenty yards
away from it. As I pulled my horse in, this lion had its head pressed
down on its outstretched paws and its eyes were fixed upon me. Had I
ridden by, it would certainly never have moved until I had got out of
sight. As I raised my rifle and looked down the barrel to align the
sights upon its head, I saw the black tuft of hair at the end of its
tail flicked lightly from side to side, and the fore-paws, that had
been stretched out straight beyond its nose, drawn slowly under its
breast, without its head or body being perceptibly raised. I knew the
lion was on the very point of charging, but my horse kept breathing
hard and I could not get my sight steadily fixed below its eyes.
Then, just as I saw the crouching beast's hind-quarters quivering, or
rather moving gently from side to side, I fired, and luckily my bullet
struck it just between the eyes, and crashing into its brain, killed
it instantly, so that it never moved, but still lay crouching on the
ground, struck dead at the very last moment before starting on its
charge. Since that time I have on several occasions watched a cat when
stalking a bird go through every movement made by that lion--the same
apparently involuntary twitching of just the end of the tail, the
same drawing-in of the fore-paws beneath the chest, and then the wavy
movement of the loins just before the final rush. As lions are very
nocturnal in their habits and usually hunt by night, it is, of course,
very unusual to see them approach and kill their prey, but from the
above related experience I imagine that every movement made by a lion
in approaching and finally making a rush upon an antelope or zebra is
exactly represented in miniature by a cat stalking a bird or rabbit.
It is as well to remember that if a lion, after standing for a short
time growling at you and whisking its tail backwards and forwards round
its hind-legs, suddenly stiffens it and throws it straight into the
air at right angles to the line of its back two or three times, it is
a danger-signal and means charging. A lion may often charge without
throwing its tail straight up, but I believe that it will never throw
its tail up without charging.


The skins from which these figures have been drawn are all in the
possession of the Author, and are all three those of fully adult

[Illustration: No. 1.--Lion killed on the upper Hanyani river in
Mashunaland in June 1880.]

[Illustration: No. 2.--Lion killed on the Umzingwani river near
Bulawayo in Matabeleland in September 1887.]

[Illustration: No. 3.--Lion killed on the Botletlie river, near the
Makari-kari Salt-pan, in May 1879.]

The African lion appears to be more gregarious than any other of the
Felidae, and the male is certainly addicted to polygamy. Often a
lion or a lioness may live and hunt for a time by itself, and very
old animals are probably always solitary, as an old lion would be
driven away from the females by younger males, and an old female would
probably be badly treated by younger animals of both sexes. Sometimes
two or even three males will hunt together for a time. More often a
male lion may be met with accompanied by from one to four females,
some of which latter may be followed by cubs of different ages and
sizes. A family party consisting of one old male lion, three or four
adult females, and several cubs, some of which may stand almost as
high at the shoulder as their mothers, would constitute what the old
Boer hunters would have called "en trop leeuws" (a troop of lions). In
parts of Africa where game is, or was, very abundant, there are many
authentic records of over twenty lions having been seen together. In
his article on "The Lion," published in the Badminton Library Series,
Mr. F. J. Jackson, C.B., has noted the fact that on August 7, 1890,
he and Dr. Mackinnon came across a troop of twenty-three lions near
Machakos in East Africa. This troop consisted of three male lions with
splendid dark manes, five or six lionesses, and the rest cubs. I have
come to the conclusion that such large assemblages of lions as this, in
which there are several full-grown males, are, in all probability, only
of a very temporary nature, the chance meeting and fraternisation of
several families which, as a rule, live and hunt apart; since I believe
that the passions of love and jealousy would not allow two or more
males to live permanently in the company of lionesses without fighting.
When a troop of lions is met with, in which, besides a full-grown male
and some females and small cubs, there are also one or two good-sized
young males with small manes, I believe that they are the offspring
of the old male and one or other of the adult females, and that they
have lived and hunted with the troop since cubhood. Such young males
are probably not driven away to hunt by themselves until they commence
to aspire to the affections of one of the females of the party. In
1879 I encountered two pairs of male lions hunting in company in the
Mababi country to the north of Lake N'gami. I shot the first pair, and
should certainly have killed both the others had I only had a rifle
and a few cartridges with me when I first saw them, as they were right
out on an open plain from which the grass had been burnt, far away
from the nearest bush, and I was riding the best hunting horse I ever
possessed. The two lions which I shot were large and heavy, apparently
just in their prime, and the other pair also appeared to be full-grown
animals. Now the Masarwa Bushmen living near the Mababi plain--and
these wild people are extraordinarily acute observers--declared that
they knew both these pairs of lions well, and said that each pair were
the cubs of one mother, and had been hunting together since cubhood.
Curiously enough, in the case of both these pairs of lions the two
animals living and hunting together differed from one another very
much. In each case one was of a very dark colour all over, with a dark
mane, whilst the body of the other was of a pale yellow, and it had
scarcely any mane at all. A few days after encountering the second pair
of lions, a friend and myself came upon two lionesses on the same open
plain, both of which we shot. One of these lionesses was on the point
of giving birth to three cubs, which we cut out of her womb. Two of
these cubs were males, and they differed very much one from another
in colour even before birth. One was very dark indeed, owing to the
blackish tint of the tips of the hairs of its little fluffy coat. The
other was of a reddish yellow. The fur of the female cub was also of
a much lighter colour than in the dark male. Now I cannot but adhere
to the opinion which I wrote down in my diary at the time, that these
two male lion cubs would, had they lived, have grown up into animals
differing very much in appearance one from the other. The dark cub
would have become a dark-skinned, dark-maned lion, the lighter coloured
one a yellow lion with probably very little mane.

Commenting upon such a case as the above, Mr. R. Lydekker, in one of
his recently published zoological essays, says that when light- and
dark-maned cubs are met with in the same litter it is due to crossing
between lions of different races. Mr. Lydekker has also stated that
"with regard to the lion, it has now been ascertained that the
black-maned and tawny-maned specimens belong, in most cases at any
rate, to distinct local races."

The objection to this theory is that you cannot classify all African
lions under two heads, the black-maned and the tawny-maned. Dealing
with this subject in 1881, and referring only to the skins of lions
I had seen which had been killed in the country between the Limpopo
and the Zambesi, I wrote as follows: "I cannot see that there is any
reason for supposing that more than one species (of lion) exists, and
as out of fifty lion skins scarcely two will be found exactly alike in
the colour and length of the mane, I think it would be as reasonable
to suppose that there are twenty species as two. The fact is, that
between the animal with hardly a vestige of mane and the far handsomer
but much less common beast with a long flowing black mane every
possible intermediate variety may be found." Since that time I have
seen a great many more skins of lions shot in the country to the south
of the Zambesi, as well as a number from limited areas of country in
East Africa and in Somaliland, and it appears to me that the lions of
these two latter very limited areas show exactly the same variations as
regards colour and profuseness of mane as their congeners in the more
southerly parts of the continent.

I have seen the skins of many lions and lionesses in South Africa,
which seemed to be those of full-sized animals though they may have
been young in years, showing very well-defined red-brown spots on the
legs, flanks, and belly. The old Boer hunters, indeed, had a name for
such lions, "bont pod leeuws" (spotted-footed lions), which some of
them maintained belonged to a distinct species. I once, however, showed
the skins of five lions, which I had recently shot in Mashunaland,
to a well-known Boer hunter. One was that of a large male with a
fine dark mane. This he declared to be the skin of a "swart voer-leif
leeuw" (lion with the front part of the body black); whilst the skin
of a lioness which showed a good many spots on the legs and belly, he
declared to be that of a "bont pod leeuw, de kwai sort" (spotted-footed
lion, the vicious kind). As, however, these two animals were consorting
together when I shot them, I do not believe that they belonged to
different species or even races. I am inclined to think that lions
showing spots on the legs and belly, when adult but still not old,
might very likely lose them in later life.

In regard to wild lions, it may be said, as a general proposition, that
the mane usually grows round the neck and on the chest only, with a
prolongation from the back of the neck to behind the shoulder-blades.
Sometimes large full-grown male lions will be practically maneless.
Occasionally specimens will be met with in which the entire shoulders
as well as the neck will be covered with mane. When writing of lions in
1881, I stated that I had never seen the skin of a wild lion in which
the whole belly was covered with long hair, as is so often the case
with lions in captivity in this country, though I had seen full-maned
wild lions with large tufts of long dark hair on the elbows and in
the flanks. A few years later, however, Lo Bengula, the last chief of
the Matabele, gave me the skin of a lion which had been killed near
the upper course of the Umzingwani river, not far from Bulawayo, with
a very fine mane. In this specimen the tufts of hair in the flanks
were very profuse, almost meeting across the belly, and there were a
few long hairs all over the under parts of the skin. There is also, I
think, good evidence to show that in the more southerly portions of
South Africa lions not infrequently developed a growth of long hair all
over their bellies; for not only are all the lions figured by Captain
(afterwards Sir Cornwallis) Harris so adorned, but there is now in the
Junior United Service Club in London a mounted specimen of a South
African lion with not only an extraordinary wealth of mane covering
the whole of the fore-part of the body, but also with a thick growth
of long hair all over its belly. This lion is said to have been killed
near the Orange river about 1830, probably, I should think, on the
bontebok flats, near Colesberg, in the Cape Colony, though possibly on
the plains to the north of the river. Now, personally I believe that
cold has more to do with the development of a lion's mane than anything
else. The winter cold of the high plateaus of the Cape Colony, the
Orange Colony, and the Southern Transvaal is much more severe than in
any part of Africa where lions exist to-day, and Harris's drawings and
the mounted specimen of the lion I have above referred to, which was
killed near the Orange river long ago, show that wild lions sometimes
attained very profuse manes and had their bellies covered with long
hair in that part of Africa. To-day, lions with really fine manes are
never found except in countries where the nights are cold during the
winter months, such as the Athi plains, the Uas N'gishu plateau, the
high downs of Matabeleland and Mashunaland, and the Haud of Somaliland,
as well as other elevated regions. In the Pungwe river district some
few lions attain fairly good, but never, I believe, extraordinarily
profuse manes. Only a certain proportion of the lions found on high and
cold plateaus have, however, fine long dark manes. Many have very poor
manes, but it seems to me impossible that there can be more than one
species of lion in so confined an area. In the hotter parts of Africa,
lying below the level of the more elevated plateaus, I think I am
correct in saying that lions never get fine manes, and the hotter the
climate, the poorer on the average the manes will be. The fact that the
high, cold plateaus are always open grasslands free from thorn-bush,
whilst the lower parts of the country are usually covered with scrubby
bush and thorny thickets, has led many people to think that lions
have poor manes in bush-covered countries because the thorns tear out
the hair; but I think that this is quite a mistaken idea, for in the
western part of Matabeleland, in the neighbourhood of the Ramokwebani
and Tati rivers, where the winter nights are very cold, although the
whole country is covered with forest, much of it dense thorn-bush,
the lions used sometimes to grow very fine long manes. Personally,
therefore, I am convinced that climate is the main factor in the
production of a lion's mane, and possibly very high feeding may help
to produce certain exceptionally fine animals. As the high plateaus
of Southern and Eastern Africa have, before the advent of Europeans,
always teemed with great multitudes of zebras and antelopes, and in
some cases buffaloes as well, the lions of the high and cold plateaus
have most certainly always been well fed. The lions living in the
Pungwe river district too must, before the advent of Europeans, have
been exceptionally well fed.

It has always seemed to me that in Africa and India, where, although
the nights may be cold, the sun is always hot, a heavy mane must be
more or less of a nuisance and encumbrance to a lion; and I believe
that such a wonderful growth of hair must be a reversion to an
ancestral adornment first evolved in a cold climate.

The fossil remains of the so-called cave lion (_Felis spelaea_),
which have been discovered in great abundance in the cave deposits
of Pleistocene times in Western Europe, are said by Professor Boyd
Dawkins to present absolutely no osteological or dental character by
which they can be distinguished from those of existing lions, and I
think that we are therefore justified in believing that the lion was
first evolved in a cold climate, and that in the course of ages it
gradually spread south and east, following the migrations of the game
on which it preyed. It probably entered Africa before that continent
was separated from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea, at the same time
as the ancestors of the giraffes, antelopes, buffaloes, elephants, and
rhinoceroses of to-day, and accompanied them through Eastern Africa
right down to Cape Agulhas. Some lions remained in Europe long after
the separation of Africa from that continent, and even in the time of
Herodotus these animals appear to have been still common throughout
South-Eastern Europe.

As the ancient cave lions which roamed the woods and plains of Western
Europe co-existed with bears, mammoths, reindeer, elk, wild cattle, and
other denizens of a cold country, there can be little doubt that their
coats were thick and furry in both sexes, whilst a heavy mane would
have been an adornment to the males without being an encumbrance.

That the flowing mane and shaggy hair on the belly of the male lion
were first evolved in a cold climate is, I think, proved by the
undoubted fact that there is an inherited tendency in all lions to grow
a mane, which is crippled and dwarfed by a hot climate but encouraged
by exposure to cold. Quite recently there was a fine lion in the
Zoological Society's Gardens at Regent's Park which was presented by
Messrs. Grogan and Sharpe. This animal was caught near the Pungwe
river, in South-East Africa, and brought to England by these gentlemen
when quite a small cub. When full-grown it developed a very much finer
mane than I believe has ever been seen in a wild lion that has come to
maturity in the part of Africa from which it was brought. Similarly,
some thirty years ago there was a very fine lion in the Society's
Gardens which was brought by Colonel Knox from the Soudan. Colonel Knox
took me to the Gardens to see this animal, and pointed out to me the
fact that it had developed a far finer mane (extending much farther
back over the shoulders and under the belly) than any man had ever seen
in a wild lion in the country from which it came. Lion cubs brought to
this country from India also grow fine manes, though I do not think
that there is any record of a lion ever having been shot in India with
anything more than a fairly good mane. The fact that lion cubs captured
in any part of Africa or Asia, and brought up in the comparatively cool
and damp climate of Western Europe, always--or nearly always--grow fine
manes, which usually cover the whole shoulders and often extend all
over the under-surface of the body, and the further fact that in the
hotter parts of Africa lions always have very scanty manes, but on the
high, cold plateaus often develop good, and occasionally very luxuriant
manes, appears to me to show that a heavily maned lion is a reversion
to an ancient ancestral type, first evolved in Pleistocene times in a
cold and inclement climate.


  NOTES ON THE LION (_concluded_)

  Method of opening a carcase--Removal of paunch and entrails--Lions
     skilful butchers--Paunch and entrails not usually eaten--Lions
     not bone-eaters--Will eat putrid meat--Will sometimes devour
     their own kind--Number of cubs at birth--Check on inordinate
     increase of carnivorous animals--The lion's roar--Diversity
     of opinion concerning its power--Probable explanation--Volume
     of sound when several lions roar in unison--A nerve-shaking
     experience--Lions silent when approaching their prey--Roar after
     killing--And in answer to one another--Lions only roar freely in
     undisturbed districts--Lions essentially game-killers--But change
     their habits with circumstances--Killing lions with spear and
     shield--Bambaleli's splendid courage--Lions killed by Bushmen with
     poisoned arrows--Behaviour of domestic animals in the presence of
     lions--Cattle sometimes terrified, at other times show no fear.

When once a lion or lions have killed an animal they almost always
open the carcase at the point where the skin is thinnest, that is, in
the flank just in front of where the thigh joins the belly. They then
at once tear off and eat this thin skin and the flesh attached to it,
and all the skin and flesh covering the paunch and entrails, which
latter they then proceed to remove from the carcase. The neatness and
cleanliness with which lions can take the inside out of an animal they
have just killed has always struck me as little short of marvellous.
Every one who has had to do much cutting up of large animals knows how
easy it is to tear the skin of the paunch and get some of its contents
on the meat, and African natives are nearly always very clumsy and
dirty in this respect. Lions, however, are able to remove the paunch
and entrails from the carcase of a large animal as skilfully as a
trained butcher. The offal itself is dragged away to a distance of ten
yards or so, and then covered with earth or grass, which is scratched
up and thrown over it. As a rule, lions certainly do not eat the
paunch and entrails of any animals which they may kill, but I once had
occasion to search through a refuse-heap left by a party of lions near
the carcase of a buffalo they had killed, in the hope of finding some
scavenger beetles of a rare species, and I found that it contained
nothing but vegetable matter--the contents of the buffalo's stomach. If
the lions had not eaten the entrails and the covering of the paunch,
I do not know what had become of them. This refuse-heap as usual had
been thickly covered with earth and grass, which had been scratched up
from all around it. Once the inside of a carcase has been removed, the
liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs are eaten, with all the fat adhering
to them. Then the carcase is again torn open at the anus, and the soft
meat of the buttocks is devoured in great lumps, which are swallowed
whole with the skin attached. No lion will ever scrunch up heavy bones
like a hyæna, but should he kill an animal in good condition, he will
swallow all the comparatively soft bones of the brisket, and also gnaw
off the ends of all the rib-bones. The idea that lions will not eat
the flesh of any animal which they have not killed themselves is quite
erroneous. It would, indeed, be more correct to say that as long as
lions can find dead animals to eat, they will not take the trouble to
hunt. Nor are they at all particular as to the condition of any carcase
they may chance to come across. As long as there is any meat left on
it, they will eat it, and I have known lions to remain for days in
the neighbourhood of the putrid carcases of elephants, on which they
fed nightly, in preference to hunting for fresh meat, although game of
all kinds was plentiful in the neighbourhood. Two instances of lions
eating the flesh of one of their own kind have come under my personal
observation, and although such a practice is undoubtedly of unusual
occurrence, yet I should imagine that, provided hunger and opportunity
were both present, there are few lions that would disdain a meal off
the carcase of an individual of their own species.

Although I am informed that lionesses in captivity often give birth to
four, and sometimes to as many as five or six cubs, in the wild state
the usual number is certainly three, and of these a large number, for
some reason which has never been ascertained, never reach maturity, for
it is seldom that lionesses are met with accompanied by more than two
large cubs, and they often only rear one.

It is an axiom that all birds and mammals living in countries where the
climatic conditions are favourable, and where they have no enemies,
will increase in numbers up to the limit of the food-supply available
for them. When the ground becomes overstocked, diseases break out,
which only the strongest and healthiest animals are able to resist,
and these survivors perpetuate the race, which will once more increase
and multiply up to a certain point. But what is it that checks the
inordinate increase of carnivorous animals? They certainly do not go on
increasing in numbers up to the limit of their food-supply, otherwise
there are many parts of Africa in which, before the advent of the white
man, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyænas, and wild dogs, not to mention
all the smaller carnivora, would have increased to such an extent that
they would gradually have denuded the country of all herbivorous
animals, and would then have died in large numbers themselves, till in
the end there would have been few animals of any kind left. But such
catastrophes never occur. Wherever, before the advent of the white man,
game was very plentiful in Africa, lions and all other carnivorous
animals were also numerous, but the meat-eaters never increased to
such an extent as to reduce the numbers of the grass-eaters on which
they preyed. Let us take the Pungwe district in South-East Africa
for example. In 1891 I found the country both east and west of the
Pungwe river teeming with game, particularly buffaloes and zebras,
the favourite food of the lion. Up to that time no Europeans had
ever hunted or in any way disturbed the wild beasts in that country,
and the few scattered natives living there were timid and ill armed,
and certainly never killed or interfered with lions, which animals
therefore were absolutely without enemies. As this state of things must
have endured for centuries, or more probably for untold thousands, of
years, why had not the lions and other carnivorous animals, living as
they had been doing in such a well-stocked preserve, increased up to
the limit of their food-supply? They certainly had not done so up to
1891, the year the white man first entered the country, and at once of
course changed all the natural conditions. Many lions certainly seem to
die in early cubhood, and this may be a provision of nature to check
their inordinate increase; but that neither they nor any other species
of carnivorous animal in Africa ever become so numerous, under the most
favourable conditions, as to seriously diminish the numbers of the
animals on which they prey is a well-ascertained fact.

Lionesses, I believe, only give birth to cubs at long intervals, for
although I have often seen young lions and lionesses with their mothers
which must have been at least two years old, I have never seen a
lioness accompanied by cubs of different ages.

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the lion, and the one
which perhaps differentiates it more than anything else from all other
members of the cat tribe, is its roar. During more than twenty years
spent in hunting and pioneering in the African wilderness, I have heard
lions roaring under all sorts of conditions: in the stillness of frosty
winter nights, when the camp fire blazed merrily, and as each fresh log
was thrown upon it sent up showers of sparks towards the cloudless,
star-decked sky; or amidst the crashing thunder-peals and blinding
flashes of lightning of a stormy night during the rainy season, when it
was sometimes quite impossible to keep a fire alight at all. On such
a night, when sitting wet and cold amongst one's Kafir boys, huddled
up beneath the scanty shelter of a few boughs (for I never carried a
tent with me in South Africa), the roaring of lions is not altogether a
reassuring sound.

On a still night the roaring of lions can be heard at a very great
distance, and should a party of these animals roar loudly quite a mile
away, I think most people would imagine that they were within one
hundred yards. One reason, I think, for the diversity of opinion as to
the power and volume of the lion's roar is, that very few people have
ever really heard several lions roaring together quite close to them,
although they may believe they have done so. In 1891, and again in
1892, I spent some weeks travelling and hunting in the country between
Lake Sungwe and the Pungwe river, in South-East Africa, and there was
scarcely a night on both those trips when lions were not heard roaring,
often as many as three, and once four, different troops of these
animals appearing to be answering one another from different points of
the compass; but although on the second trip--I was alone in 1891--my
companions, who had not had much experience in the veld, often thought
the lions were very near us, I am sure they were never within a mile of
our camp.

When a party of lions are together, perhaps on their way to drink after
a meal, one of them will halt and breathe out from its expanded lungs a
full-toned note, which rolls afar across the silent wilderness. As it
draws in its breath for another effort, a second member of the party
emulates the leader, and then a third, a fourth, and a fifth perhaps
will join in, and all of them then seem to vie with one another as to
which can produce the greatest volume of sound, and it is a fact that
at the climax of the roaring of a troop of lions the whole air seems
to vibrate and tremble. Of a sudden the grand booming, vibrating notes
cease, and are immediately succeeded by a series of short, deep-toned,
coughing grunts, which gradually die away to a mere hissing expulsion
of the breath. Then not a sound is heard until, after an interval of a
few minutes, the grand competitive roaring peals across the lonely veld
once more. During some few out of the thousands of nights I have lain
on the ground, beneath the stars, in the interior of South Africa, I
have heard lions roaring pretty near my camp; but never quite so near
as one dark night in 1879. I was returning from the Chobi river to
where I had left my waggons in the Mababi country, and was alone with
five Kafirs. One evening just at dusk we reached the last water-hole in
the Sunta river. We had made a long march in intense heat, as it was
the month of November, and were all so tired that we made no camp nor
collected much firewood, but just lay down on the sandy ground round a
very small fire. Not long after dark we heard a troop of lions roaring
in the distance; presently they roared again evidently nearer, and
roaring magnificently at intervals, they continued to approach until
there could be no doubt that they were coming down to drink at the
water-hole close to our bivouac. This water-hole was situated in the
bed of the river at the foot of a steep high bank on the top of which
we were lying. A game-path led down into the river-bed some fifteen
yards away, and the lions were coming down this path. The night was
inky black, as the sky was overcast with heavy clouds, for the rainy
season was close at hand. Our fire had died down to a few embers, and
it was useless looking for wood in such darkness. I don't think the
lions ever noticed our dying fire, or ever had any idea of our close
proximity to the water-hole, as, after having roared about a quarter
of a mile away, they walked noiselessly past us along the game-path,
and descending to the river-bed, commenced to slake their thirst. We
could hear them lapping the water when they were drinking. They roared
three times in the river-bed just below us, and the volume of sound
they emitted when all roaring in unison was nerve-shaking. My Kafirs
sat motionless and silent, holding their hands over their mouths. There
were no trees of any size near us, only small bushes, so they could
not make a run for it to any place of safety. They confessed to me the
next morning that when they heard the lions roaring so near them "their
hearts died," meaning that they were terrified; and although I myself
was not then of a very nervous disposition, and moreover believed that
when lions roared loudly they were not hungry, and would therefore be
unlikely to attack a human being, I was very glad when they at last
left the water and we heard them go roaring back to where they had
probably been feeding on the carcase of a buffalo or some other animal
before they came to drink.

I certainly do not believe that lions roar when approaching their
prey, for surely such a proceeding would be as foolish as it would be
for a burglar to whistle and sing whilst committing a robbery, but they
will sometimes roar loudly in the late evening or early night, just
as they leave their lairs and set out to look for prey. When moving
about at night, lions sometimes give vent to a low purring growl--very
different in sound to a roar--which may be a call-note to others of
their party, and if driven off by shots from a horse or an ox they have
killed in the night, they will growl loudly. In approaching a camp with
the intention of killing oxen, horses, donkeys, or human beings, lions
are absolutely silent, as I believe they always are when approaching
any kind of wild game. I believe that lions often roar after they have
killed an animal and before commencing to feed, and at intervals during
the night, as they lie round the carcase, and they certainly often
roar when on their way to drink in the early hours of the night, but
probably after they have killed some large animal and made a meal. The
roaring of one lion or party of lions undoubtedly excites other lions
within hearing to roar in answer. I once heard several lions roaring
loudly throughout the night, and even after the sun had risen the next
morning, and I found that a solitary male lion had approached a party
consisting of another male, two females, and two large cubs, standing
as high at the shoulder as the full-grown females. The single male was,
I imagine, jealous of his married kinsman, but feared to engage in
deadly combat with him, and so contented himself by roaring defiance at
his rival, who answered with counter roars, in which his whole family
joined. The next morning I just missed getting a shot at the unattached
lion, but killed the other, a very fine but hasty tempered animal, as
he charged me at sight without any provocation.

In countries where lions have long lived undisturbed by human beings,
and where they have really been the undisputed lords of the wilderness,
they roar very freely, and may often be heard even after the sun has
risen. But when white men suddenly invade a well-stocked game-country
and disturb its peace by continual shooting, lions gradually grow
more and more silent, till it becomes rare to hear one roar at all,
though there may still be a good many of them about. The African lion
is essentially a wilderness hunter and a game-killer, but when man,
whether savage or civilised, encroaches upon his preserves, killing or
driving off the game, and bringing in cattle, sheep, and goats in their
place, then he preys upon these newly introduced animals and wars with
their guardians to the death.


Before the introduction of firearms amongst the Matabele, these
courageous savages, though only armed with shield and spear, were
accustomed to join battle without a moment's hesitation with any lion
or lions that interfered with the cattle given over to their charge
by their king. Full and drowsy after his feed of beef, the marauding
lion would not usually go far from the carcase of the ox or cow he had
killed before lying down to sleep. Soon after break of day the swarthy
cattle guards would track him to his lair and silently surround and
then close in on him, heaping every term of abuse upon his head as they
did so. The lion thus roused, and seeing all retreat cut off, would
stand at bay, and growling savagely, with head held low, ears laid
flat, lashing tail, and mouth held slightly open, would glance from
side to side with blazing eyes upon its foes. Then a picked man of
dauntless heart, armed with a single stabbing spear and a very large
ox-hide shield, would rush forward alone towards the lion, cursing
and abusing it in true Homeric fashion. The lion, seeing its retreat
cut off, almost invariably accepted the challenge and rushed upon the
advancing savage, whose endeavour it was to strike one blow at his
assailant and then fall to the ground beneath his broad shield. At
the same time, his friends would rush in from both sides and quickly
spear the lion to death, but often not before one or two of them had
paid the penalty for their daring with their lives. Many lions used to
be killed annually in the olden time round the outlying cattle posts
in Matabeleland, and many of Umziligazi's[5] bravest warriors died of
wounds received in these gladiatorial games. Many years ago I used to
be very friendly with the second Enduna of Bulawayo, one Bambaleli,
a splendid specimen of a good, brave, honest, heathen gentleman. He
told me that on five occasions he had been chosen to rush in on a lion
that had been surrounded and brought to bay. Twice he escaped without
a wound, thanks to the protection afforded by his great shield and the
quickness with which his comrades had rushed in to his assistance; but
in the other three encounters he had been severely bitten, once in the
right shoulder and twice through the muscles of his thigh, and he bore
the scars of all these honourable wounds to his grave. The fact that,
on each of the occasions when he was hurt, his formidable assailant had
only been able to get in one savage bite, shows, I think, the quickness
with which his friends had come to his rescue.

[5] The father of Lo Bengula.

Before they were supplied with firearms by their Bechwana masters, the
Bushmen of the Kalahari sometimes killed lions with poisoned arrows.
Old Bushmen have assured me that they had themselves killed lions by
this means. Their plan, they said, was to creep close up to a lion
lying asleep after a heavy meal, and then to shoot one of their little
reed arrows into some part of its body from behind the shelter of a
bush or tree. The sharp prick would awake the lion but not greatly
alarm it, and as it would see nothing to account for the disturbance
of its slumbers, it would probably think it had been stung by some
fly. It would probably, however, get up and walk away. The shaft of
the arrow would soon fall to the ground, but the bone head, barbed and
thickly smeared with poison, would remain fixed in its victim's hide,
and the deadly compound would gradually permeate its blood and sap its
strength. The Bushmen averred that a lion once struck by a poisoned
arrow never recovered, though it would not die till the third day.

Domestic animals such as horses and oxen sometimes show great alarm at
the near proximity of lions, at others they only seem slightly scared,
and sometimes they do not seem to be frightened at all. If a horse has
once been bitten by a lion, or if another horse tied up close to it
has been attacked, it will probably ever afterwards evince great fear
at the smell of a lion. But, on the other hand, I have had several
horses in my possession, which I bought in the Cape Colony or the
Orange Free State, which, when I had trained them to carry the meat of
antelopes, never showed the slightest sign of fear when a reeking lion
skin was put on their backs, although they could never possibly have
seen or smelt a lion before I took them up country. I had some trouble
at first to train some of these horses to carry the meat of any kind
of fresh-killed game, and they always began by smelling it and then
snorting; but once they became accustomed to the smell of antelope
meat, they showed no further alarm when the skin of a freshly killed
lion was thrown over the saddle.

I have known a herd of cattle, after one of their number had been
killed by a lion, travel more than twenty miles without feeding,
evidently in a state of terror all the time. On the other hand, I was
lying in my blankets at my camp on the Hanyani river, in Mashunaland,
one day early in 1885, just in the throes of a sharp attack of fever
and ague, when my cattle-herd came rushing in, saying that there was
a lion amongst my cattle, and that it was killing a heifer. This was
about two o'clock in the afternoon. Pulling myself together, I had one
of my horses saddled up, and calling my dogs, rode out to see what
had happened. I found my cattle, over fifty altogether in number, all
feeding quietly not 400 yards away from my camp, just where they were,
my herd-boy said, when the lion came amongst them. As it turned out,
it was a lioness. She had clawed a three-year-old heifer in the flanks
and on the hind-quarters, but had either been kicked off by the heifer
itself or driven off by the rest of the herd. At any rate, the sudden
appearance of this lioness in their midst had created no panic amongst
the cattle. I had a chase after this lioness with my dogs, but she
crossed the river and got into some very thick bush, and as I could not
get a sight of her and was feeling very unwell, I returned to camp.

In 1887, one day about noon, four lions--two males and two
females--attacked my oxen and killed two of them, but without
apparently alarming the others in the slightest degree, as they never
ran away nor showed any sign of having been frightened. One dark night
early in 1892, I was camped near the Revue river, in South-East Africa,
and my oxen were lying loose round the waggon, as I thought there were
no lions in the neighbourhood. About midnight five lions came up to
reconnoitre, and my oxen no doubt smelt them, for they jumped up and
stampeded in a body. As they ran, the lions caught and pulled down one
of them. The next morning I thought I might possibly have to follow my
frightened oxen a long way before overtaking them, but I found them
feeding quietly, and showing no signs of having been terrified, only
a few hundred yards away. On the whole, I do not think that domestic
animals have that ingrained and instinctive fear of lions with which
they are usually credited, though the smell of these animals is
doubtless disagreeable to them.



  Character of hyænas--Contrasted with that of wolves--Story
     illustrating the strength and audacity of a spotted hyæna--How a
     goat was seized and carried off--A mean trick--Boldness of hyænas
     near native villages--More suspicious in the wilderness--Very
     destructive to native live stock--Will sometimes enter native
     huts--Giving an old woman to the hyænas--How the smelling out
     of witches benefited the hyænas--"Come out, missionary, and
     give us the witch"--Number of hyænas infesting Matabeleland in
     olden times--Trials for witchcraft in Matabeleland--Food of
     hyænas--Strength of jaws--Charged by a wounded hyæna--Heavy trap
     broken up--Killing hyænas with set guns--Hyæna held by dogs--Hyæna
     attacked by wild dogs--Pace of hyænas--Curious experience on
     the Mababi plain--The hyæna's howl--Rhinoceros calf killed by
     hyænas--Smell of hyænas--Hyæna meat a delicacy--Small cows and
     donkeys easily killed by hyænas--Size and weight of the spotted
     hyæna--Number of whelps.

It has always appeared to me that the qualities and characteristics of
the African spotted hyæna have met with somewhat scant recognition at
the hands of writers on sport, travel, and natural history, for this
animal is usually tersely described as a cowardly, skulking brute, and
then dismissed with a few contemptuous words.

Yet I think that the spotted hyæna of Africa is quite as dangerous and
destructive an animal as the wolf of North America, which is usually
treated with respect, sometimes with sympathy, by its biographers,
though I cannot see that wolves are in any way nobler in character
than hyænas. Both breeds roam abroad by night, ever crafty, fierce,
and hungry, and both will be equally ready to tear open the graves
and devour the flesh of human beings, should the opportunity present
itself, whether on the shores of the Arctic Sea, where men's skins are
yellowy brown, or beneath the shadow of the Southern Cross, where they
are sooty black. There is nothing really noble, though much that is
interesting, in the nature of either wolves or hyænas, but neither of
these animals ought to be despised. Hyænas are big, powerful, dangerous
brutes, and at night often show great determination and courage in
their attempts to obtain food at the expense of human beings. The
following story will illustrate, I think, both the strength and the
audacity of a spotted hyæna.

I was once camped many years ago near a small native village on the
high veld of Mashunaland to the south-east of the present town of
Salisbury. A piece of ground some fifty yards long by twenty in breadth
had been enclosed by a small light hedge made of thornless boughs, as
it was supposed that there were no lions in this part of the country.
In the midst of this enclosure my waggon was standing one night with
the oxen tied to the yokes, and my two shooting horses fastened to
the wheels. On the previous day I had shot three eland bulls, and had
had every scrap of the meat as well as the skins and heads carried to
my waggon, and on the evening of the following day there were a large
number of natives in my camp from the surrounding villages. These
men had brought me an abundant supply of native beer, ground nuts,
pumpkins, sweet potatoes, maize, etc., and as I, on my side, had given
them several hundredweights of meat, both they and my own boys were
preparing to make a night of it in my encampment.

About an hour after dark, the boy who looked after my horses stretched
one of the eland hides on the ground behind the waggon, and then
pouring a large pot full of half-boiled maize upon it, spread it out
to cool before putting it into the horses' nosebags for their evening
feed. At this time my whole camp was lighted up by the blazing fires
the natives had lit all along one side of the enclosure, and of course
within the hedge. Every one was happy, with plenty of fat meat to eat
and beer to drink, and the whole crowd kept up an incessant babble of
talk and laughter, as only happy Africans can.

I was quite alone, as I had been for months, with these good-tempered
primitive people, and I may here say that I went to sleep every night
in their midst, and always completely in their power (as I had not a
single armed follower with me), feeling as absolutely safe, as indeed I
was, as if I had been in an hotel in London.

I had just finished my evening meal, and was sitting by the fire that
had been lighted at the foot of my bed of dry grass, when I saw a big
hyæna burst through the lightly made hedge of boughs on the other side
of the waggon and advance boldly into the centre of the enclosure,
where he stood for a moment looking about him, plainly visible to
every one in the bright light cast by twenty fires. The next moment
he advanced to where the eland skin lay spread upon the ground behind
the waggon, and seizing it, dashed back with it through the fence and
disappeared into the darkness of the night.

I had several large dogs with me on this trip, which were all lying
near the fires when the hyæna entered the encampment from the other
side, but as the latter had come up against the wind, they had not
smelt him. When, however, he appeared within a few yards of them,
and in the full light of the fires, they of course saw him, and as he
seized the eland skin and dashed off with it, scattering my horses'
feed to the winds as he did so, the dogs rushed after him, barking
loudly. I do not know exactly what the green hide of a big eland bull
may weigh, but it is certainly very much heavier than the skin of a
bullock, and of course a very awkward thing to carry off, as the weight
would be distributed over so much ground. Yet, although this hyæna
had only a start of a few yards, my dogs did not overtake him, or at
any rate did not force him to drop the skin, until he had reached the
little stream of water that ran through the valley more than a hundred
yards below my camp. Here we found the dogs guarding it a few minutes
later, and again dragged it back to the waggon.

I knew the hyæna would follow, so I went and sat outside the camp
behind a little bush on the trail of the skin, and very soon he walked
close up to me. I could only just make out a something darker than the
night, but as it moved, I knew it could be nothing but the animal I was
waiting for, and when it was very near me I fired and wounded it, and
we killed it in the little creek below the camp. It proved to be a very
large old male hyæna, which the Mashunas said had lately killed several
head of cattle, besides many sheep and goats.

I cannot help thinking that this hyæna must have thrown part of the
heavy hide over his shoulders as he seized it, though I cannot say that
I saw him do this, but if he did not half carry it, I don't believe he
could possibly have gone off with it at the pace he did, for the dogs
did not overtake him until he had nearly reached the stream, more than
a hundred yards distant from my camp. I am inclined to the view that
this hyæna must have half carried, half dragged this heavy hide, as I
once saw one of these animals seize a goat by the back of the neck,
and throwing it over its shoulders, gallop off with it. This was just
outside a native kraal in Western Matabeleland near the river Gwai. I
had outspanned my waggon there one evening, and having bought a large
fat goat, which must have weighed fifty pounds as it stood, I fastened
it by one of its forelegs to one of the front wheels of the waggon. I
then had some dry grass cut, and made my bed on the ground alongside
of the other front wheel, not six feet distant from where the goat was

It was a brilliant moonlight night and very cold, and I had not long
turned in, and was lying wide awake, when I heard the goat give a loud
"baa," and instantly turning my head, saw a hyæna seize it by the back
of the neck, break the thong with which it was tied to the waggon wheel
with a jerk, and go off at a gallop with, as well as I could see, the
body of the goat thrown over his shoulders. All my dogs were lying
round the fires where the Kafirs were sleeping when the hyæna seized
the goat, and as he had come up against the wind, had not smelt him.
But when the goat "baaed" they all sprang up and dashed after the
marauder, closely followed by my Kafirs. The dogs caught up to the
hyæna after a short chase and made him drop the goat, which the Kafirs
brought back to the waggon. It was quite alive, but as it had been
badly bitten behind the ears I had it killed at once.

A hyæna once played me a particularly mean trick. I was outspanned
one night towards the close of the year 1891 in Mashunaland near the
Hanyani river, not many miles from the town of Salisbury. It was either
the night of the full moon or within a day or two of it. At any rate,
it was a gloriously bright moonlight night. I had shot a reedbuck that
day, and in the evening placed its hind-quarters on a flat granite
rock, close to where my cart was standing. I then made my bed on the
ground close to the flat rock, and, as the moonlight was so bright,
never troubled to surround my camp with any kind of fence. Pulling
the blanket over my head, I soon went fast asleep. During the night
I woke up, and was astonished to find that it was dark. This I soon
saw was owing to a complete eclipse of the moon. When the shadow had
passed, and it once more became light, I found that the choice piece
of antelope meat which I had placed on the stone close behind my head
was gone, and I have no doubt that it had been carried off by a hyæna
during the eclipse of the moon.


Hyænas are always far bolder and more dangerous in the neighbourhood of
native villages than they are in the uninhabited wilderness.

In the year 1872 a Bushman Hottentot who had shot a Kafir in cold
blood, was beaten to death with clubs by friends of the murdered man
close to where my waggon was standing near the Jomani river, in a wild,
uninhabited part of Eastern Matabeleland. I did not know anything about
this summary administration of justice until it was over, as it took
place at the waggons of some Griqua hunters who were camped near me.
The body of the Hottentot was then dragged to a spot less than three
hundred yards from my waggon, and quite close to the Griqua encampment.
That night several hyænas laughed and cackled and howled round the
corpse from dark to daylight, but they never touched it. On the second
night they once more left it alone, but on the third they devoured it.
I do not know why these hyænas waited until the third night before
making a meal off the body of this dead Hottentot, but I imagine that
it was because they were hyænas of the wilderness, unaccustomed to, and
therefore suspicious of the smell of a human being. I have noticed,
too, that in the wilds hyænas will often, though not always, pass the
carcase of a freshly killed lion without touching it.

In any part of the country, however, where there is a considerable
native population, and where consequently there is little or no game,
hyænas have no fear or suspicion of a dead man. They make their living
out of the natives round whose villages they patrol nightly. They
soon discover any weak spot in the pens where the goats, sheep, or
calves are kept, and kill and carry off numbers of these animals. They
often, too, kill full-grown cows by tearing their udders open and then
disembowelling them, and will sometimes enter a hut, the door of which
has been left open, and make a snap at the head of a sleeping man or
woman, or carry off a child. When lying once very weak and ill with
fever in a hut in a small Banyai village near the Zambesi, I awoke
suddenly and saw a hyæna standing in the open doorway, through which
the moon was shining brightly. I lay quite still and he came right
inside, but he heard me moving as I caught hold of my rifle, and bolted
out, carrying with him a bundle tied up with raw hide thongs. The
latter he afterwards ate, but we recovered the contents of the bundle
the next morning.

Besides being able to dig up the carelessly buried bodies of natives
who have died a natural death, the customs of some of the warlike
tribes used to provide hyænas with many a dainty meal. In 1873 my old
friend the late Mr. Frank Mandy--afterwards for so many years the
manager of De Beers Compound at Kimberley--saw some natives dragging,
with thongs attached to the wrists, what he thought was a dead body
across the stony ground outside the native town of Bulawayo.[6] On
going nearer he was horrified to find that the body was that of an
old woman, and that she was alive. On remonstrating with the men who
were dragging the poor creature along, and taxing them with their
inhumanity, they seemed quite hurt, and said, "Why, what use is she?
She's an old slave, and altogether past work, and we are going to give
her to the hyænas." They accordingly dragged her down to the valley
below Bulawayo and tied her to a tree. My friend had followed and
watched them, and that evening, as soon as it was dusk, he and a trader
named Grant--who was murdered in Mashunaland by the natives during
the rising of 1896--went down to her with a stretcher, and cutting
the thongs that bound her to the tree, carried her up to Mandy's hut,
where, however, she died during the night.

[6] The original native town built by Lo Bengula in 1870, about twelve
miles from the present European city.

I do not wish it to be understood that the custom of tying old and
worn-out slaves to trees, whilst still alive, to be devoured by hyænas,
was very common, but it cannot have been very unusual either, as Mandy
told me that many natives looked on with absolute indifference whilst
the old woman whose fate I have described was dragged past them; so the
hyænas must have got many a good feed in this way, especially round
the larger towns. But the native custom which was most advantageous
to these animals was the practice of smelling out witches. In
Matabeleland, in the time of Umziligazi and his son Lo Bengula, people
were continually being tried and convicted of witchcraft, and very
often not only was the actual witch, man or woman, killed, but their
families as well, sometimes even all their relations, as in the case
of Lotchi, head Enduna of the town of Induba, who was put to death in
1888, and the number of whose wives, children, and other relations who
were killed with him amounted to seventy. When the evidence had been
heard the king pronounced the sentence, which was often conveyed by
the two words "niga impisi" (give him, her, or them to the hyænas).
The wretches were then taken just outside the kraal fence and clubbed
to death. Their huts were also pulled down and thrown out. I remember
I was once sleeping at the house of Mr. C----, a missionary in
Matabeleland, when a lot of natives came to the door very early in the
morning, and kept shouting out in a very excited manner, "Come out,
missionary, and give us the witch; we want to take him to his mother,
who is a witch also, and kill them both together." It appeared that the
man they said was a witch was a native, who had been left in charge
of another missionary's house during his master's absence in the Cape
Colony, and who by steady work had accumulated enough money to buy a
few head of cattle. This man had been accused of bewitching some of the
king's cattle, and Lo Bengula had pronounced sentence of death upon
him. Directly I saw the men outside Mr. C----'s house I thought from
their manner that they had already killed the falsely accused man,
although they denied having done so; but when Mr. C---- and I went
across the valley towards the poor fellow's kraal on the other side,
they all left us.

It was as I had surmised; for we found Mr. H----'s faithful servant
lying on his face just outside the fence of his kraal, with his elbows
tied behind his back and his head in much the same condition as that
of Banquo's ghost, as represented on the London stage. On the evening
of that day the sun had not been long down when we heard the hyænas
howling, and that night they held high carnival over the murdered man's

Some idea of the number of hyænas that used to infest Matabeleland in
the old savage times may be gathered from the fact that my old friend
the late Mr. G. A. Philips once poisoned with strychnine twenty-one of
these animals round the old town of Bulawayo in one night.

I was never able to get a full account of the proceedings at a trial
for witchcraft in Matabeleland, but from all I have heard they must
have been strangely similar to those trials for the same alleged crime
which were so common a few centuries ago in England and Scotland. In
recent times in Matabeleland, just as in mediæval times in England,
everybody, almost without exception, believed in witchcraft, and there
can be no doubt that in both countries men and women existed who firmly
believed themselves to be possessed of the powers ascribed to witches.
One of the commonest accusations against men accused of witchcraft in
Matabeleland was that they had been seen riding a hyæna at night, and
on this account when one of these animals was killed, it was looked
upon as an unfeeling joke to point to it and say to any native, "Nansi
ibeza yako" ("There lies your horse").

Although hyænas eat large quantities of soft meat when they get the
chance, they can do very well on a diet of little else than bones. When
a large animal is killed by lions, these purely carnivorous animals eat
the greater part of the soft meat, and then leave the carcase to the
hyænas, which are pretty sure to be at hand. These latter then scrunch
up and swallow many of the bones. So powerful are their jaws that they
can break the leg-bones of buffaloes and giraffes, the ends of which
they gnaw off after extracting the marrow.

I once wounded a large hyæna as he ran out of a patch of long grass,
where he had been lying asleep. After following on his blood spoor for
a few hundred yards, I came upon him lying under a bush, evidently
badly wounded. On the previous day I had bought a very large-bladed
assegai from a Mashuna blacksmith, and so, dismounting, I took this
assegai from the Kafir who was carrying it, and advanced on the wounded
hyæna to give him the _coup de grace_. When I was still about ten
yards away from him, he jumped up and came towards me, not with a
rush certainly, but still pretty quickly, and with the evident intent
to do grievous bodily harm. As he advanced he repeatedly clacked his
jaws together, making a loud noise. I stood my ground with my heavy
assegai poised to strike, and when the hyæna was close to me I drove
it with all my force into his mouth. His jaws closed instantly on the
heavy iron blade, nor was I able to again withdraw it, for although the
wounded animal bit it all over from one end to the other, he opened
and shut his jaws with such surprising quickness that he never lost
possession of it. Finally, he pulled the iron blade of the assegai out
of its wooden shaft, and then, weakening from loss of blood, fell to
the ground, still clashing his jaws on it. He was not able to rise to
his feet again, and the Kafirs speared him to death as he lay. I found
that the heavy assegai blade had been twisted and bent and bitten in a
most extraordinary manner. I kept it for a long time, and wish I still
had it in my possession, as it was a veritable curiosity.

I once caught a hyæna in a very large heavy iron trap, which it
required the strength of two ordinary men to set. To this trap I had
attached a heavy iron waggon chain, but the other end of this chain
was not made fast to anything. I caught this hyæna by hanging up the
hind-leg of a sable antelope in a tree by the roadside about a hundred
yards from where my waggon was outspanned. The trap was set at the foot
of the tree without any bait and carefully covered. The hyæna must have
jumped up at the meat and sprung the trap as he came to the ground
again. One of the large iron spikes which projected from the jaws of
the trap must have gone right through the leg that had been caught, as
it was broken off and there was a lot of blood on the trap. When the
hyæna was caught he made no noise, at least no one heard anything, but
just dragged the trap with the heavy chain attached for a distance of
about a hundred yards away from the waggon road and then broke it up.
One jaw of the trap had been wrenched off, and the solid iron tongue
which supports the plate when such a trap is set, had been twisted
right round. The trap, which would probably have held a lion, was of
course destroyed and the hyæna gone.

I have killed many hyænas both near native villages and in wild
uninhabited parts of the country by setting guns for them, usually
baited with a lump of meat tied over the muzzle, and attached with a
string to a lever rigged on to the trigger, so that a straight pull
exploded the charge. Of course, one arranged the trap in such a way,
with the help of a few thorn bushes, that the hyæna was obliged to
take the meat from in front; but I never knew these animals show any
hesitation in doing so, with the result that they received the charge
full in the mouth and were killed instantly. I have no doubt, however,
that if a constant practice were made of setting guns for hyænas in a
certain district, they would become wary and suspicious after a few of
their number had been killed.

On one occasion my own dogs held a large old bitch hyæna until the
Kafirs came up and speared her, but this animal had, we afterwards
discovered, been shot some time previously through the lower jaw, the
end of which, with both the lower canine teeth, was gone, so that she
could not bite. This hyæna was, however, very fat, and the wound she
had received had long since healed up after all the broken pieces of
bone had sloughed out. How she had managed to eat anything but soft
food I cannot imagine, for what was left of her lower jaw, being in two
separate pieces, must have been useless for scrunching up bones.

One moonlight night I wounded a large male hyæna, partially paralysing
his hind-quarters, and my pack of dogs at once ran up to and attacked
him. Several of these dogs were large, powerful animals, and holding
the hyæna by the ears, throat, and neck, they certainly prevented him
from using his teeth to their discomfort, but they seemed quite unable
to pull him to the ground, and when I at last drove them off, I could
not see that they had hurt him in any way, so I shot him.

My friend Mr. Percy Reid once, when hunting on the Chobi river, heard
a great noise, a mixture of howls and yells going on near his camp
during the night, and his Kafirs asserted that they could distinguish
the cries both of wild dogs and spotted hyænas. The next morning the
weird sounds were again heard, and appeared to be approaching the camp,
so Mr. Reid went out to see what was going on. He had only walked a
short distance when he saw a very interesting sight. An old hyæna was
standing with its back to a large tree, surrounded by a double circle
of some twelve to fifteen wild dogs. The inner circle of these, by
turn, flew in on the hyæna and tried to bite him, falling back after
they had done so, and fearing apparently to come to close quarters.
At the end of some five or ten minutes the old hyæna, seizing an
opportunity, bolted for an adjacent tree, and, standing with his back
to this, again renewed the fight. Both the hyæna and his assailants
were so intent on their own concerns that they paid no heed whatever to
my friend's approach, and he walked up to within fifty yards of them
and shot two of the wild dogs. The remainder of the pack then ran
off, leaving the hyæna alone. Mr. Reid would not shoot him, because of
the brave and determined fight he had made, and he presently lumbered
off at a heavy gallop, apparently none the worse for his all-night
encounter with the wild dogs.

Hyænas do not always lie up during the day in caves or in holes in the
ground. I have often found them sleeping in patches of long grass,
and have had many a good gallop after them. I always found they ran
very fast, though I have galloped right up to several in good open
ground, but it was just as much as my horse could do to overtake them.
Once whilst riding across the Mababi plain in 1879, about two hours
after sunrise I heard some hyænas howling; but they were so far off
that I could not see them, though the plain was perfectly level and
open, as all the long summer grass had been burnt off. As the noise
they were making, however, was very great and quite unaccountable by
broad daylight, I determined to see what was going on, and galloped in
the direction of the strange sounds. After a time I sighted a regular
pack of hyænas trotting along towards the belt of thorn bush at the
top end of the plain, and beyond the hyænas I could see there were
three animals which looked larger and of a different build, and which
I thought must be lions. I then galloped as hard as I could in order
to get up to these three animals before they entered the bush. As I
galloped, I passed and counted fifteen hyænas, trotting along like
great dogs, most of which stopped and stood looking at me without any
sign of fear as I rode close past them. All the time some of them kept
howling. I now saw that the three larger animals were lionesses, and
that there were several more hyænas in front of them, so that there
must have been more than twenty of these animals out on the plain with
the lionesses, two of which latter I succeeded in shooting. After I had
skinned them, I rode back over the plain, but could discover no sign
of the carcase of a dead animal, as I should have done, had it been
anywhere near, by the flight of the vultures. Why had all these hyænas
collected round these three lionesses, and why were they escorting
them back to the bush again over the open plain? I can only hazard
the suggestion that they had followed the lionesses in the hope that
they would kill some large animal, whose bones they would then have
picked after the nobler animals had eaten their full. When I heard them
howling, perhaps they were upbraiding the lionesses for their want
of success. Hyænas do not live in packs, but when a large animal has
been killed, they scent the blood from afar and collect together for
the feast, separating and going off singly to their several lairs soon
after daybreak. The rapidity with which hyænas sometimes collect round
a carcase is truly astonishing, and shows how numerous these animals
are in countries where game is still plentiful.

I remember arriving late one evening, in July 1873, at a small
water-hole in the country to the west of the river Gwai, in
Matabeleland. I had left my waggon at a permanent water called
Linquasi two days previously, but being only armed with two four-bore
muzzle-loading elephant guns, and not having met with either elephants,
rhinoceroses, or buffaloes, was still without meat for myself and my
Kafirs, as, although I had seen giraffes, elands, and other antelopes,
I had not been able to get within shot of any of these animals with
the archaic weapons which were the only firearms at that time in my

The water-hole was situated on the edge of a large open pan, at the
back of a small hollow half beneath a low ledge of rock, and must have
been fed from an underground spring, as the Bushmen told me that it
never dried up.

As, on the evening in question, the moon was almost at the full, I
determined to watch the water during the early hours of the night, in
the hope of getting a shot at some animal at close quarters as it came
to drink, for there was a great deal of recent spoor in the pan of
rhinoceroses, buffaloes, zebras, and antelopes.

As soon, therefore, as my Kafirs had made a "scherm"[7] amongst some
mopani trees, just beyond the edge of the open ground, I took one of
my blankets and both my heavy elephant guns, and established myself on
the ledge just above the pool of water. Lying flat on my stomach, I was
completely hidden from the view of any animal coming towards me across
the open pan by the long coarse grass, which grew right up to the edge
of the rock ledge beneath which lay the pool of water.

[7] A semicircular hedge of thorn bushes within which we slept with
fires at our feet.

I had not long taken up my position when a small herd of buffaloes came
feeding up the valley behind me. They, however, got my wind when still
some distance away from the water, and ran off.

About half an hour later, I suddenly saw a rhinoceros coming towards me
across the open pan, and as the wind was now right, I thought he would
be sure to come to the water.

He was, however, very suspicious, and kept continually stopping and
turning sideways, apparently listening. In the brilliant moonlight I
had made him out to be a black rhinoceros almost as soon as I saw him,
for he held his head well up, whilst as a white rhinoceros walks along
its great square muzzle almost touches the ground. At last the great
beast seemed to make up its mind that no danger threatened it, for
after having stood quite still for some little time about fifty yards
away from me, it came on without any further hesitation and commenced
to drink at the pool beneath the ledge on which I was lying. Its head
was then hidden from me, but if I had held my old gun at arm's length I
could have touched it on the shoulder. Raising myself on my elbows, I
now lost no time in firing into the unsuspecting animal, the muzzle of
my gun almost touching it at the junction of the neck and the chest as
I pulled the trigger.

The loud report of my heavily charged elephant gun was answered by the
puffing snorts of the rhinoceros, which, although mortally wounded, had
strength enough to swing round and run about fifty yards across the
open ground before falling dead.

As it was still quite early, and the night was so gloriously fine,
I thought I would lie and watch for an hour or two longer to see if
anything else came to drink at the water.

I don't think the rhinoceros had been dead five minutes when a hyæna
came across the pan and went straight up to the carcase. This first
arrival was soon followed by others, and in less than half an hour
there were at least a dozen of these ravenous creatures assembled for
the prospective feast. All the time I was watching them they neither
howled nor laughed nor fought amongst themselves, but kept continually
walking round the dead rhinoceros, or watching whilst one or other
of their number attempted to tear the carcase open. This they always
attempted to do at the same place--in the flank just where the thigh
joins the belly. The soft, thick, spongy skin, however, resisted all
their efforts as long as I left them undisturbed, though I could hear
their teeth grating over its rough surface. Presently I heard a troop
of lions roaring in the distance, and as I thought they might be coming
to drink at the pool of water close to which I was lying all by myself
and without any kind of shelter, I stood up and shouted to my Kafirs to
come and cut up the rhinoceros, and bring some dry wood with them so
that we could make a fire near the carcase.

As my hungry boys came running up, the hyænas hastily retired; but
after we had opened the carcase of the rhinoceros and cut out the
heart and liver and some of the choicest pieces of meat and carried
them to our camp, they returned and feasted on what was left to their
heart's content. The noise they made during the remainder of the night,
howling, laughing, and cackling, was in strange contrast to their
silence when they first came to the carcase, but found themselves
unable to get at the meat, owing to the thickness of the hide by which
it was covered. The lions which I had heard roaring in the distance did
not come to drink at the pool near which we were encamped. They were
probably on their way to a much larger pool of water some miles to the

Spotted hyænas are very noisy animals, and their eerie, mournful
howling is the commonest sound to break the silence of an African night.

The ordinary howl of the spotted hyæna commences with a long-drawn-out,
mournful moan, rising in cadence till it ends in a shriek, altogether
one of the weirdest sounds in nature. It is only rarely that one hears
hyænas laugh in the wilds of Africa, as these animals can be made to
do in the Zoological Gardens by tantalising them with a piece of meat
held just beyond their reach outside the bars of their cage. But when
a lot of hyænas have gathered together round the carcase of a large
animal, such as an elephant or a rhinoceros, and are feasting on it
undisturbed, the noises they make are most interesting to listen to.
They laugh, they shriek, they howl, and in addition they make all
kinds of gurgling, grunting, cackling noises, impossible to describe
accurately. Once, late one evening in 1873, I shot a white rhinoceros
cow that had a smallish calf, which, however, I thought was large
enough to fend for itself and get its own living. That night, after
having cut off all the best and fattest meat of the rhinoceros, we
camped some two hundred yards from the carcase, which lay in an open
valley close to a pool of water. Soon after dark the hyænas began to
collect for the feast, and whether the calf returned to its mother's
remains and the hyænas forthwith attacked it, or whether it resented
their presence and first attacked them, I do not know; but we first
heard it snorting and then squealing like a pig, and for half the night
it was rushing about, closely pursued by some of the hyænas, which, I
fancy, must have been hanging on to its ears and any other part they
could get hold of. Twice the young rhinoceros charged almost into
our camp, squealing lustily. Finally, the hyænas killed it, and had
left hardly anything of it the next morning. I shall never forget the
extraordinary noises these animals made that night.

Contrary to generally accepted ideas, I have not found hyænas when
killed to be more stinking animals than other carnivorous beasts. The
carcase of a freshly killed hyæna certainly does not smell as strongly
as that of a lion. I have often had the raw hide neck straps attached
to the ox yokes of my South African waggon eaten by hyænas at night
in Matabeleland, and to do this, these animals must have been right
amongst the oxen, gnawing the raw hide thongs within a few feet of
them, yet I never remember such a proceeding to have caused them
any alarm. On three occasions, two of which were on bright moonlight
nights, I actually saw hyænas right in amongst my oxen, and at first
thought they were dogs, as they were sniffing about on the ground. Two
of these hyænas I shot. On all these occasions my oxen did not pay the
very slightest attention to the hyænas, and I cannot therefore believe
that these animals have a more fetid or disagreeable smell than dogs.
I remember once shooting a hyæna in the Mababi country, close to the
permanent camp where my waggons stood all through the dry season of
1879. Several waggons belonging to Khama's people were standing close
by, and when Tinkarn, the headman of the party, saw the dead hyæna he
asked me if he and his people might have it. When I inquired what they
wanted it for, they answered "To eat," and averred that no other meat
obtainable in the African veld was equal to that of a fat hyæna. I
gave them the coveted carcase, and they ate it with every appearance
of satisfaction. These men were not low savages, but Christianised
Bechwanas, all of whom could read and write. They had plenty of good
antelope meat, too, at the time, so that they certainly ate the hyæna
from choice. I have, however, never come across any other tribe of
African natives who would willingly eat the flesh of a hyæna, their
objection to it being that it is that of an animal which eats the
bodies of human beings. This objection, however, would not apply to
the vast majority of hyænas that live in the wilderness, far from any
human habitations. Hyænas will attack and kill old and worn-out oxen
after they have become very weak; but I have never heard of a case
of an ox or a horse in good condition being interfered with by these
animals. They often kill the small native cows of South-East Africa,
however, always tearing open their udders, and then dragging out their
entrails through the wound thus made. I once started on a journey
down the northern bank of the central Zambesi in 1877, taking with me
four fine strong donkeys. Three of these donkeys were killed near the
mouth of the Kafukwe river by hyænas, and the fourth badly lacerated.
These donkeys were so completely devoured by what, judging from the
noise they made, must have been a regular pack of hyænas, that it was
impossible to tell how they had been killed. In 1882, when travelling
through the eastern part of Mashunaland beyond the Hanyani river, I had
a very fine large stallion donkey killed one night close to my camp
by a single hyæna. We heard the poor creature give a heart-rending
screaming cry when it was first seized, and ran to its assistance
at once, but when we got to it, it was already dead. Its powerful,
strong-jawed assailant had seized it between the hind-legs, torn a
great hole in its abdomen, and dragged out half its entrails in an
incredibly short space of time.

I have never measured or weighed any of the hyænas I have shot, but
Mr. Vaughan Kirby speaks of a very large one as having stood three
feet high at the shoulder, and I believe that such an animal must have
weighed more than 200 pounds.

Very little is known of the life-history of the spotted hyæna. Bushmen
have told me that the females give birth only to two whelps at a time.
These are usually born in one of the large holes excavated by the
African ant-eaters (_Aardvarks_). Although I have seen a great number
of hyænas on various moonlight nights, I have never seen a very young
or even a half-grown one accompanying its mother, and I cannot help
thinking, therefore, that young spotted hyænas remain in the burrows
where they are born, and are there fed by their parents until they are
at least eight or nine months old.



  Wild dogs not very numerous--Hunt in packs--Attack herd of
     buffaloes--First experience with wild dogs--Impala antelope
     killed--Koodoo cow driven into shed--Koodoo driven to
     waggon--Wild dogs not dangerous to human beings--Greatly feared
     by all antelopes--Wild dog pursuing sable antelope--Great pace
     displayed--Wild dogs capable of running down every kind of African
     antelope--General opinion as to the running powers of wild
     dogs--Curious incidents--Chasing wild dogs with tame ones--One
     wild dog galloped over and shot--Two others caught and worried
     by tame dogs--Wild dog shamming dead--Clever escape--Chetahs
     overtaken on horseback--Three chetahs seen--Two females
     passed--Male galloped down--A second chetah overtaken--Great speed
     of trained Indian chetahs--Three chetah cubs found--Brought up by

I do not think that the Cape hunting dog (_Lycaon pictus_) was ever
very numerous in the interior of South Africa, as at the time when I
was elephant-hunting, many years ago, and continually moving about,
day after day and year after year, in countries where game was
plentiful, I never encountered more than two or three packs of these
animals in a year's wanderings, and there were several years--not
consecutive--during which I did not meet with any at all. So far as
my memory serves me, I think that the wild dogs I came across--with
the exception of a single animal which was chasing a sable antelope
bull--were in packs of from fifteen to thirty.

At times I have come across these animals lying in the shade of
scattered trees, on bare ground, from which all the grass had been
burnt off, and they would then trot away, continually stopping and
looking back, but making no sound. But I can remember distinctly two
occasions on which I suddenly disturbed a pack of wild dogs in longish
grass. On both these occasions they were very near to me, but could not
very well make me out, owing to the length of the grass. They retreated
very slowly, and kept jumping up, looking at me inquisitively, with
their large ears cocked forward. At the same time they gave vent to a
kind of bark, the sound being repeated twice. This double note might be
represented by the syllables "hoo-hoo."

On one of these two occasions which I say I remember so well, I was
hunting--in 1873--in the country about half-way between Bulawayo and
the Victoria Falls, not very far, I fancy, from the present railway
line. After a long march I had reached a swampy valley--then known
by the name of Dett--where there was water, and where I intended to
camp. Seeing some buffaloes drinking a little way down the valley,
and wanting some fresh meat, I at once proceeded to stalk them. The
stream at which the buffaloes were drinking ran down the centre of an
open valley some 300 yards broad, in which there was no cover, except
that afforded by coarse grass, some 2-1/2 feet to 3 feet in length.
Being armed with only an old muzzle-loading four-bore gun, I had to get
pretty close to anything I wanted to shoot, and I had crawled half-way
to the buffaloes when I saw them all suddenly raise their heads and
look down the valley. I immediately looked in the same direction, and
then heard a heavy trampling noise, which I knew must be caused by a
herd of large animals running.

This noise came rapidly nearer, and on raising myself so that I
could look over the grass, I saw a herd of perhaps forty or fifty
buffaloes coming straight towards me at a lumbering gallop. At the
same time I heard a noise which sounded like kak-kak-kak constantly
repeated. The buffaloes came straight on towards me, and had I remained
quiet would have run right over me, so when they were within twenty
yards I jumped up and shouted. The leaders stopped for a moment, and
then, swerving slightly, dashed close past me. I fired into one of
them, and immediately afterwards saw some wild dogs--a pack of about
twenty--jumping up in the long grass to look at me.

They had been hanging on to the rear of the herd of buffaloes, which
they had undoubtedly first put to flight, and had they not been
disturbed, would, I think, have probably succeeded in pulling down a
young animal. Had I not witnessed this incident with my own eyes, I
never should have thought it possible that a herd of buffaloes would
have allowed themselves to be stampeded by a few wild dogs. These
latter gave up the chase as soon as they saw me, and after hoo-hooing a
little, trotted off. The barking hoo-hoo and the clacking kak-kak-kak
are the only sounds that I have ever heard wild dogs make, but I
cannot claim to have had much experience with these animals. Wild dogs
sometimes hunt by day, but more usually at night, and in the latter
case must be guided entirely by their acute sense of smell. As a rule,
they certainly run mute.

On the first occasion on which I ever had anything to do with wild
dogs, they ran into and killed an impala antelope quite close to my
waggon on a dark night in 1872. We ran up with lights and drove them
from the carcase, a good deal of which they had, however, already
devoured. About a month later another pack of wild dogs drove a koodoo
cow into a shed used as a stable, attached to a store near the Blue
Jacket gold mine at Tati, in Matabeleland. I was there at the time, and
on this occasion the wild dogs were driven off by some Kafir boys, who
speared the koodoo inside the shed.

For some time during the year 1888 my waggon was standing at Leshuma,
a water-hole which is situated just ten miles from the junction of
the Chobi and Zambesi rivers. One morning I walked down to Kazungula,
at the junction of the rivers, and on returning to my waggon the same
evening, was surprised to see the meat of a freshly killed koodoo
hanging up in my camp, as game of all kinds was very scarce in the
district. On asking my old Griqua servant where he had shot the
koodoo, he replied, "Master, the good Lord gave it us, for the wild
dogs brought it right up to the waggon." On further inquiry, I found
that soon after midday a pack of those animals had chased the koodoo
to within less than a hundred yards of the waggon, and then run it in
a circle completely round it. When my waggon-driver ran out with his
rifle, both the wild dogs and the koodoo stopped and looked at him,
the latter evidently very much distressed. Jantje at once shot the
antelope, and its pursuers then ran off.

It has always struck me as somewhat remarkable that animals so
confident in their powers of offence that they will sometimes attack a
herd of buffaloes, and that a single one of them will occasionally try
conclusions with so fierce and powerful an animal as a sable antelope
bull, should never have turned their attention seriously to man as
an article of diet; yet in all my experience I have never heard of
wild dogs attacking human beings, nor have I ever heard either Kafirs
or Bushmen express any fear of them. This is all the more remarkable
because when they are met with they do not show any great fear of
man, but retreat very leisurely, constantly halting and looking back
curiously before finally trotting off.

All African antelopes probably live in deadly fear of wild dogs, for
on the occasion when, with two companions, I saw a single wild dog
overtake a sable antelope bull, the latter halted and looked round
when its pursuer was about fifty yards behind it, and then, instead of
showing fight, as I should have expected it to do, threw out its limbs
convulsively and ran at its utmost speed; but the wild dog overhauled
it with apparent ease, and twice jumped up and snapped at its flank,
each time, I think, making good its bite. Now this wild dog must have
been running very much faster than any South African hunting horse
could do, for although it is easy enough to gallop up to sable and roan
antelope cows in August and September, when these animals are heavy
with calf, I have never been able to run into a bull of either of these
species, though I have often attempted to do so, with very good horses,
on the open downs of Mashunaland. Wild dogs, too, can run down koodoo
cows and impala antelopes, as well as hartebeests and tsessebes, none
of which animals can be overtaken on horseback, and I believe that the
general concensus of opinion amongst African hunters would be that no
horse could overtake a wild dog.

I will, however, relate an experience which shows that this is not
always the case, and which will probably be read with great surprise,
if not with incredulity. Early one morning in November 1885, I was
travelling near the source of the Sebakwe river, in Mashunaland,
in company with the late Mr. H. C. Collison, Mr. James Dawson, and
Cornelis van Rooyen, a well-known Boer hunter. We were all riding
together in very open country, just in front of our four bullock
waggons, when we saw fifteen or twenty wild dogs emerge from a small
watercourse that we had just crossed.

When we first saw them they were nearly abreast of us, and not more
than 300 or 400 yards to our left. They trotted quietly along, stopping
frequently to look at us, as is their wont. We possessed amongst us
a large number of dogs, most of them big, rough, powerful mongrels,
such as one sees on a Boer farm in the Transvaal. Calling to our dogs,
we galloped towards their wild cousins, and twelve or fifteen of the
former soon rushed past our horses and took up the chase at a great
pace. The wild dogs now broke into a gallop, but, strange to say,
instead of leaving their pursuers far behind them, they did not seem
able to show any great turn of speed. We were soon right amongst them
with our horses, and our dogs mobbed and pulled down two, which they
held in such a way that they were quite unable to bite. Personally I
picked out a fine large wild dog, in good coat, and rode at him. When
my horse's forefeet were almost touching him he suddenly rolled on
his back and my horse jumped over him. I galloped over this wild dog
several times, and finally shot him.

During this time my companions had occupied themselves in encouraging
our dogs to hold on to the two they had seized, and the rest of the
wild pack had galloped off. As each of the two wild dogs that had been
caught had been worried for some minutes by five or six assailants,
all larger and heavier than itself, we thought they were dead and beat
off our dogs. Their two badly used relatives lay quite still and limp,
and we dragged them, together with the one I had shot, to a tree near
a small stream, where we intended to skin them. All our dogs then went
back to the waggons, which had not halted.

We had just commenced to skin the wild dog I had shot when, on looking
round, I caught the eye of one of the other two that was lying dead, as
we had thought, at the foot of the tree, and instantly saw that it was
alive. It must have been shamming dead all the time in order to recover
its strength, as immediately it caught my eye it sprang to its feet
and dashed off. Two shots were fired at it as it ran, but it got clean
away, apparently none the worse for the worrying it had endured. The
other one which had been caught by our dogs was not quite full-grown,
and as it had been held by the throat by one of our most powerful
hounds, was quite dead.

I can offer no explanation as to why we were able to overtake this pack
of wild dogs so easily, after chasing them for less than a mile, but
the facts are as I have stated them. It is possible, I suppose, that
we disturbed these wild dogs soon after they had killed some large
antelope, and just after they had made a heavy meal. I cannot say, but
I remember that the one I galloped over had its tongue lolling from its
jaws, and showed every sign of distress.

I have, however, had two somewhat similar experiences with chetahs,
which are generally credited with being the swiftest of all four-footed
animals; yet upon two separate occasions, once in company with the Boer
hunter Cornelis van Rooyen, and again with three English friends, I
have galloped after and overtaken a large male chetah. On each occasion
the chetahs squatted suddenly when the horses were close upon them, and
lay flat on the ground, in which position they were both shot.

As I think that these somewhat remarkable experiences ought to be put
on record, I will briefly relate the circumstances under which they
took place.

One day during September 1885, when hunting in company with Cornelis
van Rooyen near the Umfuli river, in Mashunaland, I rode out of a belt
of forest-covered country into a broad open valley, from half a mile to
a thousand yards in breadth, and bounded on the farther side again with
a tract of open forest. Down the centre of this open valley ran a small
watercourse, which was, however, no longer running, though several deep
pools were still full of water.

My friend and I had only ridden out a short distance into the open when
three chetahs, a big male and two smaller animals which were no doubt
females, emerged from the creek, and after trotting a short distance
away from us across the open ground, turned round and stood looking at

Van Rooyen and I at once rode towards them. They let us come close to
the creek before running off, but when they did so, they broke into a
light springing gallop and got over the ground at a great pace. The
long summer grass had all been burnt off in this district, and the
ground in the open valley, being firm and hard and quite free from
holes, was in excellent condition for galloping.

When we commenced to race after the chetahs they had a start of at
least fifty yards--I think considerably more--and the edge of the
forest for which they were making could not have been more than five
hundred yards distant.

Both our horses were pretty fast and in good hard condition, and we
raced neck and neck as hard as we could go behind the chetahs. Whether
these latter were running at their utmost speed I cannot say, but, at
any rate, we slowly but steadily gained on them, and were only a few
yards behind them when they reached the edge of the forest, which was
very open and free from underbush. Suddenly the two female chetahs,
which were a little behind the male, came to a halt, and we galloped
past within a few yards of them, as we wanted to kill the largest of
the three. These two female chetahs did not crouch down, but stood
looking at us as we shot past them. We chased the big male another
fifty yards through the open forest, and were quite close up to him,
when he suddenly stopped and crouched, all in one motion as it were,
and lay with his long thin body pressed flat to the ground. Van Rooyen
and I were so near him that, going at the pace we were, we could not
pull in our horses until we were thirty or forty yards beyond where he
lay. The chetah, however, never moved again, but lay perfectly still
watching us, and we dismounted and shot him where he lay. We never saw
anything more of the two females, which must have run off as soon as we
had passed them.

Two years later, in October 1887, I was riding one day with three
English gentlemen (Messrs. J. A. Jameson, Frank Cooper, and A.
Fountaine, all of whom are alive to-day and will be able to corroborate
my story) through the country lying between the upper waters of the
Sebakwe and Umniati rivers in Mashunaland. The ground was not quite
open, as it was covered here and there with a growth of small trees,
but as these grew very sparsely there was nothing to stop one from
riding at full gallop in every direction. As we rode along I was on the
left of our party. Suddenly my horse turned his head and snorted. I at
once pulled him in, calling to my companions to stop, as I thought my
horse must have smelt a lion lying somewhere near us.

I had scarcely spoken when up jumped a very large male chetah within
twenty yards of my horse and bounded away across the open ground,
holding his long, thick, furry tail straight out behind him.

This chetah did not get much of a start, as we galloped after him as
soon as ever we could get our horses started. The chase may have
lasted for a mile, though I think certainly not farther, and the chetah
never seemed to be able to get away from us, and if he was capable of
going at a greater pace, I cannot understand why he did not do so. At
the end of a mile, however, Jameson, who was the light-weight of our
party, and who was, moreover, mounted on a very fast Basuto pony, was
close up to the chetah, and the rest of us were perhaps thirty yards
behind him. Suddenly the hunted animal squatted flat on the ground, and
Jameson's pony was then so close to it that it jumped clean over it.
The action of this chetah was exactly the same as in the case of the
one that Van Rooyen and I had chased and overtaken in 1885, and in both
cases it was very remarkable how the hunted animals suddenly stopped
when going at a great pace and lay flat on the ground in a single
movement, as it seemed. This second chetah was shot by Jameson from
his horse's back as soon as he could pull in, and it never moved again
after first crouching down.

Now when we read of the wonderful speed of the tamed chetahs kept for
hunting purposes in India, it certainly seems very remarkable that in
South Africa these animals can be overtaken in a short distance by
ordinary shooting horses.

In Jerdon's _Mammals of India_ a very interesting description is given
of hunting with trained chetahs, and I think there can be no doubt that
in that country these animals are able to overtake in a fair course
antelopes and gazelles which cannot be ridden down, and whose speed
surpasses even that of greyhounds.

Whether the African chetah has lost the great speed of his Asiatic
progenitors, and if so why, are questions which I cannot answer, but
the two animals which were galloped after and overtaken by my friends
and myself were both fine specimens of their kind, in good condition
and apparently in the prime of life, and why they did not run away from
our horses and so save their skins, if they were able to do so, is more
than I can understand.

Personally, I know very little as to the life-history of chetahs, and
I doubt if any one else does, as they are very rarely encountered. I
once saw six of these animals together near the town of Salisbury, in
Mashunaland. The teeth of the chetah are very small and weak compared
with those of the leopard, hyæna, or wild dog, and its semi-retractile
claws not very sharp, so I should imagine that its chief prey would be
the smaller species of antelopes.

When the pioneer expedition to Mashunaland was crossing the high
plateau near the source of the Sabi river, in 1890, one of the troopers
of the British South Africa Police Force, who was riding along parallel
with and not far from the line of waggons, came on three chetah cubs
lying in the grass, and brought them to me. They could only have
been a few days old, as their eyes were not yet open. I do not know
what became of those chetah cubs, as my duties as guide and chief
intelligence officer of the pioneer force made it impossible for me to
attend to them; but I believe they were suckled by a bitch and lived
for some time.



  Extinction of the blaauwbok and the true quagga--Threatened
     extermination of the black and white rhinoceros and the buffalo
     in South Africa--Former abundance of game--Scene in the valley
     of Dett witnessed by the author in 1873--Buffaloes protected
     by the Cape Government--But few survivors in other parts of
     South Africa--Abundance of buffaloes in former times--Extent of
     their range--Still plentiful in places up to 1896--The terrible
     epidemic of rinderpest--Character of the African buffalo--A
     matter of individual experience--Comparison of buffalo with the
     lion and elephant--Danger of following wounded buffaloes into
     thick cover--Personal experiences--Well-known sportsman killed
     by a buffalo--Usual action of buffaloes when wounded--Difficult
     to stop when actually charging--The moaning bellow of a dying
     buffalo--Probable reasons for some apparently unprovoked attacks
     by buffaloes--Speed of buffaloes--Colour, texture, and abundance
     of coat at different ages--Abundance of buffaloes along the Chobi
     river--Demeanour of old buffalo bulls--"God's cattle"--Elephants
     waiting for a herd of buffaloes to leave a pool of water before
     themselves coming down to drink.

Since the first settlement of Europeans at the Cape of Good Hope
in the seventeenth century, two species of the indigenous fauna of
South Africa have become absolutely extinct. These are the blaauwbok
(_Hippotragus leucophaeus_) and the true quagga (_Equus quagga_). Both
these animals, however, were nearly related to species which still
exist in considerable numbers, for the blaauwbok must in appearance
have looked very much like a small roan antelope in which the black
face markings and conspicuous white tufts under the eyes were wanting;
whilst the true quagga was nothing but the dullest coloured and most
southerly form of Burchell's zebra. Deplorable, therefore, as is the
loss of these two animals, it is not quite so distressing as it would
be had they been the sole representatives of the genera to which they
belonged, and personally I look upon the disappearance of the Cape
buffalo and the black and white rhinoceros from almost every part of
Southern Africa, over which these animals once wandered so plentifully,
with far greater regret; for when these highly specialised and most
interesting creatures have completely disappeared from the face of the
South African veld, there will be no living species of animal left
alive in that country which resembles them in the remotest degree.

Of course, neither the Cape buffalo nor either of the two species of
rhinoceroses indigenous to Africa are yet absolutely extinct in the
country to the south of the Zambesi river; but of the great white
or square-mouthed, grass-eating rhinoceroses, the largest of all
terrestrial mammals after the elephant, none are left alive to-day with
the exception of some half-dozen which still survive in Zululand, and a
very few which are believed to exist in the neighbourhood of the Angwa
river, in Southern Rhodesia. A few of the black or prehensile-lipped
species are, I should think, still to be found here and there
throughout the great stretch of uninhabited country which lies between
the high plateaus of Southern Rhodesia and the Zambesi river, but, like
their congener the white rhinoceros, they are now entirely extinct
throughout all but an infinitesimal proportion of the vast territories
over which they ranged so plentifully only half a century ago.

By the enforcement of game laws, and the establishment of large
sanctuaries in uninhabited parts of the country, it will be possible,
I think, to preserve in considerable numbers all the many species
of antelopes still inhabiting South Africa, as well as the handsome
striped zebras, for a long time to come; but never again can such
scenes be witnessed as were constantly presented to the eyes of the
earlier travellers in the interior of that country.

Then not only were many species of richly coloured graceful antelopes
and zebras everywhere to be seen, but in the early mornings and
evenings great herds of rugged horned buffaloes on their way to or
from their drinking-places almost rivalled the lesser game in numbers,
whilst, scattered amongst all these denizens of the modern world, the
numerous long-horned, heavy-headed white rhinoceroses, together with
their more alert and active-looking cousins of the prehensile-lipped
species, must have appeared like survivals from a far-distant epoch of
the world's history.

Even in my own time all the great game of Southern Africa was in places
still abundant, and a scene which I once witnessed in October 1873 will
never fade from my memory. I was at that time hunting elephants in the
country to the south-east of the Victoria Falls, and one afternoon,
when approaching a swampy valley known to the Bushmen by the name of
"Dett," I came unexpectedly on a herd of these animals. I had killed
one young bull and severely wounded a second, when I was charged by
a big cow with long white tusks. I stood my ground and fired into
her chest as she came on, on which she at once stopped screaming and
swerved off, giving me the opportunity to place another shot in her
ribs with my second gun. At that time I was only armed with two old
muzzle-loading four-bore elephant guns, of the clumsiest and most
antiquated description, but they hit hard nevertheless. Having got
rid of the vicious old cow, I again followed the wounded bull, which I
presently laid low. When my Kafirs had all assembled round the carcase,
one of them said that he had seen the cow after I had fired at her,
and that he thought she would not go far, as she was only walking very
slowly and throwing great quantities of blood from her trunk. I at once
resolved to follow her, and soon found that she was heading straight
for the valley of Dett, for which I was very thankful, since the day
had been intensely hot, and my Kafirs and I were badly in want of
water, as we had drunk all we had been able to carry in our calabashes
before we came on the elephants.

The sun was low in the western sky, and, seen through the haze of many
grass fires, had already turned from blazing yellow to a dull red,
when the spoor of the wounded elephant led us suddenly out of the
forest into the open grassy valley, some three or four hundred yards
broad, through which the little stream of the Dett made its sluggish
way, forming many fine pools of water along its course. Immediately we
emerged from the forest we saw the carcase of the elephant we had been
following lying in the open ground within fifty yards of the water for
which the poor animal had been making, but had not quite been able to
reach. It was too late to commence chopping out the tusks, but, leaving
some of my Kafirs to cut bushes and grass and prepare a camping-place
for the night on the edge of the forest, I went with the rest to cut
open the dead elephant and get the heart out for my supper.

It was whilst I was so engaged that I saw appear along the valley of
Dett the most interesting collection of wild animals that I think I
have ever seen collected together in a small extent of ground.

First, a few hundred yards higher up the valley than where we were
working, a herd of nine giraffes stalked slowly and majestically from
the forest, and, making their way to a pool of water, commenced to
drink. These giraffes remained in the open valley until dark, one or
other of them from time to time straddling out its forelegs in a most
extraordinary manner in order to get its mouth down to the water. No
other animals came to drink in the pools between us and the giraffes.
Possibly some got our wind before leaving the shelter of the forest,
though the evening was very still. But below us, as far as one could
see down the valley, the open ground was presently alive with game.
One after another, great herds of buffaloes emerged from the forest
on either side of the valley and fed slowly down to the water. One
of these herds was preceded by about fifty zebras, and another by a
large herd of sable antelopes. Presently two other herds of sable
antelopes appeared upon the scene, a second herd of zebras, and five
magnificently horned old koodoo bulls, whilst rhinoceroses both of the
black and white species (the latter predominating in numbers) were
scattered amongst the other game, singly or in twos and threes all down
the valley. Of course all this great concourse of wild animals had been
collected together in the neighbourhood of the valley of Dett owing to
the drying up of all the vleys in the surrounding country, and during
the rainy season would have been scattered over a wide area.

It is sad to think that of all those buffaloes and rhinoceroses I saw
in the valley of Dett on that October evening, less than five and
thirty years ago, not one single one nor any of their descendants are
left alive to-day. They were all killed off years ago, almost all by
the natives of Matabeleland after these people became possessed of
firearms, purchased for the most part on the Diamond Fields.

As was to be expected, the rhinoceroses were the first to go, but the
buffaloes, in spite of their prodigious numbers in many parts of South
Africa only a generation ago, did not long survive them, for wherever
the epidemic of rinderpest penetrated in 1896 it almost completely
destroyed all the buffaloes which up till then had escaped the native

It is very difficult to say with any exactitude how many buffaloes
still exist in South Africa to-day. There are a certain number of these
animals in the Addo bush and the Knysna forest, in the Cape Colony,
which are protected by the Cape Government, and there is also a small
but increasing herd inhabiting the game-reserve which has recently been
established in the Eastern Transvaal. Besides these, there may be a few
in the Zululand reserve which survived the rinderpest, whilst a poor
remnant of the great herds I saw in the Pungwe river district in 1891
and 1892 undoubtedly still survive in that part of the country. Farther
north, it is quite possible that there may still be a considerable
number of buffaloes to the north and north-east of the high plateau
of Mashunaland in the neighbourhood of Mount Darwin, and also in the
valleys of the Umsengaisi, Panyami, and Sanyati rivers. It all depends
upon whether the rinderpest penetrated to these regions in 1896 and

[8] I have lately learned that the route followed by cattle which are
now frequently brought from N.E. Rhodesia to Salisbury, in Mashunaland,
is down the valley of the Loangwa river to the Zambesi, and after that
river has been crossed up the course of the Panyami to Salisbury. In
1882, and again in 1887, I found buffaloes very numerous all along the
Panyami river from the Zambesi to a point only a few miles north of Lo
Magondi's, and wherever the buffaloes were found, tse-tse flies were
also very numerous. There can be no tse-tse flies along the Panyami
to-day, if I have been correctly informed that cattle are brought to
Mashunaland by this route, and there can be no buffaloes there either,
or the tse-tse flies would not have disappeared. No doubt the buffaloes
were destroyed by the epidemic of rinderpest in 1896-97, and their
disappearance was quickly followed, as has been the case in so many
other districts of South Africa, by the dying out of the tse-tse flies.
I fear that very few buffaloes can now be left in any part of Northern
Mashunaland, since the rinderpest appears to have swept through all
that country.

To the west of the river Gwai, however, I believe that few, if any,
buffaloes still survive in the interior of South Africa, though in
my own personal experience I met with these animals in extraordinary
numbers wherever I hunted between 1872 and 1880 in that part of the
country, whether to the south-east of the Victoria Falls, or farther
westwards along the Zambesi and as far as I went along the Chobi, or in
the valleys of the Machabi (an overflow from the Okavango), the Mababi,
or the Tamalakan.

In fact, speaking generally, the Cape buffalo was formerly very
abundant everywhere throughout South Africa wherever there was a
plentiful supply of water and grass in close proximity to shady
forests; for these animals never appear to have frequented open country
anywhere to the south of the Zambesi. They spread themselves all
down the thickly wooded coast belt of East and South Africa as far
as Mossel Bay, and along all the tributaries of the Zambesi and the
Limpopo rivers, and it was probably from the headwaters of the Marico
and Notwani rivers that they found their way to the Molopo, and thence
through Bechwanaland to the Orange river.

Buffaloes were met with in that district, about 1783, by the French
traveller Le Vaillant, and in Southern Bechwanaland some five and
twenty years later by the missionary John Campbell, whilst in 1845 Mr.
W. Cotton Oswell still found large herds of these animals living in
the reed beds of the Molopo; but it is worthy of remark that, owing to
the gradual desiccation of the country, which has been and still is
constantly taking place in South-Western Africa, there is to-day not
enough water to support a herd of buffaloes either in the Molopo river
or anywhere to the south of it, throughout Bechwanaland.

During the quarter of a century succeeding the year 1871 (during which
I first visited South Africa) the range of the buffalo had been very
much curtailed, but up to 1896 these animals were still numerous in
many of the uninhabited parts of the country, and especially so in
the Pungwe river district of South-East Africa. In the early part of
that most fatal year, however, the terrible epidemic of rinderpest
crossed the Zambesi, and besides depleting nearly the whole of South
Africa of cattle before a stop was put to its ravages by Dr. Koch,
almost absolutely exterminated the buffaloes. The few that remain will
probably be gradually killed off, I am afraid, and I think it quite
likely that before many more years have passed the only buffaloes left
in South Africa will be those living in the Addo bush in the Cape

There was always a considerable difference of opinion amongst South
African hunters in the old pre-rinderpest times as to the character of
the Cape buffalo, but there is no doubt that this animal was looked
upon by all experienced men as a dangerous antagonist under certain
conditions, whilst by some it was considered to be the most dangerous
of all African game. It is all a matter of individual experience. A man
who has shot two or three lions and a few buffaloes, and who, whilst
having had no trouble with the former animals, has been charged and
perhaps only narrowly escaped with his life from one or more of the
latter, will naturally consider the buffalo to be a more dangerous
animal than a lion, and _vice versa_.

Personally I consider that, speaking generally, the South African lion
is a much more dangerous animal than the South African buffalo, for not
only can a lion hide much more easily and rush on to its antagonist
much more quickly than a buffalo, but the former is, I think, much
more savage by nature, on the average, than the latter. As regards
viciousness I should be inclined to put the buffalo third on the list
of dangerous African game, without reckoning the leopard (of which
animal I have not had sufficient experience to offer an opinion) and
the black rhinoceros (whose true character it seems so difficult to
understand); for, whilst putting the lion first, I think the elephant
should come second, as I believe that of a hundred elephants shot, a
greater proportion will charge than of the same number of buffaloes.
However, a charging elephant can almost always be stopped with a
bullet, and it is most difficult to stop a charging buffalo; therefore
the latter is perhaps actually the more dangerous animal of the two.

To follow a wounded buffalo into a bed of reeds, or into long grass,
where it is almost impossible to see it before getting to very close
quarters, is a most dangerous, not to say foolhardy, proceeding. It is
quite exciting enough to follow one of these animals when wounded into
thick bush, but there you have a chance of seeing it as soon as, if not
before, it sees you.

I have had a very considerable experience with South African buffaloes,
having killed 175 of these animals to my own rifle, and helped to
kill at least fifty others. When hunting on the Chobi river in 1877,
and again in 1879, I had to shoot a great many buffaloes to supply my
native followers with meat, as I did not come across many elephants in
either of those years.

During 1877 I killed to my own rifle forty-seven buffaloes, and in 1879
fifty. All these buffaloes, with the exception of five, which I shot
when hunting on horseback near the Mababi river in the latter year,
were killed on foot, and a large number of them were followed, after
having been wounded, into thick bush, and there finally despatched.

If the Cape buffalo was really such a ferocious and diabolically
cunning beast as it has often been represented to have been, it seems
to me that I have been very badly treated in the way of adventures
with these animals. I have, of course, had a few more or less exciting
experiences with buffaloes, but they only happened occasionally, and
I never thought it necessary to make my will before attacking a herd
of these animals. In 1874, when very young and inexperienced, and
very badly armed with a clumsy muzzle-loading elephant gun, my horse
was tossed and killed by an old bull which I had been chasing, and I
afterwards received a blow from one of its horns on the shoulder as I
lay on the ground. I was once knocked down, too, by another buffalo,
which charged from behind a bush at very close quarters, but I escaped
without serious injury. On another occasion an old bull which had been
recently mauled by lions, and at which one of my Kafirs had thrown an
assegai, put me into a tree, as I had not a gun in my hands, when it
charged. I once dodged a charging buffalo by leaping aside when its
outstretched nose was quite close to me, and then, swinging myself
round a small tree, ran past its hind-quarters; but I was young then,
in perfect training and full of confidence in myself. Following on
the blood spoor of wounded buffaloes, very cautiously in soft shoes,
and holding my rifle at the ready and on full cock, I believe I have
often in thick bush just got a shot in, in time to prevent a good
many of these animals from charging. I became used to this work, and
my eyes, through constant practice, could see a buffalo standing in
thick cover as soon as it was possible to do so, and as soon as it
could see me. My only clothing, too, in those days used to be a cotton
shirt, a soft felt hat, and a pair of shoes. Had I been short-sighted
or dull-sighted, and gone blundering into thick jungle after wounded
buffaloes, in heavy shooting boots and thick clothes, as inexperienced
sportsmen sometimes used to do, I might have met with more adventures
than I have done.

Of course, in the pursuit of any kind of big game which becomes
dangerous when wounded, accidents will sometimes occur to the most
experienced hunters. The Hon. Guy Dawnay, it will be remembered, was
killed many years ago in East Africa by a buffalo which he had wounded.
This gentleman, whom I met in Matabeleland in 1873, had had a great
deal of experience in hunting all kinds of African game before meeting
with the accident which cost him his life, and was an exceptionally
athletic young Englishman.

In all my experience I can only remember one wounded buffalo, when
being followed through open forest, charging from a distance of perhaps
a hundred yards, but lions when chased on horseback will often, even
before they have been fired at, turn and charge from even a greater

When wounded in open country a buffalo will always make for thick
cover. Before it reaches this, it will perhaps see you several times
following on its tracks. It will then stop, turn, and, with head raised
and outstretched nose, stand looking at you for a few seconds, but if
able to do so will almost invariably gallop off again. When it has
reached the retreat for which it is making, it will presently halt, but
unless very badly wounded will not lie down for some time. Personally,
I have never known a wounded buffalo to circle round and then stand
watching near its own tracks for its approaching enemies; but I can
imagine that one of these animals when wounded might go zigzagging
about in a thick piece of jungle, and, without any fixed intention of
waylaying its pursuers, might be just about to cross its own tracks at
the very point these latter had reached when following on its spoor.
Then it would almost certainly charge, with a good chance of scoring a

My own experience has been that in thick cover wounded buffaloes
usually stood behind a bush at right angles to their tracks. In such a
position, standing quite motionless, they were very difficult to see,
whilst they had every chance of hearing or seeing anything approaching
on their spoor before being themselves observed. In such cases they
would nearly always be broadside on to the hunter, and if one's eyes
were trained to pick up game quickly in all kinds of surroundings,
there would be time to get a shot in before the wounded animals swung
round and started on their charge. Struck in this way with a heavy
bullet somewhere near the junction of the neck and the shoulder before
the charge had actually commenced, a wounded buffalo would run off
again. Once, however, a buffalo is actually charging, no bullet will
turn or stop it, unless its brain is pierced or its neck or one of
its legs broken. A charging buffalo comes on grunting loudly, with
outstretched nose and horns laid back on its neck, and does not lower
its head to strike until close up to its enemy. The outstretched nose
of the buffalo which killed my horse was within a few inches of my
leg before it dipped its head, and, with a sweeping blow, inflicted a
fearful wound in the poor animal's flank.

I once hit a charging buffalo at a distance of perhaps thirty yards,
right in the chest, with a round bullet fired from an old four-bore
elephant gun. This bullet just grazed this old bull's heart, cutting
a groove through one side of it, and then, after traversing the whole
length of its body, lodged under the skin of one of its hind-legs; yet
this brave and determined animal still came on, and struck a blow at
a Kafir who was trying to climb a tree close beside me. It then, after
running only a short distance farther, lay down and died. Almost always
when a buffalo is dying it gives vent to a moaning bellow, which can be
heard at a considerable distance. It is a sound which, once heard, can
never be forgotten.

On June 24, 1877, I had a somewhat curious experience with a buffalo
on the banks of the Chobi river. Some natives came to my camp on the
morning of that day and informed me that there were three old buffalo
bulls in the thick bush along the river's edge only a few hundred
yards away, and at the same time begged me to try and shoot them,
as they and their people were very badly off for food. Yielding to
their entreaties, I at once went after the buffaloes, and, putting my
Bushmen spoorers on their fresh tracks, soon came up with them in some
thickish bush, and killed two of them with consecutive shots from a
single-barrelled ten-bore rifle. The third ran off towards the river,
and I dashed after him in hot pursuit. Just along the edge of the bush,
and fringing the open ground which skirted the reedy swamp, through
which the river ran at this point, there grew a fringe of palmetto
scrub, the large leaves of which hung over to the ground. Into this the
buffalo dashed, and I followed close behind him. I thought he had gone
through the palmetto scrub, into which one could not see a yard, into
the open ground beyond, and so never slackened my pace, but went at it
at full speed; but the old bull had halted suddenly, and was standing
still behind the screen formed by the overhanging leaves of one of the
palmetto bushes. He could only just have turned himself broadside to
listen when I ran full tilt into him, and was thrown on the ground flat
on my back by the violence of the impact. Probably the buffalo was as
much surprised as I was. At any rate, he never stopped to see what had
happened, but galloped off again across the open ground on the other
side of the palmetto scrub and plunged into the reeds.

Men who hunted big game in South Africa at a time when that country
was worth living in, are often charged with wastefully slaughtering
large numbers of wild animals. Every one must answer this charge for
himself. Personally I do not plead guilty. I never killed any animal
for mere sport; but it was often necessary to shoot what may seem to
any one who does not realise the circumstances an extravagant amount
of game in order not only to supply one's own followers with food, but
also to gain the goodwill of the natives of the country in which one
was travelling. I find an entry in my diary for August 20, 1879: "Shot
six buffalo bulls." That without explanation seems a big order. But, as
it happened, on the previous evening I had met my friends Collison and
Miller on the banks of the Chobi, and found them both down with fever,
and their native followers without food. The next day it was necessary
for me to shoot enough meat not only to supply the immediate wants of
more than fifty men, but to take them to the waggons on the Mababi
river, which was several days' journey distant.

Taking up the spoor of a big herd of buffaloes, I killed six fine
bulls, not one ounce of meat of any one of which was wasted.
Incidentally I may say that I killed these six buffalo bulls with ten
shots from a single-barrelled ten-bore rifle, using round bullets and
six drachms of powder. I had no kind of adventure with any one of these
animals. Another entry for December 6 in the same year stands: "Nine
Burchell's zebras; two eland bulls." These animals were killed soon
after leaving the Mababi for Bamangwato, and without the supply of
meat thus obtained it would have gone very hard with the large number
of Khama's people who were travelling with me, and who were almost
entirely dependent upon me for food. Khama thanked me very heartily on
my return to Bamangwato for the assistance I had given to his people.

To return to buffaloes, old bulls are often said to be very bad
tempered and liable to charge without the slightest provocation. Many
instances can, no doubt, be cited of men having suddenly been charged
and either killed or badly maimed by one of these animals. If all these
cases, however, had been thoroughly investigated, I believe it would
have been found that such unprovoked attacks had for the most part been
made by wounded animals lying in thick cover or long grass, which were
suffering from injuries inflicted either by lions or by human hunters.
Such animals would naturally be morose and dangerous to approach.

I have not shot many buffaloes when hunting on horseback, as in my time
these animals were seldom found except in countries infested by the
tse-tse fly, which fatally affects horses and cattle. However, I have
galloped after at least a dozen herds of buffaloes, riding alongside of
them and continually dismounting and firing at one or other of their
number. Only on one occasion did an unwounded buffalo leave the herd
and charge me. This was a cow which gave me a smart chase for perhaps
a hundred yards. It is astonishing at what a speed a buffalo can run
when charging. It certainly takes a good horse to get away from one,
although when following a herd of buffaloes on horseback one can easily
keep alongside of them at a hand-gallop. Even on foot I never found any
difficulty in keeping up with a herd of buffaloes and shooting as many
as I required to supply my native followers with food. But, of course,
the life I led at that time, and the continual hard walking and running
necessary to earn my living, kept me in perfect training.

In the interior of South Africa, where the nights are very cold in the
winter-time, buffaloes used to get fairly abundant but never thick
coats when in their prime. The calves, which were born during January,
February, and March, were, when very young, covered with soft hair of
a reddish brown colour, but as they grew, the reddish tinge gradually
disappeared and they became dun coloured. They did not turn black until
they were fully three years of age. The hair of the Cape buffalo when
full-grown was always quite black and very coarse. The large ears were
bordered with long fringes of soft black hair, and the end of the tail
carried a good-sized tassel. When old, both bull and cow buffaloes lost
most of their hair, first on the middle of the back; but the baldness
gradually increased until very old animals of this species became
almost as hairless as a rhinoceros.

In the early 'seventies buffaloes were everywhere very plentiful along
the Zambesi and its tributaries, but nowhere so abundant as along the
Chobi river. So numerous were they along both banks of this river, that
one would have thought that they had reached the very limits of their
food-supply. They were usually found consorting together in herds of
from fifty or sixty to two or three hundred individuals. Once I saw
what I think must have been several large herds collected together, as
the total number of the troop could not have been less than a thousand.
A grass fire had probably destroyed the pasture on the ground where
several herds had lately been living, and they were all moving up the
river together in search of food. In districts where buffaloes were
plentiful, old bulls, which had either been driven from the herds by
younger animals or had voluntarily retired from a society which bored
them, would often be encountered either alone or two or three together.
But along the Chobi I have often seen from five to ten old buffalo
bulls consorting together, and I once saw as many as fifteen very old
males in one troop.


Where the country had not been much disturbed, such old buffalo bulls
were very slow about getting out of one's way, and would stand calmly
watching the approach of so unaccustomed a visitor to their haunts as
a human being without showing any sign of fear. Their demeanour was
indeed apparently aggressive and truculent; still, although I have
walked up to or close past a very large number in the aggregate of old
buffalo bulls, I have never known one to charge before being interfered
with. With outstretched noses these formidable-looking creatures would
stand gazing at one with sullen eyes from under their massive rugged
horns, and would not sometimes run off before sticks and stones were
thrown at them; but in my experience they always did run off sooner or
later. African buffaloes are, after all, nothing but wild cattle. My
Matabele boys used frequently to speak of them as "Izinkomo ka M'limo"
("God's cattle"). I have walked past thousands and thousands of them,
and have never known one to charge when unprovoked. But when a buffalo
which has been mauled by lions or wounded by some hunter, and is lying
sick and sore in long grass or thick bush, suddenly sees a number of
human beings advancing towards its retreat, it will very likely jump up
and charge through them, inflicting perhaps a deadly blow with one of
its massive crooked horns as it passes. Once a buffalo has been wounded
and gets into thick jungle or reeds or long grass, it becomes a most
dangerous animal, especially to an inexperienced sportsman who has not
yet acquired the art of seeing an animal standing motionless in the
shade of dense bush as soon as it is physically possible to do so, and
who cannot walk noiselessly on the tracks of wounded game.

It has often been stated that on the approach of a herd of elephants
to drink at a pool of water, all other animals will at once retire and
make way for them. Very likely this may be true as a general rule, but
I remember one occasion upon which a herd of some thirty elephants
coming down to drink at a vley early in the night, and finding a large
herd of buffaloes at the water before them, waited until these latter
animals had quenched their thirst and fed slowly off into the forest
before themselves going down to the pool.

This happened on a night in November 1873, when the moon, nearly at the
full, was shining in a cloudless sky.

I was camped near a fine vley of fresh rain-water in the country to
the west of the river Gwai, in Matabeleland, and had just finished my
evening meal, when a large herd of buffaloes came to drink, and had
hardly reached the water when we saw a troop of elephants approaching.
These latter passed very near to my encampment, and must have seen our
fires, as one after another they faced towards us, and stood looking
in our direction with outspread ears. They did not, however, get our
wind, and though they must have been suspicious, they were, I suppose,
very thirsty. But as long as the buffaloes remained on the open ground
round the pool of water, the elephants did not advance, remaining about
a hundred yards away, just within the edge of a thin forest of mopani
trees. Directly, however, the buffaloes had fed away into the forest on
the other side of the vley, the greater beasts advanced very quickly
to the water's edge, and, arranging themselves in a row, stood for a
long time sucking up the grateful fluid through their trunks. As they
were all cows and young animals, and there were some fine bulls in the
district, I did not disturb them. Of course, I cannot say whether or no
the buffaloes were aware of the proximity of the elephants, but I am
quite certain that the latter not only saw and smelt the wild cattle,
but waited until they had retired before themselves advancing to the



  Connection between buffaloes and tse-tse flies--Sir Alfred Sharpe's
     views--Buffaloes and tse-tse flies both once abundant in the
     valley of the Limpopo and many other districts south of the
     Zambesi, in which both have now become extinct--Permanence
     of all kinds of game other than buffaloes in districts from
     which the tse-tse fly has disappeared--Experience of Mr. Percy
     Reid--Sudden increase of tse-tse flies between Leshuma and
     Kazungula during 1888--Disappearance of the tse-tse fly from
     the country to the north of lake N'gami after the extermination
     of the buffalo--History of the country between the Gwai and
     Daka rivers--And of the country between the Chobi and the
     Zambesi--Climatic and other conditions necessary to the existence
     of the tse-tse fly--Never found at a high altitude above the
     sea--Nor on open plains or in large reed beds--"Fly" areas usually
     but not always well defined--Tse-tse flies most numerous in hot
     weather--Bite of the tse-tse fly fatal to all domestic animals,
     except native goats and perhaps pigs--Donkeys more resistant to
     tse-tse fly poison than horses or cattle--Tse-tse flies active on
     warm nights--Effect of tse-tse fly bites on human beings.

As it is impossible for any one who had much experience with buffaloes
in the interior of South Africa in the days when these animals were
excessively plentiful not to have a very lively remembrance also of
the tse-tse flies by which they were almost invariably accompanied, I
think a few words concerning these insects will not be out of place.
My remarks must, however, be understood to apply not to all tse-tse
flies--for there are several distinct species of the genus inhabiting
different parts of Africa--but to _Glossina morsitans_ alone, which, so
far as I am aware, is the only species of tse-tse fly as yet known to
occur in Africa to the south of the Zambesi river.

In the countries farther north, men of great experience have expressed
the opinion that there is no connection between tse-tse flies and
buffaloes or any other kind of wild animals. Writing on this subject,
Sir Alfred Sharpe has recently stated, in the course of an article
published in the _Field_ newspaper for November 2, 1907:

 So far as Africa north of the Zambesi is concerned (_i.e._ British
 Central Africa, North-Eastern Rhodesia, Portuguese East Africa, the
 south-west portion of German East Africa, and the south-east corner
 of the Congo State), I am able to speak with some experience, having
 spent twenty years in those regions. The results of the last few
 years' careful observation have led me to a decided opinion that the
 existence of tse-tse is not dependent on wild game of any description.
 Tse-tse (mostly _Glossina morsitans_ in British Central Africa), when
 it has the opportunity, sucks the blood of all such animals as it can
 get at in tracts of country in which it exists, but I think that blood
 is an exceptional diet (as in the case of the mosquito).

The great experience which Sir Alfred Sharpe has enjoyed in British
Central Africa--which territory he has so ably administered for many
years--entitles any views he may express on any subject concerning that
country to the very greatest respect; but it must, nevertheless, be
said that the conclusions he has arrived at concerning the requirements
and life-history of the tse-tse fly (of the species _Glossina
morsitans_), in the countries lying to the north of the Zambesi river,
in which his observations have been made, are diametrically opposed to
the teachings of history throughout the whole of Africa to the south
of the Zambesi, where not only would it seem that these insects live
entirely upon mammalian blood, but that they have become so highly
specialised that they can only maintain their vitality on the blood of
buffaloes; for it can be shown that wherever tse-tse flies were first
encountered by the earliest European travellers in South Africa, there
also buffaloes were either constantly present or visited such districts
during certain months of every year; and that as soon as the buffaloes
were either exterminated or driven out of any such territories, a
remarkable diminution in the numbers of the tse-tse flies was at once
observed; whilst in a very few years after the complete extinction
of the buffaloes these insects entirely ceased to exist, even though
other kinds of game remained in the country for years afterwards. A few
facts bearing on this subject, which, being historical, can neither be
questioned nor, I think, explained away as coincidences, are well worth

In 1845 Mr. William Cotton Oswell--the well-known traveller and
hunter--encountered tse-tse fly on the Maghaliquain river, a tributary
of the Limpopo running through the Northern Transvaal, and it is an
historical fact that at that time the whole of the Northern Transvaal
lying between the Waterberg and Zoutpansberg ranges and the Limpopo,
as well as a large area of country lying to the north of that river,
was the haunt of great herds of buffaloes, and that the banks of every
river draining this large territory, as well as many tracts of forest
lying between these rivers, were at the same time infested with tse-tse

In 1871 the well-known traveller Mr. Thomas Baines, as he has recorded
in his book _The Gold Regions of South-East Africa_, still found the
tse-tse fly numerous on the Maghaliquain river, as well as in the
neighbourhood of the Macloutsie and Shashi rivers, and in many other
places throughout the valley of the Limpopo.

In the following year, 1872, I visited Matabeleland for the first time,
and it is within my own knowledge that at that time buffaloes were
still plentiful in many parts of the valley of the central Limpopo.

About this time the natives of every tribe in South Africa were
acquiring guns and ammunition in immense quantities in payment for
work in the recently discovered diamond mines. The first result of the
acquisition of firearms by the natives of the Northern Transvaal and
the countries farther north was the destruction of all the buffaloes
throughout the valley of the Limpopo to the west of the Tuli river,
and it is a well-known fact that in a very few years after the
disappearance of the buffaloes from this large area of country the
tse-tse fly had also absolutely ceased to exist.

Yet for years after the disappearance of both buffaloes and tse-tse
flies from the valley of the central Limpopo and its tributaries, other
game, such as zebras, koodoos, wildebeests, waterbucks, impalas, and
bushbucks, continued to exist in considerable numbers. I myself found
all these animals still fairly numerous in 1886 along the Maghaliquain
river, as well as on the Limpopo itself and along the lower course of
the Macloutsie and Shashi rivers, and it seems to me that there can be
no doubt that after the buffaloes had been exterminated the tse-tse
flies gradually died out, because they could not maintain themselves on
the blood of other kinds of game.

Again, it is an historical fact that when gold was first discovered in
the Lydenburg district of the Transvaal, in the early 'seventies of the
last century, the whole of the low-lying belt of country near Delagoa
Bay was infested with tse-tse fly, and that buffaloes were also very
plentiful in the same district.

Very heavy losses in cattle were the result of the first attempts
to carry goods by ox waggon from Lourenço Marquez to the Transvaal
gold-fields. Ox-waggon transport was then abandoned and a service of
donkey waggons established by, I think, a Mr. Abbot. Donkeys, however,
though far more resistant to tse-tse fly poison than cattle, were found
to soon grow weak from, and sooner or later to succumb to, its effects.
Gradually, however, the buffaloes got killed off throughout the low
country lying between the Lebombo range and the sea, and the tse-tse
fly then gradually diminished in numbers, until, though many other
kinds of game remained in the country, the waggon road leading from
Barberton to Delagoa Bay at last became quite free from these insects.

It is a well-known fact, too, that up to the year 1878 buffaloes were
plentiful on the Botletlie river to the south of Lake N'gami in the
neighbourhood of the Tamalakan, where Livingstone and Oswell lost so
many of their oxen from tse-tse fly bites in 1853.

Up to the year 1878, too, there were still two "fly"-infested tracts
of forest to the west of the Botletlie, through which the waggon road
to Lake N'gami from Bamangwato passed. These "fly" belts were always
crossed during the coldest hours of the night by traders and hunters
travelling to or from Lake N'gami with cattle and horses. During the
year 1878 a number of emigrant Boer families, on their way from the
Transvaal to Portuguese West Africa, spent several months camped along
the Botletlie river. The men belonging to these families were all
hunters, and they killed a great many buffaloes, and drove those they
did not kill far up the Tamalakan. After 1878 no buffalo was ever
seen again on the Botletlie river, and soon after the disappearance of
the buffaloes the tse-tse flies, which had up to that time constantly
infested two belts of forest near the western bank of the river, ceased
to exist. There are neither tse-tse flies nor buffaloes along the
Botletlie river to-day, though several species of antelopes as well as
zebras were a few years ago, and are probably still, existent there.

Again, in the early 'seventies of the last century there were two "fly"
belts lying across the road from Bamangwato to the Zambesi, the first
a tract of forested country some twelve miles broad, situated to the
south of Daka, and the second occupying a lesser extent of ground of
similar character between Pandamatenka and the Zambesi. At the same
date, all along the southern bank of the Zambesi and Chobi rivers to
the westward of the Victoria Falls, tse-tse flies were present in such
numbers that it was no exaggeration to speak of them as swarming, or
as resembling a swarm of bees, whilst prodigious numbers of buffaloes
were likewise to be found all the year round in the same locality.
The buffaloes seldom went more than a mile or so away from the river,
and it was my experience that where the buffaloes did not penetrate,
the country was entirely free from "fly." Both the one and the other
were confined in this part of the country to the near vicinity of the
river, where, however, both literally swarmed. In the "fly" belts
aforementioned, crossed by the waggon road to the Zambesi, buffaloes
were only present during the wet season and the early part of the dry
season, retiring eastwards as the vleys dried up. In these "fly" belts,
however, tse-tse were not nearly so numerous as along the Zambesi and
Chobi, where the buffaloes were present all the year round. Constant
persecution from about 1876 onwards, chiefly by natives armed with
guns, soon stopped the buffaloes from coming into the "fly" belts
crossed by the waggon road to the Zambesi, and a few years later these
animals had also entirely ceased to visit the southern bank of the
Zambesi between the Victoria Falls and the mouth of the Chobi. After
the buffaloes ceased to visit the tracts of forests infested by "fly"
on the road to the Zambesi, these insects very soon entirely died out,
though other kinds of game still remained in both those districts.
Along the southern bank of the Zambesi to the west of the Victoria
Falls the tse-tse flies began to diminish in numbers as soon as the
buffaloes ceased to frequent this part of the country. It took some
years certainly before the tse-tse had quite died out in this strip
of country, but for many years past now neither buffaloes nor tse-tse
flies have been seen in that district, where, however, game of various
kinds other than buffaloes continued to exist long after the tse-tse
flies had completely disappeared.

When exactly the buffaloes ceased to visit the neighbourhood of the
Victoria Falls and the two tracts of country that were once known as
"fly" belts on the road to the Zambesi, and how long it was after the
disappearance of these animals that the tse-tse flies entirely died
out in these same districts, I have been unable to ascertain. In 1874
I found both buffaloes and tse-tse flies in all these districts, and
in 1877, on my second visit to the Zambesi, although I did not see any
buffaloes or their fresh tracks in the two "fly" belts crossed by the
waggon road, tse-tse flies still haunted both these localities, as I
myself observed, and as has also been recorded by the late Dr. B. F.
Bradshaw. I believe, however, that these insects were at that time
rapidly diminishing in numbers in both those districts, owing to the
fact that the buffaloes had almost ceased to come amongst them. In
October 1877 I accompanied Dr. Bradshaw from Kazungula--where the Chobi
joins the Zambesi--to the Victoria Falls. We walked the whole way along
the bank of the Zambesi and found tse-tse fly very numerous everywhere,
especially near the Falls. At this time buffaloes were already becoming
scarce to the eastward of the junction of the Chobi with the Zambesi,
most of them having already moved westwards up the course of the former

Eleven years later, in 1888, I travelled over the old waggon road to
the Zambesi for the last time. Both buffaloes and tse-tse flies had
then long since disappeared from the stretch of country to the south
of Daka as well as from the "fly" belt to the north of Pandamatenka,
whilst they were also entirely absent from the southern bank of the
Zambesi near the Victoria Falls. There was still, however, a certain
amount of game--zebras and several species of antelopes--left in all
these districts.

In December 1888 I took two horses to the Falls, and rode one of them
all along the narrow strip of open ground between the Rain Forest and
the edge of the chasm into which the river falls. It seemed strange
not to see a single "fly" in this district, where these death-dealing
insects had literally swarmed only eleven years earlier.

Farther westwards, however, tse-tse flies continued to haunt the
southern bank of the lower Chobi river in great numbers long after the
buffaloes had ceased to live there constantly, though these animals
still visited the district during the rainy seasons. At such times they
probably grazed down the river in great numbers to within a few miles
of its junction with the Zambesi.

A letter I have lately received from my old friend Mr. Percy Reid, who
has made many hunting trips to the Chobi and Zambesi rivers, the last
two of which were undertaken, the one the year before and the other
three years after the epidemic of rinderpest had killed off all the
buffaloes on the lower course of the Chobi river, throws a great deal
of light on the disputed question as to whether or no there is or has
ever been any connection between the buffalo and the tse-tse fly in
South Africa.

In the course of his letter Mr. Reid says:

 I was at Kazungula (the junction of the Chobi and Zambesi rivers) in
 1885, 1888, 1895, and 1899. In 1885 I did not take my oxen beyond
 Pandamatenka, as it was not considered safe to take them to Kazungula;
 but even in that year I saw no "fly" between Leshuma[9] and the
 junction of the rivers, though I remember that a few were said to
 still exist there at that time. There were no buffalo there then,
 and the fact that the "fly" still lingered in this district was put
 down, though I do not know with how much truth, to the great number of
 baboons which, as you will remember, always frequented the bush near

 [9] Leshuma is ten miles south of Kazungula.

 In 1888 and subsequent years I sent oxen and horses backwards and
 forwards from the river to Leshuma at all hours of the day, and never
 lost any from "fly" bites.

 In 1895 there were plenty of both fly and buffalo up the Majili,[10]
 and _swarms of fly_ up the Chobi, but I did not go very far, and saw
 no buffalo there.

 [10] A river running into the Zambesi from the north, not far above its
 junction with the Chobi.

 In 1899, only three years after the rinderpest had swept off all
 the buffaloes, I went along the north bank of the Chobi right past
 Linyanti, and, crossing above the swamps, came back along the south
 bank. _There was not a fly to be seen_ where, only four years before,
 I had counted thirty or forty on a native's back at one time, and we
 had actually to light fires and sit in the smoke to protect ourselves
 from them. On the whole trip we saw no buffalo, and only got fairly
 old spoor of one very small lot on the north bank. I certainly always
 understood that in a very few years after the buffalo disappeared
 from any district the "fly" followed suit. All the old hunters up
 on the Zambesi were agreed on that point, and I recollect George
 Westbeech[11] saying the same thing.

 [11] An old Zambesi trader of great experience.

This letter conclusively proves that although tse-tse flies continued
to swarm along the southern bank of the Chobi to within a short
distance above Kazungula for some years after the buffaloes had ceased
to live all the year round in this district (as they used to do up to
the early 'eighties of the last century), and only spent the rainy
season there, these insects absolutely disappeared within three years
after the final destruction of the buffaloes by rinderpest in 1896.

Mr. Reid's letter also seems to show that if buffaloes live in great
numbers all along the bank of a certain river where tse-tse flies
also swarm, and that if through persecution the buffaloes should be
driven far up the river at certain times of year, only returning
to their old haunts during the rains, when all hunters have left
the country, a large proportion of the tse-tse flies do not migrate
backwards and forwards with the buffaloes, but remain constantly on
the section of the river where they first appeared as perfect insects,
not appreciably decreasing in numbers as long as the buffaloes come
amongst them periodically, but gradually dwindling in numbers, and at
last altogether disappearing within a few years of the final extinction
of those animals, in spite of the continued presence of other kinds of

Although Mr. Reid saw no "flies" between Leshuma and Kazungula either
in 1885 or in 1888, there were still a few lingering there in the
latter year. There were so few in the early part of 1888, however,
that probably none were to be seen during June and July, when the
nights were very cold, but later on in this same year they increased
very rapidly in numbers, as I think, owing to the fact that my own
and Mr. Reid's cattle deposited a great deal of dung all along the
waggon track leading down to Kazungula. It was in June of that year
(1888), after I myself had crossed the Zambesi on an expedition to the
north, that Jan Weyers, an old Dutch hunter, took my waggon by night
through the old "fly" belt between Leshuma and Kazungula in order to
trade with the natives living on the Zambesi, sending the oxen back
to Leshuma the following night. In the same month, or a little later,
Mr. Percy Reid and his party brought their waggons to Leshuma, and
their oxen pulled them backwards and forwards several times between
that place and Kazungula. There was thus a great deal of cattle dung,
which is, of course, precisely the same as buffalo dung, all along
this short stretch of waggon road. For some reason this driving of
cattle backwards and forwards between Leshuma and the Chobi caused an
extraordinary increase in the number of tse-tse flies. All the natives
who travelled the road remarked upon it, and both they and Jan Weyers
assured me that they had thought the "fly" was almost absolutely
extinct in this district, as in the previous year, even in the hot
weather before the rains, very few had been seen.

However, when I went down to the river in August (1888) on my way to
the Barotse country, I found a good many tse-tse flies along the track,
and by November they had become very numerous. As Mr. Reid and his
party did not return to Pandamatenka by way of Leshuma, but went along
the southern bank of the Zambesi to the Falls, they were unaware of
this sudden increase in the numbers of the tse-tse flies.

I am still quite unable to account for the sudden and rapid increase in
the number of tse-tse flies along the waggon track between Leshuma and
Kazungula between August and November 1888, as it is quite certain that
up to the latter month they had taken no toll of blood from the cattle
which had been driven backwards and forwards along the road either by
night or during the cold weather in June or July.

I knew that my friend the late Dr. Bradshaw used to hold the view that
the tse-tse fly deposited its eggs in buffalo dung, and I thought at
the time that the cattle dung had been taken as a substitute. The
very important researches, however, of Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce in
Zululand have shown that "_the 'tse-tse' fly does not lay eggs as do
the majority of the Diptera, but extrudes a yellow coloured larva,
nearly as large as the abdomen of the mother_." The perfect insect
does not hatch out for six weeks, so that the increase by generation
from a small number of individuals in the course of a few months would
not be very great. I can only think, therefore, that all the tse-tse
flies throughout the bush through which the ten miles of road led from
Leshuma to the Chobi must have been attracted to its neighbourhood by
the smell of the cattle dung, which no doubt they mistook for that of
buffaloes, the animals with which they have always been so closely
associated in the countries to the south of the Zambesi. I am, however,
not at all satisfied with this explanation.

I was obliged to keep my waggon standing on the bank of the Zambesi
(waiting for ivory to be brought down from the Barotse valley) until
late in November 1888, so that when I was at last able to send my oxen
down to the river to bring it through the "fly," which now infested
the waggon track leading from Leshuma to Kazungula in considerable
numbers, the nights had become very warm, and although we did not start
till after eleven o'clock, and ran the oxen to the river and brought
the waggon back as quickly as possible, every one of them, twenty-one
in all, got "fly-stuck" and died within six months.

After 1888 the tse-tse flies again rapidly diminished in numbers
between Leshuma and Kazungula, and have long since absolutely ceased to
exist there; so that here again we have another instance of a country
in which, at no very distant time, both buffaloes and tse-tse flies
literally swarmed, but from which both have now long since completely
disappeared, although other animals, such as antelopes of various kinds
and baboons, cannot yet be altogether extinct.

The same diminution and eventual disappearance of the tse-tse fly has
also followed the extinction of the buffalo on the Okavango to the
north of Lake N'gami.

As has been recorded by C. J. Andersson and other travellers and
hunters, both buffaloes and tse-tse flies existed in great numbers
along the Teoge (Okavango) river between Lake N'gami and Libèbè's in
the early 'fifties of the last century. At that time the Batauwana
tribe were living at Lake N'gami. These people gradually acquired
firearms and drove the buffaloes northwards up the Okavango, and the
fly did not long remain in the countries which these animals ceased
to visit. In 1884, after having been twice attacked by the Matabele,
the Batauwana abandoned their settlements at Lake N'gami and retreated
several days' journey to the north along the Okavango, where they built
a new town, which they named Denukani (on the river). From this point
they have now been hunting through all the country farther north for
more than twenty years, and I have been lately informed that a waggon
road has been cut from Denukani to Libèbè's, and from thence to the
Quito, the whole length of which is entirely free from tse-tse fly,
which insects there seems every reason to believe have died out owing
to the disappearance of the buffaloes from their former haunts.

But the facts which I have already stated, and which seem to me to show
that in Africa to the south of the Zambesi there has always been a
close connection between the buffalo and the tse-tse fly, by no means
exhaust the evidence on this point.

When Sebitwane, the great chief of the Makololo, and Umziligazi, the
founder of the Matabele nation, led their clans, the one to Linyanti
between the Chobi and Zambesi rivers, the other to the high plateau
near the sources of the Gwai and Umzingwani rivers, they found the
whole country south of the Zambesi, between the Daka and the Gwai,
occupied by an unwarlike and agricultural people akin to the Makalaka,
and if any value can be placed on native testimony, these people were
rich in cattle.

Attacked first by the Makololo and later on by the Matabele, these
unfortunate people were killed in great numbers and gradually
dispossessed of their lands, all their cattle being taken from
them. Those that escaped death fled across the Zambesi, where their
descendants are living to this day.

Now I have no doubt that long ago, before the country between the
Gwai and the Daka rivers was settled up by natives, it had been a
"fly"-infested country full of buffaloes. At any rate, as soon as the
natives had been killed or driven out of it, buffaloes and all other
kinds of game took possession of it, moving in no doubt from the
countries both to the east and the west, and with them came a few
tse-tse flies, which must soon have increased and multiplied in so
favourable an environment.

In 1873 I was hunting elephants at the junction of the Gwai and
Shangani rivers, and through all the country westwards to beyond the
site of the present coal-mine at Wankies. At that time all this country
was full of buffaloes and tse-tse flies.

Fifteen years later, however, the Matabele, who had then for a long
time been in the possession of firearms, had driven the buffaloes
out of all the country on either side of the river Gwai, and as
these animals went farther north and east, the tse-tse fly gradually

The last time I saw Lo Bengula alive--early in 1890--I spent the
greater part of two days talking to him on many subjects, especially
game, for he loved to talk about wild animals, having been a great
hunter in his youth. He told me that there were then no more buffaloes
anywhere in the neighbourhood of the Gwai and Shangani rivers, and that
with the buffaloes the "fly" had gone too, and that as the buffaloes
and the "fly" had died out, he had gradually pushed his cattle posts
down both the Gwai and Shangani rivers, and that at that time, 1890, he
had actually got a cattle post at the junction of the two rivers, where
seventeen years before I had found buffaloes and tse-tse flies both
very numerous.

The history of the country lying between the lower course of the Chobi
river and the Zambesi has been very similar to that of the territory to
the south of the Zambesi between the Gwai and the Daka.

When Livingstone and Oswell visited the chief Sebitwane in 1853, they
first took their waggon during the night through the narrow strip of
"fly"-infested country which ran along the southern bank of the Chobi,
and swam their bullocks to the other side of the river before sunrise
the next morning. Just where they struck the southern branch of the
Chobi there were no trees or bushes on its northern bank, only open
grass lands and reed beds to which the tse-tse flies never crossed,
although the river was only fifty yards broad, and they simply swarmed
all along the wooded southern bank.

At this time, 1853, Sebitwane, who possessed great numbers of cattle,
was living not in the open grass country, which has always been free
from "fly," but at Linyanti, which was situated beyond the northern
branch of the Chobi and was surrounded on all sides by sandy ridges on
which grew forest trees and bushes. In 1861 Linyanti was again visited
by Dr. Livingstone, in company with his brother Charles and Dr. (now
Sir John) Kirk. Sekeletu, the son of Sebitwane, was then the chief
of the Makololo, and these people were still rich in cattle. After
Sekeletu's death a civil war broke out between two rival claimants to
the chieftainship which so weakened the Makololo, that a coalition of
the remnants of the various tribes they had conquered and reduced to
servitude some forty years previously rose in rebellion against their
rulers, and under the leadership of Sepopo, the uncle of Lewanika, the
present chief of the Barotse, absolutely destroyed them as a people,
killing every male down to the new-born infants, but sparing all the
young females and girl children, who were subsequently taken as wives
by their captors.

After the destruction of the Makololo tribe, the country between the
Chobi and the Zambesi was once more given back to nature.

In 1879 I crossed both branches of the Chobi and visited the site of
the once important native town of Linyanti. I there found several
relics of the ill-fated Makololo mission party (sent to that tribe
by Dr. Livingstone's advice), in the shape of the iron tyres and
nave bands of waggon wheels. At that time the surrounding country had
been uninhabited for some fifteen years, and I found great herds of
buffaloes grazing undisturbed all round and over the site of Linyanti,
where once had pastured the cattle of the Makololo. With the buffaloes
too had come the tse-tse flies, which swarmed all over this district,
though when the former left the forest and bush and went into the reed
beds and open grass lands between the two main branches of the Chobi,
the latter did not follow them. There can be no doubt, however, that
when the Makololo first crossed from Sesheke on the Zambesi to the
northern branch of the Chobi river, they must have found both buffaloes
and tse-tse flies numerous in the district where later on their chief
Sebitwane built his principal town. The buffaloes must have first
been driven to the west, and the fly must subsequently have died out,
before the natives were able to introduce cattle into this part of the
country. After the destruction of the native population about 1864,
the buffaloes moved back into the country from which they had whilom
been driven, and the tse-tse flies came with them. The rinderpest which
passed through the country in 1896, I believe, killed all the buffaloes
left anywhere near Linyanti, and probably the tse-tse fly has also long
since died out in that district,[12] into which cattle may have been
once more introduced by the natives, though I do not know that this is
the case.

[12] A reference to the letter I have already quoted from my friend Mr.
Percy Reid shows that in 1899 he found neither buffaloes nor tse-tse
flies in the neighbourhood of Linyanti, where both were very numerous
on the occasion of my visit in 1879.

But although it would seem, from the historical facts I have just
related, that in Africa, to the south of the Zambesi river, _Glossina
morsitans_ has always been dependent upon the Cape buffalo for its
continued existence, certain climatic and other conditions which have
never yet been satisfactorily explained have always prevented tse-tse
flies from spreading into all parts of the country in which buffaloes
were once found. In Southern Africa the tse-tse fly has always been
confined to a strip of country along the south-east coast, and the
hot, well-wooded valleys of the Zambesi and Limpopo rivers and their
tributaries. Apparently the tse-tse fly (_Glossina morsitans_) requires
a certain degree of heat in the atmosphere, or can only stand a certain
degree of cold; for along the east coast it seems never to have existed
to the south of St. Lucia Bay, in the 28th parallel of south latitude,
although buffaloes were once plentiful far beyond this limit, all
through the coast lands of Natal and the Cape Colony, as far as Mossel
Bay. Nor are these insects ever found at a high altitude above the
sea. "Fly" country is usually less than 3000 feet above sea-level,
though in places such as the district to the north of Hartley Hills,
in Mashunaland, tse-tse flies ascend to a height of nearly 3500 feet.
Nearer the equator, they are able to live at a higher level, and I
have myself met with tse-tse flies near the upper Kafukwe river at an
altitude of at least 4000 feet above the sea.

The tse-tse flies spread with the buffaloes from the sea-coast all
along the Limpopo to beyond its junction with the Maghaliquain, but
were not able to accompany them to higher ground. The buffaloes,
however, spread right up to near the sources of the Limpopo and its
tributaries, crossed the watershed to the reed beds of the Molopo, and
from thence spread through Bechwanaland as far south as the Orange
river, hundreds of miles away from the nearest "fly"-infested area.
Even in the midst of low-lying districts full of buffaloes, and,
speaking generally, full of tse-tse flies as well, all open pieces
of grass country, where there are neither trees nor bushes, and all
reed beds of any size, will be found to be free from these insects.
When buffaloes feed out into such places from the surrounding forests,
the "flies" soon leave them and return to the shelter of the trees.
Similarly, if one side of a river be covered with bush and forest down
to the water's edge, and if, along this forest-covered bank, tse-tse
flies swarm, these insects will never cross even a narrow channel
to open reed beds or grass land on the other side. Dr. Livingstone
has mentioned how, though he found tse-tse flies swarming along the
southern bank of the Chobi river in 1853, his oxen were perfectly safe
from these insects in the open grass lands on the other side of the
river; and in my own experience, although I have often crossed this
same part of the Chobi by canoe, and seen numbers of "flies" on meat,
or on the natives or myself, as we left the southern bank, I never
knew one of them to cross the river with us. As soon as we got to a
short distance from the southern bank, they all left us and flew back
to the shelter of the trees and bushes. But the most extraordinary
thing about the tse-tse fly is, that in certain low-lying countries
away from the wooded banks of the larger rivers, these insects were not
found everywhere, but only in certain forest areas, known to the early
South African pioneers as "fly" belts. I am speaking now, of course,
of the time when natural conditions and the balance of nature had not
been upset by North Europeans; for no charge of this kind can be made
against the Portuguese, who were always poor hunters.

No one, I think, has ever been able to explain why the tse-tse flies
never spread from the "fly" belt which was crossed by the old waggon
road to the Zambesi, a few miles to the south of Daka, to the
"fly"-infested forest, which lay across the same road a little to the
north of Pandamatenka. The country between these two "fly"-infested
areas was exactly similar in its vegetation, its altitude above the
sea, and in every other particular, as far as one could see, to the
"fly" belts which bounded it to the north and south, and during the
rainy season buffaloes must have wandered through the intermediate
country, as well as through the two "fly" belts. That tse-tse flies
used to be found in the greatest numbers along the wooded banks of
rivers such as the Chobi, the Zambesi and many of its tributaries,
was owing, I think, to the fact that buffaloes had become excessively
plentiful in the same districts, not because the near neighbourhood
of water was necessary to them; for many "fly" belts, _e.g._ those
extending across the road to the Zambesi, were absolutely destitute of
water during several months of every year.

The tenacity with which tse-tse flies cling to certain tracts of
country, or even narrow belts of forest, is wonderful, but they
sometimes move beyond their usual limits nevertheless. About
forty years ago, a waggon track was made by elephant hunters from
Matabeleland to Hartley Hills in Mashunaland. Not more than ten miles
to the north of the points where this waggon road cut the Umzweswe
and Umfuli rivers, the country was always frequented by buffaloes and
infested with tse-tse flies. In my own experience, I have often known
large herds of buffaloes to come south along the Umfuli river up to and
beyond the waggon road. I hunted and shot them there on horseback for
the last time in 1885, and used my waggon and oxen to bring the meat
and skins to my camp; and as my cattle did not suffer in any way, there
could not have been any "flies" about. The tse-tse flies, however,
used always to come with the buffaloes for several miles beyond their
usual boundary, but gradually left them, and in my own experience I
never knew them to quite reach the waggon road.

It will thus be seen that although "fly"-infested areas are, as a
rule, well defined and well known to the natives, the movements of
large herds of buffaloes may carry these insects--sometimes in great
numbers--for a short period of time, for a few miles beyond their
usual limits. Within a large area of country throughout which tse-tse
flies exist, such as the level forest country in the valley of the
Zambesi intersected by the lower courses of the Sanyati and Panyami
rivers, or the country near the east coast, in the neighbourhood of
the Pungwe river, tse-tse flies used to move about, so that in a place
where they were found in great numbers on a certain date, hardly any
would sometimes be met with in the same place a month later. In my
experience, in such cases the tse-tse flies always moved about with the
buffaloes, within these areas, where all other conditions were suitable
to their existence.

In "fly"-infested areas where these insects are not very numerous,
comparatively few or possibly none at all will be seen during the
months of May, June, and July, when the days are short and not
excessively hot and the nights are bitterly cold. In fact, it is quite
possible to pass through a good deal of "fly" country during these
months without ever becoming aware of the existence of these insects.
But as the days get longer and hotter, and the nights less cold, if
there are any tse-tse flies in a district at all they will be found
to increase very rapidly in numbers. They become most numerous and
most troublesome, I think, in October and November, just before the
commencement of the rainy season. During the rainy season they are
perhaps not quite so exasperating, but my experience has been that they
were both numerous and troublesome at that season too. They are not so
active in cloudy weather as in bright sunshine, and if a strong wind is
blowing they hardly show themselves at all.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that the fact of the disappearance of
the tse-tse fly from all countries to the south of the Zambesi, very
soon after the complete extinction of buffaloes in the same regions,
cannot be attributed to the settling up and cultivation of the land
by Europeans; for the tse-tse fly has never existed in any part of
Africa south of the Zambesi where malarial fever was not and is not
still rife. Whatever may be the case to-day, up to 1896, long after
the disappearance of both buffaloes and tse-tse flies, the Boers had
never been able to establish themselves and live all the year round in
the Northern Transvaal along the valley of the Limpopo, although they
used to graze their cattle there during the winter; nor, as far as I
am aware, although mining operations have been carried on for nearly
twenty years within what was once "fly" country to the north of Hartley
Hills in Mashunaland, has there been any settlement of families on the
land in that district.

The word "tse-tse" (pronounced by the natives "tsay-tsay" and by
colonists "tetsy") is simply the word used by natives of the Bechwana
clans for the deadly fly known to scientists as _Glossina morsitans_.
The Matabele--as well, I believe, as the Zulu--name for the same insect
is "impugan." With the Matabele any kind of fly is an "impugan," but it
is the only word they ever employ for the tse-tse.

As is well known, the tse-tse fly, when with its long proboscis it
"sticks," as the Boers say, a domestic animal, introduces into the
blood of the latter certain minute blood parasites (Trypanosoma),
which, though constantly present in the blood of wild animals living
in the "fly"-infested regions of Africa, does them no harm. These
Trypanosomes, if introduced into the blood of domestic animals in any
quantity, at once set up a disease, which almost always ends fatally.
Cattle when "fly-stuck" soon begin to run at the eyes, and the glands
behind the ears and in the throat swell. Although continuing to feed
well, they become thinner and weaker day by day, and should they be
exposed to cold or wet weather, their coats stare, as if they were
suffering from lung sickness. According to the number of Trypanosomes
in their blood, cattle will live a shorter or longer time. They will
succumb within a month if kept constantly in country where tse-tse
flies are numerous during that time. On the other hand, they will
sometimes live for nearly a year if only "stuck" by one or a few flies
whilst passing through a "fly"-infested belt of forest of small extent.
I have known a young ox, though it showed every sign of having been
impregnated with the "fly" disease--possibly it had only been "stuck"
by one "fly"--to recover completely after remaining very thin for more
than a year. Horses and donkeys, when "fly-stuck," run at the eyes and
swell at the navel, and soon get thin and lose all their strength.

In 1877 I took three donkeys with me up the Chobi. They lived in a
swarm of tse-tse flies day after day and all day long. The first of
them to succumb only lived a fortnight; the second died in five weeks;
but the third lived for nearly three months, and carried a buffalo head
back to my waggons at Daka--some eighty miles from the Chobi.

For about ten days before the second donkey died I remained in the same
camp. By this time it had grown very thin and was too weak to carry
anything, but it did not seem to suffer in any way, and whenever I
could observe it, was always feeding on the young green grass at the
river's edge. I never tied it up at nights, but every evening it used
to come and roll in a large heap of ashes behind my camp. One evening
it came and rolled in the ashes as usual, but was too weak to get on
its legs again, and on the following morning was dead. Apparently it
enjoyed its life to the very last.

During 1887 some friends and I took four horses and five donkeys
into the "fly" country on the Angwa river, in the northern part of
Mashunaland. There were a good many buffaloes and a fair number of
tse-tse flies in this district at that time, but not one for every
hundred of either that I had met with along the Chobi river in the
early 'seventies. My own horse cut its career short by galloping with
me into an open game pitfall and breaking its back, and the other
three, although they were well fed with maize morning and evening,
were too weak to gallop after game in a fortnight. After a month they
were too weak to carry a man at all, and they were then shot. The five
donkeys all got thin, and swelled at the navel, and ran at the eyes,
but none of them died, although they remained in the "fly" country
for more than a month. By the end of the following rainy season they
had quite recovered their condition and were well and strong again.
These same five donkeys were taken down to Zumbo on the Zambesi the
following year by the late Bishop Knight-Bruce. But they all died from
the effects of this journey, during which they must have suffered great
hardships and also been exposed to the attacks of thousands of tse-tse
flies on the lower Panyami river.

When visiting the old Portuguese settlement of Zumbo on the Zambesi,
in 1882, I found the few Portuguese residents as well as the natives
living there in the possession of great numbers of pigs. These animals
were sent out every morning into the country round the settlement, and
called back in the evening--those which belonged to the Portuguese--by
a few notes on a horn. A little maize was then scattered on the ground
for them to pick up, after which they were shut up for the night in a
walled enclosure. As tse-tse flies were numerous along the bank of the
Zambesi on both sides of Zumbo, and it was quite impossible to keep
cattle there on account of them, or any other domestic animals besides
the pigs, except the small native goats, the former must have been
equally as resistant to "fly" poison as the latter. These domestic pigs
certainly did not owe their immunity to the "fly" disease to the fact
that they were fat, for they were miserably thin long-snouted looking
brutes. Although the pigs I saw at Zumbo probably did not go very far
away from the settlement during the daytime, I feel sure that they must
have been constantly bitten by tse-tse flies, as these insects were
numerous quite close up to the native village, which is built amongst
the ruins of the old Portuguese town.

All the natives living in "fly"-infested districts of South Africa keep
small, miserable-looking dogs, as well as goats of a small, indigenous
breed, and the natives outside such infested districts also keep goats
of the same kind. These goats take no harm from the tse-tse flies; but
the large Cape goats, which are descended from European breeds, as well
as Angora goats, are not resistant to the "fly" disease. Nor are any
dogs of European breeds.

In 1891 my two horses were suddenly attacked by tse-tse flies as I was
riding with a companion along the bank of the Revue river, where the
local Kafirs had told me these insects did not exist. Luckily, being
so well acquainted with the peculiar "buzz" made by a tse-tse fly, I
believe I heard the first one that came to my horse, and immediately
dismounted. In the next few minutes we caught sixteen flies on the two
horses, most of them by pinning their feet with a knife blade, as they
are very difficult to catch with the hand. I then made the Kafirs cut
branches, with which they kept the flies off the horses until we had
got them away from the river, and beyond the "fly" belt. Most of these
flies were caught immediately they settled on the horses, but two or
three managed to fill themselves with blood. My horses, however, which
were in very good condition, were never affected in any way.

Tse-tse flies are most active and troublesome in hot weather. During
the winter months in South Africa (May, June, and July) none will be
seen until the sun is high above the horizon, but later in the season
they begin to bite early in the morning. After sunset in the evening
they seem to become lethargic, and will often crawl up between one's
legs or under one's coat as if for shelter, and from such positions
will often "stick" one long after dark. On cold nights they probably
become quite benumbed, and do not move at all, but on warm nights
they are sometimes very active and hungry. As before related, I lost
twenty-one oxen by driving them backwards and forwards in one night
through a "fly" belt ten miles in width. This was in the month of
November, and the night was very warm.

On the 25th of August 1874, when returning from the pursuit of a
wounded elephant, I struck the Chobi river late at night, and had to
walk several miles along the bank before getting to my camp. It was a
bright moonlight night, and fairly warm. My only clothing consisted
of a shirt, a hat, and a pair of veld shoes, and as I walked along
near the water's edge the tse-tse flies kept flying up from the ground
and biting my bare legs, and from the loud slaps behind me I knew
they were paying similar attentions to my Kafirs. Now, these "flies"
were undoubtedly resting on the bare ground, for we were walking, not
through bushes, but along the strip of open ground between the forest
and the water's edge. The bite of the tse-tse is very sharp, like
the prick of a needle, but in a healthy man it causes no swelling or
after irritation, like the bite of a midge or a mosquitoe. Speaking
generally, the bites of a moderate number of tse-tse flies may be said
to have no appreciable effect on a human being. Still, I am of opinion
that if one is exposed to the attentions of swarms of these insects
for months at a time, the strongest of human beings will find himself
growing gradually weaker. Explorers or traders may sometimes be exposed
to the bites of great numbers of tse-tse flies for a few days together,
but they will soon pass through such districts. Only an elephant
hunter, I think, would ever be likely to remain for any considerable
period of time in a country where tse-tse flies were very numerous. I
cannot think that many Europeans have suffered from tse-tse fly bites
as much as I have. In 1874, and again in 1877, I spent the whole of
the dry season, from June till November, on the southern bank of the
Chobi river, and lived during the greater part of those two seasons in
a swarm of tse-tse flies. Up to that time I had had no fever, and my
constitution was unimpaired in any way. Towards the end of both those
seasons, however, not only I myself but all my Kafir attendants became
excessively thin, and seemed to be getting rather weak. The natives,
too, who lived in the reed beds where there were no tse-tse flies, but
who used to come to the southern bank of the river to collect firewood
and look at their game traps, all said that they could not live there
because of the tse-tse, which made them thin and weak, or, as they
expressed it, the tse-tse "killed them," just as they say in times of
famine that hunger is killing them.

In 1882 I met with a curious experience, for which I cannot quite
account. During that year I had made an expedition from the high
plateau of Mashunaland to Zumbo, on the Zambesi, and had had a somewhat
hard time and gone through a severe attack of fever. I had also been
very much bitten by tse-tse flies on the lower Panyami and Umsengaisi
rivers. Towards the end of the year I got back to the Mission Station
of Umshlangeni in Matabeleland, and was given a warm welcome by my old
friends the Rev. W. A. Elliott and his wife. I reached the Mission
Station late in the evening, after a ride of fifty miles in the hot
sun. I was fairly well, having recovered from the attack of fever, but
perhaps a little run down.

Soon after I had turned in on the bed Mrs. Elliott had arranged for me,
I felt my nose coming on to bleed. Not wanting to disturb any one, I
pulled a newspaper I had been reading from the chair by my bedside, and
spreading it on the floor, let my nose bleed on to it. It bled a good
deal, and the next morning I was surprised to see that the blood which
had come from me was not like blood at all, but slimy, yellow-looking
stuff. When I showed it to Mr. Elliott, I said to him that it looked to
me exactly like the blood of a "fly-stuck" donkey which I had shot some
years before at Daka, and I laughingly suggested that I was "fly-stuck"
too. That something had affected the red corpuscles of my blood seems
certain, but whether innumerable tse-tse fly bites or fever, or both
combined, had done it I cannot say. Ever since I received an injury
in the head in 1880, I have been rather subject to bleeding from the
right nostril, but I have never again lost any blood which bore the
slightest resemblance to that which came from me in Mr. Elliott's house
after my trip to Zumbo in 1882.



  Character of the black rhinoceros--Its practical extermination in
     South Africa at a very trifling cost to human life--No case
     known to author of a Boer hunter having been killed by a black
     rhinoceros--Accidents to English hunters--Harris's opinion of
     and experiences with the black rhinoceros--Seemingly unnecessary
     slaughter of these animals--Large numbers shot by Oswell and
     Vardon--Divergence of opinion concerning disposition of the two
     so-called different species of black rhinoceroses--Experiences
     of Gordon Cumming, Andersson, and Baldwin with these
     animals--Victims of the ferocity of the black rhinoceros
     extraordinarily few in South Africa--The author's experiences
     with these animals--Sudden rise in the value of short rhinoceros
     horns--Its fatal effect--Dull sight of the black rhinoceros--Keen
     scent--Inquisitiveness--Blind rush of the black rhinoceros when
     wounded--An advancing rhinoceros shot in the head--Author chased
     by black rhinoceroses when on horseback--Curious experience
     near Thamma-Setjie--Black rhinoceroses charging through
     caravans--Coming to camp fires at night--Author's doubts as to the
     extreme ferocity of black rhinoceroses in general--Testimony of
     experienced hunters as to the character of the black rhinoceros
     in the countries north of the Zambesi--Captain Stigand severely
     injured by one of these animals--Experiences of Mr. Vaughan
     Kirby--Extraordinary number of black rhinoceroses in East
     Africa--Experiences of A. H. Neumann and F. J. Jackson with
     these animals--Views of Sir James Hayes-Sadler--Great numbers of
     rhinoceroses lately shot in East Africa without loss of life to
     hunters--Superiority of modern weapons--President Roosevelt's
     letter--Mr. Fleischmann's remarkable account of a combat between
     a rhinoceros and a crocodile--Possible explanation of seeming
     helplessness of the rhinoceros.

In a previous chapter I have spoken of the difficulty of understanding
the true character of the African black or prehensile-lipped
rhinoceros; but perhaps I ought to have said "my own" difficulty,
for never having had my life seriously endangered by any one of the
many animals of this species which I met with at a time when they
were still fairly numerous in the interior of South Africa, I have
always found it very difficult to credit the vast majority of these
stupidly inquisitive but dull-sighted brutes with the vindictiveness
and ferocity of disposition that has often been attributed to the whole
race. I am, it must be understood, now speaking only of the black
rhinoceros in Africa to the south of the Zambesi. In other parts of the
continent I have had no experience of these animals.

In Southern Africa the black as well as the white rhinoceros has been
almost absolutely exterminated during the last sixty years. During that
period, thousands upon thousands of these animals have been killed, at
a cost to human life so trifling, that I submit it is impossible to
contend that, speaking generally, the hunting and shooting of black
rhinoceroses was an exceptionally dangerous undertaking.

When a young man I was personally acquainted with several of the most
noted of the old Boer hunters--Petrus Jacobs, Jan Viljoen, Martinus
Swart, Michael Engelbreght, and others--who were amongst the first
white men to penetrate to the wondrous hunting-grounds beyond the
Limpopo; but I never heard of any Boer hunter having been killed by a
black rhinoceros.

Amongst the early English hunters, who were probably more reckless and
less experienced than the Boers, a few accidents certainly happened,
but, considering the number of rhinoceroses they killed, they must
have been favoured with extraordinarily good luck to have got off
as cheaply as they did, if anything like a large proportion of these
animals had habitually attacked them without provocation, as soon as
they saw or scented them, or even made a point of charging immediately
they were interfered with.

During his wonderful hunting expedition to the interior of South Africa
in 1836-37, Captain (afterwards Sir Cornwallis) Harris met with an
extraordinary number of rhinoceroses of both the black and the white
species. He shot great numbers of both, but never seems himself to have
been in any serious danger from a black rhinoceros, though one of his
Hottentot servants was knocked over by one of these animals, and his
companion, Mr. Richardson, seems to have had a very narrow escape from

Speaking of this incident, Harris says: "My companion the next morning
achieved a 'gentle passage of arms' with the very duplicate of this
gentleman;[13] but _his_ antagonist could not be prevailed upon to
surrender to superior weapons, until it had considerably disfigured
with the point of its horn the stock of the rifle employed in its
reduction. Aroused from a siesta in a thick bush by the smarting of a
gunshot wound, the exasperated beast pursued its human assailant so
closely, that Richardson was fain in self-defence to discharge the
second barrel down its open throat!"

[13] Another rhinoceros shot by Captain Harris.

In a further paragraph Harris wrote: "As we advanced, the species (the
black rhinoceros) became daily more and more abundant, and I shall
hardly gain credence when I assert that in the valley of the Limpopo
specimens were so numerous that on arriving in the afternoon at our
new ground it was no uncommon thing to perceive a dozen horned snouts
protruded at once from bushes in the immediate vicinity. No sooner
were the teams unyoked than the whole party, in the regular routine
of business, having assumed their weapons, proceeded to dislodge the
enemy, and right stoutly often was the field contested. But where is
the quadruped that can stand before the grooved rifle? it will take the
conceit out of the most contumacious, and like a sedative, will calm
his ruffled temper in a minute. Every individual came in for a share
of cold lead and quicksilver; and the stubborn brute that would not
quietly withdraw, satisfied with the mercurial dose he had received,
was ultimately badgered to death as a matter of course. Daily almost
two or three were thus annihilated within view of the camp."

Personally, I find it impossible to believe, nor does it seem to be
implied, that any great danger attended this oft-repeated and senseless
slaughter of animals, which were undoubtedly attracted to the waggons
by nothing more reprehensible than inquisitiveness; just as, when
crossing the high downs between the Zambesi and Kafukwe rivers with a
train of pack-donkeys in 1888, I was upon several occasions accompanied
by herds of wildebeests, which ran alongside of my caravan for
considerable distances, their sense of danger entirely overcome by the
stronger passion of curiosity.

It is very evident from Harris's description of the white rhinoceros
that he considered this species to be almost equally as dangerous as
the black. He states that he found it "subject to the same paroxysms of
reckless and unprovoked fury," and "often fully as troublesome as its
sable relative."

The black rhinoceros is often spoken of as a beast of so savage and
morose a temper that it will not only attack any animal which may
approach it, but in default of anything better, will vent its senseless
rage on bushes or other inanimate objects. But is there any authority
for such a charge? Harris says: "Nineteen times out of twenty shall
you see the crusty old fellow standing listlessly in the society of
gnoos, quaggas, and hartebeests"; and I myself have often seen black
rhinoceroses drinking peaceably in close proximity to buffaloes and
other animals.

Mr. William Cotton Oswell, who between the years 1844 and 1853 made
five hunting expeditions into the interior of South Africa, met with
and shot great numbers of rhinoceroses of both the black and the white
species. In one season alone, he and his companion Mr. Vardon shot no
less than eighty-nine of these animals. Oswell, who was a man of a very
bold and fearless disposition, was badly injured by a black rhinoceros
on one occasion, and on another had his horse gored to death by a
wounded animal of the white species.

It is worthy of remark, I think, that Harris took the correct view
that all the prehensile-lipped rhinoceroses he encountered belonged
to one and the same species, although showing individually very great
divergencies in the relative length of the two horns. In a footnote to
his description of the black rhinoceros he says: "In no two specimens
of this animal which came under my observation were the horns built
exactly upon the same model. Disease or accident had not unfrequently
rendered the anterior horn the _shorter_ of the two."

Oswell, however, as well as many other travellers and hunters, adopted
the native view that those prehensile-lipped rhinoceroses in which the
posterior horn was equal or nearly equal in length to the anterior
belonged to a distinct species, and in view of the fact that all
naturalists and sportsmen are now agreed that all prehensile-lipped
rhinoceroses throughout Africa belong to one and the same species, the
differences in their horns being merely individual variations of no
specific value, it is interesting to note the divergence of opinion
between well-known writers as to the comparative aggressiveness of the
two supposed species.

Oswell speaks of the borili--the prehensile-lipped rhinoceros in
which the second horn was short--as being "as a rule the only really
troublesome member of his family," whilst Andersson and Chapman
considered the keitloa--the variety in which both horns were of equal
or nearly equal length--as the more dangerous variety.

Gordon Cumming speaks of both varieties of the black rhinoceros as
"extremely fierce and dangerous," and says "they rush headlong and
unprovoked at any object which attracts their attention." Although,
however, this great hunter must have seen and shot large numbers of
these animals, I cannot gather from his writings that he ever treated
them with the respect which the character he gives them ought to
have inspired, or ever seemed to think there was much danger to be
apprehended in attacking them. Having approached the first black
rhinoceros he ever saw very closely, it heard him and advanced towards
where he was hiding. Gordon Cumming then, "knowing well that a frontal
shot would not prove deadly," sprang to his feet and ran for cover,
upon which the rhinoceros charged and chased him round a bush. The
animal then stood eyeing the hunter, but "_getting a whiff of his wind,
at once became alarmed and ran off_." This last remark is interesting
to me because it has so often been stated that black rhinoceroses
charge as a rule immediately they scent a human being, whereas my own
experience agrees in this particular with that of Gordon Cumming.
With the exception of this adventure, a careful perusal of Gordon
Cumming's writings does not reveal the fact that he was ever again in
any great danger from a black rhinoceros. He was once chased when on
horseback by one which he had wounded, but from the account he gives of
this incident he could hardly have expected anything else. He writes:
"Becoming at last annoyed at the length of the chase ... I determined
to bring matters to a crisis; so, spurring my horse, I dashed ahead and
rode right in his path. Upon this the hideous monster instantly charged
me in the most resolute manner, blowing loudly through his nostrils."

C. J. Andersson, who travelled in Western South Africa in the early
'fifties of the last century, was also a mighty hunter. He states that
he killed "many scores" of rhinoceroses--as many as sixty in one season
alone. He gives the black rhinoceros a very bad character, saying that
animals of this species are not only of "a very sullen and morose
disposition," but that they are also "subject to sudden paroxysms of
unprovoked fury, rushing and charging with inconceivable fierceness
animals, stones, bushes--in short, any object that comes in their way."

Except, however, upon one occasion, when Andersson was badly injured
one night and nearly lost his life as the result of closely approaching
and throwing a stone at a black rhinoceros which he had previously
wounded, he does not seem to have met with any further adventures
or suffered any inconvenience from the unprovoked fury of any other
individual of the species.

About the same time that Andersson was travelling and hunting in
Damaraland and Ovampoland, Baldwin was leading an almost precisely
similar life first in Zululand and Amatongaland, and later on in the
countries lying to the north and north-west of the Transvaal as far
as the Zambesi river and Lake N'gami. Baldwin must have encountered a
considerable number of rhinoceroses of both the black and the white
species, and records the shooting of a good many of these animals
in the most matter-of-fact way. From cover to cover of the very
interesting book he wrote describing his hunting adventures, _African
Hunting from Natal to the Zambesi_, he never speaks of the black
rhinoceros as being a savage and ferocious animal, given to sudden
paroxysms of fury, nor does he ever appear to have thought it a more
dangerous animal to attack than one of the white species. Indeed, on
several occasions he simply records the fact that he shot a rhinoceros,
without saying to which species it belonged. One rhinoceros came at him
after having been wounded, but was stopped by a shot in the forehead.
As this animal--a cow with a very small calf--is spoken of as having a
very long horn, it was probably a white rhinoceros, which would have
charged with its nose close to the ground, and would therefore have
been much easier to kill with a shot in the forehead than one of the
black species, whose head would necessarily have been held somewhat
higher owing to the shortness of its neck.

My own personal experience of the black rhinoceros in Southern Africa
compels me to believe that, although a small proportion of animals of
this species may have been excessively ill-tempered, and were always
ready to charge anything and everything they saw moving, and even
to hunt a human being by scent, that was never the character of the
great majority of these animals. At any rate, the rage of the black
rhinoceros in the countries to the south of the Zambesi has been
singularly impotent and ineffective. In the thirty-five years which
elapsed between the date of Harris's travels through Bechwanaland
and the north-western portions of what is now the Transvaal Colony
and my own first visit to South Africa in 1871, thousands of black
rhinoceroses must have been killed; a very large proportion of them by
white--principally Boer--hunters, for up to the latter date the natives
only possessed a very few firearms. Yet how many hunters were killed or
injured during the killing-off of this enormous number of creatures,
which have been so often described as not only excessively savage and
dangerous when interfered with, but also subject to sudden paroxysms of
unprovoked fury? I think I have read all recent books on South African
hunting, but I cannot recall any mention of a white man or a black man
having been killed by a black rhinoceros in any one of them, though
both Oswell and Andersson were badly injured and came very near losing
their lives in encounters with individuals of this species. I do not
say that between 1836 and 1871 no human being was killed by a black
rhinoceros in South Africa. All I wish to convey is that such incidents
must have been exceedingly rare, for I cannot remember either to have
read any account of such a catastrophe or to have heard any of the old
Boer hunters mention such a case.

Between 1872 and 1890, the period during which both black and white
rhinoceroses were practically exterminated in all the countries
between the Limpopo and the Zambesi rivers, I can, however, positively
assert that no white hunter was killed or even injured by a black
rhinoceros in any part of the immense territories comprised in the
present Southern Rhodesia and the Bechwanaland Protectorate, for no
such accident could have happened without my having heard of it; nor
did I ever hear of a native hunter having been killed by one of these
animals during that time, although one of the old traders--George
Kirton[14]--told me that in 1868 a black rhinoceros had charged through
his string of porters, and driven its horn through both thighs of
one of them, throwing him up in the air. Fortunately no bones were
broken and the injured man quickly recovered from his wounds. Another
instance of the same kind happened in the experience of my old hunting
companion, George Wood. One day, as he and two companions--David
Napier and, I think, James Gifford--were riding along on elephant
spoor in Mashunaland, a black rhinoceros suddenly charged through
them, overturning Napier's horse and throwing it and its rider to the
ground. Napier was not hurt, but I forget whether or no the horse was
killed. These two incidents serve to show that in the parts of Africa
in which my own experience was gained, certain black rhinoceroses
were undoubtedly dangerous and aggressive; but such animals were,
I am convinced, exceptional. I do not think that rhinoceroses were
ever so plentiful on the northern watershed between the Limpopo and
Zambesi rivers as Harris found them in the valley of the former
river in 1837, but nevertheless in the early 'seventies, throughout
all the uninhabited portions of the territory now known as Southern
Rhodesia, rhinoceroses of both the black and the white species were
very plentiful. The countries through which I hunted in 1872 and 1873
were practically virgin ground, as the Matabele were then only just
beginning to acquire firearms in any quantity. As I have recorded in my
book _A Hunter's Wanderings_,[15] when hunting elephants during those
two years I encountered almost daily one or more prehensile-lipped
rhinoceroses, often seeing five, six, or even eight in one day, and
in addition to these, I met with many of the square-mouthed or white
species as well. As I was hunting elephants for a living and could
not therefore afford to run the risk of disturbing these valuable
animals by firing indiscriminately at any other kind of game, unless
I really wanted meat, I seldom killed rhinoceroses. But had these
animals been valuable, and had I been hunting them for a living instead
of elephants, I think that by watching at their drinking-places, and
following up fresh tracks, as well as shooting all those I came across
casually, I might easily have killed a hundred of each species during
those two years. During each of the years 1874, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880,
1882, 1883, 1885, and 1887, I came across black rhinoceroses, but never
in any one of those years in anything like the numbers I had met with
these animals in 1872 and 1873.

[14] An elder brother of Argent Kirton, who was killed with Allan
Wilson in the Matabele War of 1893.

[15] First published in 1881.

In the country to the north-east of Matabeleland, between the Sebakwe
and the Hanyani rivers, both black and white rhinoceroses were still
fairly numerous in 1878, during which year I one day saw five of the
latter all together, and it was only after 1880 that the numbers
of both species commenced to be seriously reduced in this part of
South Africa. About that time rhinoceros horns--of all sorts and
sizes--attained a considerable commercial value, probably through some
freak of fashion in knife-handles or combs or what not in Europe.
But whatever was the cause of it, this sudden rise in the value of
small rhinoceros horns sounded the death-knell of these creatures
in the interior of South Africa. By the year 1880, ivory had become
very scarce in that portion of the continent, and the traders in
Matabeleland then for the first time began to employ native hunters
to shoot rhinoceroses for the sake of their horns--no matter of what
length--and their hides, which latter were made into waggon whips and
sjamboks. One trader alone told me that he had supplied four hundred
Matabele hunters with guns and ammunition, and between 1880 and 1884
his large store always contained great piles of rhinoceros horns--of
all sorts and sizes, often the spoils of over a hundred of these
animals at one time, although they were constantly being sold to other
traders and carried south to Kimberley on their way to Europe. I do not
know for a fact that all these rhinoceros horns were sent to Europe.
They may have been shipped to China or India.

Although many hundreds of native hunters--poorly armed with smooth-bore
muskets for the most part--must have taken part in the practical
extermination of both the black and the white rhinoceros, throughout
all the uninhabited tracts of country lying between the high plateau
of Matabeleland and the Zambesi river, as far as I know no single man
was either killed or injured in the process, although they must have
killed between them at least a thousand black rhinoceroses alone during
the five years before 1886. After that there were very few rhinoceroses
left to shoot to the west of the Umfuli river, beyond which the
Matabele hunters seldom ventured.

Black rhinoceroses always appeared to me to be very dull of sight,
but quick of hearing and excessively keen scented, and I have never
known an instance of one not immediately running off on getting my
wind. I have often seen them, too, take alarm and run off when warned
by the tick-birds that so often accompanied them, although they had
neither seen nor smelt me. These tick-birds, which may often be seen
accompanying buffaloes and other animals as well as rhinoceroses,
always flutter about and give well-understood warning cries on the
approach of a human being. On the other hand, I have seen many black
rhinoceroses, when suddenly disturbed by the noise made by my Kafirs
and myself, as we walked past them, come trotting up towards us
snorting loudly. Such animals had not got our wind or they would have
run off--at least I think so. Whenever rhinoceroses came trotting
towards us snorting, my Kafirs used to run to the nearest trees and
call to me to do the same; but I never did so, and I was never charged
by one. These animals, after first trotting quickly towards me, would
stand looking intently at what must have been to them the unaccustomed
sight of a figure with a shirt and a hat on it, then snort again and
trot up nearer; but with one exception they always turned round and
trotted off sooner or later, carrying their heads and tails high in
the air. Sometimes I had to shout and throw sticks and stones at them
before they wheeled round and made off.

It sometimes happened that a rhinoceros which I had disturbed came
trotting towards me, at a time when I wanted meat, and I then took
advantage of the opportunity, and kneeling down, fired a four-ounce
ball into its chest from my muzzle-loading elephant gun. In such cases
they would usually come rushing straight forwards at a gallop, puffing
and snorting furiously, and on several occasions have passed within a
few yards of where I was standing. However, I never thought that these
wounded animals were charging, but believed them to be rushing blindly
forwards after having received a mortal wound. I have, however, often
heard such blind rushes described as terrific charges.

The one occasion on which I had to fire at an advancing black
rhinoceros because I could not make it turn was on April 25, 1878. At
that time I was making my way from the Zambesi river to Matabeleland,
through an uninhabited piece of country which had never previously
been traversed by a white man. I was very weak and ill from fever and
privation, and on meeting with a black rhinoceros early in the morning,
was anxious to kill it for the sake of the meat. When the animal,
however, an old bull, first came trotting towards me, I did not fire
at it, as I thought I could make more certain of killing it with a
shot through the lungs as it turned to run off. But it would not turn,
but kept advancing steadily towards me without taking any notice of
my shouts, until it was so near that I determined to try and kill it
with a shot in the front of the head. I was at that time armed with a
single-barrelled ten-bore rifle, which was carefully sighted and shot
very accurately, and when the rhinoceros was within fifteen yards of
where I stood, and still slowly but steadily advancing, I put a bullet
past its horns and into its forehead. It fell to the shot and rolled
on its side, but almost immediately raised its head and brought it
down again on the ground with a thump. I saw that it was only stunned,
just as the one had been which I had lost some five years previously,
after having hit it in almost exactly the same place with a four-ounce
bullet; so I ran close up to it and killed it with a bullet behind the
shoulder, just as it swung itself up into a sitting position. What
this rhinoceros would have done if I had not fired I do not know. I
think it very likely, however, that had I turned and run for a tree, it
might have rushed after me and struck at me with its horn. Some of the
others, too, which had trotted up towards me in previous years might
have done the same thing, if they had suddenly seen me running close in
front of them. I have twice had the same experience as that described
by Gordon Cumming when he galloped in front of a black rhinoceros which
he had wounded, that is to say, I have been smartly chased by two of
these animals. The first was a cow with a nearly full-grown calf.
These two animals went off at a swift trot as soon as they scented
me, breaking into a gallop when I pressed them. I then tried to pass
them, so as to get a broadside shot; but directly my horse drew level
with her, the cow charged in the most determined manner, snorting
furiously and chasing me for a considerable distance. This incident
occurred in 1880. In 1883, when hunting on horseback just outside the
"fly" country on the upper Sabi river, I one day came across an old
bull black rhinoceros which, though it ran off in the first instance as
soon as it saw or scented me, turned and chased me smartly, with the
usual accompaniment of snorts and puffs, as soon as my horse drew level
with it. It chased me certainly for over a hundred yards, and pressed
my horse pretty hard. As it swerved off and stopped snorting, I brought
my horse round, and dismounting, gave it a shot in the ribs; but on
galloping up near it again, it gave me another smart chase. Two more
bullets, however, finished this plucky old animal.

Besides these two, I can only call to mind eight other black
rhinoceroses which I chased on horseback, and none of these showed any
fight at all, but kept continually sheering off as the horse drew level
with them, making it almost impossible to get anything but a stern
shot. In November 1874 I chased a black rhinoceros bull out into an
open expanse of ground near Thamma-Setjie, on the old waggon road to
the Zambesi, and in trying to get a broadside shot, rode it round and
round in a large circle, until it presently stood still with its mouth
open, evidently completely done. Even when I dismounted and shot it at
close range--I only had an old smooth-bore gun--it never attempted to

Several times, when hunting elephants in the early 'seventies of the
last century, black rhinoceroses rushed snorting either close in front
of or close behind myself and my small party of Kafirs. They had
undoubtedly been alarmed by hearing or smelling us, and were, I think,
trying to get out of danger; but I believe that, should a rhinoceros
get the wind of the foremost man amongst a long string of porters, and
on starting off to run away from the disagreeable smell, suddenly
find itself confronted by another portion of the caravan, it will
not turn back, but rush snorting through the line, sometimes perhaps
injuring a man in its passage. It is, I think, owing to the fact that
travellers, traders, and hunters in East Africa have always employed
very large numbers of porters, who marched in single file in a line
often extending to several hundred yards in length, that incidents
of this kind have been so frequent in that country. But when a black
rhinoceros just rushes through a long line of porters without singling
out and following any particular man, I think such a proceeding is
more the result of panic than anything else. My view is that the wind
blowing obliquely across the line being taken by a caravan may reach a
rhinoceros lying or standing some distance away. This animal at once
takes alarm and runs off, at first perhaps at right angles to the
direction from which the wind is blowing; but on again turning up wind,
as rhinoceroses almost invariably do, it comes right on to another
portion of the straggling line of porters. Confronted by this line of
men, whom it had at first tried to avoid, it will probably not turn
back, but rather charge through them and continue its flight. The sight
of the black rhinoceros is certainly very bad, and in cases where these
animals have charged against waggons in South Africa, and trains on the
Uganda Railway, it is difficult to say whether they were animated by
pure bad temper or ran against these obstacles because they suddenly
saw them moving right across their path, when they were endeavouring to
escape from some other danger.

Upon three occasions during 1873 black rhinoceroses came close up to
my camp at night, snorting loudly, and upon one occasion, as I shall
relate in a subsequent chapter, a white one did the same thing. On
all these occasions, I think the curiosity of these rhinoceroses must
have been aroused by the sight of the camp fires, or else the smell of
blood and meat must have excited them. I fired into one of the black
rhinoceroses as he was coming very close, and drove off the other two
by shouting at them.

That a certain proportion of the vanished race of South African
rhinoceroses of the prehensile-lipped species were of a morose and
savage temper, and therefore dangerous animals to encounter, I will not
for one moment attempt to deny, for there is a great deal of evidence
that this was the case. But what I do think is that many writers have
taken the character of the exceptionally vicious animals they met with
as typical of that of the whole species. But, unless at least a very
considerable proportion of black rhinoceroses were neither savage nor
dangerous, I fail to understand why it was that none of those that I
myself encountered behaved in a manner befitting their reputation; how
it has come about that the whole race has been practically exterminated
in South Africa at so infinitesimal a cost to human life; why Gordon
Cumming, who shot so many of these "hideous monsters," only appears
to have met with two adventures--both of a very mild character--with
these animals; and why Baldwin never seemed to have the least idea that
they were either dangerous to attack or subject to sudden paroxysms of
unprovoked fury.

Hitherto I have only spoken of the black rhinoceros in South Africa;
but the testimony of the most experienced hunters, in other parts
of the continent, seems to show that the character of this animal
has always been essentially the same throughout its entire range.
Everywhere it seems to have been and to be a stupid, blundering,
bad-sighted, but keen-scented beast; in the great majority of cases
doing its best to avoid human beings, but always liable to become
savage when wounded, like elephants, lions, and buffaloes, and
sometimes being really bad-tempered and savage by nature, and ready to
charge unprovoked at the sight or scent of any one approaching it. My
own experience proves at least that it is quite possible to come across
a great number of black rhinoceroses without ever encountering a really
vicious one.

In those countries which now form part of North-Western Rhodesia,
through which I travelled many years ago, black rhinoceroses were by no
means plentiful. In fact, though I from time to time came across their
tracks, I never actually saw a rhinoceros in the flesh to the north
of the Zambesi. Throughout British Central Africa, too, I believe I
am correct in stating that these animals have never been found in any
great number. It was somewhere in this territory that my friend Captain
C. H. Stigand was severely injured by a black rhinoceros. I have heard
the story of this misadventure from his own lips, and I think there
can be no doubt that the animal which suddenly charged and tossed him
without provocation was one of those vicious, dangerous brutes whose
exceptionally savage tempers have given a bad name to the whole species.

In a footnote to the article on the black rhinoceros contributed to the
_Great and Small Game of Africa_ by Mr. F. Vaughan Kirby, that writer
says, in speaking of the character of this animal: "I know an instance
of a native being charged and killed, and another whom I met personally
who was chased and regularly hunted by a wounded one, which caught and
fearfully mutilated him."

Judging by his own personal experience, Mr. Kirby came to the
conclusion that, "although naturally timid, and certainly not
dangerously aggressive, the black rhinoceros is of most uncertain
temper, and when wounded and encountered at close quarters, can and
will charge most fiercely, and occasionally is as vindictive as any
buffalo." The adjective "vindictive" here used by Mr. Kirby does
not appear to me to be quite the right or fair one. If an elephant,
buffalo, lion, or rhinoceros should be attacked and grievously injured
by a human being, and is brave and stubborn enough to resent such
treatment and make a fight for its life, it seems like adding insult to
injury to speak of it as vindictive.

In many parts of both British and German East Africa black
rhinoceroses were quite recently, and in some cases probably still
are, extraordinarily numerous. Here, as in other parts of Africa, a
certain number of accidents have occurred in hunting these animals,
and there have been a good many instances of their charging through a
line of native porters. However, although it is unquestionable that
in East Africa, as elsewhere, black rhinoceroses have sometimes shown
themselves to be really vicious, and therefore very dangerous animals,
there seems to be a concensus of opinion amongst those men who have had
the greatest experience with them, that these were the exceptions to
the general rule.

Few men, if any, could have had a wider experience with the black
rhinoceros in East Africa than my friend the late A. H. Neumann, whose
recent death I shall never cease to deplore, and I therefore make no
apology for quoting a few sentences from the very interesting and
informing article contributed by him to the _Great and Small Game of
Africa_ on the subject of this animal. Neumann says:

 As has often been pointed out, the rhino is the most intensely stupid
 of animals, and marvellously blind. So much so, that it may often be
 approached even on a bare plain with little trouble _up wind_. It is
 their very stupidity and blindness which makes these beasts a source
 of danger to passing caravans; for should the wind be blowing _from_
 them, and unless they be accompanied by tick-birds, as they often are,
 which alarm them and cause them to make off, they frequently remain
 unconscious of the approach of a caravan until it is close to them,
 when, being suddenly confronted with a long line of porters, they will
 sometimes charge straight through it, apparently under the impression
 that there is no other way of escape open. On the other hand, they are
 keen-scented; and if the wind be blowing in their direction they start
 away at a quick trot as soon as the taint reaches them, and while yet
 a long way off.

 As regards the much-disputed question, to what degree the rhinoceros
 is a dangerous beast, the result of my experience and observations is
 very decidedly to convince me that, under ordinary circumstances and
 with proper caution, there is not very much risk in shooting him, and
 that the danger is not to be compared in any way with that attending
 the pursuit of the elephant. At the same time, there is always a
 possibility that one may charge, and there is therefore a certain
 amount of excitement in the sport; and instances are not rare of men
 having been badly injured by these beasts....

 The Ndorobos kill these animals with their elephant harpoons, or trap
 them in the same manner as elephants. Those I have been among have far
 less fear of rhinoceroses than of elephants, and as a consequence it
 is a rare thing to see a rhino in country much frequented by such of
 these people as have much skill and courage in elephant-hunting. The
 same applies to Swahilis, many of whom think nothing of shooting a
 "faro," though they would not dream of attacking elephants.

The only other man whose experience with rhinoceroses in East Africa
has been equal to that of Arthur Neumann is Mr. F. J. Jackson,
C.B., who for some years past has been a most able administrator
of the territories in which he first made a name as a hunter and a
naturalist. Mr. Jackson's testimony concerning the character of the
black rhinoceros as he has known that animal appears to me to coincide
very closely with that arrived at by Neumann, his great friend and
only rival as a hunter in East Africa. Like Neumann, Jackson fully
realises that black rhinoceroses are sometimes vicious and dangerous,
but his experience has been that, as a rule, these animals avoid and
run away from human beings if they can, and that even when they rush
snorting through a long line of native porters, they are usually
trying to escape from rather than viciously attacking these men. In
the course of the very interesting article on the black rhinoceros
contributed by Mr. F. J. Jackson to vol. i. on _Big Game Shooting_ of
the Badminton Library, he states: "When alarmed, the rhinoceros becomes
easily flurried, appears to do things on impulse which other animals
endowed with more sagacity would not do, and is by no means the vicious
and vindictive brute which some writers have found him to be in South
Africa and the Soudan. In the majority of cases, where a rhinoceros is
said, by men who perhaps have not been very well acquainted with his
peculiarities, to have charged in a most determined and vicious manner,
I believe this so-called charge to have been nothing more than the
first headlong and impetuous rush of the beast in a semidazed state,
endeavouring to avoid an encounter rather than court one."

In the course of the Report made to the Earl of Elgin on the game
of the East Africa Protectorate by the Chief Commissioner, Captain
(now Sir James) Hayes-Sadler, dated "Commissioner's Office, Nairobi,
September 28, 1906," the following passage occurs: "This interesting
Pachyderm (the black rhinoceros), though sometimes a dangerous, is
always a stupid animal, and, from his bulk and the nature of the
country he inhabits, with but few exceptions falls an easy prey. My
experience of him, too, is that in fairly open country he is easily
driven away, and that therefore the necessity of shooting to protect
life is not nearly so frequent as has sometimes been alleged."

The opinion expressed in the above paragraph concerning the black
rhinoceros and the danger of its pursuit has, I think, been proved to
be fairly accurate by the experience of the many sportsmen (most of
them utterly inexperienced in hunting large and dangerous animals)
who have visited British East Africa in recent years; for since Mr.
B. Eastwood was very badly injured, and indeed had a most miraculous
escape, near Lake Baringo, in October 1902, from a rhinoceros which he
thought he had killed, but which got on to its feet again and charged
him after he had walked close up to where it was lying, I have not
heard of any other accident having occurred in the hunting of these
animals, although during the three years ending on March 31, 1906, no
less than 308 black rhinoceroses were killed under sportsmen's and
settlers' licences in British East Africa, besides twenty-three others
which were shot on the border of the same territory by the members of
the Anglo-German Boundary Commission.

The big-game hunter of to-day is armed with weapons which are vastly
superior to those which the old pioneer hunters of South Africa had to
rely upon in bygone times, and the dangers of big-game hunting are,
in consequence, now very much less than they were then; but still,
judging from my own experience (and in 1872, 1873, and 1874 the clumsy
old four-bore guns I used were very inferior even to the two-grooved
rifles possessed by Harris, Oswell, or Gordon Cumming) and all I heard
from many old Boer and native hunters, I feel convinced that the
character of the black rhinoceros was originally painted by picturesque
writers in colours which, although they may have been appropriate to a
certain small proportion of these animals, were quite undeserved by the
great majority of the species. I will conclude these notes on the black
rhinoceros with a letter which I have lately received from President
Roosevelt, covering a most remarkable and excessively interesting
description of a struggle between a crocodile and a rhinoceros in the
Tana river, in British East Africa. Before making any comments on this
extraordinary incident, I will first give both President Roosevelt's
letter to myself and his correspondent's communication, as I have full
permission to do.

                              THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON,
                                   _September 27, 1907_.

  MY DEAR MR. SELOUS--I don't know whether the enclosed letter and
  photographs will be of any value to you in your book or not. Both
  relate to an occurrence so remarkable that I thought I would send
  them to you. Fleischmann is a man of good standing, entirely
  truthful, and he had no conception of the importance of what he was
  telling me. I told him that the "authorities in Africa" who informed
  him that the crocodile might have gotten a purchase by wrapping its
  tail around something sunken were doubtless in error, and advised
  him to leave it out of the letter which he wrote me, which I told
  him I was going to send to you. But he put it in, and I am sending
  it along. It is the only part of his letter which is mere hearsay
  or guesswork. I had no conception that crocodiles would tackle a
  rhinoceros. But you may remember in Samuel Baker's _Wild Beasts and
  Their Ways_ that he speaks of seeing crocodiles in Africa with the
  girth of a hippopotamus. In any event I send you the letter.

  The other day, in reading _Big Game_, in the Badminton Library, I
  noticed that Oswell, the South African hunter, speaks of trying to
  cut off a cheetah, and that the latter distanced his horse with the
  utmost ease. This tends to confirm me in the opinion that the cheetah
  for a half mile or so can readily distance a horse, and that when
  pursued by you the two animals you overtook at first simply tried to
  keep ahead of you, not trying to exert themselves, and that after a
  half mile was passed their wind was gone and then they gave out.

  When do you think you will publish your book?

                              Sincerely yours,

                                        THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

    Heatherside, Worplesdon,
      Surrey, England.

                              CINCINNATI, _September 23, 1907_.

  MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT--I take pleasure in sending you under separate
  cover to-day, as per your request, the enlarged photographs of the
  encounter between a rhinoceros and crocodiles in the Tana river,
  British East Africa; also another photograph showing a large herd of
  hippopotami in the Tana river, which I believe may prove of interest
  to you.

  I shall also undertake to give you a brief description of the attack
  of the crocodile upon the rhino, which resulted in the latter's
  death. While encamped on the Thika river, about one hundred yards
  above its junction with the Tana, the attention of the members of our
  hunting party was called to the loud cries of the porters. A moment
  later "Ali," the Somali headman, came running in to tell us that
  a mamba (crocodile) had seized a faro (rhinoceros), as the latter
  stepped into the river to drink. "Ali" was concealed in the bushes on
  the side of the river opposite the scene at the time the rhino came
  down to drink. When our party arrived, about fifty of our porters
  were on a sandbank leading out into the Tana river. The rhino was
  held by its left hind-leg, which had been seized by the crocodile
  just as the big beast was leaving the river after drinking. At least
  half a dozen of the porters, who had been lying in the bushes near
  the scene, in reply to my questions, agreed as to the manner the
  rhino was attacked.

  When we neared the point of attack, the rhino appeared
  panic-stricken, making very little noise--simply straining and
  heaving in its efforts to release its leg from the jaws of the
  crocodile. While making but little headway, the rhino did for a time
  succeed in holding its own, keeping in shallow water, as the photos
  1 and 2 show. A moment or two later, however, blood appeared on the
  surface of the water, leading us to believe that the crocodile had
  been reinforced by other mambas which had been attracted to the scene
  by the blood and lashing of the water. The struggle continued on
  down the stream, the combatants having moved quite a distance from
  the original point of attack. The rhino still managed to keep on its
  feet, facing either down stream or toward the opposite bank, and for
  a distance of at least one hundred yards down stream had made no
  perceptible loss of ground. Shortly afterward, however, apparently
  maddened by the pain it was undoubtedly suffering (for now much more
  blood and pieces of flesh appeared on the surface of the water), the
  rhino evidently lost its head and attempted to cross through the deep
  water to the opposite shore, as shown in photo 3. This move was the
  beginning of the rhino's end, for as soon as it turned and met with
  deeper water, it lost the advantage of a firm foothold in the shallow
  water, and the animal was quickly drawn beneath the surface.

  The rhino was a full-grown female with a horn which we estimated to
  be about twenty inches in length. It was the opinion of authorities
  in Africa to whom I told the story of the struggle, that a very large
  crocodile had taken hold of the rhino's leg and wrapped its tail
  around some sunken obstacle, thus giving it a purchase, as it were,
  which enabled it to successfully hold on until reinforced by other

  These enlarged photographs were made from 3-1/4 × 4-1/2 negatives,
  the "snaps" being taken by my valet, who was acting in charge of the
  commissary department of the caravan.

  I trust that these photos will reach you in good condition.

  With my sincere regards, I have the honour to be,

                              Yours respectfully,

                                        MAX C. FLEISCHMANN.

          Washington, D.C.


[Illustration: No. 1.

Shows the Rhinoceros holding its own, but unable to reach the bank.]

[Illustration: No. 2.

Shows the Rhinoceros still struggling, but in deeper water.]

[Illustration: No. 3.

Shows the Rhinoceros after it had turned round, and just before it
got into deep water and was pulled under.]

Remarkable and unusual as was the occurrence witnessed by Mr.
Fleischmann, there can be no doubt as to the truth of his most
interesting story. The three photographs--all of which are reproduced
in this book--showing the rhinoceros straining against something which
was gradually pulling its hind-quarters deeper and deeper into the
water, must convince the most sceptical. I fully agree with President
Roosevelt that the theory, that the crocodile held the rhinoceros by
getting a purchase with its tail round some sunken log, is not tenable,
especially as Mr. Fleischmann states that "the struggle continued on
down the stream, the combatants having moved quite a distance from the
original point of attack."

Personally, I find no difficulty in believing that if a very large
crocodile were to seize a rhinoceros by the one hind-leg, and was
sufficiently powerful to hold that limb off the ground, the largest of
these animals would become almost helpless; for if either hind-leg of
a rhinoceros be broken by a bullet, the animal is rendered immediately
almost incapable of movement, and very soon assumes a sitting position.
I imagine that a rhinoceros would easily be able to pull the largest of
crocodiles out of water, if it was harnessed to one of these reptiles,
and so could get a fair pull at it from the chest and shoulders; but I
think that the paralysing effect of the crocodile's hold on one of its
hind-legs would be sufficient to account for the helplessness of the
animal whose struggles and ultimate death Mr. Fleischmann witnessed in
the Tana river.



  Appearance of the giraffe--Not a vanishing species--Immense
     range--Habitat--Native mounted hunters--Destruction of giraffes
     and other game by Europeans--Necessity of restraining native
     hunters--Discussion as to the possibility of the giraffe existing
     for long periods without drinking--Water-conserving tubers--Wild
     water-melons--Habits of elephants after much persecution--Possible
     explanation of the belief that giraffes can dispense with
     water--Giraffes seen in the act of drinking--Giraffes absolutely
     voiceless--Partial to open, park-like country--Difficult
     to approach on foot--Giraffes very keen-scented--Hunting
     giraffes with Bushmen trackers--Exhilarating sport--Pace of
     the giraffe--The easiest way to kill giraffes--Driving wounded
     giraffes to camp--Two curious experiences with giraffes--"Stink
     bulls"--Excellence of the meat of a fat giraffe cow--Height of
     giraffes--Giraffes only occasionally killed by lions--Young
     giraffe attacked by leopards.

"Ungainly" is an epithet which has often been applied to the giraffe;
but "stately," I think, would be a far more truly descriptive word,
and there is certainly no animal in Africa which adds so much to the
interest of the parched and waterless wastes in which it is usually
found as this tallest of mammals. The sight of a herd of giraffes
walking leisurely across an open piece of ground, or feeding through
a park-like country of scattered trees and bush, is one which, once
seen, must ever linger in the memory; for there is a something about
the appearance of some few of the largest mammals still extant upon the
earth which stirs the imagination as the sight of smaller but more
beautiful animals can never do. When watching a moose bull standing
knee-deep on the edge of some swampy lake, amidst the silence and the
gloom of sub-Arctic pine forests, I always seem to be carried back to
some far distant period of the world's history; and I remember that
when hunting with Bushmen amidst the dull monotony of the sun-scorched,
silent wastes of Western South Africa, the sight of giraffes always
stirred the same thought. My rude companions were palæolithic men, and
we were hunting strange beasts in the hot dry atmosphere of a long past
geological era.

Giraffes are often spoken of as a scarce and fast vanishing species,
but this I cannot believe to be really the case. There are vast areas
of country, extending right across the whole width of the broadest part
of Africa from Senegambia to Somaliland, and from thence southwards to
the northern border of British Central Africa, throughout the whole
of which one or other of the different races into which giraffes
have lately been divided is to be found, often in great abundance.
Throughout the greater part of this immense range, these magnificent,
strangely beautiful creatures will, in my opinion, continue to live
and thrive for centuries yet to come; for the giraffe is, as a rule,
an inhabitant only of countries which, owing to the extreme scarcity
of water, can never be settled up by Europeans, nor support anything
but a sparse and scattered population of native herdsmen. Here they
will never be hunted to any great extent by Europeans on horseback, nor
shot down in large numbers for the sake of their hides, whilst their
keenness of sight and great range of vision will protect them very
effectually from all danger of extermination at the hands of native
hunters as long as these latter are only armed with primitive weapons.

Even in the countries to the south and west of the Zambesi river,
though there the range of the giraffe has been sadly curtailed since
the time when the emigrant Boers first crossed the Orange river in
1836, these animals are far from being a vanished species, or one which
is on the verge of extermination. True, there are now no giraffes left
in large areas of country where thirty years ago they were plentiful,
but these animals are still to be found in Western Matabeleland,
throughout the greater part of Khama's country, as well as in the
Northern Kalahari, and thence northwards to far within the boundaries
of the Portuguese province of Angola. The whole of this vast extent of
country is, like so much of Northern Africa to the south of the Sahara
and Abyssinia, a semidesert, impossible of settlement by Europeans;
for although it is covered for the most part with trees of various
kinds, or thorn scrub varying in height from two or three to twelve or
fifteen feet, the soil is almost everywhere deep soft sand, and for
several months in the year there is little or no surface water, except
in the large rivers, which are few in number and far apart. Throughout
the greater part of these arid, sun-scorched wastes, giraffes are, I
think, likely to hold their own for a long time to come, if only some
check can be put upon the operations of the native mounted hunters,
belonging to the Bakwena, Bamangwato, and Batauwana tribes, who are now
practically their only enemies.

For the extermination of the giraffe in the Transvaal, Bechwanaland,
and the country immediately to the north of the Limpopo, Europeans
are entirely responsible. The Boers killed most of them, of course,
because up to 1890 Boer hunters were always in the proportion of at
least ten to one to white hunters of any other nationality. But, man
for man, English hunters were quite as destructive as Boers. The fact
is, the pioneers of all the white races of North-Western Europe in new
countries are tarred with the same brush, as far as the extermination
of wild animals is concerned. In North America the western
frontiers-men, who were largely of British descent, exterminated in a
few short years the countless herds of bison; in South Africa the Boers
have exterminated or brought to the verge of extinction many species of
animals which but a few decades ago were spread over the face of the
land in seemingly inexhaustible numbers; and to-day the inhabitants of
Newfoundland are hard at work destroying as fast as they can the great
herds of seals which annually assemble in the early spring to bring
forth their young on the ice floes off the coast of Labrador.

When human greed of gain is added to the old love of hunting, and
both are unrestrained by legislation, the speedy extermination of any
beast or bird which has any market value must necessarily follow. The
errors of the past can never be retrieved, but it is to be hoped that
now that every part of the world has been taken under the protection
of some civilised state, no species of animal or bird which still
survives in any considerable numbers will be allowed to become extinct.
The white man, whether Boer or Britain, is now effectually restrained
from taking any further part in lessening the numbers of the giraffes
in the countries to the west of Southern Rhodesia and to the north
of the Limpopo, which are under British protection, and if only the
native Bechwana hunters from Molipololi, Palapye, and Denukana--who
are well-mounted and armed with breech-loading rifles--were forbidden
by their chiefs to kill more than a certain fixed number of giraffes
annually, and severely punished for exceeding the limit allowed, I see
no reason why these most interesting animals should not survive for
all time, throughout all those great areas of South-Western Africa
where, owing to the scarcity of water, no human beings other than a few
scattered families of wandering Bushmen can ever make their home.

The belief is very general, both amongst white and native hunters in
South Africa, that giraffes are capable of going for months at a time
without drinking, and the fact that they are to be found during the
driest season of the year in the most arid districts, far away from
any place where surface water exists, lends colour to this belief.
But yet it seems to me impossible that an animal of the size of the
giraffe, which during the dry season is exposed day after day to a
sun-heat of 165° (Fahrenheit), and which browses on leaves and twigs
which at that time of year contain but little moisture, can really
live for long periods without drinking. When hunting with Bushmen in
the country to the south of the Mababi river, which towards the end of
the dry season is quite waterless, my savage companions would often
halt suddenly on perceiving a certain thin, grass-like leaf protruding
from the ground, and squatting down, commence digging vigorously with
their spears in the soft sandy soil. They would presently unearth great
white tubers--often as big as a man's head--white in colour and looking
something like very large turnips. These tubers contained as much water
as a juicy orange, and were, as the Bushmen said, "metsi hela" (that
is, "nothing but water"). They told me, and I think with truth, that
they were able to live and hunt in the country where these tubers grew
without requiring water to drink. They also informed me that elands,
gemsbucks, and other antelopes which live in the desert were in the
habit of pawing away the sand from and then eating these tubers, which
rendered them independent of actual drinking water. There are probably
other water-conserving tubers, known to animals which live in the
waterless parts of Western South Africa; and at certain times of year
a kind of small water-melon grows in the Kalahari in great profusion,
which, as long as it lasts, renders all wild animals entirely
independent of drinking water. Oxen and horses soon get accustomed to
these wild melons and thrive on them, and human beings can make tea or
coffee from their juice.

Now, the occurrence of wild melons and tubers which contain a great
deal of water, probably explains the otherwise unaccountable fact
that large antelopes and other animals are able to exist in the most
arid portions of South-West Africa at a time of year when there is
absolutely no surface water; but in the country to the south of the
Mababi the Bushmen stated emphatically that giraffes never dug up the
water-containing tubers of which I have spoken. My own belief is that,
although they must be able to go without water for a much longer time
than most animals, they must nevertheless drink periodically throughout
the year. It is possible that in the recesses of the Kalahari the
giraffes may obtain the fluid they require from the wild water-melons
like other animals, or in periods of prolonged drought they may migrate
to the neighbourhood of the Botletlie and other rivers. To the east and
north of the Botletlie, a glance at a good map will show that giraffes
could never be more than fifty or sixty miles from permanent water.
When I was hunting elephants on the Chobi river, in the 'seventies of
last century, elephants were in the habit of drinking early one night
in that river, and then travelling straight away into the waterless
country to the west, and I am sure they got their next drink, either
twenty-four or possibly forty-eight hours later, in the overflow
of the Okavango, known by the natives living on the Mababi as the
Machabi. These elephants, which had become excessively wary, through
much hunting, I believe never quenched their thirst twice running in
the same river; and as giraffes would not require to drink nearly as
frequently as elephants, they would be able to range over far more
extensive areas of country than those animals, drinking at intervals
at points far distant one from another, and between which there was
absolutely no surface water. I cannot help thinking that the idea that
giraffes can go for months together without drinking, in countries
where there is but a small percentage of fluid in the food they eat,
and in which the heat and dryness of the atmosphere are so intense that
one's nails become as brittle as glass and the hairs of one's beard
are constantly splitting, must be a mistaken one. It is, however, only
right to say that many very experienced African hunters hold the view
that giraffes are quite independent of water, and that they can and do
exist for months at a time without drinking.

Giraffes certainly show no aversion to water, as I have frequently
seen them drinking, and watched them as they gradually straddled their
forelegs wide apart, by a series of little jerks, until they at length
got their mouths down to the surface of the pool.

Many herbivorous animals are, as a rule, very silent, but all antelopes
are capable of making, and do occasionally make, certain vocal sounds.
But the giraffe appears to be absolutely voiceless. At any rate, I have
never heard one make any kind of noise, and that was the experience of
my friend the late Mr. A. H. Neumann; whilst Mr. H. A. Bryden, as well
as other men who have hunted these animals, have put the same fact on

Although giraffes often feed through dense thickets of wait-a-bit
thorns on their way from one part of a country to another, they
are more partial, I think, to open park-like surroundings than to
thick forest. In portions of Khama's country--both near Lopepe and
Metsi-butluku--I have upon more than one occasion seen giraffes and
springbucks at the same time. In such districts, before the days of
the modern long-range, small-bore rifles, it was very difficult to
get within shot of the former animals on foot, as, owing to the great
height of their heads above the ground and their quickness of sight,
they were always able to see anything approaching them, when still a
long way off. Giraffes are also very keen-scented, as any one will
agree who has often followed on their spoor with Bushmen trackers.
Pointing to the ground, on which they have read as in a book that just
here the giraffes have commenced to run, these quick-sighted savages
will suddenly dash off along the spoor with right arms extended,
crying, "Sabili; ootlili pevu"[16] ("They've run away; they've got our
wind"). Running on the tracks of the disturbed animals at a pace which
it requires a sharp canter to keep up with, it is seldom that these
wiry sons of the desert will not bring the mounted hunter in sight of
the giant quarry. "Tutla, tutla ki-o" ("The giraffes; there are the
giraffes"), they cry, pointing eagerly forwards with glistening eyes.
And then it is for the white man to do his part and secure a plentiful
supply of meat for his savage friends.

[16] Literally, "They've _heard_ the wind."

The chase of the giraffe on horseback lacks, of course, the fierce
joy and the soul-stirring excitement which accompanied elephant- and
lion-hunting, with the rude muzzle-loading guns used by professional
African hunters some forty years ago; for the giraffe is a most
harmless and inoffensive animal, in no way dangerous to human life. The
same thing may, however, be said of the fox and the wild red deer of
Exmoor, the pursuit of which animals, it is generally conceded, affords
some of the most exhilarating sport procurable in this country.

Personally, in the old days when giraffes were very plentiful, and
when, with the thoughtless optimism of youth, one failed to realise
that they would ever become scarce, and when, moreover, a large supply
of meat was constantly required to feed one's native followers, I
always looked upon a good, reckless, breakneck gallop after a herd of
giraffes as a most exhilarating experience. The giant quadrupeds looked
so splendid as they dashed along at tremendous speed, with their long
black tails screwed up over their backs. Nothing checked their pace, as
they tore their way through dense thorn jungles, or crashed through the
branches of forest trees, ever and anon dipping their lofty heads with
the most unerring judgment so as just to pass beneath some horizontal
limb, which almost seemed to graze their shoulders. One took lots of
chances in giraffe-hunting, and got many a heavy fall when galloping
_ventre à terre_ across open ground full of ant-bear holes, or deep
sun-cracks hidden from view by thick tussocky grass, and when one saw
the branches of two neighbouring wait-a-bit thorn bushes, each covered
with hundreds of little hard black hooks, suddenly close together
with a swish behind the disappearing stern of a giraffe, it needed
considerable resolution to follow in its wake.

I have often had the greater part of my shirt--for I never wore a
coat--torn off and my bare arms very severely scratched whilst chasing
giraffes through thick wait-a-bit thorn scrub. I have had some heavy
falls too, and once knocked one of my front teeth clean out of the
socket, through galloping into an ant-eater's hole and falling on my
heavy ten-bore rifle. On another occasion my horse rolled over on
me, and cracked the tibia of my right leg, so that some of the serum
ran out and formed a lump on the bone. However, I never hurt myself
seriously, and the risk of such little misadventures when galloping
after giraffes through thick forests and over ground where the holes
were hidden by long grass always added zest to the pursuit of these

The pace of the giraffe, when pressed, is very great, and in my own
experience, which has been considerable, I have found that it is only
an exceptionally fast South African shooting horse which can actually
gallop past an unwounded giraffe in open ground. The young Boer hunters
used always to think a lot of a horse which was fast enough to enable
them to "brant," _i.e._ "burn," a giraffe. This meant firing into one
of these animals when galloping level with it and at a distance of only
a few paces. Such a practice is, however, not to be recommended, as it
takes too much out of a horse, upon which one has to depend to keep
one's camp in meat throughout a long hunting season, and the easiest
way of killing giraffes is not to press them too hard, but to jump off
behind them whenever a suitable opportunity occurs and aim for the root
of the tail. A bullet so placed, even from one of the old low velocity
rifles of forty years ago, would penetrate to the heart and lungs, and
soon prove fatal.

A wounded giraffe will usually, if not invariably, run against the
wind, and if one's waggon or camp is anywhere in the direction for
which it is heading, it is possible, by galloping alongside and
shouting, to alter its course to a certain extent, and so drive
the unsuspecting animal close up to the place where it can be most
conveniently killed and cut up. I have driven many giraffes quite close
up to my waggons before killing them; but I have also found that if
a wounded giraffe takes a course exactly opposite to that in which
you want it to go, no power on earth will make it turn right round
and run in the other direction. In the nature of things one cannot
have an adventure with a giraffe, but I have had two somewhat curious
experiences with these animals.

During 1876, when my friend George Dorehill and I were hunting in
Western Matabeleland, some Bushmen one day came to our camp and asked
us to shoot them a giraffe for the sake of the meat; so, on the
following morning, we went out with them, and before long crossing the
fresh tracks of a big old bull, followed them, and presently came up
with the animal itself. After a short gallop, I wounded it, and it then
very soon came to a halt and stood quite still. Wishing to drive it to
our camp, I rode slowly towards it, waving my hat and shouting, but it
never moved. I was sitting on my horse quite close to where the giant
beast stood towering above me, when I heard the crack of my friend's
rifle close behind me. At the same instant, the whole seventeen feet of
giraffe lurched over and came tumbling towards me, perfectly rigid and
without a bend in legs or neck. I don't think I had hold of my horse's
reins when my friend fired and shot the giraffe through the head from
behind, and the sudden fall of the huge beast was so unexpected that my
horse never moved till the great head crashed to the ground close to
its forefeet. I am sure that I am not exaggerating when I say that the
short thick horns of this dead giraffe only missed my horse's neck by
less than six inches. Had the giraffe only been a little taller, or had
my horse and I been a little nearer to it, there would have been more
than one dead animal on the ground soon after my friend's very accurate

On another occasion, during the same year, Dorehill wounded a
giraffe--a good-sized but not full-grown bull--which, after running a
little distance, stopped and then knelt down, in the position of an
ox or a camel at rest, and never moved when we rode up and dismounted
close to it. "I'll bet you, you won't get on to its back," said my
friend. We were both of us very young men then, which perhaps does
not excuse the thoughtless cruelty of the act; but in answer to my
friend's challenge I at once vaulted on to the giraffe's back, and
sat astride it just behind the withers. Immediately I touched it the
startled animal struggled to its feet and started off at a gallop.
Clasping it round the neck, I had no difficulty in retaining my seat,
and my remembrance is that the motion of my tall steed was easy. I was
not carried very far, however, and there were fortunately no trees,
but only a low growth of scrubby bush for a good distance in front of
us. After carrying me at a swinging canter for a short distance, the
giraffe once more knelt gently down, and I hastily dismounted. This
giraffe was not mortally wounded, but a bullet had injured its hip or
pelvis, though, as far as I can remember, no bone was actually broken.

The body of an old bull giraffe gives out an excessively strong,
pungent odour, which can be smelt by a human being at a considerable
distance. These old bulls, which are always so dark in colour that they
look almost black, used to be called by the old Boer hunters "stink
bulls." The meat of such animals was never eaten by white hunters, but
every scrap of it was either consumed when fresh, or dried for future
consumption, by one's Kafir or Bushman followers. The tongue of an old
bull giraffe, which is the only part of such an animal that I have ever
eaten, I have, however, always found to be excellent.

During the rainy season, when giraffes are able to obtain without
much exertion a plentiful supply of sweet and nourishing food, the
full-grown cows get into very good condition, and are sometimes so
fat in the early part of the dry season--May and June--that they
probably never get into bad order for the remainder of the year. I have
shot giraffe cows whose sides when the hide was peeled off them were
covered with a thick layer of white fat, from half an inch to over two
inches in thickness from shoulder to rump. There is no finer meat to
be got in the whole world than that of a fat giraffe cow, and the soft
white fat when rendered out is equal to the best lard. The tongue and
marrow-bones are also great delicacies, and the hide is valuable for
waggon whips, sjamboks, and the soles of boots. No wonder the South
African frontiers-men, whether Boers or Britons, were always keen
giraffe hunters.

It has often been stated that giraffe bulls in South Africa grow to
a height of 19 feet, whilst the cows attain to a stature of from 16
to 17 feet. I unfortunately only measured the standing height of two
bull giraffes; both of which, however, were old animals, and seemed
to me to be fine specimens of their kind. One of these, the head of
which I still have in my collection, measured, when his legs and
neck had been pulled out into as straight a line as possible, just
17 feet, the measurement having been taken between two stakes, the
one driven into the ground at the base of the forefoot, the other at
the top of the short horns. This giraffe was undoubtedly a very large
animal, and I remember very well Mr. Rowland Ward remarking on the
size of its skull, compared to one which had lately been brought from
Somaliland by the late Mr. F. L. James, as they both lay side by side
in Piccadilly. The other giraffe I measured--also a big bull, or, at
any rate, an old one--could only have stood 16 feet 6 inches in height,
in a straight line from the heel of the forefoot to the top of the
horns. The original old South African bull giraffe, too, which once
used to stand in the Mammalian Gallery of the Natural History Museum at
South Kensington, and which always appeared to me to be a magnificent
specimen in point of size, only measured as set up 17 feet 5 inches
from the ground to the top of the horns. I took this measurement myself
with the aid of a ladder. I know that in the Tring Museum the Hon.
Walter Rothschild has a specimen of a giraffe from Southern Angola,
which measures 18 feet 4 inches as it stands. But I am not convinced
that the animal actually stood that height when alive. In modern
taxidermy a framework model of an animal is first built, and the skin
then stretched over it. The man who shot and preserved the skin of the
giraffe now in the Tring Museum said that it stood 18 feet 4 inches,
and it has been set up to that height; but if the measurement was
taken carelessly, or over the curves of the animal's body, there would
be no difficulty in stretching the skin so as to obtain the height
required. My esteemed friend the late Mr. A. H. Neumann, than whom
there never lived a better authority upon African game, when speaking
of the northern giraffe in _The Great and Small Game of Africa_, says:
"It may possibly be somewhat smaller (than the southern species), for
the height of the full-grown males I have shot averaged about 16 feet,
that of the cows 14 feet." And he further says: "And though I have not
found these dimensions exceeded respectively in any of the southern
specimens of either sex I have myself killed anywhere, I have read in
the accounts of other hunters of considerably taller animals being
obtained in parts of South Africa."

Personally, grounding my belief on the size of the magnificent old
bull giraffe which once stood in the Mammalian Gallery of the Natural
History Museum at South Kensington, and the measurement I myself
took, immediately it was dead, of a very fine old bull which I shot in
Western Matabeleland in 1880, I should say that the average height, at
any rate of giraffe bulls in South Africa, cannot be more than 17 feet,
and that of the cows about 2 feet less. I have never measured a cow
giraffe, but in a herd of these animals an old black bull always towers
above the tallest cows. Exceptional specimens in both sexes may, of
course, grow much taller than the average height of the species.

Giraffes are, I think, less troubled by lions or other carnivorous
animals than any other African mammal, with the exception of the
elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus. That giraffes are occasionally
killed by lions is, of course, a well-known fact, but my own experience
leads me to believe that such cases are quite exceptional. There are
two reasons, I think, for this, the first being that giraffes spend
most of their time in very dry, semidesert countries, far away from
water, into which lions do not often penetrate; and the second, that,
owing to their great size and strength and the thickness of their
hides, giraffes cannot be easy animals for even lions to pull down,
and, as a matter of fact, I think they are seldom molested in parts of
the country where game of other kinds, such as zebras, buffaloes, or
large antelopes, are plentiful.

An instance of a young giraffe being attacked by two leopards once
came within my own experience. I was riding with some Bushmen--more
than thirty years ago now--near the course of the Upper Tati river
in Western Matabeleland, when a single giraffe cow ran out into the
open from a cluster of mimosa trees through which we were passing.
Immediately I saw the giraffe, I put spurs to my horse and galloped
after it, but had only just reached the edge of the mimosa grove when
my horse put his foot in a hole, and not only fell, but rolled over
on me, breaking the thin thong attached to my belt from a ring on the
bridle. I was not hurt, but I was unable to extricate myself and regain
my feet as quickly as my horse, and he, not being a very well-trained
animal, trotted away in the direction taken by the giraffe before I
could get hold of the bridle. I now for the first time saw a very young
giraffe calf, which I do not think could have been more than a day or
two old, running between my horse and its mother, but much nearer to
the former than the latter. I suppose this little calf, being so very
young, had been purposely left by its mother lying hidden amongst the
bushes to await her return, but that we had frightened it and caused it
to jump up and run off. As we watched it we saw it run close up to my
horse, and as long as it was in view it appeared to be running close
behind it.

I now told two of my Bushmen to run after my horse, and try and get
in front of it and then catch it and bring it back to me. This they
succeeded in doing before very long, as, after having trotted away for
a mile or so, my recreant steed had commenced to feed. When we met, the
Bushmen told me that the giraffe cow had come round and taken off the
calf before they came up with my horse.

Since this giraffe calf was evidently very young and weak, I thought
it would be an easy matter to catch it alive, so I told my Bushmen to
take up its spoor at once. We had been following the tracks of both
the cow and the calf for perhaps a mile, when I saw the head and neck
of the latter rising out of some tussocky grass in an opening in the
forest. Galloping up to it, I found that the poor little creature's
hind-legs were stretched out straight behind it, as if its back were
broken. It was also bleeding from a few scratches. My Bushmen were
now examining the ground round the injured calf; and I heard one of
them say, "Ingwi, ingwi mabele" ("Leopards, two leopards"). They
soon explained to me exactly what had happened. As the giraffe calf
was following its mother, two leopards had attacked it. They must,
however, have been driven from their prey very quickly, as I could
only find a few claw-marks upon the body of the calf. Its mother had
evidently struck at the leopards with her forefeet, as we found several
freshly-made marks where her sharp hoofs had struck the hard ground.
Unfortunately, one of these terrific blows, very probably the first
aimed at the leopard which had attacked the calf, had struck the little
creature on the loins and broken its back, or at any rate paralysed its
hind-quarters. I searched all round for the leopards, but could not
find them, and was obliged to kill the calf, for it could only have
died a lingering death if I had not done so, or been torn to pieces
sooner or later by leopards or hyænas.

I don't think giraffes ever give birth to more than one calf at a time.
The calves are born, in South-Western Africa, towards the end of the
dry season or early in the rainy season, that is, during the months of
September, October, November, or December.



  The inyala, a rare and beautiful animal--Seldom shot by
     Englishmen--Account of, by Mr. Baldwin--Further observations
     of, by the Hon. W. H. Drummond--Inyala-shooting and fever
     almost synonymous--Distribution of the inyala--Curious antelope
     shot by Captain Faulkner--Start on journey in search of
     inyalas--Reach Delagoa Bay--Meet Mr. Wissels--Voyage to the
     Maputa river--Depredations of locusts--Elephants still found
     in the Matuta district--A quick run up the river--Reach Bella
     Vista--Talk with Portuguese officer--Hippopotamuses seen--Change
     of weather--Longman engages four lady porters--Start for
     Mr. Wissels's station--Sleep at Amatonga kraal--Description
     of people--Cross the Maputa river--Reedbuck shot--Rainy
     weather--Reach Mr. Wissels's station.

Of all the various species of antelopes still to be found in the
southern portion of the great African continent, the inyala is perhaps
at once the most beautiful and the least known to naturalists and
sportsmen. This handsome animal, although it had been previously shot
by some few Boer hunters, was first described and brought to the notice
of European naturalists by Mr. Douglas Angas, by whom it was named
_Tragelaphus angasi_, or Angas's bushbuck, though it is more generally
known at the present day by its native Zulu name of inyala.

Inyala horns are often met with in collections, but such trophies, it
will be found, have almost invariably been obtained from the natives,
few living Englishmen having actually shot this very local and
retiring animal; whilst, as far as I am aware, but two of these have,
since Angas's first description, given us any information concerning
its haunts and habits.

That tough old sportsman the late Mr. William Charles Baldwin met with
the inyala on his first visit to Amatongaland in 1854. He writes:

  Hearing from the Kaffirs that there were inyalas in the bush, I
  sallied out, but without success, until nearly sunset, when, as I
  was returning home, the Amatongas showed me two inyalas feeding,
  the first I had ever seen. I succeeded in bagging the stag, a most
  beautiful dark silver-grey buck, with long mane and very long hair
  like a goat. He is of the bushbuck species, but on a much larger
  scale than the inkonka of the colony, with long spiral horns, tanned
  legs, very long hair on his breast and quarters--a beautiful animal,
  weighing from 250 lbs. to 300 lbs., and very fierce when wounded.
  They inhabit the coast from this to Delagoa Bay, and are numerous.
  The does are often to be seen in large herds, and are likewise very
  beautiful, resembling a fallow deer, but are of a much darker red,
  striped and spotted with white. They have no horns, and are half the
  size of the stag; and nowhere else in Africa have I met with them.

Baldwin was evidently very much struck with the beauty of these
antelopes, for, referring to the first of the species which he shot, he
says: "When I at last secured him I thought I should never sufficiently
admire him." On another occasion he says: "I wounded an inyala doe, and
had a long chase after her, but eventually lost her. They are wild and
wary, and it requires the greatest caution to get a shot at them."

The only other author, besides Angas and Baldwin, who, as far as
I know, has written anything concerning the inyala from personal
experience is the Hon. W. H. Drummond, who was travelling and hunting
in Zululand and Amatongaland from 1867 to 1872, and who subsequently
recorded his observations on the wild animals he met with in those
countries in a book entitled _The Large Game and Natural History of
South and South-East Africa_. As his remarks concerning the inyala are
very much to the point, I think they are well worth quoting. He writes
concerning this antelope as follows:--

  Perhaps the most beautiful of all the antelopes that I have seen
  is the inyala, the white lines with which it is striped being more
  numerous, more regular, and much better defined than those of either
  the koodoo or the striped eland, which, as far as I know, are the
  only two animals which possess them at all. Unfortunately, it does
  not exist except in the low, fever-stricken districts of the Bombo
  range, about the 28th degree of south latitude. It frequents the
  densest thickets it can find, and is wary and difficult to stalk;
  indeed, I should fancy that more people have caught fever by hunting
  this antelope than in the pursuit of any other animal in Africa,
  except perhaps the elephant. Of course, as with most game, early
  morning and evening are the best times during which to look for it,
  and early dawn implies being wet through to above the waist by the
  heavy dew and the subsequent drying of one's things by the heat
  of the sun--a pretty certain method of getting fever; evening, on
  the other hand, means not getting home till hours after dark, and
  breathing during that period the fatal miasma, which, as soon as the
  sun sets, begins to rise from all over the great lagoons and dotted
  plains where this antelope is chiefly found. Inyala-shooting and
  fever are all but synonymous; but to those who have already had the
  latter, and with whom the mischief as regards constitution is already
  done, ample amends are made by the graceful beauty of the antelope
  and the magnificence of its skin. Its horns almost exactly resemble
  those of a koodoo of eighteen months or two years old, though, if
  anything, they have a broader spread.

The range of this beautiful animal is very limited, and even yet has
not been quite accurately ascertained. Angas first met with it on the
northern shores of St Lucia Bay, in latitude 28 degrees south, which
seems to be its extreme southern range. North of St. Lucia Bay it is,
or was, plentiful in the neighbourhood of all the rivers which flow
through the wooded plains that lie between the Lebombo Hills and the
sea as far north as Delagoa Bay, being particularly numerous in the
thickets which border the Pongolo, Usutu, and Tembe rivers. North of
Delagoa Bay its distribution is very imperfectly known; but, as it has
been shot on the lower course of the Oliphants river, it doubtless
exists along the Limpopo between the point where the former river
joins it and the sea. To the north of the Limpopo it is probably found
along the coast-line wherever conditions suitable to its habits exist,
namely, dense jungle in the immediate neighbourhood of swamps and
rivers, as far north as the great Sabi river. At any rate, several
Kafirs whom I have questioned in the De Beers compound at Kimberley,
and who were natives of the coast country near Inyambani, were
evidently well acquainted with it, describing it accurately and giving
it the Zulu name of inyala.

North of the Sabi, and between that river and the Zambesi, the inyala
has, I believe, never been met with. Personally, I have never come
across any trace of it, nor obtained any information concerning it
during my travels on the lower course of either the Zambesi, Pungwe,
or Buzi rivers, the latter being the first important stream met with
flowing into the Indian Ocean north of the great Sabi river.

Thus, until quite lately the range of Angas's bushbuck was supposed
to be confined to the coast-line between St. Lucia Bay and a point
somewhere to the south of the great Sabi river; but amongst a parcel
of skins sent from Nyasaland in 1891 by Mr. (now Sir Alfred) Sharpe to
Dr. P. L. Sclater, the well-known zoologist, was the unmistakable hide
of a male inyala, and subsequent research has brought to light the fact
that this beautiful antelope, whose habitat had hitherto been supposed
to be confined entirely to the country immediately north and south
of Delagoa Bay, is also an inhabitant of the jungles on the central
course of the Shiré river. In a consular report concerning the state of
Nyasaland, published some years ago, Sir H. H. Johnston, amongst his
most interesting notes on the fauna of the country which he had so ably
administered, wrote: "In the west Shiré and lower Shiré districts only
is found the very handsome inyala antelope."

Concerning the skin previously mentioned, which was obtained by Mr.
(now Sir Alfred) Sharpe, Dr. P. L. Sclater wrote as follows:--

  Mr. Sharpe brings a flat skin of what is apparently a male of this
  antelope (the inyala), hitherto not known to occur so far north.
  He gives the following notes on it: "This antelope is found in a
  piece of thick, scrubby country bordering the Moanza, which enters
  the Shiré on the right bank near the Murchison cataracts. I have
  never seen it alive myself, but have heard of it frequently from the
  natives, by whom it is called bo, the 'o' being pronounced very long.
  It frequents the thick scrub, and only occasionally comes out to the
  edges of the grass flats. I have never heard of it in any other part
  of Nyasaland."

However, although the fact of the existence of the inyala in Nyasaland
was only established as lately as 1891, I think that a specimen of
this antelope was undoubtedly shot near Cape Maclear, on the shores
of Lake Nyasa itself (where apparently it is not now known to exist),
by the late Captain Faulkner in 1866. In his narrative of a journey
to Lake Nyasa, in connection with the Livingstone search expedition
sent out from England under the command of Lieutenant Young in that
year, Captain Faulkner has written, in a little-known work entitled
_Elephants' Haunts_: "I had walked a long way without seeing anything,
and as it was getting late, was about returning, when I saw a beautiful
antelope feeding near a narrow strip of swamp." This antelope he
killed, and then described it in the following words: "He was in
splendid condition, and a distinctly different animal from any I had
hitherto seen; height at shoulder, 3 ft. 4 in.; spiral horns, 21 in.
long, slightly curved forward, skin of a greyish colour, and covered
with white spots, belly white."

Now, either this antelope shot by Captain Faulkner on the shores of
Lake Nyasa was an inyala, or it belonged to a species still unknown
to science. Seeing that it has now been ascertained that the inyala
is an inhabitant of certain thickets on the banks of the Shiré river,
at no great distance from the place where Captain Faulkner shot
his unidentified specimen, I am inclined to think that the former
supposition is the most probable, and that a mistake was made in
describing the animal as covered with spots; for if this sentence
had read: "Of a greyish colour, and covered with white stripes, or
white spots and stripes," the whole description, meagre though it is,
would have been applicable to a male inyala, which the length and
shape of the horns, and the standing height at the shoulder, seem to
show that it was. It certainly was not a bushbuck, with which animal
Captain Faulkner was well acquainted; and as the Kafirs chopped off
its horns, and the skin went rotten and was not preserved, and the
description of the animal in question may have been written from memory
by a man who was not a trained observer, some want of accuracy was to
be expected. The fact that the shaggy hair which hangs from the neck
and chest, and fringes the flanks of the male inyala, and is such a
very noticeable characteristic of this species of antelope, was not
mentioned by Captain Faulkner, is certainly very curious; still, I
am inclined to the belief that the animal which he shot on the shore
of Lake Nyasa was an inyala. If not, there exists in that district a
nearly allied species still unknown to science, which I do not think
is likely, though it would be worth while to make careful inquiries
amongst the natives living near Cape Maclear as to all the antelopes of
the bushbuck tribe with spiral horns with which they are acquainted, in
order to clear up the mystery.

The foregoing notes represent all the information I have been able to
gather from the works of travellers and sportsmen concerning the habits
and distribution of the inyala, and I will now give a short account of
a journey undertaken by myself to the Usutu river, in Amatongaland,
in search of these antelopes, during which I was able to obtain some
knowledge of them at first hand.

It had long been my ambition to add the head of an inyala, shot by
myself, to my collection of hunting trophies, but year after year had
rolled by, without my having been able to spare the time to undertake
a special journey to the country near Delagoa Bay in search of it,
until I recognised that, unless I made a determined effort, my large
collection of South African antelope heads would for ever remain
incomplete and unsatisfactory, ungraced as it would have been by the
spoils of one of the handsomest species.

Thus I left Matabeleland in September 1896, at the conclusion of the
native rebellion in that country, with the fixed resolve to do my best
to kill a male inyala before quitting South Africa.

Leaving my wife in the care of kind friends at Kimberley, I proceeded
by the shortest route, viz. by rail _viâ_ Pretoria to Delagoa Bay,
and found myself in the now important town of Lourenço Marques on the
evening of Monday, September 21.

There I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Messrs. Gould
and Edixhoven, two gentlemen who were most kind and obliging to me in
every way, and who spared no pains to render me all the assistance in
their power to enable me to carry out the object I had in view. They
introduced me at once to a trader from Amatongaland, who had lately
come down to Delagoa Bay, and who was just about to return to his
station near the junction of the Pongolo and Usutu rivers. Mr. Wissels
(the gentleman in question), a Cape colonist of German extraction, I
found was about to return to his station by boat on the following day;
and when he heard that I wished to shoot an inyala, he told me that
these animals were plentiful in the neighbourhood of his station. Then
he most kindly offered to take me there with him, and to find Kafirs
who knew the haunts and habits of the antelopes in question to go
hunting with me.

I had but very little preparation to make for the journey before me,
but before I could leave Delagoa Bay it was necessary for me to get a
passport from the authorities to travel in Portuguese territory, and
also to obtain a licence to carry arms. Thanks to the ready kindness
of Mr. B. Cohen,[17] and the courtesy of the Portuguese governor of
Lourenço Marques, I obtained all the necessary licences in an unusually
short space of time, and was ready to embark on Mr. Wissels's large,
open sailing-boat by four o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday,
September 22. The same evening, after a good dinner at a small hotel
on the opposite side of the bay, we ran out to sea with the tide, by
the light of a most glorious full moon, and after passing a reef of
rocks which projects into the sea from the southern shore of the bay
immediately opposite Reuben Point, on which there is a lighthouse, we
anchored about midnight in quite shallow water to wait for the morning
breeze, by the help of which Mr. Wissels expected we would be able to
run right into the mouth of the Maputa river, in time to catch the
inflowing tide.

[17] At that time the British Consul at Delagoa Bay.

After a not too comfortable night, passed on mealie bags which had not
been arranged to serve as a bed, we awoke just as the day was breaking,
but before the moon had quite set, and found that a strong breeze had
sprung up, before which we ran right into the mouth of the Maputa river
in a very short space of time. The Maputa is the name given to the
united streams of the Pongolo and Usutu, below their confluence, and
carries to the sea the muddy water of the former commingled with the
clear stream of the latter, which takes its rise amongst the far-off
hills of Swaziland. As the height of the country above sea-level at
the junction of these rivers is, I believe, under 400 feet, it follows
that the Maputa runs through a very level tract of country. Like all
rivers flowing into the Indian Ocean, on the east coast of Africa,
it is a tidal stream fringed on both banks along its lower course by
monotonous, dismal-looking mangrove swamps.

The country between the Maputa and the Tembe--which latter is the river
flowing into the southern portion of Delagoa Bay--is reputed to be very
fruitful, and to carry a large native population, who, however, have
suffered terribly of late years owing to the depredations of locusts.
The district is called Matuta. To the south the land does not appear
to be so rich, and must be more sparsely populated, as elephants are
said to still maintain a precarious footing there. After entering the
mouth of the Maputa, both wind and tide being favourable, we ran up its
course at racing speed, and by ten o'clock had passed the limit of the
mangrove swamps. So far the only sign of life we had seen was numerous
large flocks of curlews feeding on the mud-banks on both sides of the
river. These birds appeared very similar to the species so familiar
to British shore-shooters, and were equally wary and shy of close

About eleven o'clock we reached the Portuguese military station of
Bella Vista, in charge of an officer, who, after he had inspected my
papers and found them all in order, was very civil, and invited us to
join him at the late breakfast which is one of the two substantial
meals partaken of by the Portuguese in Africa.

Our host seemed to be something more of a sportsman than most of his
countrymen, and only the day previous to our arrival had shot a fine
reedbuck ram, and a short time before a bushbuck ram, having killed
both with buck shot. He also possessed a good pair of inyala horns,
which, he told me, had been obtained from the natives on the Pongolo
river. We remained at Bella Vista for a couple of hours, conversing in
French on various topics, especially the late Matabele rebellion, in
which our host seemed to take a great interest. He was very emphatic
in his condemnation of the policy of raising a police force from
amongst the natives of a conquered country. "However," said he, "it
is the English way; they have done it in Natal and Zululand too, and
may yet live to regret it; qui vivra verra." "But," said I, "you
Portuguese surely do the same thing, for wherever I have travelled
in your possessions, I have always met with your black soldiers."
"That is true," said he, "but still our policy is very different from
yours; for we never employ natives as police or soldiers in their own
country; all the black troops you see in our East African possessions
being recruited in Angola, and _vice versa_, and thus all native levies
in the Portuguese service are looked upon as foreigners by, and are
themselves out of sympathy with, the tribes amongst whom they find

After bidding adieu to our host and resuming our journey, we continued
to make very good progress, with the help of wind and tide, and
although we now and then lost a little time by sticking on a sandbank,
we had done so well by sundown that Mr. Wissels expected to make a
record run up to his station. During the afternoon we passed a few
hippopotamuses and an odd crocodile; but they were few and far between,
and appeared to be very wild and wary. Our luck, however, was not to
last, for during the hour which intervened between the setting of the
sun and the rising of the moon (which was now but one day beyond the
full) the wind veered right round, and commenced to blow fresh and
cool from the south. We soon found it impossible to make any further
progress, even with the oars, after the sail, which had done us such
good service throughout the day, had been lowered; for the strength of
the wind blew us in under the bank. So, yielding to necessity, we made
our heavy craft fast to a tree for the night, and then, after having
made a hasty meal, washed down by a cup of tea, we turned in under our
blankets, which were once more spread on the top of the mealie bags.

On the following morning, just at daybreak, two hippos passed down
the river close to our boat. They were very wary, however, and gave
but little chance of a shot, even had we wished to kill them, which I,
at any rate, did not. The weather had now completely changed, the sky
being overcast with an unbroken sheet of cloud, whilst the temperature
had become quite cool and pleasant, with a strong breeze blowing from
the south. It looked to me as if we were going to have a day or two of
cloudy weather, which would end in rain when the wind dropped; but as
it was very early in the season for rain, Mr. Wissels thought it was
only a cool spell which would blow off again in a day or two. However,
all progress by boat being impossible as long as the southerly wind
lasted, my companion, knowing that my time was limited, advised me to
get some carriers and push on at once on foot to his station, which was
about thirty miles distant, and in the vicinity of which inyala were to
be found. This proposition entirely coinciding with my own wishes, one
of our two Zulu boatmen, an excellent fellow named Longman, was sent
off to engage four carriers, and soon after midday returned with four
Amatonga women; for, in this part of the country, the women act almost
exclusively as porters.

Of the ladies who, after a considerable amount of haggling, at length
agreed to carry my baggage to the junction of the Usutu and Pongolo
rivers, three were already in the afternoon of life--gaunt, bony,
wrinkled, hideous hags. The fourth was a younger and pleasanter-looking
woman, who, in addition to her load, which weighed about forty pounds,
carried a two-year-old child, slung in a goat-skin, at her back. It
took some time to arrange the price which was to be paid for their
services, but at last, after testing the weight of the loads, they
agreed to carry them to Mr. Wissels's store for a certain price.
This, however, had to be paid in advance, in accordance with a custom
which is general throughout every portion of the Portuguese dominions
in South-East Africa--a custom which is most humiliating to the pride
of an Englishman, as it seems to say, "By bitter experience we black
people have learnt that white men will cheat us if they can, and
therefore we do not trust them."

At last everything was ready, and I was able to start on my journey at
about two o'clock, accompanied by my four lady carriers and Longman,
the Zulu, whom Mr. Wissels had most kindly given me to act as guide and
headman. That afternoon we walked for about three hours, and slept at
a small Amatonga kraal on a rise above the Maputa river. The country
through which we travelled was neither flat nor hilly, but consisted of
a succession of undulating rises separated by boggy streams. The soil
on the surface was of pure white sand, which rendered the walking very
heavy. These sandy rises were for the most part free of trees or bush,
though patches of thorny scrub were to be seen here and there, as well
as some large thorn trees in the hollows.

The Amatonga about here seem to live in families rather than in large
communities, as we passed several kraals, none of which contained more
than half-a-dozen huts. Each little community seemed to possess a few
head of cattle of a small breed, which is probably identical with that
found throughout Eastern and South Central Africa, though in certain
localities it has become very dwarfed. At the time of my visit to
Amatongaland the people were very badly off for food, as for several
successive years their crops had more or less been destroyed by a wing
of that mighty army of locusts by which the whole of South-Eastern and
South Central Africa has been devastated continually ever since 1890.

Arrived at our destination for the night, a hut was placed at my
disposal by the headman of the village, which I found perfectly clean,
and free from anything which might have made it interesting to an
entomologist. Indeed, I will here say that I found all the Amatonga
huts in which I slept during this trip perfectly clean and comfortable.
The people themselves are too well known to need any detailed
description. They are nearly allied to the Zulus in race, language, and
general appearance, and most of them understand and speak pure Zulu. In
their own dialect, which I was not able to follow, the letter "h" is
very noticeable; for instance, the Zulu word "inkuku," a fowl, becomes
"huku" in Satonga. I found no difficulty in understanding them when
they spoke Zulu, or in making them understand "Sintabele," the native
language with which I am best acquainted, and which is itself a dialect
of Zulu.

On waking the following morning, I found that the weather looked
very threatening, as the clouds had become quite thick, and rain was
evidently near at hand. However, after a good deal of opposition on
the part of my lady porters had been overcome, we made a fairly early
start, and soon reached the Maputa river at the place where we had
to cross it in a native ferry boat, which proved to be merely a very
disreputable-looking old dug-out canoe.

On our way here we passed along the edge of a marsh, and as we were
doing so I heard a reedbuck whistle, but as the morning was very dull
and misty, neither Longman nor I could at first see any sign of the
animal that had thus needlessly betrayed its existence. However, after
walking a short distance in the direction from which the sound had
proceeded, we made out three reedbucks, which, as they ran from behind
some reeds into the open ground, I saw were a ram and two ewes. They
almost immediately stood, the ram with his hind-quarters towards us;
so, judging the distance between us to be about three hundred yards, I
put up the third sight, and sitting down took a careful shot at him.
I thought I heard the bullet strike, but as he ran lightly behind the
two ewes without showing any sign of being hit, I began to think I must
have been mistaken. Before going far, however, he stopped suddenly
for a few moments, and then rolled over on his side, apparently dead.
On walking up to him, however, we found him still alive, although on
examination the bullet proved to have passed through the lower part of
his heart, having first hit him in the belly between the hind-legs and
gone forwards through the whole length of his body.

Whilst Longman and I were cutting up the reedbuck, the lady porters
took their loads to the ferry, which was close at hand, and then
returned for the meat; and when we had got everything down to the
river, we shouted for the ferryman to take us to the other side.

It was some time before the native Charon made his appearance, and,
whilst we were waiting for him, my lady porters ate up about half the
reedbuck, and I also made a good breakfast, and skinned the head, which
was a pretty good one. Just where we crossed the river we saw some
elephant spoor which looked fairly recent, and the natives told us that
a herd of these animals roamed over the country between the Tembe and
Maputa rivers, and sometimes passed close to their kraal on their way
to drink in the latter stream. The banks of the river presented a very
pretty appearance at the time of our crossing, as all the bushes were
covered with convolvulus creepers in full bloom.

It was past midday when we again resumed our journey, and light showers
had already begun to fall, and continued to do so during the remainder
of the day, becoming heavier towards evening, so that by the time we
reached the little kraal where we intended to pass the night, I was
pretty damp, though not exactly wet through. With the aid of a big
fire, however, I got my things dry again before nightfall, and spent a
comfortable night in a clean native hut.

During the night it rained a good deal, but when day broke no rain was
actually falling, although heavy watery-looking clouds were coming
up fast from the south. Taking advantage of the temporary respite,
I managed to get my traps packed up, and my unwilling porters under
way, as I knew that I should not be able to persuade them to start if
rain were actually falling. We had not proceeded far, however, before
being caught in a soaking shower, which soon wetted me to the skin, as,
not expecting rain, I had not brought a waterproof coat with me, and
was only lightly clad. There was nothing for it but to push on to Mr.
Wissels's store. It proved to be farther off than I had anticipated, as
it was one o'clock before Longman and I arrived there, whilst my lady
porters did not turn up until three hours later, in a very bedraggled

During the morning's walk we had passed a large fresh-water lake or
lagoon, on which there were numbers of spur-winged geese, one of
which I should have tried to shoot for food, had I not been so cold
and wet that my one idea was to reach Mr. Wissels's store as soon as
possible. After passing the lagoon we crossed a broad marshy plain,
where I saw three reedbucks, and also the spoor of two waterbucks,
which I am afraid are almost the last of their species in this part
of the country, where not many years ago these animals must have been
very numerous. On at length reaching the store, I found that the white
man--a German sailor, whom Mr. Wissels had left in charge, and whom
I had expected to find there--had gone down to the Maputa river with
carriers to bring up some bags of maize, and was not expected back till
the following day. Thus, I only found some Amatonga natives looking
after the store, who, although they were civil and obliging enough
after Longman had told them all about me, were yet unable to give me
the same kind of welcome that one white man always extends to another
in the wilds of Africa. For instance, had Mr. Wissels's friend been
at home I should have borrowed a shirt and trousers from him whilst I
dried my own; but, in the nature of things, the naked Amatonga were
unable to oblige me in this way; however, they did the next best thing,
and built a big fire beneath a large thick-foliaged tree; and by the
help of this I managed to get myself tolerably dry in the course of the



  Receive information concerning the haunts of the inyala--Heavy
     thunderstorm--Start for Gugawi's kraal--Cross the Usutu
     river--Reach Gugawi's--Go out hunting--Crested guinea-fowl
     seen--Two inyalas shot--Angas's description of the inyala
     antelope--Inyala skins prepared for mounting--Now safe in
     Natural History Museum--A third inyala shot--One missed--Move
     farther up the Usutu river--Country denuded of game--Bushbucks
     scarce--Hippopotamuses in river--Heavy thunderstorm--Two more male
     inyalas shot--Start on return journey to Delagoa Bay--Tedious
     journey--Intense heat--End of trip--Slight attacks of fever.

There were now abundant signs that I was approaching the haunts of the
beautiful antelope I had come so far to seek, as inyala skins and horns
were very much in evidence round Mr. Wissels's store, and several of
the latter had manifestly been but recently killed. All these animals,
Longman assured me, had been shot by the Amatonga within a short
distance of the store, in the dense jungles lying in the angle between
the Usutu and Pongolo rivers, which I could now see covering some low
ridges at a distance of not more than six or seven miles from where we
stood. Had it not been for the rain, I should have gone on the same
afternoon; however, I gathered a good deal of information and arranged
for a start with fresh carriers as early as possible the following
day--my objective point being the kraal of an Amatonga headman named
Gugawi, who, I was told, lived a few miles up the Usutu river, on the
very edge of the jungle where inyalas were said to be plentiful. I
noticed, however, that my informants were not over confident about my
being likely to shoot any of these animals. When I asked if I should
be sure to see some, they replied, "The imbala-intendi (the local
name in this part of Amatongaland for the inyala) is very cunning; he
lives in the very densest jungle, and never comes into the open except
at nights; he is very cunning; he is a witch is the imbala-intendi."
They all agreed, however, in declaring that there were plenty of them,
although they were difficult to get a sight of. Well, there was nothing
for it but to do my best, and deserve success even if I could not
attain it.

That night we had a most tremendous thunderstorm, the rain falling in
torrents; and as the place in which I was sleeping was not water-tight,
I had rather a bad time of it, and was very glad when day broke.

The thunderstorm had cleared the air, and Sunday, September 27, dawned
bright and clear, with every prospect of its being a fine day. I had
all my things packed up pretty early, and with four new women carriers,
and accompanied by two men who knew the way to Gugawi's kraal, managed
to get off about an hour after sunrise, and reached my destination
before ten o'clock. On our way we crossed the Usutu river--here a
clear, swift-flowing stream, about two hundred yards in breadth,
running over a bed of sand. We waded across it, and found the water
quite shallow for the most part, and never more than three feet deep.

On reaching the kraal we were making for, I told Longman to cook me
some breakfast; and whilst he was frying me some reedbuck steaks,
I had a talk with the headman Gugawi and told him the reason of my
visit. He replied that the "imbala-intendi" were numerous in the
jungle just behind his kraal, and promised to do his best to help me
to secure the specimens I wanted, though, like every one else, he said
the animals were very cunning and difficult to get a sight of. As
soon as I had had my breakfast, I asked Gugawi to give me a man who
was well acquainted with the habits of the inyala, as I wished to go
into the bush after them without any loss of time. He gave me one of
his sons, and, accompanied by Longman and one of the Kafirs who had
come from Mr. Wissels's store, we forthwith entered the jungle, which
extended to within a few yards of the kraal. From this we were not
distant more than two hundred yards before we saw fresh inyala spoor
plainly imprinted in the wet ground. The rain at least had done us this
service, that it had washed out all old spoor and rendered any fresh
tracks quite conspicuous.

We now commenced to creep very cautiously through the thick thorny
bush, making our way for the most part through tunnels made by
hippopotamuses during their night excursions in search of food. We had
usually to walk bent nearly double, often having to creep on our hands
and knees; and, as the air was very hot and steamy, we were soon bathed
in perspiration. Now and again we came to little open spaces in the
bush, and in one of these, which we passed through soon after leaving
the kraal, I saw a very handsome crested guinea-fowl, the same species,
no doubt (_Guttera edouardi_), as that met with on the central Zambesi,
to the east of the Victoria Falls.

We had been creeping about the bush in the uncomfortable manner
I have described for about an hour, when we came suddenly upon a
little circular opening some fifty or sixty yards in diameter. As we
approached the edge of this open space, advancing very cautiously in a
stooping attitude down a hippopotamus path, my guide suddenly dropped
to the ground. As he did so, I got a clear view past him, and saw,
standing amongst the grass and bush, just on the further side of the
opening, what I knew was an inyala doe, as I could distinctly see it
was reddish in colour. I could see no other animal near her, and as I
required two specimens of inyala does, the one for the British and the
other for the South African Museum, I lost no time about firing at the
animal in question, which I saw drop instantly to the shot. But even
as she did so, there appeared in her place, or very close to where she
had stood, a great black shaggy form, which, indistinctly as I could
see it in the deep shadow of the bush, I knew was a male inyala--the
first that my eyes had ever looked upon in the flesh. My rifle was a
single-barrelled one; and before I could fire the shot that might make
that rare and beautiful beast mine, I had to open the breech of my
rifle, take another cartridge from my belt, slip it into the chamber,
close the breech again, and then raise the rifle to my shoulder and
take aim. All this meant time and noise. Would the inyala, which stood
like a statue by the dead body of his mate, give me the few seconds I
required to take his own life too? I little thought he would, but he
did; and as I raised my rifle once more, and took a quick but careful
sight on his dark shoulder, I felt, as I pulled the trigger, that he
was mine.


As the report of the rifle sounded, he plunged madly forward, and was
instantly lost to sight in the thick scrub. But I felt sure he carried
death with him; and so it proved, for we found him lying dead not
twenty yards from where he had stood when the bullet struck him. The
fatal missile had passed right through his shoulders, and having
expanded on impact, had torn his heart to pieces. I had the dead female
brought to where the male had fallen, and laid them side by side; then
stood admiring them for a long time before I could bring myself to skin
them. To thus secure a very handsome pair of inyala antelopes--whose
excellently mounted skins are now safe in the Mammalian Gallery of the
Natural History Museum at South Kensington--on the very first day I had
ever hunted for them, and after little more than an hour's search--was
indeed a most glorious and exceptional piece of good fortune, which,
however, has been balanced by many and many a day that I can remember
of unrequited labour in search of game.

I think I had here better give Mr. Angas's very careful descriptions
of the inyala antelope, male and female, as they are so detailed and
precise that they cannot be improved upon--except that, for a reason
which I shall refer to presently, I imagine that the male whose skin he
described could not have been fully adult.

Mr. Angas tells us that his notes "were drawn up from recently killed
specimens which he in vain attempted to purchase from the Boers who
possessed them," and are as follows: "The adult male is about 7 feet
6 inches in total length, and 3 feet 4 inches high at the shoulder.
Though elegant in form, and with much of the grace of the solitary
koodoo, the robust and shaggy aspect of the male bears considerable
resemblance to that of the goat. Legs clean, hoofs pointed and
black, with two oval cream-coloured spots in front of each fetlock,
immediately above the hoof. Horns of the specimen in question, 1 foot
10 inches long,[18] twisted and sublyrate, very similar to those of
the bushbuck, but rather more spiral; very sharp polished extremities
of a pale straw colour, rest of horns brownish black, deeply ridged
from the forehead to about half the length of the horn. Prevailing
colour, greyish black, tinged with purplish brown and ochre; on the
neck, flanks, and cheeks marked with several white stripes like the
koodoo. Forehead brilliant sienna brown, almost approaching to orange;
mane black down the neck, and white from the withers to the insertion
of the tail; ears, 8 inches long, oval, rufous, tipped with black,
and fringed inside with white hairs. A pale ochreous circle round the
eyes, which are connected by two white spots, forming an arrow-shaped
mark on a black ground; nose black; a white spot on each side of the
upper lip; chin and gullet white; and three white marks under each eye;
neck covered with long shaggy hair, extending also under the belly and
fringing the haunches to the knees; two white spots on the flanks,
and a patch of long white hair on the interior portion of the thigh;
a white tuft under the belly, and another on the dewlap. On the outer
side of the forelegs is a black patch above the knee surrounded by
three white spots; legs below the knee bright rufous colour; tail, 1
foot 8 inches long, black above, with tip and inside white." This most
detailed description is, I think, that of an animal not fully adult,
as in the three full-grown male inyalas which I saw in the flesh all
the buff, ochreous, and orange tints described by Mr. Angas had turned
to greyish black, except to a slight extent below the knees, whilst
none of them had any white stripes on the cheeks or neck; and, as the
general ground colour of the young male is reddish brown, and that
of a full-grown male greyish black, it goes without saying that, as
the young animal grows from kidhood to maturity, the former colour
gradually gives place to the latter--till, in a very old male, there
is no buff or ochre left except on the legs below the knees. Of the
female, Mr. Angas's description is as follows: "Smaller than the male,
and without horns; total length, 6 feet; nose, to insertion of ear, 10
inches; length of ear, 6-1/2 inches; height from forefoot to shoulder,
2 feet 9 inches; tail, 1 foot 3 inches in length; becoming very pale
on the belly and lower parts and white inside the thighs; a black
dorsal ridge of bristly hair extends from the back of the crown to the
tail; nose black; the white spots on various parts of the body nearly
resembling those of the male, only the white stripes on both sides are
more numerous and clearly defined, amounting to twelve or thirteen in
number; tail, rufous above and white below, tipped with black."

[18] It may be remembered that the unidentified antelope shot by
Captain Faulkner on the shore of Lake Nyasa, near Cape Maclear, stood
3 feet 4 inches at the shoulder, whilst the length of its horns was 1
foot 9 inches.

As soon as I had stripped the skins, with the leg-bones still attached,
from my two beautiful specimens, I had them carried, together with the
skulls, to Gugawi's kraal, on the edge of the bush, and there spent the
remainder of the day in preparing them for mounting. Of the meat, which
was all brought in, I sent a couple of haunches over to Mr. Wissels,
and then, after keeping a small piece for myself, gave the remainder to
Gugawi, to divide amongst his people as he thought fit.

Next morning I was up and out in the bush just as day was breaking,
accompanied only by my guide of yesterday and Longman, who, however,
kept some distance behind, in order to allow my guide and myself to
approach our game as noiselessly as possible. We had been creeping
about in the dense jungle for some three hours without having seen
anything, although there was a good deal of fresh spoor about, and
twice we had heard inyalas dash away through the bush without getting a
sight of them, when suddenly my guide crouched to the ground, at the
same time pointing towards a large ant-heap growing out of the dense
scrub, and itself covered with undergrowth. Following the direction
of his arm, I made out a reddish patch not fifteen yards away in the
gloom of the bush; and, taking it for an inyala doe, I fired into it
point-blank, as I required another specimen for mounting. At the shot,
the animal fell, and on creeping up to it, I found that it was a young
male. It was something less in size than a full-grown female, from
which it did not differ in any way in coloration and the number and
distribution of white stripes and spots. It was thus interesting, as
showing that the male inyala changes in general colour from bright red
to dark grey, only losing the rufous and orange tints on the ears and
forehead--which were still conspicuous in the type specimen described
by Mr. Angas--when fully adult.

As it was now getting on for midday, I had the young inyala carried
forthwith to the kraal, where I remained until about four o'clock, then
again sallied forth, and did another two hours' jungle-creeping before
dark. I saw an inyala doe, and could have fired at her, but, thinking
there might have been a male accompanying her, did not care to do so
too hurriedly, and whilst I was straining my eyes peering into the bush
all around her, she either saw or winded me, and bounded off, quite
alone as far as I could make out.

Early the following morning I was again in the bush, and just after
sunrise came on a male inyala close to the river. He was standing
behind a mass of tree stems, with just his tail showing on one side
and part of his head on the other. He was evidently looking at us, and
as I knew he would be off in a moment, giving but little chance of a
shot, I thought I had better try and put a bullet into him through an
interstice amongst the tree stems, where I could see what I took to be
part of his neck. I made a bad shot, however, as my bullet, instead of
passing through the opening, imbedded itself in the wood of one of the
tree stems, and the inyala went off uninjured.

On returning to the kraal, Gugawi proposed to take me to a spot some
few miles higher up the Usutu, where he said there were plenty of
inyalas, whilst at the same time the bush was not so dense as near
his kraal. Being by this time thoroughly sick of crawling about bent
nearly double, I hailed with delight the idea of finding the game I was
seeking in a country where I could walk upright, and visions of inyalas
feeding through open glades passed through my mind--visions, alas,
which were never realised, for in my small experience I never found
these antelopes anywhere except in dense bush. However, I was glad of
the change, and soon had everything ready for a move.

In the afternoon we travelled some five or six miles up the river, and
pitched camp in a bit of jungle near the water's edge. The Usutu river
is here very broad, and reminded me strongly of parts of the Chobi;
but whereas the banks of the latter river, as I knew it in the early
'seventies, abounded in game of many descriptions, from the elephant
downwards, there was not a track to be seen along the Usutu of any
kind of animal with the exception of the inyala. All the wealth of
wild life which Baldwin saw in this same district in 1854 had melted
away before the guns of the native Amatonga hunters; for, be it noted,
this is a country in which but very little game has been killed by
white men. Rhinoceroses, buffaloes, koodoos, waterbucks, impalas,
lions,--all are gone, the only game left being the inyalas, which owe
their preservation to the dense jungles in which they live; and even
they are being rapidly killed off, as the natives are always after
them, lying in wait for them in the paths made by the hippopotamuses or
creeping stealthily through the bush in their pursuit.

Curiously enough, in these thickets, where inyalas are so numerous,
there are very few bushbucks, although the surroundings are in every
respect suited to their requirements. I can only account for the
scarcity of the bushbucks, where inyalas are plentiful, by supposing
that the latter animals will not tolerate the former--considering them
too nearly akin to themselves to make good neighbours; for a male
bushbuck might be excused, I think, for making love to an inyala doe,
which scarcely differs from one of his own females in any way except
size, and that probably not to a sufficient degree to stop his advances
during the rutting season; which, of course, would be resented by
the male inyala, and the latter being the more powerful animal, has
been able to drive his rival out of his preserves. If jealousy is not
answerable for the scarcity of bushbucks in these jungles where inyalas
are so plentiful, I fail to understand why the former animals should
be so numerous lower down the river under exactly similar conditions,
except that there there are no inyalas.

In the open expanse of water, some half a mile in breadth, just
opposite our camp, several hippopotamuses were grunting and playing
about on our arrival, and as long as we remained here there were always
some of these animals in sight. In the evening I went out after inyala,
but though I saw plenty of spoor, I did not catch sight of one of the
animals themselves. Soon after dark a heavy thunderstorm came up from
the south, and continued with much lightning and torrents of rain till
long after midnight. Having neither a tent nor a waterproof sheet, I,
like my native companions, of course got soaking wet; and we had to sit
shivering in our drenched blankets until daylight, as the heavy rains
had put our fires out and we could not get another alight, everything
being wet.

Soon after dawn, however, we managed to get a fire under way, and
I then had a cup of warm coffee. Just as the sun was rising I went
out into the dripping bush, and returned to camp dry and warm before
midday. In spite of what Gugawi had said as to the bush being more
open round this camp than near his own kraal, I found but little
difference, and should describe all the bush in which I hunted on the
Usutu river as dense jungle. In the course of the morning I just caught
a glimpse of an inyala--a male evidently by his colour--but failed to
get a shot at him. I also saw a large number of the beautiful crested
guinea-fowls, which in this district seem to be more numerous than the
common South African species. During the heat of the day I remained at
our bivouac, and, as the sun was intensely hot, managed to thoroughly
dry all my belongings, which had got so wet during the previous night's
rain. In the evening I again went out into the bush, and just at dusk
caught sight of the hind-quarters of an antelope amongst the thick
scrub ahead of me. The light was fast failing, and although I felt sure
it was an inyala, as there were apparently no other kinds of antelopes
in the district, yet I could not in the least tell whether it was a
male or female, but, hoping for the best, fired, and saw nothing more.

On forcing my way through the scrub to where the animal had been when I
fired, I found a fine inyala doe lying on the ground, just on the point
of death, the bullet having struck her in the left thigh and passed
through the whole length of her body into the cavity of the chest.
Although disappointed that it was not a male, I skinned her carefully
for mounting; and she now forms part of the fine collection of South
African mammalia which is in the Museum at Cape Town.

It would be but tedious reading were I to continue to describe in
detail my further bush-crawling experiences in search of inyalas.
Suffice it to say that, on October 1 and 2, I secured two more fine
males, whose heads I preserved for my own collection. Although I should
have liked to have got a fourth male for the South African Museum, I
did not think it prudent to remain any longer in my camp on the edge of
a swamp, where I knew the air must be reeking with malarial poison, as,
besides the exhalations from the marsh, the ground (from which I was
only separated at nights by a little dry grass and a blanket) had been
soaked to the depth of two feet by the recent rain, thus rendering the
conditions more than usually unhealthy. The weather, too, was now again
looking very threatening, and I did not relish the idea of any further
lying out in the rain; as I knew, from former experience, that I should
probably have to pay for the wettings I had already suffered, by some
attacks of fever--a disease from which I had been entirely exempt for
seven years, but the poison of which I knew was still in my blood, and
would be likely to be again stirred into activity by my recent exposure
to unhealthy conditions.

Hence, on Saturday, October 3, I packed up my things and returned to
Gugawi's kraal, walking on in the afternoon to Mr. Wissels's store. At
Gugawi's I met an Englishman, who informed me that he had come down
from Barberton, and was travelling about amongst the Amatonga, buying
skins of wild cats, jackals, etc., which he hoped to sell again at a
profit to the Kafirs working in the mines in the Transvaal. He seemed
much surprised when I told him that I had only come to Amatongaland
in order to shoot an inyala, and frequently remarked in the course of
our conversation, "Well, I'm ----; so you've come all this ---- way to
shoot a ---- buck." He also informed me that he was not very well, as
he had been "on the burst" for the last three days; but this confidence
was superfluous, as no one could have approached within ten yards of
him without realising his condition.

On my arrival at the store I was disappointed to find that Mr. Wissels
was absent, having again returned to Delagoa Bay for another cargo
of maize. Had he been at home, I should have endeavoured to obtain a
specimen of Livingstone's antelope--a species which I have never shot,
and which Mr. Wissels had informed me was numerous in most of the
jungles near his store. These little animals are very similar in habits
to the diminutive blue buck of Natal, and as they inhabit dense bush,
are not often shot, except by driving, and Mr. Wissels had promised
that when I returned to his station he would collect a lot of Kafirs
and get up a drive for me. However, as I did not know when he would
return, and was anxious to get back to Kimberley as soon as possible
now that I had accomplished the main object of my journey, I did not
care about waiting for him, but determined to get on as quickly as
possible. Had Mr. Wissels been at home I should probably have returned
to Delagoa Bay by boat, but now I had the prospect of an eighty-mile
walk. I had no difficulty in getting carriers, as Gugawi's men, who had
brought my things to the store, and with whom I had been associated
for the last week, volunteered to go on with me to Delagoa Bay; and it
pleased me very much to find that they did not insist on being paid
beforehand, but trusted to my honour to deal fairly with them.

On the evening of the day on which I returned to Mr. Wissels's store,
the weather looked very unsettled; but on the following morning all
signs of rain had cleared off, and the sun rose red and fiery in a
cloudless sky. I got away early, and on the evening of the third day
slept within sight of the lights amongst the shipping in Delagoa Bay.
During those three days the heat had been intense, and in those eighty
miles I never put my foot on a piece of firm ground, but plodded
painfully through deep white sand, like the soft sand of the sea-shore.
Indeed, all this flat country to the south of Delagoa Bay must once
have been at the bottom of the sea--from which it has been upheaved
probably at no very distant time, geologically speaking, as I noticed
that the patches of sandy soil which were under cultivation were full
of oyster and other sea-shells. Water seemed to be everywhere close
below the surface, but was not good--having an unhealthy, slimy taste,
and making bad tea. Indeed, except in the actual stream of the Usutu
river, I never tasted anything but swamp water during this trip. As I
tramped along mile after mile in the deep sand and beneath the blazing
sun, I could not but think regretfully of my elephant-hunting days of
over twenty years before, when I used to do the same sort of work day
after day and month after month without feeling it, and got up every
morning without an ache or pain, fresh and ready for the next day's
work. But one cannot last for ever; and on this long weary tramp there
were moments when I would have given a good deal for a horse, or even a
donkey, and on the first day's walk the sun gave me a bad headache.

On the evening of the first and the morning of the second day we passed
through some quite uninhabited country, and here I shot two duiker
antelopes and a steinbuck. I also saw some quite fresh elephant spoor,
and just caught a glimpse of a little Livingstone's antelope, whose
local name is "schlengarn," in a patch of thick bush. The country was
looking fresh and green, with the sprouting grass after the recent
heavy rains; and hundreds of beetles were now running over the sand,
which was a good deal more than warm. Indeed, it was so hot that I
think a baboon would have hesitated to sit down on it.

But my weary tramp came to an end at last, and early on the morning of
October 7 I crossed the Bay of Delagoa to the town of Lourenço Marques,
and, thanks to the kind assistance of Mr. Edixhoven, got all my
specimens packed and conveyed on board the _Pembroke Castle_ the same
day, for transport to England, where they duly arrived in very good

The same evening I left Delagoa Bay by train for the Transvaal, and
finally reached Kimberley on October 10. Here I had a slight attack of
malarial fever--a matter of a few hours only--succeeded by two more in
Cape Town, and a final attack on board ship on my way to England. But
these attacks were very slight and only lasted for a few hours at a
time, and I can only say, with Drummond, that ample amends have been
made for any little inconveniences I may have suffered, by the pleasure
of the thought that I have not only added a pair of inyala heads to my
own private collection, but have also enriched our National Museum of
Natural History with two beautiful specimens of this rare and handsome



  Number of African antelopes--The eland--Roan and sable antelopes--The
     greater koodoo--Other antelopes--The gemsbuck--Limited
     range--Habitat--Keen sight--Speed and endurance--Chase
     after four gemsbucks--Two shot--Sight of vultures--Oxen
     frightened--Horse wounded by lioness--Gemsbuck bull shot--Visit
     from natives--Gemsbucks and zebras--Gemsbucks ridden to a
     standstill--Fine specimens shot--Length of horns--Character of the
     gemsbuck--Probably unaffected by the rinderpest--Likely to survive
     for long time.

There is such a wealth of splendid-looking antelopes to be found on
the great African continent that it is hard, nay, impossible to say
which amongst them is the grandest prize of all that can fall to a
hunter's rifle. In bulk nothing approaches the eland, and an old bull
of this species, with his massive form, low-hanging dewlap, and great
neck surmounted by a striking and beautifully proportioned head, is in
truth a noble animal, but at the same time one that looks fitter in
every way to adorn a park than to be hunted to the death. The eland is,
in fact, one of those beasts that ought to have been trained to the
service of man, and would have been in all probability had it existed
in Asia instead of in Africa. Such an animal few can slay without a
certain feeling of regret, for even when desperately wounded, nothing
but reproach can be read in its mild dark eyes.

How different is the quiet resignation shown by the dying eland to the
fierce defiance of every look and gesture of a roan or sable antelope
brought to bay and fighting desperately to the very last. These two
latter animals are amongst the finest of all the African antelopes, and
by many sportsmen the last named is considered the noblest of them all.
The magnificent greater koodoo, too, has many warm admirers, whilst the
inyala, lesser koodoo, and Grant's gazelle, if not amongst the grandest
of the several genera to which they belong, are certainly some of the
most beautiful.

But there is yet another species, whose praises have of late years
been sung by few, the successful pursuit of which has always given me
more satisfaction than that of any other of the larger antelopes of
Southern Africa. This is the gemsbuck, the grandest of all the handsome
oryx family. Cornwallis Harris, Gordon Cumming, Oswell, Baldwin, and
others of those fortunate Englishmen who travelled and hunted in South
Africa when the last century was only middle-aged have all written
enthusiastically of the chase of the gemsbuck and the joy of securing a
good head of this species.

But with the spread of European settlements and the steady advance of
civilisation, these beautiful animals have been driven from many of
their former haunts, and are now only to be found in the most arid
districts of Western South Africa; and though their range extends
from the north-western portion of the Cape Colony in the south to the
southern part of the Portuguese province of Angola in the north, there
can, I think, be but few districts left where they are to be met with
at the present day in anything but small and widely scattered herds. At
least, a herd of about fifteen is the greatest number that I have ever
seen together, though it must be remembered that I have only met with
the gemsbuck in the more easterly portions of its range, and it is
quite possible that in the recesses of the Kalahari it may at certain
seasons of the year collect into larger droves than anything that I
have ever seen.

Compared with other South African game, I have shot but
few gemsbuck--only twenty-five, I find by reference to my
note-books--partly because I have done the greater part of my hunting
in the more easterly parts of the country where these animals are
unknown, but also for the reason that even when in countries where they
existed I never found them anything but scarce.

The gemsbuck, as I have said before, is an inhabitant of Western South
Africa, and lives and thrives in parts of the country where not only
are there no running streams, but where for months together every
year there is absolutely no surface water at all. In such districts
there are almost limitless expanses of level plains covered with low
scrub and thorny bush studded with small glittering white salt-pans,
and intersected by forest-covered country, with sometimes a thick
undergrowth amongst the trees, and it is in such surroundings that the
gemsbuck is at home.

As a rule, they confine themselves to the arid, scrub-covered plains,
but sometimes wander into the forests. If the sun is not shining full
upon them--when they look almost white--the pale grey colour of their
coats harmonises wonderfully well with all their surroundings, for the
soil on which they stand is generally much the colour of their hides,
whilst the parched and thorny scrub around them is always of a pale
neutral tint, for it is usually leafless, and even when in leaf the
leaves are rather grey than green.

Like the striping of the zebra, the brilliant black and white markings
of the gemsbuck's face can be plainly seen when near at hand, but
are inconspicuous at any distance over four hundred yards, and the
presence of these animals is often first betrayed by the sun glinting
on their long black horns. The sight of the gemsbuck is very keen, and
the Bushmen say that, like the ostrich, he trusts more to this sense
for his safety than to scent, which is no doubt the case as long as he
is in country of an open character. There is no more splendid sight
than that of a herd of gemsbucks galloping over the arid wastes of
their desert home; for, owing to the fact that the cows have longer
horns than the bulls, every individual member of the herd looks as if
it carried a head worth winning. They run at a steadier pace than any
other animal with which I am acquainted, holding their heads rather
low, so that their long black horns stand well up, only slanting
slightly backwards. As they gallop, their long bushy black tails almost
sweep the ground, as they swing from side to side.

In comparing the speed and endurance of various species of South
African antelopes, it is first of all necessary to eliminate all cows
heavy with calf, as these are so heavily handicapped that they do not
afford any criterion of the real powers, under ordinary circumstances,
of the species to which they belong. Every one who has ridden after
sable and roan antelopes in August or September knows how easy it is at
that time of year to bring the heavier cows to a standstill, but I have
never yet been able to gallop down a bull of either species, though I
have had many a good try.

The gemsbuck is often spoken of as the fleetest and most enduring of
all the South African antelopes. My own experience is not sufficient to
justify me in dogmatising on this subject, but all those I have shot
I have galloped after, and I have also had a considerable experience
in riding after most other South African antelopes; and my verdict
is, that although gemsbuck run with great speed and endurance, they
are inferior in these respects to the tsessebe, Cape hartebeest,
Lichtenstein's hartebeest, blue and black wildebeest, and to the
blesbok. I should put their running powers much on a par with those of
the sable and roan antelope.

Gemsbucks being usually found in open country, as a rule get a good
start, and I can well believe that a man mounted on a horse in low
condition or only grass-fed would never get up to them at all; but a
good South African shooting pony, in hard condition and fed regularly
morning and evening on maize, ought to carry a twelve-stone man up to a
herd of gemsbucks every time.

I have twice found gemsbucks in company with a herd of Burchell's
zebras, and on both occasions in very open ground. On sighting me
the former animals at once took the lead and galloped off, closely
followed by the latter. On the first occasion they had a long start,
and husbanding my horse, I only drew up to them gradually. There were
only four gemsbucks--three cows and a bull--and about a dozen zebras;
and these latter, when I at length drew up within a hundred yards,
entirely prevented my getting a shot at the more coveted game. The
horse I was riding had a very good turn of speed, so I then let him out
as hard as he could go, and galloped right through the zebras, which
scattered to either side of me, and then reforming in one herd, went
off by themselves. The gemsbucks were now going at their utmost speed,
and when I had passed the zebras were still sixty or seventy yards in
front of me. The bull was only to be distinguished from the cows by
his somewhat heavier build and shorter though stouter horns. Pulling
my horse in as quickly as possible, I jumped to the ground, and aiming
for the centre of the black patch which bedecks the hind-quarters of
these antelopes, fired. My shot, as it turned out, struck him exactly
right, an inch or so above the root of the tail, and must have broken
or injured the vertebral column, as his hind-quarters gave way at once,
bringing the doomed animal into a sitting position, from which he was
unable to recover himself. My after-rider, a light-weight Griqua lad,
was now close up behind me, so shouting to him to despatch the bull
(whose head I wanted for my own collection), I galloped on after the
cows, the best of which I wished to secure for our National Museum of
Natural History, for which I had already got a good bull.

OF ME."]

They had now, however, got a long start, and as the chase soon led
me across a succession of broad sandy ridges entirely free from all
vegetation but a little coarse grass, the going became terribly heavy,
and I began to think I should never get within shooting distance again.
At last, however, the gemsbucks got out of the heavy sand and raced
into a broad open plain, where the ground was fairly firm. They were
still going strong, and were some three hundred yards ahead of me. I
now made what I knew would have to be my last effort, and gradually
drew nearer and nearer to the hindmost antelope, until at length I
was not more than 120 yards behind it. Just then the leading gemsbuck
swerved somewhat to the left, and the other two following in its
tracks, gave me--for I had pulled in and jumped to the ground directly
I saw the leader turn--a somewhat better chance for a shot than had
been offered as long as the chase had remained exactly tail-on-end. Had
I missed I should have pulled in and given up the hunt, as I did not
want to overtire my horse; but I distinctly heard the bullet tell, and
so remounted and galloped on again. For the next half-mile the wounded
animal showed no signs of being hit, but held on close behind her
companions. Presently, however, she began to fall behind, and suddenly
coming to a halt, turned broadside and stood looking at her pursuer.
She let me ride up to within fifty yards of her without moving, and it
was only when, after having pulled in and dismounted, I had given her
a shot through the heart, that she made a short rush forward and then
rolled over dead.

I was now at least two miles from where I had disabled the bull, and as
I knew that it would be a long time before my after-rider could come
up with the Bushmen, I set to work to skin the animal just killed. She
was a beautiful beast, but it was a terribly hot job skinning so large
an animal without any assistance in the open shadeless plain, for it
was already past midday and the heat of the sun was simply intense,
and I was somewhat hungry and very thirsty as well, since I had left
my waggon (which was standing at a pool of water on the road between
Bamangwato and the Mababi) just at daybreak. At last my task was ended,
and I then disembowelled the carcase of the dead antelope, and covered
it as well as I could with dry grass, an operation that took some time,
as grass only grew in scanty tussocks anywhere near at hand. I was also
careful to throw sand over all the blood-stains on the ground, these
precautions being necessary to keep off vultures, for although none of
these birds were at the moment in sight, I was afraid that they might
collect and destroy the meat after I had left, and before the Bushmen
came for it.

I have satisfied myself over and over again that, in South Africa at
least, vultures are guided to their food entirely by sight, and not
at all by scent; for should an animal be killed in the midst of dense
bush, it will often lie there for days, untouched by vultures, no
matter how many of these birds may be circling about overhead; but
unless the carcase of an animal killed on an open plain should be
quickly hidden from view with branches of trees or grass, it will not
remain long unvisited, for one or other of the vultures constantly
flying round, perhaps at such a height as to be invisible to the human
eye, is sure to spy it ere long, and then--something in its mode of
flight no doubt suggesting that it is bent on serious business--is
itself seen and followed by others, which in their turn are observed,
till all the vultures in the neighbourhood are presently assembled at
the feast. The Bushmen say that it is useless covering up a carcase and
leaving blood-stains on the ground round about, as vultures can see
these signs of slaughter at an incredible distance, and will always
come down to investigate such tell-tale marks, whether the meat of the
slain animal has been removed or not.

Having secured the skin of the gemsbuck (with the skull and leg-bones
still attached) to my saddle, I commenced to lead my horse along his
back tracks, but had not proceeded far when I met my after-rider, who,
after having despatched the gemsbuck bull, had followed me up with half
a dozen of the Bushmen. These latter I sent on to bring in the meat of
the cow, and they overtook us again just as we had finished cutting up
the bull. It was late in the afternoon when we got back to the waggon,
but after a good meal, washed down with the best part of a kettleful
of tea, I set to work, and before turning in got the headskin of the
bull, as well as the complete skin of the cow, cleaned and prepared for
mounting, with arsenical soap. The latter now stands in the Mammalian
Gallery of the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, and the
former is in my own collection.

As there was but little game in the desert country surrounding the pool
where I was encamped--nothing, in fact, but a few giraffes, ostriches,
gemsbucks, springbucks, and hartebeests--and the Bushmen had told me
that there were absolutely no lions in the district, I had allowed my
cattle, donkeys, and horses to feed and lie loose at nights. On this
evening I was lying reading in the waggon after having prepared the
gemsbuck skins, when I suddenly heard my troop of cattle (some thirty
in number, including cows) galloping. They must have been feeding
or lying down a few hundred yards behind the waggon, when something
startled them and they came rushing towards the waggon in a solid
phalanx; but on the driver and some of the boys running towards them
and shouting, they halted close down to the edge of the pool. That
something had frightened them, there could be no doubt, and as I have
never known oxen show any fear of hyænas, I couldn't help thinking
that, in spite of what the Bushmen had said, there was a lion about. I
therefore had my oxen at once tied up, and taking the lantern, called
up some of the Bushmen and went out to look for the rest of my live
stock. We soon found the two horses that had been ridden that day and
the donkeys, but of my third horse, a very powerful stallion, we could
find no trace, though he had had his feed of maize at sundown with the
others. I went back to the waggon, therefore, feeling very anxious
about him.

At daylight the next morning I saddled up my best horse, and
accompanied by some of the Bushmen, rode round to the spot from which
the oxen had stampeded. The ground was very hard, as the pool of water
by which we were encamped was situated in a limestone formation, and
for some time we could discover nothing; but on riding back along the
waggon track for about a mile to sandy ground, we there at once found
the spoor of a lion, or more probably a lioness, as the tracks looked
small. These tracks even the Bushmen were unable to follow over the
limestone; but about a mile away on the other side of the pool we found
the stallion lying down, and soon discovered that he had been both
bitten and clawed during the night. I believe that his assailant must
have been a very old and weakly lioness, which had found him lying
down and attacked him whilst he was in that position. He had been
somewhat severely bitten in the back of the neck, and clawed on the
left shoulder and in both flanks, but being a very powerful animal,
he had managed to throw his assailant off. I at once syringed out the
stallion's wounds with a very strong cauterising solution of carbolic
acid, and they never sloughed at all, but healed up very rapidly,
though if the bite of a lion is not cauterised it takes a long time to

The strangest part of this experience is that I never saw or heard
anything more of this lion or lioness. With a dozen of the finest
trackers in the world to help me, nothing could be done on the hard
limestone ground, which in one direction extended for miles; nor,
though I remained in the same camp for a week, did the baffled beast
ever make any further attempt to interfere with my cattle. Possibly the
stallion, after shaking his assailant off, had given him or her a kick.
The Bushmen told me that this was the first lion that had visited the
neighbourhood of their camp for years, though a lion and lioness had
together killed a cow giraffe near another permanent water, some thirty
miles to the west, about a month before. No doubt the brute that had
attacked my stallion--probably an old and half-famished lioness--had
come a long way on the spoor of my cattle.

I secured my most beautiful gemsbuck head in April 1888, in the desert
country between the lower course of the Nata river and the northern
extremity of the great Makari-kari Salt-pan.

On the previous day I had come across a solitary bull in an open
rolling sandy plain, destitute of any kind of vegetation but coarse
tussocky grass. Owing to the very open nature of the ground in which I
found him, this gemsbuck spied me from afar and went off with a very
long start. I was, however, very well mounted, and after a long and
exciting chase, at length got within shot of and killed him. Whilst
racing along in full pursuit of this bull, I had seen in the distance
quite a large herd of gemsbucks, and as I knew that there must be some
fine heads among them, I had half a mind to take up their tracks later
in the day, but gave up the idea, as I only had a sufficient number of
Bushmen with me to carry the meat of the animal already shot.

On arriving at my waggon, I found a party of Matabele Kafirs there who
had come to the Makari-kari to collect rock salt, which they find there
deposited in layers a couple of inches in thickness. This rock salt
is reddish brown in colour, and very impure, containing apparently a
great deal of lime. Although most of these Matabele carried guns, they
told me they had scarcely seen a head of game since leaving home, and
having shot nothing, had consequently had nothing to eat, after they
had exhausted the small stock of grain with which they had started on
their journey, but berries and tortoises, eked out with whatever they
had been able to steal from the Bushmen. They certainly looked half
starved, and on my presenting them with a hind-leg of the gemsbuck I
had just shot, they very speedily devoured it, and then begged me to
try and shoot them something on the following day, that they might lay
in a stock of meat for their journey back to Matabeleland.

I promised to do my best for them, and at daylight the next morning,
accompanied by a dozen Matabele and several Bushmen, rode out in
search of the herd of gemsbucks I had seen the previous day whilst
chasing the bull. We took up their yesterday's tracks, and after
following them for several hours, found that they had joined company
with a herd of Burchell's zebras, with which animals they were still
feeding when we at last overtook them. There were about fifteen
gemsbucks (the largest number of these animals I have ever seen
together) and as many zebras. The country where we found them being
perfectly open, they, of course, saw us when we were still a long way
off, and at once went off, with a long start, the gemsbucks leading and
the zebras running close behind them.

The horse I was riding--the same with which I had chased the gemsbuck
bull on the previous day--was one of the finest shooting horses I ever
owned, and though no longer young, was both fast and possessed of great
staying power. He was, too, a wonderfully sure-footed animal, and just
now in splendid hard condition. Had the zebras been alone, they would
have gone off at a leisurely pace, but being led by the gemsbucks,
they kept close on their heels. These latter animals, according to my
experience, when disturbed never run off in a leisurely way, nor even,
if not pressed, do they keep stopping and looking back at their pursuer
like almost all other antelopes, but go off at once at such a tearing
pace, that although it is not the utmost speed they are capable of
when hard pressed, is yet sufficiently fast to make it impossible to
get near them at all without hard galloping. Owing to the long start
they had got, I daresay I had galloped two, perhaps three, miles before
my horse had carried me close up behind the zebras. These latter,
running well together some fifty yards behind the gemsbucks, raised
a tremendous dust, and, as in the former instance I have described,
effectually hid the long-horned antelopes from my view. In fact, it was
quite impossible to shoot a gemsbuck without passing the zebras. This
I set myself to do, and before long I was galloping alongside of the
hindmost animals, keeping above the wind so as to escape the dust they
raised as much as possible.

In another few moments I think I should have fairly galloped past
all the zebras, but they did not wait for me to do so, for suddenly
the whole troop of them swerved off down wind and left me alone with
the gemsbucks. These latter were all cows, and most of them carried
good heads, but the horns of one seemed specially long and thin, and
these I determined to secure. For some time, however, she kept well in
front, and I could not get a chance of a shot at her, as she was always
covered by one or other of her companions. When I passed the zebras,
the gemsbucks were, I believe, going at their utmost speed, and I had
kept them at it for another half-mile or so, when suddenly one of them
swerved out from the rest, and facing round, came to a halt. I passed
within ten yards of her, and she stood looking at me as I passed, and
as she remained in the same place for some time, I think I may fairly
say that she was ridden to a standstill. She appeared to be a fine
full-grown cow, and was probably in calf; but as it would have been at
least six months before she would have dropped her calf, this could
hardly have affected her running powers. This is the second gemsbuck I
have overtaken on horseback, the first having been a bull (with only
one horn) which I fairly rode to a standstill in 1879.

At last I got a good chance at the long-horned cow as she swerved off
to one side in the van of the herd, and my bullet, hitting her at the
back of the ribs, and ranging forwards to the neighbourhood of the
heart, brought her to the ground dead before she had run another
hundred yards. She was indeed a beautiful animal, and her horns the
handsomest, though by no means the longest, that I have ever seen. They
were most perfectly symmetrical, and measured 43 inches in length; but
being very thin and absolutely straight--gemsbuck horns usually have a
slight turn backwards--looked longer than they actually were.

In 1879 I shot another gemsbuck cow near the Botletlie river with horns
of exactly the same length; but these latter, being much thicker and
having a strong bend backwards, do not look their full length. I think
that I am correct in saying that gemsbuck horns measuring over 42
inches in length are quite exceptional. At any rate, I only remember
to have seen three pairs exceeding 43 inches. The one measuring 44-1/2
inches was shot by a Boer on the Botletlie river, and I purchased it
from him for our Natural History Museum, where it now is; whilst I
have seen another pair slightly longer which was shot in the Kalahari
many years ago by the late Mr. W. Cotton Oswell. But the longest pair
I have ever seen I found in the possession of a trader at Barclay West
in December 1880. He told me that he had got them from a native hunter
at Moroquain in the Southern Kalahari, and gave them to me, and I gave
them to the late Mr. J. S. Jameson. I believe that this is the longest
pair of gemsbuck horns known, their length being recorded in Mr.
Rowland Ward's last book of horn measurements as 47-1/2 inches. Besides
these heads I have mentioned, a few more pairs are known in various
collections which measure between 44 and 46 inches, but these are a
few exceptionally long pairs that have been picked out in the course
of many years from amongst the large number of gemsbuck horns which
are annually shot by natives in different parts of the vast Kalahari
desert, and brought either to Kimberley or to Cape Town _viâ_ Walfisch
Bay; and these few exceptions to the general rule only serve to show
how very rarely gemsbuck horns attain to a length of 44 inches and
upwards. The horns of the bulls sometimes attain a length of 42 inches,
but are, as a rule, several inches shorter and a good deal stouter than
those of the cows.

Although gemsbucks, when brought to bay, are doubtless dangerous
antagonists to dogs, and very possibly sometimes kill lions which have
attacked them incautiously, I should doubt their being as fierce an
animal by nature as either the sable or roan antelope. At least, I
have never seen any of those I have wounded make the same threatening
demonstrations as the last-named animals always do when closely
approached. I once fired at a bull gemsbuck which was galloping
obliquely past me, and dropped him instantly, and as he was still
lying motionless when I cantered up to him, I thought he was dead.
I noted the position of the bullet-mark, rather high up just behind
the shoulder, and thought it must have smashed the vertebral column
and so caused instant death. I then dismounted beneath a neighbouring
tree, and, placing my rifle against the stem, walked towards the dead
animal--as I thought. I was within a few yards of its head, when
suddenly, with scarcely a preliminary kick, it rose to its feet and
stood facing me. I was so near it that I thought it would be sure to
charge, as almost any roan or sable antelope bull would have done so
in similar circumstances. But, much to my relief, after eyeing me
steadily for a few seconds, it turned and galloped off, and might
easily have got away altogether, had my horse not been a good one. When
I eventually killed it, I found that my first bullet had only grazed
the vertebral column, and momentarily paralysed the poor animal. But
it had a splendid chance for vengeance, of which it altogether failed
to take advantage, and I certainly would not care to afford another of
its kind a similar opportunity.

I have not heard whether or not the plague of rinderpest which
swept through South Africa in 1896, and worked such terrible havoc
amongst both the cattle and game of that vast territory, affected
the gemsbucks. But, isolated as they are in the arid wastes of the
Kalahari, I should imagine not; and since they are protected from
constant persecution by the inhospitable nature of their surroundings,
I fancy that they will long outlive many other species of South African
game, which but a few years ago were far more numerous. May this be so;
for, though the gemsbuck will always be hard to find, and by no means
easy to bring to bag when found, these difficulties enhance his value,
whilst his head will ever be one of the most beautiful and coveted
trophies to be won in the hunting-fields of Africa.



  Contrast between Rhodesia to-day and long ago--The old days the
     best--White rhinoceroses and elephants drinking--A night on the
     Sikumi river--Abundance of big game--A white rhinoceros visits my
     camp--My queerest experience--Meet with two black rhinoceroses--A
     near approach--Rhinoceros knocked down--Apparently dead--Commence
     to cut it up--Rhinoceros regains consciousness--Gets on its
     legs--And runs off--Another curious experience--Buffaloes and
     tse-tse flies--Meeting with lioness--Hammer of rifle lost--Bushmen
     sent in search of it--Lions met with--Lion and lioness stand close
     to me--The chance of a lifetime--Rifle misses fire--Lions run
     off--Lion again seen--Rifle useless--Throw it at the lion--The
     irony of fate.

As I read almost weekly, in one or other of the papers devoted to South
Africa, some account of all the marvellous changes which have recently
been brought about, through the energy and intelligence of Britons,
in the spacious country now known as Rhodesia, my thoughts often go
back to the days when I first wandered and hunted through that land of
stirring memories.

That was nearly forty years ago now, and Matabeleland was less
known and more inaccessible then than is any part of Central Africa
to-day, for at that time not a yard of railway had been laid from any
coast town of the Cape Colony or Natal towards the interior of the
country. Lo Bengula, a powerful chief of Zulu race, had but recently
been elected king of the Matabele, and savagery seemed so firmly
established throughout all the territory between the Limpopo and the
Zambesi that I never dreamt I should live to see the destruction of
that great chief's far-reaching power, and the defeat and dispersal
of his brave but barbarous tribesmen, to be quickly followed by the
founding of a European town near the site of the old native "great
place," and the building of a railway through the wilderness to the

Ah! but the old days were the best, after all--or at any rate I think
so. The traveller by rail to the Victoria Falls will journey at his
ease, it is true, in a saloon carriage, with plenty to eat and drink,
through seemingly endless wastes of low forest and scrubby bush,
and will probably think it a terribly monotonous and uninteresting
country; but no man will ever again sit by a camp fire near one of
the little rivers the railway will cross, eating prime pieces of fat
elephant's heart, roasted on a forked stick, nor watch the great white
rhinoceroses coming to drink just before dark, nor lie and listen to
herd after herd of elephants drinking and bathing in the river near
their camp. On one particular night in 1873 which I shall never forget,
the splashing and trumpeting of troop after troop of hot and thirsty
elephants was kept up from soon after dark till long past midnight.
This was at the little river Sikumi, which the traveller of to-day
will cross by an iron bridge. There was no monotony about the country
between Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls in those days. The abundance
of big game--elephants, black and white rhinoceroses, giraffes,
buffaloes, zebras, and many varieties of antelopes--made it always
interesting alike to the hunter and the lover of nature. As I think of
my early wanderings through those once well-stocked hunting-grounds
in the days when I made my living by shooting elephants, I can recall
many interesting experiences, some of a decidedly exciting nature,
others only curious. I never had any narrow escapes from rhinoceroses,
although I encountered numbers of these prehistoric-looking animals,
but I do not think that the black rhinoceros of the interior of South
Africa was ever of so aggressive a nature as he appears to be in many
districts of East Africa to-day, though a wounded one was always likely
to become savage.

One night in 1873, when camped on the borders of the hills which skirt
the southern bank of the Zambesi to the east of the Victoria Falls, a
white rhinoceros came to inspect my camp about an hour after dark. I
had had my evening meal, and was sitting talking by a cheery log fire
to one of my native attendants--for I had no white companion--when
we heard a rhinoceros snort not far away, and soon afterwards, by
the light of a young moon, we perceived one of these animals slowly
approaching our camp. I told my boys to keep quite quiet, and we then
sat watching our visitor. It advanced very slowly, holding its great
square nose close to the ground, and every now and then stopped and
snorted loudly. At last it was within twenty yards of our fires, and
seemed determined to come closer still. Several of my Kafirs had by
this time crept round to the back of the bushes which sheltered our
camp and made for the nearest tree, whilst my favourite gun-carrier put
my big four-bore elephant gun into my hands, and begged me to shoot the
inquisitive beast before it charged in amongst us.

But in those days I was hunting elephants for a living, and as we were
camped near a favourite drinking-place of these animals, and a shot
in the night might have disturbed a herd approaching the water, I was
determined not to fire at the rhinoceros if I could possibly avoid
doing so.

However, something had to be done to stop it, as I was afraid that if
it came any nearer the smell of meat might excite it, and cause
it to run amuck through the camp; so, plucking a good-sized piece of
wood from the fire, I threw it with all my strength, and, just missing
the rhinoceros's great ugly head, hit it on the neck or shoulder, and
covered it with a shower of sparks. As the blazing brand fell to the
ground, the rhinoceros backed a step or two and then seemed to be
sniffing at it. At this moment my gun-carrier hurled another lump of
burning wood at our visitor, with a somewhat better aim than mine,
for he struck it full in the face--apparently right on the front
horn--and lit up its head with a cataract of sparks. This was more than
the rhinoceros could stand, and its curiosity being evidently fully
satisfied, it spun round with a snort, and trotted off into the night,
nor did it ever visit our camp again.


But the queerest experience I think I ever had with a rhinoceros was
one which happened not far from the scene of the last adventure, and
during the same year 1873.

Not having come across elephants for some time, my Kafirs and I were
just out of meat--for in those days I seldom shot other animals as
long as I had elephant meat to eat, for fear of disturbing the more
valuable game--when we came one day on the fresh tracks of two black
rhinoceroses, and after following the spoor for a short distance,
suddenly sighted the animals themselves lying down in a rather open
grassy piece of country. We all crouched down instantly, and as the
rhinoceroses never moved, and the wind was favourable, it was soon
evident that they had neither seen nor heard us, and were still quite
unconscious of danger. Taking one of my heavy, clumsy, old four-bore
muzzle-loading elephant guns--the only weapons I then possessed--I at
once commenced to creep slowly towards them through the grass, which
was not very long.

I had approached to within twenty yards or so of the sleeping animals,
and had just raised myself to a sitting position for a shot from behind
a small bush, when one of them, which I saw from the thickness of its
horns was the bull, stood up, and commenced to walk slowly towards my
very inadequate shelter. I do not think that it had any suspicion of my
presence, but it was soon within ten yards of the little bush behind
which I sat, and as it was still walking slowly towards me it was
necessary to do something.

As its head was held in such a position that it covered its whole
chest, I resolved to try and fire so as just to miss its horns, and
strike it in the front of the head above the eyes. Even if I did not
succeed in doing this, but hit one of its horns instead, which was
very likely, considering the clumsy weapon I was using, I thought that
the shock caused by the heavy bullet would be sure to discompose my
opponent sufficiently to give me time to run back to the Kafirs and get
my second gun before it thought of charging.

When I fired, the rhinoceros's legs seemed to give way under it, and it
just sank to the ground, and then, rolling on to its side, lay quite
still, and, as I thought, dead. "Tutu," shouted the Kafirs from behind
me, meaning "It's done for," and all of them came running up, the cow
having jumped up and made off immediately I fired at her companion.

We now all walked together to where the fallen animal lay apparently
quite dead. My four-ounce round bullet had made a large hole in the
front of its head, into which I and several of the Kafirs pushed our
fingers as far as they would go. We then went to the nearest tree,
some sixty or seventy yards away, and after resting my two elephant
guns--the one still unloaded--against its stem, and placing all our
scanty baggage on the ground in its shade, returned to cut up what we
believed to be the carcase of a dead animal.

One of my Kafirs, by name Soga, a big strong Makalaka, at once plunged
his assegai into the body of the prostrate rhinoceros and commenced to
cut through the thick skin, pulling the blade of the assegai towards
him with a sawing motion. This incision should have extended from near
the top of the back behind the shoulder-blade to the bottom of the
chest, and would have been the first step in peeling the whole hide
from the upper surface of the body, preparatory to disembowelling the
carcase and cutting up the meat; but when Soga had made a cut about two
and a half feet long in its side, the limbs of the rhinoceros began to
move spasmodically, and it suddenly raised its head and brought it down
again with a thump on the ground.

From that moment it commenced to struggle frantically, and was
evidently fast regaining consciousness. I shouted to Soga to try and
stab it in the heart before it got on its legs; but as he only made a
very feeble attempt to do so, I ran up, and snatching the assegai from
him, endeavoured to stab the struggling animal to death myself. But it
was now fast regaining strength, and with every effort to rise it threw
up its head and brought it down on the ground again with a thump.

I managed to plunge the heavy assegai through the cut in its skin and
deep into its side, but with a sudden spasmodic movement it broke the
shaft in two, leaving a short piece attached to the blade sticking
in its body. In another moment it was standing on its legs, but kept
reeling about like a drunken man. I now ran to the tree where the guns
had been left, and taking the loaded one, aimed a shot at the still
staggering rhinoceros, but, as not infrequently happened in the old
muzzle-loading days, it missed fire I quickly put on a fresh cap, but
as that missed fire too, I concluded that the nipple had got stopped up
in some way, and so took up the gun with which I had originally wounded
the rhinoceros, and commenced to reload it in frantic haste.

Just as I got the bullet rammed down, however, and before I could
put the cap on the nipple, the rhinoceros, which all this time had
been making a series of short runs, first in one direction and then
in another, but had always been quite close to us, started off in a
straight line, putting on more pace at every step; and although we ran
as hard as we could, we never overtook it, and I did not fire at it
again. My bullet no doubt passed above the animal's brain-pan, and must
have lodged in the muscles of its neck, only stunning it temporarily;
but it really seemed to be absolutely dead for so long a time after
falling to the ground, that its recovery and eventual escape, after
receiving a four-ounce bullet through the upper part of the head, and
having a gash cut in its side at least two feet long, not to mention
a deep stab in the region of the heart, is, I think, one of the most
remarkable incidents I have ever witnessed during a long experience of
African hunting.

Another equally curious, but far more exasperating experience occurred
to me early in May 1877, when I was hunting with two friends, Dorehill
and Kingsley, on one of the tributaries of the river Daka, about sixty
miles to the south of the Victoria Falls of the Zambesi. At the time of
which I am writing buffaloes literally swarmed all over this part of
the country, and it was in order to shoot a few of these animals and
lay in a supply of good fat meat, that we had left our waggons standing
at a place known as the Baobab vley, and made an excursion to the east,
necessarily on foot because of the tse-tse fly. Both buffaloes and
tse-tse flies, I may say, ceased to exist in this district long long

One evening I was coming home, and within a mile of camp--all my Kafirs
and Bushmen carrying heavy loads of meat cut from two fat buffalo cows
which I had shot during the day--when, whilst we were passing through a
thick patch of scrubby thorn bush, a shot was fired a short distance to
our right, immediately followed by a loud purring growl; then all was
quiet again.

Calling to my Bushman gun-carrier to keep close, I ran in the direction
of the sound, and soon came upon Kingsley quite alone and looking
rather scared. Having a sore heel, he had remained in camp; but it
appeared that having seen a buffalo bull crossing the open valley on
the other side of which our camp was situated, he had gone after it
all by himself. Being quite strange to the country and knowing nothing
about hunting, Kingsley had lost sight of the buffalo amongst the thorn
scrub, and not being able to follow its tracks, was making his way back
to camp, when he suddenly saw an animal moving through the bush about
twenty yards ahead of him, which he took to be an impala antelope, as
he could only see it very indistinctly. He immediately fired at it
through the scrub, when, to his horror, a lioness thrust her head into
the open, and staring fixedly at him, gave a low growl. Kingsley said
he stood quite still, but was afraid to reload his rifle or make any
movement for fear of further exciting the savage-looking animal. The
latter, however, after having gazed steadily at him for a few moments,
turned and trotted off.

We now examined the place where the lioness had been standing when
Kingsley fired at her, but could find no blood, and I have no doubt
that he missed her. We then tried to track her; but her soft feet had
left so little trace on the hard ground that even my Bushmen could not
follow it, so we gave it up and all returned to camp together.

As I took my rifle from the Bushman who had been carrying it, I saw
that the hammer was gone. This rifle was a single-barrelled ten-bore,
with under lever action and a hammer. On examining it, I found that the
screw that had held the hammer in place on the tumbler had evidently
worked loose and fallen out, with the result that the hammer had
dropped off. Now I felt sure that just before I had heard Kingsley's
shot I had seen the hammer on the rifle, and believed that it must have
fallen off whilst we were running a distance of not more than four
hundred yards. I was very much annoyed at the prospect of having my
favourite rifle put out of action indefinitely, although the Bushmen
were confident that they would be able to find the lost hammer the
next day. They said they would follow the tracks of my gun-carrier
and myself, where we had been running, inch by inch on their hands
and knees, burning the scanty grass as they went along. In spite of
their confidence, I must say I had very little hope that they would be
successful, and lay down to sleep that night with a heavy heart, for I
thought that my well-tried and favourite rifle would have to be laid on
the shelf for the remainder of the year.

On the following day, after having sent my gun-carrier and two other
Bushmen to look for the hammer of my rifle, Dorehill and I went out
hunting, leaving Kingsley in charge of the camp. On this occasion I
took with me, in place of my ten-bore, a single-barrelled eight-bore
weapon, which I had often used before, as I had only lately sold it to
Dorehill. This rifle was fitted with a hair trigger, which one set by
pushing the trigger forwards. I knew that my friend had taken the lock
of this rifle to pieces, and cleaned and oiled it just before we left
the waggons, but I did not know that he had done anything more than
this. It afterwards turned out, however, that he had, as he said, "just
touched the detenter" with a fine file, but unfortunately had taken
enough off it to throw the mechanism connected with the hair trigger
out of order. This, however, I only found out to my sorrow later on.

About two hours after we had left camp, we emerged from the open
forest, with which most of the country was covered, upon a broad open
valley, devoid of bush, but covered with a thick growth of yellow grass
some four feet high. This open valley was bounded on its further side
by a rocky ridge some twenty feet in height, which formed the edge of
a level expanse of country covered with small scattered trees, and a
very scanty growth of fine grass, of quite a different character to
that growing in the valley below. Down the centre of the open ground
ran a small stream of water, a tributary of the Daka river. We had just
crossed this stream, and were within fifty yards of the steep ridge
that bounded the further side of the valley, when two of our Kafirs,
who had been after a honey-bird, and who were coming diagonally towards
us through the long grass, and had just reached the stream about one
hundred yards below us, suddenly shouted out "Isilouan, isilouan!"
("Lions, lions!"), and came running towards us. Seizing the eight-bore
rifle from the shoulder of the Kafir who was carrying it just behind
me, I ran towards them, calling out, "Where are they? Which way have
they gone?" "They jumped out of the bed of the stream," they replied,
"and went forward through the grass towards the ridge."

I did not wait to hear anything more, but ran to the ridge as hard as I
could, closely followed by the Kafir who had been carrying my rifle.
Climbing quickly to the top, I turned and looked eagerly for the lions,
which I had hoped to be able to see from my vantage-ground in the
grass below me. But I saw nothing, and so began to walk quickly along
the edge of the low bluff, keeping my eyes as wide open as possible.
Suddenly I heard a slight noise a little ahead of me, as of a small
stone being moved; and turning my eyes in the direction of the sound,
saw a lioness just emerging from the grass at the foot of the ridge.
She was on a little game-path, and evidently intending to come up to
the higher ground where I was standing; so, whispering the one word
"aima" ("stand") to the Kafir behind me--a good staunch boy--I remained
perfectly still, scarcely daring to breathe. The lioness walked slowly
upwards and was immediately followed by a fine lion. One behind the
other, these two magnificent brutes strolled leisurely up the steep
path until they stood on the level ground above.

Just as they came to the top, the lion walked partially behind the
lioness, whose hind-quarters then covered most of his head and
shoulders. I don't think I was more than from twenty to thirty yards
away from them, and there was not a bush or anything else between
us but a scanty crop of short grass less than a foot in height, yet
neither of them seemed at first to notice anything. I, on my part,
remained absolutely motionless, not wishing to fire until I could get a
clear view of the lion. After they had walked broadside on to me, for
perhaps fifteen yards from the edge of the bluff, the lioness stopped,
and turning her head, looked towards where I and the Kafir stood. The
lion took another step or two forwards, and then also stopped and
looked at us. They were standing exactly broadside on to me, close
alongside of one another, the lion perhaps a foot in advance, so that
he looked at us from just beyond his companion's head.

Now was my opportunity, and did ever hunter have such a chance before,
I wonder? The eight-bore elephant rifle I carried could certainly have
driven a bullet through two lions, and had I hit the lioness in the
middle of the shoulder--and at thirty yards I could hardly have helped
doing so--the bullet would have passed clean through her, and caught
the lion just behind the shoulders, an equally fatal shot, as it would
have passed through the big blood-vessels of both lungs. My rifle was
already on full cock and the hair trigger set, and, raising it to my
shoulder, I took a cool and careful aim and pulled the trigger. Click
went the hammer, and just came down to the half-cock. This performance
I repeated at least half-a-dozen times, but always with the same result.

All this time the lions stood perfectly still, watching me quietly and
in rather a sleepy kind of way. Then the lioness walked forwards again,
closely followed by her companion, but after taking a few steps they
broke into a trot, which soon changed to a heavy lumbering canter. I
ran after them as hard as I could, but soon lost sight of them amongst
some small bushy shrubs.

Running into and through these bushes, I found myself close to the edge
of the bluff again which skirted the open grass valley, for the lions
had run round in a half-circle. Feeling sure they had descended to the
lower ground, I ran on to the edge of the ridge, and at once saw the
lion standing just below me at the foot of the bluff, and close to the
edge of the long grass. The lioness I could not see. I don't think the
lion was ten yards away from me. He had evidently heard me coming, and
stood quite still looking at me whilst I tried three times to fire at
him, but the hammer would not go beyond the half-cock.

Then realising my helplessness, and mad with rage and mortification, I
caught my useless rifle by the barrel with both hands and threw it at
the lion below me. It clattered down amongst the stones close to him,
causing him to throw up his tail with a loud purr and disappear into
the long grass. The rifle, though somewhat bruised and dinted, was not
much the worse for its fall. I think this episode is about the worst
piece of bad luck I have ever met with. No such chance of shooting
two lions at one shot had ever been offered to me before or has ever
occurred since, and it was surely the very irony of fate that this
unique opportunity should have fallen to my lot on the one and only day
when my favourite old ten-bore was useless to me, for the Bushmen not
only found the hammer which I had lost the day before but the little
screw that held it on the tumbler as well!



  Travelling through the wilderness--Find deep pool of water--Meet
     with two tsessebe antelopes--Shoot them both--Cover one
     of them with dry grass to keep off vultures--Ride back to
     waggon--Return to pool of water--Find tsessebe antelope
     gone--Never recovered--Journey to Bamangwato--Gemsbuck seen--Stalk
     spoilt--Long, stern chase--Gemsbuck wounded--Lost through glare of
     setting sun--Wildebeest seen--Return to waggon--Arrival of Count
     von Schweinitz--Lost gemsbuck found--Two hartebeests shot.

Towards the end of May 1884, I was travelling westwards through the
uninhabited stretch of wilderness which lies between the Gwai and the
Botletlie rivers. I had a roomy waggon for a home, a good span of oxen,
some spare cattle and milch cows, and three salted[19] shooting horses.
I had bade good-bye a month previously to the few Englishmen who were
at that time living near the native town of Bulawayo, and was not
destined to see another white face or hear my mother-tongue spoken for
many months to come. My servants were a Griqua waggon-driver, a lad of
the same nationality who looked after the horses, and two Kafir boys.
But, besides these, I had with me, at the time of which I am writing,
a few Masarwa Bushmen, who had accompanied me in the hope of getting
a supply of game meat, and whom I found very useful as guides from one
pool of water to another, as well as to clear a path for the waggon by
chopping down small trees and bushes wherever this was necessary; for
we were travelling across country, towards the setting sun, without a
road or track of any kind, where never a waggon had passed before.

[19] That is, horses which had contracted and recovered from the most
virulent form of horse sickness.

One afternoon, leaving the Bushmen with the waggon, as there were a few
bushes and small trees to be chopped down here and there, I rode on
ahead, telling them to follow on my horse's tracks. After having ridden
slowly forwards for about an hour and a half through country sparsely
covered with low bushes and small trees, I waited until the waggon came
in sight, and then rode on again. About an hour before sunset, I found
myself approaching a deep depression in the ground, around which grew
several large trees. Feeling sure that this hollow would prove to hold
a good supply of water, I rode towards it, and suddenly caught sight
of the head of a tsessebe antelope through the fringe of long grass
which surrounded the pool. I immediately ducked down, and slipping
off my horse's back, left him standing in the long grass, and crawled
cautiously forwards.

On reaching the edge of the cup-shaped hollow, I saw beneath me a
deep pool of water, some thirty yards in diameter, and between the
circumference of the water and the ring of long grass which grew all
round the top edge of the hollow was a piece of sloping ground some ten
yards in width, free of grass or any vegetation whatever. On this bare
ground, just opposite to me, stood two tsessebe antelopes. They were
both standing motionless, with their heads turned away from me. Being
on sloping ground, their hind-quarters were lower than their shoulders.
I had not seen an antelope of any size for some days, and wanted meat
badly for my native servants and dogs, and much regretted that my rifle
was not a double-barrelled one, so that I might have secured them both.

One of the tsessebes was standing with its rump more squarely towards
me than the other, so aiming just at the root of its tail, I fired, and
saw at once that I had struck the unfortunate animal exactly right, as
its hind-quarters immediately gave way, though it struggled towards
the grass with the help of its forelegs. At the report of my rifle the
unwounded antelope came galloping round the open ground surrounding the
pool to within a short distance of where I was sitting, then, halting
for an instant, turned and galloped back again. Just as it reached its
stricken comrade, I had reloaded and was ready to fire again. Although
this tsessebe was galloping pretty fast, it offered an easy shot, for
it was almost broadside to me when I fired, and within sixty yards'
range. As I pulled the trigger, down it went as if struck by lightning,
and I felt very pleased at having secured a much needed supply of meat,
close to the pool of water by which I had made up my mind we would camp
that night, in order that none of it should be wasted.

On walking round to where the tsessebe last shot had fallen--the
other one had struggled into the long grass--I found it lying flat
on its side, and apparently just expiring. My bullet--a 360-grain
hollow-pointed projectile, fired from a 450-bore Metford rifle--had
struck it some six inches behind the right shoulder, and rather below
the central line of the body. I turned the animal over, and seeing a
bulge in the skin in the middle of its left shoulder, felt it with
my fingers, and squeezed up the flattened and expanded cone of lead,
which had mushroomed out to the width of a halfpenny, under the skin.
As far as I could see, the prostrate antelope could not possibly have
been the victim of a more perfect or more deadly shot. When I reached
it, it was still breathing, but was limp and apparently at its last
gasp. Seizing it by the lower jaw, I pulled its head backwards, and
was about to cut its throat, when a dark shadow passed over the water
below me. Looking up, I saw a vulture sweeping through the sky, whilst
half a dozen more of these keen-eyed scavengers were close at hand.
No, it would not do to cut the antelope's throat, and leave a great
pool of blood on the bare ground where it lay; for I knew that had I
done so the vultures would have torn the carcase to pieces whilst I was
riding back to hurry up the waggon. I therefore let the animal's head
swing back and fall to the ground, and set to work to cut grass with my
pocket-knife. In ten minutes I had completely covered what I believed
was the carcase of a dead animal with sheaves of long grass. Then I
looked for the one I had first shot, and found it lying dead just
beneath a small bush. I propped it up against the stem of the bush to
make it look as if it was lying asleep, which I thought would protect
it from vultures for the time being; and then mounting my horse, rode
back to the waggon, which I brought to the pool about half an hour
later, just as the sun was going down.

My men and the Masarwas had been extremely delighted to hear that I
had killed two tsessebe antelopes. We pulled the waggon close up to
the carcase of the one first shot, and then leaving the driver and one
of the Kafirs to outspan the oxen, I led the way to where the other
one was lying by the water all covered up with grass. There was the
grass right enough, but it now lay on the bare ground, and there was
no tsessebe antelope beneath it. The incomprehensible beast had got up
and gone off. At first I thought a lion must have dragged the dead
animal away immediately after I had left it. An examination of the
ground, however, soon showed that no lion had been there, but that the
tsessebe, which I could have sworn was at the point of death, had got
up and walked off. Well, I thought it couldn't have gone many yards, so
we at once set about following it.

We followed it till dusk, but never set eyes on it again. At first
we found blood here and there on the tracks, but after a time this
ceased altogether. Then the spoor got mixed up with the tracks of other
tsessebe antelopes, and then it got dark; so we returned to camp, and
only cut up one animal after all. I went after the resurrected one the
next morning with the Bushmen, but not knowing exactly which spoor to
follow, we never got it. I have no theory to account for the escape of
this animal. All I know is that the incident happened exactly as I have
described it.

Nearly four years after the date of the incident which I have just
related, in March 1888, I was travelling from Secheli's station towards
Khama's old town of Bamangwato. Leaving my waggon in the shade of a
cluster of tall, feathery foliaged mimosa trees which grew beside a
pretty miniature lake of fresh, sweet rain-water, I rode out late one
afternoon to look for game, and heading towards a long low line of
ridges which ran parallel with the waggon road a few miles to the east
of Selinya vley, rode slowly across an undulating expanse of country,
everywhere studded, but nowhere thickly covered with thorn bushes of
various kinds, sometimes growing singly, at others in clusters. The
soil was soft and sandy, and irregularly covered with tufts of thick,
tussocky grass; very heavy ground to gallop over.

I had ridden less than a couple of miles when I suddenly espied a
single gemsbuck feeding amongst the scattered bushes, about five
hundred yards ahead. Before the animal raised its head I slipped
from the saddle and led my horse out to one side, till I got a thick
cluster of thorn bushes between myself and the beautiful, long-horned
antelope. Then remounting, I cantered quickly up to the cover, and
again dismounting, pulled the bridle over my horse's head and left him

On creeping round the bushes, and raising my head cautiously above a
thick tussock of grass, I saw that the gemsbuck was still feeding quite
unsuspiciously about two hundred yards away from my hiding-place; and
as there seemed to be absolutely no wind, I at once commenced to crawl
on my hands and knees towards a bush that I judged to be within easy
shot of my intended victim. On reaching this I again looked up, and
at first could not see the gemsbuck, but the next instant I saw it
galloping away, and about three hundred yards off. Glancing towards
where I had left my horse, I saw it had walked out from the cover of
the bushes behind which I had left it, and by so doing had doubtless
spoilt my stalk. Running back to it, I mounted hastily and commenced a
long, stern chase.

The gemsbuck, a fine old bull, kept up a strong, steady pace, its
long, bushy black tail swinging from side to side as it ran. The soft
sandy soil and tussocky grass made the going very heavy, but I was
well mounted and gradually gained upon the desert-born antelope I was
pursuing, till at length little more than two hundred yards separated
us. Perhaps I should never have got up to this gemsbuck at all had
it run straight away from me, but it had continually kept swerving
inwards, and this had enabled me to cut in on it. Twice I pulled in
my panting horse, and jumping to the ground, fired at a distance of
some 250 yards. Both these shots missed; but the third time I fired,
having held well ahead of the fleeing antelope, as it swerved suddenly
inwards, I heard the thud of my bullet that meant a hit, and soon
after this the wounded animal began to slacken its pace very sensibly.
Then the hunted beast led me into hard ground of limestone formation,
heading straight down an open valley leading to a thickish grove of
mimosa thorns, and exactly facing the great fiery disc of the setting
sun, now very near the horizon. Gathering up the reins and encouraging
my good horse with voice and spur, I pressed it to its utmost speed on
the hard ground, and raced up to within thirty yards of the gemsbuck,
whose strength was now evidently failing fast.

I ought to have galloped right past it, as I could, no doubt, very
easily have done; but I foolishly pulled in to get a shot before it got
in amongst the mimosa trees towards which it was heading. When I raised
my rifle to fire, the red glare of the setting sun was full in my eyes,
but I thought that as I pressed the trigger the foresight of my rifle
was just on the black patch above the gemsbuck's tail. Then everything
seemed a red blur, and for some few moments after I had remounted and
again galloped forwards amongst the trees which the wounded antelope
had just reached as I fired, I could see nothing distinctly. Not having
heard my bullet thud, I did not know whether I had hit or missed, but
galloped straight ahead through the open forest, and soon rode out into
a broad valley quite free from trees or bush for a distance of several
hundred yards. No gemsbuck was in sight, and as I knew that the wounded
animal I was looking for could not have crossed this open piece of
ground whilst I was riding through the narrow belt of thorn trees, I
thought it must have turned either to the right or left in the shelter
of the wood.

I first took a turn to the right, and was just coming round again to
cut my horse's spoor in the open valley down which I had galloped
just before my last shot, when I saw an animal running amongst the
trees ahead of me. The sun had now set, and the light was already bad,
especially beneath the shade of the trees; and as I went in pursuit,
I thought I was after the wounded gemsbuck once more. I was, however,
soon undeceived, for on galloping out into an open place, I saw an old
blue wildebeest bull lumbering along in front of me. I at once pulled
up, and again rode round to cut the gemsbuck's spoor; but it was now
fast getting dusk, and I had somewhat lost my exact bearings, so I gave
it up as a bad job and rode off westwards till I cut the waggon track,
and finally reached my camp.

I was much annoyed, for a gemsbuck bull is always a beast worth
shooting, and this particular one, which I had so unaccountably lost,
had, I felt sure, carried a very fine head.

I had my supper and turned in, but I could not sleep for annoyance at
losing the gemsbuck. Could I, I wondered, with the sun shining full
in my eyes, have fired a little too high, and instead of hitting the
gemsbuck at the root of the tail, have struck it in the back of the
head or neck? Had I done so it would, of course, have fallen to the
ground as if struck by lightning, and I might then have galloped close
past it without seeing it, both because I was looking on ahead through
the trees and because my sight was still blurred by the sun. Anyhow, I
thought I would go back and solve the mystery the next morning.

It must have been about ten o'clock at night when my dogs began to
bark, and presently I heard some one ride up to my waggon. It proved
to be Count von Schweinitz, a German gentleman whom I had met a short
time before, and who, I knew, was about to proceed on a shooting trip
to Mashunaland. He told me that he had left his waggons some twenty
miles away at Batlanarma vley, and ridden on, as he knew I was not far
ahead, and he wanted to have a couple of days' hunting with me.

I soon got my visitor something to eat, and whilst a sleeping place was
being prepared for him, told him how I had lost a fine gemsbuck through
firing at it with the setting sun full in my eyes. Count von Schweinitz
wanted particularly to see some gemsbucks and hartebeests, as he knew
that these animals were not to be got in Mashunaland. I informed him
that I thought we would be sure to find hartebeests, but could not
answer for gemsbucks, though I told him that if we could find the one I
had wounded and lost, I hoped he would take its head.

At daylight the next morning we rode out with four of my Kafirs, and
took my horse's track to where I had galloped after the wildebeest.
Then I took a sweep round and cut the tracks of the gemsbuck,
intermingled with those of my pursuing horse, and following them up,
came on the beautiful antelope, lying dead just on the edge of the
thorn trees where I had last seen it. It was just as I had surmised. My
last bullet had gone a little high, and striking the gemsbuck in the
back of the neck, had shattered the vertebrae and killed it instantly.
It had, of course, fallen all of a heap in its tracks, and, impossible
as it may seem, I had galloped past, and within three yards of the dead
antelope, without seeing it. This, of course, could not have happened
had not my sight been blurred for the moment by the glare of the sun.
My horse probably saw the gemsbuck fall, and so did not shy as it
passed it.

My first bullet, I found, had entered the gemsbuck's right flank, and
ranging forwards, must have inflicted a wound which by itself would
soon have proved fatal. The dead antelope carried a remarkably fine
pair of horns, massive, widespread, and symmetrical. They measured 3
feet 5 inches, which is quite an unusual length for the horns of a bull
gemsbuck, which are, as a rule, much shorter than those of the cow's.
The horns of the latter seldom measure more than 3 feet 6 inches,
though they have been known to reach a length of within half an inch of
4 feet.

After cutting off the head of the gemsbuck, which I gave to Count von
Schweinitz, and leaving two boys to cut up the meat, we rode off to
look for hartebeests. We soon found a small herd of these animals,
and shot two of them, a bull and a cow. I then sent one of the two
natives who had accompanied us to my waggon for four pack donkeys, and
with their help carried all the meat, both of the gemsbuck and the
hartebeests, to camp, which we reached early in the afternoon.



  Southern Rhodesia--Country farther west still a primeval
     wilderness--Seldom traversed by white men--Scarcity of
     water--Remarkable rain-storm--Porcupine flooded out--Every hollow
     filled with water--All game in good condition--Many varieties
     encountered--Large herd of elephants--Four large bulls--Wariness
     of elephants--Lions roaring near camp--Search for them on
     the following morning--Large male seen and chased into thick
     bush--Successful encounter with a second male.

Southern Rhodesia, in which vast territory is comprised Matabeleland,
Mashunaland, Manicaland, and part of Gazaland, is now a well-known
country traversed by railways and supporting a considerable white
population, the bulk of which, however, is confined to the mining
districts and to the towns of Bulawayo, Salisbury, Umtali, and Gwelo.
But between the western frontier of Southern Rhodesia and the swamps
of the Okavango river there stretches a broad expanse of primeval
wilderness which the recent development of European activity in all
parts of Africa has left entirely untouched.

The reason for this is not far to seek, since the whole of this country
is, in the first place, entirely without hills or indeed stone of any
kind, and therefore cannot contain gold; and in the second, entirely
without rivers, and therefore as a rule a sun-scorched waste, almost
destitute of surface water, except during the rainy season.

Thus it has been left an unexplored wilderness which has seldom been
traversed by white men, except on certain well-known routes, such as
the old waggon trails from Tati to Pandamatenka and from Bamangwato to
the Mababi river, and even on these I have travelled in dry seasons
seventy and a hundred and twenty miles respectively without water.

Occasionally, however, when exceptionally heavy rains have fallen
during the past wet season, this desert land becomes a very pleasant
country to travel in. Such a year was 1884. Towards the end of May of
that year, a full six weeks after the usual close of the wet season,
the most extraordinary rain-storm I have ever experienced swept over
the desert to the west of Matabeleland. I was at that time travelling
slowly westwards by bullock waggon, following no track, but making my
way across country under the guidance of Masarwa Bushmen from one pool
of water to another.

One afternoon dense masses of black clouds gathered in the west, and
presently spread over the whole sky. There was neither thunder nor
lightning, but towards evening a strong wind sprang up, and soon
afterwards a steady rain began to fall, at first light, but ever
increasing in intensity, until soon after dark it was coming down in
such a way that I thought it impossible that it could last long. But
all through that night and until midday the following day, the heavy
rain never ceased to fall. During the afternoon, however, the sky again
grew lighter and the rain gradually ceased. By midnight the stars were
shining from a cloudless sky.

Early the following morning I rode out to see the effect of this
unprecedented downpour, and found the face of the country completely
changed. On the sand ridges no difference was apparent, as the thirsty
soil had easily absorbed all the rain that had fallen on it, but the
intervening spaces where the Mopani trees flourish, and where the soil
is a sort of light clay, had been transformed into broad, shallow
lakes, from a few inches to two feet in depth. Riding across one of
these flooded valleys, I came upon a porcupine seated disconsolately on
the stem of a fallen Mopani tree--the first of these animals I had ever
come across in the daytime.

The surface floods soon soaked away on the level ground, but every
hollow became a lake or pond which held water for a longer or shorter
time according to its depth, and when retraversing this same tract of
country some five months later, I still found all the larger hollows
fairly full, and was therefore able to travel at my leisure with ease
and comfort through a country which, in ordinary seasons, would have
been quite impassable by bullock waggon at that time of the year.

Under these conditions, I found this usually arid waste a very
pleasant place to wander over. Game, though not very abundant, was
still in sufficient numbers to enable me to keep my own people and
the several families of Bushmen who had attached themselves to me in
rude plenty. Owing to the favourable season, all grazing and browsing
animals, including my own cattle, were in very good condition, and
my larder seldom lacked the choicest portions of the giraffe, eland,
gemsbuck, and springbuck, four of the best animals for the table,
when in prime condition, which South Africa, or any other part of the
world, can produce. Blue wildebeests were more plentiful than all
other species of game, and on the broad, grassy plains which stretch
westwards from Metsibutluku--the bitter water--often congregated in
herds of from one to two hundred individuals. Here, too, large troops
of zebras--Chapman's variety of Burchell's zebra--were often to be
met with, as well as small herds of the Cape hartebeest, now quite
a scarce animal, as it has been either exterminated in most parts of
its former range or driven into the waterless deserts of South-Western

In the dense thorn jungles which lay a little to the north of my route,
a large herd of elephants spent the whole year, as I saw their tracks
when travelling westwards from Matabeleland, and again on my return
eastwards some five months later. These animals were, however, very
wary, never drinking twice running at one pool, and travelling immense
distances every night. I twice followed their spoor for a whole day
and slept on it without coming up with them. But besides this large
herd of cow and young bull elephants, there were four immense old bulls
(judging from their tracks), which frequented the same jungles but
lived by themselves apart from the herd.

These old patriarchs I tried hard but unsuccessfully to find in the
daytime, and I also watched for them at nights on several occasions at
vleys at which they had been in the habit of drinking, but I never had
the luck to hit off the right pool of water on the right night. Once
they drank at a vley within a mile of the one at which I was watching,
and I heard them at the water, but on this occasion I think they must
have got my wind, as, although I was early on their tracks and followed
them all day with the best Bushmen spoorers, I never got near them, and
the next day rode home, shooting a fat giraffe cow on the way.

I may here remark that it is of little use, if you do not come up
with elephants which have been frightened on the first day, to follow
them any farther, as, when alarmed, these animals travel very fast
and far at nights, and on the morning of the second day will, in all
probability, be much farther off than they were when you first took up
their spoor.

Of lions there were a few, but not very many, in this part of the
country, and my one successful encounter with one of these animals
during this season occurred late in the year, when I was once more
nearing the western frontier of Matabeleland. My waggon was then
standing beneath some tall, feathery leaved thorn trees near a large
vley of water, beyond which stretched an open plain covered with a
rather short growth of yellow grass for South Africa--as it was not
more than about two feet in length. This open plain was skirted to the
north by dense jungles of wait-a-bit thorns, and on its other three
sides by open Mopani forest and scrub. My camp was on the northern side
of the plain, quite close to the thorn jungles.

At this time I had been long absent from the farthest outpost of
civilisation, and had not seen a white mans face or spoken a word
of English for more than six months; but I never felt lonely or low
spirited, for I had plenty of books with me to read at nights, and
hunting and collecting specimens of natural history filled all my time
by day. I was, too, in perfect health.

One night I was reading in the waggon rather late, when a lion--the
first I had heard for a long time--commenced to roar loudly apparently
not very far away, and was immediately answered by several other lions
roaring in unison. After this, and until I went to sleep, this roaring
became almost continuous, but I could tell that there was one lion
which always roared alone, and was answered by several others which
all roared together. Presently, lulled by this grandest of all earthly
music, I went to sleep.

I awoke just before daylight, and as the lions were still roaring,
apparently within a mile of the waggon, I at once got up, and after
drinking a cup of coffee, rode out just at daylight, accompanied by a
mounted Griqua lad and several of my best Bushmen, to look for them.
Twice after we had left the waggon their deep, menacing voices rolled
out over the silent veld, and assured us that they were still in the
open grass plain, but after the sun rose they became silent.

We had ridden for perhaps a mile and a half across the open plain,
when I suddenly saw something dark appear above the long yellow grass
some four hundred yards ahead of me, and knew at once that what I had
seen was the maned shoulder of a lion. At this time I do not think
he had seen us, but had just risen from the spot where he had been
lately lying roaring, with the intention of making his way to the
thorn jungles ahead of him. I was mounted on a very good, well-trained
shooting horse, in splendid hard condition, and very fast, and I at
once put spurs to him, and rode as hard as he could go, in the hope
of getting up to the lion before the latter gained the shelter of the
thorn jungle, where no horse could have followed him.

The noble quarry gave but one quick look towards the approaching horse,
and then turned and galloped away through the grass at a great pace,
making straight for a small island of forest and jungle lying in the
open plain just outside the main bush. I was now going at racing speed,
and was gaining fast on the lion, who did not appear to be exerting
himself, though he got over the ground pretty quickly, going at an
easy gallop, and looking like an enormous mastiff. He was very dark in
colour, with a full dark mane.

Just before he got to the edge of the small isolated piece of bush, I
ought to have pulled in and taken a shot at him at about 150 yards, but
I thought he would halt at the edge of the cover and turn round and
look at me, as lions, after having been chased across an open place on
horseback, often do; but this one galloped straight into the cover,
and I lost the chance. The patch of bush in which he now was, was not
more than 100 yards long by 50 broad, but was only separated from the
main jungle by an open piece of ground quite destitute of cover and
about 60 yards across at the narrowest point. Having ridden round
this isolated piece of bush without seeing anything more of the lion,
I thought he must be hiding within it, and determined to send to the
waggon for my dogs, which I knew would soon show me his whereabouts, as
soon as the Bushmen came up.

They soon appeared with my mounted after-rider, who at once told me
that, after I galloped forward, he had come on behind me across the
plain, and had ridden right on to five lions lying in the grass, a big
male and four females, which had trotted slowly away to a tongue of
bush extending into the plain from the main jungle about a mile back.

I now rode round the piece of bush again, in which I thought that the
lion I had chased was still hiding, with the Bushmen, in order to make
sure that he was still there, and had not run straight through it and
across the open into the solid jungle beyond, which he might just have
had time to do without my seeing him, for I had pulled in for a moment
near where he had disappeared.

Sure enough, we found his tracks emerging from the top end of the bush,
and followed them across the open to the thick cover beyond, and as it
would have been useless to look for him here without dogs, I galloped
back at once with my after-rider to where the latter had last seen the
other lions. "Was the male a big one?" I asked him. "Sir," he answered,
"when he turned and stood looking at me from the top of that piece of
rising ground, he looked like an eland bull!"

We had just passed the point of the tongue of bush I have previously
alluded to, when my boy said in Dutch, "Daar's hij; pass op; hij zal
ons jagd" ("There he is; look out; he will chase us"), and turning his
horse's head, galloped away. I had not yet seen the lion, but I soon
made him out standing looking at me, with his head held low. He was
not more than eighty yards off, and I was just going to dismount and
have a shot at him, when out he came with mouth held half open and
ears laid back, jerking out with every breath a rolling thunderous
growl. My horse knew the business well, and was round and off with
the promptitude and speed of a well-trained polo pony, the lion close

I think he got up pretty near us with his first furious rush, but then
my horse got into his stride and gradually drew away from him, and when
he had chased us for about 150 yards, he pulled up, at the same time
ceasing to growl. It was the cessation of the roaring that let me know
he had given up the chase, and pulling my horse in, I brought him round
again as quickly as possible.

The lion was then standing looking at me, and as I approached he
lowered his head, and at once commenced to growl again, whisking his
tail rapidly from side to side without cessation. I knew he would
charge again in a moment, so gave him no time to get his wind, but
dismounting as quickly as possible, raised my rifle and took a quick
shot for his open mouth. The bullet must have passed just below or
on one side of his lower jaw, as it struck him in the chest, causing
him to stand straight up on his hind-legs, and fall over backwards.
He recovered himself immediately, but abandoning for the moment all
thought of again charging, turned and trotted back towards the shelter
of the trees he had left a short time before.

I was quickly in the saddle again and galloping up behind him, as
I feared to lose sight of him in the bush. He heard me coming, and
whipping round with an angry roar, charged again in fine style, this
time, however, chasing me for less than a hundred yards, and coming to
a halt as before right in the open. I brought my horse round as quickly
as I could, and again dismounting, fired as he stood facing me, and
again hit him in the chest, when he at once turned and made for the
bush, on reaching which he lay down under a large thorn tree. I now
walked my horse towards him, and finding that he was apparently too
far gone to get on his legs again, though he raised his great head and
growled savagely as I approached, I came quite near to him, and gave
him a third shot in the chest which killed him. He proved to be a fine
lion just in his prime, in beautiful coat and with a very fair mane. He
was, too, extraordinarily fat. The Bushmen took every particle of fat
from the slain monarch, but left the rest of the carcase for the hyænas
and vultures, which they would not have done had they been short of
meat of other kinds.

I imagine that this lion was the lord and master of the four lionesses
who were with him when my after-rider disturbed them, and that the
single lion I had chased and lost was a depraved animal who wished to
interfere with this domestic arrangement, but had been unable to allure
any of the lionesses away from their rightful lord, and had not dared
to put the matter to the ordeal of combat. This explanation would, I
think, account for the continuous roaring which had gone on during the
whole of the previous night.



  Decrease of game in South Africa--Journey from Mashunaland to the
     East African coast--Find country full of game--Elephants--Great
     herds of buffaloes--Five old bulls--Bushbucks--Other antelopes and
     zebras--Curiosity of the latter animals--Wart-hogs, bush-pigs,
     and hippopotamuses--Numbers of carnivorous animals--Three lions
     seen--Fine male wounded, and subsequently killed.

During the twenty years succeeding my first arrival in South Africa
in 1871, I had constantly wandered and hunted over vast areas of
country, from the Cape Colony to far away north of the Zambesi,
and in that time had seen game of all kinds--from the elephants,
rhinoceroses, and buffaloes of the forest regions north of the Limpopo
river to the wildebeests, blesboks, and springbucks of the southern
plains--gradually decrease and dwindle in numbers to such an extent
that I thought that nowhere south of the great lakes could there be a
corner of Africa left where the wild animals had not been very much
thinned out, either as a result of the opening up and settlement of the
country by Europeans or owing to the extensive acquisition of firearms
by the native tribes.

In the year 1891, however, when attempting, on behalf of the British
South Africa Company, to discover a route free from the tse-tse fly
between Mashunaland and the East African coast, I walked into a
country still teeming with big game, for no white man, as far as I am
aware, had ever hunted there before the time of my visit,[20] and the
fell plague of rinderpest, more potent for mischief than many legions
of human game-destroyers, had only recently commenced its ravages,
thousands of miles away on the plains of Masailand. Moreover, the
natives living in this low-lying, fever-haunted district were few in
number and almost destitute of firearms.

[20] The Portuguese who travelled occasionally between the Pungwe river
and Massi-kessi never hunted or left the footpath, along which they
were carried in hammocks.


Elephants still wandered over this tract of country, often in large
herds, as their tracks and pathways leading in all directions plainly
showed. But these animals, whose fatal possession of ivory has made
them an object of pursuit to man in South-East Africa ever since the
days when the ancient Arabian traders carried gold and ivory to King
Solomon, appeared to have inherited a timid and restless disposition,
which, in spite of a present immunity from persecution, kept them
always on the move.

All other animals were, however, singularly tame and confiding. Great
herds of buffaloes feeding in the reed beds along the rivers or lying
in the shade of the scattered thorn trees allowed a near approach
before taking alarm, and some of the old bulls which were frequently
encountered either alone or in little bands of four or five together
would scarcely take the trouble to get out of one's way. I remember,
when first descending from the broken country at the head of the
Mutachiri river, where there was but little game, into the level coast
plains, the first buffaloes I encountered were five old bulls, which
were lying in the shade of some palm scrub on the bank of the river,
whose course I was following.

As I walked towards them they raised their great armoured heads and
looked curiously at the first human being with a hat and shirt on they
had probably ever seen. My small retinue of native servants was just
then some little distance behind, and not until I was within fifty
yards of them did first one, then another of these massive black bulls
rise from his bed. But not immediately to run off, for they stood their
ground and still for some time stared inquisitively--one might almost
have said menacingly--with outstretched noses and horns laid back on
their necks. However, in a long experience of African buffaloes, I have
not found old bulls of this species either savage or aggressive when
not molested--at any rate, when they are feeding or resting in ground
sufficiently open to allow them to see anything approaching; though a
sudden charge by a buffalo lying in long grass or thick jungle, which
has either been previously wounded by a hunter or mauled by lions, is
not an uncommon incident of African travel.

On the occasion of which I am speaking, when I was not more than thirty
yards from the five old bulls, one of them actually came trotting
towards me. I then took off my hat and waved it, shouting out at the
same time. Then the old fellow turned and trotted away, and soon
breaking into a heavy, lumbering gallop, was quickly followed by his
companions. Later on, the same day, another solitary old buffalo bull
allowed me and my native followers to walk past within eighty yards of
where he lay without even troubling himself to get up.

After the buffaloes, the bushbucks were the tamest animals in this
great natural game-park. These lovely little animals, whose rich dark
brown coats are in this part of Africa most beautifully banded and
spotted with white, would stand gazing at me, amongst the scrubby
bush or open forest they frequent, and often allow a very near
approach. The denizens of the open plains--blue wildebeests, tsessebes,
Lichtenstein's hartebeests--were wilder and more wary than the
buffaloes and bushbucks, but still tame compared with their much-hunted
relatives in other parts of South Africa; whilst waterbucks, reedbucks,
oribis, and zebras (Burchell's) were all very tame and confiding, and
the latter, if they did not get one's wind, very inquisitive, as I have
found them to be in other unfrequented districts.

One day I was resting with my native attendants and taking a midday
meal on one of the large ant-heaps with which many parts of South-East
Africa are studded, when a herd of perhaps a hundred zebras came up
over the open plain to see what was going on. Led by a gallant-looking
old stallion, the whole troop advanced slowly to within about a hundred
yards of where I and my boys were sitting. Then they halted, and for
a long time all stood quite still with ears pricked and eyes turned
towards us. After a time the leader came walking slowly forward, and
was soon followed by a few other adventurous spirits, the mass of the
herd remaining where they were. I was myself so absorbed in watching
this novel and interesting sight that I did not observe that one of my
Kafirs (who took no interest in anything but dead zebras) had stood up
behind me, until I saw the most venturesome of our visitors turn round
and trot back to their companions. I then told all my boys to sit down
and keep quite quiet; but although the old stallion and a few of the
bolder spirits amongst his followers came forward again, they would
not approach nearer than about seventy yards from us, the whole troop
moving up slowly behind them.

I suppose I must have sat watching these beautiful animals for upwards
of an hour, and they did not finally trot away until we had got our
things packed up and were preparing to move in their direction.

I found both the wart-hogs and the bush-pigs, too, either very tame
or very stupid; and several hippopotamuses, which were disporting
themselves in small muddy lagoons, were at my mercy, had I wished to
interfere with them; but on this trip I killed very few animals, nor
ever fired a single shot except when obliged to do so, in order to
secure a supply of meat for myself and my native attendants.

In a country so well stocked with antelopes, zebras, and buffaloes,
carnivorous animals, it may well be supposed, were not wanting,
and, indeed, in no part of Africa probably were lions, leopards,
hyænas, wild dogs, and jackals more plentiful than they were in the
neighbourhood of the lower Pungwe river at the time when Mr. Rhodes's
pioneers first entered Mashunaland.

But all carnivorous animals are almost entirely nocturnal in their
habits, and therefore only occasionally encountered in the daytime; and
on the occasion of my first visit to this district I saw neither lions,
hyænas, nor leopards, though the two former animals roared and howled
nightly round my camp, and the grunting cry of the latter was often
heard. Nor was I much more fortunate in this respect on my second visit
to the same part of the country in 1892; for though I spent six weeks
travelling and hunting between the Pungwe river and Lake Sungwe during
October and November of that year, I only saw three lions, though there
was not a single night during the trip on which I did not hear some
of these animals roaring, sometimes close to camp, at others in the
distance. On several occasions, too, I heard three different troops or
families of lions roaring on the same night.

On the day when I saw the three lions, I had left camp with a few
native followers very early in the morning, and was walking across an
open plain studded with large ant-heaps, from which the long grass had
been for the most part burnt off. On my right was a small river whose
banks were fringed with a thick growth of scrubby bush. My course lay
parallel to this river, but outside the strip of bush. Suddenly I came
in sight of two lions at a distance of 400 or 500 yards out on the open
plain. They were advancing at a slow walk towards the river and had
been previously hidden from our view by some large ant-heaps. These two
lions saw us at the same moment that we saw them, and at once halted
and stood watching us. Telling my native attendants to sit down and
remain where they were until my return, I commenced to walk towards the
lions, hoping that they would allow me to approach within shot before
running off, as I knew that these animals, which in many parts of
Africa are very shy and wary, had very little fear of man in the Pungwe
river district at that time. However, before I had advanced fifty
paces, both lions turned round and commenced to walk slowly towards a
small patch of long yellow grass which had escaped the last grass fire.
They walked away from me at a very slow and leisurely pace. One seemed
a monster, the other either a female or a young male with no mane.

I now commenced to run towards them, but had not gone far, when a
third lion, that had previously been hidden by a large ant-heap, was
suddenly revealed to me. He had evidently been walking over the plain
about a hundred yards to the right of the other two lions, and not
having seen me, did not understand why these latter had first come to
a halt and then turned round and walked back again in the direction
from which they had just come. When I first saw the third lion he was
standing turned away from me and looking at the other two. Quickly
swerving to the left, but without stopping, I almost immediately put
a large ant-heap between us, and then ran to it at my utmost speed.
This ant-heap was quite twenty feet in diameter at the base, and ten
or twelve feet in height. I quickly climbed half-way up it and then
looked round the side, and saw that the single lion was still standing
watching the other two, which were at that moment just entering the
patch of long grass of which I have already spoken.

I now edged myself in a sitting position to the side of the ant-heap
nearest the lion and prepared for a shot. He was facing half away from
me and something more than two hundred yards off; but there was not
so much as a blade of grass in the shape of cover on the level burnt
plain between us, and had I attempted to get nearer to him he would
certainly have seen me at once and then trotted after his companions.
So, steadying myself and taking a careful aim with the 200-yards'
sight, I fired. My bullet must have passed close beneath the brutes
chest--I think behind his forelegs--as I saw it knock up the dust just
beyond him. He at once sprang to the spot where the bullet struck
the ground and again stood still, facing now exactly away from me,
without apparently having taken any notice of the report of my rifle--a
450-bore single-barrelled Gibbs-Metford.

Extracting the empty cartridge and pushing a fresh one into the breech,
as silently and quickly as possible, I fired again, this time taking a
fuller sight and aiming for the centre of the lion's somewhat narrow
hind-quarters. The dull thud which answered the report of the rifle
assured me that I had hit him, but I never saw a lion before make so
little fuss about a wound. He gave one spring forwards, accompanied by
a loud growl, and then stood still again. But only for a moment. Then
he came trotting round towards where I sat on the side of the ant-heap,
turning first to one side then to the other, and evidently searching
for what had hurt him, and I am sure that had he made me out he would
have charged instantly. However, I was dressed only in an old felt hat,
a cotton shirt, and a pair of shoes, and my scanty garments and bare,
sunburnt limbs were all so weather-stained, and harmonised so well with
the neutral tints of my immediate surroundings, that he never saw me.

I had thrown the empty cartridge out of my rifle before the lion
turned, but had no time to reload before he commenced to trot towards
me, for, knowing that the very slightest movement on my part would
attract his attention, I sat perfectly still, feeling sure that in
case of a charge I should have ample time to slip the cartridge, which
I held ready in my hand, into the breech of my rifle before he got to
me. However, he never discovered me, though he approached to within a
hundred yards of the ant-heap on the side of which I was sitting. He
then stopped, and after first looking towards me, turned round and once
more stood facing exactly away from me.

This was my chance, so hastily loading and putting down the 200-yards'
leaf sight, I again fired at him, and again heard my bullet strike.
With a loud growl he sprang forwards, and then went off at a gallop.
He turned almost immediately and, running almost broadside to me, made
for a large ant-heap with some bushes growing at the top of it. Before
he reached it I fired again and knocked him down, but after having lain
still for a few moments he got up and half-ran, half-dragged himself to
the ant-heap and disappeared behind the bush on its summit.

I now walked round and reconnoitred the ant-heap behind which the lion
had disappeared, and found that just beyond it there was a small
patch of unburnt grass quite six feet high, in which, no doubt, he was
hiding. To have approached this patch of long grass across the open
plain would, I felt sure, have meant facing a fierce charge at close
quarters, for the wounded lion had shown every sign of being a savage
and determined animal.

About two hundred yards to the left of the place where the lion was
lying was another ant-heap, at the foot of which grew two good-sized
trees, and as I thought I might be able to see something from the top
of one of them, I went back to where I had left my Kafirs, and taking
one of them with me, made a circuit and came up behind the trees.
My native attendant quickly climbed to the top of one of them, but
declared he could see nothing of the lion, although he said that the
patch of grass in which it was lying was very small. He then began to
come down the tree again, talking all the time.

He had got about half-way down when two wart-hogs which had been lying
asleep somewhere near us, disturbed by his voice, got up and went
trotting straight towards the spot where the lion was lying. They did
not enter the grass, but passed close to it, and the lion must have
heard them coming and made ready at once to repel another attack, for
the Kafir suddenly saw it standing just within the edge of the grass.
"Sir, sir, I can see the lion," he called to me in his own language. "I
can see nothing," I answered. "Come up the tree a little way," he said,
"and you will be able to see it." I told him to come down low enough
to reach the rifle I handed to him, and then climbed into the lower
branches of the tree. When about ten feet above the ground I could see
the lion's head and the outline of its back indistinctly through the
grass. First aroused by the near approach of the wart-hogs, he was no
doubt now listening to us talking.

I got a little higher up the tree, but although from this position I
commanded a somewhat clearer view, I could not steady myself to fire,
so I came lower down and fired a shot with the 200-yards' sight. This
shot missed the lion altogether, but it had an excellent effect, as the
angry brute at once charged out of the grass and came straight towards
where he had heard the talking. At first he showed signs of partial
paralysis of the hind-quarters, but gathering strength with every
stride, he was soon coming along at a great pace, growling savagely and
evidently prepared to make things uncomfortable for the first human
being he met. I let him come on to within about fifty yards of the
tree in which I was perched, and then shot him right in the chest with
an expanding bullet, which tore open his heart and killed him almost

This was the last of the thirty-one lions I have shot, and the first
and only one of these animals that I ever shot from a tree. He was a
fine full grown animal, just in his prime, with a good mane for a coast
lion, very thick set and heavy in build, and enormously fat. My first
two bullets had struck him close together just below the tail, and
either would probably have killed him had it been a solid projectile,
but being expanding bullets they had probably not penetrated beyond the

We found subsequently, on examining the place where he had been lying
in the grass at the foot of the ant-hill, that he had vomited great
lumps of the meat and skin of a wildebeest on which he had been
feasting the preceding night. My third bullet had struck him too far
back, behind the kidneys, and passing just below the backbone, had
momentarily paralysed his hind-quarters, causing him to fall when hit
and subsequently to show weakness in the hind-legs.



  Travelling through the desert--Large number of bullocks--Long
     distances between permanent waters--Heavy sand--Start for
     Mahakabi--Intense heat--Sufferings of the poor oxen--No water
     at Mahakabi--Search for water with Bushmen guides--Another
     disappointment--Ride all night--Reach the Luali river--Bullocks
     lost--Dick's account of the catastrophe--Fear the worst--Ride to
     Shoshong for assistance--Return to Klabala--Meet waggons.

Travelling south through the desert countries lying between the Mababi
river and Khama's old town of Shoshong, during the month of December
1879, we had found water plentiful as far as the Botletlie. Farther
south, however, but little rain appeared to have fallen, and it was
not without difficulty that we crossed the desert stretch between that
river and the wells of Tlakani.

Our party was a large one, as we were travelling in company with a
number of Khama's people who had been hunting in the Mababi country
during the past season, and with whom we were on very good terms. These
people were under the command of Tinkarn, one of Khama's most trusted
chiefs, a man who had been a hunter from his youth upwards, and who
from the life he had led had always been closely associated with the
wild Bushmen of the desert, whose language he spoke fluently, and over
whom he exercised a strong influence.

Tinkarn and his people had five waggons with them and we white men
four, two of which belonged to me, one to Mr. H. C. Collison, and one
to a mutual friend, who had lost himself and died of thirst, poor
fellow, some few months previously in the dreary wastes which lie
between the Chobi and the Zambesi rivers.

I had with me two young Cape colonists, Messrs. Miller and Sell, so
that we were four white men together. Having full spans of sixteen
oxen for each waggon, as well as some spare animals, we had some 150
bullocks with us altogether, as well as eight or ten shooting horses.

South of Tlakani there was no permanent water nearer than the wells of
Klabala; the deep pit of Inkowani having ceased to hold water since the
emigrant Boers had deepened it during their memorable but disastrous
journey through these same deserts in the winter of 1878.

In this country of railways, the distance between Tlakani and
Klabala--not much over one hundred miles probably--may seem very small,
but as the track between the two places lies through a level expanse
of soft desert sand through which a heavy South African bullock waggon
can only be dragged at an average rate of from a mile and a half to
two miles an hour, it meant four days and four nights at least of
constant travel to get through it. Tinkarn, however, had learned from
the Bushmen that good rains had fallen not long before between Inkowani
and Klabala, and felt sure that our live stock would get a drink at the
pools of Mahakabi, in which we had found a good supply of water in the
previous April.

As it would be a terrible pull to get our waggons through even as far
as these pools, we gave our cattle a three days' rest at Tlakani, where
the wells were luckily full, before starting southwards again.

I must here say that in the winter season, when the nights are long
and cold, and the sun not intensely hot during the daytime, a picked
span of bullocks in good hard condition will sometimes manage to pull
a waggon along for four days and four nights without drinking, but in
very hot weather no bullocks that I have ever seen can work for more
than half this time pulling heavy waggons in deep sand and without

Christmas time is about the hottest season of the year in South
Africa, unless heavy rains happen to be falling, and at the time of
which I am writing the heat was simply terrific. The country around
us was an absolutely dead level in all directions, everywhere clothed
with a sparse covering of low thorny bushes, whose little grey-green
leaves and hard black twigs, over which little hook-shaped thorns are
profusely scattered, afforded but little protection from the cruel sun.
Early in the day the sand became so hot that it was quite impossible
to keep the palm of one's hand upon it for more than a few seconds at
a time, nor was it possible to hold one's hand on any piece of iron
exposed to the sun's rays. The sand itself was so deep and soft, that
our heavy bullock waggons sank in it to a depth of several inches,
over the felloes of the wheels, in fact; and as our long caravan moved
slowly and painfully forwards, both bullocks and waggons were almost
hidden from sight in a thick cloud of fine dust which rose from the
trampled ground into the still hot air. When the sun set the relief was
immense, but still the heat thrown up from the scorched sand was very
great, and it was only for one short hour between dawn and sunrise that
the temperature became pleasantly cool.

It was about four o'clock on the afternoon of December 23 that we
finally left Tlakani, after having carefully filled our water-casks
and given all the bullocks and horses a good drink. At sundown we
outspanned, made a hasty meal of dried eland meat roasted on the ashes,
washed down with a cup of tea, and then inspanned again. All that night
we trekked on with only two short intervals of rest, and when day broke
on, the morning of December 24, our oxen had done ten hours' actual
pulling through the heavy sand and covered some fifteen miles since
leaving Tlakani. All this day we travelled slowly onwards through the
frightful heat, giving the bullocks an hour's rest after every two
hours' pull. The terrific heat of the cruel pitiless sun told upon the
straining oxen very rapidly, for it must be remembered that nothing
but steady hard pulling by every member of each span, all pulling in
unison, could move the heavy waggons through the deep sand, and nothing
made of flesh and blood could work very long in such a temperature
without drinking.

Towards the close of the long day it became a pitiful sight to look at
the poor oxen, as they toiled slowly and painfully along, with lowered
heads and tongues hanging from their gasping mouths. The hot air they
breathed was full of fiery dust, which rose in clouds from their feet
and hung suspended in the breathless atmosphere long after the last
waggon had passed. This hot dust no doubt very much aggravated the
terrible thirst from which our bullocks were now suffering, and kept
them continually gasping and coughing.

At last the dreadful sun turned blood-red as it neared the western
horizon, and then soon sank from view behind the interminable landscape
of stunted thorn bushes. When outspanned during the day, the bullocks
had made no attempt to feed, but had only stood about in clusters
amongst the shadeless thorn scrub; I was in hopes, however, that they
would graze a little at sunset, albeit the grass was scorched and
scant. But they were too parched to do so; and so, hungry, weary, and
terribly thirsty, the poor brutes were once more yoked to the heavy
waggons just as the short twilight of the early tropic night was giving
place to a bright moonlight, for it wanted but a couple of days to full
moon. The whole of this second night we travelled slowly southwards,
with short intervals of rest.

I kept awake once more throughout the night, in order to time the
periods of travel and the intervals of rest. As we were four Europeans,
we might have kept awake turn and turn about, and turned in for a sleep
in one of the waggons when not on duty; but when travelling through
the desert I am always too anxious to be able to sleep, whilst making
a push from one water to another, and always make a point of timing
the treks myself, and keeping the waggon-drivers and leaders up to the
mark; for these latter naturally get worn out during such journeys,
and often are so tired that when a halt is called, they just throw
themselves down where they stand and lie there like logs till it is
time to move on again.

During the night we passed the deep limestone well and shallow pan of
Inkowani, both of which were perfectly dry, and presently Christmas
Day 1879 dawned upon us, and the cruel sun was soon once more shining
over the desolate wilderness around us. By this time it had become
evident that our bullocks could not possibly pull the heavy waggons
much farther. One or other of them was constantly lying down, and had
to be mercilessly beaten or its tail twisted or bitten before it could
be induced to get up again and struggle on a little farther. Although
the waggons of our Bamangwato friends were much less heavily laden than
ours, their bullocks were much inferior, and on the whole in quite as
sorry a plight.

About ten o'clock it became impossible to get the waggons along at
all, and we had to give up the idea of reaching the pools of Mahakabi,
from which we were only about six miles distant, with them, as we had
hoped to have done. We therefore outspanned, and prepared to drive all
our cattle and horses to the water, let them have a good drink and
feed there, and return to fetch the waggons in the afternoon. Collison
was not very well, so he and Sell remained with the waggons, whilst
Miller and I--both of us mounted--and all our coloured boys, with the
exception of the waggon-drivers, accompanied Tinkarn and his people to
Mahakabi, taking all our cattle, horses, and dogs with us. Tinkarn,
I think, only left a couple of boys to look after the five waggons
belonging to his people. I let him start first with all his people and
their troop of cattle, Miller and I following with our own herd, driven
by our own boys, about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes later. I
rode my own favourite shooting horse "Bob," and led Collison's best nag
"Big Bles," his after-rider, a Mangwato boy, named Dick, being mounted
on his second horse. I had had a cup of coffee when we outspanned just
before daylight, but had eaten nothing since the previous evening, and
had not even tied a piece of "biltong" on my saddle, when leaving the
waggons with the oxen, as I had hoped to get back again before sundown,
and was besides too full of anxiety to think much about food just then.

Although the bullocks were unable to drag our heavy waggons any farther
through the deep sand, they stepped out briskly enough along the road
when unencumbered, and evidently knew that they were being taken to
water. We were just approaching the first of the two pools of Mahakabi,
and could see the cattle of our Mangwato friends standing round about
it, when I saw Tinkarn coming riding back to meet me. "Metsi utin?"
("Is there water?"), I asked. "Metsi haio" ("There is no water"), he
answered; almost immediately adding, "But we shall find water; I have
two Bushmen here who will show us water." From the appearance of the
grass, it was evident that a heavy shower of rain must have fallen over
this part of the country about a month before our arrival, and Tinkarn
told me that there must then have been a good supply of water in the
Mahakabi vleys, which, however, had been very rapidly sucked up by the
intense heat which had lately prevailed. When the Mangwatos' troop of
cattle first reached the nearest and biggest vley, there was still a
little water in it, but the thirsty beasts just rushed into the shallow
pool, and of course soon trampled it into mud. Two Bushmen, however,
had been found at the water, who, of course, knew Tinkarn and feared
him, as one of Khama's most influential headmen, and these savages
reported that heavy rain had fallen farther to the east during the last
moon, and thought that a certain vley they knew of would probably still
have some water in it. If there should prove to be no water there, said
they, they would guide us to the place where the road from Shoshong to
Pandamatenka crossed the Luali river.

It was now past midday, and the heat intense. Our horses, as well as
the oxen, had been nearly forty-eight hours without drinking, but as
they had done no work during that time, they were not suffering like
the latter animals. However, I did not like to go away with the cattle,
and perhaps have to take them right through to Luali, without letting
Collison know what had happened, so I sent Miller back to the waggons,
telling him to give the horse he was riding a few pannikins of water
as soon as he got there, as our two largest casks had, I knew, been
scarcely touched. Should the vley spoken of by the Bushmen prove to
contain a good supply of water, I told Miller I would rest the oxen
there until after midday on the 26th, and drive them back to the
waggons, after they had had a good drink, on the afternoon of that day,
in time to start for Klabala the same evening. Should I not turn up by
that time, however, I told him not to expect me for at least another
twenty-four hours, as he would then know I had had to go on to Luali.

Having bade good-bye to Miller, I started Dick (who was mounted) and
all our boys with our cattle on the track of those belonging to Tinkarn
and his people, who had already set off eastwards under the guidance
of the Bushmen. After a very hot and weary tramp, we at last reached
the vley where our guides had hoped to be able to show us water. As in
the pools of Mahakabi, so here there were still a few gallons of liquid
left, but not enough, unfortunately, to be of any use, as the thirsty
oxen just rushed into it and trampled it into mud immediately.

There was now nothing for it but to push on for Luali as speedily as
possible during the cool of the night. Soon the scorching sun once more
went down, but as the moon was near the full, we had no difficulty
in keeping a good line through the open thorn scrub, and got on at a
good quick walk, as our thirsty cattle stepped out briskly, and weary
though they must have been, showed no signs now of flagging. About
midnight we called a halt, and off-saddling the horses--about six of
Khama's headmen were mounted--lit fires, round about which the oxen
were collected in two herds, the one composed of those belonging to
the Mangwatos, from which I kept ours a little separate. We rested
for about an hour, during which time I sat talking with Tinkarn. My
boys had all lain down near the fires and gone fast asleep, as soon
as they had seen the cattle begin to lie down, and I would fain have
followed their example, but was afraid to do so lest any of the thirsty
beasts should wander away. Luckily, the bright moonlight enabled me to
keep an eye on all the cattle as they lay scattered about in the thin
bush, from where I sat. Presently Tinkarn suggested that we should
saddle up again and get on towards the river. He had been giving me a
lot of interesting information about the desert Bushmen, their modes
of hunting, etc., and asked me to ride with him, instead of remaining
behind with my own troop of cattle.

This I agreed to do; so, after waking up Dick and all my boys and
telling them to come on with the cattle at once, I rode forwards,
always leading Collison's horse "Big Bles," on the tracks of the
Mangwatos' cattle, which had trampled broad paths in the soft sandy
ground, that were very plainly discernible in the moonlight. I soon
joined Tinkarn, who was right in front with the two Bushmen, and his
pleasant companionship and cheery talk helped very materially to
relieve the tedium of the long, weary ride. At last, just as day was
dawning on the morning of December 26, we reached the little Luali
river just where the waggon road crossed it. Here there was plenty of
good water, so Tinkarn, the Bushmen, and I had a refreshing drink,
before the thirsty cattle had fouled it, for though there were several
good-sized pools amongst the rocks of the river's bed, there was no
running stream. The Mangwatos' cattle were close behind us, and my own
troop I thought would not be far behind them. However, when an hour had
passed and they had not arrived, I began to feel uneasy; but Tinkarn
reassured me, saying that Dick and the herd-boys must have loitered
round the fires after we had left, but were bound to be here before
very long, as they had drunk nothing since leaving the waggons, and
their very lives now therefore depended on their getting to the water
quickly. I said I would wait till midday, and then, if they had not
turned up by that time, ride back on the cattle tracks to look for
them. In the meantime the only thing to do was to rest, as we had no
food of any sort with us, and were therefore unable to satisfy our
hunger. I was very tired and sleepy, as well as hungry, having had no
rest whatever for three consecutive nights, nor any food for more than
thirty-six hours, so when I lay down in a sort of little cave amongst
the rocks, where the sun would not reach me the whole day, I soon went
off into a deep dreamless sleep, from which I was awakened late in the
afternoon by Tinkarn, who informed me that Dick had just turned up,
riding Collison's spare horse, but without the cattle.

I soon learned what had happened. "After you woke me and the herd-boys
at the place where we rested in the night," said Dick, "I saddled up
my horse, and then said to my companions, 'Let us go; the master has
gone on with Tinkarn, and all the Mangwato cattle have started.' But
some of the herd-boys said, 'No, Dick, let us rest a little longer,
for we are very tired. Then we will drive the cattle on fast, as we
can see the tracks of the big herd that has gone on ahead very plainly
in the moonlight.' I was tired too," said Dick, "and did not think a
little delay would matter, so I tied my horse to a tree and sat down
again by one of the fires. Our cattle were still all lying down then.
It was very foolish of me to sit down again, for, as you know, I had
led my master's oxen for two nights previously through the deep sand,
and was therefore very tired and sleepy. After sitting down again I
don't remember anything, sleep must have overcome me, as well as my
companions. When at last I woke again, the fires had all gone out, and
I could see that the dawn was just breaking. The oxen were gone. 'Wake,
wake,' I cried to my companions. 'The oxen have got up and gone away.'
Then we took up their tracks, which led us away to the north and had
not followed on the spoor of the Mangwatos' cattle. I remained with the
rest of the boys, following on the tracks of the cattle until the sun
stood there"--pointing to a part of the heavens which the sun must have
reached at about 10 A.M.--"and then I thought I must let the white man,
my master's friend, know what had happened. Ki peto" ("that is all").
"And how about the herd-boys, will they not all die of thirst?" I asked
Dick; for, as they had been walking in the sun for the greater part of
the preceding day, I knew from experience that, if they had not yet
reached water, they were probably all dead by now; as, although a man
may live for three or four days without water during the winter season,
no man that is born of a woman can live much more than two days, if
walking hard all the time, when exposed to the intense heat of the sun
during the hottest time of year in the deserts of Western Africa. "If
God wishes it," said Dick, "the sun has now killed them all; but I do
not think they are dead. When we all halted in the middle of the night,
you remember there was no wind; but when I awoke before dawn this
morning there was a light wind blowing from the north; and our oxen,
on getting up from where they had been lying, instead of following on
the tracks of the other cattle, went off in a bee-line dead against
the wind. I think, therefore, that they must have smelt water and were
making straight for it. The boys that I left following them up on
foot thought so too. They were terribly thirsty when I left them, but
thought their only chance for life was to stick to the cattle tracks
they were following, as they did not think they would have the strength
to retrace their steps to where we rested last night and then follow up
the tracks of the Mangwato cattle to the Luali river, as I have done on

This was Dick's story, and how much or how little to believe of it, I
did not know. He had always been a good, trustworthy boy, and a great
favourite with his master. I never imagined that he and all my boys
would have gone to sleep again after I had roused them, but I felt
more angry with myself than with them, for not having actually seen my
cattle started before riding forward. As, according to Dick's account,
he must have ridden at least twelve miles on the tracks of our cattle
without their having come to the water which he thought they had smelt
whilst the herd-boys slept, I could not believe it possible that they
had really scented water. Tinkarn, however, whose experience was far
greater than mine in such matters, stoutly maintained that cattle, when
thirsty, could scent water at extraordinary distances, and arguing from
the abstract to the concrete, thought that had the lost oxen not done
so, they would assuredly have followed up the tracks of his own herd
and arrived by themselves at the Luali river.

Tinkarn and his people were now, after the day's rest, about to start
back with their cattle to the place where their waggons had been left
standing in the desert, but I did not care to go with them, and take
the chance of my oxen having found water, and having then been driven
back to the waggons. Supposing the oxen and the herd-boys had died of
thirst--or been killed by the sun, as the Kafirs express it--what was
to happen to our waggons then? Collison, Miller, Sell, and the four
waggon-drivers would, I knew, be all right, as well as the horse that
Miller had ridden, as they would go on to Klabala with Tinkarn, but
our waggons would in that case have to remain standing in the desert
with no one to look after them for several days at least. This would
be known to the two Bushmen who had guided us to the Luali, and be
communicated by them to other Bushmen, who, I feared, might rob the
stranded waggons before I could get back to them with fresh cattle from

[21] The chief town of Khama's people, the Bamangwato.

I soon made up my mind what to do. Shoshong itself was about sixty
miles from where I then was at the crossing of the Luali river, and
there was a good waggon track leading to it, so I resolved to ride
there that night, borrow four spans of bullocks either from the
white traders living on the station or from Khama, and after getting
something to eat, start back with them at once on the desert road
by which we had been travelling from the Botletlie river. Should my
oxen have found water, and after having drunk, been driven back to
the waggons on the night of the 27th, I should meet them on the road,
and no harm would have been done; whilst, on the other hand, should
the worst have happened, and our four spans of bullocks and the poor
herd-boys prove to have succumbed to thirst, heat, and fatigue, I
should be able to reach our waggons before they had been long deserted,
and take them into Shoshong with the spans that had been lent to me.

Sixty miles, much of it in heavy, sandy ground, is a good long ride, so
I resolved to take my friends horse "Big Bles," a very powerful animal,
in excellent condition. My own horse "Bob" I entrusted to Tinkarn, and
sent Dick back to the waggons with him also.

The full moon was just rising as I bade good-bye to Tinkarn and my
Mangwato friends, and rode off on my lonely journey. All our shooting
horses had been well looked after during the past season, and well fed
daily on half-boiled maize, and "Big Bles" was not only a very powerful
animal, but accustomed to hard work, and in splendid hard condition.
Keeping up an average pace of about seven miles an hour--a very good
one in heavy, sandy ground--and only off-saddling twice during the
whole journey, I reached Shoshong about an hour before daylight on the
morning of December 27. I rode straight to the store of a trader named
Jim Truscott, and roused him, as well as another old friend named Fred
Drake. My story was soon told. No food had passed my lips since the
evening of December 24--some sixty hours--and with the exception of
the sleep I had had at the Luali river during the 26th, I had had no
rest either during all that time. I was thin and hard naturally from
the life I had been leading, but I suppose I looked unusually worn and
haggard, as Truscott insisted on my lying down on his bed at once,
whilst he had some food prepared for me, and Fred Drake undertook to
get the oxen together that I required, and kindly offered to go back
with me to where I had left the waggons beyond Klabala.

At the time of which I am writing, South Africa was a very
different country to the South Africa of to-day. Gold had not then
been discovered on the Witwaters Rand, and there were therefore
comparatively but few Englishmen living even in the Transvaal; whilst
north of the Limpopo there were no European settlements whatever, and
the few white traders and hunters who earned a precarious livelihood
amongst the native tribes might have been counted on the fingers
of one's two hands. Amongst these few scattered whites a bond of
brotherhood existed such as cannot endure under more civilised
conditions. Any white man in distress was sure of the warmest sympathy
and most generous assistance on the part of all the few others of the
same colour scattered here and there over a vast country. But now the
times are changed. What was once the "far interior" has been opened up
to the civilisation of Western Europe, and the old-time traders and
hunters, with their indifferent morals, unbusiness-like habits, but
hearts of gold, have passed away from South Africa for ever.

By ten o'clock Fred Drake had got together four spans of good oxen, all
lent by the few white men on the station, and had also got a cart and
eight oxen to carry some water-casks and provisions. I had gone fast
asleep on Truscott's bed as soon as I had had something to eat, and
they let me sleep on till midday. Then I had another meal, and at about
1 P.M. started back for my waggons with Fred Drake. We travelled very
quickly with the light cart and fresh oxen, even during the heat of the
afternoon, and keeping at it all through the night and the next day,
were nearing the wells of Klabala on the afternoon of December 29 when
we heard a waggon whip crack close ahead of us, and presently saw the
fine cloud of dust rising above the low trees which we knew portended
the arrival of a waggon. I thought it must be Tinkarn's waggons. We
pulled up, and Drake and I jumped off the cart and walked on ahead. As
soon as we saw the front oxen I knew them for the leaders of my own
fine Damara span, and very soon we were shaking hands with Collison,
Miller, and Sell.

The explanation was simple. Our oxen, when they wandered away from
the resting-place on the night of December 25, had found their way
to water at last before midday on the 26th. Whether they really smelt
it, or were made aware by a certain freshness in the air that water
lay in the direction from which the wind was blowing, or whether they
only hit off the water by chance, I cannot say, but they reached a vley
or pool in which there was a good supply of recent rain-water. The
herd-boys who followed them had, it appeared, had a very hard time of
it, and on coming to a small vley in which there was only mud but no
water, a short time before reaching the larger pool, two of them had
declared that they could go no farther, and had thrown themselves down
and rolled in the mud, and would doubtless have died there, had not
their comrades, who shortly afterwards reached the larger pool with
the cattle, carried them back some water in a calabash and revived
them. The cattle were driven back to the waggons on the night of the
26th, and arrived there before Tinkarn's cattle returned from the
Luali river. Collison at once gave the order to inspan, and pushing
on through the heat of the day, reached Klabala on the night of the
27th, Tinkarn and his people turning up a few hours later. At Klabala
the cattle were given a rest till the afternoon of the 29th, and soon
after again making a start for Shoshong, met me coming back with my
unnecessary relief spans--as it turned out.

Well, all's well that ends well; though I hope I may never experience
such an uncomfortable Christmas again as the one I spent in the desert
in the year 1879.



  First Bushmen seen by author in 1872--Armed with bows and
     arrows--Large areas of country uninhabited except by Bushmen--The
     Masarwa--Origin of the word "Vaalpens"--Dwarf race mentioned
     by Professor Keane--Notes on the language of the Bushmen north
     of the Orange river--Apparently very similar to that spoken
     by the Koranas--The author's faithful Korana servant--The
     Nero family--Physical dissimilarity between the Koranas and
     the Masarwa--Stature of Bushmen met with north of the Orange
     river--Probably a pure race--The Bakalahari--Livingstone's account
     of them--Khama's kindness to them--Habits and mode of life of the
     Masarwa--Their weapons--Bows and poisoned arrows--Food of the
     Bushmen--Bush children tracking tortoises--Terrible privations
     sometimes endured by Bushmen--Provision against famine--A giraffe
     hunt--Rotten ostrich egg found by Bushmen and eaten--Fundamental
     difference of nature between Bushmen and civilised races not
     great--Personal experiences with Bushmen--Their marvellous
     endurance--Skill as hunters and trackers--Incident with
     lion--Family affection amongst Bushmen--Not unworthy members of
     the human race.

In previous chapters I have often referred to the Masarwa Bushmen, the
remnants probably of one of the oldest and most primitive races of
mankind still surviving on the earth, and as my personal knowledge of
these people is very considerable, I think that a few notes concerning
their habits, language, and mode of life will prove of interest, if not
to all who are likely to glance over the pages of this book, at any
rate to some few amongst them who believe that "the noblest study of
mankind is man."

The first Bushmen I ever saw were met with on the banks of the Orange
river on January 4, 1872, in the country then occupied by the Korana
chief Klas Lucas and his people.

In my diary of that date I made the following notes of this

"_January 4, 1872._--Whilst poking about along the river, looking
for guinea-fowls, I came upon a Bushman's lair amongst the trees by
the water's edge. A few boughs woven together and forming a sort of
canopy was all they had in the way of a habitation; the only weapons
they possessed were rude-looking bows and neatly made poisoned arrows,
some about two and a half feet in length, fashioned from reeds, whilst
others were only a foot long. Their language seemed even fuller of
clicks and clucks than the Korana, and altogether to a casual observer
they appeared to be very few steps removed from the brute creation.
The following day three more Bushmen came to the waggon begging for
tobacco; they were taller and better looking than those I had first

During the following month (February 1872) I met with a good many more
Bushmen, and hunted with them in the Southern Kalahari to the west
of the Scurfde Berg. At that time these people had no firearms of
any kind, but they all carried small toy-like bows and bark quivers
containing poisoned arrows.

During the twenty years succeeding my first meeting with Bushmen on the
banks of the Orange river, I met with scattered communities of this
primitive race throughout every portion of the interior of the country,
where Bantu tribes had not been able to establish themselves owing
to the aridity of the soil and the scarcity of water in sufficient
quantities to satisfy the needs of a settled population possessed of
large herds of cattle, sheep, and goats.

Thus at least nineteen-twentieths of the whole of the enormous area
of country included in the Bechwanaland Protectorate are entirely
uninhabited except by the descendants of the aboriginal Bushmen, the
more civilised Bantu living crowded together in a few large towns.
Khama's old town of Shoshong, which was abandoned more than twenty
years ago, was said to contain 20,000 inhabitants, practically his
whole tribe.

In the last Annual Report of the Transvaal Native Affairs Department,
it is stated that the Bushmen living in the valley of the Limpopo in
the Northern Transvaal are known as Maseroa, and are distinct from the
ordinary South African Bushmen.

All the Bushmen I have seen, whether those living on or near the Orange
river, or along the eastern border of the Kalahari, or throughout the
Bechwanaland Protectorate, from the Chobi river to Lake N'gami and the
Botletlie, and from thence to the Limpopo, appeared to me to be very
much the same in appearance and absolutely identical in their ways of
life and the fashion of their dress and weapons. Here and there no
doubt there has been a certain admixture of Bantu blood amongst them;
but seeing how little they vary as a rule both in appearance and in
habits and manner of life in widely separated areas, I think that for
the most part they must be a pure and distinct race throughout the
greater part of the countries they inhabit.

The name given by Khama's people to the Bushmen living in the country
ruled over by that chief, which is spelt "Maseroa" in the Report
above referred to, is pronounced--at least so it always seemed to
me--Ma-sarr-wa (with the "r" very much rolled), and the singular--the
word signifying "a Bushman"--ought, I should think, to be Li-sar-wa.

The name "Vaalpens," often applied by the Boers to Bushmen, signifies
"grey belly," and has been given to them because, having no huts, but
sleeping as they do in the open, they often lie so close to the fire on
cold nights that they blister themselves on their shins and abdomens.
The skin thus burnt peels off and is replaced by new skin of a lighter
colour than that of the rest of the body. Bushmen may often be seen
with their legs and bellies covered with such unsightly scars, and it
is such blistered patches of skin on their abdomens which has earned
them the name of "Vaalpens," or "grey belly."

Although I have travelled in the Zoutpansberg, Waterberg, and Dwarsberg
districts of the Northern Transvaal, I have never met with or heard
of the dwarf race spoken of by Professor Keane in his book on _The
Boer States_. These people, Professor Keane says, are the only genuine
Vaalpens, and are almost entirely confined to the above-named and
adjacent districts of the North Transvaal as far as the banks of the
Limpopo. Professor Keane further says that these people call themselves
"Kattea," and that they are almost pitch-black in colour, only
about four feet high, and quite distinct both from their tall Bantu
neighbours and from the yellowish Bushmen.

It would be interesting to learn where Professor Keane got his
information concerning this remarkable race of people. Personally,
I find it difficult to believe in their existence, as I have been
acquainted with so many Boers who had hunted for years in the very
districts in which they are said to exist, or to have existed, and
yet have never heard any one of them speak of a dwarf race of black
Bushmen. Moreover, I have myself met with Bushmen of the same type as
those I have seen in other parts of South Africa, both in the Waterberg
district of the Transvaal to the south of the Limpopo and also in the
desert country not far to the west of the Dwarsberg.

I believe that the researches of the late Dr. Bleek, the well-known
philologist, tended to show that there was little or no affinity
between the languages spoken by the Bushmen inhabiting the
south-western districts of the Cape Colony and the Hottentot tribes
living in the same part of the country. On the other hand, the
well-known missionary, the late Dr. Robert Moffat, wrote: "Genuine
Hottentots, Koranas, and Namaquas meeting for the first time from
their respective and distant tribes could converse with scarcely any
difficulty." The Bushmen, however, Dr. Moffat said, "speak a variety of
languages, even when nothing but a range of hills or a river intervenes
between the tribes, and none of these dialects is understood by the
Hottentots." As bearing upon the subject of the affinity or otherwise
of the language spoken by the Koranas living in Griqualand and along
the Orange river with that of the Bushmen of the interior of South
Africa, I must now make an extract from a book written by myself
and published in 1893 (_Travel and Adventure in South-East Africa_)
relating to this question.

Although I cannot but consider that the facts which I then brought
forward were really of some value, I do not think that they have
ever been noticed by any one interested in the study of the origin
and affinities of the various native races in South Africa, and I am
anxious, therefore, to put them on record once more.

The passage I refer to reads as follows:--"In 1871 a Korana boy
named John entered my service, and went to the interior with me the
following year; and as he had previously learned to speak Dutch from
a Griqua master, I could converse freely with him. In 1873, when
elephant-hunting in the Linquasi district to the west of Matabeleland,
we saw a great many Masarwas (Bushmen), and noticing that their
language, full of clicks and clucks and curious intonations of the
voice, was similar in character to that I had heard spoken by the
Koranas on the banks of the Orange river in 1871, I asked John if he
could understand them, but he only laughed and said, 'No, sir.' During
the next two years, however, John had a lot to do with the Masarwas;
and one day, towards the end of 1874, as we were returning from the
Zambesi to Matabeleland, I heard him conversing quite familiarly with
some of these people. 'Hullo, John,' I said, 'I thought you told me
that you could not understand the Bushmen?' 'Well, sir,' he answered,
'at first I thought I couldn't, but gradually I found that I could
understand them, and that they understood me, and, in fact, I can
say that with a few slight differences these Bushmen speak the same
language as my people on the Orange river.' A Griqua family too, the
Neros, who for many years lived in Matabeleland, all spoke Sasarwa (the
language of the Masarwas) with perfect fluency, and they all assured me
that they had had no difficulty in learning it, as it was almost the
same language as that spoken by the Koranas." Now surely these facts
are worthy of note. My boy John (who ran away from the Griqua master
whose slave he then was and came to me in 1871) followed my fortunes
for twenty-five years, and was always a most faithful servant, and in
his younger days a very good elephant hunter. He is still alive to-day,
and long ago christened himself John Selous.

John was born (probably about the middle of the last century) and
brought up on the banks of the Orange river, being a member of the
Korana clan ruled over by Klas Lucas. He is an absolutely pure Korana
by blood, of a pale yellow brown in colour, beautifully proportioned,
with small, delicately made hands and feet, and the sparse-growing
peppercorn hair which I have often seen amongst full-blooded Koranas,
but only rarely amongst the Bushmen living in the countries north and
west of the Transvaal, who are, moreover, darker skinned than the
majority of the Koranas of the Orange river, though very much lighter,
as a rule, than Bantu Kafirs.

John, speaking as his native tongue one of the most extraordinary of
known languages--a language full of clicks and clucks and curious
intonations of the voice, and absolutely impossible of acquirement by
a full-grown European--travelled with me some eight hundred miles to
the north of the country where he was born on the banks of the Orange
river, and there met with a race of wild people living in the desert
country immediately south of the Zambesi, who he found, much to his
surprise, spoke a language so similar to his own mother-tongue that,
after a very little intercourse with them, he was not only able to
understand what they said, but to talk to them with perfect fluency.
Is not this a most remarkable fact, well worthy the attention of

When John first told me that, by listening attentively to the Bushmen
inhabiting the country immediately to the south of the Chobi and
Zambesi rivers, he soon discovered that they were speaking a language
very similar to his own, he concluded his explanation by saying in
Dutch: "Ik kan maar say daat's de selde taal" ("I can just say it's the
same language").

The Nero family, with their dependents, numbered some eight or ten
persons, amongst whom was a pure-blooded Korana woman named "Mina," a
lady most bountifully endowed with all the physical characteristics
peculiar to the Hottentot race. These people all came originally from
Griqualand, and they all spoke Dutch in addition to Sintabele (the
language of the Matabele) and their mother-tongue, which they told me
was Korana. I have heard all these people over and over again talking
with the most perfect ease and fluency with the Masarwa Bushmen
inhabiting the country to the west of Matabeleland, and they all
assured me that they had had no difficulty in learning Sasarwa, as it
was practically the same as the language spoken by the Koranas living
in Griqualand and along the Orange river.

The apparent uniformity of the language spoken by the scattered
families of Bushmen living in widely separated areas of country in the
interior of South Africa is somewhat remarkable. My boy John could
converse without any difficulty not only with the Masarwas we met with
in the valley of the Limpopo, but also with those we came across in
the country between the Chobi and Mababi rivers, several hundred miles
farther north, although there was never any intercourse between these
widely separated clans.

In 1879 I became very well acquainted with Tinkarn, one of Khama's
headmen, who has a very thorough knowledge of, and great influence
over, the Bushmen living throughout the country over which that chief
exercises jurisdiction. I first met Tinkarn in the neighbourhood of
the Mababi river, and subsequently travelled with him from there to
Shoshong, and later on again met him on the Limpopo. The Masarwa in
the Mababi undoubtedly spoke the same language as those living only a
couple of days' journey farther north, with whom I heard my boy John
talking in 1874, and these latter, according to John, spoke the same
language as the Bushmen living in the Limpopo valley near the mouth of
the Shashi. Farther west, I have listened to Tinkarn conversing not
only with the Masarwa of the Mababi, but also with Bushmen living on
the Botletlie river, and in many places in the desert between there and
Shoshong, and also with some of these people living on the Limpopo.
Tinkarn told me that he had learned the language of the Bushmen when
he was a child, and I always thought that he spoke to all of them in
the same language, not in a number of dialects. At any rate, he was
perfectly fluent with all of them.

Although, however, there would seem to be strong presumptive evidence
that all the various families or tribes of Bushmen living scattered
over the more arid regions of South-Western Africa to the north of
the Orange river speak a language, or dialects of a language, which
is essentially the same as that spoken by the Koranas, yet, speaking
generally, all the Bushmen I have seen differ considerably in physical
appearance not only from pure-blooded Koranas--very few of whom are
left to-day--but also from the descriptions I have read of the dwarf
race of Bushmen that used to inhabit the Cape Colony. It is these
latter whose language was studied by Dr. Bleek, and pronounced to be
fundamentally different to that of the Hottentot tribes inhabiting
the country near Cape Town. That, prior to the incursion of the tall,
dark-coloured Bantu tribes from the north, the whole of Africa south
of the Zambesi was inhabited by a race akin to the Bushmen of the Cape
Colony is, I think, proved by the similarity of the rock-paintings
in Mashunaland and Manicaland--which I think that I was the first to
discover--to those existing in caves in many parts of the Orange and
Cape Colonies.

I have never seen any pigmy Bushmen. Those I met with on the Orange
river and in the country to the west of Griqualand in 1872, as well as
a small number I saw near the Vaal river above its junction with the
Orange in the same year, may not have been as tall as the average of
the Masarwa farther north, but I feel sure that all the men were well
over five feet in height.

Speaking generally, I should say that the Bushmen that I have seen--and
they were many--whilst they were considerably lighter in colour and
shorter and more slightly built than Kafirs, were at the same time
darker skinned than most Koranas, and neither so thickset nor so short
of stature as the average of those people.

The average height of the Masarwa men I have met with in the country
extending from the western border of Matabeleland to Lake N'gami would
certainly, I think, be over 5 feet 4 inches, and I have seen many of
these people standing quite 5 feet 8 or 9 inches, and a few even 6 feet.

I have, however, occasionally seen men amongst them of a distinctly
Korana type, short and stout built in figure, very light in colour,
with small black glittering eyes, high cheek-bones, and hair growing
in small tufts. There were two young men of this type amongst the
Masarwa Bushmen living near the Mababi river in 1884. They reminded me
very forcibly of the life-sized figure of a Cape Colony Bushman in the
Museum of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, though they were, I think,
nearly if not quite five feet in height. From time to time, no doubt,
members of various Bantu tribes have fled to the desert for refuge from
their enemies and amalgamated with the Bushmen, and this may account
for the greater stature observable amongst certain clans of Masarwas,
when compared with full-blooded Koranas, or with the Bushmen of the
Cape Colony, and the very general absence of the peppercorn growth of
the hair in the former which is general in the latter; but if further
investigation should definitely establish the fact that there is a very
close similarity between the very peculiar languages spoken by the
Koranas on the Orange river and all the scattered Masarwa clans that
wander over the arid country stretching from the Limpopo to the Chobi
river, there must be a very close racial connection between the two
peoples. On the whole, I am inclined to believe that the greater part
of the Bushmen I have met with were of pure race, with very little, if
any, admixture of Bantu blood in their veins.

I never remember to have noticed any marked tendency to that wonderful
development of the buttocks (_steatopygia_) in Masarwa women which
is so characteristic a feature in pure-bred Korana women after they
have reached middle age. Bushmen and Bushwomen, however, lead terribly
hard lives, and do not often get the chance to become really fat, in
the districts in which I have met with them. Should they do so, the
men noticeably--far more so than the women--put on more flesh on the
buttocks than do well-fed Europeans; but this is the case with the men
of all the Bantu races as well. All the members of the royal family of
Matabeleland, both male and female, who had passed middle age showed a
most extraordinary development of the thighs and buttocks.

In addition to the yellow-skinned Bushmen, however, who are without
doubt the oldest aboriginal race in South Africa, there are--or
were--also to be found living in the eastern part of the Kalahari
a few scattered communities of a race known to the Bechwanas as
Bakalahari--they of the desert.

Speaking of these people, Dr. Livingstone wrote long ago, in that most
admirable book _Missionary Travels_: "The Bakalahari are traditionally
reported to be the oldest of the Bechwana tribes, and they are said to
have possessed enormous herds of the large horned cattle mentioned by
Bruce, until they were despoiled of them and driven into the desert by
a fresh migration of their own nation. Living ever since on the same
plains with the Bushmen, subjected to the same influences of climate,
enduring the same thirst and subsisting on similar food for centuries,
they seem to supply a standing proof that locality is not always
sufficient of itself to account for difference in races. The Bakalahari
retain in undying vigour the Bechwana love for agriculture and domestic
animals. They hoe their gardens annually, though often all they can
hope for is a supply of melons and pumpkins. And they carefully rear
small herds of goats, though I have seen them lift water for them out
of small wells with a bit of ostrich egg-shell or by spoonfuls."

I used to think that the Bakalahari were a mixed race formed by the
amalgamation of broken Bechwana tribes with the desert Bushmen. But
I believe there is no warrant for this. Though all those I have seen
spoke the language of the Bushmen as well as Sechwana, there can be no
doubt that Dr. Livingstone was quite right in saying that, although the
Bakalahari have lived a life of terrible hardship and privation for
centuries in the desert, they still remain in character true Bechwanas,
with all the love of that race for agriculture and stock-breeding.

Under the kind and just rule of Khama many Bakalahari have given up
their nomadic life and once more become a settled agricultural tribe.
They were supplied with seed-corn and given cattle, sheep, and goats
to look after, and in 1879 I found large communities of these once
miserable outcasts living near the wells of Klabala, cultivating large
areas of ground, and growing so much Kafir corn and maize that, except
in seasons of severe drought, they would never again have been likely
to suffer from the famine against which their immediate ancestors had
constantly struggled. These people, too, were tending considerable
herds of cattle, sheep, and goats belonging to Khama, a portion of the
increase of which was given to them every year.

I do not think there is any instance on record of a tribe or family of
the aboriginal yellow Bushmen having given up their wild free life in
the desert and taken to agricultural or pastoral pursuits.

In habits and mode of life true Bushmen seem to be the same wherever
they are met with, and the Masarwa--the Bushmen of the interior of
South Africa--certainly resemble very closely in these respects the
descriptions I have read of their now almost extinct kinsmen of the
Cape Colony. They build no huts, but merely erect temporary small
shelters of boughs with a little dry grass thrown on the top. They
neither sow nor reap any kind of grain, nor do they possess any kind
of domestic animals, except small jackal-like dogs, which cannot bark.
They obtain fire very rapidly with two pieces of wood. One of these is
held flat on the ground by the feet of a man sitting down, whilst the
other, the end of which has been placed in a small notch cut for its
reception, is whirled rapidly round between the open hands, until the
fine wood dust produced by the friction begins to smoulder, when it is
placed amongst some dry grass and blown into flame.

The dress for men, women, and girls amongst the Masarwa is the same
as that which used to be worn by the Bechwana and Makalaka tribes
before these latter had come in contact with Europeans. They obtain
iron-headed spears and earthenware cooking pots from the neighbouring
Kafir tribes in exchange for the skins of wild animals, their only
native weapon being the bow and arrow. Their bows are very small and
weak-looking, and their arrows are unfeathered, being made of light
reeds into the ends of which bone heads are inserted. These bone
arrow-heads are always thickly smeared with poison, which seems to be
made from the body of a grub or caterpillar mixed with gum. At least,
in the bark quivers of the Bushmen whose belongings I have examined,
I have usually found, besides their arrows and fire-sticks, a small
bark cylinder closed at one end, in which were the bodies of grubs or
caterpillars preserved in gum, which I was told contained the poison
they smeared on their arrows.

The Masarwa living immediately to the west of Matabeleland have long
since discarded their bows and poisoned arrows in favour of firearms,
but twenty or thirty years ago these curiously toy-like but very
effective weapons were in general use amongst the Bushmen living in the
deserts to the south and west of the Botletlie river.

Except that they do not eat grass, Bushmen are almost as omnivorous
as bears. Besides the flesh of every kind of animal from an elephant
to a mouse (which is acceptable to them in any and every stage of
decomposition), they eat certain kinds of snakes, fish, lizards, frogs,
tortoises, grubs, locusts, flying ants, wild honey, young bees, ostrich
eggs, nestling birds of all sorts, and various kinds of berries, bulbs,
and roots. Bushwomen may often be met with miles away from their
encampments, wandering alone over the desert wastes they inhabit,
searching for edible roots and bulbs, which they dig up with pointed
sticks. The children, too, begin to forage for themselves at a very
early age, and I have seen little mites, apparently not more than two
or three years old, crawling on their hands and knees on the tracks
of tortoises. It was explained to me that these reptiles make light
scratches on the ground with their claws as they walk along, and these
almost imperceptible marks the infant Bushmen are taught to follow. No
wonder they grow up to be good game trackers!

In many parts of the countries the Bushmen inhabit not only does game
periodically become scarce or almost non-existent, but all other
sources of food supply are liable at times to fail them as well.

At such times these wild people sometimes endure the most terrible
privations, and no doubt numbers of them succumb yearly to slow

I have often met with families of Bushmen all the members of which were
in such a terrible state of emaciation that it seemed a marvel that
they were still alive. In such cases the flesh appeared to have almost
completely wasted away from their legs and arms, leaving nothing but
the bones encased in dry yellow-brown skin, whilst their faces looked
like skulls covered with parchment, though the small black eyes still
glittered from the depths of their sockets.

Whenever I have encountered Bushmen in this condition, they were never
actually without food, but, in default of anything better, seemed to
have been living for a long time past on certain kinds of berries,
which were so innutritious that very large quantities had to be eaten
to support life at all. The consequence was that the bellies of these
slowly starving savages were always enormously distended, giving them a
most grotesque though pitiable appearance.

If some large animal such as a giraffe or elephant be killed and
given to a starving Bushman family they will all manage to get to the
carcase, though it be miles away and they appear to be in the last
stage of emaciation. Once there, it is with the men a case of "J'y
suis, j'y reste," and they will not move again until every bit of the
meat is eaten. The women and children have to fetch water every day,
though it may be miles distant. However wasted and apparently near
death Bushmen may be, once they get alongside of a dead elephant they
recover flesh and regain their strength in a marvellously short space
of time.

When hunting in the Linquasi district to the west of Matabeleland,
in 1873, I often noticed large pieces of rhinoceros and giraffe hide
which had evidently been placed by human hands high up in the branches
of trees. These slabs of hide, the Bushmen told me, had belonged to
animals killed by their people, and had been placed in the trees out
of the reach of hyænas as a provision against starvation in times of

I was once riding behind some hungry Bushmen looking for giraffe in the
country between the Mababi and Botletlie rivers, when they came on a
single ostrich egg lying on the ground. It was then late in September,
and this egg had in all probability been laid in the previous May or
June, and had lain on the ground in the broiling sun ever since.

My gaunt and hungry guides seemed greatly excited over their find, and
each of them in turn held it up and shook it close to his ear. Then I
saw they were going to break it, so I moved to one side, as I expected
it would go off with a loud explosion. It was, however, long past that
stage, all the contents of the egg having solidified into a thick
brown-coloured paste at the one end. I never would have believed, if I
had not experienced it, that so much smell could have been given off by
so small an amount of matter. As I once heard an American lady remark
of the atmosphere of a small mosque in which we had been watching some
dancing Dervishes at Constantinople, it gave off "a poor odour"--one
of the poorest, I think, I have ever encountered, in her sense of the
word, though by many people it might have been thought too rich.

With the Bushmen, however, an egg in the hand was evidently considered
to be worth more than a problematical animal in the bush, and they at
once sat down, and taking turn and turn about, slowly and with evident
relish licked up the fœtid contents of the treasure which fortune had
thrown in their way. Up to this time we had not even seen the fresh
track of a giraffe, but not long afterwards we sighted a magnificent
old bull, which I managed to kill for them after a hard gallop through
some very thick and thorny bush.

When I met with the first Bushmen I ever saw on the banks of the
Orange river, in 1872, I was a very young man, and regarding them
with some repugnance, wrote in my diary that they appeared to be very
few steps removed from the brute creation. That was a very foolish
and ignorant remark to make, and I have since found out that though
Bushmen may possibly be to-day in the same backward state of material
development and knowledge as once were the palæolithic ancestors of
the most highly cultured European races in prehistoric times, yet
fundamentally there is very little difference between the natures of
primitive and civilised men, so that it is quite possible for a member
of one of the more cultured races to live for a time quite happily and
contentedly amongst beings who are often described as degraded savages,
and from whom he is separated by thousands of years in all that is
implied by the word "civilisation." I have hunted a great deal with
Bushmen, and during 1884 I lived amongst these people continuously
for several months together. On many and many a night I have slept in
their encampments without even any Kafir attendants, and though I was
entirely in their power, I always felt perfectly safe amongst them. As
most of the men spoke Sechwana, I was able to converse with them, and
found them very intelligent companions, full of knowledge concerning
the habits of all the wild animals inhabiting the country in which they
lived. I found the Bushmen very good-tempered people, and they are
undoubtedly the best of all the natives of South Africa to have with
one when in pursuit of game, as they are such wonderful trackers, and
so intimately acquainted with the habits of every kind of wild animal.
To be seen at their best they must be hungry, but not starving. They
will then be capable of marvellous feats of endurance. I have known a
Bushman run on elephant spoor in front of my horse for five hours, only
very occasionally slowing down to a walk for a few minutes. He ran till
it got dark, and as we had neither blankets nor food, which had been
left with the Kafirs far behind, we lit a big fire, beside which we sat
all night, not daring to lie down and sleep, for fear lest lions should
kill my horse, which we had to watch whilst it fed round near the fire.
When we took up the elephant tracks again the next morning, we had been
twenty-four hours without food, and it was late in the afternoon before
we were making a meal off elephant's heart. During the two days this
Bushman must have walked and run for at least eighty miles without food
or sleep, and he never showed the least sign of exhaustion. Living as
they do in families or small communities, Bushmen have not developed
any warlike qualities, and I cannot imagine any of them I have known
being anxious "to seek the bubble glory at the cannon's mouth"; but for
all that they are certainly more courageous with dangerous game than
the generality of Kafirs. A friend of mine was once out looking for
game on horseback, accompanied by a single Bushman. The Bushman, who
was walking in front of the horse, suddenly spied a lion lying flat on
the ground watching them, and less than fifty yards away. Raising his
left hand as a sign to my friend to stop, he pointed at the crouching
animal with his spear, at the same time retiring slowly backwards until
he stood beside the horse. "Tauw ki-o" ("There is a lion"), he quietly
said; but my friend for the life of him could not see it. The Bushman
then again advanced, and taking the horse by the bridle, led it a few
paces forwards, when his master at last saw the lion, and firing from
the saddle, disabled it with the first shot, and finished it with a
second. It was a fine big animal, but without much mane. My friend said
it was the lion's eyes that he first saw, and then the twitching of its
tail. He was very much pleased with the coolness and staunchness of the
Bushman, quite a young man. Oh, if I had only had that Bushman for a
gun-carrier on a certain day in 1877, when the most magnificently maned
lion I ever saw in my life suddenly showed himself within twenty yards
of me, and the wretched Makalaka who was carrying my rifle and was just
behind me, instead of putting it into my outstretched hand, turned and
ran off with it! Had I killed that lion, its skin would have been my
trophy of trophies, but--kismet! it was not to be.

In 1874, 1877, and again in 1879, during which years I shot a great
number of buffaloes along the Chobi river, and followed many of them
into very thick cover after having wounded them, I always employed
Bushmen to act as my gun-carriers, and better men for such work it
would have been impossible to find, for not only were they always
cool and self-possessed in any emergency, but the quickness of their
eyesight, and their intimate knowledge of the animals we were pursuing,
gave them a great advantage over the staunchest of gun-carriers drawn
from any Kafir tribe.

Although the wives and children of Bushmen lead very hard lives,
especially when food is scarce, and have always to keep the encampment
supplied with water no matter how far it has to be carried, I have
never seen them ill-treated, and I have seen both the men and the
women show affection for their children. In fact, the Bushmen of South
Africa, although they have never advanced beyond the primitive stage of
culture attained to by their distant ancestors at a very remote period
of the worlds history, are ethically much the same on the average as
the members of all other races of mankind, which shows how little the
fundamental nature of man has changed throughout the ages, and during
the evolution and destruction of many civilisations. I have known
Bushmen to be very grasping and avaricious, and to show an utter want
of sympathy or kindness towards a fellow-man in distress; but has
civilisation eliminated such defects of character in all members of
the most highly cultured societies? Murder, robbery, rape, adultery,
are crimes against the Bushman's code of morals, just as they are with
more civilised peoples, and they are probably less frequently practised
amongst primitive than amongst civilised races. A Bushman will resent
an injury and be grateful for a kindness just like an Englishman, a
Hindu, or a Red Indian. Whenever I was told, as I often was in South
Africa, that all natives were black brutes who could not understand
kindness and were incapable of gratitude, I always knew that the
masterful gentleman or fair lady who was speaking to me had no kindness
in their own natures, and that never in all their lives had they given
any native the slightest reason to be grateful to them.

The Bushmen are the only really primitive race in South Africa, but,
rude and uncultured though they may be, I cannot look upon them as
degraded savages, but rather as a race whose development was arrested
long ago, by the circumstances of their surroundings; but whose
members, nevertheless, are beings whose human hearts can be touched and
whose sympathies can be aroused by the kindness of another human being,
however widely separated the latter may be from themselves in race and
degree of culture. Well and truly has it been said by one of England's
most illustrious sons, "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."


  Abbot, Mr., donkey waggon service in Transvaal, established by, 153

  Addo bush, Cape Colony, wild animals in the, 135;
    buffaloes in, 137

  _African Hunting from Natal to the Zambesi_, by Baldwin, 185

  Alaska, colouring of the wild animals of, in winter, 11

  Amatongaland, the author's journey to, 222;
    inyalas found in, 223

  Andersson, C. J., his opinion on buffaloes and tse-tse flies, 161;
    his opinion on the Keitloa rhinoceros, 183;
    on the black rhinoceros, 184

  Angas, Douglas, the inyala first described by, 222;
    his further description of the inyala, 243

  Angwa river, in Southern Rhodesia, a few rhinoceroses left near, 131

  Animals, wild, colour of, xiii, 1 f.;
    the author's opinion on the colour of, 4 ff.;
    different colouring of, in the same regions, 12;
    senses used by, when hunting, 14;
    influence of surroundings on the coloration of, 39;
    restlessness of, 19, 42;
    collected in the Dett valley, 133;
    African, unharmed by the tse-tse fly's biting, 173

  Antelope, colour of an, 23, 29;
    size of ears in African, 30;
    difference between male and female, 33.
    _See_ Blesbok, Bontebok, Duiker, Gemsbuck, Impala, Inyala, Koodoo,
      Situtunga, Steinbuck, Tsessebe, Reedbuck

  Ant-heaps, common in South Africa, 25

  Arms of Bushmen, 341

  Arnot, F. S., his description of the death of an elephant killed by
      lions, 65

  Arrows, poisoned, formerly used by Bushmen when hunting lions, 94;
    formerly the only arms of Bushmen, 329

  Baines, Thomas, and the tse-tse flies in the Limpopo valley, 1871,
      recorded in his book _Gold Regions of South-East Africa_, 151

  Bakalahari tribes, Dr. Livingstone on the, 339

  Baldwin, _African Hunting from Natal to the Zambesi_, by, 184;
    and the inyala, 1854, 223

  Bambaleli, Enduna of Bulawayo, courage of, when fighting lions, 94

  Bantu, an African race, 334;
    characteristics of the, 338

  Barbary sheep. _See_ Sheep

  Baringo, Lake, miraculous escape of Mr. Eastwood near, 199

  Barking of wild dogs, 120

  Barotse country, tse-tse flies in, 159

  Batauwana, the, tribe at Lake N'gami, 161

  Bechwana, a Bantu tribe of South Africa, 339

  Bechwanaland Protectorate, ant-heaps common in, 25;
    inhabited by Bushmen, 330

  Bellowing, a dying buffalo's, 142

  _Big Game Shooting_ of the Badminton Library, 198

  Birds, Darwin's opinion of the colour of, 3;
    ravens not Arctic, 42 _n._;
    tick-, warning rhinoceroses, 189

  Bite of a lion, poisonous nature of the, 49, 71, 263;
    of a tse-tse fly, 175

  Blaauwbok, extinct in South Africa, 130

  Bleek, Dr., on the languages spoken in South Africa, 332;
    on the language of the dwarfish Bushmen, 336

  Blesbok, description of a, 37;
    mistaken for bonteboks, 38;
    considered as a faded bontebok, 40

  _Boer States, The_, by Professor Keane, 331

  Bontebok, description of a, 36;
    blesbok mistaken for, 38

  Borili, a variety of rhinoceros, 183

  Botletlie river, buffaloes and tse-tse flies plentiful on the, 1878,

  Bradshaw, Dr. B. F., on tse-tse flies, 155, 160

  Bruce, Lieutenant-Colonel, in Zululand, his remarks on the tse-tse
      fly, 160

  Bryden, H. A., on the giraffe's absence of voice, 211

  Buffalo, Cape, scarcity of the, 131;
    plentiful in 1873, 132;
    divers opinions on the dangers of hunting the, 137;
    description of a, 145

  Buffaloes, coloration of, 43;
    hunted by wild dogs, 220;
    where still found, 136;
    numbers of, killed by the author, 138;
    ways of hunted and wounded, 140;
    colour of their calves, 145;
    elephants' courtesy towards, 147;
    and tse-tse flies, 149;
    destruction of, 1872, 152;
    feeding in herds, 303

  Bulawayo, in Matabeleland, 80;
    Enduna of, a dignity in Matabeleland, 94

  Burchell's zebra. _See_ Zebras

  Bushbuck, coloration of, 31;
    male, darker than female, 33;
    scarce where inyalas are plentiful, 248

  Bushmen, keen sight of, 19;
    lions killed with poisoned arrows by, 94;
    description of, 1872, 329;
    language of, 333, 335;
    pigmy, 337;
    mode of life of, 340;
    privations suffered by, 342;
    character of, 344;
    affectionate towards their children, 347;
    only primitive race in South Africa, 348

  Bush-pigs, 306

  Butterflies, African, 7

  Buzi river, 225

  _Bystander_, the, on the giraffe, 28

  Campbell, John, missionary in Southern Bechwanaland, 1845, 136

  Cape Colony, bushbucks found in, 31

  Caravans charged by rhinoceroses, 193

  Caribou, colouring of the, 9, 11;
    unconscious of human beings' presence, 16

  Cattle, demeanour of, in the proximity of lions, 95;
    "God's cattle," native name of buffaloes, 146;
    "fly-stuck," 160;
    symptoms of "fly-stuck," 171;
    sometimes recover from the sting of the tse-tse fly, 172;
    sufferings of, in hot weather, in the desert of South Africa, 315;
    instinct of, after water, 322

  Chapman, his opinion on the keitloa rhinoceros, 183

  Chetahs, curious running and crouching of, 125 ff.;
    swiftness of Indian, 128

  Chobi river, bushbucks found near, 32;
    Collison hunting buffaloes near the, 143;
    buffaloes plentiful near, 145;
    tse-tse flies along the, 154, 157;
    free from tse-tse flies, 165

  Christmas, heat in South Africa at the time of, 314

  Classification of lions, 78

  Clothing of a South-African hunter, 139

  Coal-mine at Wankies, 163

  Coke's hartebeest. _See_ Hartebeest

  Colesberg, in Cape Colony, 81

  Collison, H. C., and the wild dogs, 123;
    hunting buffaloes, 1879, at Tlakani, 313

  Colour of wild animals, xiii, xvi, 1 f.;
    the author's opinion on the, 4;
    Wallace's opinion on the, 9;
    different, in the same regions, 12;
    of lions' eyes, 73;
    of buffalo calves, 145

  Columbia, Northern British, 11

  Coolies, Uganda Railway, killed by man-eaters, 49

  Cooper, Frank, and the chetah, 127

  Costello, Mr., trap made by, to catch a man-eater, 52

  Cougar, President Roosevelt's experience when hunting a, xvii

  Crocodiles, rhinoceros killed by, 201

  Cross, Alfred, his adventure with a lion, 45

  Cubs, differences between lions', 77;
    usual number of a lioness's, 87;
    chetah, reared by a she-dog, 129

  Cumming, Gordon, his book on African hunting, 47;
    on the black rhinoceros, 183, 194

  Daka, 154

  Damaraland, Andersson hunting in, 184

  Darwin, his opinion on the coloration of birds, 3

  Darwin, Mount, buffaloes near, 135

  Dawkins, Prof. Boyd, on the fossil lions, 82

  Dawnay, Hon. Guy, killed by a buffalo, 140

  Dawson, James, and the wild dogs, 123

  De Beers Compound at Kimberley, 104

  Denukani, town built by the Batauwana, 161

  Desiccation of South Africa, 136

  Dett, swampy valley south-east of Victoria Falls, 132;
    wild animals collected in, 133

  Dick, Mangwato boy, Collison's after-rider, 317

  Dogs, wild, hunting buffaloes, 120;
    no enemy to man, 122;
    swiftness of, 123;
    curious experiences with, 123 f.

  Donkey waggon service in Transvaal, 153.

  Dorehill, George, and the giraffes, 215;
    his gun and the author's adventure with the two lions, 278

  Drake, Fred, at Shoshong, 325;
    his kindness to the author, 326

  Dress of a South-African hunter, 139;
    of Bushmen, women, and girls, 340

  Drummond, Hon. W. H., _The Large Game and Natural History of South
      and South-East Africa by_, his description of the inyala, 224

  Duiker, a small antelope, 16

  Dust, sufferings caused to cattle by, 315

  Dwarsberg, in Transvaal, 331

  Ears, size of, in African antelopes, 30

  Eastwood, B., wounded by a black rhinoceros, 199

  Edixhoven, Mr., his kindness to the author, 229, 253

  Egg, ostrich, found by Bushmen, 343

  Eland, description of an, 254

  Elephants, and lions, 64;
    example of their courtesy towards buffaloes, 147;
    drinking at Sikumi river, 271

  _Elephants' Haunts_, by Captain Faulkner, 227

  Elliott, Rev. W. A., at Umshlangeni, the author's experience when
      staying with, 1882, 176

  Elmenteita, in British East Africa, 5;
    zebras near, 21

  Enduna, a dignity in Matabeleland, 94

  Engelbreght, Michael, Boer hunter, 17
    story told by, 64

  Europe, lions common in, at the time of Herodotus, 83

  Eyes, colour of a lion's, 73

  Eyesight, necessity of a trained, for hunters, 17;
    results of training of, 19

  Falls, Victoria, 154;
    the "Dett" valley south-east of, 132

  Farm devastated by a lioness in Mashunaland, 68

  Faulkner, Capt., inyala shot by, near Cape Maclear, 1866, 227

  _Field_, the, Sir Alfred Sharpe's opinion on the tse-tse fly
      published in, 150

  Fleischmann, Max C., his letter to President Roosevelt, 1907, 201

  Flies. _See_ Tse-tse fly

  Food, favourite, of lions, 64;
    of hyænas, 103;
    of Bushmen, 341

  "Foreword" by President Roosevelt, xi-xix

  _Fortnightly Review_, 54

  Fountaine, A., and the chetah, 127

  Fox, Arctic, hunting of the, 10;
    white coat of an, 41

  Gazelle, Thomson's, coloration of, 13;
    markings of, 23

  Gemsbuck, description of the, 256 f.:
    the author's hunt after, 258, 265, 267, 287;
    nature of the, 268

  Giraffe, shape and coloration of a, 26;
    the Somali, 28;
    seldom killed by lions, 64;
    stateliness of the, 205;
    a little-drinking animal, 209;
    a voiceless animal, 211;
    some adventures of the author with, 213, 215;
    strong smell of the, 216;
    attacked by two leopards, 219;
    calves, 221

  _Glossina morsitans._ _See_ Tse-tse fly

  Goats, African, unaffected by tse-tse fly disease, 173

  Gold found in the Transvaal, 152;
    in Witwaters Rand, 325

  _Gold Regions of South-East Africa, The_, by Mr. Thomas Baines, 151

  Gould, his kindness to the author, 229

  Grant's zebra. _See_ Zebra

  _Great and Small Game of Africa_, published by Rowland Ward, 38;
    Mr. Vaughan Kirby's contribution to the, 195;
    Mr. A. H. Neumann on the giraffe in the, 218

  Griqualand, 337

  Grogan and Sharpe, Messrs., East-African lion brought to England by,

  Gugawi, the Amatonga headman, 240

  Guinea-fowls, numerous on the Usutu river, 249

  Gwai river, in Matabeleland, 102;
    tse-tse flies near, 1873, 163

  Hanyani river, in Mashunaland, 15;
    farm devastated by a lioness near, 68

  Hare, Polar, white winter coat of, 41

  Harris, Sir Cornwallis, and the mistake concerning bonteboks and
      blesboks, 38;
    his drawings of lions, 81;
    his hunting expedition in South Africa, 1836-37, 180

  Harrison, Col. J. J., quotation from, concerning the Somali giraffe,

  Hartebeest, coloration of a, 24;
    mixed species of, 35;
    hybrid hartebeest shot by Cornelis van Rooyen, 36

  Hartley Hills, in Mashunaland, 166

  Hayes-Sadler, Sir James, his report on black rhinoceroses, 199

  Hearing, keen sense of, in antelopes, 30;
    keenness of, of rhinoceroses, 189

  Heart and liver, choice pieces of meat in a wild animal, 115;
    of elephant, as food, 133

  Herodotus, lions common in Europe at the time of, 83

  Hide of the giraffe, 217

  Hippopotamuses, 306

  Horns, length of gemsbucks', 267;
    commercial value of rhinoceroses', 188

  Horse, bitten by a lion, 263;
    meaning of a "salted," 283 _n._

  Hottentots, language of, 332

  Howl of the hyæna, 115;
    of the wild dog, 121

  Huebner, Mr., and the death of Mr. Ryall, 50

  _Hunter's Wanderings, A_, published in 1881, 187

  Hyæna, spotted, character of the, 98;
    example of the audacity of the, 99 f.;
    preferred food of the, 103;
    old slaves and witches given to, 104;
    strength of the jaws of, 107;
    strength of, 108;
    courage of, 110;
    bowl of, 115;
    flesh of, a choice meat, 117;
    whelps of, 118

  Impala antelope, killed by wild dogs, 121

  Inyala, coloration of, 31;
    a variety of antelope, 222;
    description of the, 223, 227;
    habitat of, 226;
    shot near Cape Maclear, 1866, 227;
    doe and male shot by the author, 242

  Jackson, F. J., C.B., his article "The Lion," on the trouping of
      lions, 77;
    his opinion on rhinoceroses, 198

  Jackson's hartebeest. _See_ Hartebeest

  Jacobs, Petrus, Boer hunter, 179

  James, F. L., giraffe killed by, 217

  Jameson, J. A., and the chetah, 127

  Jantje, Black, elephant hunter, and the lion, 54;
    his account of a Bushman killed by a lion, 71

  Jerdon, _Mammals of India_ by, 128

  Johnston, Sir H. H., on the habitat of the inyala, 226

  Jomani river, 103

  "Kattea," name of pigmy Bushmen, mentioned by Prof. Keane, 331

  Kazungula, free from tse-tse flies in 1885, 157, 159

  Keane, Prof., _The Boer States_ by, 331

  Keitloa, a variety of rhinoceros, 183

  Khama, his people's liking for hyæna meat, 117;
    the author's help to his people, 144;
    Tinkarn, one of his chiefs, 312;
    praise of his government, 339

  Kimberley, De Beers Compound at, 104

  Kingsley, hunting experience of, with a lioness, 276

  Kirby, Vaughan, his account of a hyæna, 118;
    contribution of, to _Great and Small Game of Africa_, 195

  Kirk, Sir John, at Linyanti, with Dr. Livingstone, 1861, 164

  Kirton, George, his account of a black rhinoceros, 1868, 186

  Klabala, safe arrival of the author's party at, 1879, 327

  Klas Lucas, Korana chief, 329, 334

  Knight-Bruce, Bishop, his donkeys killed by tse-tse fly bites, 172

  Knox, Col., and his Soudanese lion, 84

  Knysna forest in Cape Colony, 135

  Koch, Dr., and the epidemic of rinderpest, 137

  Koodoo, description of a, 30;
    keen sense of hearing of the, 30;
    hunted by wild dogs, 121

  Koranas, language of the, 336

  Languages spoken in South Africa, 332, 333

  _Large Game and Natural History of South and South-East Africa_,
      The, by Hon. W. H, Drummond, 224

  Lebombo range, buffaloes killed off below the, 153

  Leopards, hunters of antelopes, 33;
    young giraffe hunted by, 219

  Leshuma, water-hole at, 122;
    no tse-tse flies near, 157

  Le Vaillant, buffaloes seen by, on the Orange river, 1783, 136

  Libèbè's, road from Denukani to, 162

  Limpopo valley, Burchell's zebras plentiful in, 21;
    tse-tse flies in, 1871, 152, 166

  Linquasi river, 112

  Linyanti, chief town of the Makololo, 164

  Lion, demeanour of a watching, 17;
    hunting strategy of the, 20, 60, 69;
    African names of the, 45;
    his usual way of catching his prey, 48, 70;
    poisonous nature of his bite, 49, 71, 263;
    death of Mr. Ryall, killed by a man-eater, 50;
    the Majili man-eater, 54-59;
    his favourite food, 64;
    his manner of entering a cattle kraal, 68;
    colour of his eyes, 73;
    likeness of a stalking, to a stalking cat, 75;
    mane of a, 78;
    length of hair of a, 80;
    first evolved in a cold climate, 83;
    his cleverness as a butcher, 85;
    his roar, 89

  "Lion, The," Jackson's article on the trouping of lions, 77

  Lions, Colonel Patterson and the man-eaters, 49;
    classification of, 78;
    killed with poisoned arrows by Bushmen, 94;
    the author's ill-luck with the two, 279 f.;
    last of the thirty-one killed by the author, 307 ff.

  Livingstone, Dr., his opinion on man-eaters, 60;
    his visit to Sebitwane, 1853, 163;
    his remarks on the tse-tse fly, 167;
    on the Bushmen, 338

  Livingstone search expedition, commanded by Lieutenant Young, 1866,

  Lo Bengula, his account of the tse-tse fly's disappearance, 163;
    King of the Matabele, 270

  Locusts in Matuta, 231;
    in South Central Africa, 1890, 234

  Lo Magondi's kraal, 48

  Longman, Zulu guide of the author, 233

  Lotchi, head Enduna of Induba, convicted of witchcraft, 105

  Lourenço Marques, Delagoa Bay, 253

  Lydekker, R., his classification of lions, 78

  Mababi plain, 78;
    river, 136

  Machabi river, an overflow from the Okavango, 136

  Mackinnon, Dr., and the troop of lions, 77

  Maclear, Cape, inyala shot near, by Capt. Faulkner, 1866, 227

  Macloutsie river, buffaloes plentiful along the, 152

  Maghaliquain river, game found along the, 1886, 152

  Majili river, a tributary of the Zambesi, 54

  Makari-kari, rock salt found at, 264

  Makololo, Mission sent to, 164

  _Mammals of India_, by Jerdon, on hunting chetahs, 128

  Mandy, Frank, and the old slave given to the hyænas, 104

  _Man-Eaters of Tsavo, The_, by Colonel Patterson, 49

  Manes, lions', differences between, 78

  Manicaland, rock-paintings in, 336

  Maputa river, formed by the Pongolo and the Usutu, 230

  Marico river, 136

  Masarwa, or Maseroa, name given by Khama's people to Bushmen, 330

  Mashunaland, troubles caused by lions in, 1890, 67;
    rock-paintings in, 336

  Matabele, courage of the, in attacking lions, 93;
    Umziligazi, founder of the nation, 162

  Matabeleland, fate of witches in, 107;
    Lo Bengula, King of, 270

  Matuta, locusts in, 231

  Meat, hyæna flesh considered a choice, by Khama's people, 117

  Melons, water-, known to wild animals and used instead of water, 210

  Miller, Mr., hunting buffaloes near the Chobi, 1879, 143;
    travelling with the author from Tlakani, 313, 317

  Mine, coal-, at Wankies, 163

  Mission sent to Makololo, fate of the, 164

  _Missionary Travels_, by Dr. Livingstone, 338

  Moffat, Dr. Robert, on the languages spoken in South African, 332

  Molipololi, hunters from, 208

  Molopo river, buffaloes found near the, 136

  Moose, colouring of, in winter, 11;
    keen sense of hearing of the, 31

  Mossel Bay, buffaloes found at, 136

  Moufflon of Sardinia, colour of, 7

  Museum, Natural History, at South Kensington, hybrid antelope at,
    giraffe at, 218;
    gemsbuck at, 261

  Mweru, Lake, 65

  Nakuru, Lake, 5;
    zebras near, 21

  Nansen, raven not noticed by, in the Arctic regions, 42 _n._

  Napier, David, his experience with a black rhinoceros, 187

  Natal, bushbucks found in, 31

  Ndorobos, their way of killing rhinoceroses, 197

  Neumann, A. H,, quotation from, on rhinoceroses, 196;
    on the giraffe's absence of voice, 211;
    on the giraffe, 218

  Neumann's hartebeest. _See_ Hartebeest

  N'gami, Lake, the Batauwana tribe at, 161

  Notwani river, 136

  Nyasa, Lake, Captain Faulkner's journey to, 227

  Nyasaland, skins sent from, by Sir Alfred Sharpe, 226

  Okavango river, disappearance of buffaloes and tse-tse flies on the,

  Orange river, blesboks found near the, 38;
    buffaloes found near the, 136

  Oribis, small antelope, 16

  Oswell, William Cotton, buffaloes found by, near the Molopo, 136;
    on the tse-tse flies in Northern Transvaal, 1845, 151;
    his visit to Sebitwane, 1853, 163;
    his rhinoceros hunting, 1844, 1853, 182;
    on the borili rhinoceros, 183;
    and the chetah, 201

  Ovampoland, Andersson hunting in, 184

  Ox, musk, colouring of the, 9;
    changeless coat of the, 41

  Paintings, rock-, in Mashunaland and Manicaland, 336

  Palapye, hunters from, 208

  Pandamatenka, 154

  Panyami river, 135

  Parenti, Mr., and Mr. Ryall's death, 50

  Patterson, Colonel, his experiences with two man-eaters, 49

  _Pembroke Castle_, the, author's specimens sent over on, 253

  Pest. _See_ Rinderpest

  Philips, G. A., number of hyænas poisoned with strychnine in one
      night by, 107

  Pigmy Bushmen, 337

  Pigs, immunity of, from tse-tse fly disease, 173

  Pongolo river, inyalas near, 225

  Prongbuck of North America, the "crysanthemum" of the, xvi

  Pungwe river, lions with manes found near the, 81;
    abundant game in the district of the, 88

  Quagga, extinct in South Africa, 130

  Quito river. _See_ Chobi

  Ramokwebani river, 82

  Raven, not an Arctic bird, 42 _n._

  Reedbuck, small antelope 16;
    killed by the author, 235

  Reid, Percy, his kindness to an old hyæna, 110;
    letter from, concerning tse-tse flies, 157

  Restlessness of wild animals, 19, 42

  Revue river, 96;
    tse-tse flies on the, 1891, 173

  Rhinoceros, coming to drink, 113;
    hyænas and the, 114;
    calf killed by hyænas, 116;
    white, driven away from the author's camp, 272;
    wonderful escape of a black, 273

  Rhinoceroses, black and white, scarcity of the, 131, 179;
    plentiful in 1873, 132;
    Sir Corwallis Harris and the, 1836, 182;
    Mr. Oswell's hunting the, 182;
    borili and keitloa, 183;
    differences between the white and the black, 185;
    commercial value of horns of, increased in _c._ 1880, 188;
    supposed charges of, 190;
    explanation of the charges of, 192;
    killed by crocodiles, 201

  Rhodesia, North-Western, scarcity of rhinoceroses in, 195

  Rhodesia, Southern, countries included in, 293

  Richardson, Sir Cornwallis Harris's companion in his hunting
      expedition in South Africa, 1836, 180

  Rinderpest, in 1896, 30, 135;
    Dr. Koch and the epidemic of, 137

  Roads, waggon, through fly-infested countries, 153 f.

  Roaring of lions, 89

  Rocks. _See_ Paintings

  Roosevelt, President, "Foreword" by, xi-xix;
    letter from, to the author, 1907, 200

  Rooyen, Cornelis van, hybrid hartebeest shot by, 36;
    and the chase of the wild dogs, 123;
    and the chetahs, 126

  Rothschild, Hon. Walter, giraffe of, in the Tring Museum, 218

  Ryall, C. H., killed by a man-eater, 50

  Sabi river, chetah cubs found near, 129;
    inyalas found near, 225

  St. Lucia Bay, 166;
    inyalas near, 225

  Salisbury, capital of Mashunaland, 48

  Salt, rock, found at Makari-kari, 264

  Sanyati river, 135

  Scent, carnivorous animals hunting by, 14, 18;
    keenness of rhinoceros's, 189;
    the giraffe's keenness of, 212

  Schweinitz, Count von, and the gemsbuck, 290

  Sclater, Dr., inyala skin sent to, by Sir Alfred Sharpe, 1891, 226

  Sebakwe river, in Mashunaland, 123

  Sebitwane, chief of the Makololo, 162;
    Dr. Livingstone's visit to, 1853, 163

  Sekeletu, Sebitwane's son, Dr. Livingstone's visit to, 1861, 164

  Sell, Mr., travelling with the author from Tlakani, 313

  "Selous," John, description of, 333;
    his native language, 334

  Shangani river, tse-tse flies at the, 1873, 163

  Sharpe. _See_ Grogan and Sharpe

  Sharpe, Sir Alfred, his opinions on the tse-tse fly, published in
      the _Field_, 150;
    inyala skin sent to Dr. Sclater by, 1891, 226

  Shashi river, buffaloes plentiful near the, 152

  Sheep, Barbary, colour of, 6

  Shoshong, chief town of Khama's people, 324;
    the author at, 325

  Sight, small use of, in carnivorous animals, 14, 18;
    dulness of, of rhinoceroses, 189;
    strong, of the giraffe, 206;
    keen, of the gemsbuck, 257;
    keen, of vultures, 260

  Sikumi river, elephants drinking at, 271

  Situtunga, coloration of, 31, 33

  Smell, strong, of zebras, 22;
    of lions, disagreeable to domestic animals, 97;
    of hyænas, 116;
    of giraffes, 216

  Steinbuck, small antelope, 16

  Stigand, Capt., injured by a black rhinoceros, 195

  Stockade made by natives, as a defence against lions, 53

  Sungwe, Lake, 89

  Surroundings, influence of, on the coloured coats of animals, 39

  Swahilis, hunting rhinoceroses, 197

  Swart, Martinus, Boer hunter, 179

  Symptoms of the disease caused by tse-tse fly bites, 171

  Tamalakan river, 136;
    tse-tse flies numerous near the, in 1853, 153

  Tana river, wild animals in the, 201

  Tanganyika, Lake, 66

  Tati, river, 82

  Teale, death of, killed by a lion in Mashunaland, 67

  Tembe river, inyalas near, 225

  Teoge. _See_ Okavango

  Thamma-Setjie, on the road to Zambesi, 192

  Thomson's gazelle. _See_ Gazelle

  Tinkarn, head of Khama's people, his preference for hyæna meat, 117;
    one of Khama's chiefs, 312;
    travelling with the author, 313;
    his influence over Bushmen, 335

  Tlakani, journey of the author and his friends from, to Klabala,
      Christmas 1879, 313-327

  Transvaal, Northern, infested by tse-tse flies, 1845, 151;
    gold found in, 152

  Trap, made by Mr. Costello, to catch a man-eater, 52;
    hyæna breaking a large iron trap, 108

  _Travel and Adventure in South-East Africa_, 332

  Tring Museum, giraffe at, 218

  Tripanosomes, tse-tse fly blood parasites, 171

  Truscott, Jim, trader in Shoshong, 325

  Tsessebes, hunting and shooting, 284 f.

  Tse-tse flies, connection between buffaloes and, 149;
    Sir Alfred Sharpe on the, 150;
    disappearance of the, 151 f., 156;
    causes of the increase of, 159;
    dangers of the sting of, to cattle, 161;
    its conditions of existence, 166;
    Dr. Livingstone's remarks on, 167;
    bite of, 170;
    when most troublesome, 174;
    curious effect of the bites of, 176

  Tubers, water-conserving, known to natives and wild animals, 209

  Uganda Railway, coolies killed by man-eaters, 49

  Umay river, in Matabeleland, 53

  Umfuli river, in Mashunaland, 26

  Umsengaisi river, 135

  Umshlangeni, Mission Station at, 176

  Umziligazi, father of Lo Bengula, 94;
    founder of the Matabele nation, 162

  Umzingwani river, 80

  Umzweswe river, tse-tse flies near the, 168

  Ungwesi river, 55

  Usutu river, inyalas plentiful near the, 247;
    guinea-fowls on the, 249

  Vaal river, 40

  Vaalpens, meaning of, 331

  Viljoen, Jan, Boer hunter, 179

  Vultures, strong sight of, 260

  Walfisch Bay, 268

  Wall, Henry, elephant hunter, and the lion, 54

  Wallace, Alfred Russel, quotation from, on the colour of wild
      animals, 2;
    on the colour of wild animals, 9, 34

  Wankies, coal-mine at, 163

  Ward, Rowland, _Great and Small Game of Africa_, published by, 38;
    and a giraffe killed by the author, 217

  Wart-hogs, 306

  Water, vegetable substitute for, 209;
    giraffes said to be independent of, for months at a time, 211;
    sufferings caused by scarcity of, 315 f.;
    travelling after, 318 f.;
    instinct of cattle after, 322

  Waterberg, in Northern Transvaal, 151

  Waterbucks, 305

  Westbeech, George, his opinion on the disappearance of the tse-tse
      fly, 158

  Whelps of hyænas, 118

  _Wild Beasts and Their Ways_, by Samuel Baker, 201

  Winter, colouring of wild animals in, 11, 41

  Wissels, Mr., the author's journey with, to Amatongaland, 1896, 229,

  Witchcraft, punishment of, in Africa, 105;
    trials for, in Matabeleland, 107

  Witwaters Rand, gold found in, 325

  Women used as porters in Amatongaland, 233

  Wood, George, hunting experience of, 187

  Young, Lieutenant, the Livingstone search expedition commanded by,
      1866, 227

  Yukon Territory, colouring of the wild animals of, in winter, 11

  Zambesi river, Burchell's zebras plentiful near, 21;
    bushbucks found near, 32;
    tse-tse flies along the, _c._ 1878, 154

  Zebras, colouring of different races of, 5;
    Grant's zebras, 5;
    beauty of Burchell's zebra, 21;
    strong smell of, 22;
    friendly inquisitiveness of, 305

  Zoutpansberg, in Northern Transvaal, 151

  Zumbo, on the Zambesi, 176


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

Transcriber's Notes

Archaic, dialectical and unusual spellings have been maintained.
Obvious misprints have been fixed. Please note that the block
quotations from other sources, such as the "Foreword" tend to have
different dialectical spellings.

Details of the changes:

  Page xi:
  In this ebook: remote wilderness. Throughout historic time it has
  Originally:    remote wilderness. Thru-out historic time it has

  Page xix:
  In this ebook: in order, as I thoroughly believe,
  Originally:    in order, as I thoroly believe,

  Page 9:
  In this ebook: The musk ox retains its dark brown coat
  Originally:    The musk ox retains it dark brown coat

  Page 17:
  In this ebook: make good his hold with one of his fore-paws over
  Originally:    make good his hold with one of his forepaws over

  Page 27:
  In this ebook: a wide expanse of wait-a-bit thorn scrub
  Originally:    a wide expanse of wait-a-bit-thorn scrub

  Page 63:
  In this ebook: I do not know. Possibly the eagerness of
  Originally:    I do no know. Possibly the eagerness of

  Page 71:
  In this ebook: most of them were absolutely untouched by the
  Originally:    most of them were absoultely untouched by the

  Page 190:
  In this ebook: to Matabeleland, through an uninhabited piece of
  Originally:    to Matabeland, through an uninhabited piece of

  Page 198:
  In this ebook: Elgin on the game of the East Africa Protectorate
  Originally:    Elgin on the game of the East Africa Proctectorate

  Page 225:
  In this ebook: and the magnificence of its skin. Its horns almost
  Originally:    and the magificence of its skin. Its horns almost

  Page 233:
  In this ebook: Amatonga women; for, in this part of the country,
  Originally:    Amatonga women; for, in in this part of the country,

  Page 253:
  In this ebook: in a patch of thick bush. The country was
  Originally:    in a patch of thich bush. The country was

  Page 287:
  In this ebook: had left it. An examination of the ground, however,
  Originally:    had left it. An examimation of the ground, however,

  Page 318:
  In this ebook: the road from Shoshong to Pandamatenka crossed
  Originally:    the road from Shoshung to Pandamatenka crossed

  Page 355:
  In this ebook: Roosevelt, President, "Foreword" by, xi-xix;
  Originally:    Roosevelt, President, "Foreward" by, xi-xix;

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "African Nature Notes and Reminiscences" ***

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