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Full text of "In brightest Africa"

IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 



,-v/- 



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Ski 

flf CARL E. AKELEY 

JN 
BRIGHTEST 
AFRICA^ 

Memorial Edition 




S *R\& 



GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK 
GARDEN CITY PUBLISHING CO., INC 



to 



338 2,0} 

SEP 2 11948 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, I02I, 1922, 1923, BY DOUBLB- 
DAY, PAGE & COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THB 
COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN. CITY, N. Y. 






TO 

THE MEMORY 

OF 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT 



"He that hath drunk of Africa's fountains, 

will drink again." 

— Old Arab Proverb 



FOREWORD 

I HAVE written this Foreword, not after reading 
the manuscript of the volume thoroughly, but 
after a quarter of a century acquaintance with 
the experiences, thoughts, and ideals of the author 
himself. This is the daybook, the diary, the narra- 
tive, the incident, and the adventure of an African 
sculptor and an African biographer, whose observa- 
tions we hope may be preserved in imperishable form, 
so that when the animal life of Africa has vanished, 
future generations may realize in some degree the 
beauty and grandeur which the world has lost. 

Sculptor and Biographer of the vanishing wild 
life of Africa — I do not feel that I can adequately and 
truthfully characterize Carl E. Akeley better than 
in these words. I have always maintained that he 
was a sculptor, that sculpture was his real vocation, 
in which taxidermy was an incidental element. The 
sculptor is a biographer and an historian. Without 
sculpture we should know far less of the vanished 
greatness of Greece than we do. Through sculpture 
Carl E. Akeley is recording the vanishing greatness 
of the natural world of Africa. We palaeontologists 
alone realize that in Africa the remnants of all the 
royal families of the Age of Mammals are making 

it 



x FOREWORD 

their last stand, that their backs are up against the 
pitiless wall of what we call civilization. Human 
rights are triumphing over animal rights, and it 
would be hard to determine which rights are really 
superior or most worthy to survive. 

Akeley came twenty-seven years ago into the 
midst of this unequal contest between the flesh and 
blood of the animal kingdom and the steel and lead 
of the sportsman, of the food and ivory hunter, and 
his sympathies were all on the animal side in the 
fight. If his sympathies had been on the human 
side he could not be the biographer of the African 
vanishing world who speaks in the pages of this 
volume, lost in admiration of the majesty of the 
elephant, the unchallenged reign of the lion, the 
beauty and grace of the antelope, the undaunted 
courage of the buffalo, and, last but not least, of 
certain splendid qualities in the native African hunter. 
We know of only one other sculptor who has immor- 
talized the African Negro in bronze; this is Herbert 
Ward, whose splendid life work is now in the United 
States National Museum. 

Similarly, Carl E. Akeley 's life work will be as- 
sembled in the African and Roosevelt Halls of the 
American Museum, in human bronzes, in a great 
group of the elephant, in rhinoceroses and gorillas, 
each group representing his unerring portrayal of the 
character of the animal and his sympathetic admi- 
ration of its finest qualities. It is in making close 
observations for these groups that he has lived so 
long in Africa and come very close to death on three 



FOREWORD xi 

occasions. We may find something base in animal 
nature if we seek it; we may also find much that is 
excellent and worthy of emulation. In this respect 
animal nature is like human nature — we may take 
our choice. The decadent sculptor and the decadent 
writer may choose the wrong side in human nature, 
and the sensational writer may choose the wrong side 
in animal nature; Akeley has chosen the ennobling 
side and does not dwell on the vices either of the 
animals or of the natives but on their virtues, their 
courage, defence of their young, devotion to the 
safety of their families — simple, homely virtues which 
are so much needed to-day in our civilization. 

Truthfulness is the high note of the enduring 
biographer of animal life as well as of human life. 
"Set down naught in malice, nothing extenuate" 
is an essential principle in the portrayal of vanishing 
Africa as it is in our portrayal of the contemporary 
manners and customs of modern society; to know 
the elephant, the. lion, the antelope, the gorilla as 
they really are, not as they have been pictured by 
sensational writers who have never seen them at 
close range or who have been tempted to exaggerate 
their danger for commercial reasons. Akeley's work 
on the gorilla is the latest and perhaps his best por- 
trayal of animal life in Africa as it really is. He 
defends the reputation of this animal, which has been 
misrepresented in narrative and fiction as a ferocious 
biped that attacks man at every opportunity, ab- 
ducts native women as in the sculptures of Fremiet, 
a monster with all the vices of man and none of the 



xii FOREWORD 

virtues. For this untruthful picture Akeley substi- 
tutes a real gorilla, chiefly a quadruped in locomo- 
tion, not seeking combat with man, ferocious only 
when his family rights are invaded, benign rather 
than malignant in countenance. Thus he explodes 
the age-long gorilla myth and we learn for the first 
time the place in nature of this great anthropoid and 
come to believe that it should be conserved and 
protected rather than eliminated. In other words, 
the author shows that there are good grounds for the 
international movement to conserve the few remain- 
ing tribes of the gorilla. 

Akeley has come into closest touch with all these 
animals in turn, even at great personal risk, always 
leaving with increased rather than diminished admi- 
ration for them. This quality of truthfulness, com- 
bined with his love of beauty of the animal form — 
beauty of hide, of muscle, of bone, of facial expres- 
sions — will give permanence to Akeley 's work, and 
permanence will be the sure test of its greatness. 

Henry Fairfield Osborn. 
July 27, 1923. 

American Museum. 



CONTENTS 

CHATTER p AGB 

I. A New Art Begun I 

II. Elephant Friends and Foes .... 20 

III. My Acquaintance with Lions . . . ,58 

IV. Hunting the African Buffalo ... 82 
V. Leopards and Rhinos ...... 94 

VI. Along the Trail in 

VII. Bill 131 

VIII. Safari Hunters »-■••. 148 

IX. Inventions and Warfare 164 

X. A Taxidermist as a Sculptor . . . 175 

XI. Hunting Gorillas in Central Africa . 188 

XII. Adventures on Mt. Mikeno ... .211 

XIII. The Lone Male of Karisimbi . . . 225 

XIV. Is the Gorilla Almost a Man? . . . 236 

XV. Roosevelt African Hall — A Record for 

the Future 251 



LIST OF LINE DRAWINGS 



PAGB 



Map of the Elephant Country 34 

Sketch Indicating Mr. Akeley's Movements 
During Encounter with Leopard ... 98 

Map Showing Mr. Akeley's Route to Gorilla 
Country 199 

Map Showing Location of Three Mountains, 
Mikeno, Karisimbi, and Visoke .... 227 

Plan of the Main Floor and Gallery of Roose- 
velt African Hall 255 

A Section of the "Annex" Containing Habitat 
Groups ; . . 2$£ 



IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 



IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

CHAPTER I 

A NEW ART BEGUN 

4 S A boy I lived on a farm near Clarendon, 
ZJk Orleans County, N. Y., and for some reason, 
JL jL about the time I was thirteen, I got interested 
in birds. I was out of place on the farm for I was 
much more interested in taxidermy than in farming. 
As a matter of fact, by the time I was sixteen I an- 
nounced to the world that I was a taxidermist. I had 
borrowed a book which had originally cost a dollar, 
and from that book I learned taxidermy up to a point 
where I felt justified in having business cards printed 
stating that I did artistic taxidermy in all its branches. 
I even went so far as to take several lessons in paint- 
ing from a lady who taught art in Clarendon, in order 
that I might paint realistic backgrounds behind the 
birds that I mounted. So far as I know, that was the 
first experiment of painted backgrounds used for 
mounted birds or animals. I believe that my first 
attempt in this direction is still in existence in Claren- 
don but I have been a little afraid to go to see it. 

In the fall of the year in which I was nineteen, after 
the crops were in, I set out to get a wider field for my 



2 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

efforts. There was at that time in the neighbouring 
town of Brockport an Englishman named David 
Bruce, whose hobby was taxidermy. By calling he 
was a painter and interior decorator — a very skilful 
craftsman who did special work far and wide through 
the country. As a recreation he mounted birds and 
animals for sportsmen. His office was filled with 
birds in cases and he was surrounded with other 
evidences of his hobby. 

To me it seemed that he led an ideal life, for he had 
a successful business and one that gave him enough 
spare time to indulge his fancies in taxidermy. It 
hadn't entered my head at the time that a man could 
make a living at anything as fascinating as taxidermy, 
so I felt that the best possible solution of the problem 
was that which Mr. Bruce had devised. I went to 
see if I could get a job with him in his decorating 
business in order that I might also be with him in his 
hobby. He was most kindly and cordial. I remem- 
ber that he took me out. and bought me an oyster 
stew and told me, while we were eating, that if I came 
with him he would teach me all his trade secrets in 
painting and decorating, which he had kept even from 
his workmen. It seemed to me that a glorious future 
was settled for me then and there. If I was not in 
the seventh heaven, I was at least in the fifth or sixth 
and going up, and then my prospects became so 
favourable as to become almost terrifying. Mr. 
Bruce, after having made me such alluring offers to 
come with him, said that he thought I ought to go to 
a nvAch better place than his shop — a place where I 



A NEW ART BEGUN 3 

might actually make a living at taxidermy. In 
Rochester there was a famous institution, Ward's 
Natural Science Establishment. At that time, and 
for years afterward, this establishment supplied the 
best museums in this country with nearly all their 
mounted specimens and also most of their other 
natural history collections. Professor Ward was the 
greatest authority on taxidermy of his day. It was 
to this place that Bruce suggested I should go. The 
step which he planned seemed a great venture to 
me, but I determined to try it. I went home from 
Brockport and told the family what Bruce had said 
and what I intended to do. I got up early next morn- 
ing — I didn't have to wake up for I had hardly slept 
a wink — and walked three miles to the station to take 
the train to Rochester. When I reached there, I 
walked all over town before I found Ward's Natural 
Science Establishment and the more I walked the 
lower and lower my courage sank. The Establish- 
ment consisted of Professor Ward's house and several 
other buildings, the entrance to the place being an 
arch made of the jaws of a sperm whale. An ap^ 
prentice approaching the studio of a Rembrandt or a 
Van Dyke couldn't have been more in awe than 
I was. I walked up and down the sidewalk in front 
of the Professor's house for a while until I finally 
gathered courage to ring the door-bell. I was ad- 
mitted to an elaborately furnished room, and after 
a little while Professor Ward came in. It had been 
a long time since I had had breakfast, but he hadn't 
quite finished his, and this contrast seemed to increase 



4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

my disadvantages in his presence. Moreover, Pro- 
fessor Ward was always very busy and very brusque 
and was a very fierce man. Not even when a leopard 
sprang on me in Africa have I had a worse moment 
than when this little man snapped out, "What do you 
want?" 

The last vestige of my pride and assurance was 
centred on my business card, and without a word I 
handed him this evidence of my skill and art as a 
taxidermist. The card seemed to justify my belief 
in it, for the great man asked me when I could go to 
work and offered me the munificent sum of $3.50 a 
week. I discovered a boarding house where I could 
get a room and my meals for $4 a week and on this 
basis I began to learn the art of taxidermy and to run 
through my slender resources. 

The art of taxidermy as practised at Ward's Nat- 
ural Science Establishment in those days was very 
simple. To stuff a deer, for example, we treated the 
skin with salt, alum, and arsenical soap. Then the 
bones were wired and wrapped and put in his legs and 
he was hung, upside down, and the body stuffed 
with straw until it would hold no more If then we 
wished to thin the body at any point, we sewed 
through it with a long needle and drew it in. Now 
to do this, no knowledge of the animal's anatomy or 
of anything else about it was necessary. There was 
but little attempt to put the animals in natural 
attitudes; no attempt at grouping, and no accessories 
in the shape of trees or other surroundings. The 
profession I had chosen as the most satisfying and 



A NEW ART BEGUN 5 

stimulating to a man's soul turned out at that time 
to have very little science and no art at all. 

The reason for this was not so much that no one 
knew better. It was more the fact that no one would 
pay for better work. Professor Ward had to set a 
price on his work that the museums would pay, and 
at that time most museums were interested almost 
exclusively in the collection of purely scientific data 
and cared little for exhibitions that would appeal to 
the public. They preferred collections of birds' skins 
to bird groups, and collections of mammal data and 
skeletons to mammal groups. The museums then 
had no taxidermists of their own. 

However, many of the prominent museum men of 
to-day had their early training at Ward's Natural 
Science Establishment. Soon after I went to Ward's 
another nineteen-year-old boy named William Mor- 
ton Wheeler, now of the Bussey Institution at Har- 
vard, turned up there. E. N. Gueret, now in charge 
of the Division of Osteology in the Field Museum of 
Natural History, George K. Cherrie, the South 
American explorer; the late J. William Critchley, who 
became the chief taxidermist in the Brooklyn Museum 
of Arts and Sciences; Henry L. Ward, director of the 
Kent Scientific Museum in Grand Rapids; H. C. 
Denslow, an artist formerly associated with several 
of the leading museums as bird taxidermist; William 
T. Hornaday, director of the New York Zoological 
Park, and Frederick S. Webster, who was the first 
president of the Society of American Taxidermists, 
were all among the friends I made in those early days. 



6 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

A long list of others, not my contemporaries at that 
institution, but men with whom I have since been 
associated in museum work, might be added. Dr. 
Frederic A. Lucas had left Ward's shortly before my 
arrival to take up his duties at the Smithsonian In- 
stitution but I came to feel that I knew him very well 
through the stories and reminiscences of my com- 
panions. It was not until my return from my third 
expedition in 191 1 that my delightful association with 
him as the director of the American Museum of Nat- 
ural History was begun. 

I have a theory that the first museum taxidermist 
came into existence in about this way: One of our 
dear old friends, some old-fashioned closet naturalist 
who knew animals only as dried skins and had been 
getting funds from some kind-hearted philanthropist, 
one day, under pressure from the philanthropist, who 
wanted something on exhibition to show his friends, 
sent around the corner and called in an upholsterer 
and said, "Here is the skin of an animal. Stuff this 
thing and make it look like a live animal." The 
upholsterer did it and kept on doing it until the scien- 
tist had a little more money. Given more work the 
upholsterer became ambitious and had an idea that 
these animals might be improved upon, so he began to 
do better work. But it took more time and cost more 
money so that he lost his job. Thus it has been that 
from the very people from whom we expected the 
most encouragement in the beginning of our efforts, 
we received the least. 

I remember very well one time when an opportun- 



A NEW ART BEGUN 7 

ity came to do something a little better. A zebra was 
brought into the Establishment. I had been study- 
ing anatomy and I had learned the names of all the 
muscles and all the bones. When I saw the zebra I 
realized that here was an opportunity to do something 
good and I asked to make a plaster cast of the body. 
I had to do it in my own time and worked from supper 
until breakfast time, following out a few special ex- 
periments of my own in the process. Nevertheless, 
the zebra was handed out to be mounted in the old 
way and my casts were thrown on the dump. 

I stayed at this leading institution of taxidermy for 
four years and while I was there we stuffed animals 
for most of the museums in the country, for hunters 
and sportsmen, and various other kinds of people, 
including Barnum's circus. The animal we stuffed 
for Barnum's circus was the famous elephant Jumbo. 
We had to use a slightly different method for Jumbo, 
not only because of his size but because he had to be 
made rigid and strong enough to stand being carted 
around the country with the circus; for this old ele- 
phant served dead as well as alive to amuse and in- 
struct the public. As a matter of fact, he is still at 
it, for his skin on the steel-and-wood frame we made 
for it at Ward's is at Tufts College and his skeleton 
is at the American Museum of Natural History. 

Between the time that I first went to Ward's and 
my last job there, which was on Jumbo, there was an 
intermission which I spent in the taxidermy shop of 
John Wallace on North William Street in New York. 
I roomed in Brooklyn with Doctor Funk, of Funk & 



8 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

Wagnalls, and worked in the basement shop of 
Wallace's, and a more dreary six months I never had 
spent anywhere. So when Ward came after me to go 
back, saying that his having fired me was all a mistake 
due to erroneous reports that had been given him, I 
went, and stayed three years. During this time I got 
to know Professor Webster of Rochester University, 
who later became president of Union College, and he 
urged me to study to become a professor. In spite 
of the fact that my education had stopped early on 
account of a lack of funds, I set to work to prepare 
myself to go to the Sheffield Scientific School. But 
between working in the daytime and studying at 
night I broke down, and when examination time came 
I wasn't ready. However, my chances of further 
education, although delayed, seemed improved. At 
the time I was studying for the Sheffield Scientific 
School my friend, William Morton Wheeler, had left 
Ward's and was teaching in the High School in Mil- 
waukee. He wrote and offered to tutor me if I would 
go out there. So I went to Milwaukee and got a job 
with the museum there, which was to give me food 
and lodging while I prepared for college. It did more 
than that, for it absorbed me so that I gave up all 
thought of abandoning taxidermy. I stayed eight 
years in Milwaukee, working in the museum and in a 
shop of my own. 

Several things happened there which stimulated 
my interest in taxidermy. One of the directors had 
been to Lapland and had collected the skin of a rein- 
deer, a Laplander's sled, and the driving parapher- 



A NEW ART BEGUN 9 

nalia, and he was anxious to have these shown in the 
museum. This material we turned into a group of a 
Laplander driving a reindeer over the snow. That 
was fairly successful, and we induced the museum to 
buy a set of skins of orang-outangs, which Charles 
F. Adams, another of my former colleagues at Ward's, 
had collected in Borneo. We arranged them in a 
group using some bare branches as accessories. 

In making these groups we had had to abandon 
the old straw-rag-and-bone method of stuffing and 
create modelled manikins over which to stretch the 
skins. As soon as this point was reached several 
problems presented themselves, the solution of which 
meant an entirely new era in taxidermy. If a man 
was going to model a realistic manikin for an animal's 
skin, instead of stuffing the skin with straw, it was 
evident he would have to learn to model. Likewise 
it turned out that, even if a man knew how to model, 
he couldn't model an animal body sufficiently well 
for the skin to fit it unless he knew animal anatomy. 
And we found out also that making a manikin from 
a model was not as simple as it sounds, but that on 
the contrary it is about as difficult as casting in bronze, 
the difference being that the art of bronze casting has 
been developed through many years, while the art of 
making manikins had to be created comparatively 
quickly and by a very few people. We worked at 
these problems step by step in Milwaukee and made 
a good deal of progress. 

The reindeer and orang-outang work encouraged 
me to suggest a series of groups of the fur-bearing 



io IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

animals of Wisconsin, the muskrat group to be the 
first of the series. This suggestion was more toler- 
ated than encouraged when it was first made, but I 
went as far as I could go with my dream and before I 
left there I finished the muskrat group, as I did most 
of my early experiments, in spite of the opposition of 
the authorities. It was the old, old story of starting a 
thing and having to give it up because of lack of sup- 
port. But my idea won eventually. It was only a 
short time until my friend Wheeler was made director 
of the museum and from then on there was full 
sympathy for the plan. This was an entering wedge, 
and since that time group after group has been added, 
until now that museum has a magnificent series. 

Wheeler, who had encouraged me to go to Mil- 
waukee, also was the cause of my leaving. One year, 
while he was director, he went to Europe, and while 
abroad had a talk with Sir William Flower of the 
British Museum, in which Flower intimated that he 
would like me to go there. So I planned to quit 
Milwaukee and to go to London. However, I didn't 
immediately get any farther than Chicago. I stopped 
there and happened to go into the Field Museum of 
Natural History. It was then housed in the old art 
gallery of the Columbian Exposition. Professor 
Daniel G. Eliot was its curator of zoology. He of- 
fered me some taxidermy contracts on the spot and 
I accepted. While I was doing them he suggested 
that I go with him on an expedition to Africa. We 
started in 1896. 

When we got back from that trip I continued at the 



A NEW ART BEGUN n 

Field Museum as chief of the Department of Taxi- 
dermy. Before leaving Milwaukee I had been work- 
ing on an idea of four deer groups, to be called the 
"Four Seasons," to show the animals in natural sur- 
roundings of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. I 
collected a good deal of the necessary material and 
put a lot of work on the project in my own shop, and 
finally reached a point where it became necessary for 
me to know whether the museum was going to want 
the groups or not. I approached the curator of 
zoology. He said that he would recommend the 
purchase of one of the four. Later I saw the presi- 
dent of the museum. After some discussion he asked 
why it was that the museum couldn't have the four 
groups. I gave him every assurance that it could. 
I spent four years on these four groups. It wouldn't 
take so long now but at that time we had not only 
to make the groups but also to perfect the methods 
of doing it at the same time. Four years is a long 
time to take on four deer groups, but the number of 
things in taxidermy we worked out in doing those 
groups made it a very full four years' work. In fact, 
the method finally used for mounting those deer 
groups is the method still in use. 

Briefly, that method is this: For each animal a 
rough armature was made, on which a life-sized clay 
model was shaped just like a clay model made for 
casting in bronze except that to facilitate accuracy 
the skull and leg bones of the animal were used. This 
model was checked by measurements made of the 
dead' animal in the field, by photographs, and fre- 



12 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

quently by anatomical casts made in the field. The 
final result was a model not only of the species but of 
the actual animal whose skin we were going to use. 
All this took a lot of time, study, and money, and it 
was quite a different thing from stuffing a skin with 
rags and straw. For a temporary effect the skin 
could be mounted on the clay model, but an animal 
so mounted would deteriorate. For permanent 
work it was necessary to devise some light, durable 
substance, which would not be affected by moisture, 
to take the place of the clay of the manikin. After a 
lot of experimentation I came to the conclusion that 
a papier-mache manikin reenforced by wire cloth 
and coated with shellac would be tough, strong, 
durable, and impervious to moisture. It isn't possi- 
ble to model papier-mache with the hands as one 
moulds clay, so the problem resolved itself into mak- 
ing a plaster mould of the clay model and then using 
that to build the papier-mache manikin. When a 
man wishes to make a bronze in a mould he can pour 
the melted metal into the mould and when it has 
cooled remove the mould. But you can't pour 
papier-mache reenforced with wire cloth and if you 
put it into a plaster-of-paris mould it will stick. The 
solution of this difficulty struck me suddenly one day 
when I was riding into town to go to the museum. 

"I've got it!" I exclaimed, to the amusement of 
my friends and the rest of the car full of people. As 
soon as I could get to my shop I tried it and it worked. 
It was to take the plaster moulds of the clay model 
and coat the inside of them with glue. On this glue 



A NEW ART BEGUN 13 

I laid a sheet of muslin and worked it carefully and 
painstakingly into every undulation of the mould. 
On this went thin layers of papier-mache with the 
wire cloth reenforcement likewise worked carefully 
into every undulation of the mould. Every layer of 
the papier-mache composition was carefully covered 
with a coating of shellac so that each layer, as well as 
the whole, was entirely impervious to water. For 
animals the size of a deer two layers of reenforced 
composition give strength enough. For animals the 
size of an elephant four are sufficient and four 
layers are only about an eighth of an inch thick. 
When the final coat of shellac was well dried I im- 
mersed the whole thing in water. The water affected 
nothing but the thin coating of glue between the 
mould and the muslin. That melted and my muslin- 
covered, reenforced papier-mache sections of the 
manikin came out of the plaster mould clean and 
perfect replicas of the original clay model. The 
four sections of the manikin were assembled with the 
necessary leg irons and wooden ribs and the whole 
was ready for the skin. 

The combination of glue and muslin was the key 
to the whole problem. The manikin so made is an 
absolutely accurate reproduction of the clay model, 
even more accurate than bronze castings for there is 
no shrinkage. The manikin of a deer so constructed 
weighs less than thirty pounds, but it is strong enough 
to hold a man's weight. I have sat on the back of 
an antelope mounted in this manner and done it no 
harm. Moreover, it is entirely made of clean and 



i 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

durable materials. There is nothing to rot or shrink 
or to cause shrinkage or decay in the skin. Of the 
animal itself only the shells of the hoofs and horns, 
and the skin are used, and the skin is much more care- 
fully cleaned and tanned than those of women's furs. 
An animal prepared in this way will last indefinitely. 
This was a long step from the methods we used at 
Ward's of filling a raw skin with greasy bones of the 
legs and skull and stuffing the body out with straw, 
excelsior, old rags, and the like. 

I believe that there has not yet been devised a bet- 
ter method of taxidermy than that described here and 
its use has become almost universal. Although it 
does not take much time to tell about it, the mounting 
of an animal in this way is a long and tedious process. 
Moreover, it is hard work. Consequently, but few 
of the people using it do a thoroughly constructed 
manikin. In an attempt to save time and money 
cheaper processes are resorted to and many animals, 
mounted by methods that only approximate that 
which I have evolved, fail to show good results. 
When the method was first introduced at the Ameri- 
can Museum of Natural History, the authorities 
objected to its expense, and to cut down the cost a 
light plaster cast, believed to be "just as good," 
was substituted for the manikin. Many specimens 
mounted in this manner have since been thrown on 
the dump heap. 

I finally got the four deer groups finished and the 
Field Museum bought them at the price agreed upon. 
When I figured it out financially I found that I had 



A NEW ART BEGUN 15 

come out even on my expenditures for labour and 
materials but for my own time and for profit there 
was nothing. However, I had the experience and 
the method and I felt that it was a pretty good four 
years' work. 

In the old days at Ward's a taxidermist was a man 
who took an animal's skin from a hunter or collector 
and stuffed it or upholstered it. By the time I had 
finished the deer groups I had become pretty well 
convinced that a real taxidermist needed to know 
the technique of several quite different things. 

First, he must be a field man who can collect his 
own specimens, for other people's measurements are 
never very satisfactory, and actual study of the 
animals in their own environment is necessary in 
making natural groups. 

Second, he must know both animal anatomy and 
clay modelling in order to make his models. 

Third, he should have something of the artistic 
sense to make his groups pleasing as well as accurate. 
1 Fourth, he must know the technique of manikin 
making, the tanning of skins, and the making of ac- 
cessories such as artificial leaves, branches, etc. 

With all these different kinds of technique in taxi- 
dermy it is obvious that if a man attempts to do prac- 
tically everything himself, as I did in the deer groups, 
taxidermy must be a very slow process — just as if a 
painter had to learn to make his own paint or a sculp- 
tor to cast his own bronzes or chisel his concepts out 
of granite or marble. 

The proper care of the skins in the field is itself a 



16 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

subject of infinite ramifications. I remember, for 
instance, my experience in skinning the first elephant 
that I killed. I shot him in the early afternoon. I 
immediately set to work photographing and measur- 
ing him. That took about an hour, and then I set to 
the serious work of getting off his skin. I worked 
as rapidly as I could, wherever possible using the help 
of the fifty boys of my safari, and by strenuous efforts 
finished taking the skin off and salting it by breakfast 
time the next morning. And that was not quick 
enough. Before I got all the skin off the carcass 
some of it on the under side had begun to decompose 
and I lost a little of it. This was a particularly 
difficult beast to skin because he had fallen in a little 
hollow and after skinning the exposed side of him all 
the efforts of the fifty black boys to roll him over, out 
of the depression, so that we could easily get at the 
other side, failed. After I had had more practice, I 
was able to photograph, measure, and skin an ele- 
phant and have his hide salted in eight hours. But 
then the work on the skin was only begun. A green 
skin like this weighs a ton and a quarter and in places 
is as much as two and a half inches thick. There is 
about four days* work in thinning it. I have had 
thirty or forty black boys for days cutting at the in- 
side of the skin in this thinning process or sharpening 
the knives with which they did the work. 

When it is finally thinned down, thoroughly dried 
and salted, it presents another problem. Moisture 
will ruin it. Salt, the only available preservative, 
attracts moisture. It isn't possible to carry zinc- 



A NEW ART BEGUN 17 

ilined cases into the forests after elephants. I tried 
building thatched roofs over the skins but it was not 
a success. I speculated on many other plans but 
none appeared feasible. Finally Nature provided a 
solution for the difficulty. 

There are, in the elephant country, many great 
swarms of bees. I set the natives to work collecting 
beeswax which is as impervious to moisture as shellac. 
I melted the wax and used it to coat unbleached cot- 
ton cloth, known in East Africa as Americana. In 
this water-tight, wax-covered cloth I wrapped my 
dried and salted rolls of skins and packed them on 
the porters' heads down to the railroad. 

As a matter of fact, field conditions make it so 
difficult to care for skins properly that only a very 
small percentage ever reach a taxidermy shop in 
perfect condition. 

Similarly the measurement of animals for taxi- 
dermy presents many difficulties. The size of a lion's 
leg, for instance, measured as it hangs limp after the 
animal's death is not accurate data for the leg with 
the muscles taut ready for action. Nor is an animal's 
body the same size with its lungs deflated in death 
as when the breath of life was in its body. All these 
things must be taken into account in using measure- 
ments or even casts to resurrect an animal true to its 
living appearance. 

My work on the deer groups impressed me with the 
fact that taxidermy, if it was to be an art, must have 
skilled assistance as the other arts have. I began to 
dream of museums which would have artist-naturalists 



18 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

who would have the vision to plan groups and the 
skill to model them and who would be furnished with 
skilled assistance in the making of the manikins and 
accessories and in the mounting of the animals. And 
it seemed as if the dream were about to come true. 
About this time I had a conference with Dr. Herman 
Bumpus, then director of the American Museum of 
Natural History in New York. He told me that he 
had then at the museum a young man named James 
Clark who could model but who did not know the 
technique of making manikins and mounting animals. 
The result of our talk was that Clark came out to 
my shop in Chicago and together we went through 
the whole process, mounting a doe which now stands 
in the American Museum. But the old museum 
( trouble broke out again. It cost a lot to mount 
animals in the method which Clark brought back. 
So there was pressure to reduce the cost and, under 
this pressure, the methods, in the words of O. Henry, 
"were damaged by improvements." However, in 
the course of time it was demonstrated that while 
it often happens that an honest effort to make a thing 
better often makes it cheaper also, an effort merely 
to cheapen a thing very seldom makes it better. 

In the meanwhile, in 1905, I went to Africa again, 
to collect zoological material for the Field Museum. 

Again, in 1909, I went, this time for the American 
Museum of Natural History. I stayed two years, 
studying elephants, lions, and lion spearing. When 
I got back and set to work mounting the elephant 
group in the American Museum in New York, I dis- 



A NEW ART BEGUN 19 

covered that with these hairless skins there was op- 
portunity for a little simplification of the method used 
in the deer groups. It was possible actually to model 
the skin on the clay manikin, only in this case the 
clay manikin was for convenience in three pieces. 
A layer of plaster of paris was then laid on outside 
the skin to hold it firmly in shape. Then the clay 
removed from the inside was replaced with a layer 
of plaster. Thus every detail of the skin was held 
firmly in the matrix of plaster until it was thoroughly 
dried, when the plaster was removed from the inside 
and replaced with succeeding layers of wire cloth and 
shellaced papier-mache, making the skin an integral 
part of the manikin. In other words, the skin func- 
tioned practically as does the muslin in the manikins 
made for haired animals. When this was done the 
plaster mould was taken oflF the outside and the clean,' 
light, durable half-sections of elephants were put to- 
gether. 

When I got back from Africa in 191 1 I was dream- 
ing of a great African Hall which would combine 
all the advances that had been made in taxidermy 
and the arts of museum exhibition and at the same 
time would make a permanent record of the fast- 
disappearing wild life of that most interesting ani- 
mal kingdom, Africa. 



CHAPTER II 

ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 

I HAVE sat in the top of a tree in the middle of a 
herd a quarter of a mile from a native village in 
Uganda in a last desperate effort to inspect the 
two hundred and fifty elephants which had been 
chevying me about so fast that I had not had a chance 
to see whether there were any desirable specimens 
among them or not. I have spent a day and a night in 
the Budongo Forest in the middle of a herd of seven 
hundred elephants. I have stood on an ant-hill 
awaiting the rush of eleven elephants which had got 
my wind and were determined to get me. I have 
spent a day following and fighting an old bull which 
took twenty-five shots of our elephant rifles before 
he succumbed. And once also I had such close 
contact with an old bull up on the slopes of Mt. 
Kenia that I had to save myself from being gored by 
grabbing his tusks with my hands and swinging in 
between them. 

I have spent many months studying elephants in 
Africa — on the plains, in the forests, in the bamboo, 
up on the mountains. I have watched them in herds 
and singly, studied their paths, their feeding grounds, 
everything about them I could, and I have come to the 
conclusion that of all the wild animals on this earth 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 21 

now, the African elephant is the most fascinating, 
and that man, for all the thousands of years he has 
known of elephants, knows mighty little about him. 
I am speaking only of the African elephant. He has 
not been domesticated as his Indian cousin has. The 
two are different in size and different in shape and 
different in habits. The low point of an African 
elephant's back line is the highest point of that of the 
Indian elephant. The African elephant's ears and 
tusks are larger, and his tusks usually spread wider 
at the points instead of coming together. Unless 
one studies him in his native haunts, one cannot get 
to know him. His disposition is held to be wilder 
than that of the Indian elephant, but the infrequency 
of his appearance in circuses and in zoological parks 
may be attributed to the ease with which tamed ele- 
phants may be obtained from India rather than to 
a difference of temper in the two beasts. An African 
elephant at Washington and one in the Bronx zo- 
ological park are the only ones I know of in this coun- 
try, and no animal in captivity can give one more 
than a slight idea of his natural habits in his jungle 
home. 

Very few people have studied African elephants 
in the field. Ninety-five per cent, of those who have 
followed them have been purely hunters and their 
desire has been, not to study, but to shoot — to see the 
elephant the shortest possible time. Time to judge 
the ivories and get a bead on the brain was all that 
they wanted. Of other elephant knowledge all that 
they needed was the simple facts of how to follow and 



22 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

find them. The comparatively few men who have 
tried to study the elephant have not gained as much 
knowledge as one would imagine, because without 
trying it one cannot realize how extremely difficult 
it is to study the live African elephant. 

For example, as I said before, I spent a day with 
seven hundred elephants in the Budongo Forest, but 
although I heard them all the time and was very 
acutely conscious that they were near me, I do not 
believe that I actually had my eyes on an elephant 
more than half an hour, all told, during the day. It 
happened this way. 

One night about dark, after a week or two of hunt- 
ing, we heard the squeal of an elephant while we were 
sitting at dinner. A little later there were more 
squeals and occasional trumpeting — more and more, 
clearer and clearer — and by the time we had finished 
dinner the noise was only a mile or so away. It was 
a continuous row which suggested a tremendous herd. 
We went to bed early with elephants getting closer 
to camp all of the time. There is little danger of 
elephants attacking a camp, and, as there is no way 
to study them at night, about the only thing left to 
do was to go to bed and get in good shape for the next 
day. Along about midnight Mrs. Akeley came over 
to my tent and said that she had loaded my guns and 
that they were all ready. She could not sleep; so 
she went out to sit by the fire. The elephants were 
then within a hundred yards of our tents and there 
was a continuous roar made up of trumpetings, 
squealing, and the crashing of bushes and trees. 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 23 

I got up in the morning and had breakfast before 
daybreak. The elephants had moved on down the 
edge of the forest. What had been a jungle of high 
grass and bush the day before was trampled flat. 
There were at least seven hundred elephants in the 
herd — government officials had counted them on the 
previous day as they came down. I followed the 
trails to the edge of the forest but saw none. I started 
back to cross a little nullah (a dry water course), but 
felt suspicious and decided to look the situation over 
a little more closely. I ran up on a sloping rock and, 
almost under me on the other side, I saw the back of 
a large elephant. Over to one side there was another 
one, beyond that another, and then I realized that 
the little nullah through which I had planned to pass 
was very well sprinkled with them. I backed off and 
went up to a higher rock to one side. Elephants 
were drifting into the forest from all directions. The 
sun was just coming up over the hills and was shining 
upon the forest, which sparkled in the sunlight — 
morning greetings to the forest people. The monkeys 
greeted one another with barks and coughs. Every- 
thing was waking up — it was a busy day. There 
was not a breath of air. I had gone back a million 
years; the birds were calling back and forth, the 
monkeys were calling to one another, a troop of 
chimpanzees in the open screamed, and their shouts 
were answered from another group inside the forest. 
All the forest life was awake and moving about as 
that huge herd of elephants, singly and in groups, 
flowed into the forest from the plain. There was one 



24 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

continuous roar of noise, all the wild life joining, but 
above it all were the crashing of trees and the squeal- 
ing of the elephants as they moved into the forest on a 
front at least a mile wide. It was the biggest show 
I ever saw in Africa. 

Then an old cow just at the edge of the forest sud- 
denly got my wind, and wheeling about, she let out a 
scream. Instantly every sound ceased, everything 
was quiet. The monkeys, the birds — all the wild 
life — stopped their racket; the elephants stood still, 
listening and waiting. For a moment I was dazed. 
The thought came through my mind — "What does it 
all mean? Have I been dreaming?" But soon I 
heard the rustling of the trees as though a great storm 
were coming. There was no movement of the air, but 
there was the sound of a wind storm going through a 
forest. It gradually died away, and I realized that the 
elephants had made it as they moved off. It was 
the rustling of the dry leaves on the ground under 
their feet and the rubbing of their bodies through the 
dried foliage of the forest. I never heard a noise 
like that made by elephants — before or since. The 
conditions were unique, for everything was thor- 
oughly parched, and there had not even been a dew. 
Ordinarily, if there is any moisture, elephants when 
warned can travel through a forest without the slight- 
est noise. In spite of their great bulk they are as 
silent and sometimes as hard to see in their country 
as a jack rabbit is in his. I remember on one occasion 
being so close to an old cow in the jungle that I could 
hear the rumbling of her stomach, and yet when she 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 25 

realized my presence the* rumbling ceased, as it al- 
ways does when they are suspicious, and she left the 
clump of growth she was in without my hearing a 
sound. 

But going back to the big herd. From the time I 
had seen the first elephant until the last of them 
disappeared in the forest it had been perhaps fifteen 
minutes — fifteen minutes in which to see the sight of 
a lifetime, a thing to go to Africa a dozen times to 
get one glimpse of. But what did I learn about the 
habits of the elephant in that fifteen minutes? A 
little perhaps but not much. It takes a long time and 
much patience to get at all intimate with old Tembo, 
as the Swahilis call him, on his native soil. 

After the herd disappeared in the forest I watched 
for ten or fifteen minutes and heard the squeal of the 
elephants and the noise of the monkeys again. Their 
suspicions were over. I followed into the forest 
where the trails showed me that they had broken up 
into small bands. I followed along on the trail of 
one of these bands until I got a glimpse of an elephant 
about fifty yards ahead of me in the trail. You 
don't see a whole elephant in the forest. What you 
do see is just a glimpse of hide or tusk or trunk 
through the trees. And if you want to get this 
glimpse without disturbing him you must do your 
glimpsing from down the wind. 

There was a little open space ahead of the group I 
was following. I worked around until I got to a 
place where I could see them as they passed through 
this open space. They were moving along slowly, 



26 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

feeding. Two or three came out into the opening, 
then they became suspicious and wheeled into the 
forest again. I followed cautiously. I had gone only 
a short distance when I saw a very young calf about 
twenty yards ahead of me. As I halted, the mother 
came trotting back down the trail looking for the 
baby. I froze to the side of a tree with my gun ready. 
She came to the baby and turning, boosted it along 
with her trunk after the rest of the herd. I followed 
along after them into an opening where I found them 
rounded up in a patch of burned-over ground. They 
were milling around in a rather compact mass seem- 
ingly preparing for defence. I could not see very 
plainly, for a cloud of dust rose from the burned 
ground as they shuffled about. I stood watching 
them a little time and suddenly caught sight of a 
fine tusk — an old bull and just what I wanted for the 
group I was working on for the Museum of Natural 
History. I ran up behind a bush at the edge of the 
clearing and peeked through it. There, not more 
than twenty yards from me, was my bull, partially 
exposed and partially covered by the other animals. 
I could not get a shot at his brain as he was standing, 
but the foreleg on my side was forward exposing his 
side so that I had a good shot at his heart — a shot 
I had never made before. The heart is eighteen or 
twenty inches long and perhaps a foot up and down — 
a good mark in size if one's guess at its location is 
accurate. If you can hit an elephant's vertebrae and 
break his back you can kill him. You can kill him 
by hitting his heart, or by hitting his brain. If you 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 27 

hit him anywhere else you are not likely to hurt him 
much -and the brain and heart shots are the only safe 
bets. I fired at his heart with both barrels and then 
grabbed my other gun from the gun boy, ready for 
their rush, but the whole herd, including the old 
bull, made off in the other direction, raising a cloud of 
dust. I ran around and climbed an ant-hill four or 
five feet high to keep them in sight. 

When I caught sight of them they had gone about 
fifty yards and had stopped. And then I did learn 
something about elephants. My old bull was down on 
the ground on his side. Around him were ten ortwelve 
other elephants trying desperately with their trunks 
and tusks to get him on his feet again. They were doing 
their best to rescue their wounded comrade. They 
moved his great bulk fifteen or twenty feet in their 
efforts, but were unable to get him up. I don't know 
of any other big animals that will do this. I had 
heard stories that elephants had the chivalry to stick 
by their wounded and help them, but I was never 
sure myself until I had actually seen this instance. 
Some time later Major Harrison, a very experienced 
elephant hunter and a keen observer, told me of an 
even more remarkable instance that he had seen. He 
was shooting in the Congo and came upon four big 
bulls. One he killed and another he wounded. The 
wounded one went down but the two survivors helped 
him regain his feet, and with one on each side helping 
him the three moved off. Although Major Harrison 
followed the rest of the day he was not able to catch 
up with them. 



28 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

I did not see the end of their efforts to raise the 
bull I had shot, for those that were not helping him 
began to circle about with their ears out to hear any- 
thing of their enemy and with their trunks up feeling 
for my wind. They were moving in ever-increasing 
circles which threatened to envelop my ant-hill, and 
I beat a hasty retreat. Not long after they evidently 
were convinced that the bull was dead and all to- 
gether they moved away. I then went to the body. 
He was dead, but as we approached there was a reflex 
action which twitched his trunk from time to time. 
This frightened the gun boys so that I went up and 
slapped the elephant's eye, the customary test, and 
as there was no reaction the boys were convinced. 
When I looked the carcass over I was disappointed 
to find that only one of his tusks was big and well 
developed. The other was smaller, and out of shape 
from an injury; consequently I decided not to take 
him for the museum group. He was, however, a 
good deal of a temptation, for he was one of the larg- 
est elephants I had ever seen, measuring eleven feet 
four inches to the top of his shoulders, and the circum- 
ference of his front foot was sixty-seven and a half 
inches. To the best of my knowledge this is a record 
size by about four inches. I did not even skin him 
but contented myself with taking his tusks, which I 
sold for nearly $500 without even going down to 
Nairobi. 

The phenomenon of elephants helping each other 
when wounded is not general by any means. Only a 
few days after shooting the big bull I had an instance 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 29 

of elephants abandoning one of their number that 
was wounded and not very badly wounded, either. 

I had gone into the forest again, and had come upon 
another bunch in very thick country. I could only 
get little glimpses of a patch of hide or ivory once in 
a while. After working along with them for a while 
in the hope of getting into more open ground I tried 
the experiment of beating on the tree trunks with 
sticks. This was new to them as it was to me. I 
felt sure it would make them run but I wasn't sure 
whether they would go toward it or away from it. 
Happily they bolted from the forest into the high 
grass, grumbling all the while. I followed as closely 
as I dared until finally, in hope of getting a view over 
the top of the high grass, I started to climb a tree. 
Just then they rushed back into the forest, fortu- 
nately to one side of me. I thought it was time to 
quit, so we started back to camp. At that moment 
I heard another group of elephants. They were com- 
ing out of the forest into the grass. I climbed up 
an ant-hill where I could see them as they passed over 
a ridge. There were eleven of them and not a speci- 
men that I wanted among them. I stood watching 
to see what would happen next. They were about 
three hundred yards away when they got my wind. 
Back they came, rumbling, trumpeting, and squeal- 
ing. I knew that I had trouble on my hands. The 
only thing for me to do was to stick, for if I got down 
in the tall grass I couldn't see anything at all. They 
came up over a hill, but they were not coming straight 
toward me and it looked as if they would pass me at 



30 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

forty or fifty yards; but, unfortunately, the cow in 
front saw me standing in full view on my ant-hill 
pedestal. They turned straight at me. When the 
leading cow was as close as I wanted her to get — 
about twenty-five yards — I fired. She hesitated but 
again surged on with the others. A second shot 
knocked her down. The rest surged past her, turned, 
smelled of her, and ran off into the forest. After a 
few minutes she got upon her feet and rather groggily 
went off after them. 

Elephants have the reputation of having very bad 
eyesight. I personally am of the opinion that their 
sight is pretty good, but on this subject, as on most 
others about elephants, information is neither com- 
plete nor accurate. But my experience makes me 
think that they can see pretty well. In this case the 
cow that saw me was only about fifty yards away, but 
at another time on the Uasin Gishu Plateau an ele- 
phant herd charged me from 250 yards with the wind 
from them to me. The behaviour of this particular 
herd gave me a clue to their reputation for bad eye- 
sight. The elephant is not afraid of any animal ex- 
cept man, and consequently he is not on the alert 
for moving objects as are animals that are hunted. 
Neither does he eat other animals, so he is not inter- 
ested in their movements as a hunter. In fact, he 
isn't normally particularly interested in moving ob- 
jects at all. He pays no attention. When we first 
came up with this herd on the Uasin Gishu Plateau 
we could move around within fifty yards of them 
without attracting their attention. However, after 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 31 

they got our wind and recognized us as enemies, they 
were able to see us at a distance of 250 yards, and 
charge us. 

But however good the elephant's sight, it is noth- 
ing in comparison with his smelling ability. An ele- 
phant's trunk is probably the best smelling apparatus 
in the world, and he depends on his sense of smell 
more than on any other sense. When he is at all 
suspicious he moves his trunk around in every direc- 
tion so that he catches the slightest taint in the air, 
from whichever way it comes. I have often seen ele- 
phants, when disturbed, with their trunks high in air 
reaching all around for my wind. I likewise, on one 
occasion, had an intimate view of a very quiet smell- 
ing operation by which an old cow escaped me. I 
was on an elephant path one day on Mt. Kenia look- 
ing for an elephant I had heard, when my gun-bearer 
gripped my shoulder and pointed into the forest. I 
looked and looked but could see nothing but the trees. 
Finally I noticed that one of the trees diminished in 
size toward the ground and I recognized an elephant's 
trunk. My eyes followed it down. At the very tip 
it was curled back, and this curled-back part, with 
the nostrils distended, was moving slowly from side 
to side quietly fishing for my wind. She was waiting 
concealed beside the trail to pick me up as I came 
along. She was no more than forty feet away, but 
when she decided to give up and moved away, I could 
not hear her going although it was a dense forest 
and she was accompanied by two youngsters. Very 
often in the forest where there is very little air stirring 



32 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

it is hard to tell the direction of the wind. I used to 
light wax taper matches as tests, for they could be 
struck without any noise and the flame would show 
the direction of the slightest breath of air. 

In many other ways besides its smelling ability the 
elephant's trunk is the most extraordinary part of 
this most extraordinary animal. A man's arm has a 
more or less universal joint at the shoulder. The 
elephant's trunk is absolutely flexible at every point. 
It can turn in any direction and in whatever position 
it is, and has tremendous strength. There is no bone 
in it, of course, but it is constructed of interwoven 
muscle and sinew so tough that one can hardly cut 
it with a knife. An elephant can shoot a stream of 
water out of it that would put out a fire; lift a tree 
trunk weighing a ton and throw it easily; or it is 
delicate enough to pull a blade of grass with. He 
drinks with it, feeds himself with it, smells with it, 
works with it, and at times fights with it. Incidentally, 
a mouse that endeavoured to frighten an elephant 
by the traditional nursery rhyme method of running 
up his trunk would be blown into the next county. 
There is nothing else like an elephant's trunk on earth. 

And for that matter, there is nothing else like the 
elephant. He has come down to us through the ages, 
surviving the conditions which killed off his earlier 
contemporaries, and he now adapts himself perfectly 
to more different conditions than any other animal 
in Africa. 

He can eat anything that is green or ever has been 
green, just so long as there is enough of it. He can 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 33 

get his water from the aloe plants on the arid plains, 
or dig a well in the sand of a dry river bed with his 
trunk and fore feet, and drink there, or he is equally 
at home living half in the swamps of better-watered 
regions. He is at home on the low, hot plains of the 
seacoast at the equator or on the cool slopes of Kenia 
and Elgon. So far as I know, he suffers from no con- 
tagious diseases and has no enemies except man. 
There are elephants on Kenia that have never lain 
down for a hundred years. Some of the plains ele- 
phants do rest lying down, but no one ever saw a Kenia 
elephant lying down or any evidence that he does lie 
down to rest. The elephant is a good traveller. On 
good ground a good horse can outrun him, but on 
bad ground the horse would have no chance, and there 
are few animals that can cover more ground in a day 
than an elephant. And in spite of his appearance, he 
can turn with surprising agility and move through 
the forest as quietly as a rabbit. 

An elephant's foot is almost as remarkable as his 
trunk. In the first place, his foot is encased in a 
baglike skin with a heavy padded bottom, with some 
of the characteristics of an anti-skid tire. An ele- 
phant walks on his toes. His toes form the front 
part of his foot and the bones of his foot run not only 
back but up. Underneath these bones at the back 
of his foot is a gelatine-like substance, which is a much 
more effective shock absorber than rubber heels or 
any other device. One of the curious things about 
this kind of a foot is that it swells out when the weight 
is on it and contracts when the weight is removed. 



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ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 35 

As a consequence an elephant may sink four feet into 
a swamp but the minute he begins to lift his legs, his 
feet will contract and come out of the hole they have 
made without suction. The elephant's leg, being 
practically a perpendicular shaft, requires less mus- 
cular effort for him to stand than it does for ordinary 
animals. This is one of the reasons why he can go 
for a century without lying down. 

A country that elephants have long inhabited takes 
on some of the particular interest of the animals them- 
selves. I believe that before the white man came to 
East Africa the elephant was nearly as much a plains 
animal as a forest animal, but he now tends to stay 
in the forests where the risk is not so great. On 
the plains there are no elephant paths now, if there 
ever were, for in open country elephants do not go 
in single file. But in the forests there are elephant 
paths everywhere. In fact, if it were not for the ele- 
phant paths travel in the forest would be almost im- 
possible, and above the forests in the bamboo country 
this is equally true. One travels practically all the 
time on their trails and they go everywhere except 
in the tree ferns. Tree fern patches are not very 
extensive, but I have never seen an elephant track or 
an elephant in them. The elephants are constantly 
changing the paths for various reasons; among others, 
because the natives are in the habit of digging ele- 
phant pits in the trails. But there are some trails 
that have evidently been used for centuries. One 
time we had followed a band of elephants on the 
Aberdare Plateau and had devilled them until they 



36 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

began to travel away. We followed until the trail 
led through a pass in the mountains and we realized 
that they were going into a different region altogether. 
That trail in the pass was a little wider than an ele- 
phant's foot and worn six inches deep in the solid 
rock. It must have taken hundreds of years for the 
shuffling of elephants to wear that rock away. 

At another place on Kenia I found an elephant 
passage of a stream where the trail was twenty feet 
wide. Single paths came in from many directions on 
one side of the stream and joined in this great boule- 
vard, which crossed the stream and broke up 'again 
on the other side into the single paths radiating 
again in every direction. In many places where the 
topography of the ground is such that there is only 
one place for a trail there will be unmistakable evi- 
dence that the trails have stayed in the same place 
many years — such as trees rubbed half in two by the 
constant passing of the animals or damp rocks pol- 
ished by the caress of their trunks. And along all 
the trails, old and new, are elephant signs, footprints, 
dung, and gobs of chewed wood and bark from which 
they have extracted the juices before spitting them 
out. 

But finding the elephants is not so frequent or easy 
as the multiplicity of the signs would indicate. One 
reason is that the signs of elephants — tracks, rubbed 
trees, and so forth — are more or less enduring, many 
of them being very plain in places where the elephants 
have not been for months or even years. If, however, 
you come on fresh elephant tracks, not more than a 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 37 

day old, you can usually catch up with the elephants, 
for as they feed along through the country they do 
not go fast. Only if they are making a trek from one 
region to another it may take much longer to catch 
them. 

Once up with an elephant, if you are shooting, you 
are pretty sure that, even if he is charging you, a 
bullet from an elephant gun, hitting him in the head, 
will stop him even if it does not hit him in a vital 
spot. Moreover, if you stop the leader of a bunch 
that is charging you, the bunch will stop. I never 
heard of a case in which the leader of an elephant 
charge was stopped and the others kept on, and I 
doubt if we ever will hear of such a thing, for if it 
does happen there won't be any one to tell about 
it. It is unusual for an elephant to keep on after 
being hit even if the hit does not knock him down. 
The old cow that charged me at the head of ten 
others was rather the exception to this rule, for after 
my first shot stopped her she came on again until my 
second shot knocked her down. But I had one ex- 
perience that was entirely at variance with this rule. 
One old bull took thirteen shots from my rifle and 
about as many from Mrs. Akeley's before he was 
content either to die or run away. 

In Uganda, after six months in the up-country after 
elephants, we decided to go down to the Uasin Gishu 
Plateau for lion spearing, for the rainy season was 
beginning and the vegetation growing so thick that 
elephant hunting was getting very difficult. On the 
way down we came one morning upon the fresh trail 



38 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

of a herd of elephants. We followed for about two 
hours in a high bush country over which were scat- 
tered clumps of trees. Finally we came upon the 
elephants at the time of their mid-day siesta. The 
middle of the day is the quietest time of the twenty- 
four hours with elephants. If they are in a herd, they 
will bunch together in the shade. They do not stand 
absolutely still, but mill about very slowly, changing 
positions in the bunch but not leaving. They are 
neither feeding nor travelling but, as nearly as they 
ever do, resting. I even saw a young bull once rest his 
tusks in the crotch of a tree during this resting period. 
We got up to within twenty-five yards of them behind 
some bushes down the wind. We finally decided 
upon one of the bulls as the target. Mrs. Akeley 
studied carefully and shot. The bull went down, ap- 
parently dead. Ordinarily, we should rush in for a 
finishing shot, but in this case the rest of the herd 
did not make off promptly, so we stood still. When 
they did go off we started toward the apparently 
dead animal. As we did so, he got upon his feet 
and, in spite of a volley from us, kept on after the 
herd. We followed, and after half an hour's travel 
we caught sight of him again. We kept along be- 
hind him, looking for a place where we could swing 
out to one side and get abreast to fire a finishing shot 
at him. He was moving slowly and groggily. It 
was hard to move anywhere except in his trail without 
making a noise, and I suddenly discovered that the 
trail was turning so that the wind was from us to him. 
Immediately we swung off to one side, but it was too 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 39 

late. I didn't see him when he got our wind but I 
knew perfectly he had it for there was the sudden 
crash of his wheel in the bushes and a scream. An 
elephant's scream is loud and shrill and piercing. And 
it is terrifying, too — at least to any one who knows 
elephants — for it means an angry animal and usually 
a charge. Then came a series of grunts and rum- 
blings. A second or two later he came in sight, his 
ears spread out twelve feet from tip to tip, his trunk 
up and jerking fiercely from side to side. There is no 
way of describing how big an elephant looks under 
these conditions, or the speed at which he comes. 
At about thirty yards I shot, but he took it. He 
stopped, seemingly puzzled but unhurt. I shot the 
second barrel and looked for my other gun which was 
thirty feet behind me. The boy ran up with it and 
I emptied both barrels into the elephant's head, and 
still he took it like a sand hill. In the meanwhile, 
Mrs. Akeley had been firing, too. And then he 
turned and went off again. I went back to Mrs. 
Akeley. Everything that I knew about elephant 
shooting had failed to apply in this case. I had 
stopped him with one shot. That was normal 
enough. But then I had put three carefully aimed 
shots into his head at short range, any one of which 
should have killed him. And he had taken them with 
only a slight flinch and then had gone off. I felt 
completely helpless. Turning to Mrs. Akeley, I said: 

"This elephant is pretty well shot up, and perhaps 
we had better wait for developments." 

She said: "No, we started it; so let's finish it." 



4 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

I agreed as we reloaded, and we were about to start 
following when his screaming, grunting, roaring at- 
tack began again. Exactly the same thing happened 
as the first time except that this time Mrs. Akeley, 
the boy, and I were all together. We fired as we had 
before. He stopped with the first shot and took all 
the others standing, finally turning and retreating 
again. Apparently our shots had no effect except 
to make him stop and think. I was sick of it, for 
maybe next time he wouldn't stop and evidently we 
couldn't knock him down. We had about finished 
reloading when we heard him once more. There was 
nothing to do but stand the charge, for to run was 
fatal. So we waited. There was an appreciable time 
when I could hear his onrush but couldn't see him. 
Then I caught sight of him. He wasn't coming 
straight for us, but was charging at a point thirty yards 
to one side of us and thrashing back and forth a great 
branch of tree in his trunk. Why his charge was so 
misdirected I didn't know, but I was profoundly 
grateful. As he ran I had a good brain shot from the 
side. I fired, and he fell stone dead. With the 
greatest sense of relief in the world I went over to 
him. As I stood by the carcass I felt very small in- 
deed. Mrs. Akeley sat down and drew a long breath 
before she spoke. 

"I want to go home," she said at last, "and keep 
house for the rest of my life." 

Then I heard a commotion in the bush in front of 
the dead elephant and as I looked up a black boy 
carrying a cringing monkey appeared. Only the 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 41 

boy wasn't black. He was scared to an ashen colour 
and he was still trembling, and the monkey was as 
frightened as the boy. It was J. T. Jr., Mrs. Akeley's 
pet monkey, and Alii, the monkey's nurse. They 
had followed to see the sport without our knowledge, 
and they had drawn the elephant's last charge. 

This experience with an animal that continued to 
make charge after charge was new to me. It has 
never happened again and I hope never will, but it 
shows that with elephants it isn't safe to depend on 
any fixed rule, for elephants vary as much as people 
do. This one was the heaviest-skulled elephant I 
ever saw, and the shots that I had fired would have 
killed any ordinary animal. But in his case all but 
the last shot had been stopped by bone. 

I couldn't measure his height, but I measured his 
ear as one indication of his size. It was the biggest 
I ever heard of. And his tusks were good sized — 80 
pounds. He was a very big animal, but his foot 
measurement was not so large as the big bull of the 
Budongo Forest. Later I made a dining table of 
his ear, supporting it on three tusks for legs. With 
the wooden border it was eight feet long and seated 
eight people very comfortably. 

Most wild animals, if they smell man and have an 
opportunity to get away, make the most of it. Even 
a mother with young will usually try to escape trouble 
rather than bring it on, although, of course, they are 
quickest to fight. But elephants are not always in 
this category. In the open it has been my experience 
that they would rather leave than provoke a fight; if 



42 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

you hunt elephants in the forest, you are quite likely 
to find that two can play the hunting game, and find 
yourself pretty actively hunted by the elephants. If 
the elephants after you are making a noise, it gives you 
a good chance. When they silently wait for you, the 
game is much more dangerous. 

The old bull, who is in the centre of the elephant 
group in the Museum of Natural History now, tried 
to get me by this silent method. I was out on a trail 
and I saw that a big bunch of animals were near. I 
wasn't following any particular trail for they had 
moved about so that signs were everywhere and much 
confused. Finally I came to a gully. It wasn't 
very broad or very deep, but the trail I was on turned 
up it to where a crossing could be made on the level. 
The forest here was high and very thick, and conse- 
quently it was quite dark. As I looked up the trail I 
saw a group of big shapes through the branches. I 
thought they were elephants and peered carefully at 
them, but they turned out to be boulders. A minute 
later I saw across the gully another similar group of 
boulders, but as I peered at them I saw through a 
little opening in the leaves, plain and unmistakable, 
an elephant's tusk. I watched it carefully. It 
moved a little, and behind it I caught a glimpse of the 
other tusk. They were big, and I decided that he 
would do for my group. I couldn't get a glimpse of 
his eye or anything to sight by, so I carefully calcu- 
lated where his brain ought to be from the place where 
his tusk entered his head, and fired. Then there was 
the riot of an elephant herd suddenly starting. A few 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 43 

seconds later there was a crash. "He's down," 
I thought, and Bill, the gun boy, and I ran over 
to the place where the animals had been. We fol- 
lowed their tracks a little way and found where one 
of the elephants had been down, but he had re- 
covered and gone on. However, he had evidently 
gone off by himself when he got up, for while the 
others had gone down an old trail he had gone straight 
through the jungle, breaking a new way as he went. 
With Bill in the lead, we pushed along behind him. 
It was a curious trail, for it went straight ahead with- 
out deviation as if it had been laid by compass. One 
hour went by and then another. We had settled 
down for a long trek. The going wasn't very good 
and the forest was so thick that we could not see in 
any direction. We were pushing along in this fashion 
when, with a crash and a squeal, an elephant burst 
across our path within fifteen feet of us. It was ab- 
solutely without warning, and had the charge been 
straight on us we could hardly have escaped. As it 
was, I fired two hurried shots as he disappeared in the 
growth on the opposite side of the trail. The old 
devil had grown tired of being hunted and had 
doubled back on his own trail to wait for us. He 
had been absolutely silent. We hadn't heard a thing, 
and his plan failed, I think, only because the growth 
was so thick that he charged us on scent or sound 
without being able to see us. I heard him go through 
the forest a way and then stop. I followed until I 
found a place a little more open than the rest, and 
with this between me and the trees he was in I waited. 



44 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

I could hear him grumbling in there from time to 
time. I didn't expect him to last much longer so I 
got my lunch and ate it while I listened and watched. 
I had just finished and had a puff or two on my pipe 
when he let out another squeal and charged. He 
evidently had moved around until he had wind of me. 
I didn't see him but I heard him, and grabbing the 
gun I stood ready. But he didn't come. Instead I 
heard the breaking of the bushes as he collapsed. 
His last effort had been too much for him. 

The efforts of the next elephant who tried the quiet 
waiting game on me were almost too much for me. 

We had just come down from the ice fields seven- 
teen thousand feet up on the summit of Mt. Kenia, 
overlord of the game regions of British East Africa, 
and had come out of the forest directly south of the 
pinnacle and within two or three miles of an old camp- 
ing ground in the temperate climate, five or six thou- 
sand feet above sea level, where we had camped five 
years before and again one year before. Instead 
of going on around toward the west to the base camp 
we decided to stop here and have the base camp 
brought up to us. Mrs. Akeley was tired, so she said 
she would stay at the camp and rest; and I decided 
to take advantage of the time it would take to bring 
up the base camp to go back into the bamboo and 
get some forest photographs. 

There was perfectly good elephant country around 
our camp but I wanted to go back up where the 
forests stop and the bamboo flourishes, because it 
was a bamboo setting that I had selected for the group 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 45 

of elephants I was then working on for the African 
Hall in the American Museum of Natural History. 
I started out with four days' rations, gun boys, porters, 
camera men, and so forth — fifteen men in all. The 
second day out brought me to about nine thousand 
feet above sea level where the bamboo began. Fol- 
lowing a well-worn elephant trail in search of this 
photographic material, I ran on to a trail of three old 
bulls. The tracks were old — probably as much as 
four days — but the size was so unusual that I decided 
to postpone the photography and follow them. I 
did not expect to have to catch up their four days' 
travel, for I hoped that they would be feeding in 
the neighbourhood and that the trail I was on would 
cross a fresher trail made in their wanderings around 
for food. I had run upon their tracks first about 
noon. I followed until dark without finding any 
fresher signs. The next morning we started out at 
daybreak and finally entered an opening such as 
elephants use as a feeding ground. It is their custom 
to mill around in these openings, eating the vegeta- 
tion and trampling it down until it offers little more, 
and then move on. In six months or so it will be 
grown up again eight or ten feet high and they are 
very apt to revisit it and go through the same proc- 
ess again. Soon after we entered this opening I 
came suddenly upon fresh tracks of the elephants I 
had been following. Not only were the tracks fresh 
but the droppings were still steaming and I knew that 
the animals were not far away; certainly they had 
been there not more than an hour before. I followed 



4 6 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

the trail amongst the low bush in the opening but it 
merely wandered about repeatedly bringing me back 
to the place where I had first seen the fresh tracks, and 
I realized that I might do this indefinitely without 
getting closer to the elephants. I decided to go out- 
side the opening and circle around it to see if I could 
find the trail of my bulls as they entered the forest. 
This opening was at the point on the mountain where 
the forest proper and the bamboos merged. I fol- 
lowed an elephant path out of the opening on the 
bamboo side and had gone but a little way when I 
discovered fresh signs of my three bulls, who had 
evidently left the opening by the same path that I 
was following, and at about the same time I heard 
the crackling of bamboo ahead, probably about two 
hundred yards away. This was the signal for prep- 
aration for the final stalk. 

I stood for a moment watching one of the trackers 
going up the trail to a point where it turned at right 
angles in the direction of the sounds I had heard. 
There he stopped at rest, having indicated to me by 
signs that they had gone in that direction. I turned 
my back to the trail, watching the porters select a 
place to lay down their loads amidst a clump of large 
trees that would afford some protection in case of a 
stampede in their direction. The gun boys came for- 
ward presenting the guns for inspection. I took the 
gun from the second boy, sending him back with the 
porters. After examining this gun I gave it to the 
first boy and took his. When I had examined this 
I leaned it against my body while I chafed my hands 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 47 

which were numb from the cold mists of the morning, 
knowing that I might soon need a supple trigger 
ringer. During this time the first gun boy was taking 
the cartridges, one by one, from his bandoleer and 
holding them up for my inspection — the ordinary 
precaution to insure that all the ammunition was the 
right kind, and an important insurance, because only 
a full steel-jacketed bullet will penetrate an elephant's 
head. While still warming my hands, inspecting the 
cartridges, and standing with the gun leaning against 
my stomach, I was suddenly conscious that an ele- 
phant was almost on top of me. I have no knowledge 
of how the warning came. I have no mental record 
of hearing him, seeing him, or of any warning from 
the gun boy who faced me and who must have seen 
the elephant as he came down on me from behind. 
There must have been some definite signal, but it was 
not recorded in my mind. I only know that as I 
picked up my gun and wheeled about I tried to shove 
the safety catch forward. It refused to budge, and 
I remember the thought that perhaps I had left the 
catch forward when I inspected the gun and that if 
not I must pull the triggers hard enough to fire the 
gun anyway. This is an impossibility, but I remem- 
ber distinctly the determination to do it, for the all- 
powerful impulse in my mind was that I must shoot 
instantly. Then something happened that dazed me. 
I don't know whether I shot or not. My next mental 
record is of a tusk right at my chest. I grabbed it 
with my left hand, the other one with my right hand, 
and swinging in between them went to the ground 



48 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

on my back. This swinging in between the tusks 
was purely automatic. It was the result of many a 
time on the trails imagining myself caught by an 
elephant's rush and planning what I would do, and a 
very profitable planning, too; for I am convinced that 
if a man imagines such a crisis and plans what he 
would do, he will, when the occasion occurs, auto- 
matically do what he planned. Anyway, I firmly be- 
lieve that my imaginings along the trail saved my life. 
He drove his tusks into the ground on either side 
of me, his curled-up trunk against my chest. I had 
a realization that I was being crushed, and as I looked 
into one wicked little eye above me I knew I could 
expect no mercy from it. This thought was perfectly 
clear and definite in my mind. I heard a wheezy 
grunt as he plunged down and then — oblivion. 

The thing that dazed me was a blow from the ele- 
phant's trunk as he swung it down to curl it back 
out of harm's way. It broke my nose and tore my 
cheek open to the teeth. Had it been an intentional 
blow it would have killed me instantly. The part 
of the trunk that scraped off most of my face was the 
heavy bristles on the knuckle-like corrugations of the 
skin of the under side. 

When he surged down on me, his big tusks evidently 
struck something in the ground that stopped them. 
Of course my body offered practically no resistance 
to his weight, and I should have been crushed as thin 
as a wafer if his tusks hadn't met that resistance — 
stone, root, or something — underground. He seems 
to have thought me dead for he left me — by some good 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 49 

fortune not stepping on me — and charged off after 
the boys. I never got much information out of the 
boys as to what did happen, for they were not proud 
of their part in the adventure. However, there were 
plenty of signs that the elephant had run out into the 
open space again and charged all over it; so it is 
reasonable to assume that they had scattered through 
it like a covey of quail and that he had trampled it 
down trying to find the men whose tracks and wind 
filled the neighbourhood. 

Usually, when an elephant kills a man, it will re- 
turn to its victim and gore him again, or trample 
him, or pull his legs or arms off with its trunk. I 
knew of one case where a man's porters brought in 
his arm which the elephant that had killed him had 
pulled off his body and left lying on the ground. In 
my case, happily, the elephant for some reason did 
not come back. I lay unconscious for four or five 
hours. In the meanwhile, when they found the 
coast was clear, the porters and gun boys returned 
and made camp, intending, no doubt, to keep guard 
over my body until Mrs. Akeley, to whom they had 
sent word, could reach me. They did not, however, 
touch me, for they believed that I was dead, and 
neither the Swahili Mohammedans nor the Kikuyus 
will touch a dead man. So they built a fire and hud- 
dled around it and I lay unconscious in the cold 
mountain rain at a little distance, with my body 
crushed and my face torn open. About five o'clock 
I came to in a dazed way and was vaguely conscious 
of seeing a fire. I shouted, and a little later I felt 



So IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

myself being carried by the shoulders and legs. Later 
again I had a lucid spell and realized that I was lying 
in one of the porter's tents, and I got clarity of mind 
enough to ask where my wife was. The boys an- 
swered that she was back in camp. That brought 
the events back to me, how I had left her at camp, 
found the trail of the three old bulls, followed them 
and, finally, how I was knocked out. I was entirely 
helpless. I could move neither my arms nor legs and 
I reached the conclusion that my back was broken. 
I could not move, but I felt no pain whatever. How- 
ever, my coldness and numbness brought to my mind 
a bottle of cocktails, and I ordered one of the boys to 
bring it to me. My powers of resistance must have 
been very low, for he poured all there was in the bot- 
tle down my throat. In the intervals of conscious- 
ness, also, I got them to give me hot bovril — a British 
beef tea — and quinine. The result of all this was that 
the cold and numbness left me. I moved my arms. 
The movement brought pain, but I evidently wasn't 
entirely paralyzed. I moved my toes, then my feet, 
then my legs. "Why," I thought in some surprise, 
"my back isn't broken at all ! " So before I dropped off 
again for the night I knew that I had some chance of 
recovery. The first time I regained consciousness 
in the morning, I felt that Mrs. Akeley was around. 
I asked the boys if she had come. They said no, 
and I told them to fire my gun every fifteen minutes. 
Then I dropped off into unconsciousness again and 
awoke to see her sitting by me on the ground. 

When the elephant got me, the boys had sent two 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 51 

runners to tell Mrs. Akeley. They arrived about six 
in the evening. It was our custom when separated 
to send notes to each other, or at least messages. 
When these boys came on to say that an elephant 
had got me, and when she found that there was no 
word from me, it looked bad. Mrs. Akeley sent word 
to the nearest government post for a doctor and 
started her preparations to come to me that night. 
She had to go after her guides, even into the huts of 
a native village, for they did not want to start at 
night. Finally, about midnight, she got under way. 
She pushed along with all speed until about daybreak, 
when the guides confessed that they were lost. At 
this juncture she was sitting on a log, trying to think 
what to do next. And then she heard my gun. She 
answered, but it was more than an hour before the 
sounds of her smaller rifle reached our camp. And 
about an hour after the boys heard her gun she ar- 
rived. 

She asked me how I was, and I said that I was all 
right. I noticed a peculiar expression on her face. 
If I had had a looking glass, I should probably have 
understood it better. One eye was closed and the 
forehead over it skinned. My nose was broken and 
my cheek cut so that it hung down, exposing my teeth. 
I was dirty all over, and from time to time spit blood 
from the hemorrhages inside. Altogether, I was an 
unlovely subject and looked hardly worth saving. 
But I did get entirely over it all, although it took me 
three months in bed. The thing that was serious was 
that the elephant had crushed several of my ribs 



5 2 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

into my lungs, and these internal injuries took a long 
time to heal. As a matter of fact, I don't suppose I 
would have pulled through even with Mrs. Akeley's 
care if it hadn't been for a Scotch medical missionary 
who nearly ran himself to death coming to my rescue. 
He had been in the country only a little while and 
perhaps this explains his coming so fast when news 
reached him of a man who had been mauled by an 
elephant. The chief medical officer at Fort Hall, 
knowing better what elephant mauling usually meant, 
came, but he didn't hurry. I saw him later and he 
apologized, but I felt no grievance. I understood the 
situation. Usually when an elephant gets a man a 
doctor can't do anything for him. 

But this isn't always so. Some months later I sat 
down in the hotel at Nairobi with three other men, 
who like myself had been caught by elephants and 
had lived to tell the tale. An elephant caught Black 
in his trunk, and threw him into a bush that broke 
his fall. The elephant followed him and stepped on 
him, the bush this time forming a cushion that saved 
him, and although the elephant returned two or three 
times to give him a final punch, he was not killed. 
However, he was badly broken up. 

Outram and a companion approached an elephant 
that was shot and down, when the animal suddenly 
rose, grabbed Outram in his trunk and threw him. 
The elephant followed him, but Outram scrambled 
into the grass while the elephant trampled his pith 
helmet into the ground, whereupon Outram got right 
under the elephant's tail and stuck to this position 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 53 

while the elephant turned circles trying to find him, 
until, becoming faint from his injuries, Outram dived 
into the grass at one side. Outram's companion 
by this time got back into the game and killed the 
elephant. 

Hutchinson's story I have forgotten a little now, 
but I remember that he said the elephant caught him, 
brushed the ground with him, and then threw him. 
The elephant followed him and Hutchinson put off 
fate a few seconds by somehow getting amongst the 
elephant's legs. The respite was enough, for the 
gun boy, by this time, began firing and drove the 
elephant off. 

In all of these cases, unlike mine, the elephants had 
used their trunks to pick up their victims and to throw 
them, and they had intended finishing them by tram- 
pling on them. This use of the trunk seems more 
common than the charge with the tusks that had so 
nearly finished me. Up in Somaliland Dudo Muh- 
ammud, my gun boy, showed me the spot where he 
had seen an elephant kill an Italian prince. The 
elephant picked the prince up in his trunk and beat 
him against his tusks, the prince, meanwhile, futilely 
beating the elephant's head with his fists. Then the 
.elephant threw him upon the ground, walked on him, 
and then squatted on him, rubbing back and forth 
until he had rubbed his body into the ground. 

But elephants do use their tusks and use them 
with terrible effect. About the time we were in the 
Budongo Forest, Mr. and Mrs. Longdon were across 
Lake Albert in the Belgian Congo. One day Longdon 



54 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

shot a bull elephant and stood watching the herd 
disappear, when a cow came down from behind, 
unheard and unseen, ran her tusk clear through him 
and, with a toss of her head, threw him into the bush 
and went on. Longdon lived four days. 

But although the elephant is a terrible fighter in 
his own defence when attacked by man, that is not 
his chief characteristic. The things that stick in my 
mind are his sagacity, his versatility, and a certain 
comradeship which I have never noticed to the same 
degree in other animals. I like to think of the picture 
of the two old bulls helping along their comrade 
wounded by Major Harrison's gun; to think of several 
instances I have seen of a phenomenon, which I am 
sure is not accidental, when the young and husky 
elephants formed the outer ring of a group protecting 
the older ones from the scented danger. I like to think 
back to the day I saw the group of baby elephants 
playing with a great ball of baked dirt two and a half 
feet in diameter which, in their playing, they rolled 
for more than half a mile, and the playfulness with 
which this same group teased the babies of a herd of 
buffalo until the cow buffaloes chased them off. I 
think, too, of the extraordinary fact that I have never 
heard or seen African elephants fighting each other. 
They have no enemy but man and are at peace 
amongst themselves. 

It is my friend the elephant that I hope to perpetu- 
ate in the central group in the Roosevelt African Hall 
as it is now planned for the American Museum of 
Natural History — a hall with groups of African ani- 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 55 

mal skins mounted on sculptured bodies, with back- 
grounds painted from the country itself. In this, 
which we hope will be an everlasting monument to 
the Africa that was, the Africa that is now fast disap- 
pearing, I hope to place the elephant group on a 
pedestal in the centre of the hall — the rightful place 
for the first animal of them all. 

And it may not be many years before such museum 
exhibits are the only remaining records of my jungle 
friends. As civilization advances in Africa, the 
extinction of the elephant is being accomplished 
slowly but quite as surely as that of the American 
buffalo two generations ago. It is probably not true 
that the African elephant cannot be domesticated. 
In fact, somewhere in the Congo is a farm where fifty 
tame elephants, just as amenable as those in India, 
are at work. But taming elephants is not a sound 
proposition economically. Elephant farming is a 
prince's game, and Africa has no princes to play it. 
An elephant requires hundreds of acres of land, in- 
finitely more than cattle and sheep and the other 
domesticated animals. So it is that as man moves on 
the land, the elephant must move off. 

Moreover, African settlers are making every effort 
to hasten the process. Wherever the elephants refuse 
to be confined to their bailiwicks and annoy the na- 
tives by raiding their farms, the Government has ap- 
pointed official elephant killers. The South African 
elephant in the Addoo bush was condemned to be 
exterminated several years ago. Here, however, the 
hunters sent into the bush to kill them off found the 



56 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

elephant too much for them and finally gave up the 
attempt. Now they are being shot only as they come 
out to molest the natives, with the result that they 
are able to persist in the bush in limited numbers. 
Uganda also has official elephant killers wherever 
the elephants make trouble in the natives' gardens. 
In British East Africa and in Tanganyika a similar 
situation exists. The game must eventually disappear 
as the country is settled, and with it will be wiped out 
the charm of Africa. 

We had heard much of Ruindi Plains in the Belgian 
Congo as the wonderful game country that it no doubt 
used to be. To me it seems avast graveyard. There, 
too, commercialism has played its part in exterminat- 
ing the animals and, while we found two or three 
species of antelope and many lions, other large game 
is very rare. I suppose that the Ruindi Valley was 
discovered among the last of the great game pockets 
and that ivory poachers are responsible for the disap- 
pearance of much of the other game as well as of the 
elephant. The forested valley, which I went through 
for perhaps ten miles, carried every evidence of having 
been a wonderful game country in the past, but only 
a pitiful remnant of the splendid animals who once 
made it their home remains. Along great elephant 
boulevards, all overgrown, weaving through the 
forest, one may occasionally track a single elephant 
or a small band. A small herd of buffalo grazes 
where a few years ago there were great numbers. 
In our journey north from Cape Town by rail we 
saw not a single head of game until we reached the 



ELEPHANT FRIENDS AND FOES 57 

Lualaba River, and during the five days that we spent 
going down that river we saw only a few antelope, 
perhaps a half dozen elephants and, as I remember it, 
two or three hippopotami. On the entire journey 
to within fifty miles of Lake Edward and in all our 
hunting we found signs of only a few small bands of 
elephants. Men have spoken of darkest Africa, but 
the dark chapters of African history are only now 
being written by the inroads of civilization. 



F 



CHAPTER III 

MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 

^OR many thousands of years lions have ap- 
peared in literature and art as savage and 
ferocious animals. For about that length of 
time man has been attacking lions and when the 
lions fought back man has set down this judgment 
against them. At the same time, with the criticism 
of his savagery, man has put in all his records testi- 
mony to the courage, strength, and fighting qualities 
of what has been called through the ages the King 
of Beasts. 

The lion's savagery is very much the same as man's 
— that is, he kills other animals for food and not 
having developed any specialized industries like the 
packers, each lion kills for himself. His day's work, 
instead of getting money to buy food, consists chiefly 
in getting food, and he goes about it something in 
this manner. About dusk he comes out from his 
resting place, yawns, stretches, and looks about for 
something to eat. In East Africa his favourite diet 
is zebra, but he likes any of the game animals, and 
he prefers the larger animals to the smaller antelope 
because the larger ones are easier to catch. His in- 
tention is to get his food the easiest and quickest way. 
He goes out on the plains and by scent, sight, and 

58 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 59 

hearing locates a herd of zebra, for example. He then 
gets down wind from what he hopes will be his next 
meal and stalks to within rushing distance. He can 
outrun a zebra for a short distance, and when within 
striking distance he makes a sudden dash. I think 
that the zebra is thrown by the lion's spring and then 
killed by a bite in the back of the neck, but this im- 
pression is from deduction and not from observation. 
I have seen a lot of animals that lions had killed but 
I never saw a lion in the act of killing. In fact, the 
methods which lions use in hunting are not known in 
detail from observation, for not enough instances have 
ever been witnessed and recorded to make the basis 
for any general statement which could be considered 
scientifically accurate. 

When he has captured his animal the lion will eat 
and then lie near it perhaps all night, perhaps all the 
next day, if he is not disturbed, eating as he desires. 
If he leaves his kill the jackals, hyenas, and vul- 
tures will clean it up immediately, and as the lion 
kills for food and not for sport or the pleasure of 
killing, he is content with one kill as long as the meat 
lasts. 

The lion group, as I have designed it for the Roose- 
velt African Hall, will show in the foreground a 
trickling stream where the lions have come at dawn 
to drink, while, at a distance on the plains, the vul- 
tures and jackals are approaching the kill the lions 
have just left. 

Lion hunters are not agreed about how much lions 
depend on sight, on sound, and on smell. It is not 



6o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

altogether easy to tell how soon they know the pres- 
ence of man or of other animals, for they do not al- 
ways show what they know. For instance, I once 
had the startling experience of getting within three 
feet of a lioness before she moved. She, of course, 
knew I was there long before I got that close, and yet 
until I almost stepped on her she made no sign. There 
is, however, no question but that the lion has a sharp, 
far sight in the daytime, and from the size of the pupil 
and his nocturnal habits of hunting I think he has 
unusually keen sight at night. I have never seen any 
indication that a lion has the keen smell of a dog or 
any animal that hunts by scent, nor have I ever seen 
anything to make me believe that he has any ab- 
normal sense of hearing. 

While many things about lions' habits are con- 
troversial, I think, that practically everyone who has 
had experience with them will agree that they are 
not savage in the sense of killing for the mere sake of 
killing. There are a few isolated cases which seem to 
conflict with this statement, but the great mass of 
testimony confirms it. There was a seeming excep- 
tion to this rule which happened to an English travel- 
ler and his wife in Somaliland. They were intent on 
getting a lion by "baiting" — that is, they killed an 
animal and left it as bait for the lions while they hid 
in a thorn boma which they built near by. There was 
only a small hole in the boma through which to watch 
and shoot. They stationed a black boy at this hole 
to watch while they slept. They awoke to find that a 
lion had stuck his head into the hole and killed the 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 61 

black boy — bitten his head clear off, so the local story- 
goes. However, no one knows why the lion killed 
the boy in this case for, of the three possible witnesses, 
two were asleep and the third dead. 

It is possible, of course, that the lion deliberately 
attacked the boma without provocation, but it seems 
unlikely, for lions are driven to these extremities 
chiefly by hunger; and in this case the lion could have 
satisfied his hunger by the bait that had been laid 
out for him. The usual man-eater is an old lion, who 
in the season of scattered game finds it impossible 
with his failing strength and speed to catch animals 
for food. To keep from starving he attacks the na- 
tive flocks and herds, or the natives themselves. The 
most famous man-eaters, the lions of Tsavo, which 
spread such terror as almost to stop construction on 
a part of the Uganda railway, were, indeed, an excep- 
tion to the rule. Colonel Patterson, whose classic 
account of them is one of the great animal stories of 
the world, accounted for these young, vigorous 
animals becoming man-eaters because some of the 
coolie workers who died were put in the bush unburied 
and the lions had acquired a taste for human flesh 
by eating these bodies. After this taste was acquired 
these lions hunted men just as the ordinary lion 
hunted zebras. They made a regular business of it. 
It was their daily fare, and they took a terrible toll 
before they were finally killed. But these lions were 
killing for food just as if they were killing zebras. 

Even when forced to fight, the lion is not vindictive. 
If an elephant gets a man he is likely to trample on 



62 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

his victim and mutilate him even after he is dead. I 
have never known of lions doing this. On the other 
hand, as soon as their adversary is dead, often as soon 
as he is quiet, they will let him alone. The game 
animals on which the lions are accustomed to feed 
corroborate this characteristic. They know that the 
lion kills for food at night and they likewise know 
that he kills only for food, so in the daytime they do 
not bother about lions particularly. I have seen lions 
trot through a herd of game within easy striking 
distance of many of the animals without causing any 
disturbance. 

So far as I know, except for the comparatively few 
man-eaters, lions are never the aggressors. More 
than that, they prefer to get out of the way of man 
rather than fight him, and they will put up with a 
good deal of disturbance and inconvenience and even 
pain before they will fight. But once decided to 
fight they will fight with an amazing courage even if 
there are plenty of opportunities to escape. 

I had an experience which showed both these 
aspects of a lion's nature. Frederick M. Stephenson, 
John T. McCutcheon, the cartoonist, Mrs. Akeley, 
and I were hunting lions. I had a moving-picture 
camera and the others were armed with guns. One 
day the natives rounded up a lioness in a patch of 
uncommonly tall, thick grass. The beaters hesitated 
to go in after her, so I took a gun and McCutcheon 
and I joined the porters, leaving Stephenson and 
Mrs. Akeley outside. The grass was so thick that 
we had to take our rifles in both hands and push the 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 63 

grass down in front of us and then walk on it. We 
had made some progress in this manner when sud- 
denly, as we were pushing down the grass, it was 
thrown violently back, jerking our rifles up and almost 
throwing us over. It was the lioness. We had 
pressed the grass down right on her back. Yet de- 
spite this intrusion she made off and did not attack 
us. 

As she went out of the grass into the open, Stephen- 
son shot at her and missed. Some of the boys rode 
after her on horseback and rounded her up in another 
patch of cover. By this time, however, her patience 
had run out. She could have run some more had she 
wanted to, but she didn't want to. When Stephen- 
son approached the cover with his gun boys she took 
the initiative and charged. His first shot stopped 
her a second, but she came on again. His second 
shot killed her. 

My first black-maned lion showed the same char- 
acteristics. He, too, preferred peace to war, although 
I originally disturbed him with his kill, but finally, 
when he declared war, although he was badly 
wounded, he preferred to charge two white men and 
thirty natives rather than try to escape. 

I had gone up on the Mau Plateau to shoot topi. 
The plateau is about 8,000 feet above sea level there 
and I didn't expect to find any lions. One day I 
discovered two topi in a little valley between two 
gentle rises. I was crawling up to the top of one of 
the rises overlooking the valley to get a shot when I 
noticed some movement in the grass on the slope 



64 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

opposite. I thought it was another topi. As I 
raised myself a little to shoot I noticed that the origi- 
nal pair that I was hunting were gazing with fixed 
attention toward some movement on the far hillside. 
I looked again and saw an old lion get up and walk 
to the top of the hill, turn round facing me, and lie 
down to watch the valley from his side as I was watch- 
ing it from mine. We were about 400 yards from 
each other. In the valley between were the topi, and 
also I noticed a dead zebra. Evidently I had dis- 
turbed him at his previous night's kill. My pony 
and gun boys were some distance behind and I had 
only one cartridge left in my double-barrelled cordite 
rifle. Under these conditions I reluctantly decided 
to go back for proper equipment. My reluctance 
was not merely at losing a lion but at losing that 
particular lion, for he had a great black mane and no 
one had killed a black-maned lion in that part of 
Africa. 

By the time I got back with my cartridges and the 
gun boys, he had disappeared. We began beating 
about to see if we could find him or his trail, but with- 
out success. We did, however, find the remains of 
several kills, which led me to think that this single old 
fellow had found the neighbourhood good hunting, 
and was making a more or less prolonged stay. Un- 
der the circumstances I felt it wise to go to camp and 
get my companion, Shaw Kennedy, and our thirty 
beaters to hunt him out the next day. 

Before going, however, I planned a campaign. Not 
far from where the lion had been a ravine began, 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 65 

which ran some distance and ended in a thick piece 
of forest. The sides of the ravine were covered with 
clumps of thick bush. Into one of these I felt sure 
the lion had retreated. Unless closely pushed he 
would not go into the forest. My plan was to enter 
the ravine the next day at the forest end so that he 
could not escape to safety among the trees, and drive 
up the ravine to force him out into the open. 

When we got to the edge of the forest the next 
morning Kennedy and I drew lots for the choice of 
position. He won and chose the upper end of the 
ravine toward which we were to drive, while I was 
to follow up behind the beaters to get him if he broke 
back. Of course we were not sure that our quarry 
was even in the neighbourhood, but I had great hope 
of everything except getting this first black-maned 
specimen myself, for Kennedy's position made it 
almost certain that he would get the animal if any 
one did. The first patch of bush that the beaters 
tackled was about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. 
As they set up their usual racket before entering I 
thought I heard a lion's grunt, but as nothing more 
developed I concluded it had been merely some of 
the boys. This patch of bush was a mass of nettles, 
briers, and thorns, and made exceedingly disagreeable 
going. The porters were making very slow progress, 
so I went in to encourage them. However, by the 
time we were halfway through I was so scratched and 
torn that I quit and went out toward the bottom of 
the ravine. The briers had somewhat cooled my 
faith in the theory that the lion was in the ravine. I 



66 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

sat down on an ant-hill where I had a fair view. 
Kennedy fired and I looked quickly. The lion which 
had come out in front of Kennedy had turned and 
was running down across the ravine and up the other 
side. I had a good shot at him and the bullet knocked 
him over. However, he got up and went into a clump 
of bush. This clump just filled a kind of pot hole 
about fifty yards in diameter. Kennedy watched one 
side and I the other so that we had every avenue of 
escape covered. The beaters then began throwing 
stones and sticks into the bush. The lion made no 
move. He might be dead or he might be lying close. 
We wanted to know, but no one wanted to know suf- 
ficiently to crawl in and see. Finally Dudo, my 
gun-bearer, suggested that we light a fire and make 
some firebrands. We busied ourselves with this. In 
the meanwhile, there was no response from the lion. 
When the firebrands were ready Dudo asked leave to 
throw the first one for he maintained that he knew 
where the lion was. Dudo threw, and as his firebrand 
disappeared in the brush there was a roar and a shak- 
ing of the bushes that told exactly where the beast 
was hidden. A shower of firebrands followed but 
with no effect. Then the boys threw rocks. But 
nothing resulted. By this time Kennedy had joined 
the crowd. All the beaters and both of us were 
grouped on one side of the pot hole. Dudo now took 
a small-bore rifle and fired, not in an effort to kill 
the lion but to move him. It succeeded, and he 
moved, not away from us but toward us. The way 
of retreat was open but he didn't take it. Dudo 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 67 

fired again, and again the bushes moved toward us. 
Finally the old fellow was so close to the edge of the 
brush that while we couldn't see him he undoubtedly 
could see us. He stood looking out on thirty black 
men and two white men in front of a great fire — a 
crowd of his enemies. The path was not blocked in 
any other direction. He looked us over carefully 
for fully five minutes and then of his own volition, 
with a great roar, he charged out of the brush and 
up from the pot hole. Halfway up the slope the 
fatal bullet hit him. He was killed charging his 
enemies and without thought of retreat — the first 
black-maned lion ever shot in British East Africa. 

He was old and had been through various vicissi- 
tudes. At one time he had had a leg broken but it 
had healed perfectly. The tip of his tail was gone 
also. But for all that he was a great specimen. 

These two instances are fair examples of the usual 
method of hunting lions in British East Africa. Rid- 
ing after them on horseback might be considered a 
different method than the beating, but as a matter 
of fact, the two merge into each other. When beat- 
ing, the lion hunter usually rides until he actually 
reaches the lion's cover, and if he runs on to a 
lion in the open he rides after it until the su- 
perior speed of the horse over any fair distance forces 
the lion to stop and lie down at bay. And, likewise, 
if one is riding after lions and the lion gets into cover, 
the game is up unless there are beaters to get him out. 

Paul Rainey introduced an added element to the 
horseback method of lion hunting when he imported 



68 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

his lion hounds. I call them lion hounds for they 
chased lions — that is the only thing the pack had in 
common. It included curs, collies, airedales, bear 
hounds from the South, and almost every other kind 
of canine. When Rainey and the hounds appeared, 
the Governor of East Africa remarked that the lions 
were going to get some good dog meat. But within 
a couple of years "hounding lions " was stopped be- 
cause the lions fell too easy a prey to the hounds and 
hunters. When Rainey took his hounds there no 
one was certain how the lions would act, and it was a 
sporting thing to try. But it soon developed — and 
Rainey, who is a thorough sportsman, was one of the 
first to see it — that the hounds kept the lion so busy 
once he was brought to bay that the hunter could ap- 
proach and take as many shots as necessary with 
almost perfect immunity from a charge. It is not 
quite accurate to say that Rainey introduced the 
practice of hunting lions with dogs. Foa, the French 
traveller, speaks of the practice ten years before 
Rainey went to Africa. He even tried to organize a 
pack. His pack failed. But the principle of having 
dogs keep the lions so busy that they would not 
charge, he described completely. 

Besides these daylight methods of hunting it was 
a common practice to hunt lions at night by baiting — 
that is, to kill an animal and hide near it in the hope 
that a lion would come to eat, and then shoot him. 
There is not much danger in this, for the thorn bomas> 
or hiding places, are a good protection, and the lion 
would not be likely to attack any one unless he was 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 69 

shot at or molested. There is, of course, the instance 
of the black man killed in the boma in Somaliland, but 
that event is the exception. 

As a method of killing lions, night baiting is not 
very sportsmanlike, but as a method of photographing 
it is not only legitimate but it has produced by far 
the best lion pictures ever made in Africa — especially 
those of Schilling and A. Radclyffe Dugmore. Rainey 
and Buffalo Jones got some remarkable moving pic- 
tures of hunting lions with dogs, but the total number 
of all pictures of live lions ever taken is still in keeping 
with the small amount of detailed and accurate knowl- 
edge of lions' habits which we have. To my mind 
the finest lion-hunting picture ever taken was brought 
back by Lady Grace McKenzie. Her operator got a 
moving picture of a wounded lion charging. It 
shows the lion's rush from the bush at Lady McKenzie 
and her companion — a white man. It shows the 
man turn and run and the lion rush right by Lady 
McKenzie after him. There the picture ends. On 
his recent trip Martin Johnson got a motion picture 
of five lions crossing the plains, one of which was shot 
by Mr. Johnson. 

But neither beating, baiting, nor hounding is the 
really sportsmanlike method of hunting lions — it is 
spearing, and spearing takes a black man. 

One time in Uganda, after I had been under a con- 
siderable strain while elephant hunting, I decided that 
I needed a rest and a change. I set out for the Uasin 
Gishu Plateau where I got together one hundred 
Nandi spearmen. We had no difficulty in getting 



7 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

volunteers, for they were to be paid and fed for play- 
ing the game they loved. During the first half day 
out from the government station, where we gathered 
our force together, the alarm of lion was sounded. 
We were approaching a patch of bush. The spear- 
men entered the bush from all sides. I placed my 
motion-picture camera at a point of vantage. The 
idea was to drive the lion out in front of the camera 
and have the spearmen at that point spear him. 
Above the din of the spearmen in the bush I finally 
heard the angry growl of a leopard. There was great 
excitement in the bush for a few seconds. Then three 
of the boys came out of the bush. The middle boy 
of the three was being carried and his scalp was hang- 
ing down over his face. Behind this trio came a group 
carrying the dead leopard. Later, when his skin was 
stretched, it showed sixty spear holes. 

I promptly took the wounded boy under the shade 
of a mimosa tree, shaved him, and sewed his scalp 
back into place and cared for his other wounds. He 
showed little interest in the proceedings beyond ask- 
ing a question of the other black boys about what I 
was doing. Seemingly the whole operation was over 
before he recovered from the shock of his mauling. 
The next morning when I sent him home he was much 
troubled. He said that he had not committed any 
offence and he did not see why he had to be sent home. 
His wounds did not seem to trouble him or to dampen 
the ardour of the others in the slightest. 

We went on for a week. One day, just as we were 
making camp near a waterfall, an alarm was sounded 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 71 

near the forest. One of the boys had seen a lion. ' His 
whereabouts was discovered after much beating back 
and forth. I got my camera ready as before at the 
place the boys thought the fight would take place, 
but the lion did not do his part. He broke in a differ- 
ent direction and another bunch of spearmen got him 
two hundred yards away. It was so exasperating to 
have something prevent this most exciting of all movie 
photography from succeeding that I almost failed to 
appreciate the courage and skill of the spearmen. 

A few days later, soon after our start in the morn- 
ing, Mrs. Akeley and I were riding ahead of the pro- 
cession when we met several lions coming out of the 
grass and bush near a small stream. The spearmen 
immediately surrounded the bush into which the 
lions plunged. The lions tried to escape, but in what- 
ever direction any lion tried to go a spearman bobbed 
up out of the grass in front of him. That is a simple 
statement, but to jump up in front of a lion or three 
lions with nothing but a spear and shield as protection 
is a thing not to be taken lightly. As the lions sought 
one escape after another, and found each closed, they 
fought it out. There was about ten minutes of pan- 
demonium. Then we took stock. Three dead lions 
gathered together in a pile; pretty authentic reports 
that two others escaped — and not a picture. 

At the next spearing, however, I did get two pic- 
tures. We were riding along early in the morning 
through a rough bush country. All at once I heard a 
lion grunt. The gun boy held up his hand as a signal 
to stop. The camera was rushed forward to the bank 



72 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

of a little ravine, but before it was assembled ready 
for the operation a lioness came up within ten feet 
of the camera, turned to the left, and then ran back 
by the same route. The boys waved to me to come 
down twenty-five yards. There, from a little knoll, 
we got the first movie record of lion spearing. A young, 
full-grown lion was at bay in tall grass at the bottom of 
the ravine. The camera trained on the place caught 
the first spear thrown. The first one was followed 
by a shower of spears, and a few seconds later the boys 
rushed in and got their spears. It was all over quicker 
than it takes to tell it. In the film not only do the 
falling spears show but also the movement of the 
lion in the grass, but the cover and a dark day made 
any part of the film impossible to use as a still picture. 
Hardly had I finished turning the handle on this scene 
when I was called off twenty-five yards to another 
lion at bay. He was held for the camera and a similar 
record of this one was made. In the meantime, a lone 
spearman making desperate effort to get into the 
show stumbled on an old lioness. They fought it 
out, man and beast together. When we discovered 
him he was on his back protecting himself with his 
shield, a single bite in his leg and the lioness dying 
beside him. He had killed a lioness practically alone, 
which entitled him to wear a lion's skin headdress. 

On this trip of twenty days we had three occasions 
in which the spearmen rounded up five lions in a 
bunch and each time they got three of the five. Al- 
together, we got ten lions and five leopards. One 
boy was mauled by a leopard, another was bitten 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 73 

on the leg by the lion. These were the only injuries 
to the men. Not a shot was fired during the twenty 
days. Our last encounter involved 'five old lions, 
three of which were speared, and three cubs captured 
alive — but no pictures. It happened like this: 

Three lions going up a slope, signal given, pande- 
monium turned loose. Movements of men looked 
as if the lions had gone over the hill beyond to a dry 
stream bed. With the heavy camera I ran down the 
foot of the hill when I was called back and had to 
run back to the top of the hill where the lion was at 
bay. He might have been held indefinitely there 
in the open sunlight — a wonderful chance for a pic- 
ture. But in spite of long teaching, of threats, prom- 
ises, and urging, the boys' excitement overcame them. 
The spears began to fly before the camera was ready. 
As I was adjusting the camera the lion was speared in 
full view in the open sunlight. A camera man never 
had such a chance before, but it was lost because the 
camera was slow. After the planning, the care, the 
work — the luck to have it go like this was too much, 
and my instinct was to grab my gun and shoot the 
man who threw the first spear. I think it was the 
most heartbreaking failure I ever had. I intended 
never to have another, and from that minute I began 
working on a camera that takes no time to adjust. I 
got it finally, but that one moment of poignant disap- 
pointment cost me many months of toil. 

Here is the way I see this lion spearing. A naked 
savage gets iron ore, then he gets fire from two sticks, 
and then charcoal. Then he makes a retort of clay 



74 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

in which he smelts the iron ore. With a hunk of 
granite for an anvil and another for a hammer he 
rough forges the spear. With soft iron hammers 
forged in a similar way he finishes the spear which is 
finally sharpened on native stones. With this equip- 
ment he starts out to kill the lion that has been prey- 
ing on his flocks or herds. He takes a great pride 
in the achievement, for he will make from the mane a 
headdress which his exploit entitles him to wear. Of 
course this does not happen just this way now, but 
the Nandi's spearmen speared lions with the arms 
they made before the white men came. It is a fair 
contest between man and beast. And the courage 
and skill of these men are wonderful. 

Paul Rainey had a ranch on the west shore of Lake 
Naivasha. One morning his boys reported to him 
that a lion had invaded the kraal the night before. 
He set out on horseback with a few of his dogs and 
two Masai herd boys with their spears. The dogs 
soon took up the spoor of the lion and brought him 
to bay under an acacia tree on the grassy plain. The 
sun had just risen above the hills on the other side 
of the lake. The long shadows of the table-top 
acacias lay across the plain, the lion underneath in 
full sunlight. Rainey jumped off his horse, threw the 
reins over a bush, and grabbed his rifle from its boot. 
He then saw the two Masai boys run on toward the 
lion. As they approached the lion, one threw his 
spear and missed. They were between him and the 
lion, and he could not shoot. The boys stood stock 
still till the lion was in mid-air in his final spring 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 75 

when the one with the spear stepped to one side and 
thrust his spear into the lion's neck killing him in- 
stantly. He fell at their feet. As the boy with- 
drew the spear and carefully wiped the blood off on 
the corner of his breechcloth he remarked to Rainey: 
"You see, Master, it is work for a child." 
That is how the Masai figured it. But I never 
have felt so. The first wild lion I ever saw scared me 
almost to death, and a good many of them have 
scared me since. The first lions that I saw were in 
Somaliland. 

An oryx hunt had just come to a close. We were 
about to mount our ponies when one of the black boys 
pointed. There were three lions walking quietly 
across a patch of hard, dry sand. They were perhaps 
a hundred yards away. They looked as big as oxen 
to me. I had never before seen a lion outside of a 
cage. We turned our ponies over to the Somali gun 
boys who galloped after them to round them up. 
My next view of the lions was when the beaters had 
gone in to drive them out of a bit of jungle. A roar 
came from immediately in front of me and I saw a 
lioness in mid-air as high as my head, springing, thank 
heaven, diagonally away from me. But she saw 
me as she sprang and landed facing me. As I 
fired, a lion jumped over her back, which so discon- 
certed me that my shot only wounded her. This 
lion disconcerted her, too, for she followed him. Two 
more shots at her and she disappeared in another 
clump of cover with the lions. In our efforts to drive 
them out of this cover we finally set it on fire. The 



76 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

two lions rushed out and escaped us. The lioness, 
more seriously wounded than I thought, never came. 
I had failed to get a lion, but I felt satisfied none the 
less, because the lions had likewise failed to get me. 
That one moment in that day, when I saw the lioness 
in the air, I'll never forget, for I realized that death 
was but an instant away. 

From that time until now I have seen a great many 
lions, shot some, and handled nearly fifty specimens, 
so that I have made a fairly extended study of the 
measurements and anatomy of the king of beasts. I 
have tried also to study his living characteristics and 
habits, but that is much more difficult. After all, 
perhaps the most impressive thing about a lion is his 
foreleg. The more you know of elephants the more 
you regard the elephant's trunk. The more you 
know of lions, the more you respect the lion's foreleg 
and the great padded and clawed weapon at the end 
of it. It is perhaps the best token of the animal's 
strength. It is probably two or three times as power- 
ful in proportion to weight as the arm of a man. He 
can kill a man with one blow of his paw. His other 
weapon, his jaw, is strong enough to break a zebra's 
neck at one bite. These are a rather rough measure 
of an animal's strength, but they give some idea 
of it. 

There is a record which says that a lion has dragged 
an African buffalo fifty yards. A buffalo weighs 
at least three times as much as a lion. I have never 
had evidence of this much "pulling power" but I have 
known of many instances of lions dragging zebras 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 77 

that far, and the zebras weigh nearly twice as much 
as the lions do. 

Another test of a lion's strength is his ability to 
stand punishment. I have seen a lion charge with 
seven lead bullets from an old .577 Express rifle 
through his shoulder, and only finally succumb to the 
eighth bullet in his head. 

L. J. Tarlton, one of the best shots that has ever 
hunted game in Africa, told me once, when we were 
both recuperating from sickness, that he was going 
to quit shooting lions. What had brought him to this 
conclusion was an experience which he had just had 
with a charging lioness. He had hit her three times 
in the chest. She finally died touching his feet. 
When he examined her, all three bullets were within 
a three-inch radius and every one should have been 
fatal. Yet she had almost reached him despite his 
fast and accurate shooting. 

These instances are exceptions, but often in African 
hunting the exceptions are about as common as the 
rule and one exception may be enough to end the 
story. 

My nearest approach to being mauled by a lion 
came from this same capacity of a lion to carry lead, 
and from my own carelessness. I had seen a lion 
standing some little distance away from me clearly 
in view, and had shot him. The bullet knocked him 
down and, as I thought, hurt him badly. After a 
while he got up and came my way. When about 
forty yards away he gave me another clear shot. 
So without reloading the first barrel of my double- 



78 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

barrelled rifle I fired the second. I hit him again, 
but not with the desired result. He charged. 
There I was with an empty gun to meet the 
charge of a wounded lion, and with no one else, 
not even a gun boy, near. All the rules of lion hunt- 
ing say that you must meet a charge without moving. 
But all the promptings of instinct were to move, and 
I moved. I slipped to one side behind a clump of 
high grass as fast as I could, endeavouring meanwhile 
to reload. A few seconds after I had left the spot 
where I should have stood the lion's spring landed 
him directly on it. He had had to come through a 
little depression, and this and the long grass had ob- 
scured his sight so he had not seen me move. Not 
landing on me as he expected so disconcerted him 
that, even though he saw me, he dived into the thick 
bushes right ahead of him instead of coming at me. 
There he stopped, threatening for a time to repeat 
his charge. Finally, changing his mind, he headed 
deeper into the brush and, as it was too thick to 
follow him, I let him go. In the mix-up my syce had 
become so completely frightened that he had jumped 
into the river, so he was quite unable to tell whether 
the lion had got my pony or the pony had run away. 
After a certain amount of fruitless searching I walked 
the ten miles back to camp. 

The usual movement of a lion is a walk or a kind 
of fox trot. At speed he will still continue to trot 
except at maximum effort, when he gallops. 

Lions do not usually have any habitation; but oc- 
casionally they live in caves. When I" say live, I do 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 79 

not mean that they inhabit them continuously. They 
roam about, following the movements of the game. 
If they happen to be working in a country where there 
is a cave, they will use it while in the neighbourhood. 
But a given band of lions usually stays in one place 
only a short time. The phrase "band of lions" is 
perhaps not very accurate. Lions go in all kinds of 
combinations of numbers. There is a cave on the 
MacMillan ranch near Nairobi from which sixteen 
lions have been seen to come. Personally I have 
never seen more than eight lions together, but I have 
seen almost all combinations of numbers, ages, and 
sexes below that number. Lions are more often in 
twos, threes, or fours than in other combinations. 

But although I know that lions are accustomed 
to roam after game, one of the most interesting lion 
encounters I ever had came from acting on exactly 
the opposite theory. 

There is a place where a little stream flows into the 
Theba River, where, in 1906, 1 was looking for buffalo 
and heard the snarling of two lions. We stopped the 
buffalo hunt momentarily to locate the lions. We 
started at the river bank to drive up the small stream 
toward the higher land and the open. The beatens 
began their work with their usual noises, which I 
checked as soon as possible for fear that the lions 
would go out too far ahead of us to get a shot. I 
instructed the beaters to go up the little stream with 
the cover along its banks throwing stones in ahead of 
them. But my precautions were too late. They had 
hardly started to work when I noticed on the hills 



80 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

a lion and a lioness — one going to the left and the 
other to the right. They were in the open. The 
lion disappeared over the crest of the first hill. I 
had a theory that he would lie down on the top of 
that crest and watch us. I accordingly left part of 
the men in sight while I, with a few others, approached 
the hill under cover. I finally succeeded in getting 
to a point behind a pile of rocks. Motioning the men 
to stay quiet and keep back, I carefully poked my 
head up and saw the old fellow as he lay looking 
toward me about seventy-five yards away. I drew 
back, and then to my disgust one of my companions 
rose up in full view of the lion, who made off unscathed 
by the hurried shots I fired at him. This lion stayed 
constantly in my mind. 

Three years later I was camped on the Tana River 
with Mrs. Akeley, John McCutcheon, and Fred 
Stephenson. When we decided to march from the 
Tana to the Theba I told the crowd that I was going. 
by the spot where I had lost the big lion three years 
before. I had a "hunch" that he would still be there 
— or perhaps be revisiting the spot as I was. Any- 
way, the feeling was strong enough to make me go. 
Stephenson went off on an independent hunt. The 
others with the safari came with me. We loitered 
along photographing rhinoceroses until we came in 
sight of my spot — the place where the little stream 
emptied into the Theba. I noticed that Stephenson 
was coming toward us and about to cross the little 
stream. I remarked, "Fred is going to drive our 
lions out and never know it." I then felt a little 



MY ACQUAINTANCE WITH LIONS 81 

foolish but nevertheless watched him go through 
my pet lion bed. Only a few minutes later Mc- 
Cutcheon pointed toward the upper end of the stream 
and said: 

"What is that?" 
c My pair of lions," I answered. 

They were going up the hill exactly as they had 
three years before except this time they did not sepa- 
rate. We watched them to the top of the hill. We 
started out to head them off. As we reached the 
top of the hill to one side of where they had gone, 
we heard a lion grunt behind us. There, about a 
hundred and twenty-five yards away, were the lion 
and lioness apparently in a very nasty humour. We 
all crouched down, and as we did so the lions rose 
up to see us. I said to Mrs. Akeley: 

"Shoot whenever you are ready." 

I was pretty nervous, for a couple of mad lions in 
the grass make a very bad outlook. 

She fired and missed clean. The lioness began 
lashing her flanks. Mrs. Akeley fired again. The 
lion fell dead with a bullet through his brain. 

McCutcheon and I urged each other to shoot the 
lioness, who, in the meantime, bolted and got away. 
I have handled nearly fifty lions, but this one that 
Mrs. Akeley killed was the largest of all and he had 
a good yellow mane. I can't prove that it was the 
same pair I had seen three years before. What we 
know of lions is against it, but I still like to think it 
was. This was Mrs. Akeley's first lion — a splendid 
trophy, cleanly killed. 



CHAPTER IV 

HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 

THE buffalo is different from any other kind 
of animal in Africa. A lion prefers not to fight 
a man. He almost never attacks unprovoked, 
and even when he does attack he is not vindictive. 
The elephant, like the lion, prefers to be left alone. 
But he is quicker to attack than the lion and he isn't 
satisfied merely to knock out his man enemy. Com- 
plete destruction is his aim. The buffalo is even 
quicker than the elephant to take offence at man and 
he is as keen-sighted, clever, and vindictive as the 
elephant. As a matter of fact, the domesticated bull 
is more likely to attack man without provocation 
than any wild animal I know, and those who wan- 
dered on foot around the bulls on our Western prairies 
in the old cattle days probably experienced the same 
kind of charges one gets from African buffaloes. 

Nevertheless, despite all these qualities, which are 
almost universally attributed to the African buffalo, 
I am confident that the buffalo, like the elephant and 
other wild animals, has no instinctive enmity to man. 
That enmity, I am sure, is acquired by experience. 
I had an experience on the Aberdare Plateau with a 
band of elephants that had seen little or nothing of 
man, and until they learned about men from me they 

82 



HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 83 

paid no more attention to me than if I had been an 
antelope. But after I had shot one or two as speci- 
mens, they acquired the traditional elephant atti- 
tude. I had a curiously similar experience with buf- 
faloes. 

It happened in this way. Mrs. Akeley, Cun- 
inghame, the famous hunter, and I had been trying 
for some time, but with little luck, to get buffalo 
specimens for a group for the Field Museum at 
Chicago. 

We had reason to believe that there was a herd of 
buffaloes living in the triangle made by the junction 
of the Theba and Tana rivers. As the buffaloes 
would have to water from one stream or the other, 
we felt pretty sure of locating them by following down 
the Theba to the junction and then up the Tana. 

From the swamp down the Theba to its junction 
with the Tana occupied three days in which we saw 
no fresh signs of buffalo. On the second march up 
the Tana, as I was travelling ahead of the safari at 
about midday, looking out through an opening in 
a strip of thorn bush that bordered the river, I saw 
in the distance a great black mass on the open plain 
which, on further investigation with the field glasses, 
I was reasonably certain was a herd of buffaloes. 
Sending a note back to Cuninghame, who was in 
charge of the safari^ suggesting that he make camp 
at a hill on the banks of the Tana about two miles 
ahead of my position and await me there, I started 
off over the plain with my two gun boys. Coming up 
out of a dry stream-bed that I had used to conceal 



84 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

my approach, I came on to a large herd of eland, and 
my first fear was that I had mistaken eland for buf- 
faloes. 

Going farther on, however, we saw a herd of about 
five hundred buffaloes lying up in a few scattered 
thorn trees four or five hundred yards away. At 
first it seemed an almost impossible situation. There 
was practically no cover and no means of escape in 
case the herd detected us and saw fit to charge, and 
at that time my respect for the buffaloes led me to 
be extremely cautious. We worked around the herd 
trying to find some place where a safe approach might 
be made. Finally, seeing a little band of a dozen 
buffaloes off at one side on the bank of a ravine which 
offered splendid protection, we stalked them but, 
unfortunately, not one in the band was desirable as a 
specimen. Since this was so, I tried them out, giving 
them my wind, then going up where they could see me 
better. I found that they were quite indifferent 
either to the scent or the sight of man. They finally 
moved off quietly without alarm. I then knew that 
this herd, like the Aberdare elephants, had had little 
or no experience with men, and that there was per- 
haps less to fear from them than from the traditional 
buffalo of the sportsman. So going back to the main 
herd, I crept up boldly to within a hundred yards of 
them. They saw me, faced about, closely inspecting 
me, but with no sign of alarm. It was approaching 
dusk, and in this great black mass it was difficult to 
pick out a good pair of horns except with the aid of 
glasses. I carefully located a fine bull and then shot, 



HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 85 

as I supposed, at the one I had located. As I fired, 
the animals bolted, first away, then back toward me. 
They wheeled, ran halfway between the dead animal 
and me, and passing on about a hundred yards to the 
right wheeled about again and stood watching me, 
the bulls in the front, lined up like soldiers, the calves 
and cows in the background. On coming up to the 
dead animal, I found, much to my regret, that I had 
shot a cow and not the bull I had picked out through 
the glasses. 

I returned to camp feeling that now at last, from 
this herd living apparently in the open, we should 
have relatively little difficulty in completing our 
series of specimens. On the following morning, much 
to our disappointment, our first glimpse of the herd 
was just as it disappeared in the thorn bush along 
the bank of the river. We put in nearly a week of 
hard work to complete the series. 

During those seven days of continual hunting, that 
herd which had been indifferent and unsuspecting at 
the beginning, like the elephants, became cautious, 
vigilant, and aggressive. For instance, on one oc- 
casion near the close of the week, after having spent 
the day trying to locate the herd, I suddenly came 
face to face with them just at the edge of the bush 
at night on my way back to camp. They were tear- 
ing along at a good pace, apparently having been 
alarmed. I stepped to one side and crouched in 
the low grass while they passed me in a cloud of dust 
at twenty-five or thirty yards. Even had I been 
able to pick out desirable specimens at this time I 



86 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

should have been afraid to shoot for fear of getting 
into difficulties when they had located my position. 
I turned and followed them rapidly as they sped away 
over the hard ground until the noise of their stampede 
suddenly stopped. I then decided that it was best 
to get to some point of vantage and await further 
developments. I climbed an acacia tree that enabled 
me to look over the top of the bush. Fifty yards 
ahead I could see about fifty buffaloes lined up in a 
little open patch looking back on their trail. As I 
was perched in the tree endeavouring to pick out a 
desirable animal, I suddenly discovered a lone old 
bull buffalo coming from the bush almost directly 
underneath me, sniffing and snuffing this way and 
that. Very slowly, very cautiously he passed around 
the tree, then back to the waiting herd, when they 
all resumed their stampede and made good their es- 
cape for the day. 

One morning I came in sight of the herd just as 
it was entering the thorn bush and followed hurriedly 
on the trail, until just at the edge of the jungle I 
happened to catch sight of the two black hoofs of an 
old cow behind the low-hanging foliage. I stopped, 
expecting a charge. After a few moments I backed 
slowly away until I reached a tree where I halted to 
await developments. Stooping down I could see the 
buffalo's nose and black, beady eyes as she stood mo- 
tionless. The rest of the herd had gone on out of 
hearing and I think she was quite alone in her pro- 
posed attack. After a few moments, apparently 
realizing that her plan had failed, she turned about 



HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 87 

and followed the herd, moving very quietly at first, 
then breaking into a gallop. 

On the following day toward evening we came up 
again with the herd in the same region. As we first 
saw them they were too far away for us to choose 
and shoot with certainty. We managed to crawl to 
a fair-sized tree midway between us and the herd, 
and from the deep branches picked out the young 
herd bull of the group. When we had shot and he 
had disappeared into the bush, a calf accompanied 
by its mother gave us a fleeting glimpse of itself, with 
the result that we added the calf to our series. 

The herd disappeared into the bush and after a few 
minutes we descended from our perch and inspected 
the calf, then started off in the direction the wounded 
bull had taken, and found him lying dead just a few 
yards away. 

This completed the series, much to our great joy, 
for by this time we were thoroughly tired of buffalo- 
hunting. It had been a long, hard hunt, and our safari 
as well as ourselves were considerably the worse for 
wear. To shoot a half-dozen buffaloes is a very sim- 
ple matter and ought to be accomplished almost any 
day in British East Africa or Uganda, but to select 
a series of a half dozen that will have the greatest 
possible scientific value by illustrating the develop- 
ment from babyhood to old age is quite a different 
matter. 

These buffaloes of the Tana country that we found 
on the plains and in the bush apparently rarely or 
never go into the swamps, a fact not only confirmed 



88 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

by observation but also indicated by the condition 
of the hoofs. These are horny, round, and smooth 
as a result of travelling on the hard and more or less 
stony ground of the region. But the tinga-tinga 
buffaloes have lived in the swamp for years and spend 
practically no time on hard ground; hence the hoofs 
are long, sharp, and unworn as a result of walking 
always in the soft mud and water. All this despite 
the fact that these two herds may actually come in 
contact at the edge of the swamp. Other herds live 
in forest country but come out into the grasslands 
to feed at night, always going back into the forest 
at daybreak. 

In Uganda, where buffaloes are recognized as a 
menace to life and are of no particular value except 
for food, they are officially treated as vermin and one 
may shoot as many as he will. Here the herds had 
increased to an enormous extent and, because of the 
dense jungles and general inaccessibility of the coun- 
try, it was rather difficult to hunt them. While 
elephant-hunting in Uganda we found the buffaloes 
a decided nuisance, frequently coming on to them 
unexpectedly while hot on an elephant trail, some- 
times having difficulty in getting rid of them, not 
wishing to shoot or stampede them because of the 
danger of frightening away the elephants, to say 
nothing of the constant menace of running into a 
truculent old bull at very close quarters in dense 
jungle. The buffaloes actually mingle with the ele- 
phants, each quite indifferent to the other excepting 
that on one occasion we found elephant calves charg- 



HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 89 

ing into a herd of buffaloes, evidently only in play. 
They chased about squealing and stampeding the 
buffaloes, who kept at a safe distance but did not 
actually take alarm. Occasionally an old cow whose 
calf was being hard-pressed by the young elephants 
would turn, apparently with the intention of having 
it out, but would always bolt before the elephant 
could actually reach her. Despite the fact that the 
record head, fifty-four inches in spread, was shot by 
Mr. Knowles in Uganda, from our general observa- 
tion the heads in Uganda run smaller than those of 
British East Africa while the animals are perhaps 
heavier. 

Although in our buffalo-hunting we have never 
had any actually serious encounters, I fully appreciate 
that the buffalo deserves his reputation as one of 
the most dangerous of big-game animals. His eye- 
sight is good, he has keen scent, and is vigilant and 
vindictive. While the lion is usually satisfied with 
giving his victim a knock-out blow or bite, the buffalo, 
when once on the trail of man, will not only persist 
in his efforts to find him but, when he has once come 
up with him, will not leave while there is a vestige 
of life remaining in the victim. In some cases he 
will not leave while there is a fragment of the man 
remaining large enough to form a target for a buffalo's 
stamping hoofs. 

A hunter I met once told me of an experience he 
had with a buffalo which shows in rather a terrible 
way these characteristics of the animal. He and a 
companion wounded a buffalo and followed it into 



9 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

the long grass. It was lurking where they did not 
expect it and with a sudden charge it was upon them 
before they had a chance to shoot. The buffalo 
knocked down the man who told me the story and 
then rushed after his companion. The first victim 
managed to climb a tree although without his gun. 
By that time the other man was dead. But the buf- 
falo was not satisfied. For two hours he stamped 
and tossed the remains while the wounded man in 
the tree sat helplessly watching. When the buffalo 
left, my informant told me, the only evidence of his 
friend was the trampled place on the ground where 
the tragedy had taken place. There is nothing in 
Africa more vindictive than this. 

There was another case of an old elephant hunter 
in Uganda who shot a buffalo for meat. The bullet 
did not kill the animal and it retreated into the thick 
bush where there were even some good-sized trees. 
The old hunter followed along a path. Suddenly the 
buffalo caught him and tossed him. As he went into 
the air he grasped some branches overhanging the 
trail. ■' There he hung unable to get up and afraid to 
drop down while the wild bull beneath him charged 
back and forth with his long horns ripping at the 
hunter's legs. Happily the gun boy came up in time 
to save his master by killing the beast. This hunter 
was an extraordinary character. He was very suc- 
cessful and yet he was almost stone deaf. How he 
dared hunt elephants or any other big game without 
the aid of his hearing I have never been able to con- 
ceive, yet he did it and did it well. 



HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 91 

One morning Cuninghame, having gone out with 
some boys to shoot meat for camp, came upon three 
old buffaloes. He sent a runner back to camp with 
the news, and Mrs. Akeley and I started out to join 
him. Halfway from camp we were obliged to make 
a wide detour to avoid an old rhino and calf, but soon 
caught up with Cuninghame. He reported, however, 
that the buffaloes had passed on into some dense 
bush. We started to follow but suddenly came upon 
two rhinos. We quickly turned to leeward in order 
not to disturb them by giving them our wind, for we 
were not anxious to bring on a general stampede of 
the game in the neighbourhood. This turn brought 
us to the windward of the old cow and calf that we 
had first avoided, with the result that she came charg- 
ing up, followed by the calf close at her heels, snorting 
like a locomotive. Cuninghame helped Mrs. Akeley 
up a convenient tree. He stood at the base of the 
tree and I at the foot of another where we waited with 
our guns ready, watching the old cow go tearing past 
within twenty feet of us. 

We continued on the buffalo trail, but the stampede 
of the rhino had resulted in alarming the buffaloes 
so that instead of finding them near by, we were 
forced to follow them for an hour or more before 
again coming in sight of them; and again twice more 
they were stampeded by rhinos that happened to 
get in our path. At last the buffaloes evidently be- 
came tired of being chased from place to place, and 
came to rest on a sloping hillside which we could ap- 
proach only by crawling on our hands and knees in, 



92 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

the grass for a considerable distance. In this manoeu- 
vring it happened that Mrs. Akeley was able to stalk 
the best bull, and a few minutes later he was finished 
off and we were busy photographing, measuring, and 
preparing the skin. 

About twenty-five miles to the northwest from the 
Tana, across the plain on the Theba River, is a marsh 
where a herd of nearly a hundred buffaloes was known 
to live, but the Provincial Commissioner had defi- 
nitely said that we were not to shoot these. We 
decided finally to ask for the privilege, which was 
granted, but with a warning in the form of an ex- 
planation: that he had told us not to shoot there 
because of the danger involved. 

We found a reed marsh about one by two miles in 
extent with, at that time, a foot or two of water in 
the buffalo trails that crisscrossed it in all directions. 
On arriving, and while making camp at one end of 
the marsh just at dusk, we saw the herd come out on 
dry land a half mile away — but they returned to 
cover before we could approach them. In fact, dur- 
ing nearly two weeks that we spent there we saw 
them come outside the swamp only twice, each time 
to return immediately. 

We made several attempts to approach them in 
the marsh, but found that while it was quite possible 
to get up to them it was out of the question to choose 
our specimens. Also it would have been impossible 
to beat a retreat in case of a charge or stampede; so 
we adopted a campaign of watchful waiting. From 
the camp at daybreak we would scan the marsh for 



HUNTING THE AFRICAN BUFFALO 93 

the snowy cow herons that were always with the 
buffaloes during the daytime. These would fly about 
above the reeds from one part of the herd to another, 
and at times, where the reeds were low, they could 
be seen riding along perched on the backs of the anu 
mals. Having thus located the herd and determined 
the general direction of its movements, we would go 
to a point at the edge of the marsh where it seemed 
likely that the animals would come out, or at least 
come near enough to be visible in the shorter reeds. 
It was in this way that we secured the specimen that 
makes the young bull of the group — and two weeks 
spent there resulted in securing no other specimen. 
On this one occasion the buffaloes, accompanied by 
the white herons, had come to within about a hundred 
yards of our position on the shores of the swamp. 
They were in reeds that practically concealed them, 
but the young buffalo in question, in the act of throw- 
ing up his head to dislodge a bird that had irritated 
him, disclosed a pair of horns that indicated a young 
bull of the type I wanted. A heron standing on his 
withers gave me his position, and aiming about two 
feet below the bird, I succeeded in killing the bull 
with a heart shot. 



CHAPTER V 

LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 

THERE is a general belief firmly fixed in the 
popular mind by constant repetition that the 
ostrich is a very stupid bird. A man might 
well expect easy hunting of a bird that tried to hide 
by the traditional method of sticking its head in the 
sand. But I found that the ostrich, like other 
African animals, did not always realize its obliga- 
tion to tradition or abide by the rules set down 
for its behaviour. I went a long way into the 
waterless desert of Somaliland after ostriches. We 
were just across the Haud and were camped in a 
"tug" or dry stream bed where by digging we could 
get water for our sixty men and the camels. During 
two days of hunting in the dry bush of this desert I 
had seen many ostriches, but none of them had put 
its head into the ground and left its big black-and- 
white plumed body for me to shoot at. On the con- 
trary, in this my first experience with them I found 
them exceedingly wary. They kept their bodies 
hidden behind the bush. Only their heads were ex- 
posed, each head only about large enough to carry a 
pair of very keen eyes and much too small to serve 
as a target at the distance that they maintained. As 
a result of being continually outwitted by them for* 

04 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 95 

two days I began to think ill of the man who origi- 
nally started the story about their stupidity. 

With the difficulties of the chase firmly in mind I 
set out early on the third day to see if I could get a 
specimen. Concluding that the smaller the party 
the better the opportunity, I took only a mule and 
my pony boy. When only a half mile from camp I 
met an old hyena who was loafing along after a night 
out. He looked like a good specimen, but after I 
shot him, one look at his dead carcass was enough 
to satisfy me that he was not as desirable as I had 
thought, for his skin was badly diseased. I had very 
good reason to think of this very hard later in the 
day. A little farther along I shot a good wart hog 
for our scientific collection. Leaving the specimen 
where it lay, I marked the spot and continued in 
search of the plume-bearers. 

Soon after this I climbed to the top of a termite 
hill about eight feet high to look the country over 
with field glasses. As I held the glasses to my eyes 
while adjusting the focus, I suddenly realized that 
the letter S that I was focussing on was the head and 
neck of an ostrich and that there was a second letter 
S beside it. The birds remained perfectly motionless 
watching and I did likewise, locating their position 
meanwhile by the termite hills which were nearly in 
line between us. Suddenly the heads ducked and 
disappeared behind the bush. I dropped from my 
perch and ran rapidly to where they had been, but 
found only their trail in the sand. 

When I had given up tracking them and was about 



96 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

to start farther afield I came into an opening in the 
bush that was about thirty yards wide and two hun- 
dred yards long. Near the centre of the opening was 
a dense green bush a dozen feet in diameter. A 
beautiful cock ostrich broke into the clearing at full 
speed just below the bush and as I raised my rifle he 
disappeared behind the bush. I held ready to catch 
him as he passed out from behind it on the other side, 
where there was fifteen or twenty yards of clear 
ground before he would reach cover again. I stood 
there ready with my gun up until I felt foolish. Then 
I ran quickly to the bush expecting to find him just 
on the other side. He was nowhere in sight, but his 
trail told the story. As he had come into the open he 
had seen me and when behind the bush he had stopped 
short, as indicated by a great hole and swirl of sand 
where he had caught himself by one foot, had turned 
at right angles and run straight away the length of 
the clearing, keeping the bush between himself and 
his enemy. I have not known many animals to do a 
more clever thing than this. I got one shot at him 
later — putting my sights at three hundred yards — 
but the bullet struck in the sand between his legs. 

We returned to camp later in the afternoon and 
after a little rest and refreshment I started out again 
with only the pony boy and carrying the necessary 
tools to get the head of the wart hog that I had shot 
in the morning. We had no difficulty in finding the 
place where I had shot him, but there was nothing to 
be seen of the pig. The place was strewn with vulture 
features, but surely vultures could not make away 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 97 

with the head. A crash in the bushes at one side 
led me in a hurry in that direction and a little later I 
saw my pig's head in the mouth of a hyena travelling 
up the slope of a ridge out of range. That meant 
that my wart hog specimen was lost, and, having 
got no ostriches, I felt it was a pretty poor day. 

The sun was setting, and with little to console us 
the pony boy and I started for camp. As we came 
near to the place where I had shot the diseased hyena 
in the morning, it occurred to me that perhaps there 
might be another hyena about the carcass, and feeling 
a bit "sore" at the tribe for stealing my wart hog, I 
thought I might pay off the score by getting a good 
specimen of a hyena for the collections. The pony 
boy led me to the spot, but the dead hyena was no- 
where in sight. There was the blood where he had 
fallen, and in the dusk we could make out a trail in 
rhe sand where he had been dragged away. 

Advancing a few steps, a slight sound attracted my 
attention, and glancing to one side I got a glimpse of 
a shadowy form going behind a bush. I then did a 
very foolish thing. Without a sight of what I was 
shooting at, I shot hastily into the bush. The snarl 
of a leopard told me what kind of a customer I was 
taking chances with. A leopard is a cat and has all 
the qualities that gave rise to the "nine lives" legend: 
To kill him you have got to kill him clear to the tip of 
his tail. Added to that, a leopard, unlike a lion, is 
vindictive. A wounded leopard will fight to a finish 
practically every time, no matter how many chances 
it has to escape. Once aroused, its determination is 



9 8 



IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 



fixed on fight, and if a leopard ever gets hold, it claws 
and bites until its victim is in shreds. All this was 
in my mind, and I began looking about for the best 
way out of it, for I had no desire to try conclusions 
with a possibly wounded leopard when it was so late 
in the day that I could not see the sights of my rifle. 




The dotted line indicates Mr. Akeley's movement during his encounter 
with the leopard. The dashes show the route taken by the leopard. At 
position (i), Mr. Akeley fired into the bush. Of the three shots fired at 
position (2), two went above the leopard and the third inflicted only a skin 
wound. The hand-to-hand combat took place at position (3). 

My intention was to leave it until morning and if it 
had been wounded, there might then be a chance of 
finding it, I turned to the left to cross to the opposite 
bank of a deep, narrow tug and when there I found 
that I was on an island where the tug forked, and by 
going along a short distance to the point of the island 
I would be in position to see behind the bush where 
the leopard had stopped. But what I had started 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 99 

the leopard was intent on finishing. While peering 
about I detected the beast crossing the tug about 
twenty yards above me. I again began shooting, 
although I could not see to aim. However, I could 
see where the bullets struck as the sand spurted up 
beyond the leopard. The first two shots went above 
her, but the third scored. The leopard stopped and 
I thought she was killed. The pony boy broke into 
a song of triumph which was promptly cut short by 
another song such as only a thoroughly angry leopard 
is capable of making as it charges. For just a flash 
I was paralyzed with fear, then came power for action. 
I worked the bolt of my rifle and became conscious 
that the magazine was empty. At the same instant 
I realized that a solid point cartridge rested in the 
palm of my left hand, one that I had intended, as I 
came up to the dead hyena, to replace with a soft 
nose. If I could but escape the leopard until I could 
get the cartridge into the chamber! 

As she came up the bank on one side of the point 
of the island, I dropped down the other side and ran 
about to the point from which she had charged, by 
which time the cartridge was in place, and I wheeled 
— to face the leopard in mid-air. The rifle was 
knocked flying and in its place was eighty pounds of 
frantic cat. Her intention was to sink her teeth into 
my throat and with this grip and her forepaws hang to 
me while with her hind claws she dug out my stomach, 
for this pleasant practice is the way of leopards. 
However, happily for me, she missed her aim. In- 
stead of getting my throat she was to one side. She 



ioo IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

struck me high in the chest and caught my upper 
right arm with her mouth. This not only saved my 
throat but left her hind legs hanging clear where they 
could not reach my stomach. With my left hand I 
caught her throat and tried to wrench my right arm 
free, but I couldn't do it except little by little. When 
I got grip enough on her throat to loosen her hold just 
a little she would catch my arm again an inch or two 
lower down. In this way I drew the full length of the 
arm through her mouth inch by inch. I was conscious 
of no pain, only of the sound of the crushing of tense 
muscles and the choking, snarling grunts of the beast. 
As I pushed her farther and farther down my arm I 
bent over, and finally when it was almost freed I fell 
to the ground, the leopard underneath me, my right 
hand in her mouth, my left hand clutching her throat, 
my knees on her lungs, my elbows in her armpits 
spreading her front legs apart so that the frantic 
clawing did nothing more than tear my shirt. Her 
body was twisted in an effort to get hold of the ground 
to turn herself, but the loose sand offered no hold. 
For a moment there was no change in our positions, 
and then for the first time I began to think and hope I 
had a chance to win this curious fight. Up to that 
time it had been simply a good fight in which I ex- 
pected to lose, but now if I could keep my advantage 
perhaps the pony boy would come with a knife. I 
called, but to no effect. I still held her and continued 
to shove the hand down her throat so hard she could 
not close her mouth and with the other I gripped her 
throat in a strangle hold. Then I surged down on 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 101 

her with my knees. To my surprise I felt a rib go. 
I did it again. I felt her relax, a sort of letting go, 
although she was still struggling. At the same time 
I felt myself weakening similarly, and then it became 
a question as to which would give up first. Little 
by little her struggling ceased. My strength had out- 
lasted hers. 

After what seemed an interminable passage of 
time I let go and tried to stand, calling to the pony 
boy that it was finished. He now screwed up his 
courage sufficiently to approach. Then the leopard 
began to gasp, and I saw that she might recover; so 
I asked the boy for his knife. He had thrown it 
away fin his fear, but quickly found it, and I at last 
made certain that the beast was dead. As I looked 
at her later I came to the conclusion that what had 
saved me was the first shot I had fired when she went 
into the bush. It had hit her right hind foot. I 
think it was this broken foot which threw out the aim 
of her spring and made her get my arm instead of my 
throat. With the excitement of the battle still on 
me I did not realize how badly used up I was. I 
tried to shoulder the leopard to carry it to camp, but 
was very soon satisfied to confine my efforts to getting 
myself to camp. 

When I came inside the zareba, my companions were 
at dinner before one of the tents. They had heard 
the shots and had speculated on the probabilities. 
They had decided that I was in a mix-up with a lion 
or with natives, but that I would have the enemy or 
the enemy would have me before they could get to 



102 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

me; so they had continued their dinner. The fatalis- 
tic spirit of the country had prevailed. When I 
came within their range of vision, however, my ap- 
pearance was quite sufficient to arrest attention, for 
my clothes were all ripped, my arm was chewed into 
an unpleasant sight, and there was blood and dirt all 
over me. Moreover, my demands for all the anti- 
septics in camp gave them something to do, for noth- 
ing was keener in my mind than that the leopard had 
been feeding on the diseased hyena that I had shot 
in the morning. To the practical certainty of blood 
poisoning from any leopard bite not quickly treated 
was added the certainty that this leopard's mouth 
was particularly foul with disease. While my com- 
panions were getting the surgical appliances ready, 
my boys were stripping me and dousing me with cold 
water. That done, the antiseptic was pumped into 
every one of the innumerable tooth wounds until my 
arm was so full of the liquid that an injection in one 
drove it out of another. During the process I nearly 
regretted that the leopard had not won. But it was 
applied so quickly and so thoroughly that it was a 
complete case. 

Later in the evening they brought the leopard in 
and laid it beside my cot. Her right hind foot 
showed where the first shot had hit her. The only 
other bullet that struck her was the last before she 
charged and that had creased her just under the skin 
on the back of the neck, from the shock of which she 
had instantly recovered. 

This encounter took place fairly soon after our 




MR. AKELEY AND THE LEOPARD HE KILLED BARE 

HANDED 




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LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 103 

arrival on my first trip to Africa. I have seen a lot 
of leopards since and occasionally killed one, but 
I have taken pains never to attempt it at such close 
quarters again. In spite of their fighting qualities 
I have never got to like or respect leopards very much. 
This is not because of my misadventure; I was hurt 
much worse by an elephant, but I have great respect 
and admiration for elephants. I think it is because 
the leopard has always seemed to me a sneaking 
kind of animal, and also perhaps because he will 
eat carrion even down to a dead and diseased hyena. 
A day or two before my experience with the leopard 
someone else had shot a hyena near our camp and 
had left him over night. The next morning the dead 
hyena was lodged fifteen feet from the ground in the 
crotch of a tree at some distance from where he was 
killed. A leopard, very possibly my enemy, had 
dragged him along the ground and up the tree and 
placed him there for future use. While such activi- 
ties cannot increase one's respect for the taste of 
leopards, they do give convincing evidence of the 
kopard's strength, for the hyena weighed at least as 
much as the leopard. 

The leopard, like the elephant, is at home in every 
kind of country in East Africa — on the plains, among 
the rocky hills, among the bamboo, and in the forest 
all the way up to timber line on the equatorial moun- 
tains. Unlike the lion, the leopard is a solitary beast. 
Except for a mother with young, I have never seen as 
many as two leopards together. It is my belief that 
like the lion they do their hunting at night almost 



io 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

exclusively, and I am quite sure that this is their 
general habit despite the fact that the only unmis- 
takable evidence of day hunting I ever saw myself in 
Africa was done by a leopard. I was out one day in 
some tall grass and came upon the body of a small 
antelope. As I came up I heard an animal retreat 
and I thought I recognized a leopard's snarl. The 
antelope was still warm. It had evidently just been 
killed and the tracks around it were those of a leop- 
ard. 

, One of the leopard's chief sources of food supply 
consists of monkeys and baboons. I remember a 
certain camp we had near the bottom of a cliff. Out 
of this cliff grew a number of fig trees in which the 
baboons were accustomed to sleep fairly well out of 
reach of the leopards. They were, however, not com- 
pletely immune, and we could hear the leopards at 
the top of the cliff almost every night, and once in a 
while the remnants of a baboon testified to the success 
of the leopard's night prowling. Besides monkeys 
and baboons, leopards seem inordinately fond of dogs. 
A pack of dogs like Paul Rainey's can make short 
work of a leopard, but on the other hand a leopard 
can make short work of a single dog and seemingly 
takes great pleasure in doing so. One night in a 
shack in Nyiri, a settler sat talking to his neighbour, 
while his dog slept under the table. Suddenly, and 
quite unannounced, a leopard slipped in through the 
open door. Confusion reigned supreme for a moment 
and then the men found themselves on the table. 
The leopard was under the table killing the dog and 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 105 

somehow in the excitement the door had been closed. 
One after the other the men fled out of the window, 
leaving the dog to his fate. A traveller had a similar 
but more painful experience with a leopard at the 
Dak Bungalow at Voi. Voi is a station on the 
Uganda Railroad where there was, and I suppose still 
is, a railroad hotel of a rather primitive kind known 
as the Dak Bungalow. One night a man was sleeping 
in one of the Bungalow rooms and, hearing a com- 
motion outside, he started out to see what it was. As 
he passed through the open doorway on to the porch 
he was attacked by the leopard that had evidently 
come stalking his dogs. 

Leopards are not particularly afraid of man. I 
never knew one to attack a man unprovoked except 
when caught at such close quarters as the case at 
Voi, but they prowl around man's habitation without 
compunction. I had a camp in Somaliland once 
where the tents were surrounded by two thorn thick- 
ets — the inner and outer zareba. A leopard came in 
one night, killed a sheep, dragged it under the very 
fly of my tent on the way out, jumped the zareba^ 
and got away. Fifteen years ago, when Nairobi was a 
very small place, the daughter of one of the govern- 
ment officers went into her room one evening to dress. 
As she opened the door she heard a noise and looking 
she noticed the end of a leopard's tail sticking out 
from under the bed with the tip gently moving from 
side to side. With great presence of mind the young 
lady quietly went out and closed the door. Nairobi 
had many possibilities of thrills in those days. It 



io6 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

was about the same time that a gentleman hurrying 
from town up to the Government House one evening 
met a lion in the middle of the street to the embarrass- 
ment of both parties. 

There are some phrases in Tennyson's "Charge of 
the Light Brigade" that put me in mind of the rhi- 
noceros, or "rhino," as everyone calls him in Africa. 

"Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and 
die." 

But it is stupidity, not duty, that keeps the rhino 
from reasoning. He is the stupidest old fellow in 
Africa. I know that many experienced hunters like- 
wise consider him one of the most dangerous animals 
in Africa. I can't quite agree with this. Of course, 
if he runs over you not only is it dangerous, but it is 
also likely to be fatal. It is also true that as soon as 
he smells man he is likely to start charging around in 
a most terrifying manner, but the rhino is never cun- 
ning like the elephant, nor is his charge accurate like 
that of a lion, nor is the rhino vindictive like the 
buffalo or the leopard. Most men's estimates of the 
relative dangers of African animals are based upon 
their own experiences. The animals that have mauled 
them worst or scared them worst they hold most 
dangerous. I have been mauled by an elephant, 
chewed by a leopard, and scared half to death a dozen 
times by lions, so that I have the very firmest con- 
victions about the dangers of these animals. On the 
other hand, I have twice been caught by rhinos in 
positions where an elephant, a lion, or a leopard would 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 107 

have had me in no time, and both times the rhinos 
left me unmolested. 

When I first went to Africa I had the same ex- 
perience as everyone else. Rhinos getting wind of 
me would charge me and to save myself I'd shoot. I 
suppose I had stood off twenty of these charges with 
my rifle before I discovered that if I did not shoot it 
would not necessarily be fatal. I discovered the fact, 
of course, quite by accident. I was going along the 
bank of the Tana River one day with my camera. 
My gun boys were some distance behind so as not to 
disturb any animal that might afford a picture. Sud- 
denly I was set all a-quiver by the threshings and 
snortings of a rhino coming through the bushes in 
my direction. I very hastily took stock of the situa- 
tion. There was nothing to climb. Between me 
and the thicket from which the rhino was coming 
was about twenty-five feet of open space. Behind 
me was a 30-foot drop to the crocodile-infested waters 
of the Tana. The only hope I saw was a bush over- 
hanging the brink which looked as if it might or might 
not hold me if I swung out on it. I decided to try 
the bush and let the rhino land in the river, trusting to 
luck that I wouldn't join him there. The bushes 
were thrust aside and he came full tilt into the open- 
ing where he could see me. Everything was set for 
the final act. He suddenly stopped with a snort. 
His head drooped. His eyes almost closed. He 
looked as if he were going to sleep. The terrible 
beast had become absolutely ludicrous. While this 
was going on I felt a poke in my back. I reached 



108 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

behind and took my rifle from the gun boy who had 
come up with equal celerity and bravery. I drew a 
bead on the old fellow but I could not shoot. A 
stupider or more ludicrous looking object I never 
saw. I began talking to him, but it did not rouse 
him from his lethargy. There he stood, half asleep 
and totally oblivious, while I, with the gun half aimed, 
talked to him about his ugly self. About this time 
my porters came into hearing on a path behind the 
rhino. He pricked up his ears and blundered off in 
that direction. I heard the loads dropping as the 
porters made for the trees. The rhino charged 
through the safari and off into the bush. 

At another time, somewhat later, three of them 
charged me when I was sitting down and unarmed. 
I couldn't rise in time to get away or reach a gun, so 
I merely continued to sit. This time they didn't stop 
and doze, but they went by on both sides ten or fifteen 
feet away. Such a charge was much more pleasing 
to me and apparently quite as satisfactory to them as 
one in which they were successful in their attack. 
These experiences have led me to think that in his 
blundering charges the rhino has no clear objective, as 
a lion has, for instance. Even his blundering charge 
is dangerous, of course, if you are in the way, but I 
firmly believe that the rhino is too stupid to be either 
accurate in his objective, fixed in his purpose, or 
vindictive in his intentions. 

This does not mean that a lot of people have not 
been killed by rhinos. They have; but I do believe 
that compared with other African animals the danger 



LEOPARDS AND RHINOS 109 

of the rhino is generally exaggerated. When he 
smells something he comes toward the scent until 
he sees what it is. As he can't see very far, no man 
with a gun is likely to let him come within seeing dis- 
tance without shooting. So the stupid old beast 
goes charging around hoping to see the source of 
what he smells and in addition to getting himself shot 
has made a reputation for savagery. In fact, he has 
blundered around and been shot so much that old 
rhinos with big horns are growing scarce. 

I remember coming up over the top of a little rise 
one day and seeing across the plain an old rhino 
standing motionless in the shade of a solitary acacia 
about two hundred yards away. The usual tick birds 
sat on his back. It was a typical rhino pose. As I 
stood looking for more entertainment, a second rhino 
came mouching along between me and number one. 
Number one evidently heard him. The birds flew 
off his back, he pricked up his ears, and broke into a 
charge toward number two. Number two recipro- 
cated. Their direction was good and they had 
attained full speed. I longed for a camera to photo- 
graph the collision. But the camera would have 
done me no good. The collision did not happen. 
When about twenty feet from each other they stopped 
dead, snorted, and turned around, number one return- 
ing to doze under his tree and number two continuing 
the journey which had been interrupted. I suppose 
that rhinos have acquired the habit of charging when- 
ever they smell anything because until the white man 
came along they could investigate in this peculiar 



no IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

manner with impunity. Everything but an elephant 
or another rhino would get out of the way of one of 
these investigating rushes, and of course an elephant 
or another rhino is big enough for even the rhino's 
poor eyes to see before he gets into trouble. 

The coming of the white man with the rifle upset 
all this, but the rhino has learned less about protect- 
ing himself from man than the other animals. Man 
went even further in breaking the rules of rhino exist- 
ence. The railroad was an even worse affront than 
the rifle. The rhino furnished some of the comedy 
of the invasion of the game country by the Uganda 
Railway. In the early days of that road a friend of 
mine was on the train one day when a rhino charged it. 
The train was standing still out in the middle of the 
plain. An old rhino, either hearing it or smelling 
man, set out on the customary charge. The train 
didn't move and he didn't swerve. He hit the run- 
ning board of one car at full speed. There was a 
terrific jolt. My friend rushed to the platform. As 
he reached it the rhino was getting up off his knees. 
He seemed a little groggy but he trotted off, conscious, 
perhaps, that railroad trains cannot be routed by the 
rhino's traditional method of attack. 



CHAPTER VI 

ALONG THE TRAIL 

THE land teems with the beasts of the chase, 
infinite in number and incredible in variety. 
It holds the fiercest beasts of ravin, and the 
fleetest and most timid of those beings that live in 
undying fear of talon and fang. It holds the largest 
and the smallest of hoofed animals. It holds the 
mightiest creatures that tread the earth or swim in 
its rivers; it also holds distant kinsfolk of these same 
creatures, no bigger than woodchucks, which dwell in 
crannies of the rocks and in tree tops. There are 
antelope smaller than hares and antelope larger than 
oxen. There are creatures which are the embodi- 
ments of grace, and others whose huge ungainliness 
is like that of a shape in a nightmare. The plains 
are alive with droves of strange and beautiful animals 
whose like is not known elsewhere; and with others 
even stranger that show both in form and temper 
something of the fantastic and the grotesque." 

So Theodore Roosevelt, in that vivid word picture 
of jungle sights and sounds, the foreword of "African 
Game Trails," suggests the vast variety of animal 
acquaintances the hunter may make in Africa. I 
have sought out or happened upon many others be- 
sides my particular friends, the elephants and gorillas. 



ii2 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

One of those whose " huge ungainliness is like that of 
a shape in a nightmare" is the hippopotamus. The 
small dugout in which the native makes his way up 
and down the Tana River is just a nice mouthful for 
him. He can splinter one between his great jaws in 
no time if he is sufficiently stirred up, but fortunately 
for the natives he is not easily enraged. He is more 
or less like the rhinoceros except that, while he is 
equally stupid, he rarely gets mad and so is not often 
dangerous. 

Along the Tana River in 1906 the hippos were 
still very abundant, and I presume that a huntei 
passing along that stream to-day might shoot all he 
could possibly want. Although I saw probably only 
a small proportion of all I actually passed, I counted 
more than two hundred in a ten-mile march along 
the Tana. Sheltered by the rather high and precipi- 
tous banks of the river, the hippopotami if undis- 
turbed bask quietly on the sand-bars during the day. 
If one is disturbed, he takes to the water, leaving 
exposed only the top of his head, his eyes, and nos- 
trils, so that if he remains motionless one usually 
has to spend some time to determine whether the 
object protruding from the water is a hippo's head 
or a slate-coloured rock. If really frightened, he 
submerges entirely, exposing only his nostrils and 
those just long enough to blow and take in a fresh 
supply of air. Then down he goes, not to appear 
again for several minutes, frequently in quite a differ- 
ent place. 

Cuninghame and I had a good opportunity to test 



ALONG THE TRAIL 113 

his disposition one day as we were crossing Lake 
Naivasha. I was sitting at the tiller in the stern of 
the boat about half asleep in the hot sun of midday 
when there was a sudden explosion and our boat was 
lifted well out of the water. The keel had struck 
the back of a submerged hippopotamus. He came 
up thirty yards away with his mouth open, but he 
made no attempt to attack. We had the good luck 
to come down right side up, shipping only a little 
water. I hope he was as badly frightened as I was. 

Because he is so little sport, even the pot hunters 
have left the hippo alone. However, most of the 
African tribes consider hippopotamus meat good eat- 
ing and he is frequently killed by the natives for food. 
The fact is that in times of famine this animal is a 
valuable source of supply. In 1906, when we were 
on the Tana River, I found a bone yard with the 
bones of a great number of hippopotami along with 
various human bones. In a famine some fifteen or 
twenty years earlier, so the story goes, the natives 
had gravitated toward the Tana River to kill hippo- 
potami to keep from starving and there had fought 
over this last source of food. 

Double rows of tracks with grass growing between 
them, like those made by a wagon, trail along the 
Tana and are cut deep into the river's banks, where 
through long years the hippos have come up at night 
to graze and browse. His is a double track, because 
in travelling he does not place one foot before the 
other. He finds no food in the water, but he is at 
home there, and sometimes travels long distances 



ii 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

overland from one pool or stream to another. How 
far he treks in this way I do not know, and the ques- 
tion is much disputed. I am certain that it is some- 
times as much as fifty miles. 

While I have found but little enjoyment in shooting 
any kind of animal, I confess that in hunting ele- 
phants and lions under certain conditions I have al- 
ways felt that the animal had sufficient chance in the 
game to make it something like a sporting proposi- 
tion. On the other hand, much of the shooting that 
I have had to do in order to obtain specimens for 
museum collections has had none of this aspect at 
all and has made me feel a great deal like a murderer. 
One of the worst of my experiences was with the 
wild ass of Somaliland on my first trip to Africa. 
These animals are rare, and as they are the only mem- 
bers of the horse family in that part of Africa, the 
Field Museum of Natural History was anxious to get 
specimens of them. 

After several heart-breaking days' work my com- 
panion, Dodson, and I had secured but one specimen 
and several were needed for a group. One day 
under guidance of natives who promised to take us 
to a country where they abounded, we started out 
at three o'clock in the morning, with a couple of 
camels to bring back the skins if we got them. At 
about eight, as we were crossing a sandy plain where 
here and there a dwarfed shrub or tuft of grass had 
managed to find sustenance, one of the gun-bearers 
pointed out in the distance an object which he de- 



ALONG THE TRAIL n 5 

clared to be an ass. We advanced slowly. As there 
was no cover, there was no possibility of a stalk, and 
the chance of a shot at reasonable range seemed re- 
mote, for we had found in our previous experience 
that the wild ass is extremely shy and when once 
alarmed travels rapidly and for long distances. We 
approached to within two hundred yards and had 
begun to think that it was a native's tame donkey 
and expected to see its owner appear in the neighbour- 
hood, when it became uneasy and started to bolt; but 
its curiosity brought it about for a last look and we 
took advantage of the opportunity and fired. It was 
hard hit, apparently, but recovered and stood facing 
us. We approached closer, and thinking it best to 
take no chances fired again — and then he merely 
walked about a little, making no apparent effort to 
go away. We approached carefully. He showed no 
signs of fear, and although "hard hit" stood stolidly 
until at last I put one hand on his withers and, trip- 
ping him, pushed him over. I began to feel that if 
this was sport I should never be a sportsman. 

We now discovered that our scant supply of water 
was exhausted and although we wished to continue 
the hunt we realized that to get farther from camp 
without water would be risky indeed. The guide had 
assured us that there would be plenty of opportunity 
to get water on our route but we knew that it was five 
hours back to water, the way we had come, and five 
hours without water in the middle of the day would 
mean torture. It is said that in that region thirty 
hours without water means death to the native and 



n6 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

twelve hours is the white man's limit. The guide 
assured us that if we would continue on an hour 
longer we would find water. After four hours of 
hard, hot marching we arrived at a hole in the ground 
where some time there had been water but not a drop 
remained. After a little digging at the bottom of the 
hole the natives declared there was no hope. Our 
trail for the last hour had been under a pitiless noon- 
day sun along a narrow valley shut in on either side 
by steep, rocky hills, while we faced a veritable sand 
storm, a strong, hot wind that drove the burning sand 
into our faces and hands. The dry well was the last 
straw. 

The guides said there was one more hole about an 
hour away and they would go and see if there was 
water there. They with the gun-bearers started out, 
while we off-saddled the mules and using the saddles 
for pillows and the saddle blankets to protect our 
faces from the driving sand, dozed in the scant shade 
of a leafless thorn tree. 

At four o'clock the boys returned — no water. 
Dodson and I received the report, looked at one an- 
other, and returned to our pillows beneath the saddle 
blankets. A little later a continued prodding in the 
ribs from my gun-bearer brought me to attention 
again as he pointed out an approaching caravan con- 
sisting of several camels and a couple of natives. Each 
of the natives carried a well-filled goatskin from his 
shoulders, and realizing that these goatskins probably 
contained milk, I knew that our troubles were nearly 
over. I instructed the gun-bearer to make a bargain 



ALONG THE TRAIL 117 

for part of the milk and covered my head again to 
escape the pelting of the sand and waited. 

We were both in a semi-comatose state and I paid 
no further attention to proceedings until I was again 
prodded by the gun-bearer who was now greatly 
excited. He pointed to the receding camels while he 
jabbered away to the effect that the natives would not 
part with any of the plentiful supply of milk. The 
white men might die for all they cared. 

When I had come to a realization of the situation, 
there seemed to be only one solution to the affair — 
a perfectly natural solution — precisely the same as 
if they had stood over us with their spears poised at 
our hearts. I grabbed my rifle and drew a bead on 
one of the departing men and called to Dodson to 
get up and cover the other. I waited while Dodson 
was getting to an understanding of the game and 
then when he was ready and I was about to give the 
word the natives stopped, gesticulating wildly. The 
gun-bearer who had been shouting to them told us 
not to shoot, that the milk would come, and it did. 
Milk! Originally milked into a dung-lined smoked 
chattie, soured and carried in a filthy old goatskin 
for hours in the hot sun. But it was good. I have 
never had a finer drink. 

An hour before sundown, greatly refreshed, we 
started back to camp. Just at dusk the shadowy 
forms of five asses dashed across our path fifty yards 
away and wc heard a bullet strike as we took a snap 
at them. One began to lag behind as the others ran 
wildly away. The one soon stopped and we ap- 



n8 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

proached, keeping him covered in case he attempted 
to bolt. As we got near he turned and faced us with 
great, gentle eyes. Without the least sign of fear or 
anger he seemed to wonder why we had harmed him. 

The only wound was from a small bullet high in 
the neck, merely a flesh wound which would have 
caused him no serious trouble had he continued with 
the herd. We walked around him within six feet and 
I almost believe we could have put a halter on him. 
Certainly it would have been child's play to have 
thrown a rope over his head. We reached camp 
about midnight and I announced that if any more 
wild asses were wanted, someone else would have to 
shoot them. I had had quite enough. Normally, 
the ass is one of the wildest of creatures and it is 
difficult to explain the actions of these two. They 
appeared not to realize that we were the cause of 
their injuries but rather seemed to expect relief as 
we approached — and yet one English "sportsman" 
boasted of having killed twenty-eight. 

While I have never had a zebra stand after being 
wounded, in all other respects his habits resemble 
very closely those of his kin, the wild ass of Somali- 
land. Occasionally, man has captured and domesti- 
cated zebras so that he may use them in a four-horse 
team. But this is done only for the amusement it 
affords, because the zebra, like all wild animals, has 
never quite enough of the endurance that, is bred into 
a domesticated horse to make him useful in harness. 
In wild life he requires only sufficient stamina ta 
outrun a lion for a short distance. 



ALONG THE TRAIL 119 

There is no fun in shooting zebras and wild asses. 
It makes one uncomfortable. Probably we are par- 
ticularly thin-skinned when it comes to shooting the 
members of the horse family because we are used to 
them, or at least to their kindred, as domesticated 
friends, but as a matter of fact that is quite as reason- 
able as to think of killing deer or antelope as a sport. 
With most deer there is no danger. The only prob- 
lem is to get close enough for a shot. While an 
approach may be difficult in some parts of the world 
— and this is true with certain species of antelope in 
Africa — most of the plains antelope cannot be shot 
on the ground of sport. For food and scientific pur- 
poses, however, the case is different. 

One of the hardest to shoot among the so-called 
bovine antelopes is the koodoo. He is a beautiful, 
high-bred animal with clean-cut head and long spiral 
horns. While almost as large as an elk, he is grace- 
fully built and stylish in action. His coat is gray, 
delicately marked with white stripes. As the animal 
matures, the hair becomes short and thin and the 
stripes fade. All in all, the koodoo is one of the finest 
big antelope. On that score he has no competitors 
except the sable and the roan. 

A group of greater koodoos was a particular desid- 
eratum of the Field Museum and therefore one of 
the special objectives of my first African trip. As a 
matter of fact, we succeeded in collecting the material 
necessary and the group is on exhibition in the Field 
Museum in Chicago now. The old bull standing 
with lifted head on top of the rock in the present 



i2o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

group was the second koodoo that I ever saw. The 
first one was his mate whom I was about to shoot, 
totally unconscious of the presence of the old bull. 
He stood beside her, his outline broken up by sur- 
rounding rocks and bushes, and I overlooked him en- 
tirely until he began to move. As he started to run 
I fired a shot. He bounded into the air, and as he 
struck the ground I fired again. The first shot had 
gone through his heart and the second broke his back. 
When talking to people about shooting, I like to 
recall my koodoo experiences, because, while I am 
not a good shot as shooting goes in Africa, my two 
experiences with koodoos compare pretty favourably 
with the best. On the first occasion, one of my two 
shots landed in the heart and the other broke the 
koodoo's back. In my next koodoo hunt, my shoot- 
ing was even more remarkable and for me more un- 
usual. I came in sight of this second koodoo when 
he was too far away to shoot at and he rapidly ran 
out of sight through a country of little hills and ra- 
vines and scrub growth. I tracked him until I lost 
his trail. Then I decided to try to follow him by 
instinct and, constituting myself an escaping koodoo, 
I went where I thought such an animal should. I 
knew I was not exactly on his route because I could 
see no tracks. Then, too, something cord-like, 
weaving together the bushes on either side of my 
path, for a moment impeded my progress. It was a 
strand of web, the colour of gold, spun by a handsome 
yellow spider with black legs. Twisted together, it 
was substantial enough to be wound around and 



ALONG THE TRAIL 121 

around my watch chain where I wore it for several 
years. Had my koodoo passed between those bushes, 
the web would, I knew, have been his necklace in- 
stead of my watch charm. 

After following instinctively for two or three miles, 
I came to the top of a ridge which looked down across 
a ravine 500 to 600 yards wide. I crawled to the 
edge and looked over carefully, hoping to see my 
prey, but as I saw nothing I decided to get up and 
either scare him or give up the chase. As I stood 
up I saw him halfway across the ravine a little more 
than 300 yards away. When I rose, he began to run 
in the opposite direction. I had little chance of hit- 
ting him and so I fired at the rocks on the other side 
of the ravine. The wind was blowing from him to me 
and I did not know how distinctly he couid hear the 
rifle, but there was no doubt about his hearing the 
rocks clatter down where the bullets struck. He 
stopped abruptly, listening, and as he did so I lay 
down and rested my rifle on the rocks. He was 
pausing behind a candelabra euphorbia so that I 
could see nothing but his head. I took careful aim 
and fired. A fraction of a second after the shot, when 
I had recovered from the kick of the rifle and had 
focussed my eyes on the spot, the koodoo was no- 
where in sight. When I reached the euphorbia, he 
lay there dead. I looked him over to find where the 
bullet had hit him but found no sign of it. I turned 
him over and looked at his other side with no better 
results except that I found a few drops of blood. On 
further search I discovered that the bullet had gone 



122 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

in behind his ear. As he listened to the falling rocks, 
the ear had been thrown forward; as he fell, the ear 
had swung back to normal position and covered the 
tiny hole made by the full mantled bullet. The 
bullet had come out of his eye, but when I got there 
the eye was closed, so that the point of exit had been 
concealed also. 

One day as I approached the hills, while I was still 
hunting koodoo for my group, I saw in the distance 
four animals which I took to be koodoo. They stood 
on a rock-strewn slope beneath an acacia tree and, as 
there were no horns visible, I assumed that they were 
cows and calves. I required one of each to complete 
my group. I made a careful stalk along the same 
ravine from which I had approached my first koodoo 
and, when I thought that I was at about the right 
point, I peered out and found the animals standing 
where I had seen them first, apparently about 200 
yards away. I fired, and one dropped in his tracks. 
They were startled but had not located my direction 
and ran about confusedly. My second shot dropped 
another and the third shot wounded one which ran 
almost directly toward us. He covered the distance 
in an amazingly short time and went down beneath 
the bush only a little way from me. It was then that 
I came to a realization of what was happening. In- 
stead of being koodoo 200 yards away, these were 
antelope pygmies less than 50 yards away and not 
more than twenty-three inches high at the shoulder. 
I had been completely fooled, but by what? That 
was the question. 



ALONG THE TRAIL 123 

I went over to the bush where the wounded animal 
had gone down near me, and stood for a moment 
looking at him open-mouthed and wondering what he 
was. Never had I heard of such an antelope. He 
had sharp straight horns four inches long and was a 
beautiful French gray in colour. Before I could 
observe anything else, he sprang to his feet and 
darted away on three legs faster, it seemed to me, than 
anything I had ever seen travel. I shot several times 
but never touched him. I followed for hours but did 
not overtake him. Later I learned that he was one of 
the little beira antelope. The species had been 
described some time before from fragments of skin 
obtained from natives. As far as records show, 
these specimens, an adult female and a half-grown 
one, were the first specimens taken by a white man. 

This is a good example of a mistake that a hunter 
may easily make where there is nothing about of 
known size to give scale. The outline of the beira, 
characterized by the large ears, is almost a miniature 
of that of the koodoo. These tiny antelope had stood 
against a background of acacias on a pebbly slope. 
Acacias grow both large and small and a pebble 
among pebbles on a distant hillside may appear as 
a large boulder. 

I continued hunting the little devils in a desperate 
effort to get a male at least. Several times I spent the 
day working about the two cone-shaped hills, now 
and then catching glimpses of the beira, only to have 
them disappear before I could shoot or get near 
enough to shoot. Several times when leaving the 



i2 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

hills at dusk I turned around to see just on the skyline 
the heads and necks of three little antelope watching 
me as I went away discouraged. I believe they are 
the cunningest little beasties in all Africa. 

As my beira antelope was the first specimen ever 
taken — or at least recorded — by a white man, it was 
a record. Another record head which I took came 
equally by chance. One evening as I came out of 
the forest, after some rather troublesome experiences 
with elephants, I caught sight of a bush buck. He 
caught sight of me also, and instead of making off 
he seemed to glare at me and stood stamping his foot. 
I may have imagined his emotions, but it seemed to 
me that all the animals were angry with me that day. 
I remember that it went through my mind, "I be- 
lieve this fellow is going to charge, too." Then it 
occurred to me that we needed meat in camp, so I 
shot him and told the boys to cut him up and bring 
him in. As soon as they reached him, they called 
to me and I went over to see what was the matter. 
They showed me an unusually fine head. So I saved 
it. It turned out to be the record bush buck head at 
that time and I am not sure that it is not still. 

The lesser koodoo, which is to be found in Somali- 
land in the aloe country at the base of the Golis range, 
is likewise a truly sporting animal, keen of sight and 
scent and fleet of foot. My first lesser koodoo stood 
looking at me through a bush no more than twenty- 
five yards away. My gun boy tried to point him out 
to me but I saw nothing until something bit the 
koodoo's ear and he flicked it. Realizing that he 



ALONG THE TRAIL 125 

had given himself away, he jumped before I could 
shoot and I tracked him for an hour before I again 
came upon him. Then I saw him first. There is 
no finer sight in Africa than a lesser koodoo bull 
bounding over the spiny aloes with all of the grace of 
a porpoise in the water. 

One of the most interesting antelope of Somaliland 
is the dibitag or Clark's gazelle. The dibitag live 
in the waterless bush country of the Haud and are 
shy and difficult to stalk. With their long legs and 
long necks they resemble and are closely related to 
the gerenuks (Waller's gazelle), but are less well 
known as they are confined to a limited range. In 
following an old male who had been travelling at full 
speed I found that its stride averaged twenty-eight 
feet, but at the same time he kept so close to the 
ground that midway of the stride, when one foot was 
carried forward, it scraped the sand. The animal 
weighs no more than seventy-five pounds. It is the 
most beautifully developed antelope I have ever 
handled, with muscles and loins rounded out like those 
of a prize fighter. These gazelle never have any fat 
and never drink any water. In fact, there is no water to 
be had except that in the vegetation, which is very little 
in a country where it has not rained for two years. 

Unlike these sporting animals, the gazelle of the 
plains remind one of great herds of sheep, so gentle 
where they have not been hunted that one may come 
close enough to throw stones at them. On the other 
hand, where they have been shot, they grow wild and 
very difficult to approach. Here again is evidence 



i 2 6 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

that the thing that makes animals wild is man. In 
the antarctics and other places where man has not 
previously come and where the animals know no fear, 
the explorer can fairly tickle the seals under the chin. 
Animals in their natural state are not instinctively 
afraid of man, but they have learned from sad ex- 
perience that man is bad medicine. 

In direct contrast to the camp in Somaliland where 
we had been forced to quench our thirst with soured 
goat's milk taken from a passing caravan at the point 
of a rifle, was our camp on Lake Hannington, the 
home of the flamingos. The caravan route from 
Nakuru on the Uganda Railway to Lake Baringo 
swings in close to the Laikipia Escarpment at the 
east side of the Rift Valley and just at the north end 
of Hannington. Therefore, travellers usually get 
their first view of the lake at this northern point 
where few flamingos are to be seen except in breeding 
season and where the water is shallow, bordered by 
low mud flats crusted with a deposit of salts mingled 
with feathers, bones, and the droppings of the great 
colony. If the unattractiveness of the place were not 
sufficient to discourage a disposition to explore the 
lake, the sickening stench from the green waters must 
dishearten any one who has not a definite object in 
further investigation. Being unfamiliar with the 
region, we ignored the trail which would have given 
us this forbidding northern approach. As we neared 
the escarpment from the south, we found a small 
stream of crystal-clear water, and although it was too 



ALONG THE TRAIL 127 

warm to be palatable, we were delighted with the 
discovery since the porters and horses were sadly 
in need of water. We decided to make camp here, 
and while selecting a place for the tents, the cook 
discovered a spring of boiling water which he appro- 
priated for his uses. A little farther on a spring of 
ice-cold water was located so that we had all modern 
improvements as far at least as water supply was 
concerned. 

After making camp, an hour's walk brought us to 
the top of a rocky hill from which we had an excellent 
view of nearly the entire length of the lake, an ir- 
regular sheet of water eight or ten miles long by per- 
haps two miles at the widest point. It lay before 
us, a shimmering blue-green mirror with occasional 
strips of snow-white beach. At the south end, that 
part nearest us, the water was much darker in colour 
owing to its greater depth, and the steep slopes of 
the escarpment were mirrored in its surface. Here 
and there along the shores jets and clouds of steam 
spurted forth from the numerous boiling springs and 
miniature geysers. Far away toward the centre of 
the lake what seemed great peninsulas and islands of 
rosy pink broke the placid surface of the lake — these 
were the flamingos that we had come to see. 

A two hours' journey up the tortuous rock-strewn 
western shore brought us to the region which seems 
to be their favourite haunt. On our approach, the 
great flocks rose from the water and flew across 
toward the opposite shore, many alighting in mid-lake. 
As the birds arose, the splashing of water made by 



128 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

their running over the surface to get a start, the beat- 
ing of wings, and the "kronk-kronk" of their calls 
created an indescribable din, while the charm of the 
marvellously beautiful sight was tempered by the 
odours that arose from the putrid waters churned 
by the activity of the birds. 

The flamingos that had settled in mid-lake soon 
began to drift back in our direction and we hurriedly 
constructed a rude blind of green boughs on the shore. 
Here I awaited their return, camera in position, and 
within half an hour was surrounded by acres of the 
beautiful creatures. The greater number of the birds 
proved to be of the small, more brilliantly coloured 
species of African flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor)> 
although a few of the larger species {Phoenicopterus 
roseus) were in small isolated flocks or scattered here 
and there among their smaller relatives. Evidently 
flamingos spend the entire year at Lake Hannington. 
So greatly did they interest us on this January visit 
that we returned in May hoping to find them nesting, 
but we were some six weeks too late. The young birds 
in their gray plumage were abundant and traces of the 
nests were to be seen at the north end of the lake. 

One soon forgets about snakes in Africa although 
there are many poisonous species. In my experience 
of more than five years in the jungles, wandering 
about with from one hundred to two hundred and 
fifty semi-naked, barefoot men, I have never had 
to deal with a snake bite. On my last journey to the 
Kivu I had glimpses of two snakes all told. 



ALONG THE TRAIL 129 

Nor have I been pestered by mosquitoes. In all 
my African experience I have never had as many 
mosquitoes to contend with as I have had in a single 
night in my apartment on Central Park West. How- 
ever,' one avoids a single African mosquito as one 
would avoid the pest, because that is just what he 
may turn out to be. For six months at a time my 
mosquito nets have remained in the duffle bags. 

In the game country there are millions of ticks, 
but as a rule their worst offence is simply to crawl 
over one. The spirillum tick must be avoided. I 
have never seen one but I have been incapacitated 
and brought near the door of death as a result of his 
work. And when the jigger decides to establish a 
colony under one's toenails he cannot be too quickly 
nor too carefully dispossessed. 

There are other pests besides insects, snakes, and 
drouth to be guarded against in Africa. One of these 
is fire. In making a camp, it is always wise to burn 
off the ground about the tents for the sake of pro- 
tection. The most strenuous fight I ever had to 
make against a grass fire took place in Uganda the 
day that I killed the big bull elephant now in the 
Milwaukee Public Museum. We had been working 
hard from eleven o'clock in the morning until early 
evening. Meanwhile, camp had been made close to 
our work in a country of bush and high grass. Im- 
mediately surrounding our camp the grass was five 
feet high and very dense and dry. To the east of us 
was a great jungle of elephant grass, a sort of cane 
growing to a height of ten or fifteen feet. For two 



i 3 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

or three hours I was conscious of a great fire to the 
east, but there was little wind and it travelled slowly. 
Whenever it came to one of the fields of elephant 
grass the roaring and crackling was quite appalling, 
and when it finally reached the clump of grass nearest 
our camp we realized that we would probably have 
to make a fight. There was no time to backfire and so 
we tried the next best thing. About twenty-five yards 
from the tents we started to make a trail stretching 
for a hundred yards across the path of the fire. This 
was done by bending the grass down on both sides, 
leaving a path along which we could move freely. 
Then the job was to stop the fire at the parting of the 
grass. A hundred men, each provided with an arm- 
ful of green branches, scattered along this thin line 
to beat the fire out as it reached the division. We 
had a terrific fight. In several places the fire jumped 
across the trail, but each time enough men concen- 
trated at that point to kill it before it got an over- 
powering foothold. It was hot, smoky, desperate 
work. When it was ended, the tents were safe al- 
though the men were thoroughly done up. 

It was one of these grass fires, although by no means 
such a persistent one, that threatened Roosevelt's 
camp the night after our elephant hunt on the Uasin 
Gishu Plateau. 



CHAPTER VII 

BILL 

HE IS a little Kikuyu thirteen years old who 
has attached himself to our safari; a useful 
little beggar, always finds something to 
busy himself with; better take him with you. We 
call him Bill. "Come here, Bill." 

Bill came up — a little, naked, thirteen-year-old 
"Kuke" with great black eyes. The eyes did it. 
Mrs. Akeley decided that Bill should go with us. He 
was given a khaki suit two sizes too big for him which 
made the black eyes sparkle. He was made the 
assistant of Alii, Mrs. Akeley's tent boy, and his 
training as tent boy began. 

In six months Bill had become a full-fledged tent 
boy, with plenty of time always at his disposal to 
mix up with almost everything going on in camp. I 
think of him now, after three expeditions in which 
he has been with me, as the best tent boy, the best 
gun-bearer, the best tracker, and the best headman 
that it has ever been my lot to know — a man who, I 
know, would go into practically certain death to 
serve me. If I were starting out on an expedition 
among unknown people in Africa I would rather have 
Bill as a headman and as a counselor in dealing with 

131 



i 3 2 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

the savages, even though they were people of whom 
Bill knew nothing, than any one I know of. 

During that first six months' apprenticeship Bill 
was always busy. When there was nothing to do 
about camp he would borrow some of Heller's traps 
and set them for jackals, or he would be poking about 
the bush looking for lizards or snakes that we might 
want for the collections. Months passed, and Bill 
was an inconspicuous member of our little army of 
followers. We were camped on the top of the 
Aberdare; Cuninghame and I were returning from a 
fruitless four days on elephant trails. As we neared 
camp we saw Mrs. Akeley come out on the road ahead 
of us, with Alii acting as gun-bearer. An elephant 
had passed a few hundred yards from camp and she 
had come out to the road in the hope of getting a shot 
as it crossed. A little farther on toward camp we met 
Bill, stripped to the waist, carrying my 8 mm. rifle 
and a pocket of 6 mm. cartridges. If there was 
anything doing Bill had to be in it. 

A few weeks later on, our wanderings took us into 
Kikuyu country and near to Bill's native village. 
He sent for his "mamma," to whom he wanted to 
give some of his earnings. So his mother came to 
camp and Bill introduced her. He led me out to 
where she was leaning against a rock, and pointing 
to her said, "mamma." She was a young shenzie 
woman of the usual type, dressed in a leather skirt 
and bead and brass ornaments. 

One day Bill had the sulks and was scolded for not 
doing something that he had been told to do. He 



BILL 133 

said he knew his work and didn't have to be told what 
to do. It made him perfectly furious to be continu- 
ally told to do things which he knew to be a part of 
his duties. Nor would he shirk his duties. If he 
failed to do things at the proper time, in nine cases 
out of ten it was because someone had been telling 
him to do the things and it had made him ugly. This 
characteristic is as pronounced now as ever, and has 
been the cause of the most of poor Bill's troubles. 

At last our work was over and we returned to 
Nairobi to prepare for our departure from Africa. 
As soon as we arrived Bill demanded his pay. We 
wanted him to stay until we were ready to leave 
Nairobi, but no, he wanted to be free to spend his 
money; so he left us in spite of the fact that in doing 
so he sacrificed his backsheesh. He promptly spent 
all his money for clothes, having them made to order 
by the Indian traders, but within two weeks he had 
lost all the clothes in gambling. Thus ended Bill's 
first year's career as a tent boy. 

Four years later we returned to East Africa. 
Several months previously, Alii and Bill had been 
engaged for the Roosevelt Expedition, but before we 
reached there Bill had disgraced himself, and had been 
turned out and black-listed. But knowing some- 
thing of the probable conditions which had contrib- 
uted to his downfall, we were glad to get him and 
he was glad to come. There were four of our party, 
and most of the other tent boys and the kitchen con- 
tingent were Swahilis, so we rather expected that 
Bill would have trouble. But his first real trouble 



134 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

came of an exaggerated sense of loyalty to me, or at 
least that was his excuse. During my absence from 
camp one of my companions asked Bill for some sup- 
plies from a box to which Bill had the keys, but he 
refused to get them, saying that he must have an 
order from his own Bwana. It was cheek, and he 
had to be punished; the punishment was not severe, 
but coming from me it went hard with him and I had 
to give him a fatherly talk to prevent his running 
away. Whenever we reached a boma^ or Nairobi, we 
expected Bill to have a grouch. His irresistible im- 
pulse to spend money and the desire to keep it, too, 
upset him, and going to Nairobi usually meant that 
he would be paid in full and discharged; but the next 
day he would turn up and continue to do his work 
with a long face until he would manage to screw up 
courage to ask if the Bwana would take him on the 
next trip, and then he would be all grins and the 
troubles were over. 

Sometimes in hunting dangerous game I would 
take him along as extra gun-bearer and usually on 
these occasions his marvellous keenness of eye and 
ability to track would result in the regular gun- 
bearers being relegated to the rear. One time while 
hunting elephants in Uganda I let him go with me. 
We had finished inspecting a small herd, decided 
there was nothing in it that I wanted, and were going 
back to take up the trail of another lot in a section 
where the country was all trodden down by the 
going and coming of numerous herds. As we went 
along Bill detected the spoor of two big bulls and 1 



BILL 135 

told him to follow it, not thinking for a moment that 
he would be able to hold it in the maze of herd tracks. 
On our last visit to town he had invested in a stiff 
brim straw hat and a cane, and he looked like any- 
thing but an elephant tracker as he walked jauntily 
along with his straw hat on the back of his head and 
swinging his cane like a dandy. For five hours he 
followed that trail with the utmost nonchalance, in 
places where it would have given the professional 
tracker the greatest trouble and where nine out of 
ten would have lost it. At last, as it led us through 
a dense bush, Bill suddenly stopped and held up his 
cane as a signal for caution; as I drew up to him there 
were two old bulls not twenty feet from us. When 
one of them was dead and the other gone I felt much 
more comfortable than when I first realized the situa- 
tion into which we had blundered. 

But the time that Bill earned our everlasting grati- 
tude and immunity from punishment for present 
misdeeds was when I was smashed up by the elephant 
on Mt. Kenia. He was with Mrs. Akeley at the base 
camp when the news reached her at dusk, and it was 
past midnight when she was ready to come to me 
through that awful twenty miles of forest and jungle 
in the blackness of a drenching rain. While headman 
and askaris were helpless, stupidly sharing the fear and 
dread of the forest at night which paralyzed the port- 
ers and guides, it was Bill with a big stick who put 
them in motion and literally drove them ahead of 
Mrs. Akeley to me. And then it was he who directed 
the cutting of the road out of the forest for the pas- 



136 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

sage of my stretcher, enlisting the services of a chief 
with his people to cat a road in from the shambas 
to meet our porters who were working outward. 

One day when I was convalescing, Bill called on a 
porter to perform some service about my tent. The 
porter refused to come. Bill went out to "interview" 
him. The porter was twice as large as Bill — there 
was a little scuffle, and Bill came right back and did 
the work himself. Then he went over to the doctor's 
tent and conducted him out to where he had left the 
porter. It took the doctor a half hour to bring the 
porter to. Then the other porters came up in a body 
and said that Bill must go or they would all go. I 
told them that the first of their number who com- 
plained of Bill or refused to do his bidding would get 
"twenty-five." The average black boy would have 
taken advantage of the situation created by these 
victories — not so with Bill. After that, whenever he 
had occasion to pass an order to a porter, he always 
did it through the headman. 

Perhaps I should explain at this point just what 
the normal personnel of a safari in British East Africa 
is. First, there is the headman, who is supposed to 
be in charge of the whole show, excepting the gun- 
bearers and tent boys, who are the personal servants 
and under the immediate direction of their masters. 
The askaris are soldiers who are armed and whose 
duties consist of the guarding of the camp at night 
and looking after the porters on the march. There is 
one askari to from ten to twenty porters. The cook 
and his assistant or assistants, the number of whom is 



BILL 137 

determined by the size of the party, are important 
members of the safari. Then there are tent boys, one 
to each member of the party, whose duty is to look af- 
ter the tents and clothing, and to serve their masters 
or mistresses at table. The syces are pony boys, 
whose duties are to look after the horses and equip- 
ment. In addition to those already named come the 
rank and file of porters whose duties are manifold, 
carrying loads on the march, gathering wood under 
the direction of the askaris and the cook, bringing in 
game, beating for lions, setting up the tents under the 
direction of the tent boys, and so forth. 

I do not know of any case where Bill's character 
was better demonstrated than at the time when I 
was convalescent after the elephant smashed me up. 
I was able to walk about, but had to have someone 
carry a chair along so that I could sit down to rest. 
A little distance away from camp, at the edge of the 
Kenia forest, there was a great swampy place sur- 
rounded on three sides by a high ridge and on the 
fourth side by the forest. One day the natives came 
in and reported that an old bull elephant had come 
out into this swampy place, and they said that he 
would probably stay in there for a week or ten days. 
These old lone bulls come out into one of these feeding 
grounds, where they are not likely to be disturbed by 
their companions, and for a time ''imply loaf around 
and feed and then go away again. We started out 
one morning to look this one up, and went to the edge 
of the forest, where the boys showed us his trail. 
We followed it, and found that it was joined by the 



138 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

fresh trail of a second elephant. I started to walk 
down the trail, but found that I was not in physical 
condition to go on, so I sent the boys up and around 
the ridge of this crater-like depression, instructing 
them to throw stones into the bush as they went 
along. They had not gone far when one of the ele- 
phants was beaten out and started to go across the 
bottom of the crater, over open ground. He was 
probably three hundred yards away from me, and 
as he approached the forest on the other side it oc- 
curred to me that I might get him rattled by shooting 
into the trees ahead of him. So I shot — the bullets 
crashed through the trees in front and frightened him, 
and he wheeled around and started back. I had 
hoped that he would come my way, but he did not. 
In the intense excitement I shot at him three or four 
times. A little puff of dust from his dry hide told 
me the story of my aim, and while one or two of the 
bullets apparently struck in the right place, it was 
evident that there was not sufficient penetration to 
get results. 

The whole thing was very foolish, but since I had 
wounded him it was absolutely essential that I finish 
the job. The elephant turned again and went on 
across to the opposite side, and now I had to get on 
his trail and follow him. From a hundred yards 
away he got our wind momentarily, and threatened 
to charge. Another shot turned him, and he disap- 
peared into the bush. An hour later I had a good 
view of him at about seventy-five yards and under 
conditions where I normally could have made an ap- 



BILL 139 

proach to within a distance from which I might have 
dropped him in his tracks. But at this point I was so 
exhausted that I took a final shot at him from where 
I stood, seventy-five yards away. He went down, 
but got to his feet again and went into the bush. The 
boys helped me back into camp. I felt perfectly cer- 
tain that we would find him dead in the morning. The 
whole thing had been stupid and unsportsmanlike. 

The next morning, with a few of the boys, I went 
back and took up his trail; but much to my disap- 
pointment and surprise I found that he and his com- 
panion had kept right on into the forest and were 
apparently going strong. I knew that he was mor- 
tally wounded, and it was necessary that he should 
t>e followed and finished off. It was too big a job 
for me in my condition, so it was up to Bill. I gave 
Bill one of my gun-bearers and each of them a heavy 
,470 cordite rifle, with instructions to stick to the trail 
until they found the elephant. They were not to 
shoot except in emergency. When the elephant was 
found, one of them was to remain with it while the 
other came back to report. 

I went back to camp and waited. The boys had 
no supply of food with them and I had no idea but 
that they would be back in camp before night, but 
it was not until midnight of the second day that Bill 
came to my tent, awakened me, and told his story. 
They had followed the elephant without ever coming 
up with him except that at one time they heard him 
ahead of them; and they had finally decided it was 
best to come back to get food and instructions. Bill 



i 4 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

was just about exhausted; and the gun-bearer, a big 
husky fellow, had fallen by the wayside. Bill had 
left him some five miles back in the forest on the trail. 
Evidently Bill considered my elephant guns of more 
importance than one black gun boy, as, for fear that 
something would happen to the rifles, he had lugged 
both of the heavy guns into camp, leaving the boy 
with nothing but his knife with which to protect him- 
self. I felt, however, that there was little danger 
to the gun boy except from exposure, and against 
that he no doubt had built a fire. I could think of 
nothing to do until daylight. A half hour later some 
commotion in camp caused me to send for the head- 
man, but Bill came instead. I asked him what was 
doing, and he said that he had had trouble in getting 
some of the boys to go with him. "Go where ?" 
I asked. He replied that he was going back to the 
gun boy with food. Then I came to. I sent for the 
headman and askaris, told Bill to describe to them 
the gun boy's location, and told them they were to 
go to his relief, and Bill that he was to go to bed. 
This he finally did, after using up what remaining 
strength he had in protest. The elephant was not 
located. 

About a year and a half later, after we had returned 
to the States, Bill went back into his home country 
and began to search for the wounded elephant. He 
must have done some very clever detective work, for 
he finally located the native who had found the dead 
elephant. This native had secured the tusks, and 
had sold one of them to an Indian trader; but the 



BILL 141 

second was still in his possession. According to the 
laws of the land he should have turned in the two 
tusks to the government officials, who would have 
paid him a nominal price for the ivory, and I, having 
filed a claim with the Government, would have come 
into possession of the tusks; but the native had 
evidently thought that he could get more out of them 
by selling them one at a time, and had taken a chance. 
But he made a mistake in leaving Bill out of his cal- 
culations. Bill followed up the case with the final 
result that the remaining tusk was taken and sent 
to me, and the Government confiscated a certain 
number of cattle belonging to the native as penalty 
for the one he had sold. Thus, to both Bill and me, 
the final results from that particular elephant hunt 
were satisfactory. 

One time in Uganda I was using Bill as a gun-bearer 
in preference to the regular gun-bearers, because I 
had by that time realized that Bill was the best 
tracker as well as the most keen and alert hunter, 
black or white, that I had ever known. We had 
followed a small band of elephants into some dense 
forest, and for a long time had been crouching be- 
neath some undergrowth where we could get an 
occasional glimpse of the elephants' legs, but nothing 
more. They had been quietly feeding during this 
time, but at last they moved away and crossed a trail 
down which we had a vista of a hundred yards or so. 
When we thought the last one had passed, we went 
down this trail quickly and quietly to the point where 
they had crossed, and there we stopped, listening 



i 4 2 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

intently in an attempt to locate them. At first I 
thought they had gone out of hearing, when I sud- 
denly discovered the rear elevation of a bull not more 
than twenty feet from us. He was motionless. We 
had come in so quietly that he had not heard us, and 
then I did not dare move for fear of attracting his 
attention. I craned my neck in an effort to get a 
glimpse of his tusks, and in doing this I became 
conscious of a cow standing beside the bull and 
looking straight at us. Bill was about five feet back 
and to one side of me. I stood motionless, without 
swinging my gun in the cow's direction, but waited 
for her to make the move. I doubt whether she saw 
us distinctly. The bull began to move away and the 
cow, in turning to follow, moved a pace more or less 
in my direction. I was perfectly certain that she was 
going to follow the bull, and to Bill there was no in- 
dication that I had seen her. Bill thought she was 
coming at me, raised his gun, and fired point blank 
into the cow's face. The elephants bolted. I 
wheeled and slapped Bill, because he had broken one 
of the rules of the game, which is that a black boy 
must never shoot without orders unless his master is 
down and at the mercy of a beast. Of course it did 
not take long for me to come to a realization that 
Bill's shooting was done in perfectly good faith be- 
cause he thought that I had not seen the cow, and he 
also thought that she was coming straight at me. 
Bill's heart was broken and my apologies were forth- 
coming and were as humble as the dignity of a white 
man would permit. 



BILL 143 

The next day Bill came to me and said that he 
wanted to quit and go back to Nairobi. I satisfied 
myself that it was not the incident of the day before 
that had brought him to this frame of mind, but he 
admitted that he was scared and tired. In other 
words, the pace had been too hot for him. It was a 
case of nerves, and he was worn out. I persuaded 
him to stay, telling him that he need not go with me 
on elephant trails for a week. I would take the other 
boys and he could just stay in camp to loaf and rest. 
But the next morning, when I was preparing to go, 
Bill was on the job and would not be left behind. He 
told Mrs. Akeley that he was not afraid for himself 
but was afraid for his Bwana. So we continued our 
elephant work at an easier pace than before. 

The Wakikuyus (to give them their full name) 
are an agricultural people, and one does not normally 
look among them for gun-bearers or hunters. They 
are a comparatively mild and gentle race, and thus 
Bill was quite an exceptional individual. Bill was 
always on the job, and if it were not for the two occa- 
sions of which I have told, I would be able to say that 
he is one human being whom I have never seen tired. 

Bill never was and never will be completely tamed. 
His loyalty to the master in whom he believes and 
for whom he has an affection is unbounded, and I 
firmly believe that Bill would go into certain death 
for such a master. He has an independence that 
frequently gets him into trouble. He does not like 
to take orders from any one of his own colour. The 
Somalis and the Swahilis, associated with Bill, were 



i 4 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

constantly putting up jobs to get him in bad with the 
master because, to these two peoples, the Wakikuyus 
are a very inferior race. There is no doubt in my 
mind that Bill's disgrace with the Roosevelt Expedi- 
tion was due entirely to the connivance of the Swahilis 
and the Somalis. 

When we had finished with our lion-spearing ex- 
pedition on the Uasin Gishu Plateau, numerous things 
had been stolen, and the Somalis insisted that Bill 
was the guilty party. A white man whom I had; 
employed to take charge of the Nandi spearmen was 
not fond of Bill, and one day he ordered him to open 
his bag for inspection. Bill refused, and when the 
case was brought to me and I investigated it, Bill was 
so rebellious that we found it necessary to take him 
in hand for mild punishment. He ran from camp and 
I sent an askari after him. The askari overtook him, 
but he did not bring him back, because Bill had a 
long knife and he was prepared to use it to a finish. 
I realized that I would have to see it through, al> 
though my sympathies were all with Bill. We were 
near a government boma, and I turned my case over 
to the officials. Bill was arrested, put in jail, and we 
went on without him. 

Some weeks later we were making the ascent of 
Mt. Kenia, back in Bill's old country, where Bill's 
services had been almost invaluable; and I continually 
felt the need and frequently an actual longing for 
Bill. We were up about ten thousand feet on Kenia, 
following an elephant trail. We came to an elephant 
pit in which some animal had been trapped and made 



BILL 145 

its escape. I was busy reading the story, which was 
very simple. A giant hog had got into the pit and 
had worked with his tusks and feet at the sides of his 
prison until he had raised the bottom to a point which 
enabled him to scramble out and make his escape. 
I had been longing for Bill all morning because of 
certain troubles we were having with our boys. Just 
as we were about to leave the pit to continue our 
march up the mountain side I heard a voice behind 
me: 

"Jambo, Bwana." ["Good morning, Master."] 
I recognized Bill's voice. I turned and saw the 
most disreputable Bill that I had ever seen. His 
r clo thing was worn to shreds, his shoes were practically 
all gone, and the only thing about him that was per- 
fectly all right was his grin. I wanted to hug him. 
I never knew just what happened at the boma except 
that after two weeks Bill got out, took up our trail, 
and followed us in all of our meanderings, and finally 
came up with us at the elephant pit in the gloomy 
bamboo forest. He had probably travelled a couple 
of hundred miles in overtaking us. 

Bill's training as a tent boy, as I have said, was 
under Alii. Alii was a Swahili, and he was not only 
one of the most efficient tent boys and all-around men 
that we ever had in Africa, but he was especially 
valuable on safari because of his ability to entertain 
and amuse his fellow men around the campfire at 
night. Alli's sense of the dramatic was extremely 
keen. Night after night he would stand in the 
centre of a circle of admirers, telling them stories. 



146 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

We would often sit and watch him, and we had no 
difficulty in following his story, though we understood, 
at that time, no Swahili at all. He might perhaps be 
describing to his fellows some white man. He would 
describe his dress in detail — his tie, his shirt, his cuffs 
— and we were usually able to recognize the indi- 
vidual from the pantomime of his description. These 
stories were sometimes made up from the day's ex- 
perience. For instance, it might be that during the 
day I had had some interesting experience or adven- 
ture the story of which Alii had gathered from the 
gun boys on their return, and when the work was 
finished in the evening Alii would give it to his au- 
dience in full detail — probably with some additions 
that furnished intense interest — often eliciting loud 
applause. 

One time we had been on an elephant trail a day 
and a half. I lay beneath a tree, "all in" with spiril- 
lum fever, and felt that I could go no farther that 
day; so I ordered Bill to make camp. I was awakened 
from a doze by Bill, and when I asked him if my tent 
was ready he replied that it was not but that the 
hammock was. He had improvised a hammock which 
he ordered me to get into. He had doubled up the 
loads of the few porters so that four were released to 
carry me. Bill made the porters trot the ten miles 
to camp. It was nearly a month before Bill and I 
had recovered sufficiently to take up the elephant 
trails again. 

Another time I was down with black-water fever in 
the Nairobi hospital. I had been booked to "go 



BILL 147 

over the Divide" the night before, but somehow 
missed connections. I opened my eyes with my face 
to a window overlooking the porch, and there, looking 
over the rail, was Bill, like a faithful dog. It seemed 
to me that he stood there for hours with tears in his 
eyes staring at his master. A few days later he was 
allowed to come into my room. He approached 
the foot of the bed with a low "Jambo, Bwana." 
I said, "It is all right, Bill; I'll soon be well." 
With a great gulping sob, he burst into tears and 
bolted from the room. 

At an African Big Game Dinner in New York al-, 
most ten years after I left Bill, one of my friends whc* 
had just returned from British East Africa came to 
me and announced that he knew all about me now: 
that he had had Bill in his safari, and Bill never lost 
an opportunity to tell him stories about Bwana 
Akeley. So I know that Bill is still loyal, and there 
is no one in all Africa whom I am more keen to see. 
I missed him constantly on my trip into the gorilla 
country, but because I entered Africa from the south 
when I headed for Kivu, I was forced to make up 
my safari without him. 



CHAPTER VIII 

SAFARI HUNTERS 

IN 1905 Nairobi was a town of tin houses, many 
black people, a few Hindus, and fewer white men. 
Before my departure for the Athi Plains, where 
I planned to begin my collections, I wished to find 
a place in Nairobi where I might store material as 
I sent it in from time to time from the field. Around 
and around I wandered without finding any one who 
was able to offer a helpful suggestion. Then one day, 
as I was passing the open door of an unpromising 
galvanized iron building, i \eard the encouraging 
clatter of a typewriter and lost no time in investigat- 
ing. At the rear of a bare room about thirty feet 
wide and forty feet long was a door on the other side 
of which someone was plying the typewriter furiously. 
Finally there came forth from behind that closed 
door a blue-eyed, red-haired chap, apparently ex- 
traordinarily busy and much annoyed at being in- 
terrupted. However, his annoyance vanished when 
I told him what I was looking for and he suggested 
that I use a third of the front part of his building at a 
rental of five rupees — about a dollar and a half — per 
month. This arrangement was eminently satisfac- 
tory to me and we closed the bargain at once. 

148 



SAFARI HUNTERS 149 

The red-haired man was Leslie J. Tarlton. No 
description of British East Africa is complete without 
some reference to Tarlton, the Boer War veteran 
now known to hunters the world over because of the 
flourishing business he has built up in Nairobi — a 
part of which is equipping safari hunters with every- 
thing from food to niggers. 

Tarlton and his partner, Newland, were Austra- 
lians who had served in the Boer War. At its close 
they set out to make their fortunes somewhere in 
Africa. Coming to Nairobi with none too much of 
this world's goods but plenty of ambition and en- 
thusiasm, they were casting about for an objective 
when on that morning in 1905 I stumbled upon Tarl- 
ton's iron house. The safari business into which 
they fell that day helped to make them prosperous 
men until the opening of the World War in 1914 put 
an end to African hunting for a time. 

Tarlton afterward confessed to me that the type- 
writer that first attracted my attention would not 
write at all. Its only use was to make a noise when 
a prospective client came in sight. It was perhaps 
the first propounder in Nairobi of the modern busi- 
ness principle that nothing succeeds like success and 
it propounded no less diligently because Tarlton had 
not yet discovered what his post-war profession was 
to be. Two or three weeks after our first meeting, 
when I came in from the plains, my safari laden with 
collections to be packed in brine, Tarlton was much 
on the job, observing the process and assisting when- 
ever he saw an opportunity. Finally he asked why 



150 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

he could not learn to do such work for me. His 
proposal was that he act as my agent, sending food 
and other supplies to us in the field as they were 
required and thus obviating the necessity of my com- 
ing in whenever a consignment of skins was made. 
As time is precious in the field and one does not often 
happen upon a helper of such ingenuity and diligence, 
we soon came to terms. Newland, Tarlton, and 
Company had acquired their first safari client. Later 
on we provided poison tanks and the other para- 
phernalia necessary in caring for trophies before they 
can be shipped. Since that time, Newland and 
Tarlton have prepared skins and packed and shipped 
them for innumerable safaris. 

When in 191 1 black-water fever so nearly got me, 
Tarlton was also thought to be dying in the Nairobi 
hospital, but he, too, surprised his friends by his un- 
willingness to conform to their expectations, and, 
while we were both convalescing, invited me to his 
house to stay. Those weeks in Nairobi were a great 
time for reminiscence. Tarlton told me a story 
every morning before breakfast as he whistled and 
chirped about his dressing. And he always ended 
with the assertion that some day he was going to 
Write a book on that particular subject. One morn- 
ing he recited an anecdote about Theodore Roosevelt, 
adding, "Some day I am going to write a book on 
* Ex-Presidents I Have Known'." 

But the story I recall with the keenest relish re- 
counts the adventures of three Boer War veterans. 
They had reached the bottom of their luck after the 



SAFARI HUNTERS 151 

war, and making a pot, went into the Congo to poach 
elephants. They had good shooting at first, then no 
luck at all. Their supplies were nearly exhausted. 
But they took heart one evening when they came 
upon elephant signs and carefully laid their plans 
for the next day's hunt. A last pot of jam remained 
in their commissariat, and a last pot of jam is treasured 
by a man in that country as one saves a last bottle 
of champagne. The hunter must have fruit, and 
since no wild fruit grows there, in the old days his 
supplies included large quantities of preserved fruit 
and marmalade. The three adventurers had saved 
that last pot of jam to be used to celebrate and they 
agreed that the time for celebration had come pro- 
vided they brought home ivory on the morrow. Their 
plan was that each man should take a different direc- 
tion. On his return that night the first hunter's trail 
crossed that of one of his companions. Both had 
their ivory and they went into camp together raven- 
ously hungry, their appetites whetted by anticipation, 
to find that the third fellow had stayed in camp all 
day and had eaten the jam alone and unabetted. His 
companions saw red. The normal thing in a frontier 
country when a man fails to play his part is to kill 
him. That was their intention, but they made up 
their minds not to be rash about it. They decided to 
take the man into the woods some morning and come 
back alone. But they thought better — or worse — 
of it the next day. 

The story ends in Tarl ton's own words: 

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, my next book will 



1 52 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

be entitled * Murdered from Marmalade/ or 'The Jam 
that Jerked him to Jesus'." 

Tarlton was the best game shot I have ever known. 
We had gone out together on one occasion to get 
meat for dinner when we sighted a Thompson's ga- 
zelle at a distance of 225 yards. 

"Let me try my new Rigby on Tommie," Tarlton 
said, as he drew a bead on the centre of the gazelle's 
chest. When we reached the antelope and found the 
bullet one inch below where he expected it, he re- 
marked that he had suspected that his rifle was not 
accurately sighted. This was no conceit on his part. 
He expected to place his bullet exactly where he 
wished and if his gun was accurately sighted he rarely 
missed. 

Tarlton's first lion was shot about this time. The 
lion had charged his friend and with his front paws 
on the man's shoulder, and his mouth open, was 
reaching for the man's head when Tarlton pulled 
the trigger fifty yards away. The friend escaped 
without a scratch. 

In the conduct of his business in Nairobi, Tarlton 
must have come in contact with all sorts of men, for 
there are sportsmen and so-called sportsmen of all 
shades and degrees. There is the man who goes over 
keen to get a representative head of every species of 
game animal. No one can take exception to him 
while there is plenty of game left. On the other 
hand, there is the man who hunts for record heads 
and with him I have little patience. One man came 
into camp in Somaliland who, although he never shot 



SAFARI HUNTERS 153 

unless he believed his prey to be unusual, had killed 
seventy-five aoul or Soemmerring's gazelle before he 
got the record. Another class of sportsmen is made 
up of men who seem to think that the end to be at- 
tained is to kill all the law will allow them. I have 
seen a great many of this type. Having paid for a 
license which allows them to kill a given number of 
animals of each species, they are never content until 
they have killed the full number regardless of their 
needs, the size of the horns, or anything else. In 
the same class with the man who kills to his limit is 
the man who has made careful preparation for a hunt 
in Africa and who goes there determined to kill every 
available species within three months. One I know 
told his agents that he would pay them for the full 
time if they would so arrange it that he could get his 
game in three weeks. His idea is to kill and get out 
of Africa. He has none of that appreciation of 
Africa's charm and of that real interest in its animals 
which create in the true sportsman the desire to re- 
main as long as possible. 

There are many professional hunters in British 
East Africa, but perhaps R. J. Cuninghame is the 
most notable of the type. I met him first in 1906. I 
wanted elephants, and everyone at Nairobi agreed 
that he was the best elephant hunter. So I went to 
him and asked him to teach me to hunt elephants. 
We had some trouble in arranging the terms because 
he did not want any remuneration for helping an ex- 
pedition bent on scientific collection. I couldn't ac- 
cept his time gratis but have always appreciated 



154 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

this offer. Coming from a Scotchman it was quite 
unexpected, but it was typical of Cuninghame's 
generosity and indicative of his interest in scientific 
work. 

He taught me as much as one man can learn from 
another about the game of hunting elephants. There 
are some things which one can learn only through 
experience, and in elephant hunting most of the 
essentials must be learned in that way. It is easy and 
natural to assume that these huge beasts will always 
be too obvious for the unexpected to happen. But 
in spite of their size they are not always easy to see, 
for in their own country elephants are the colour of 
the shadows and on occasion quite as silent. In a 
forest or rock environment one may almost literally 
run on to an elephant before being aware of its pres- 
ence. The fact that Cuninghame spent so many 
years hunting the great game of Africa without ever 
being mauled is evidence of his skill. 

We went together to the Aberdare and killed one 
elephant — the single tusker now in the group in the 
Field Museum in Chicago. Then we went down to 
the government station at Fort Hall and got permis- 
sion to go up on Mt. Kenia for further elephant 
shooting. We spent six weeks on the slopes of the 
mountain, I as an amateur under Cuninghame's 
tutelage. And he was a real elephant hunter. He 
had killed many elephants, and his long experience 
had given him a great deal of that knowledge about 
elephants which would enable him to kill them with- 
out himself being killed. On the other hand, Cun- 



SAFARI HUNTERS 155 

inghame hunted elephants for ivory, and when a man 
approaches a herd looking for ivory, he is not likely 
to see much excepting tusks. It is natural, therefore, 
that from the ivory hunters we learn comparatively 
little of the more intimate things that we should like 
to know about the every-day life of the elephant. 
The world has no record of the knowledge of wild life 
that their experience should have given the ivory 
hunters. 

It is for this reason that the camera hunters appeal 
to me as being so much more useful than the gun 
hunters. They have their pictures to show — still 
pictures and moving pictures — and when their game 
is over the animals are still alive to play another day. 
Moreover, according to any true conception of sport 
— the use of skill, daring, and endurance in overcom- 
ing difficulties — camera hunting takes twice the man 
that gun hunting takes. It is fortunate for the ani- 
mals that camera hunting is becoming popular. 

The first notable camera hunter in Africa was 
Edward North Buxton, whose book, "Two African 
Trips," was published in 1902. In the preface to 
this book Buxton writes that "it would better be 
described as a picture-book than a volume of travels." 
This book paved the way for another in 1905, "With 
Flashlight and Rifle," by C. G. Schillings. Consider- 
ing the state of photography at that time, Schillings' 
book is a truly remarkable record of wild animal life. 
In 1 9 10, A. RadclyrTe Dugmore brought out his book, 
"Camera Adventures in the African Wilds." In it 
are several pictures of lions taken by flashlight at night 



156 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

from a blind that are photographically as good as 
are ever likely to be taken. 

Then came the first of the moving-picture hunters. 
The first success was the film called "The Water 
Hole" taken by Mr. Lydford, who was tempora- 
rily the photographer of Paul Rainey's expedition. 
Although it is not photographically as good as some 
of the later ones, it was a remarkable achievement, 
as all who saw it will testify, especially when they 
realize that this was Mr. Lydford's first experience in 
making motion pictures and that his equipment was 
not as good as equipment is now. The film had a 
deservedly popular run. Like all such films it was 
arranged for public exhibition by piecing together 
parts taken on different occasions, so that the au- 
dience gets in one crowded hour the fruits of weeks 
and months of painstaking effort. 

The next successful moving picture that I know 
of was taken on the expedition of Lady Grace Mc- 
Kenzie. It has in it the very remarkable piece of 
film showing a charging lion. The lion almost got 
the operator and ended the picture but fortunately 
both escaped. This reel has never been extensively 
shown. 

After this came a film made by James Barnes and 
Cherry Kerton which was shown with a lecture and 
not, as was Rainey's, by itself. That was nearly the 
whole roll call until 1922 when two men came back 
with films. The first to reach New York was a film 
made by H. A. Snow. It was shown at the Lyric 
Theatre and had a great success for which I am person- 



SAFARI HUNTERS 157 

ally sorry. I look upon it with more disapproval than 
I can well state, for I think that many of the titles 
on the pictures are misleading and that some of the 
pictures fall into the same category. All naturalists 
welcome the spread of animal lore by motion pictures 
so that a knowledge of true natural history may be- 
come more general, and there is no better way to 
disseminate such information. But if in order to 
make a film a more hair-raising and popular picture, 
the moving-picture producer puts misleading titles 
on the pictures and resorts to "fake" photography, 
the harm they can do is just as great as the good 
they would otherwise effect. 

While most of us who are interested in true nature 
photography were feeling somewhat blue about Mr. 
Snow's pictures, Martin Johnson came back to New 
York. Vte ume in to see me and I asked him what 
he <vas going to do about his titles. He was prompt 
and positive. He was quite willing to submit them 
all to the American Museum of Natural History. 
That was a big decision, for the Museum would not 
agree to the kind of titles which it was likely the 
moving-picture business might desire. This might 
militate heavily against his chance of selling the pic- 
ture, and in Johnson's case selling the picture was a 
necessity, for all he had in the world and more besides 
was invested in it. But he stuck to his decision when 
the pressure came and his film goes forth, the first ever 
endorsed by the American Museum of Natural His- 
tory, a credit to him and to the company distributing 
it. I feel that this is a great step. With this prec- 



1 58 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

edent I believe we have begun a new era in dissemi- 
nating natural history through motion pictures — a 
step in which we can count on the assistance of Mr. 
Will H. Hays, the president of the Motion Picture 
Producers and Distributors of America. 

But I must return to the gun hunters, for I have not 
mentioned the truest sportsman of them all — 
Theodore Roosevelt. 

I first met Theodore Roosevelt on my return from 
Africa in 1906. Previously, on his visit to Chicago 
as Vice-President, soon after I had finished the deer 
groups for the Field Museum of Natural History, 
he called at the Museum and was so interested in the 
groups that he asked to see me, but unfortunately 
I was not there. From that time on he was interested 
in my endeavours and, learning that I was on my way 
out of Africa, had asked Congressman Mann to bring 
me to Washington. Congressman Mann's invita- 
tion was waiting for me when I reached New York. 

At a dinner at the White House during that visit 
the Roosevelt African expedition was inaugurated. 
Among the other guests was a gentleman from Alaska 
who had been describing the hunting in that region 
and, as we were entering the dining room, the Presi- 
dent remarked: 

"As soon as I am through with this job, I am going 
to Alaska for a good hunt." 

I shall never forget that dinner at the White House. 
I sat through course after course and did not eat a 
bite, for the President kept me busy telling stories of 
Africa. There was no time to exhaust my supply, 



SAFARI HUNTERS 159 

but I believe I said quite enough, for as we were leav- 
ing the dining room, the President turned to me and 
said: 

"As soon as I am through with this job, I am going 
to Africa." 

"But," interposed the hunter from the north, 
"what is to become of Alaska?" 

"Alaska will have to wait," Roosevelt replied with 
finality. Plans for the Roosevelt African expedition 
went forward at once and I had something to do with 
their arrangement. 

At this dinner at the White House I retold to the 
President the story of the sixteen lions coming out of 
the cave on MacMillan's estate. The President, 
who had been very frank in his comments about all 
things, was having difficulties with the Senate at the 
time. When I had finished the story, he addressed 
Congressman Mann who sat beside him at the table, 

"Congressman," he said, "I wish I had those six- 
teen lions to turn loose in the Senate." 

Congressman Mann stammered and stumbled a 
bit, but finally drew himself together to reply. 

"B — but, Mr. President, aren't — aren't you afraid 
the lions might make a mistake?" 

"Not if they stayed long enough," was Roosevelt's 
rejoinder. 

So he really invented the idea which they turned 
on him later. When his administration was over and 
he finally started for Africa, the cry of the Senate 
crowd was, "America expects every lion to do his 
duty." A cartoon of the day that I particularly 



160 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

remember showed a contented lion sitting up on his 
haunches with drawn and bulging stomach. Be- 
neath, the caption read, "He was a good President." 

I was planning an expedition to collect materials 
for an elephant group in behalf of the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History about the time that Roose- 
velt was arranging for his African hunt, and it was a 
fancy of mine that he should shoot at least one of the 
elephants for my group. Upon my request that he 
should do so, we planned to meet in Africa, but as I 
was delayed in getting over, it was only by chance 
that his safari and mine met on the Uasin Gishu 
Plateau. 

One day while on the march I sighted a safari. I 
was aware that the Roosevelt outfit had gone into 
that region, but I assumed that he had already left 
there for Uganda. Nevertheless, while we made 
camp on the banks of the river, I sent a runner to see 
if it could be the Roosevelt safari. My runner met 
a runner from the other outfit and returned with a 
message from Roosevelt himself which said that if 
we were Akeley's party he would go into camp at a 
near-by swamp. I mounted my pony and went to 
meet him as he approached on horseback accom- 
panied by his son, Kermit, Edmund Heller, and their 
guide, Tarlton. We all went back to our camp for 
luncheon, where I gave Roosevelt a bottle of very 
choice brandy, a present from Mr. Oscar Strauss. 
Mr. Strauss had been one of our steamer companions 
across the Atlantic and, learning that I was likely to 
meet Roosevelt, he asked me to take this choice 



SAFARI HUNTERS 161 

brandy to him in the jungles. Roosevelt accepted it 
with much interest in the accompanying message but 
apparently with mighty little interest in the brandy. 
He passed the bottle on to Cuninghame and I felt cer- 
tain it would eventually meet with just appreciation. 
We went over to Roosevelt's camp for the night, 
thoroughly pleased that the hunt we had looked 
forward to together, but had been forced to abandon, 
was to take place after all. We intended to get an 
early start the next morning, for Roosevelt had seen 
one herd of elephants that day. We started with 
Tarlton leading. Suddenly he slipped off his horse 
and directed that we swing down side to get off wind. 
In a clearing just ahead of us were our elephants, a 
band of eight cows and calves, enjoying their midday 
siesta and milling about under the trees. We stood 
hidden by a great ant-hill while I picked out a cow I 
thought would do for my group and pointed her out 
to Roosevelt. Of course, I assumed that he would 
shoot her from behind the ant-hill, well out of sight 
and protected. Instead he went around the hill and 
started straight toward the elephants, Kermit and 
I following one on either side and in back of him. 
I had an impulse to climb on Roosevelt's shoulder 
and whisper that I wanted him to shoot her, not to 
take her alive. But Roosevelt's theory of meeting 
trouble was to meet it halfway and he got just about 
halfway when the old cow started across the open 
space. Then the other seven headed toward us. 
Roosevelt shot. The elephant I had selected went 
part way down and got up again. On they came. 



1 62 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

He shot again and got her. However, there were 
three dead elephants instead of one when we stopped 
them, for Kermit and I had to shoot, too, to head off 
the others. The rule in elephant hunting is to get as 
close as you can before shooting, and in whatever 
Roosevelt was doing he came out in the open and went 
straight to the point. 

Kermit's baby elephant, now mounted in the group, 
was taken that day, also. After we had turned them, 
I saw a calf I wanted, asked Kermit to shoot him, 
and he did so. 

While Tarlton and Kermit returned for the camp 
equipment and the supplies required in caring for 
the elephants, Colonel Roosevelt and I sat together 
resting in the shade of an acacia. We were alone in 
the heart of Africa and he talked to me of his wife 
and children at home. He had not seen any one from 
the United States, excepting the members of his own 
party, for a good many months, while I was fresh from 
the States, fresh from Oyster Bay. In those three 
hours I got a new vision and a new view of Theodore 
Roosevelt. It was then that I learned to love him. 
It was then that I realized that I could follow him 
anywhere; even if I doubted, I would follow him be- 
cause I knew his sincerity, his integrity, and the big- 
ness of the man. Since his death those qualities that 
I caught a glimpse of in Africa under the acacia tree 
— those qualities that made Theodore Roosevelt 
what he was — I have seen more fully and completely 
as they are reflected in his children and his children's 
children. 



SAFARI HUNTERS 163 

Our remaining days together were comparatively 
uneventful. A grass fire, fortunately not one of the 
most persistent, came down upon our camp that 
night and all hands fell to and fought it. Lions roared 
about our camp all night, too. At daybreak the 
Colonel and I went out in our pyjamas, hoping to find 
them. We saw no lions, but on our return, as we ap- 
proached the carcass of one of our elephants, a hyena 
stuck his head up on the other side. The Colonel fired 
but the shot was unnecessary. The hyena was trapped. 
In his greediness, he had rammed his head through 
a wall of muscle in the elephant's stomach and could 
not get it out. The hair was worn thin on his neck 
by his efforts to escape, but he was literally tied up 
in the thing he loved best. 

A day or two later Roosevelt went on to Uganda 
and down the Nile. 



CHAPTER IX 

INVENTIONS AND WARFARE 

SOON after my return from my 1905 trip to 
Africa I got my attention turned away from 
taxidermy for a little while in a curious fash- 
ion. The Field Museum was still in the old Colum- 
bian Exposition Building in which it had started. 
The outside of this stucco building kept peeling so 
that it had a very disreputable appearance. The 
Park Department protested to the museum authori- 
ties. I happened to be in the museum one day when 
one of the officers had this on his mind and he said: 

" Akeley, how are we going to get the outside of this 
building respectable at a reasonable cost?" 

I got to thinking about it. In the many experi- 
ments of one kind and another that I had tried in 
working out methods for manikin making I had 
among other things used a compressed air spray. It 
occurred to me that it would be possible to make an 
apparatus on this principle that would spray a very 
liquid concrete on to the side of a building. I set to 
work and rigged up a somewhat crude apparatus and 
set it up outside the museum building. It was not 
a finished piece of mechanism and it had the further 
disadvantage of having its compressed air come quite 
a long way in a hose. Nevertheless it worked, and 

164 



INVENTIONS AND WARFARE 165 

the old building was repaired with this apparatus. 
The Field Museum never used the cement gun any 
more but some friends came along and offered to 
put money enough behind the idea to perfect, manu- 
facture, and sell it. As with all such things the first 
money went and then a second like amount, but in 
the end the cement gun succeeded, and during the 
war it, among other things, was used to make the con- 
crete ships. This occupied most of my time between 
1907 and 1909. In fact, I drove the first motorized 
cement gun down to the house of its chief financial 
backer on Long Island in 1909, and went back to 
New York to go again to Africa. 

As I am no longer financially interested in the ce- 
ment gun, I may say with pride that there are now 
approximately 1,250 machines in use, not only in the 
United States, but also in the principal foreign coun- 
tries. In addition to the use for which it was origi- 
nally designed, that of restoring masonry and con- 
crete structures, many other important purposes are 
now served by this mechanism. In coal mines it is 
being used to keep slate roofs from falling and to 
fireproof the timbers. Irrigation ditches and reser- 
voirs are being lined and dams are being faced and 
protected against the destructive action of water 
and frost by this method. In tunnel construction, 
a lining put in with the cement gun prevents falls 
and insures an absolute sealing. It protects steel, 
protects piles against teredo and fire, protects struc- 
tures against acid, restores boiler settings and pre- 
serves them from further action of the heat, rebuilds 



166 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

baffle walls, makes economical floor and roof slabs, 
and is being used extensively in putting up walls of 
buildings that are permanent and fireproof. 

My next trip to Africa in 1909 also served to de- 
velop another activity besides taxidermy. One of 
the principal objects of this trip was to get moving 
pictures of the Nandi spearing lions. However, I 
found that you can't stage a native lion hunt with 
any certainty, for neither the lion nor the native, 
once the action begins, pays any attention to the 
movie director. In order to have even a fair chance 
of following the action with a camera you need one 
that you can aim up, down, or in any direction with 
about the same ease that you can point a pistol. 
There were no movie cameras like this, and after fail- 
ing to get pictures of several lions I determined not 
to go to Africa again until I had one. 

When I got home I set to work on the problem and 
after much experimentation completed a working 
model that bore no likeness to the conventional mo- 
tion-picture apparatus. To one familiar with the old 
types of camera the Akeley resembled a machine 
gun quite as much as it resembled a camera. During 
the war I used to say that the boys who operated it 
would be well protected and Photoplay in January, 
1 91 9, related a story of the American advance in 
France which bore out my opinion. While setting 
up the machine to make some shots in a still-burning 
and newly occupied village, a young lieutenant was 
confronted suddenly by seven Germans. Mistaking 
his formidable film apparatus for a new type cf Yan- 



INVENTIONS AND WARFARE 167 

kee machine gun, they threw up their hands and sur- 
rendered. The story is probably all the better be- 
cause its truth is doubtful. 

Since its perfection the Akeley camera has been 
carried into many of the far-away corners of the globe 
by museum expeditions and explorers. The Katmai 
Expedition of the National Geographic Society, the 
Mulford Biological Expedition to the Amazon Basin, 
the Third Asiatic Expedition of the American Museum 
of Natural History, the MacMillan Arctic Associa- 
tion, and the British Guiana Tropical Research Sta- 
tion at Kartabo under the direction of William Beebe, t 
are some of those which have been equipped with 
Akeleys. In taking "Nanook of the North," the 
picture made for popular distribution by the Revillon 
Freres Arctic Expedition, Mr. Flaherty used two of 
my cameras. Martin Johnson, whose motion pic- 
tures of the South Sea Islands and of Africa have 
won him renown as a "camera hunter," is planning 
to include three in the equipment for his next African 
expedition. To a degree at least, the camera is ac- 
complishing the purpose for which it was designed. 

While I had little idea at first that this camera would 
fill any other needs than my own, as it has been per- 
fected it has proved its practicability for general use. 
The fundamental difference between the Akeley 
motion-picture camera and the others is a panoramic 
device which enables one to swing it all about, much 
as one would swing a swivel gun, following the natural 
line of vision. Thus instead of having to manipulate 
two cranks with the left hand, one to tilt the camera 



1 68 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

and the other to move it horizontally, the operator by 
means of a single control secures a steady movement 
which may be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, and 
which enables him to keep a moving object always in 
the centre of the field. This flexibility especially 
adapts the camera not only for wild animal photog- 
raphy, but also for studio work, where an erratic 
follow-up is to be accomplished, and for news reel 
photography. It was this advantage, combined with 
another special qualification, the freer use of the 
telephoto lens — which brings a distant object into 
the foreground on the screen — which made possible 
a successful picture of the Man-o'-War race and the 
Dempsey-Carpentier prize fight. Anthropologists 
have found the telephoto lens useful in making motion 
pictures of natives of uncivilized countries without 
their knowledge. Because of the difficulty of secur- 
ing the proper lighting in the woods, I had paid 
particular attention to the shutter so that as perfected 
the shutter admits thirty per cent, more light than 
the usual camera shutter. This characteristic also 
has commended the camera to general use. In out- 
of-door photogr^hy on a dark day as well as in the 
studio, where the lighting is one of the greatest items 
of expense, its advantage is obvious. Tom Mix and 
Douglas Fairbanks are both making extensive use 
of the camera now and a recent feature directed by 
Lawrence Trimble was made with it. 

I was working on the camera, modelling a little and 
mounting the elephant group, when the war came on 
us. That meant a call for every man's energy and 



INVENTIONS AND WARFARE 169 

brains. I was keen to do something, but there popped 
into my head an old unfortunate phrase that had long 
held lodgment there. "Nothing but a taxidermist." 
That was the sentiment of an editorial published in 
the Youth's Companion, a magazine which was almost 
my Bible, some fifty years ago. As a youngster I 
always had to combat the feeling that taxidermy was 
of no importance, both on my own part, when I was 
not completely lost in the joy of my work, and also 
on the part of those about me. But, inasmuch as it 
had been the advertisements of books on taxidermy 
in the Companion that had given me my first encour- 
agement, I felt a particular resentment toward a 
magazine which would so betray its advertisers and 
its readers. 

My conviction that museum exhibition is playing 
an important part in modern education has long since 
satisfied me that the work which I have chosen as 
mine is worth while, but all through my experiences 
at Ward's and in Milwaukee the doubt persisted. 
Was I not wasting my life on something that did not 
count? And, needless to say, my own doubt was 
deepened by the indifference of others. 

With the war came the cessation of all normal life. 
An occupation popularly considered as unessential as 
mine ought to stop among the first. Anyway, I had 
to get into it. The only way to be happy was to get 
into it, but there was something rather ridiculous 
about the idea that an African naturalist and a "good- 
for-nothing taxidermist" could be of much service 
m wartime. At first it did not strike me — or any one 



1 7 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

else, for that matter — that the principles I had worked 
out for taxidermy, for the cement gun, and for the 
camera might be applied to the mechanical devices 
of warfare. 

But work began with an order from the Govern- 
ment for a lot of Akeley cameras. A call from the 
Signal Corps of the War Department asking me to 
bring them down took me to Washington shortly after 
war was declared, with the result that I accepted a 
contract whereby the entire output of the camera shop 
was turned over to the United States Government. 

Soon after I became a Specialist on Mechanical 
Devices and Optical Equipment in the Division of 
Investigation, Research, and Development of the 
Engineer Corps. My chief was Major O. B. Zimmer- 
man, who thirty years before had been my student in 
Milwaukee. He had wanted to become a taxidermist, 
but in those days taxidermy seemed a mighty poor 
game and I did my best to dissuade him from any 
such mad career. His wisdom in following my ad- 
vice is proved by the fact that when the war broke 
out he was in Belgium as one of the leading engineers 
for the International Harvester Company. I had a 
desk in Major Zimmerman's office, but my actual 
work was done in the camera shop in New York, in 
the American Museum of Natural History, and in 
various laboratories. At least once each week I rode 
back and forth from Washington to New York. My 
duties were those of a consulting engineer, but they 
were much varied, for we had several things under 
way all the time. Wherever a problem, mechanical 



INVENTIONS AND WARFARE 171 

1 

or otherwise, arose, I went to look things over, and 

if I had any suggestions to make, I was assigned to 
that job. I spent several weeks at Brunswick, 
Georgia, where concrete ships were under construction 
and where my experiments with the cement gun 
served me in good stead. The fact that the concrete 
ships were not successful was not the fault of the con- 
crete gun. It did its part. 

After devoting a good deal of thought to search- 
lights and searchlight mirrors, I helped in lightening 
the apparatus materially and developed a device for 
searchlight control. This control, which involves 
the same rotary principle as my motion-picture 
camera, enables the operator standing at the end of 
an arm to direct the rays of the light toward any ob- 
ject in the sky and to keep it in view by following 
up its movements with the light. It is one of several 
devices developed at that time which have since 
been patented by the Government in my name. 

Roosevelt once asked me why I declined to wear the 
major's uniform offered to me. "Well, Colonel 
Roosevelt," I replied unhesitatingly, for I had my 
good reason for so doing, "if I were wearing a uniform, 
I could not go to my colonel and tell him he was a 
damn fool." 

Roosevelt laughed heartily. 

"You are quite right," he replied. "Stick to it!" 

As a civilian I went about wherever work was going 
on, talked freely with the workmen, heard them dis- 
cuss their mechanical difficulties, and got from them 
their ideas for improvements. As a civilian I was 



172 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

also free to carry those ideas wherever they could do 
the most good. If I had had to comply with the red 
tape of army officialdom, not only would my own 
work have been handicapped, but also the ideas and 
troubles of the private actually handling the machine 
might never have gone past his sergeant. When the 
armistice was signed, I was planning to go overseas to 
observe the difficulties that the men were having at 
the front, so that I narrowly escaped the khaki. 

Whatever my services may or may not have con- 
tributed to the defeat of the Germans, at least I have 
escaped the accusation directed toward many a dollar- 
a-year man of being overpaid. The usual dollar-a- 
year man, though the dollar was never paid him, re- 
ceived his expenses, while my contract called for 
a salary of ten dollars per day without expense 
money. My original agreement was to include ex- 
penses, but some slip was made which always seemed 
too difficult to correct. This arrangement made my 
loss even greater than that of those men who re- 
ceived the fabulous amount prescribed by law, for 
needless to say my weekly stipend was inadequate 
to cover the one item of railway fare. Still one had 
to serve to be happy in those days, no matter what 
the cost. Inasmuch as the Akeley camera also lost 
heavily on war contracts, I have had the additional 
satisfaction of escaping governmental investigation 
on the score of excess profits. After it was all over, I 
ungrudgingly paid the normal tax on the money I had 
lost, and I would not swap those months with the 
Government for anything else in my experience. 



INVENTIONS AND WARFARE 173 

Since the war, with the intermission of my trip 
to Africa for gorillas in 1921, I have stuck to my 
sculpture and taxidermy except for various lecture 
trips. 

A man who is fortunate enough to have witnessed 
the beauties of the African forests and who has come 
to know the forest's inhabitants and their ways, is 
almost sure to be called upon to share his good for- 
tune with others, and I have done a good deal of 
lecturing. My first lectures were to be given at Ful- 
lerton Hall in Chicago for the Field Museum shortly 
after my return from Africa in 1906. Fortunately, I 
had occasion to deliver a lecture in South Chicago 
a few days before my first museum lecture was sched- 
uled. Otherwise, I probably would have dropped 
dead when I faced the Fullerton Hall audience. I 
think the thing that saved me from running then 
was the fact that I had a small audience behind a 
screen at the rear of the platform and knew that it 
blocked my escape. 

I had tried to prepare a lecture, had realized that 
that was impossible, and had finally decided to show 
my audience the pictures and make whatever com- 
ments they brought to mind. Then, when I got on 
the platform without the vaguest idea of what I was 
going to say first, it suddenly occurred to me that I 
was no worse frightened than I had been one day on 
the banks of the Tana when I suddenly found myself, 
with nothing but a camera in my hand, charged 
by a rhinoceros. Apparently I had no escape except 
a thirty-foot drop into the crocodile-infested waters 



i 7 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

of the Tana below. But the rhino stopped ten or 
fifteen feet from me, gazed at me stupidly, and settled 
down with the apparent intention of going to sleep. 
I took hope when the thought crossed my mind that 
this new terror might settle down with the same in- 
tention as the old rhino, leaving me to my own re- 
sources quite unharmed. So I told my audience the 
story of the rhino, the ice was broken, and I fear I 
nearly talked them to death before the lecture ended. 
Since that time I have talked far and wide. I hope 
I have given some pleasure and entertainment to the 
good people who have listened. I hope also that I 
have created in the minds of my hearers a background 
that will help the art of taxidermy and its practition- 
ers in the future. More especially I hope that I have 
contributed something to the study of natural his- 
tory and that I have stimulated a decent attitude 
toward wild life. 



CHAPTER X 

A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 

A FTER I had got over my first youthful en- 
LjL thusiasm about taxidermy and had seen how 
jL jl it was practiced, I recognized that, as it then 
was, it was not an art — that it was in fact little better 
than a trade. I had moments when I felt like aban- 
doning the whole thing. I used to study sculpture, 
particularly animal sculpture, in relation to taxi- 
dermy. I remember that when I was twenty-eight 
years old I came to New York and spent hours at 
the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the itch in my 
hands and brain to become a sculptor. But one thing 
restrained me. I had enough common sense to know 
that while I might become a sculptor and even a 
fairly successful one I could never contribute to that 
art what I could contribute to taxidermy. I believed 
then that I could start taxidermy on the road from a 
trade to an art. So I turned away from sculpture. 
Nevertheless, the idea of being a sculptor kept run- 
ning in my mind. And whenever it did, it depressed 
me. Finally, I gave up going near the Art Museum 
altogether. 

But the discipline that I inflicted on myself I could 
not inflict on other people. I had to make little clay 
groups as studies and models for the animal groups 

175 



176 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

that I was mounting. Many people who saw these 
clay models would suggest that I have them cast in 
bronze. If I had not still had the fever of sculpturing 
in my blood, these remarks would not have stuck in 
my mind, but as it was they did. So this idea be- 
came familiar to me. 

However, it was a good many years after it first 
became a regular inhabitant of my mind that I put 
it in practice, for along with it had grown up the no- 
tion that I should not merely turn models into bronzes 
but that I would wait until I had a real contribution. 
Real contributions did not seem abundant and so year 
after year went by with no bronzes made. 

Then in 191 2 a situation arose which I thought 
forced sculpture upon me. I had a dream of a great 
African Hall of forty groups of animals with all the 
ingenuity, all the technique, and all the art the 
country could boast of. By that time I had come to 
feel that taxidermy could be a great art. I felt that 
a beautifully modelled animal required at least as 
much knowledge, taste, skill, and technique as a 
bronze or stone animal. But I knew that this con- 
ception was not common. A taxidermist couldn't 
talk art. Especially he couldn't talk art convincingly 
to the kind of men who supported great museum 
ventures. It was a recognized thing to support art. 
Taxidermy had no such tradition. The only way out 
of the dilemma that I could see was to prove that 
whether or not taxidermy was an art at least a taxi- 
dermist could be an artist. 

It was my desire to make an appeal to those men 



A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 177 

who support art financially that stimulated my first 
work in bronze. I felt that we might expect the aid 
of these men in such undertakings as the African Hall 
if I could once get them to see the artistic possibilities 
of taxidermy. The American Museum of Natural 
History already had friends who were interested in 
art, but it had not occurred to them that the Mu- 
seum's animal groups had any relation to sculpture 
because these groups had not been presented in the 
accepted materials of sculpture such as stone and 
bronze. Through the medium of bronze I hoped to 
lead them to see in the taxidermist's productions 
something worthy of their support as patrons of art. 

So I set to work to do a bronze that would prove 
that a taxidermist could be an artist. Years before I 
had heard the story of an elephant bull wounded by 
hunters, whose two comrades had ranged themselves 
one on either side and helped him to escape. I 
have told the story in detail elsewhere. It always ap- 
pealed to me as showing a spirit in the elephant that 
I should like to record. I set to work on The 
Wounded Comrade. It was a part of the story of the 
elephant, a theme that always aroused enthusiasm 
in me. And I felt it was a labour of love for African 
Hall. It was pleasant work. It went well. The 
thing seemed to take shape naturally. It was soon 
finished. Then came its test. 

Mr. J. P. Morgan came to the Museum to talk 
over African Hall. I explained the whole plan, 
showed him the model of the hall and incidentally 
The Wounded Comrade. He liked the scheme. As 



1 78 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

he left he said that he was convinced. "And," he 
added, "I don't mind saying," pointing to the little 
bronze of The Wounded Comrade, "that it is what 
did it." I shall always be indebted to Mr. Morgan 
for that sentence. It gave me an extraordinary 
amount of contentment. A. Phimister Proctor, the 
animal sculptor, also came to see The Wounded 
Comrade in my studio. He spent a long time in 
silence, carefully studying the little model. I knew 
that Mr. Proctor never gave praise lightly, but 
that he never hesitated to express admiration when 
in his opinion the work had merit. I felt that much 
depended on his praise or blame. And when he 
finally spoke, his enthusiasm was keen. I did not 
realize how keen until an order came for a bronze of 
The Wounded Comrade from Mr. George Pratt, a 
friend of Mr. Proctor, whose only impression of the 
piece was gained from Mr. Proctor's description. 
Throughout my career as a sculptor nothing has 
meant so much to me as the encouragement and 
appreciation of the man who first declared The 
Wounded Comrade a success. 

In recognition of this first bronze, I was made a 
member of the American Sculpture Society. Inas- 
much as such a cordial reception was accorded to The 
Wounded Comrade by artists as well as by the gen- 
eral public, I felt justified in devoting more attention 
to sculpture. I felt that I had many stories to tell 
about elephants and that I could tell these stories 
more effectively by the work of my hands than in 
any other way. One chapter is told in the group of 



A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 179 

mounted elephants now in the American Museum of 
Natural History. Many others can be told in small 
bronzes. I want to tell these stories, and in the time 
I have on earth I could not record many elephant 
stories in taxidermy, for one group really done well 
takes years — but I can tell these stories in bronze. 1 

After The Wounded Comrade had made a success, 
many of my friends came to my studio (where I did 
taxidermy) in the Museum and advised me to keep on 
making bronzes. " Here's your opportunity," they 
said. "You have a market. Fortune favours you. 
Don't neglect the fickle lady." 

But I did not follow this advice and make many 
bronzes. It may have been because I was lazy or 
busy with other things, but I like to think that it 
was because I had decided not to make bronzes 
unless I had a real story to tell. I wanted to do 
justice if I could to my friend, the elephant. And, 
also, I wanted to do what I did well enough to prove 
that a taxidermist could be, as he ought to be, an 
artist. 

So I progressed with sculpture very slowly. In 
the nine years since The Wounded Comrade was made 
I have made only six bronzes. 

In my second piece I have pictured a scene that will 
always remain very vivid in my memory — a charging 
herd. I had been following a large herd of elephants, 
two hundred or more, in the Budongo Forest for two 
days. They had broken up into small bands and 
the particular band which I was following had got 
near the edge of the forest. Nevertheless, I was 



180 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

having a hard time to get a look at them. Finally, I 
had recourse to the somewhat hazardous experiment 
of beating on the tree trunks with sticks in the hope 
of scaring them into the open. This was successful. 
I followed them, but the grass was so high that I 
couldn't see over it. I was in the act of climbing a 
tree for better observation when they came rolling 
along, grunting and squealing, back to the forest. 
They passed me within twenty-five yards. They 
were irritated sufficiently to convince me that it was 
time to let them alone and go to camp. I started 
along the edge of the forest. As I was pushing along 
through the high grass a few minutes later I heard 
another band coming out of the forest. As I couldn't 
see over the grass I ran to an ant-hill. This ant-hill 
was six or seven feet high. As I got on top it I saw, 
about one hundred yards away, eleven great animals 
pass one by one over a little rise. I had as good a 
view of this majestic march as a man will ever get. 
When they had gone two or three hundred yards, they 
suddenly stopped. They had got down wind and 
had smelt me. Then they began to talk. There was 
grumbling and rumbling. Conversation of this kind 
meant trouble. It was an old story to me. And 
trouble came. They came back squealing and roar- 
ing. I had to wait the first two hundred yards of the 
charge without shooting for they were behind the 
ridge. Then they loomed up over it, led by an old 
cow with her trunk up and her great ears cocked. 
As the leader lost the scent and slowed a little, they 
jammed into a solid mass. Then the old cow saw me 



A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 181 

perched on my ant-hill. Changing course, they came 
toward me, falling apart as they came. 

That picture stays in my memory. And as I saw 
it I have put it in bronze. The bronze shows the 
first seven elephants of the herd jammed together in 
that moment of hesitation just after the old cow saw 
me and turned in my direction. Her trunk is curled 
up tight, her ears back and all cleared for action. 
The elephant on her left is following her example. 
The others still have their trunks extended, feeling 
for my scent. 

The next elephant story that I told in bronze grew 
out of another experience of mine. I was following a 
herd of elephants in bush country. I was some dis- 
tance behind them and they knew nothing of me. 
Suddenly I heard a great commotion, squealing and 
beating of bushes. A few minutes later the herd 
moved on. When I came to the spot where the 
commotion had been I found the bushes all trampled 
down and, at one side of the area of destruction in 
the sand, the remains of a big green tree snake that 
had been stamped into the ground. I followed af- 
ter the herd but was soon deflected from the main 
body by noises in a little glade off at one side of the 
main trail. I went to the edge of this glade and saw 
a young bull elephant smashing about in the forest 
alone, breaking down trees, squealing, and in general 
acting like a small boy who had been stung on the 
nose by a hornet. After a while he quieted down and 
went along after the others, grumbling and protesting. 
I came to the conclusion that while feeding in the 



1 82 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

bushes he had thrust his trunk too close to a poisonous 
tree snake and had been stung; that he had beaten 
the snake on to the ground with his trunk and stamped 
it to death. In the bronze I pictured the snake alive 
on the ground and the elephant in the act of tram- 
pling it to death. 

In addition to these elephant bronzes I have done 
one other bronze of a combat between a lion and a 
buffalo, and I have two other elephant subjects 
started in clay. I have never seen a lion and a buffalo 
fight nor do I know of any one else who has. But I 
know at least two authentic records of the dead bodies 
of a lion and a buffalo together — mute evidence of a 
fight to a finish and death to both. And I have seen 
dead buffalo carcasses from which one could tell 
pretty well how the lion had killed his prey. The 
lion tries to throw the buffalo in much the same 
manner as a cowboy "bulldogs" a steer — that is, he 
throws him by jerking the buffalo's head down. In 
the bronze I have represented the lion as having 
"bulldogged" the buffalo by catching his nose with 
a front paw and bending his head to the ground in 
his effort to throw him. The buffalo has saved him- 
self from a fall by bracing himself with one front foot 
and the scene is set for a battle royal unless the lion 
bolts. 

One of the bronzes that will soon be published 
records a scene that will always be a pleasant memory 
to me. I was watching an elephant herd on the march 
through an open grass country. The elders moved 
along sedately enough, but at one side of the herd 



A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 183 

several babies were squealing and pushing each other 
— having a fine time at play. Sometimes they were 
ahead of the herd and sometimes behind it, but all 
the time in a very gay mood. There seemed to be 
something that they were playing with, but the grass 
was too high and I was too far off to make out what 
it was. However, where the trail of the herd finally 
went into the forest, I discovered the babies' play- 
thing. It was a big dirt ball about two and one half 
feet in diameter, a fragment of an ant-hill. These 
ant-hills are made of a mixture of saliva and sand 
which when baked by the African sun gets almost as 
hard as brick. A steel-jacketed bullet will be cut 
all to pieces before penetrating the surface of an ant- 
hill at all. In some way the baby elephants had got 
a fragment of an old ant-hill that was nearly round 
and this they had used as a ball to roll along in their 
play. It is not so surprising, therefore, that an ele- 
phant can be made to do tricks with a ball in the 
circus! 

I am putting the youngsters and their ball into 
bronze for one group. 

The other is called At Bay and represents an ele- 
phant with trunk up standing at bay with his hind 
leg tied to a great log. 

One of the native's methods of hunting elephants 
is to dig a pit in an elephant path, cover the pit over 
with a "basket" — a kind of trap — put a noose on 
top of the "basket," and camouflage the whole with 
grass and leaves. When the trap is set there is no 
evidence of anything but a plain and safe path. The 



1 84 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

noose is one end of a twisted rawhide cable, the other 
end of which is fastened to a heavy log. If the trap 
works, the elephant steps on the "basket" and his leg 
goes through. The "basket" sticks to his leg and 
holds the noose until the elephant moves enough to 
draw it tight. Then he begins to drag the heavy log 
through the forest. He cannot go far or fast and he 
leaves an unmistakable trail. He is a high-strung, 
nervous creature and when after a few days of trekking 
about with his tormenting log the natives come up 
with him, he is weak from lack of food and water. 
There he stands at bay, as I have pictured him in 
bronze. But his defiance is of slight avail, for there 
is little to be feared from his charge. It is compara- 
tively simple for his enemies to finish him off with 
poisoned spears and arrows. 

In my bronzes I am telling bit by bit my stories of 
African animals. A series of three groups telling the 
story of native lion-spearing will be finished by the 
time this book is out and will ultimately take its place 
in Roosevelt African Hall. In 191 1 I got together a 
bandofNandi spearmen on the Uasin Gishu Plateau 
to hunt lions. I wanted a motion picture of native 
lion-spearing, the most dramatic thing Africa has to 
offer. In twenty days the Nandi had speared ten 
lions and five leopards. My moving pictures were 
not very satisfactory but I did get two other very 
diverse results from the trip — the determination to 
invent a better camera for wild-animal photography, 
and the idea for these lion-spearing groups. 

The first two groups represent three native spear- 



A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 185 

men in the act of facing the charge of a lion and lion- 
ess, the lioness characteristically leading the charge. 
The third group, a sequel to the other two, shows the 
three hunters chanting a requiem over the dead lion. 

I have done another lion — one that interests me 
more than all the others. And this piece of sculpture 
came about in this way. When I met President 
Roosevelt at the White House on my return from 
Africa in 1906, I was impressed with the power and 
humanity of the man as all were who knew him. One 
of the great experiences of my life was that quiet 
talk with Theodore Roosevelt in the shade of the 
acacia tree on the Uasin Gishu Plateau when I came 
to know the man and to love him. After our return 
from Africa, he was constantly reminding me of my 
unwritten African book and saying that he wanted 
to write a foreword and a chapter for that book. But 
I had no such hankering to write as I had to do sculp- 
ture, and so I put it off. At last, however, in 1919, 
after the war was over, I sat down one day and started 
to write him a letter to say that I would begin the 
book. I had written the two words, "Dear Colonel, ,, 
when the telephone rang. It was my friend, George 
H. Sherwood, the executive secretary of the Museum. 

"Ake," he said, "I have bad news for you. 
Colonel Roosevelt died this morning." 

For me the bottom dropped out of everything. 
From that time until I got back from the funeral I 
did nothing. When I returned from the funeral I 
was terribly depressed. I had to find expression. 
I found it most naturally in modelling. I set to work 



i86 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

on a lion. I meant to make it symbolic of Roosevelt, 
of his strength, courage, fearlessness — of his kingly 
qualities in the old-fashioned sense. And this model- 
ling afforded me great comfort and relief. I worked 
on it day after day. Taxidermy, groups and bronzes, 
were all forgotten. While I was so engaged one day 
an old friend of mine, James Brite, an architect, called 
me on the telephone. I asked him if he wouldn't 
come up and design a pedestal for the lion. He came 
up not only that day but many others. Neither of 
us knew just what we were going to do with it when it 
was finished. I had a vague idea of casting it, making 
one bronze for Mrs. Roosevelt, and destroying the 
model. 

We were still working when one day Archie Roose- 
velt came in. I showed the lion to him. 

"None of us want to see statues of Father," he said. 
"They can't make Father," and as he put his arms 
about the pedestal of the lion, "but this is Father. 
Of course, you do not know it, but among ourselves 
we boys always called him the 'Old Lion' and when 
he died I cabled the others in France, 'The Old Lion 
is dead.'" 

Other members of the Roosevelt family and friends 
of the Colonel came, and what they said encouraged 
us. I made one model after another, trying to blend 
the majesty of a real lion with the symbolism. Then 
one day when Mr. Brite and I were in the studio a 
man came in whom we had never seen before. After 
some desultory conversation he asked how large the 
lion was to be. We said we didn't know. "How 



A TAXIDERMIST AS A SCULPTOR 187 

big ought it to be?" we asked. "It ought to be as 
big as possible and it ought to be placed in Washing- 
ton," was his reply. 

. Brite pointed out that so large a lion would neces- 
sitate a pedestal that would nearly cut him off from 
view from the ground. And then developed the idea 
of placing the lion in a great bowl. 

That was the beginning of a long period of work on 
a great plan for a Roosevelt Memorial. 

All this was originated without thought of the 
Roosevelt Memorial Society which had raised a 
million and a half dollars among other things to erect 
a monument to Roosevelt. The natural thing to do 
was to submit this offering of ours to that society. 
We have done this, and it will be judged in competi- 
tion with the designs of others. If it should be chosen 
it will be because no other competitor, though they 
all be better sculptors, can possibly have the same 
deep desire as I to perpetuate the spirit of Theodore 
Roosevelt and to do him all honour. 



CHAPTER XI 

HUNTING GORILLAS IN CENTRAL AFRICA 

IN 1910 I was in British East Africa collecting 
specimens for the group of elephants recently 
completed in the American Museum of Natural 
History in New York. My plan at that time was to 
leave the region of snow-capped Mt. Kenia when 
I had finished making my elephant studies, and to go 
into German East Africa, as it was then, in an en- 
deavour to get specimens for a group of gorillas to be 
mounted for the Museum. I had obtained the proper 
papers from the German authorities, and I had funds 
for the purpose. Nevertheless, I had to abandon 
the plan at that time because an elephant caught me 
unawares and mauled me sufficiently to prevent my 
carrying out my project. 

But the gorilla group remained as an interesting 
prospect ahead, and I read eagerly any reports which 
came to my knowledge of hunters or scientists who 
had seen or killed any of these animals. Most 
gorillas reported since their original discovery had 
been reported from nearer the west coast of Africa 
than the region which I had intended to explore for 
them, but I had heard of one instance of a gorilla in 
German East Africa. The story was of a German 
who had tried to catch a grown gorilla in a net. He 

188 



HUNTING GORILLAS 189 

had succeeded in getting the net over the animal and 
then the animal had succeeded in tearing his way out 
of the net and killing the man. Whether this story 
was true or not I do not know. Before I left Africa, 
in 191 1, I heard that a man named Grauer had gone 
into the country where I had intended going and 
that he had come out through Nairobi with eight 
gorilla skins. Altogether there came to me consider- 
able corroboration of my belief that there were goril- 
las in the Lake Kivu country of Central Africa, and 
my intention to go there and collect the material for 
a group remained constant although, through the 
period of the war, inactive. 

It came to life in 1920. One night I was expound- 
ing the beauties of Africa to my friend Mr. H. E. 
Bradley when he turned to Mrs. Bradley and said, 
"Let's take him at his word and spend a year in 
Africa." Mrs. Bradley asked what they should do 
with their five-year-old daughter. Nothing pleased 
me more than to assure them that an expedition to 
Central Africa was entirely safe and practicable for 
women and children, and so an expedition was agreed 
upon. Years before, when she was a child, I had 
promised the niece of a friend of mine, Miss Martha 
Miller, to take her to Africa. I had never been al- 
lowed to forget the promise. Now the time for ful- 
fillment had come. So the party was formed of these 
two ladies, Bradley, the five-year-old child, Miss Pris- 
cilla Hall, and me. Miss Hall had agreed to look af- 
ter the youngster while the others hunted. Not long 
afterward it was definitely decided that the expedi- 



i 9 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

tion was to be a gorilla expedition. I received a 
letter from an Englishman, Mr. C. D. Foster, who had 
shot a male and female gorilla and caught a baby in 
the country I had in mind. That led us to base our 
plans on gorillas alone, and it was a gorilla expedition, 
although Miss Miller killed an elephant the first time 
she shot at anything in Africa and both she and Mrs. 
Bradley killed lions. 

To me the gorilla made a much more interesting 
quarry than lions, elephants, or any of the other 
African game, for the gorilla is still comparatively 
little known. Not many people have shot gorillas 
and almost none have studied them in their native 
habitat. The gorilla is one of the most remarkable 
and least known large animals in the world, and 
when is added to that the fact that he is the nearest 
to man of any other member of the animal kingdom, 
a gorilla expedition acquires a tremendous fascina- 
tion. 

An Englishman named Battell — a captive of the 
Portuguese of Angola — in 1590 described an animal 
which in all probability was the gorilla. Vague 
stories from other sources appeared in travellers* ac- 
counts, but no real description of the gorilla came to 
Europe or America until December, 1847, when Dr. 
Thomas S. Savage, a missionary, published a paper 
in the Boston Journal of Natural History. Doctor 
Savage was detained in April of that year at a mission 
on the Gaboon River in West Africa and there made 
his discovery. He did not see a live gorilla himself, 
but from skulls and information brought him by 



HUNTING GORILLAS 191 

natives, made a rather remarkable description of the 
animals, part of which is as follows: 

Its height is above five feet, it is disproportionately broad 
across the shoulders, thickly covered with coarse black hair, 
which is said to be similar in its arrangement to that of the 
Enge-eco (the chimpanzee). With age it becomes gray, which 
fact has given rise to the report that both animals are seen of 
different colors. . . . 

Their gait is shuffling, the motion of the body, which is never 
upright as in man, but bent forward, is somewhat rolling, or 
from side to side. The arms being longer than those of the 
chimpanzee it does not stoop as much in walking; like that 
animal it makes progression by thrusting its arms forward, 
resting the hands on the ground and then giving the body a half 
jumping, half swinging motion between them. In this act it is 
said not to flex the fingers as does the chimpanzee, resting on 
the knuckles, but to extend them, thus making a fulcrum of the 
hand. When it assumes the walking posture to which it is said 
to be much inclined, it balances its huge body by flexing the 
arms upward. They live in bands, but are not so numerous as 
the chimpanzees; the females generally exceed the other sex in 
number. My informants all agree in the assertion that but one 
adult male is seen in a band; that when the young males grow 
up a contest takes place for mastery, and the strongest, by kill- 
ing and driving out the others, establishes himself as the head 
of the community. The silly stories about their carrying off 
women from the native towns, and vanquishing the elephants, 
related by voyagers and widely copied into books, are unhesi- 
tatingly denied. They have been averred of the chimpanzee, 
but this is still more preposterous. They probably had their 
origin in the marvelous accounts given by the natives, of the 
Enge-ena, to credulous traders. 

Their dwellings, if they may be so called, are similar to those 
of the chimpanzee, consisting simply of a few sticks and leafy 
branches supported by the crotches and limbs of trees; they 
afford no shelter, and are occupied only at night. 

They are exceedingly ferocious, and always offensive in their 
habits, never running from man as does the chimpanzee. They 



i 9 2 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

are objects of terror to the natives, and are never encountered 
by them except on the defensive. The few that have been 
captured were killed by elephant hunters and native traders as 
they came suddenly upon them while passing through the forests. 

It is said that when the male is first seen he gives a terrific 
yell that resounds far and wide through the forest, something 
like kh-ah! kh-ah! prolonged and shrill. His enormous jaws 
are widely opened at each expiration, his under lip hangs over 
the chin, and the hairy ridge and scalp is contracted upon the 
brow, presenting an aspect of indescribable ferocity. The 
females and young at the first cry quickly disappear; he then 
approaches the enemy in great fury, pouring out his horrid cries 
in quick succession. The hunter awaits his approach with his 
gun extended: if his aim is not sure he permits the animal to 
grasp the barrel and as he carries it to his mouth (which is his 
habit) he fires; should the gun fail to go off, the barrel (that of 
an ordinary musket, which is thin) is crushed between his teeth, 
and the encounter soon proves fatal to the hunter. 

The killing of an Enge-ena (gorilla) is considered an act of 
great skill and courage, and brings the victor signal honor. 
A slave to an Mpongwe man, from an interior tribe, killed the 
male and female whose bones are the origin of this article. On 
one occasion he had succeeded in killing an elephant, and return- 
ing home met a male Enge-ena, and being a good marksman he 
soon brought him to the ground. He had not proceeded far 
before the female was observed, which he also killed. This 
act, unheard of before, was considered almost superhuman. 
The man's freedom was immediately granted to him, and his 
name proclaimed abroad as the prince of hunters. 

Eight years afterward the first white man killed 
a gorilla. In 1855 Paul Du Chaillu, a French- 
American, went to West Africa after gorillas. To 
our party, with the intention of not only shooting 
gorillas but of studying them and taking moving pic- 
tures of them, the narrative of this intrepid little 
hunter had particular fascination. 



HUNTING GORILLAS 193 

On the day that Du Chaillu saw the first gorilla 
ever seen by a white man his black and savage attend- 
ants had assuaged a hunger that beset the party by 
eating a snake. This was more than Du Chaillu 
could do. His account* reads: 

When the snake was eaten, and I, the only empty-stomached 
individual of the company, had sufficiently reflected on the dis- 
advantages of being bred in a Christian country, we began to look 
about the ruins of the village near which we sat. A degenerate 
kind of sugar-cane was growing on the very spot where the 
houses had formerly stood, and I made haste to pluck some of 
this and chew it for the little sweetness it had. But, as we 
were plucking, my men perceived what instantly threw us all 
into the greatest excitement. Here and there the cane was 
beaten down, torn up by the roots, and lying about in fragments 
which had evidently been chewed. 

I knew that these were fresh tracks of the gorilla, and joy 
filled my heart. My men looked at each other in silence, and 
muttered Nguy/a, which is as much as to say in Mpongwe, 
Ngina, or, as we say, gorilla. 

We followed these traces, and presently came to the footprints 
of the so-long-desired animal. It was the first time I had ever 
seen these footprints, and my sensations were indescribable. 
Here was I now, it seemed, on the point of meeting face to face 
that monster of whose ferocity, strength, and cunning the natives 
had told me so much; an animal scarce known to the civilized 
world, and which no white man before had hunted. My heart 
beat till I feared its loud pulsations would alarm the gorilla, 
and my feelings were really excited to a painful degree. 

By the tracks it was easy to know that there must have been 
several gorillas in company. We prepared at once to follow 
them. 

The women were terrified, poor things, and we left them a 
good escort of two or three men to take care of them and reas- 
sure them. Then the rest of us looked once more carefully 

* Reprinted through the courtesy of Harper & Bros., publishers of Du.Chaillu's book, 
"Equatorial Africa." 



i 9 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

at our guns — for the gorilla gives you no time to reload, and woe 
to him whom he attacks! We were armed to the teeth. My 
men were remarkably silent, for they were going on an expedi- 
tion of more than usual risk; for the male gorilla is literally the 
king of the African forest. He and the crested lion of Mount 
Atlas are the two fiercest and strongest beasts of this continent. 
The lion of South Africa cannot compare with either for strength 
or courage. 

As we left the camp, the men and women left behind crowded 
together, with fear written on their faces. Miengai, Makinda, 
and Ngolai set out in one party, and myself and Yeava formed 
another, for the hunt. We determined to keep near each other, 
that in emergency we might be at hand to help each other. And 
for the rest, silence and a sure aim were the only cautions to be 
given. 

As we followed the tracks we could easily see that there were 
four or five of them; though none appeared very large. We 
saw where they had run along on all fours, the usual mode of 
progression of these animals, and where from time to time they 
had seated themselves to chew the canes they had borne off. 
The chase began to be very exciting. 

We had agreed to return to the women and their guards, and 
consult upon final operations, when we should have discovered 
their probable course; and this was now done. To make sure 
of not alarming our prey, we moved the whole party forward a 
little way to where some leafy huts, built by passing traders, 
served for shelter and concealment. And having here bestowed 
the women — who have a lively fear of the terrible gorilla, in 
consequence of various stories current among the tribes, of 
women having been carried off into the woods by the fierce 
animal — we prepared once more to set out in chase, this time 
hopeful to catch a shot. 

Looking once more to our guns, we started off. I confess that 
I never was more excited in my life. For years I had heard of 
the terrible roar of the gorilla, of its vast strength, its fierce 
courage if, unhappily, only wounded by a shot. I knew that 
we were about to pit ourselves against an animal which even the 
tiger of these mountains fears and which, perhaps, has driven 
the lion out of this territory; for the king of beasts, so numerous 



HUNTING GORILLAS 195 

elsewhere in Africa, is never met in the land of the gorilla. Thus 
it was with no little emotion that I now turned again toward 
the prize at which I had been hoping for years to get a shot. 

We descended a hill, crossed a stream on a fallen log, and 
presently approached some huge boulders of granite. Alongside 
of this granite block lay an immense dead tree, and about this 
we saw many evidences of the very recent presence of the gorillas. 

Our approach was very cautious. We were divided into two 
parties. Makinda led one and I the other. We were to sur- 
round the granite block behind which Makinda supposed the 
gorillas to be hiding. Guns cocked and in hand, we advanced 
through the dense wood, which cast a gloom even in midday 
over the whole scene. I looked at my men, and saw plainly that 
they were in even greater excitement than myself. 

Slowly we pressed on through the dense brush, fearing almost 
to breathe for fear of alarming the beasts. Makinda was to go 
to the right of the rock, while I took the left. Unfortunately, 
he circled it at too great a distance. The watchful animal saw 
him. Suddenly I was startled by a strange, discordant, half 
human, devilish cry, and beheld four young gorillas running 
toward the deep forests. We fired, but hit nothing. Then we 
rushed on in pursuit; but they knew the woods better than we. 
Once I caught a glimpse of one of the animals again, but an 
intervening tree spoiled my mark, and I did not fire. We ran 
till we were exhausted, but in vain. The alert beasts made good 
their escape. When we could pursue no more, we returned 
slowly to our camp, where the women were anxiously expecting us. 

I protest I felt almost like a murderer when I saw the gorillas 
this first time. As they ran — on their hind legs — they looked 
fearfully like hairy men; their heads down, their bodies inclined 
forward, their whole appearance like men running for their lives. 
Take with this their awful cry, which, fierce and animal as it is, 
has yet something human in its discordance, and you will ceasa 
to wonder that the natives have the wildest superstitions about 
these "wild men of the woods." 

Both Savage and Du Chaillu and all succeeding 
authorities, including the standard works on natural 



196 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

history, speak of the gorillas as among the most 
powerful and ferocious animals on earth. And this 
reputation is so firmly established in the popular 
mind that our plan of taking ladies with no previous 
hunting experience of any kind into a gorilla country 
in Central Africa was looked upon as madness. But 
to the general theory of the ferocity of wild animals 
I have never been a convert. And the more I have 
seen of wild animals in Africa the less I have believed 
in their ferocity. Consequently, I explained my creed 
concerning the gorillas in this fashion : 

I believe that the gorilla is normally a perfectly amiable and 
decent creature. I believe that if he attacks man it is because 
he is being attacked or thinks that he is being attacked. I be- 
lieve that he will fight in self-defense and probably in defense 
of his family; that he will keep away from a fight until he is 
frightened or driven into it. I believe that, although the old 
male advances when a hunter is approaching a family of gorillas, 
he will not close in, if the man involved has the courage to stand 
firm. In other words, his advance will turn out to be what is 
usually called a bluff. 

I believe, however, that the white man who will allow a gorilla 
to get within ten feet of him without shooting is a plain darn 
fool, for certainly the average man would have little show in the 
clutch of a three or four hundred pound gorilla. 

My faith in the general amiability and decency of the gorilla 
is not based on experience or actual knowledge of any sort, but 
on deductions from the observation of wild animals in general 
and more particularly of monkeys. There are few animals that 
deliberately go into fight with an unknown antagonist or with a 
known antagonist, for that matter, without what seems to them a 
good reason. In other words, they are not looking for trouble. 

The lion will fight when the maintenance of his dignity de- 
mands it. Most animals will fight only when driven to it through 
fear, either for themselves or their young. 



HUNTING GORILLAS 197 

The first living gorilla that I ever observed was in the Zoologi- 
cal Park in London many years ago. It was very young and 
its chief aim in life seemed a desire to be loved. This has seemed 
to be the chief characteristic of the few live gorillas that I have 
seen in captivity. They appear to have an extremely affection- 
ate disposition and to be passionately fond of the person most 
closely associated with them; and I think there is no doubt that 
John Daniel, who died in the Ringling Brothers Circus in Madi- 
son Square Garden in the spring of 1921, died of a broken heart 
because he was separated from his mistress. I did not have the 
pleasure of seeing John Daniel alive; but in death he certainly 
had the appearance of anything but a savage beast. The 
above notes are here set down for the purpose of recording the 
frame of mind with which I am going into the Kivu country 
to study, photograph, and collect gorillas. 

Going as I am, equipped with motion-picture cameras with 
which one can get motion pictures under most adverse condi- 
tions, I am led to hope for something in the way of photographs 
of live wild gorillas. I hope that I shall have the courage to allow 
an apparently charging gorilla to come within reasonable dis- 
tance before shooting. I hesitate to say just what I consider a 
reasonable distance at the present moment. I shall feel very 
gratified if I can get a photograph at twenty feet. I should be 
proud of my nerve if I were able to show a photograph of him 
at ten feet, but I do not expect to do this unless I am at the 
moment a victim of suicidal mania. 



The rest of the party had the courage of my con- 
victions and with these tenets we set out, men, 
women, and child to hunt the "ferocious" gorilla in 
the heart of Africa. 

While getting provisions and equipment in London 
I had the good fortune to be able to check up with 
accuracy the location of the gorilla country. I had 
lunch with Sir Northrop Macmillan from Nairobi, 
Kenia Colony, Sir Charles Ross, and Mr. Grogan, who 



198 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

twenty-four years before had walked alone from the 
Cape to Cairo — the first man who ever made that trip. 
Sir Charles Ross had directions from Mr. T. Alexander 
Barnes for getting to the Kivu region where Barnes 
had the year before killed a gorilla. Mr. Grogan 
supplemented these directions, for in this very region 
on his famous walk he had found a gorilla skull. 
He knew the region well, for he had been stationed in 
it during the war. With this very valuable corrobo- 
ration we set sail for Cape Town. 

To the Kivu gorilla country from Cape Town is a 
varied and interesting journey. It took us about six 
weeks of constant travelling. The journey from 
Cape Town to Bukama, where we left the railroad, 
occupied seventeen days including stops which are 
quite a feature of South African travel. At one 
place we waited six days for a train. It is worth 
notice that on this entire railroad journey we did not 
see a single head of game — so rapidly has African wild 
life disappeared in the south. From Bukama we 
travelled on a steel barge towed by a river boat for 
a five-day run down the Lualaba which is really the 
upper waters of the Congo. The boat ran along dur- 
ing the day and tied up at night so that we missed 
nothing of the beauty and interest of that part. of the 
river's course. The bird life was in great profusion. 
Great trees hung over the river and were reflected 
from its placid surface with almost perfect outline 
and detail. There were a few crocodiles in sight. 
We saw one hippopotamus and once on this trip we 
saw elephants some distance from the bank. 



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199 



2oo IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

At the end of this lazy steamer trip we came to 
Kabalo from which occasionally a train sets out upon 
the journey to Albertville on Lake Tanganyika. A 
boat on the lake took us from Albertville to Usumbura 
from which a seven days' safari brought us to the 
lower end of Lake Kivu. To get from the bottom 
of Lake Kivu to the upper end, we had to make ar- 
rangements for a special trip of the little government 
boat. This we did with the Belgian Administrator 
at Usumbura. Here, as elsewhere, my experience 
with the administrative officers in these outposts 
of the Belgian Congo was one of courtesy and effec- 
tiveness. Halfway up the lake we stopped at the 
White Friars' Mission on the west bank and heard 
the story of a gorilla recently killed in the vicinity. 
This gorilla had come down into a banana grove not 
far from the Mission. The chief of the village which 
owned the grove told his followers to go out and 
chase the beast away, but not to go armed, for the 
beast, in the superstition of the neighbourhood, had 
some sacred attributes. The chief's subjects accord- 
ingly went forth with sticks to drive out the gorilla, 
but he refused to be driven and resented the disturb- 
ance enough to catch one of his tormentors and kill 
him. After this the chief thought the gorilla less 
sacred and ordered his subjects to take their spears 
with them and kill the animal. 

I was not entirely clear about the veracity of this 
tale nor whether it confirmed my theory about the 
gorilla or the more usual "ferocious" theory. If the 
natives were willing to go out to chase the gorilla 



HUNTING GORILLAS 201 

away armed only with sticks, its reputation for feroc- 
ity could not be great. On the other hand, the con- 
fidence in the animal's harmlessness seemed to have 
been misplaced. But one fact did stand out. We 
were getting into the real gorilla country. That 
quickened the blood. The next day we went to the 
head of the lake. 

A Belgian administrator and his wife who were on 
the boat with us left us at Kissenyi at the northern 
end of Lake Kivu. They had a three weeks' trek 
before them, over the mountains to their own home 
and the district over which the administrator had 
supervision. They had told us many stories of 
gorillas in their section of the country, of the gorillas 
becoming so aggressive that they had entered several 
villages and driven out the natives, and they had 
urged us to go with them, but we stuck to our original 
plan. 

Here at Kissenyi was another Belgian station and 
here we met Mrs. T. Alexander Barnes, the wife of a 
man whose directions we had received from Sir 
Charles Ross. Barnes himself was in the interior 
hunting gorillas for the British Museum. We sent 
a note to him because we did not want to interfere 
with his hunting, and in the meanwhile set to work 
to get our porters and guides ready. We decided it 
would be best for the women to stay at Kissenyi for 
the time being and for me to push on for the gorilla 
country. There were two reasons for this decision. 
Mrs. Bradley had a little touch of fever and it was 
not advisable for her to leave, and secondly, while I 



202 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

did not believe much in the danger to us from the 
gorillas, I was greatly afraid that with a large hunting 
party there might be equally little danger to them. 
So it was determined that I should try to insure the 
Museum some specimens and if possible get the first 
moving pictures of live wild gorillas ever taken. 

It was a three days' march from Kissenyi to the 
White Friars' Mission at Lulenga in the interior. This 
Mission I found was the base from which Barnes 
operated and also, I learned, it was the base the Prince 
of Sweden had used. It lay near the foot of Mt. 
Mikeno in a country of volcanic origin. The White 
Friars themselves carry on here the teaching of the 
Catholic religion to which they add the practice of 
medicine and teaching of manual training. Some 
of the friars have been there as long as seventeen 
years. At the Mission I was supplied with a guide. 
I went a little way into the woods and was shown 
signs that gorillas had fed there within a day or two. 
I was nervous and anxious. The long trip was done. 
I was actually in the gorilla country. I was an al- 
ternating current of eagerness to go and fear that I 
should find nothing. 

The latter mood prevailed the next morning, for 
although I was ready to start for the bamboos by 
daylight my guides, who were supposed to be in 
camp, were nowhere to be found. I had to send for 
them, but we did not get started before eight. 

We trailed up through the forest into the bamboos, 
seeing signs of elephant and buffalo — some of the 
signs being made the night before — and I had to 



HUNTING GORILLAS 203 

pinch myself occasionally to bring about the realiza- 
tion that I was not hunting elephants on a miniature 
Kenia. There was the same vegetation, except that 
the trees were smaller. There were elephant trails, 
but only a few and with small tracks. There were no 
great forest trees like those of Kenia, no bamboos 
seventy-five feet high with five-inch stems. There 
was just little stuff, but still it was all reminiscent of 
Kenia. One thing, the slopes were just as steep and 
just as slippery, and the mud in the level places just 
as deep and sticky as Kenia's. 

Through this forest there are native trails or game 
trails almost everywhere. We had followed these 
trails for about two hours up the side of Mikeno when 
we came to a spot where there was a little mud hole 
in the path. I'll never forget it. In that mud hole 
were the marks of four great knuckles where the 
gorilla had placed his hand on the ground. There is 
no other track like this on earth — there is no other 
hand in the world so large. Nearest to it is the hand 
of the chimpanzee, and he does not place his hand on 
the ground in the same way. As I looked at that 
track I lost the faith on which I had brought my party 
to Africa. Instinctively I took my gun from the gun 
boy. I knew then the feeling Du Chaillu described 
in his quaint phrase, "My feelings were really excited 
to a painful degree." 

I had more thrill from the sight of this first track 
than from anything that happened later. I forgot 
all about Kenia as the guide took up the trail. Half 
an hour later we came upon other tracks, tracks made 



2o 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

by the feet of the beast, enormous human-looking 
tracks showing the marks of a heel which no other 
living thing in the world but the gorilla and man has. 
I gave the boy back the Springfield and took the big 
.475 elephant gun. And although the next bit of 
going was hard and wearing, I carried the gun myself 
and trusted it to no gun boy. 

We followed the trail for two hours, and I think a 
full half hour was spent on all fours in true story- 
book fashion. 

It led us through a clearing where bamboo cutters 
had been at work, and we failed to pick it up again 
even though I offered the guides a king's ransom (in 
their eyes) if they would show me the old boy before 
dark. They were lackadaisical about the whole 
affair. I had to give it up, and as I started for camp 
I realized that I was very tired. Then we spent an 
hour going straight up the steepest possible slope and 
down again following sounds that turned out to be 
made by a troop of monkeys. When we reached 
camp at three o'clock in the inevitable downpour 
of this season, I was "all in." The rain stopped, and 
I called a conference of the guides with the result 
that I came to the conclusion that they were entirely 
useless. They did not want to go on at all. I broke 
camp immediately and started a two-and-a-half hour 
march to the Mission not knowing just what my next 
move would be — probably to hunt up some "bush- 
men" as guides. I reached the Mission before sun- 
down, in the usual rain, and went to bed. 

The next morning I came around to the southwest 



HUNTING GORILLAS 205 

of Mikeno, about three hours from the Mission, to 
the village of the Sultan of Burunga who came out to 
meet me. I explained my mission, and he immedi- 
ately brought forward from the group of natives who 
accompanied him two splendid fellows who he said 
would guide me. There was a gleam of real hope in 
the situation. We would camp at Burunga for the 
night and start up the mountain in the morning. As 
I turned to go toward the indicated camping place, 
a husky, handsome native came up in breathless haste, 
and presented a note of recommendation as gun-bearer 
signed by T. A. Barnes. He was promptly engaged 
and everything seemed bright again. 

I was ready to start soon after daylight. I had 
felt so keen for the coming of the light and had hoped 
for so much from the new gun-bearer and guides. 
They had a cozy nest some distance from camp; they 
had seemed so enthusiastic the day before and had 
promised an early start. I waited and waited till 
my patience was exhausted. I feared another farce 
so finally sent for them. They came smiling, con-' 
fident, and keen to be off. They insisted that no 
porters could go — it would not be possible to carry 
cameras or any of the scientific kit where they 
were going. It was up to them. I had put myself 
in their hands. I wanted to at least see a gorilla. 
I still doubted that there could be such a thing in 
this part of the world — even though I had seen its 
tracks. 

We started down into that deep chasm to the west 
which the camp overhung, then up to the other side — 



206 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

up and up — crawling and scrambling, the guides 
cutting a way through the dense growth of greenery, 
beating down and cursing the nettles which were 
everywhere. On and on up to the crest of the ridge 
and then up along the "hogback" until we were five 
hundred feet above camp — then at a level along the 
western slope. I earnestly hoped they would go no 
higher; it was grilling work. We were overlooking 
another chasm with a still higher ridge on the far side. 
We stopped occasionally to scan the opposite side. 
It was deathly still — there was rarely the slightest 
breeze. Someone heard a sound across the nullah — 
very slight — but the guides were suspicious. We 
went on, stopping now and then to look and listen. 
The youngest guide, a boy of fourteen, perhaps, 
pointed to a spot where he had seen a movement of 
the vegetation. We watched closely for five minutes, 
then a great black head slowly appeared above the 
green — rather indistinct, but there could be no doubt 
as to what it was. 

It was my first glimpse of a wild gorilla. It has 
left an everlasting impression, for it was so totally dif- 
ferent from anything I had expected. In a solid 
wall of vivid green a great scraggly black head rose 
slowly into view where it remained motionless for 
perhaps a half minute, giving me time to view it with 
field glasses so that I was able to make out the fea- 
tures. I was actually seeing a live wild gorilla. 
At the end of a long journey I was face to face with 
the creature I sought. I took the gun with slight 
intention of chancing a shot at that distance unless 




THE HEAD OF MR. AKELEY'S FIRST GORILLA 



HUNTING GORILLAS 207 

there should be opportunity for very careful and de- 
liberate aim. The shaggy head was withdrawn — 
then a glimpse of the great silvery back and we saw 
no more. We went into the beastly chasm and up 
again to where he had been. 

The guides were too eager; I had constantly to hold 
them back while I stopped to breathe. We took up 
his trail. He led us on to the crest of that ridge and 
then along the "hogback" till we were about one 
thousand feet above camp. Then as the trail swung 
along the other slope at the level we heard one short 
roar ahead of us. The thrill of it! I had actually 
heard the roar of a bull gorilla! It seemed perhaps 
two hundred yards ahead. I thought it indicated 
alarm and that he would lead us a merry chase. We 
continued along the trail slowly, for it led along a 
slope so steep that without the rank vegetation we 
could not have stuck on. 

We had gone not more than one hundred and fifty 
yards from the time we heard the roar, with the gun- 
bearer just ahead and the second gun and guides 
behind. The gun-bearer stopped, looking up into 
the dense tangle above us. It was still as death — no 
sound of movement could I hear. The gun was in 
his left hand; with his right he clung to the bank just 
beside him. Behind there was a four-inch tree be- 
tween me and a straight drop of twenty feet, then 
a slide of fifty feet to the edge of a chasm more than 
200 feet deep. I leaned my back against this tree that 
I might straighten up for a better look. The gun- 
boarer turned slowly and passed me the .475. As I 



208 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

took it I heard that roar again — thirty feet away, 
almost directly above. One plunge and down we 
would all go three hundred feet to the bottom. With- 
out the support of the sapling at my back it would 
not be humanly possible to fire the big gun upward 
from that trail. There was a deal of comfort in the 
feel of that old gun even though theoretically I did 
not fear gorillas; it had stood by me in more than 
one close place. After the roar there was silence 
for an instant — not a branch stirred — then a crashing 
rush along at a level, above and past me — another 
roar — back again to where he had been. I had seen 
nothing but a swaying of the mass of vegetation right 
down to our feet. He stopped where he had been 
at first. Silence. Through the green against the sky 
I seemed to make out a denser mass — the outline of 
his head. I aimed just below and his fourth roar 
was broken by the roar of the .475. A terrific crash- 
ing plunge of three or four hundred pounds of beast, 
he struck the trail eight feet from me. The gun was 
on him. There was a soft nose in the left barrel ready 
for him, but it was unnecessary. The slight ledge 
of trail did not stop him in the least. He crashed 
on down over and over, almost straight downward 
toward the edge of the chasm. 

My heart sank for I realized that if he went to 
the bottom I would stand little chance of being 
able to recover him and my first gorilla would have 
been killed in vain. Overhanging the edge of the 
chasm there was a lone tree, two feet in diameter, 
and the gorilla in his plunge struck this tree, rolled 



HUNTING GORILLAS 209 

up on its leaning trunk, and back again to its base, 
where he came to rest with his head hanging over 
on one side of the tree and his feet on the other. 
Had there been a single movement in him he must 
have gone on. The solid from the right barrel had 
done its work well — in just above the heart through 
the seorta, through the spine, and out through the 
right shoulder blade. As he came crashing down 
I somehow felt confident that all was well. I have 
never had a more thrilling experience, but I've been 
much more frightened many times. The gun-bearer 
was a trump. He was the worst scared black man 
I ever saw. If I looked as frightened as he, I am 
thankful no movie camera was on the job. You see } 
he was between me and the beast when he struck the 
trail eight feet away. 

I had left the cameras and tools in camp to be sent 
for if they were needed. As the beast lay, a camera 
could not be used. I could do nothing in sketches 
worth while, so I sent for nothing. I set to work with 
my jack-knife and one of the boys had a native iron 
knife and with these two tools we skinned and skele- 
tonized the gorilla. As we turned him over it kept 
all hands busy to avoid losing the balance of the beast 
and ourselves. It took more than a half hour to 
get the skin and skeleton back to where I had shot 
from — a human rope stunt. The boys all worked 
beautifully. Then we had the long, hard trek back 
to camp. 

All hands in camp (forty odd) got a present — 
enough so that they were all happy, although that 



2io IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

did not take much. I was busy all the following day 
with skin and skeleton, making such studies as were 
possible. Everything was set for a real hunt on the 
next day, but I could not hope for a more thrilling and 
dramatic episode than the taking of my first gorilla. 



CHAPTER XII 

ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 

THE day after I shot my first gorilla on the 
slopes of Mikeno I spent in camp. I should 
have preferred to spend it resting, for the day 
before had been a strenuous one, especially for a man 
suffering from blood poisoning, as I was. I had had 
it for some time and had lost about twenty pounds 
during the preceding three weeks. This left me in a 
weakened condition and a rest would have been wel- 
come. Had I been hunting merely to kill I should 
have laid off a day. But science is a jealous mistress 
and takes little account of a man's feelings. I had 
skinned the old gorilla roughly in the field the day 
before. If I wanted properly to preserve the speci- 
men, there was no time to be lost. I set the Negroes 
at work cleaning the skeleton, keeping an eye on them 
as I worked at other things to see that they did not 
lose any of the bones. I had personally to take care 
of the feet, hands, and head. This latter I set up 
and photographed. Then I made a death mask of 
the face. The brains and internal organs I had to 
preserve in formalin. The whole business was a full 
hard day's work. One of the chief difficulties with 
scientific collecting is the necessity for doing all the 
skinning, cleaning, measuring, and preserving at once. 



212 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

For one man one gorilla properly attended to is a full 
day's work. If a man gets two or three specimens, 
he has to keep working night and day until he gets 
them done. 

This is one of the reasons why, although great num- 
bers of animals are shot in Africa, there is so compara- 
tively little scientific and taxidermical data about 
them. This day I was up about daybreak. I had 
an English breakfast, most of which had come from 
London with me — tea, toast, marmalade, and bacon. 
From then until dark I measured and skinned and 
preserved, and when night came I rolled into my 
blankets and slept the sleep of exhaustion. 

When daybreak came I was ready to start again. 
Had I felt certain of finding gorillas in that country 
as easily as I now know they can be found I might 
have waited a day. But I had come 15,000 miles 
to see gorillas and I couldn't wait for the fulfillment 
of my hopes, nor did the ease of finding my first prize 
assure me that I was certain of getting the others I 
wanted. 

We set out in the same direction as on the previous 
hunt. In the woods on these mountain sides the 
ground growth is extremely thick, and as high up as 
we went there were no elephant or other paths. It 
was necessary to go through the woods. The natives' 
method of travelling is to cut a trail as they proceed. 
They used a hooked knife of great effectiveness with 
which to cut the undergrowth. The stuff is thick 
enough to impede one's progress, but far worse than 
that it is filled with nettles, so that unless it is cut 



ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 213 

out in this way one is constantly and unmercifully 
stung. That is bad enough for a white man who is 
clothed, but is even worse for the blacks who wear 
nothing to protect them. Nevertheless, cutting as 
they go, the natives make pretty good time, perhaps 
two miles an hour up hill and down. Anyway, I 
found that I had all I could do to keep up with them; 
weak as I was, I had frequently to slow them down. 
In this way we had passed over several ridges when 
we came on the trail of a band of gorillas. The trail 
they make is plain enough, for the undergrowth is 
so thick that each of the animals leaves a kind of 
swath of bent and broken greenery. Their trail led 
us along the side of a steep slope, so steep that every 
move had to be made with caution. If the gorilla 
was in the habit of travelling either far or fast, catch- 
ing up with him in this country would be a heart- 
breaking if not an impossible task. But I believe 
the gorilla normally travels only from three to five 
miles a day. He loafs along through the forest, eat- 
ing as he goes. As the trail we found was fresh it 
was likely that the gorillas were not far away. And 
so it turned out. We had followed for perhaps an 
hour when a dislodged rock thundering down into 
the chasm about two hundred yards ahead of us gave 
a clue to their whereabouts, and so we sat tight and 
soon located them by moving bushes, across a bit 
of a bay formed by a curve of the ridge. There I 
saw a big female and very foolishly tried a shot with 
the Springfield. I suppose in justification of my lack 
of faith in the thing it missed fire twice and by the 



2i 4 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

time I got the big gun in hand the female had disap- 
peared and a big silver-backed male was in sight. 

He was about 150 yards away. He was just disap- 
pearing when I got the big gun to my shoulder and 
I had to shoot quickly. I fired and missed. They 
disappeared, and I fully appreciated what an ass I 
had been. We scrambled on for an hour more — the 
hillside becoming higher and more precipitous every 
minute. At last a slight movement of the bush above 
made us aware of their presence. 

The fact that we came up with them again after 
my shooting was pretty good evidence that even 
when disturbed the gorilla does not travel either far 
or fast. The experience I had had with my first 
gorilla two days before corroborated this. He had, 
in fact, run only about 300 yards after first seeing us 
before stopping. As a matter of fact, I do not believe 
that the gorilla can run fast. Unlike animals that 
catch others for food, the gorilla, who eats vegetation, 
does not have to run for his dinner. Neither does 
he have to run to escape serving as dinner for some 
other animals. His legs, compared to his weight, 
are small and, in relation to man's, very short. On 
fair footing I think the average man could outrun a 
gorilla. 

Where we came in sight of this band there was no 
friendly tree to lean against as there had been in the 
case of the first gorilla. The hillside was so steep 
that it was difficult to find footing from which to 
shoot. For a slight sense of security I entangled 
myself in a bush and stood ready to shoot. 



ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 215 

There was not the straight drop of the other day 
but a steep slope which could be done on all fours — 
for twenty feet — and then straight down two hundred 
feet. I got a fair sight of an old black female and it 
looked as though the bushes she was in would hold her 
if I killed her instantly. She was fifty feet away. I 
fired and she came exactly as the other one had — the 
slope was so steep it was practically a fall — and 
straight at me. I tried to dodge but could not as 
the recoil of the gun had caused me to lose my balance 
a bit and I could not recover in time. I threw myself 
flat, face down, just in time and she passed over me. 
It was so steep and the mass of green stuff going with 
her so softened things that I merely felt her — there 
was no perceptible shock, but when I got up I had a 
great welt on the top of my head which she had 
caused. As I partially rose there seemed to be an 
avalanche of gorillas. There was a big ball of black 
fur, squealing madly, rolling past — actually touching 
me — in the wake of the old one. I took a shot at it 
as it went over, and, by the time I had recovered and 
reloaded, two others that had been close by had 
disappeared. 

I believe that to be the fastest charge ever made by 
a gorilla against man. I think it was pushed home 
with more abandon than any other on record. I am 
almost certain of these two statements, the particular 
reason for my certainty being that the gorilla, when 
she charged or more correctly speaking fell down 
the hill, was dead and she couldn't have any of the 
hesitations which I believe prevent such charges by 



216 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

live gorillas. The others followed her not in anger 
but in fear and because they accepted her lead with- 
out realizing that it was involuntary. If their charge 
had been aimed at me they had plenty of time to 
knock me off the mountain side before I could get 
up and shoot again, and the Negroes, being armed 
only with spears and hanging on a precipitous slope, 
were almost as defenceless. 

I began to feel a good deal of confidence in my 
theory that the gorilla is not a ferocious beast, al- 
though I was gaining the utmost respect for his size 
and power. If being molested by man would make 
gorillas ferocious and aggressive, these animals should 
have been excessively dangerous, for within a very 
short time the Prince of Sweden had shot fourteen of 
them, and Barnes had killed several more. The 
very animals that I followed had probably heard the 
guns of these other men. Yet I could see no signs 
of ferocity. When I came up with the old male that 
I had killed first, he had run back and forth on the 
hillside barking in protest or surprise at my intrusion 
just as I have seen little monkeys run back and forth 
on a limb and bark; but of his having savage intentions 
against me I saw no sign. Of the two I was the sav- 
age and the aggressor. In the case of the female I 
had just shot, the same was true, even though she 
was accompanied by her baby. She evidently pre- 
ferred to get away if possible. Cornered, I think and 
hope she would fight for her young. 

What became of the last two animals I do not 
know. The black fur ball that I had fired at was, 



ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 217 

I believe, the four-year-old son of the old female. 
He apparently caught on somewhere, for a half hour 
later when we were trying to find a way down we 
came across him and, as he ran about, one of the guides 
speared him. I came up before he was dead. There 
was a heartbreaking expression of piteous pleading 
on his face. He would have come to my arms for 
comfort. 

About this time the chasm filled with a fog so dense 
that we could not move with safety. Another half hour 
and the fog was cleared by a heavy cold rain and 
hail and we continued to search for a way down to 
the dead gorilla. The Negroes had worked earnestly, 
but they gave up and said it could not be done. Poor 
devils, they were stark naked in that icy rain; God 
knows how they lived through it. When they gave 
up they gave up for good apparently, stood shaking 
with cold, making no effort to find shelter from the 
rain. I took off my Burberry raincoat and got seven 
of them under it with me. 

In such proximity to seven naked natives almost 
all of my senses were considerably oppressed and I 
was grateful when the rain lessened so that I might 
put them at a more respectful as well as a more com- 
fortable distance. The others had huddled under 
an old tree root. All came out and we looked over 
the situation. We were on the side of a ridge of 
Mikeno. Where we were there was vegetation and 
a fair foothold. Below and above us were stretches 
of sheer rock. Not far from us a little stream fell 
off the shelf where we were, in a clear fall of 200 feet. 



2i 8 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

The gorilla was somewhere near the bottom of that 
fall. The natives insisted that it was impossible to 
get to the dead animal. To go straight down was 
impossible. But I felt that there might be a chance 
to work along sideways in a patch of vegetation until 
we could get down to a lower level. By working back 
and forth on the face of the mountain side in this way 
I hoped to reach the dead gorilla. However, I soon 
realized that if I wanted to try this somewhat hazard- 
ous experiment I should have to lead the way, for 
the blacks had nothing greater than a few days' wages 
at stake while I had one of the prizes of a long and 
expensive expedition. So I swung down on the over- 
hanging roots of a tree and began the descent with 
the natives following. It took a surprisingly long 
time for us to get down the 200 feet, and it finally 
turned out that the route that I took led off to 
one side where I could not reach the gorilla when I 
had descended to her level. Twenty or thirty feet 
farther down I managed to cross to the stream-bed 
and then went up the stream to the bottom of the 
falls and from there to where the body lay. Where 
the stream-bed was steepest, we literally had the water 
falling on our heads as we scrambled up. 

It was a tough job skinning and skeletonizing her. 
In the first place, I was tired and she was heavy, and 
in the second place if she was turned over with any- 
thing but the utmost care she was likely to roll off 
down into the chasm below. Nor could I get much 
assistance from the boys, for there was only room 
enough for a man or two to help. However, in some 



ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 219 

manner we managed a satisfactory job in everything 
but one particular. The camera boy had come down 
but the tripod carrier never appeared. If it had been 
an ordinary camera the loss of the tripod would have 
made little difference, but it was the moving-picture 
camera, and a moving-picture camera without a 
tripod is useless. 

It was well past mid-afternoon when the skin and 
bones were ready to move to camp. 

As I worked I had kept wondering how we were 
ever to get up out of the chasm, especially with the 
added burdens we had acquired. I am still wonder- 
ing how we did get out. The "human fly" was no 
more remarkable than those black boys. My heart 
was in my mouth for an hour watching them work 
their way up the almost perpendicular wall of that 
chasm with the skin and skeleton. We got to camp 
just before dark in a pouring rain, and I am free to 
confess that during the last hour I several times 
doubted if I should get in. It was beyond doubt the 
toughest day I ever spent. Never again — not for all 
the gorillas and museums in the world. I spent the 
next day in camp working on the two specimens — the 
female and the baby that had been speared — and 
finally had three beautiful gorilla skins all safe under 
the fly of my tent. They were so well assorted that 
they would make a very satisfactory group if I got 
no more. I had death masks of each and skeletons 
of the two old ones; but the four-year-old, a vigorous 
young male, I skinned with infinite care and pre- 
served the entire carcass with formalin and salt — a 



220 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

precious anatomical record for sculptural and taxi- 
dermic use. 

The gun boys and guides came the following 
morning and said they were going home. It took 
an hour, money, and many promises to make them 
change their minds. Heaven knows I did not blame 
them. I would not do what they had done for 
money. 

However, I did not start again. Although I had 
worked one whole day on the last two gorillas I had 
some things still to do and I felt that with enough 
material on hand for a good group even if I got no 
more I could go a bit easier. So I stayed in camp 
another day and planned a gorilla hunt for the moving- 
picture camera. On the side hills where we had been 
hunting there was no possible hope of using a camera 
so I told the boys if they took me in any such places 
again I would annihilate them. Not only would it 
be useless for the camera but I felt that I couldn't 
stand another such trip myself. So they promised 
me an easier route, and equipped with photographic 
outfit we started off in the direction of the Saddle 
between Mikeno and Karisimbi. It seemed a very 
stiff climb to me in the beginning, but I have learned 
since that it was chiefly because of my extreme weak- 
ness. Before I had been out an hour I was sorely 
tempted to return to camp and give it up; but we 
came upon a fresh trail of a band of gorillas which 
for some reason or other the guides followed only a 
short distance, continuing on in the same general 
direction in which we had started, without any en- 



ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 221 

couragement, until it seemed that we had gone to 
the crest of the Saddle. There, as the result of a 
conference between the guides, we started in a south- 
erly direction intending to work in a roundabout 
way back to camp. Camp was the only thing that 
I was interested in, for at this time I was practi- 
cally "done." 

Ten minutes later the guides ducked, and crouch- 
ing, came back and fell in behind me. I took the gun 
from the bearer, and looking over the tops of the 
greenery of a little rise in front of us I saw a spot of 
black fur perhaps fifty yards ahead. As I crouched, 
waiting for a better view, the animal I was watching 
climbed up on a nearly horizontal branch of a tree 
looking back in my direction. In the meantime, the 
motion-picture camera had been brought to my side. 
I raised it carefully, put it in position, and all this 
time another larger gorilla was making the ascent of 
the horizontal branch of the tree. It was apparently 
an old mother and her two-year-old baby. Almost 
before I knew it I was turning the crank of the camera 
on two gorillas in full view with a beautiful setting 
behind them. I do not think at the time that I 
appreciated the fact that I was doing a thing that 
had never been done before. As I ground away, a 
second baby came scrambling up a near-by tree. 
The baby seemed very much interested in the opera- 
tion. The mother professed indifference and a cer- 
tain amount of boredom and after a bit pretended to 
lie down on one arm and go to sleep. The babies, 
one of them at least, seemed to be amused. He would 



222 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

stand up, fold his arms and slap them against his 
breast, which suggested uproarious laughter on his 
part. 

When I had turned off about one hundred feet with 
my heart in my mouth for fear the thing would come 
to an end too soon, I realized that I had as much of 
that particular subject as I wanted, there being no 
great amount of movement. So I changed the two- 
inch lens for the six-inch lens in order to make a "close- 
up." When I had taken about three hundred feet 
I felt that I would like a change of scene; so with 
my hand on the camera I stood up straight and 
tried to start a conversation with them. They all 
bolted. 

It was amazing what an effect that minute or two of 
experience had on me physically. I forgot my weari- 
ness and took up the trail. For the next hour we fol- 
lowed them, getting glimpses of them frequently. 
There were probably ten or twelve in the band; but 
never again did I get the opportunity to photograph 
them — just little glimpses of black fur dodging about 
through the greenery. At one time with my glasses 
I watched them across a ravine for a considerable 
time. The old female was lying down on her back 
yawning and stretching, but she was too far away 
for a photograph. So finally, feeling that I had about 
all I could expect from that band, I picked out one 
that I thought to be an immature male. I shot and 
killed it and found, much to my regret, that it was a 
female. As it turned out, however, she was such a 
splendid large specimen that the feeling of regret was 



ADVENTURES ON MT. MIKENO 223 

considerably lessened. This female had a baby 
which was hustled off" by the rest of the band. The 
baby was crying piteously as it went. 

This, added to the specimens on hand, brought the 
material for the group to one old male, two females, 
and a young male of about four years of age. 

That night as I came into camp my mind went 
back to a certain day eleven years before when I was 
hunting lions on the Uasin Gishu Plateau with a 
moving-picture camera. A most wonderful opportu- 
nity had then been given me. Full in front of me the 
native hunters had drawn a lion's charge and killed 
the lion with their spears. But the opportunity had 
been as short-lived as it was magnificent, and the kind 
of camera I had then could not be handled that 
quickly. As I walked back to camp that night, I 
was determined to make a naturalist's moving-picture 
camera that would prevent my missing such a chance 
if ever such a one came my way again. From 1910 
to 1 91 6 I worked on this camera whenever I had a 
minute to spare. By 1917 I had the pleasure of 
knowing that it was used on observation planes des- 
tined for the battlefields of France. I had myself 
never had a chance to try my invention, except ex- 
perimentally, until this trip to Africa. On this expe- 
dition I had brought two — a large one for panorama 
work and a smaller one nicknamed "the Gorilla" for 
animal work. "The Gorilla" had taken 300 feet of 
film of the animal that had heretofore never been 
taken alive in its native wilds by any camera^still or 
moving. Few things have given me greater satisfac- 



224 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

tion than the realization that the failure of 1910 had 
led directly to the success of 1921. 

To make assurance doubly sure, as night came on 
I had a fire made in the door of my tent and com- 
forted by its warmth I took a little piece of the end 
of the film and developed it. It was all right. I 
took another sample from the middle. It, too, came 
out strong. I was satisfied — more satisfied than a 
man ever should be — but I revelled in the feeling. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE LONE MALE OF KARISIMBI 

BY NOVEMBER 14th, I felt about as happy 
and about as unhappy as I ever have in my 
' life. I felt exceedingly well about the success 
of my gorilla hunts. I had four fine specimens for 
the group which I intended to mount for the American 
Museum of Natural History in New York, and I had 
several hundred feet of moving-picture film of live 
gorillas in their native forests — the first photographs 
of live wild gorillas ever taken. I also had the fever 
and that was what I was unhappy about. It was not 
only uncomfortable but it also threatened to in- 
terfere seriously with my plans and to put me in 
an embarrassing position with the rest of the party. 
Mr. and Mrs. Bradley and Miss Miller were camped 
at Kissenyi two days' march away. It had been 
agreed that I should investigate the gorillas alone 
first, but it was not contemplated that I get sick 
during the investigation and not be ready to provide 
hunting for them. They had come all the way to 
Central Africa to hunt gorillas and the obligation 
rested on me to see that they had that experience. 
I was afraid that if I did not get them up into the 
gorilla mountains quickly 3 I might not be in shape to 
fulfil this obligation and pleasure. So I sent a rather 

225 



226 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

urgent message that they come up to my camp. 
Solicitation for my health and keenness for the hunt 
led Bradley and the two ladies to make the two days' 
march in one. 

This taking ladies to hunt gorillas had caused a 
certain amount of adverse comment of two kinds. 
The uninitiated in African hunting censored me for 
leading the ladies into such terrible dangers. The 
initiated, or rather some of them, were a little irri- 
tated with me because if I showed that ladies with 
no previous hunting experience could hunt gorillas, 
elephants, and lions, much of the heroics which have 
attached to African big-game hunting would begin 
to wane. As a naturalist interested in preserving 
African wild life, I was glad to do anything that 
might make killing animals less attractive. 

I had never been in gorilla country before this trip, 
but I had started in with the firm conviction that 
hunting gorillas was not dangerous, or, of course, I 
should not have taken the two ladies to hunt them. 
My experiences proved my theory even more thor- 
oughly than I had expected. Consequently, when 
the ladies arrived I was prepared to take them after 
gorillas without the slightest misgivings. After a 
day of rest at the camp from which I had hunted, 
we moved our base a thousand feet higher up (to 
about 10,000 feet above sea level) to the Saddle be- 
tween the two mountains, Mikeno and Karisimbi. 
We had two good-sized tents, one for Mrs. Bradley 
and Miss Miller and the other for Bradley and me. 
We had a fly also for a dining tent. These arrange- 



THE LONE MALE OF KARISIMBI 227 

ments were quite comfortable except for the cold. 
It was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night at the 
Saddle Camp. There was an old five-gallon metal 
cask with holes in it which when filled with coals made 



B E 



T 



I A ft? o' White FViats' 
1 ", \ v Miuipp 



« '=j. \llt *> a - i 

•S S3oe3 x y ^S^* • '" 



"S " ~' ,/ *■■' X \ 



*A •''/' » "| r^ CtS" 3 ***? — ' arc S 



A,-. 




(ELEVATIONS IN METERS) 



A map showing the location of the three mountains, Mikeno, 
Karisimbi, and Visoke, on whose slopes the gorillas live. These 
three peaks are to be reserved as a sanctuary where further 
studies of the gorilla may be made 

a fair stove for the women's tent, but the men's tent 
and the mess tent gave one very little feeling of the 
tropics, in spite of the fact that we were very near the 
equator. But if we were cold our plight was not to 
be compared to the condition of the porters, gun- 
bearers, and guides. They had little or no clothing 



228 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

and they spent the night in hovels which they con- 
structed in various places around camp, the chief 
characteristic of which was a limited space which 
insured crowding and a roof which would keep off the 
rain. 

The first day after we reached the Saddle Camp 
we went on a fruitless hunt up and down the slopes of 
Karisimbi. With the guides cutting a path as they 
go, a party does not cover a great deal of distance in a 
day. Nor is there any need for fast going, for the go- 
rilla does not range far, nor even when pursued does he 
go fast. On the other hand, even after the guides have 
cut a "path" the going is sufficiently difficult under- 
foot and so precipitous in these mountains that a 
march of five or six miles is a fair day's work, espe- 
cially for a sick man. We saw no fresh signs of gorilla 
on this first ladies' hunt. We did run on to a buffalo 
trail, but we did not come up to the animals, probably 
because of the fact that I was not very keen about it 
as it was very dense country and not at all the sort 
of place in which to hunt buffalo with ladies. 

The next day we went up the slopes of Karisimbi 
farther to the west. We had not been out of camp 
more than an hour and a half when I stopped to 
make a panoramic motion picture of the wonderfully 
beautiful view of the surrounding country. Just as I 
was about to begin cranking, a signal from the guides 
who had gone on ahead resulted in our going quickly 
to them where they pointed out moving bushes a little 
distance down the slope. We followed the guides 
rapidly for a short distance, down on our hands and 



THE LONE MALE OF KARISIMBI 229 

knees and under a mass of dense vegetation, and as 
we got to our feet on the other side we saw a huge 
old silver back moving along in plain sight about 
I twenty-five yards away. 

If the gorilla were as aggressive an animal as he has 
been credited with being, this old fellow should have 
charged that twenty-five yards in a few seconds and 
given us a chance to defend the ladies heroically from 
threatened death. However, he didn't know his part, 
for it was evident that his one idea was to go away. 
His departure was interrupted by a shot from Bradley 
which hit him in the neck. He fell like a log. While 
we were congratulating Bradley and before we had 
started for the prize, one of the guides suddenly 
called our attention to the fact that the gorilla was 
moving off. He disappeared from view. We fol- 
lowed, scrambling along as rapidly as possible but 
not making very fast progress. But our time was as 
good as the gorilla's, for we had glimpses of him as he 
went down and up the other side of a gully to the crest 
of a ridge beyond. As he reached the top of this ridge 
he came into full view perhaps fifty yards from where 
we were. Bradley fired again. This shot sent him roll- 
ing down the slope, stone dead. He lodged against the 
base of an old tree. He was a fine specimen, a huge 
creature weighing three hundred and sixty pounds. I 
believe that he was the big lone male of Karisimbi 
of which we had been told. He had unquestionably 
met white men before because at one time he had been 
badly wounded in the pelvis, leaving a permanent 
deformation of the pelvic region and a crook in his 



230 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

spine. Like all of the others he displayed no signs of 
aggressiveness. He was intent only on getting away v 
He had not made a single sound at any time. 

As he lay at the base of the tree, it took all one's 
scientific ardour to keep from feeling like a murderer. 
He was a magnificent creature with the face of an 
amiable giant who would do no harm except perhaps 
in self-defence or in defense of his friends. 

From twenty feet above him on the slope where 
we settled down with our kit to make pictures, notes, 
and studies, we had a view of Mikeno and the sur- 
rounding country which I then thought, and still 
remember, as the most beautiful view I have ever seen; 
and I believe my companions, one and all, quite 
agree with me. The motion-picture camera was 
directly behind us up the slope where we had deserted 
it. It was sent for and a panorama was made from 
over the body of the dead gorilla. Mikeno was at 
her best; she had thrown aside her veil of cloud; her 
whole summit was sharply outlined against the blue 
of the tropical sky. The warm greens and browns 
of the moss-covered cliffs suggested a drapery of 
lovely oriental weave. From the summit well down 
the wonderful line of the western slope the eye was 
arrested by old Nyamlagira smouldering lazily and 
sending her column of smoke and steam to join the 
hovering cloudbank above — then on again the eye 
swept over a scene of marvellous opalescent colour 
in which were dimly seen distant mountain ranges/ 
suggestions of shimmering lakes, and mysterious 
forests — then around to Chaninagongo, looming dark 



THE LONE MALE OF KARISIMBI 231 

and massive in the middle ground, smouldering, too, 
but less demonstrative than her sister, Nyamlagira. 
Lying almost at the foot of Chaninagongo and to the 
south, glistened in the tropical sun the loveliest of 
African inland waters — Lake Kivu. Behind us, up- 
ward toward the summit of Karisimbi and adown 
the slopes in front, there stretched a primeval forest 
of marvellous beauty — in character unlike anything 
else I know — a veritable fairyland — and at our feet 
lay dead one of its great giants. 

I realized that the search for a background and a 
setting for the gorilla group was ended. We will re- 
produce this scene on canvas as a background for 
the gorillas when they are mounted in the Museum. 
The foreground will be a reproduction of the old dead 
tree with its wealth of vegetation in the midst of 
which the old gorilla died. Of course, it is regrettable 
that we had no painter with us at the time. To get 
one there means another long journey from New York 
to Central Africa, yet it will be worth it if the thou- 
sands who visit the Museum get even a faint degree of 
the satisfaction from the setting of the group that we 
got from this view in the gorilla country. 

I felt then, and even more so now, that that morn- 
ing represented the high spot in my African expe- 
riences. In the midst of a forest, a land of beauty, we 
overlooked a scene incomparable, a scene of a world 
in the making, while our great primitive cousin, 
whose sanctuary we had invaded, lay dead at our feet. 
That was the sad note. To me the source of greatest 
joy was the fact that here, at the culmination of a 



232 



IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 



dream of thirty years, I was not alone. There were 
three friends who keenly appreciated all that it 
meant. 

We had made good in our boasted undertaking of 
taking ladies on a real gorilla hunt, presumably the 
last word of danger and adventure in the popular 
mind. Another popular illusion gone to smash! It 
was adventure full of beauty and charm and hard 
work, but absolutely without danger. 

The gorilla is not dangerous, but he is impressive. 
I have taken a tape and measured around the chests 
of two good-sized men standing back to back. The 
two together measured three inches less than Brad- 
ley's gorilla alone. His chest unexpanded was 62 
inches. He weighed about as much as two men, 
360 pounds. 

Although not so tall as Dempsey, the gorilla weighs 
nearly twice as much, and his arms are longer and 
more powerful. But his legs, on the other hand, 
are much shorter. Unquestionably a well-developed 
man can travel both faster and farther than a 
gorilla. 

One can visualize something of his size by a com- 
parison of his measurements with those of Jack 
Dempsey. 



Height 
Weight . 
Chest . 
Upper arm 
Reach 
Calf . . 



GORILLA 


DEMPSEY 


5 ft. 7j in. 


6 ft. 1 in. 


360 lbs. 


188 lbs. 


62 in. 


42 in. 


18 in. 


i6\ in. 


97 in- 


74 in. 


i 5 f in. 


i 5 iin. 



THE LONE MALE OF KARISIMBI 233 

The next morning we decided to return to our base 
camp on Mikeno, a thousand feet lower down. I 
think we all wished to stay at the Saddle Camp longer 
because of the marvellous beauty of the place, but our 
guides and porters complained so bitterly, and I think 
so justly, against the cold that a decision was made 
on their account rather than our own. The guides, 
however, were not content with their return to the 
Mikeno Camp, but insisted on quitting their jobs 
entirely. While this was a disarrangement of our 
plans, my appreciation for all they had done and sym- 
pathy with their just complaints caused me to pay 
them off and let them go. The following day they 
returned, a very dejected and penitent lot, and their 
explanation for their return was interesting, to say the 
least. When they reached home their sultan had asked 
them if my work was finished and if they had stayed 
until I no longer required them. They had admitted 
that I had given my consent unwillingly. He had told 
them that they must come back to me and stay until 
the work was finished and that they must bring to 
him a report from me of complete satisfaction. 

Bradley and I remained two days longer, and these 
guides were on the job every minute. It was a dem- 
onstration of honour and manliness on the part of 
the sultan that I have rarely seen equalled in a savage. 

Mrs. Bradley and Miss Miller went to the Mission 
Camp, but Bradley and I remained for two days of 
photographing and the cleaning up and the packing 
of the gorilla material. The third and last day we 
made the descent of the mountain, sending the por- 



234 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

ters ahead with their loads to Burunga, but retaining 
our guides for another hunt in the bamboos. 

We had descended well down toward the lower 
level of the bamboo when the guide led us along a 
cattle trail up a ridge of Mikeno. We came to a track 
of a single old male gorilla on this trail, which, after 
we had followed it for a half hour, had been joined 
by others. Ultimately we were on a perfectly fresh 
trail of a whole band. The purpose of the hunt was 
to get more pictures and to add to our series one 
more specimen, a young male if possible. At this 
time I had not seen more than one male with a gorilla 
band and I felt that a group of two old males, two 
females, and a youngster of four years would be 
misleading; that if I used them I would have to 
use one of the old males as an intruder in the family 
group. I had to explain to my gun-bearer that we 
must go slowly because I did not want to come up 
with the gorillas in jungle so dense that I could not 
photograph them; and that we must try to manage 
not to disturb them until they had come to more 
open country where the chance for observation would 
be better. We were near the edge of a ravine the 
opposite slope of which was cleared of bamboo and 
bush. I suggested to him that if we could possibly 
see them in a place like that, it would enable us 
to do the things that we wanted to do. Not that I 
actually hoped for any such luck; but as a matter 
of fact, fifteen minutes later we heard the bark of 
a gorilla. Peeping through the bush we saw the 
entire band on that opposite slope, all of them in full 



THE LONE MALE OF KARISIMBI 235 

view. There were at least three old males, I think 
four, and perhaps a dozen females and youngsters. 
They, of course, had seen us. They were making 
off toward the crest of the opposite slope as fast as 
possible. 

My first thought was along these lines: 
"Here is a perfectly peaceful family group includ- 
ing three or four males. I could use my two males 
without apologies. There is really no necessity for 
killing another animal." 

So the guns were put behind and the camera pushed 
forward and we had the extreme satisfaction of seeing 
that band of gorillas disappear over the crest of the 
opposite ridge none the worse for having met with 
white men that morning. It was a wonderful finish 
to a wonderful gorilla hunt. We went on to Burunga 
for the night and the next day we were at the Mission 
by noon where we found Thanksgiving dinner waiting 
for us. The chief mission of the expedition had been 
successfully culminated, and all of us were together 
again just in time for a real Thanksgiving. 



CHAPTER XIV 

IS THE GORILLA ALMOST A MAN? 

WHEN Herbert Bradley and I started down 
from Mt. Mikeno to join the ladies of our 
party at the Mission of the White Friars v/e 
had the skeletons, skins, and measurements of four 
adult gorillas and the mummified carcass and skin 
of a baby. I had made death masks of them all and 
likewise some plaster casts of their feet and hands. 
I also had 300 or 400 feet of film showing wild gorillas 
in action, and some general observations of the goril- 
la's habits in the mountains of the Lake Kivu region 
on the eastern border of the Belgian Congo in Central 
Africa. I had the material for which I had come to 
Africa — material sufficient to make a correct group 
of gorillas for the proposed Roosevelt African Hall 
of the Museum of Natural History in New York — 
but I also had a great deal more, a vision of how to 
study this animal which is man's nearest relative. 

As soon as you have anything to do with the gorilla 
the fascination of studying him begins to grow on 
you and you instinctively begin to speak of the 
gorilla as "he" in a human sense, for he is obviously 
as well as scientifically akin to man. 

I have taken some pains in describing my adven- 
tures with the gorillas of Mikeno to show that they 

236 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 237 

were not ferocious. I do not believe that they ever 
are ferocious, nor do I believe that they will ever 
attack man except when hard pressed and in self- 
defence. I think I can also explain why the gorilla 
has his aggressive reputation. I am going to quote 
one of Paul du Chaillu's adventures* with gorillas 
and in the quotation put in brackets what Du Chaillu 
felt, leaving outside the brackets what the gorilla 
did. If you read the tale as Du Chaillu wrote it, it 
gives an impression that the gorilla is a terrible animal. 
If you read merely what the gorilla did, you will 
see that he did nothing that a domestic dog might 
not have done under the same circumstances. 

Then the underbrush swayed rapidly just ahead, and presently 
before us stood an immense male gorilla. He had gone through 
the jungle on his all-fours; but when he saw our party he erected 
himself and looked us [boldly] in the face. He stood about a 
dozen yards from us [and was a sight I think never to forget]. 
Nearly six feet high (he proved two inches shorter), with immense 
body, huge chest, and great muscular arms, with [fiercely 
glaring] large deep gray eyes [and a hellish expression of face, 
which seemed to me like some nightmare vision]: thus stood be- 
fore us this king of the African forests. 

He was not afraid of us. He stood there, and beat his breast 
with his huge fists till it resounded like an immense bass-drum 
[which is their mode of offering defiance]; meantime giving vent 
to roar after roar. . . . 

[His eyes began to flash fiercer fire as] we stood motionless on 
the defensive, and the crest of short hair which stands on his 
forehead began to twitch rapidly up ana down, while his powerful 
teeth (fangs) were shown as he again sent forth a thunderous 
roar. [And now truly he reminded me of nothing but some 



Reprinted through courtesy of Harper & Bros., publishers of Du Chaillu's book, 
"Equatorial Africa." 



238 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

hellish dream creature — a being of that hideous order, half man, 
half beast, which we find pictured by old artists in some represen- 
tations of the infernal regions.] He advanced a few steps — 
then stopped to utter that [hideous] roar again — advanced again, 
and finally stopped when at a distance of about six yards from 
us. And here, as he began another of his roars and beating his 
breast [in rage], we fired, and killed him. 

With a groan [which had something terribly human in it, and 
yet was full of brutishness], it fell forward on its face. The 
body shook convulsively for a few minutes, the limbs moved 
about in a struggling way, and then all was quiet — death had 
done its work, and I had leisure to examine the huge body. 
It proved to be jive feet eight inches high, and the muscular de- 
velopment of the arms and breast showed what immense 
strength it had possessed. 

These facts are no doubt accurate. Du Chaillu 
and his men pursued a gorilla in the forest. When 
they came too close he roared at them. I have seen 
little monkeys scold an intruder in similar fashion. 
His face twitched and he beat his breast. My motion 
picture shows a gorilla beating her breast when not at 
all mad. The gorilla advanced on them not in a 
ferocious rush but hesitatingly a few steps at a time. 
They shot it. 

I don't blame Du Chaillu for feeling the way he 
did, for, under the circumstances in which he hunted 
the gorilla, most people would have had even much 
worse feelings than he had. Then, too, when Du 
Chaillu wrote, tales of African exploration were 
under an unwholesome pressure comparable to that 
to which African motion pictures are being sub- 
jected to-day. I have it on reliable authority that 
Du Chaillu was twice requested to revise his manu- 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 239 

script before his publishers considered it exciting 
enough to be of general interest. All I want to point 
out is that the gorilla should be judged by what he 
does, not by how the people that hunt him feel. 

And it is of more importance to judge the gorilla 
correctly than any other animal for he is unquestion- 
ably the nearest akin to man. Most scientists agree 
that man and the gorilla had common or at any rate 
similar ancestors. Since that time man has passed 
through the dawn of intelligence and developed the 
power to reason and to speak. But how he developed 
these powers no one knows. The gorilla has not these 
powers, but he has so many other likenesses to man 
that there is no telling how near he is to the dawn of 
intelligence. 

In the whole doctrine of evolution there is no one 
subject more interesting or likely to be more fruitful 
to study than the gorilla. He presents most impor- 
tant opportunities to the students of comparative 
anatomy, to the psychologists, to the many kinds of 
specialists in medicine, not to mention the students 
of natural history. 

It is very commonly stated, in the Century Dic- 
tionary and Cyclopedia, for example, that the gorilla 
" lives mostly in trees." Unquestionably this is true 
of the chimpanzee but I do not think it true of the 
gorilla. I believe that he has nearly passed out of the 
arboreal phase of life and is perhaps entering the 
upright phase and that he is the only animal except 
man that has achieved this distinction. To sttind erect 
and balanced, an animal needs heels. The plaster 



2 4 o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

cast of the gorilla's foot shown in the accompanying 
illustration is ocular evidence of what science has 
long known — that the gorilla has developed a heel. 
Moreover, the scientists who studied the body of 
John Daniel, the young captive gorilla that died 
in New York, discovered that, unlike any other 
animal, the gorilla has the same full complement of 
foot muscles which enables man to walk upright. The 
gorillas I saw in Africa always touched both their 
feet and hands to the ground in running but most of 
the weight was on their feet. Their legs are short, 
their arms long, and they carry the body at an angle 
of 45 degrees forward. They do not, however, put 
their hands down flat and rest their full weight on 
them. They seem to be evolving toward a two- 
legged animal. And if they spent most of their time 
in trees they would not have developed heels and leg 
muscles for walking upright on the ground. 

Not only has the gorilla developed a heel, but his 
big toe is much nearer like man's than that of any 
other animal. This may seem a small matter, but a 
big toe that turns out from the foot as a thumb does 
from the hand can grasp branches and is useful in 
climbing. A big toe that is parallel with the other 
toes is useful for walking but not for climbing. 

But the gorilla has not lost all his arboreal char- 
acteristics by any means. The length, size, and 
strength of his arms are evidence of the tree-climbing 
habits of his ancestors. I know that a gorilla can 
now climb with more ease than the average man. 
But I only once saw gorillas in trees and that was 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 241 

when I was taking the moving picture of a mother 
and two youngsters, and an active man could have 
walked up the inclined trees these gorillas were on 
about as easily as they did. Nor did I see any evi- 
dences of their having been in trees. The German, 
Eduard Reichenow, who observed gorillas in this 
same area, agrees that the gorilla is seldom in trees: 

While travelling, both kinds of apes (the gorilla and the 
chimpanzee) move on the ground; yet the gorilla is much more 
a stranger to tree living than the chimpanzee. ... If the 
gorilla climbs a tree in search of food, he again climbs down 
the same trunk. Also at the approach of danger he is not 
capable of swinging himself from tree to tree as the chimpanzee 
does. 

The hand of the gorilla is as interesting to me as his 
foot. If you look at the illustration of the plaster cast 
you will see that it looks much like a man's, finger- 
nails and all. You will see that the fingers are bent 
over. When running he puts his knuckles on the 
ground. It is a peculiarity of the gorilla that when his 
arms are extended his fingers are always bent over. 
He can't straighten them out except when his wrist 
is bent. I can take the hand of the mummified baby 
gorilla when its wrist is bent and put it over a stick 
and then straighten his wrist and his fingers will close 
over the stick so that I can lift him off the ground and 
hang him up in this fashion. I suppose that this 
peculiar characteristic is a legacy of his arboreal life 
which has not left him even in all the years he has 
been developing heels, muscles, and toes which are 
good for ground work only. 



242 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

I am certain that these Central African gorillas 
have practically abandoned arboreal habits. Whether 
the gorillas of the lower country of the west coast 
have done so likewise I do not know from personal 
observation. Du Chaillu reported that they did not 
climb for food nor did they make their nests in trees 
in that region. 

It has been so commonly reported, however, that 
the Century Dictionary states that "gorillas make a 
sleeping place like a hammock connecting the thickly 
leafed part of a tree by means of the long, tough, 
slender stems of parasitic plants, and line it with the 
broad dried fronds of palms or with long grass. This 
hammock-like abode is constructed at different heights 
from ten to forty feet from the ground." 

I cannot help believing that this report arises from 
a confusion with the chimpanzee habits. The chim- 
panzee is not strong enough to fight a leopard. Con- 
sequently, he has to sleep out of reach of this foe. The 
gorilla, on the other hand, has no foe but man. No 
flesh-eating animal in his territory is large enough to 
harm him. The gorilla is a vegetarian, so he kills 
no animals for food, and he has not progressed 
sufficiently along the paths of man to enjoy killing 
as a sport. He lives in amity with the elephants, 
buffalo, and all the wild creatures of his neighbour- 
hood, and in the Mikeno region the natives drive their 
cattle into the gorilla's mountains in the dry season 
of the year without molestation. 

Altogether, then, as the gorilla has no enemies, he 
has no need to fashion himself a bed out of harm's 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 243 

way. All the gorilla beds I saw were on the ground. 
They consisted of a pile of leaves, about what the 
long arms of a gorilla could pull together without 
moving. I saw no signs of their occupying these 
hastily constructed sleeping places more than once. 

The gorilla makes no abode, has no clothes, uses 
no tools, unless grasping a stick may indicate the 
beginnings of such an idea. It is still before the 
dawn of intelligence with him. Yet scientists tell 
me that he has the palate and muscles that enable 
man to talk. In spite of Mr. Garner the gorilla can- 
not talk, but no one knows how near to it he is. Prob- 
ably he is a very long way from speech. Of course, 
a parrot can be taught to talk, but a parrot has no 
brains to speak of, so that his talking is of no signi- 
ficance. But recent studies of the brain of John 
Daniel seem to place his brain about on a par with 
that of a two-year-old child. Now a two-year-old 
child can both talk and think. If the gorilla with 
his child's brain could learn to use his voice even like 
a parrot, we should have come very near to having 
a contemporaneous "missing link." This, of course, 
is very unlikely to happen and it is not necessary, for 
science can make deductions from the gorilla's brain, 
muscle, habits, etc., which will enable us to under- 
stand more of the gorilla's significance for evolution 
without such a spectacular event as his acquiring 
speech. I mention such a thing merely as an un- 
scientific way of trying to dramatize the importance 
of the study of the gorilla. 

Of course it does not follow that because the 



244 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

gorilla's palate and muscles are like man's that he 
will be able to talk or pass out of the barking or roar- 
ing phase. The gorilla has what might be called 
"roaring pouches" that extend down the side of his 
neck. It is an interesting fact that there is evidence 
of these same pouches in man, although they are 
nearly atrophied from long disuse. It seems, there- 
fore, that even if the gorilla does not learn man's 
speech, man at one time used the gorilla's roar or one 
of his own. 

Man differs from most animals in the amount of 
variation in the different members of the species. 
The skull measurements of half-a-dozen lions, for 
example, will be much more nearly uniform than the 
skulls of half-a-dozen men. In this particular the 
gorilla is like man. Their skulls show great varia- 
tion. The gorilla skulls I brought back will exem- 
plify this. The death masks of these gorillas show 
another interesting thing which I never noticed un- 
til I put the masks of the animals shot on Mt. Mikeno 
in one group and those shot on Mt. Karisimbi in 
another. The male and female of Mikeno resemble 
each other more nearly than either of them do any 
of the Karisimbi gorillas. Likewise the three Kari- 
simbi gorillas have features more alike than any of 
them are like either of the Mikeno faces. Whether 
these are family resemblances or whether they arise 
from geography, which seems doubtful, as the moun- 
tains merge in a saddle at between 10,000 and 11,000 
feet, or whether it is accidental I do not know. But 
the fact suggests a line of study, 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 24$ 

I did not see a gorilla in infancy, but there are two 
interesting accounts of travellers in this region who 
have seen them. Reichenow says: 

I was successful on the hunt to capture an animal only a few 
days old. It weighed only 1 kg., therefore considerably less 
than a newborn human child, while an old gorilla considerably 
exceeds an outgrown man in weight. The whole body of the 
little gorilla was sparsely covered with hair so that it almost 
appeared naked; only on the crown of its head there arose 
straight up a tuft of long brown hairs. This manner of hair 
growth gave the little ape a particularly human appearance. 

When one saw the little being, which flourished beautifully 
at the breast of a Negro nurse, in its helplessness, one had to 
become convinced that the gorilla nursling needs the greatest 
care and attention on the part of its mother. On the soft high 
bed the mother can well cover with her body the tiny young one 
which is in great need of warmth, without its running a chance of 
being crushed by her heavy body. 

Late in 1919 I received a letter from an English 
hunter, Mr. C. D. Foster, which contained the follow- 
ing paragraphs concerning a gorilla hunt on Mt. 
Mikeno: 

I noticed that the nearest gorilla was holding a very small one 
in her arms. I shot and wounded her and she came toward 
me still holding the young one. I shot again and she dropped. 
The rest, by this time, were just disappearing, and having shot 
two good specimens I did not try to follow them. 

I approached the female gorilla and found her lying stomach 
down resting on her elbows and still clasping the young one. 
She was evidently nearly dead and I took a photo of her in this 
position. I then waited for her to die which she did within a few 
minutes, so I went up to her and took away the baby gorilla 
which was quite uninjured and apparently was not more than 
24 hours old. . . » The baby gorilla (a female) is now two 



246 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

months old and in the best of health and weighs nine pounds. 
She has cut six teeth and the only ailment she has had was a 
cold which she evidently caught from me and which she recovered 
from very quickly. She does not show any signs of walking 
yet and up till now I have fed her entirely on cow's and goat's 
milk and occasionally, when fresh milk was unobtainable, on 
canned milk. 

P. S. Since writing the above, which has been unavoidably 
delayed in mailing, the young one which I mentioned has died; 
at the time of her death she was just over three months old. 

One of the most interesting facts in this account 
of Foster's is the fact that the baby gorilla caught 
cold from him. Animals usually do not catch man's 
diseases. Seemingly the gorilla is near enough man 
to contract at least some of them. Probably he is not 
immunized against any contagious diseases. This 
free-of-disease state, if it exists, will make him a unique 
pathological study. And certainly the gorilla differs 
from other animals in his freedom from parasitical 
disease. I did not have an opportunity to study him 
with a microscope, but he is the only wild animal in 
Africa that I have ever skinned and cut up for scien- 
tific purposes that had no visible signs of parasites on 
him or in him. 

Reichenow also has made some deductions about 
the family life of gorillas in the Mikeno region which 
are interesting. "The sleeping plans of the members 
of a gorilla company," he says, "do not lie irregularly 
near each other but we find them joined in groups of 
two, three, or four, which lets us clearly recognize that 
within the herd there exists a division according to 
families. The nests of a family lie close to each other 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 247 

and are from eight to fifteen meters away from the 
neighbouring group, so that the various groups 
seemed closed off from each other by the thick riot 
of plants, like various dwellings. From the size of 
the nests we see that always only two of them belong 
to adult animals; if there are more nests present, these 
are always smaller and therefore belong to the half- 
grown young. From this observation we get the 
noteworthy fact that the gorilla lives in monogamy.'* 
I cannot say that my observations corroborate 
this deduction. In one of the bands I saw there were 
three adult males. They might under his theory 
have been heads of three families. But in the other 
band there was but one male and several females. 
The extra females may have been spinster aunts of 
the family, but on the other hand, it might just as 
well have been a case of polygamy. The truth is 
that people know little about the habits of the gorilla. 
Really to know about an animal requires long and 
intimate study. Comparatively few people have 
even shot gorillas. Gorilla skeletons, even, have not 
been common for study like those of other animals. 
The avidity with which the doctors of the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons in New York seized upon 
the body of John Daniel shows both how rare and how 
important the opportunity to study the gorilla is to 
the science of medicine as well as to that of compara- 
tive anatomy. And even less of study has been given 
the gorilla's living habits than has been devoted to 
his dead body and bones. Most of the information 
which man can get of and from this nearest relative 



248 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

in the animal kingdom is still to be had. But unless 
some measures are quickly taken to get this informa- 
tion, the opportunity will be lost. The gorilla is on his 
way to extinction. He is not particularly numerous. 
He is neither wary nor dangerous. He is an easy 
and highly prized prey to the "sporting" instinct. 

As I travelled down from Mikeno toward the White 
Friars' Mission the fascinating possibilities of the 
study of the gorilla and its immense scientific im- 
portance filled my mind along with the fear that his 
extinction would come before adequate study was 
made. These considerations materially led my mind 
to the idea of a gorilla sanctuary; and I realized 
that a better place than the one I had just left 
could hardly be hoped for. The three mountains, 
Mikeno, Karisimbi, and Visoke stand up in a tri- 
angle by themselves. Their peaks are about four 
miles apart. On the slopes of these mountains, in 
the bamboos and in the dense forest, there are several 
bands of gorillas. I judge that there are between 
fifty and one hundred animals altogether. In all 
probability the animals in this region stay on these 
three mountains. Such is the belief of the natives, 
and it is a reasonable belief because if they left 
these peaks they would have to travel very consider- 
able distances to find similar security and food sup- 
plies elsewhere. This being true the three peaks 
can become a gorilla sanctuary by the simple expedi- 
ent of preventing hunters from invading them. 

It has been proved over and over again that animals 
very quickly learn to remain in places where they are 



GORILLA ALMOST MAN? 249 

safe from hunting. Likewise in those places animals 
soon learn to accept man without fear just as they do 
other animals. The case of the bears in the Yellow- 
stone Park is known to everyone. At Banff, in the 
Canadian Rockies, protection has led even so shy 
an animal as the mountain sheep to accept man 
enough to be photographed at short distances. Were 
the gorillas on the three peaks protected I am certain 
that in a very short time they would become so ac- 
customed to man that they could be studied in their 
native surroundings in a way that would rapidly 
produce most interesting and important scientific 
results. 

This sanctuary would not interfere with any other 
activity in the country. The gorilla range is not fit 
for agriculture. The natives use it now as a source 
for firewood and a grazing ground for their cattle. 
It could continue to be put to these uses as far as the 
gorillas would be concerned. Elephants, buffaloes, 
and other animals might flock into the sanctuary 
30 as to become something of a problem, but their 
numbers could be kept down without disturbing the 
gorillas' sense of security. 

To create this sanctuary would be comparatively 
easy and inexpensive. I think it would require first 
of all that the sanctuary be bounded by a road. I 
do not think it would be necessary to fence the 
sanctuary for I believe the gorillas would stay inside 
its limits. The road would be chiefly for police pur- 
poses to make it easier to be sure that hunters stayed 
outside. The policing of the road could be done by 



250 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

the natives. As the pay of such a policeman is about 
five cents a day, the maintenance of the force is not 
a great matter. 

Besides the road and the police the sanctuary 
would need a few trails and a station to consist of a 
residence for a white director of the sanctuary, living 
quarters for the scientists, enough servants to keep 
the station going, and a simple field laboratory. 
Neither the building nor maintenance for such an 
institution would be expensive in Central Africa. I 
know of no other effort of so moderate a size likely to 
lead to such immediate and valuable scientific results. 
Moreover, if the study of the gorilla is not made in 
some such way as this now, it is not likely that it will 
ever be made at all. If three more gentlemen like 
the Prince of Sweden go into the Mikeno region there 
will be no gorillas left there. Gorillas were origi- 
nally discovered on the west coast and they have been 
reported at various places across Central Africa from 
the west coast to the Mikeno region, but in no region 
are they numerous; and if they should succeed the 
lion and the elephant as the "correct" thing to shoot, 
their extinction would be but a matter of a very few 
years. 

On the other hand, a very few years of study by a 
succession of scientific men from the best institutions 
would unquestionably produce far-reaching results. 



CHAPTER XV 

ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL A RECORD FOR THE 

FUTURE 

I HAVE dreamt many dreams. Some of them 
have been forgotten. Others have taken con- 
crete shape and become pleasing or hateful to me 
in varying degree. But one especially has dwelt with 
me through the years, gradually shaping itself into a 
commanding plan. It has become the inspiration and 
the unifying purpose of my work; all my efforts during 
recent years have bent toward the accomplishment 
of this single objective — the creation of a great African 
Hall which shall be called Roosevelt African Hall. 

I have always been convinced that the new meth- 
ods of taxidermy are not being used to the full; that, 
although the taxidermic process has been raised to an 
artistic plane, a great opportunity still remains for 
its more significant and comprehensive use in the 
creation of a great masterpiece of museum exhibition. 
Then, too, I have been constantly aware of the rapid 
and disconcerting disappearance of African wild 
life. And I suppose that those two considerations 
gave rise to the vision of the culmination of my work 
in a great museum exhibit, artistically conceived, 
which should perpetuate the animal life, the native 
customs, and the scenic beauties of Africa. 

251 



252 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

When I returned to America in 191 1, my mind 
saturated with the beauty and the wonder of the 
continent I had left, I was dreaming of African HalL 
One year later my ideas were sufficiently defined 
to be laid before Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn, 
President of the American Museum of Natural 
History, who approved my plans and asked that they 
be presented to the Trustees of the Museum. The 
plan that I proposed to the Trustees provided for a 
great hall devoted entirely to Africa, which should 
put in permanent and artistic form a satisfying record 
of fast-disappearing fauna and give a comprehensive 
view of the topography of the continent by means of 
a series of groups constructed in the best museum 
technique. Neither in this nor in any other country 
has such an exhibit been attempted. Not only 
would the proposed hall preserve a unique record of 
African wild life, but it would also establish a stand- 
ard for museum exhibition in the future. 

The Trustees approved my plan for immediate 
execution; the undertaking was to go forward as 
rapidly as funds were available. One of the old 
North American mammal halls, rechristened the 
"elephant studio," because there the mounting of the 
elephant group was already under way, was retained 
for my use and there, to crystallize my conception, I 
made a model of the African Hall. This model repre- 
sents a great unobstructed hall, in the centre of which 
stands a statuesque group of four African elephants 
with a group of rhinos at either end. Both on the 
ground floor and in the gallery, with windows seeming 



ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL 253 

to open upon them, are arranged habitat groups of 
the African fauna with typical accessories and pan- 
oramic backgrounds. The long and arduous task of 
mounting the central elephant group, the first unit 
for the exhibit which the model sketched in miniature, 
was interrupted by the war. 

Many of the undertakings that were making long 
strides toward completion in 1914, to-day stand ar- 
rested due to conditions following the war. Only 
one by one can they fall back to their natural places 
in the march of progress, and the most urgent must 
be given place first. African Hall is one of those 
projects which cannot be delayed. Now or never 
must it become a reality. Twenty-five years ago, 
with innumerable specimens at hand, its development 
would have been an impossibility. Even if a man 
had had all the animals he wanted from Africa, he 
could not have made an exhibit of them that would 
have been either scientific, natural, artistic, or satisfy- 
ing, for twenty-five years ago the art of taxidermy 
and of museum exposition of animal life hardly ex- 
isted. Likewise, in those days much of the informa- 
tion that we had about animals through the tales of 
explorers, collectors, and other would-be heroes was 
ninety-five per cent, inaccurate. 

Twenty-five years hence the development of such 
a hall will be equally impossible for the African ani- 
mals are so rapidly becoming extinct that the proper 
specimens will not then be available. Even to-day 
the heads that are reaching London from British 
East Africa are not up to the old standards. If an 



254 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

African Hall is to be done at all, it must be done now. 
And even if it is done now, we must have men to do 
it who have known Africa for at least a quarter of a 
century. Africa to-day is a modern Africa, the 
Africa of the Age of Man. Africa then was still the 
Africa of the Age of Mammals, a country sufficiently 
untouched by civilization to give a vivid impression 
of Africa a hundred years ago. By the time the 
groups are in place in African Hall, some of the species 
represented will have disappeared. Naturalists and 
scientists two hundred years from now will find there 
the only existent record of some of the animals which 
to-day we are able to photograph and to study in 
the forest environment. African Hall will tell the 
story of jungle peace, a story that is sincere and faith- 
ful to the African beasts as I have known them, and it 
will, I hope, tell that story so convincingly that the 
traditions of jungle horrors and impenetrable forests 
may be obliterated. 

With all haste, when the war was over, I turned 
again to African Hall — to Roosevelt African Hall, for 
naturally after the death of that great American who 
so deeply desired to bring to the world a knowledge of 
beautiful Africa and who had himself shot the old 
cow for the elephant group, we gave the proposed 
hall his name. The thought that my greatest under- 
taking was to stand as a memorial to Theodore 
Roosevelt doubled my incentive. I am giving the 
best there is in me to make Roosevelt African Hall 
worthy of the name it bears. 

The structure itself will be of imposing dimensions. 




255. 



256 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

A spacious open hall will occupy the central portion 
of the building. As I have planned it, the floor 
measurement of this great open space is sixty by one 
hundred and fifty- two feet; the height to the gallery 
at the sides is seventeen feet and that over the centre 
to the ceiling, thirty feet. Its floor space will be 
encroached upon only at the corners by the elevators; 
that is, the actual open floor space without columns 
or any obstruction whatever will be sixty by one 
hundred and sixteen feet. In the centre of this large 
hall will stand the group of four African elephants 
treated in statuesque fashion, mounted on a four-foot 
base with no covering of glass. At one end of the 
elephants, the group of black rhinoceros will be 
placed; at the other end, the white rhinoceros. As a 
result of late developments in the technique of taxi- 
dermy, we are able to treat these pachyderms so that 
they will not suffer because of lack of protection 
under glass. Changing atmospheric conditions will 
have no effect upon them and they can receive es- 
sentially the care given to bronzes. 

Since the elephant is the largest land mammal 
in the world to-day and one of the most splendid of 
all animals of the past or present, and especially since 
it is typical of Africa, it is fitting that the elephant 
should dominate this hall. Except for bronzes at 
either end facing the main entrances, there will be 
nothing in the central open space to detract from 
the majesty of the elephants and the lumbering bulk 
of the rhinos. Visitors, pausing to study the ele- 
phants, may look out on either side as though through 



ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL 257 

open windows into an African out-of-doors, for the 
other great animals of the continent in their natural 
environment of forest, plain, river, or mountain, will 
surround the central hall. The position of these 
habitat groups in a kind of annex has a double ad- 
vantage: it permits them to be carefully protected 
against atmospheric conditions and prevents any 
infringement upon the measurements of the hall 
proper. There will be forty of these realistic groups 
— twenty viewed from the main floor and twenty 
more, similarly executed, but displaying the smaller 
animals, viewed from the gallery. 

The forty canvases used as backgrounds will be 
painted by the best artists available. Each will 
be an accurate portrayal of a definite type of African 
scenery, usually showing some feature of importance 
— Mt. Kenia on the equator, the waterless plains of 
Somaliland, or the gorilla forests of the Kivu country. 
Together they will give a comprehensive idea of the 
geographical aspect of Africa from the Mediterranean 
on the north to Table Mountain at Cape Town, and 
from the east coast to the west coast. 

The mounted specimens in the foreground will 
combine to represent in the most comprehensive way 
the animal life of the continent. These groups 
will be composite — that is, as many species will be 
associated in each of them as is consistent with 
scientific fact. For example, one of the large cor- 
ner groups will represent a scene on the equatorial 
river Tana, showing perhaps all told a dozen species 
in their natural surroundings with stories of the ani- 



258 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

mals and a correct representation of the flora. In 
the foreground on a sandbar in the river will be a 
group of hippos; across the stream and merging into 
the painted background, a group of impalla come 
down to water; in the trees and on the sandbars of 
the farther bank two species of monkeys common to the 
region; a crocodile and turtles basking in the sun near 
the hippos, and a few characteristic birds in the trees* 

Another of these large corner groups will be a 
scene of the plains, a rock kopje with characteristic 
animals such as the klipspringer, hyrax, Chanler's 
reedbuck, and baboons on the rocks, the background 
leading off across the plain showing a herd of plains 
, animals — and the adjoining group continuing the 
story by showing more of the species of the plains. 
iThe third of the large corner groups will represent 
a Congo forest scene with the okapi and chimpanzee 
perhaps, and such animals as may be associated legiti- 
mately with the okapi. The fourth group will be a 
desert scene, a water hole with a giraffe drinking 
and other animals standing by, awaiting their turn. 

In these four corner groups we can present the 
four important physical features of African game 
country, and they can be supplemented, of course, 
by the scenes in the thirty-six other groups. The 
large groups, however, give opportunity for particu- 
larly striking scenic effects. 

Lack of care in museum exhibition has come about 
in part at least because of the lack of permanence in 
the specimens exhibited. Now that we have reached 
a point in the development of taxidermy technique 




FIWT FLOOR 

A Section of the "Annex" Containing the Habitat Groups 

(A) Floor of group space, sunk, four feet below the level of hall floor 
to permit of various elevations of foregroup in group. (B) Floor 
of gallery group case. (E) Glass roof of gallery group case. (F) 
Glass roof of main floor group case. 

(G) Glass in front of gallery case set at angle to cut reflections. 
(H) Glass in main floor case. (I) Space occupied by bronze 
panels. (J) Space above gallery groups for artificial lighting par- 
poses. (L) Plane of painted background. 



259 



2 6o IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

where we can say without reservation that our prep 
arations are permanent, permanent to a degree only 
dreamed of within the last twenty years, we feel justi- 
fied in taking extreme measures to insure the future 
care and preservation of these preparations. The 
elephants and rhinos can be made as permanent as 
bronze for endurance under all conditions, but the 
other animal groups with their backgrounds and with 
accessories necessarily made largely of wax cannot 
be thus exposed. That they shall not suffer from 
excessive light and from changing atmospheric con- 
ditions, they will be placed in two great alleyways 
on either side of, but practically outside, the hall, her- 
metically sealed off from the hall proper and also from 
the outside atmosphere. Thus each group will be abso- 
lutely protected from changes in temperature and hu- 
midity. Each group will be in fact within an individ- 
ual compartment, and allowed to "breathe" only the 
air of the alleyway, which is filtered and dried and 
kept at a uniform temperature throughout the year. 
Artificial light will be used for these groups. 

The amount of light required on them will be rela- 
tively small because of the fact that they are to be 
viewed from a relatively dark central hall. We shall 
be looking from the hall into the source of light 
rather than from the source of light outward. Also, 
reflections can be reduced to a minimum and practi- 
cally eliminated, owing to the fact that the groups are 
the source of illumination, by having the glass in the 
front of the case inclined at such an angle that it re- 
flects only the dark floor. 



ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL 261 

In addition to the forty groups, twenty-four bas- 
relief panels in bronze (six by eleven feet each) are 
planned as a frieze just above the floor groups and 
along the balcony to form a series around the entire 
lower floor, becoming a part of the architectural 
decoration of the hall. The sculpture of each panel 
will tell the story of some native tribe and its relations 
to the animal life of Africa. 

For instance, one panel will show a Dorobo fam- 
ily, the man skinning a dead antelope brought in 
from the forest to his hut, where are his wife and 
babies and two hunting dogs, their only domestic 
animals. A further interest in animal life will be 
revealed in the presence of the dead antelope as it is 
a source of food and clothing, for these people live 
entirely by hunting. Another panel may show a 
group in Somaliland with camels, sheep, goats, 
cattle, and ponies at a water hole, domestic beasts 
furnishing the interest in animal life. Still another 
panel completing the Somali story will represent a 
group of Midgans in some characteristic hunting 
scene. While each of these panels should be a care- 
ful and scientifically accurate study of the people 
and their customs, accurate in detail as to clothing, 
ornaments, and weapons, the theme running through 
the whole series should be the relationship of the 
people to animal life. 

If an exhibition hall is to approach the ideal, its 
plan must be that of a mastermind, while in actuality 
it is the product of the correlation of many minds 
and hands. In all the museums of the world to-day 



262 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

there are few halls that reveal a mastering idea and 
an interdependence of arts and crafts. Adminis- 
trations change. One man's aim is replaced by an 
aim entirely different when another undertakes his 
work. The institution's inheritance of exhibits must 
usually be housed along with the new. Recently 
acquired specimens, satisfactorily mounted, are 
crowded in inadequate space and completely subor- 
dinate those specimens which, although they are of 
equal importance for the understanding of the specta- 
tor, give no illusion of life and have no appeal. Even 
when the architectural arrangement is good and the 
taxidermy acceptable, a heterogenous collection of 
exhibition cases or an inadequate lighting system 
may mar the harmony of the whole. Thus, there are 
plentiful opportunities in the meandering process, 
of which an exhibition hall is frequently the result, 
for the original plan to become fogged. 

But no such conditions shall spoil the symmetry 
of Roosevelt African Hall. Every animal killed has 
been carefully selected with this great exhibit in 
mind. Each group mounted is being constructed as 
an integral part of the whole. A building has been 
especially designed to give the exhibit the most ef- 
fective and appropriate setting. And the future 
is being insured by the training of men who shall 
carry forward the technique so far developed. Each 
man is carefully chosen. Each must have energy, 
common sense, a special ability, and a great love 
for the duties at hand. And although each may be a 
specialist in his own line, all are forming the habit 



ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL 263 

of working together as day by day they assemble the 
carefully tanned skins, the clean, well-shaped mani- 
kins, the silk and wax leaves and grasses, and the 
painted canvases for the backgrounds. For the first 
time we have the opportunity to train a group of men 
not only to practise the various arts which are com- 
bined in making modern zoological exhibits, but also 
to further develop the methods that make this sort 
of museum exhibition worth while from the scientific 
and artistic standpoint. In this considerable corps of 
men I am resting my hope that the technique of my 
studio shall be carried on to higher perfection in- 
stead of scattering or being carried underground 
when my part shall be done. This is important not 
only for Africa, but for all other continents as well, 
inasmuch as we are making records of rapidly disap- 
pearing animal life. From my point of view, this 
school of workers is perhaps the most important of 
all the results of the work on Roosevelt African Hall. 
Every group in Roosevelt African Hall must be 
made by the men who make the studies in Africa so 
that the selection of environment, the background, 
and the story to be told shall be typical and so that 
every detail of accessory or background shall be scien- 
tifically accurate. It was formerly the custom, and is 
still in many museums, to send hunters into the field 
to kill animals and to send the skins back to the 
museum where a taxidermist mounts them. The 
taxidermist does not know the animals. He has no 
proper measurements for them. Usually the hunter 
does not supply them and, even if he does, they are 



264 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

of little value; for one man's measurements are not 
often reliable guides for another man to work by. 
In making a group as it really should be done, we 
cannot rely on one man out in the field to shoot and 
another back at the museum to mount. The men 
who study the animal and who shoot him must come 
back and mount him, and the men who make the 
accessories and who paint the background must go 
and make their studies on the spot. When all this 
is done the cost of the skins, instead of being half the 
expense of a group, is not five per cent. 

I shall make the gorilla group, on which I am now 
at work, a real example of the proper method. A go- 
rilla group undertaken three years ago in the average 
museum would have been done in the following man- 
ner. Skins would have been purchased from hunters 
in Africa. The men who were going to mount them 
would have studied the available writings on gorillas. 
They would have found out that the gorilla was a 
ferocious animal who inhabited the dense forests 
and, like as not, that he lived in trees most of the 
time. And that is the kind of animal the group would 
have shown. 

Not satisfied with such a method, I went to Africa 
to get acquainted with the gorilla in his home. I 
found him in a country of marvellous beauty, spending 
much of his time in the open forests or in the sun- 
shine of the hillsides. I found, too, that he was 
neither ferocious nor in the habit of living in trees. 
He can climb a tree just as a man can climb a tree, 
but a group of human beings up a tree would be t 



ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL 265 

as natural as a gorilla group in the same position. 

The setting of the group of five gorillas is to be 
an exact reproduction of the spot where the big 
male of Karisimbi died. In mounting them I have 
my personal observation, my data and material to 
work from. My own measurements are significant 
and helpful. I have photographs of the scenery, 
the setting, and the gorillas themselves. I have 
photographs of their faces — not distorted to make 
them hideous but as they naturally were — and death 
masks which make a record that enables me to make 
the face of each gorilla mounted a portrait of an indi- 
vidual. All this makes these unlike any other mounted 
gorillas in the world. After all the work that I had 
put on them I was glad to get the corroboration 
of one who knows gorillas as well as T. Alexander 
Barnes. He had followed gorillas in the Kivu coun- 
try where I got my specimens. As he looked at 
the first of the group standing in my studio, he ex- 
claimed, "Well, thank God! At last one has been 
mounted that looks like a gorilla." 

Still with all our work we are only well started 
on the gorilla group. The background — and it is 
a beautiful scene — must be painted by as great an 
artist as we can get and he must go to Karisimbi 
to make his studies. And the preparators who make 
the accessories — the artificial leaves, trees, and 
grasses — they, too, must go to examine the spot and 
collect their data, for every leaf and every tree and 
every blade of grass must be a true and faithful copy 
of nature. Otherwise, the exhibit is a lie and it would 



i66 IN BRIGHTEST AFRICA 

be nothing short of a crime to place it in one of the 
leading educational institutions of the country. 

But, someone will say, this is all in the future. 
What has already been accomplished? What defi- 
nitely is the status of Roosevelt African Hall ? 

Well, I am mounting animals. The elephant group, 
the white rhinoceroses, and one of the okapi are 
completed and are now on exhibition. Work on the 
gorilla group is advancing rapidly. There are already 
collected and awaiting their turn to be mounted 
materials for a black rhino group and a lion group. I 
have estimated that it will require at least ten years 
and the expenditure of one million dollars to complete 
the work. And there is good reason to hope that the 
money needed will be provided. President Henry 
Fairfield Osborn in his Annual Report of the American 
Museum of Natural History for 1922 has called for 
a gift or a special endowment of one million dollars to 
finance and develop Roosevelt African Hall in addi- 
tion to other funds now available, stressing this as the 
most pressing need of the Museum in the year 1923. 
The income from such a special endowment will 
enable us to complete the African Hall during the 
next decade and leave a million dollars of the new 
special endowment for the development of the new 
building to house the hall. 

I am hopeful, too, that the Roosevelt Memorial 
Hall, out of which Roosevelt African Hall will open, is 
about to become a reality. The New York State 
Legislature will soon have before it a bill to appro- 
priate two and one half million dollars for a memorial 



ROOSEVELT AFRICAN HALL 267 

to New York's great citizen. Such a building is one 
of two plans for this memorial now under considera- 
tion by the State Roosevelt Memorial Commission 
and there is much reason to hope that it may be fa- 
vourably received by the people of the state. 

I ought not properly to be writing autobiographical 
matter. That is usually a sign that a man is through 
and the truth is that I am just ready to begin my 
work. So far I have been studying my profession. 
Now I am prepared to practise it on one great example 
and in so doing to train men to continue my work so 
that the museums of this country can portray what- 
ever of animal life they desire in a way that will have 
the greatest attraction and instruction for the public, 
both lay and scientific. It is chiefly in the hope of 
furthering that great project which must be under- 
taken now — a project to put into permanent and ar- 
tistic form a complete record of the fast-disappearing 
animal life of the last stronghold of the Age of Mam- 
mals — that I write these things. Enough has been 
said to indicate that this is not one man's task. It 
may not even be accomplished by several men in the 
span of one man's life. But the future will show con- 
crete results, for the slowest and most laborious 
stages of preparation are now in the past. Years of 
experimentat on have perfected taxidermy, years of 
observation in the field have made a true conception 
possible, the American Museum of Natural History 
has committed itself to the plan — in a word, I am 
about to realize my dream. 

THE END 



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