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Full text of "Wanderings of an elephant hunter"






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THE WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT 

HUNTER 









COUNTRY 




LIFE 

First published in 1923 



s t 




THE 
WANDERINGS OF AN 
ELEPHANT HUNTER 



BY 



W. D. M. BELL 



LONDON 

PUBLISHED AT THE OFFICES OF "COUNTRY LIFE," LTD., 

20, TAVISTOCK ST., COVENT GARDEN, W.C. 2, AND BY 

GEORGE NEWNES, LTD., 8-11, SOUTHAMPTON ST., STRAND, W.C. 2 

NEW YORK : CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

M C M X X I I I C\ ^V) 



Printed in Great Britain. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

List of Illustrations - - - - - vii 

CHAPTER 

I. Hunting the Big Bull Elephant 1 

II. The Brain Shot at Elephant - - - - 5 

III. The Body Shot at Elephant . - - - 8 

IV. African " Medicine " or Witchcraft and its Bearing on Sport 12 

V. Karamojo - - - - - - - -20 

I. INTO THE UNKNOWN - - - - - - 20 

II. IVORY AND THE RAIDERS - - - - 31 

III. THE COMING OF PYJALE - - - - 44 

VI. Dabossa - - - - - - - -59 

VII. Through the Sudd of the Gelo River - - - 78 

VIII. The Lado Enclave - - - - - 87 

IX. Hunting in Liberia - - - - - -105 

X. Buba Gida, the Last African Potentate - 128 

XI. Buba Gida and the Lakkas - - - - - 135 

XII. The Ascent of the Bahr Aouck - 149 

XIII. Buffalo -------- 170 

XIV. African Lions ------- 175 

XV. Rifles - - - 179 

XVI. African Administrations - - - - - 184 



Index 



188 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Native Attack ------ Frontispiece 

The Falling Spear : the Deadliest Native Elephant Trap - - Facing 2 

The Marauding Bull - - - - - ,, 3 

Spear Weighing about Four Hundred Pounds - - - -8 

The Deadliest and Most Humane Method of Killing the African 

Elephant - - - - - - - Facing 6 

The Brain Shot from Behind - - - - ,, 6 

The Position of the Brain when the Head is Viewed from the Front , , 6 
Locating the Brain with the Side of the Head to the Sportsman - , , 6 
The Elephant, after the Brain Shot, Dies Quietly - - ,, 7 

The Angry Bull - - - - - - „ 8 

Where the Windpipe enters the Body is the Spot to Hit - ,, 8 

Elephant in the Country Most Suited to the Body Shot - - ,, 8 

With One Eye Shut - - - - - - - „ 8 

With Both Eyes Open - - - - - 8 

The Dotted Lines show the Position of the Heart and Lungs - , , 8 

With the Herd in the Pairing Season - - - ,, 9 

Elephant Slinking Away, Warned of the Approach of Man by Honey- 
Guides - - - - - - - -.,14 

Medicine indeed! - - - - - - -.,1.5 

He Shook His Head so Violently in the Death Throes that a Tusk 

Flew Out ------ ,, 16 

A M'Boni Village - - - - - - - „ 17 

M'Sanya Bow and Poisoned Arrow - - - - - 18 

A Patriarch -_-_-__ Facing 18 

" A Small Native Boy was in the Act of Pinking an Enormous 

Elephant" - - - - - . - „ 19 

Poor Karamojans, showing Periwigs - - - ,, 34 

Carrying the Ivory - - - - - -,,35 

vii 



VIII 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Elephant Snare Net Set, but not yet Covered 
Karamojan Warrior _____ 

That Lunatic Pyjale Spears an Elephant - 

Longelly-Nymung, the Author's Blood Brother - 

The Return of the Safari ----- 

" The Elephant nearly fell over with Fright " - 

Watching the Northern Trail for the Returning Raiders - 

From the Look-out Hill ----- 

The " Elephant Cemetery " 

The Camp Chronicler - 

Abyssinian Slavers - 

A Shot from the Shoulders of a Tall Native 

Telescope Tripod as Stand in High Grass - - - 

Elephant in the Upper Nile Swamp - 

In the Lado Enclave : White Rhino, Lion and Elephant - 

Looking into the Brilliantly Lit Open Space from the Twil 

the Forest ______ 

Suliemani bumps into his Bull - 

The Arrival in West Africa - 

A Colony of " Chimps " Fruit-gathering - 

Small Elephant of Liberia - 

The Palaver with the King - 

The Silent Town ------ 

Outside the Walls - - - 

Commanders of Regiments - 

Chiefs in Armour with Arrow-proof Quilts 

An Enormous Man, Fully Seven Feet High, rose from 

of Rags - - - - , - 

Whenever the King Sneezes, Coughs or Spits the Attendant 

break into Loud Wailing - 
In Buba Rei ------ 

A Foot Soldier ------ 

Lakkas, Shy and Nervous - 

Buba Gida's Elephant Hunters - - - - 

He Disappeared into the Thick Stuff - 



- Facing 


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Slaves 




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146 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



IX 



There He was now Facing Me ----- 

Gallery Forest and Baboon - 

Camp on Lake Lere ___--_ 

A Man-Eater, from whose Inside a Woman's Bangle was taken 
Native Decoys ------- 

Whistling Teal and Locust Storks - 

Rolling up Hippo ------- 

The Small Canoe Up-streaming ----- 

Hippopotamus in the Shallows ----- 

W., in the Small Canoe, runs into a Rising Hippo 

Spur-winged Geese -____- 

Male Egyptian Geese in Breeding Season - 

Sky Black with Wildfowl ----- 

Rhino nearly have our Cook - 

Musgum Village ------- 

Mud Huts : Musgum ------ 

A Water Buck ------- 

Female Water Buck on Sandbank - 

Doe Kob and Calf well Camouflaged - 
Cow Hippo and Calf ------ 

Arab Spear for Ham-stringing Elephant - 

Portaging Canoes * - 

The Kilangozi or Head Porter who carried this Tusk (148 lbs.) for 

Sixty-three Consecutive Marching Days - 
In Thick Stuff ------- 

Worthy Game ------- 

Some Retreating Cleverly Backwards and Receiving the Charging 

Animals' Rushes on their Shields - - - - 

Driven Out of the Reed Beds ----- 

" A Magnificent Male deliberately Turned and Stood Facing Me " 
Chasing Off an Intruder ------ 

Spotted! ------- 



Facing 


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177 



THE WANDERINGS OF AN 
ELEPHANT HUNTER 



HUNTING THE BIG BULL ELEPHANT 

THE most interesting and exciting form of elephant-hunting 
is the pursuit of the solitary bull. These fine old patriarchs 
stand close on twelve feet high at the shoulder and weigh from 
twelve thousand to fourteen thousand pounds or more, and carry 
tusks from eighty to one hundred and eighty pounds each. They 
are of great age, probably a hundred or a hundred and fifty years 
old. These enormous animals spend their days in the densest part 
of the bush and their nights in destroying native plantations. 

It is curious that an animal of such a size, and requiring such 
huge quantities of food, should trouble to eat ground nuts — or pea- 
nuts, as they are called in this country. Of course, he does not pick 
them up singly, but plucks up the plant, shakes off the loose earth 
and eats the roots with the nuts adhering to them. One can imagine 
the feelings of a native when he discovers that during the night his 
plantation has been visited by an elephant. 

The dense part of the bush where the elephant passes his day is 
often within half a mile of his nightly depredations, and it is only 
through generations of experience that these wicked old animals are 
enabled to carry on their marauding life. Many bear with them the 
price of their experience in the shape of bullets and iron spearheads ; 
the natives set traps for them also, the deadliest one being the falling 
spear. Of all devices for killing elephants known to primitive man 
this is the most efficient. The head and shank of the spear are 
made by the native blacksmith, and the whole thing probably weighs 



2 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

about four hundred pounds and requires eight men to haul it into 
position. To set the trap a spot is chosen in the forest where an 
elephant-path passes under a suitable tree. A sapling of some 
twelve feet in length is then cut. One end is made to fit tightly 
into the socket of the spearhead and to the other end is attached a 
rope. The spear end of the rope is then placed over a high bough 
at a point directly over the path, while the other end is taken down 
to one side of the path, then across it and made fast to a kind of 
trigger mechanism. It is placed at such a height from the ground 
as will allow buffalo and antelope to pass under it but not a full- 
grown elephant. He will have to push it out of his way. This 
part of the rope is generally made of a bush vine or creeper. If all 
goes well, an elephant comes along the path, catches the creeper on 
his forehead or chest, pushes it sufficiently to snap it off, and then 
down hurtles the huge spear, descending point first with terrific 
force on neck, shoulder or ribs. I have seen taken from an old 
bull's neck a piece of iron three feet long and almost eaten away. 
The wound had completely healed and it may have been there for 
years. If, however, the spear strikes the spine, death is instan- 
taneous. 

To get within hearing distance of these old elephants is com- 
paratively easy. You simply pick up the enormous tracks in the 
early morning and follow them into their stronghold. Sometimes, 
after going quite a short distance through fairly open forest, you 
begin to find it more and more difficult to force your way along. 
The tracks are still there, but everything gives way before the 
elephant and closes in behind him again. Here in the dark cool 
parts there are no flies, so that the flapping and banging of ears, the 
usual warning of an elephant's presence, are lacking. The light 
begins to fail ; air currents are non-existent, or so light they 
cannot be felt ; the silence is profound. Monkeys and parrots are 
away in the more open parts. You may expect to hear your game 
at any moment now. You hope to see him, but your luck is in if 
you do. At the most you will see a high and ghostly stern flitting 




THE FALLING SPEAR : THE DEADLIEST NATIVE ELEPHANT TRAP. 



*~T\ 




HUNTING THE BIG BULL ELEPHANT 




through the undergrowth, sometimes disconcertingly close in front 
of you. Literally nothing indicates the presence of such an enor- 
mous animal, and if it were not for the swish of the bush as it closes 
in behind him you would find it hard 
to believe that he was so close. His 
feet, softly cushioned with spongy 
gristle, make no sound. He seems to 
know that his stern is invulnerable 
alike to bullets or spears; while his 
huge ears, acting as sound-collecting 
discs, catch with their wide expanse 
the slightest sound of an enemy. He 
shows no sign of panic ; there is no 
stampede as with younger elephants 
when they are disturbed ; only a 
quiet, persistent flitting away. You 
may concentrate on going quietly ; 
you may, and probably do, discard 
your leg gear in order to make less 
sound ; you redouble your stealth ; all 
in vain. He knows the game and will 
play hide-and-seek with you all day 
long and day after day- Not that this 
silent retreat is his only resource — by 
no means — he can in an instant 
become a roaring, headlong devil. 
The transformation from that silent, 
rakish, slinking stern to high-thrown 
head, gleaming tusks and whirling 
trunk, now advancing directly upon 
you, is a nerve test of the highest 
order. The noise is terrific. With 
his trunk he lashes the bushes. His 
sides crash the trees down in 




great 



This spear, weighing about four 
hundred pounds and provided with 
a twelve-foot shaft, is hung head 
downwards from a tree. The rope, 
of vine or creeper, which holds 
it up, is stretched across an ele- 
phant-path, so that, in passing, 
the animal must snap it, liberating 
the spear to drop upon his own 
head or ribs. 



4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

every direction, dragging with them in their fall innumerable 
creepers. The whole forest is in an uproar. Much of this clatter the 
experienced hunter writes off as bluff, for after a short, sharp rush 
of this sort he will often come to a dead stop and listen intently. 
Here, again, his long experience has taught him that his enemy will 
now be in full retreat, and in most cases he is right. Certainly no 
native hunter waits to see, and most white men will find they have 
an almost uncontrollable desire to turn and flee, if only for a short 
way. With the deadliest of modern rifles it is only a very fleeting 
chance that one gets at his brain. The fact that the distance at which 
his head emerges from the masses of foliage is so small, and the 
time so short until he is right over you, in fact, makes this kind of 
hunting the most exciting and interesting of any in Africa, or the 
world, as I think most men who have experienced it will agree. If 
the shot at the brain is successful the monster falls and the hunter 
is rewarded with two magnificent tusks. And great will be the 
rejoicing among the natives at learning of his death, not only for 
the feast of meat, but also to know that their plantations have been 
rid of the marauding pest. 



II 
THE BRAIN SHOT AT ELEPHANT 

THE hunting of the African elephant is now restricted in so 
many ways that it is difficult for anyone to gain experience in 
the shooting of them. In most of the protectorates or depen- 
dencies of the European powers a licence to kill two in a year costs 
from £40 to £80. It therefore behoves the sportsman to make a 
good job of it when he does come face to face with these splendid 
animals. 

Twenty-five years ago parts of Africa were still open to un- 
restricted hunting, and it is from a stock of experience — gathered 
during years devoted to this fascinating pursuit — that I am about to 
draw, in the hope that it may assist the sportsman to bring about a 
successful termination to his hunt and perhaps save some unfortu- 
nate animal from a lingering death due to wounds. 

In hunting elephant, as in other things, what will suit one man 
may not suit another. Every hunter has different methods and 
uses different rifles. Some believe in the big bores, holding that 
the bigger the bore therefore the greater the shock. Others hold 
that the difference between the shock from a bullet of, say, 
250 grs. and that from a bullet of, say, 500 grs. is so slight that, 
when exercised upon an animal of such bulk as an elephant, it 
amounts to nothing at all. And there is no end to the arguments 
and contentions brought forward by either side ; therefore it should 
be borne in mind when reading the following instructions that they 
are merely the result of one individual's personal experience and 
not the hard and fast rules of an exact science. 

As regards rifles, I will simply state that I have tried the follow- 
ing : -416, -450/ -400, 360, 350, -318, 275 and -256. At the time 



6 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

I possessed the double -400 I also had a 275. Sometimes I used 
one and sometimes the other, and it began to dawn on me that when 
an elephant was hit in the right place with the 275 it died just as 
quickly as when hit with the -400, and, vice versa, when the bullet 
from either rifle was wrongly placed death did not ensue. In pur- 
suance of this train of thought I wired both triggers of the double 
•450/ -400 together, so that when I pulled the rear one both barrels 
went off simultaneously. By doing this I obtained the equivalent 
of 800 grs. of lead propelled by 120 grs. of cordite. The net result 
was still the same. If wrongly placed, the 800 grs. from the -400 
had no more effect than the 200 grs. from the 275. For years after 
that I continued to use the -275 and the -256 in all kinds of country 
and for all kinds of game. Each hunter should use the weapon he 
has most cojifidence in. 

The deadliest and most humane method of killing the African 
elephant is the shot in the brain. Its advantages over the body 
shot are numerous, but among them may be mentioned that it 
causes instantaneous death, and no movement of the stricken animal 
communicates panic to others in the vicinity. The mere falling of 
the body from the upright to a kneeling or lying position does not 
appear in practice to have any other effect than to make the others 
mildly curious as to what has happened. On the other hand, if 
there are several elephants together and the heart shot is employed, 
the one hit almost invariably rushes off with a groan and squirm 
for fifty or a hundred yards, taking with him his companions, which 
do not stop when he stops, but continue their flight for miles. 
Another great advantage that the brain shot has over the heart shot 
is that with the former there is no search for the dead animal, 
whereas with the latter it is sometimes extremely difficult to find it 
in thick bush even when lying within fifty or sixty yards of the spot 
from which the shot was fired. Again, the smallest bore rifles with 
cartridges of a modern military description, such as the -256, -275, 
•303 or -318, are quite sufficiently powerful for the brain shot. The 
advantages of these I need hardly enumerate, such as their cheap- 







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THE BRAIN SHOT FROM BEHIND. 




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THE POSITION OF THE BRAIN WHEN THE HEAD IS VIEWED 
FROM THE FRONT. 




LOCATING THE BRAIN WITH THE SIDE OF THE HEAD 
TO THE SPORTSMAN. 




- W&M.-mm 



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THE BRAIN SHOT AT ELEPHANT 7 

ness, reliability, handiness, lightness, freedom from recoil, etc. 
For the brain shot only bullets with an unbroken metal envelope 
(i.e., solids) should be employed; and those showing good weight, 
moderate velocity, with a blunt or round-nosed point, are much 
better than the more modern high velocity sharp-pointed variety. 
They keep a truer course, and are not so liable to turn over as the 
latter. 

The greatest disadvantage the brain shot has is the difficulty of 
locating the comparatively small brain in the enormous head. The 
best way is, of course, to kill an elephant by the heart shot and very 
carefully to dissect the head, thereby finding out the position of the 
brain in relation to the prominent points or marks on the head, such 
as the eyes and ear holes. Unfortunately for this scheme, the head 
is never in the same position when the animal is dead as when alive, 
as an elephant hardly ever dies kneeling when a body shot has been 
given him. 

The experienced elephant shot can reach the brain from almost 
any angle, and with the head in almost any position. But the 
novice will be well advised to try the broadside shot only. Having 
mastered this and studied the frontal shot, he may then try it. 
When successful with the above two shots he may be able to 
reach the zenith of the elephant hunter's ambition, i.e., to kill 
instantaneously any of these huge pachyderms with one tiny 
nickel pencil-like bullet when moving or stationary and from 
any angle. 

From the point of view of danger to the hunter, should a miss 
occur, an ineffective shot in the head does not appear to have the 
enraging effect a body shot elsewhere than in the vitals sometimes 
has. Should the bullet miss the brain, but still pass sufficiently close 
to it to stun the animal, he will drop to every appearance dead. If 
no convulsive jerking of the limbs is noticed he is only stunned, and 
should be given another shot, as otherwise he will soon get up and 
make off as if nothing had touched him. 



Ill 

THE BODY SHOT AT ELEPHANT 

A LTHOUGH the brain shot is speedier in result and more 
/-\ humane if bungled than the body shot, yet the latter is not 
to be despised. Many hunters employ no other. These 
will generally be found to be adherents to the " Big Bore " school. 
The heart and lungs of an elephant present, together with the huge 
arteries immediately adjacent, a large enough target for anyone, 
provided his or her nerves are sufficiently controlled to allow of the 
rifle being aimed at the correct spot. If this is not the case, and 
the whole animal is treated as the target, to be hit anywhere, then 
the result will be flight or a charge on the part of the elephant. 
Should the latter occur in thick stuff or high grass — 12 ft. or 14 ft. — 
the novice will have a very unpleasant time indeed. An angry bull 
elephant is a magnificent sight, but an extremely difficult animal 
to deal with, even for the practised shot. For one thing, he is 
generally end on and the head is at a high angle and never still. If 
the novice comes through the encounter undamaged he will either 
leave elephants severely alone for the rest of his life or he will be 
extremely careful where he puts his bullet next time. 

The natural inclination of most men is to fire and fire quickly, 
straight at the beast, anywhere. This must be resisted at all costs. 
If you can force yourself to wait until you have counted ten slowly, 
the animal is yours. The mere act of asserting your mentality gives 
such ascendency to your powers of judgment and such confidence 
that you will be surprised to find yourself coolly waiting for a better 
chance than the one you were quite prepared to take a few seconds 
before. When you are in this state of mind, try and get to a range 
of about thirty yards at right angles to the fore and aft line of the 




THE ANGRY BULL. 

A magnificent sight but extremely difficult to deal with. 




1. WHERE THE WINDPIPE ENTERS THE BODY IS THE SPOT TO HIT WHEN THE 

ANIMAL IS IN THIS POSITION. 






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3. WITH ONE EYE SHUT. 

The shaded portion represents the hands holding the rifle. 





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4. WITH BOTH EYES OPEN. 

The whole of the head is visible through the hands and rifle. 



THE BODY SHOT AT ELEPHANT 9 

animal. Now see if the fore leg is clearly visible for the greater 
part. If it is and is fairly upright you may use its centre line as 
your direction. A third of the distance from the brisket to the top 
of the back is the elevation. If struck there or thereabouts either 
the top of the heart or the lungs or some of the arteries will be 
pierced and the animal cannot live, even when the bullet used is as 
small as a -256. He may run fifteen or twenty yards, subside into a 
walk for another forty or fifty yards, stand about for some time and 
then subside. This is a pierced artery. He may rush away for 
thirty to sixty yards at a great pace and fall in his stride. This is a 
heart shot. Or he may rush off spouting bright red blood from 
his trunk in great quantities. This is a shot in the lungs. 

If you have missed the deadly area and are high, you may have 
touched the spinal column. But it is so massive at this spot in a 
large elephant that it will rarely be broken, so that even when he 
comes down he will soon recover and be up and off. Too far forward 
you may get the point of the shoulder and your bullet may have so 
weakened the bone that when he starts off it may break. An 
elephant can neither trot nor gallop, but can only pace, therefore 
one broken leg anchors him. It is true that he may just stagger 
along for a few yards by substituting his tusks as a support in place 
of the broken leg. In a case of this sort you will naturally dis- 
patch him as quickly as possible. 

If your bullet has gone too far back and got into the stomach 
you may be in for a lively time, as nothing seems to anger them 
more than a shot so placed. If he comes for you meaning business, 
no instructions would help you, simply because you wouldn't have 
time to think of them. Hit him hard quickly and as often as you 
can, about a line between the eyes, or in the throat when his head is 
up, and see what happens. Never turn your back to him. While 
you can see him you know where he is. And besides, you cannot 
run in thick stuff without falling. Always stand still and shoot 
whichever animal threatens you most is what I have found to be the 
best plan. 



io WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Should you come upon a good bull in a position such as is shown 
in Fig. 1, you may kill him with a shot where the windpipe finally 
enters the chest as indicated by the spear. For some reason or 
other this is not an easy shot. It may be because the spot is nearly 
always in deep shadow. Personally I would wait until he lowered 
his head and gave me a chance at his brain. A hunting companion 
of mine once shot an elephant in the brain while in a position such 
as shown in Fig. 1. The bullet had entered through the top of the 
palate, showing that he must have been almost under the animal's 
head when he fired. In Fig. 2 we have elephant in country most 
suitable for the body shot, that is, open, short grassy plains. The 
mature bull on the right is the first choice. Observe his massive 
head, short but heavy tusks. He is not old, but his teeth will weigh 
well. The second choice is the one on the left which is swinging 
his ears. Our friend in the middle which is philandering with the 
heavy-looking cow should be spared. Observe how his teeth taper 
away to nothing. They would scarcely scale 30 lb. each. 

In Fig. S I have tried to show what happens when you aim your 
rifle with one eye closed at an elephant's brain. Everything below 
the head is obliterated with this form of backsight. This makes it 
much more difficult to judge correctly the position of the brain, as 
the sight cuts out one or both of the " leading marks," i.e., the eye 
and the earhole. The shaded portion represents the hands holding 
the rifle. 

Fig. 4 is meant to show what happens when the same sight is 
being taken at the same elephant but with both eyes open. Owing 
to the left eye seeing the whole image — as its view of it is not 
obstructed by the hands — the whole of the elephant's head appears 
visible through the hands and rifle. The advantage is obvious. 
Anyone can do it who will take the trouble to practise. 

Finally, I would like to warn anyone who may be going out for 
his elephant for the first time to beware that the native gun-bearer 
does not rush him into firing too soon. They have not our medical 
knowledge which teaches us that the brain, heart and lungs are the 



THE BODY SHOT AT ELEPHANT n 



best places to hit. They would hit them anywhere and trust to 
" medicine " to do the rest. I have been solemnly assured by native 
elephant hunters that it is not the bullet which causes the animal's 
death, but the fire from the powder which enters the hole made by 
the bullet. 



IV 

AFRICAN "MEDICINE" OR WITCHCRAFT AND 
ITS BEARING ON SPORT 

THE ruling factor in the pagan African's life is witchcraft, 
generally called throughout the continent "medicine." All 
his doings are ruled by it. No venture can be undertaken 
without it. Should he be going into the bush on some trivial pro- 
ject he will pick up a stone and deposit it on what has through years 
become a huge pile. This is to propitiate some spirit. But this 
apparently does not fully ensure the success of the expedition, for 
should a certain species of bird call on the wrong side of the road the 
whole affair is off and he returns to his village to wait until another 
day when the omens are good. 

In illness he recognises no natural laws ; all is ascribed to medi- 
cine on the part of some enemy. Should his wife fail to produce 
the yearly baby, someone is making medicine against him through 
her. Hunting or raiding ventures are never launched without 
weeks of medicine making. The regular practitioners of this medi- 
cine are called " medicine men " or witch doctors. Their power is 
enormous and is hardly fully realised even by the European adminis- 
trations, although several African penal codes now contain legis- 
lative efforts to curtail the practice of the evil eye and the black 
arts. These medicine men have always appeared to me to be 
extremely shrewd and cunning men who yet really believed in their 
powers. While all goes well their lot is an enviable one. Gifts of 
food are showered upon them. I suspect that they secretly eat the 
fowls and goats which are brought as sacrifices to propitiate the 
spirits : at any rate, these seem to disappear in a mysterious manner. 
Beer and women are theirs for the asking as long as all goes well. 

12 



AFRICAN " MEDICINE " OR WITCHCRAFT 13 

But, should the medicine man have a run of ill luck in his practice 
and be not too firmly established, he sometimes comes to grief. 
The most frequent cause of their downfall appears to occur in the 
foretelling of rain. Supposing a dry year happens to come along, 
as it so frequently does in Africa, everyone to save his crops resorts 
to the medicine man. They take to him paltry presents to begin 
with. No rain. They give him fowls, sheep and goats. Still 
no rain. They discuss it among themselves and conclude that he 
is not yet satisfied. More presents are given to him and, maybe, 
he is asked why he has not yet made the rain come. Never at a 
loss, he explains that there is a strong combination up against him, 
a very strong one, with which he is battling day and night. If he 
only had a bullock to sacrifice to such and such a spirit he might 
be able to overcome the opposition. And so it goes on. Cases 
are known among rich tribes where the medicine man has enriched 
himself with dozens of head of cattle and women. At this stage 
should rain appear all is well, and the medicine man is acclaimed 
the best of fellows and the greatest of the fraternity. But should 
its appearance be so tardy that the crops fail, then that medicine 
man has lost his job and has to flee to some far tribe. If he be 
caught he will, most probably, be stoned or clubbed to death. 

To the elephant hunter the medicine man can sometimes be of 
great assistance. I once consulted a medicine man about a plague 
of honey-guides. These are African birds about the size of a 
yellowhammer, which have the extraordinary habit of locating wild 
bees' nests and leading man to them by fluttering along in front of 
him, at the same time keeping up a continuous and penetrating 
twittering until the particular tree in which the nest is situated is 
reached. After the native has robbed the nest of its honey, by the 
aid of smoke and fire, he throws on the ground a portion — some- 
times very small — of the grub-filled comb as a reward for the bird. 

My experience occurred just after the big bush fires, when 
elephant are so easily tracked, their spoor standing out grey on 
the blackened earth. At this season, too, the bees' nests contain 



i 4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

honey and grubs. Hundreds of natives roam the bush and the 
honey-guides are at their busiest. Elephants were numerous, and 
for sixteen days I tracked them down and either saw or heard them 
stampede, warned of our presence by honey-guides, without the 
chance of a shot. Towards the end of this ghastly period my 
trackers were completely discouraged. They urged me to con- 
sult the medicine man, and I agreed to do so, thinking that at any 
rate my doing so would imbue the boys with fresh hope. Arrived 
at the village, in due course I visited the great man. His first 
remark was that he knew that I was coming to consult him, and 
that he also knew the reason of my visit. By this he thought to 
impress me, I suppose, but, of course, he had heard all about the 
honey-guides from my boys, although they stoutly denied it when 
I asked them after the interview was over. Yes, I said, I had come 
to see him about those infernal birds. And I told him he could 
have all the meat of the first elephant I killed if he could bring 
about that desirable end to my long hunt. He said he would fix it 
up. And so he did, and the very next day, too. 

In the evening of the day upon which I had my consultation I 
was strolling about the village while my boys got food, prepared 
for another trip in the bush. Besides these preparations I noticed 
a lot of basket mending and sharpening of knives. One woman 
I questioned said she was coming with us on the morrow to get 
some elephant meat. I spoke to two or three others. They were 
all preparing to smoke and dry large quantities of meat, and they 
were all going with us. Great optimism prevailed everywhere. 
Even I began to feel that the turning in the lane was in sight. 
Late that night one of my trackers came to say that the medicine 
man wished me to stay in camp in the morning and not to proceed 
as I had intended. I asked the reason of this and he simply said 
that the medicine man was finding elephant for me and that when 
the sun was about so high (9 o'clock) I should hear some news. 

Soon after daybreak natives from the village began to arrive in 
camp. All seemed in great spirit, and everyone came with knives, 



AFRICAN « MEDICINE " OR WITCHCRAFT 15 

hatchets, baskets and skin bags of food. They sat about in groups 
laughing and joking among themselves. Breakfast finished, the 
boys got everything ready for the march. What beat me was that 
everyone — my people included — seemed certain they were going 
somewhere. About 9.30 a native glistening with sweat arrived. 
He had seen elephant. How many? Three! Big ones? Yes! 
Hurriedly telling the chief to keep his people well in the rear, off 
we set at a terrific pace straight through the bush until our guide 
stopped by a tree. There he had left his companion watching the 
elephants. Two or three hundred yards further on we came to 
their tracks. Everywhere were the welcome signs of their having 
fed as they went. But, strangest thing of all, not a single honey- 
guide appeared. Off again as hard as we could go, the tracks 
running on ahead clear and distinct, light grey patches on a burnt 
ground with the little grey footmarks of the native ahead of us. In 
an hour or so we spotted him in a tree, and as we drew near we 
caught the grey glint of elephant. Still no honey-guides ; bless- 
ings on the medicine man ! Wind right, bush fairly open, it only 
remained to see if they were warrantable. That they were large 
bulls we already knew from their tracks. Leaving the boys, I was 
soon close behind the big sterns as they wandered gently along. 
In a few seconds I had seen their ivory sufficiently to know that 
one was really good and the other two quite shootable beasts. 
Now for the brain shot. Of all thrills in the world give me the 
standing within 20 yds. of good elephant, waiting for a head to 
turn to send a tiny nickel bullet straight to the brain. From toe- 
nail to top of back they were all a good 11 ft. Stepping a few 
yards to the left and keeping parallel with them I saw that the way 
to bag the lot was to shoot the leader first, although he was not the 
biggest. Letting pass one or two chances at the middle and rear- 
most beasts, I finally got a bullet straight into the leader's brain. 
The middle one turned towards the shot and the nearest turned 
away from it, so that they both presented chances at their brains : 
the former an easy broadside standing, the latter a behind the ear 



1 6 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

shot and running. So hard did this one come down on his tusks 
that one of them was loose in its socket and could be drawn straight 
out. Almost immediately one could hear a kind of rush coming 
through the bush. The chief and his people were arriving. There 
seemed to be hundreds of them. And the noise and rejoicings ! I 
put guards on the medicine man's beast. From first to last no 
honey-guide had appeared. The reader must judge for himself 
whether there was any magic in the affair or not. What I think 
happened was this : knowing that the medicine man was taking 
the affair in hand and that he had promised elephant, the natives 
believed that elephant would be killed. Believing that, they were 
willing to look industriously for them in the bush. Great numbers 
of them scattered through the bush had the effect of splitting up 
and scattering the honey-guides, besides increasing the chances 
of finding elephant. The fact that we did not hear a single bird 
must have been mere chance, I think. But you could not con- 
vince an African of that. Natural causes and their effects have 
not a place in his mind. I remember once an elephant I had hit 
in the heart shook his head violently in his death throes. I was 
astounded to see one of his tusks fly out and land twelve paces away. 
The boys were awe-stricken when they saw what had happened. 
After ten minutes' silence they started whispering to each other 
and then my gun-bearer came to speak to me. He solemnly 
warned me with emotion in his voice never to go near another 
elephant. If I did it would certainly kill me after what had 
occurred. It was quite useless my pointing out that the discarded 
tusk was badly diseased, and that it would have probably fallen out 
in a short time anyhow. No ! No ! Bwana, it is medicine ! said they. 
Some few years ago I was hunting in the Wa Boni country in 
British East Africa. The Wa Boni form an offshoot of the Sanya 
tribe and are purely hunters, having no fixed abode and never under- 
taking cultivation of any kind. They will not even own stock of 
any sort, holding that such ownership leads to trouble in the form 
of — in the old days — raids, and now taxation. Living entirely on 




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5- 

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AFRICAN " MEDICINE " OR WITCHCRAFT 17 

the products of the chase, honey, bush fruits and vegetables, they 
are perhaps the most independent people in the world. They are 
under no necessity to combine for purposes of defence, having 
nothing to defend. Owning no plantations, they are independent 
of droughts. The limitless bush provides everything they want. 
Skins for wearing apparel, meat for eating, fibres of great strength 
for making string and ropes for snares, sinew for bowstrings, strong 
and tough wood for bows, clay for pottery, grass for shelter, water- 
tubers for drinking when water is scarce, fruit foods of all sorts ; 
and all these for the gathering. No wonder they are reluctant to 
give up their roving life. I was living in one of the M'Boni vil- 
lages, if village it could be called. It consisted of, perhaps, twenty 
grass shelters dotted here and there under the trees. It was the 
season when honey is plentiful, and there was a great deal of drink- 
ing of honey mead going on. This is simply made by mixing 
honey with water and supplying a ferment to it. There are several 
ferments in the bush, but on this particular occasion the seeds of 
the wild tree-calabash were being used. On the third day after 
brewing the mead is very intoxicating. A native will drink great 
quantities before getting really drunk, but when he does reach that 
stage he appears to remain so for many hours. I was once among 
a very wild and treacherous tribe where drunkenness was very 
prevalent. A nude gentleman about 6 ft. 5 ins. in height strolled 
into camp one day accompanied by his daughter. In his hand he 
carried two beautifully polished thrusting spears. The bartering 
of variously coloured beads, brass and iron wire, etc., for native 
flour was going on in camp. Watching this, our friend suddenly 
stooped down, snatched a handful of beads and made off with them 
in a leisurely manner. Immediately there was an uproar from my 
people, and a dozen boys gave chase to try to recover the stolen 
goods. At the same time the affair was reported to me in my 
tent. On emerging, I saw the tall black savage stalking across the 
open ground with a howling mob of my porters round him. With- 
out turning to the right or left and without hurry he kept his two 



18 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

10 ft. spears darting in all directions, and none could close with 
him. Something had to be done. At first I thought of doing 
something silly with a rifle, and then I had a brain- wave. I shouted 
to the boys to stone him. They jumped to the idea, and in three 
seconds that scoffing barbarian had his tail down and was running 
for dear life, amid all roars of laughter from both sides. Unluckily 
for him a rock weighing several pounds caught him on the back of 
the neck and over he went. Like a pack of terriers, my lads were 
on him, and presently he was borne back in triumph to camp. His 
strength was so prodigious and his naked body so covered in sheep's 
fat that it took a dozen men to hold him. A public thrashing was 




mma^» 



/ 

m'sanya bow and poisoned arrow 



The poisoned part is carried, separately, from the shank, carefully wrapped 

in buckskin. 

now administered, in order to show the tribe that that kind of game 
would not do. But being quite drunk the only effect of the thrash- 
ing was to make the victim sing and laugh. This rather spoilt the 
effect of the whole thing, so I gave orders to tie him up until he was 
sober. Thus he passed the night, singing the whole time. Nothing 
could be done to silence him, but the camp guards kept pouring 
buckets of cold water over him to try to sober him up. In spite of 
this he was still supremely drunk next morning when we let him go. 
One morning early, news came in to the Boni village that the 
tracks of two large bull elephants were to be seen not far off. 
Arrived at the tracks, it was evident that they had passed along 
there during the night. Soon the welcome signs of their having 







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AFRICAN " MEDICINE" OR WITCHCRAFT 19 

fed as they went were seen. Promising as these signs were, it was 
not until midday that we began to come up with them. Presently 
the tracks led us into a patch of dense evergreen forest, and here we 
expected to find them. Leaving my companions near the edge of the 
forest, I went in on the tracks as silently yet as quickly as possible. 
I went quickly because the wind was tricky, and it is always better 
on these occasions to get to close quarters as soon as you can, 
thereby lessening the chances of your game winding you. I was 
soon within hearing distance of the elephants. As I lifted my leg 
cautiously over some tangle of bush I could hear a deep sigh or an 
internal rumble from the dozing animals. Turning a bush the fol- 
lowing scene disclosed itself. A small native boy was in the act of 
pinking an enormous elephant with his tiny reed arrow. Aiming 
for the big intestine of the father beast he let drive before I could 
stop him. In an instant all was uproar. The two elephants stam- 
peded madly through the forest, crashing everything down in front 
of them, disappearing in a cloud of pollen, dust and leaves. The 
formerly still and sleepy bush seemed alive with crying monkeys 
and calling birds as the little boy proceeded coolly to pick up his 
guinea-fowl arrow where it had fallen after failing to pierce the 
elephant's hide. 

" Hullo, you little devil," I said. 

A half glance round and he was gone. The little sportsman 
had been simply amusing himself. Of course, the grown men of 
the Wa Boni kill elephants, but for this they use extraordinarily 
heavy arrows which require immensely powerful bows to propel 
them. Some of these bows require a pull of 100 lb. to get them 
out to the end of the wooden arrow where the poisoned part fits 
into a socket. There is some peculiar knack in this, as no other 
native I have seen — and certainly no white man — can get them 
more than half way, and yet these natives are very small and slight. 



V 

KARAMOJO 

I. — Into the Unknown 

MY earliest recollection of myself is that of a child whose 
sole ambition in life was to hunt. At a very early age I 
conceived the idea of hunting the American bison. With 
this end in view I gathered together a few oddments, such as the 
barrels of a double-barrelled pistol, a clasp knife, a few bits of 
string and all the money — chiefly pennies — that I could lay hands 
on. This bison-hunting expedition was prematurely cut short at 
the Port of Glasgow by the critical state of its finances, for after 
buying a pork pie for twopence its treasury was found to be almost 
empty. This was a sad blow, and it was while thinking it over on a 
doorstep that a kindly policeman instituted proceedings which 
resulted in the lost and crestfallen child being restored to his family. 
But the growth of years and the acquirement of the art of reading — 
by which I discovered that bison no longer existed in America — my 
ambition became fixed on becoming an elephant hunter. The 
reading of Gordon Cumming's books on Africa finished the busi- 
ness. An elephant hunter I determined to become ; this idea never 
left me. Finally, after all kinds of vicissitudes I arrived in Africa 
and heard of a wonderful new and unexplored country called 
Karamojo. Elephants were reported by the black traders to be 
very numerous with enormous tusks, and there was no sort of 
administration to hamper the hunter with restrictions and game 
laws. Above all there appeared to be no other person hunting 
elephants in this Eldorado except the natives, and they had no 
firearms. My informants told me that the starting point for all 

20 



KARAMOJO 21 

safaris (caravans) was Mumias, a native town and Government Post 
at the foot of Mount Elgon, which formed the last outpost of civili- 
sation for a traveller proceeding North. 

At the time of which I write Mumias was a town of some im- 
portance. It was the base for all trading expeditions to the Lake 
Rudolph basin, Turkana, Dabossa and the Southern Abyssinia 
country. In the first few years of the trade in ivory this com- 
modity was obtained for the most trifling sums ; for instance, a tusk 
worth £50 or £60 could be bought for two or three shillings' worth 
of beads or iron wire. As time went on and more traders flocked 
to Karamojo to share in the huge profits of the ivory trade, com- 
petition became keener. Prices rose higher and higher. Where 
once beads and iron wire sufficed to buy a tusk, now a cow must be 
paid. Traders were obliged to go further and further afield to find 
new territory until they came in violent contact with raiding 
parties of Abyssinians away in the far North. 

When most of the dead ivory in the country had been traded 
off the only remaining source was the yearly crop of tusks from 
the elephants snared and killed by the native Karamojans. For 
these comparatively few tusks competition became so keen and 
prices so high that there was no longer any profit when as much 
as eight or ten cows had to be paid for a large tusk, and the cows 
bought down at the base for spot cash and at prices of from £2 to 
£5 each. Hence arose the idea in the brains of two or three of 
the bolder spirits among the traders to take by force that which 
they could no longer afford to buy. Instead of traders they became 
raiders. In order to ensure success to a raid an alliance would be 
made with some tribe which was already about equal in strength 
to its neighbours through centuries of intertribal warfare. The 
addition of three or four hundred guns to the tribe's five or six 
thousand spearmen rendered the result of this raid by the com- 
bined forces almost beyond doubt, and moreover, conferred upon 
the raiders such complete domination of the situation that they 
were able to search out and capture the young girls, the acquisition 



22 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

of which is the great aim and object of all activity in the Moham- 
medan mind. 

Complete and magnificent success attending the first raiding 
venture the whole country changed magically. The hitherto more 
or less peaceful looking trading camps gave place to huge armed 
Bomas surrounded by high thorn fences. Everyone — trader or 
native — went about armed to the teeth. Footsore or sick travellers 
from caravans disappeared entirely, or their remains were found 
by the roadside. Native women and cattle were heavily guarded, 
for no man trusted a stranger. 

Into this country of suspicion and brooding violence I was 
about to venture. As soon as my intention became known among 
the traders at Mumias I encountered on every side a firm barrage 
of lies and dissuasion of every sort. The buying of pack donkeys 
was made impossible. Guides were unobtainable. Information 
about the country north of Turkwell was either distorted and false 
or entirely withheld. I found that no Mohammedan boy would 
engage with me. The reason for all this apparently malicious 
obstruction on the part of the trading community was not at the 
time known to me, but it soon became clear when I had crossed 
the Turkwell and found that the peaceful, polite and prosperous 
looking trader of Mumias became the merciless and bloody Dacoit 
as soon as he had crossed that river and was no longer under Euro- 
pean control. Numbering among them, as they did, some pretty 
notorious ex-slavers, they knew how unexpectedly far the arm of 
the law could sometimes reach and they no doubt foresaw that 
nothing but trouble would arise from my visit to the territory they 
had come to look upon as theirs by right of discovery. It surprises 
me now, when I think of how much they had at stake, that they 
resorted to no more stringent methods than those related above to 
prevent my entry into Karamojo. As it was I soon got together 
some bullocks and some pagan boys. The bullocks I half trained 
to carry packs and the Government Agent very kindly arranged 
that I should have eight Snider rifles with which to defend myself, 



KARAMOJO 23 

and to instil confidence among my Baganda and Wanyamwere and 
Kavirondo boys. The Sniders looked well and no one knew except 
myself that the ammunition for them was all bad. And then I 
had my personal rifles, at that time a :303 Lee-Enfield, a -275 
Rigby-Mauser and a double -450-- 400, besides a Mauser pistol which 
could be used as a carbine and which soon acquired the name of 
"Bom-Bom" and a reputation for itself equal to a hundred 
ordinary rifles. 

While searching through some boxes of loose ammunition in 
the store at Mumias in the hope of finding at least a few good rounds 
for my Snider carbines I picked up a Martini-Henry cartridge, and 
while looking at its base it suddenly struck me that possibly it could 
be fired from a Snider. And so it proved to be. The base being 
•577 calibre fitted perfectly, but the bullet, being only -450 bore, 
was scarcely what you might call a good fit for a *577 barrel, and 
there was, of course, no accuracy to the thing at all. But it went 
off with a bang and the propensity of its bullet to fly off at the most 
disconcerting angles after rattling through the barrel from side to 
side seemed just to suit the style of aiming adopted by my eight 
askaris (soldiers), for on several occasions jackal and hyena were 
laid low while prowling round the camp at night. 

Bright and early next morning my little safari began to get 
itself ready for the voyage into the Unknown. The loads were 
got out and lined up. First of all an askari, with a Snider rifle 
very proud in a hide belt with five Martini cartridges gleaming 
yellow in it. He had carefully polished them with sand for the 
occasion. Likewise the barrel of the old Snider showed signs of 
much rubbing, and a piece of fat from the tail of a sheep dangled 
by a short string from the hammer. Then my chop-boxes, and 
camp gear borne by porters, followed by my boy Suede and Sulie- 
man, the cook, of cannibal parentage be it whispered. As usual, all 
the small loads seemed to be jauntily and lightly perched on the 
massive heads and necks of the biggest porters, while the big loads 
looked doubly big in comparison to the spindly shanks which ap- 



24 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

peared below them. One enormous porter in particular drew my 
attention. He was capering about in the most fantastic manner 
with a large box on his head. From the rattle which proceeded 
from the box I perceived that this was the cook's mate, and as I 
possessed only a few aluminium cooking pots, his was perhaps the 
lightest load of any, and I vowed that he should have a good heavy 
tusk to carry as soon as possible. This I was enabled to do soon 
after passing the Turk well, and this splendid head-carrier took 
entire charge of a tusk weighing 123 lb., carrying it with pride for 
several hundred weary miles on a daily ration of 1 lb. of mtama 
grain and unlimited buck meat. 

Usually when a safari started from Mumias for the " Barra " 
— as the bush or wilderness is called — the townsfolk would turn 
out with drums and horns to give them a send off, but in our case 
we departed without any demonstration of that sort. We passed 
through almost deserted and silent streets, and we struck out for 
the Turk well, the trail skirting the base of Elgon for six days, as 
we travelled slowly, being heavily laden. I was able to find and 
shoot enough haartebeeste and oribi to keep the safari in meat, and 
after two or three days' march the boys became better and better 
and the bullocks more and more docile. I purposely made the 
marches more easy at first in order to avoid sore backs, and it was 
easy to do so, as there were good streams of water crossing our path 
every few miles. 

On the seventh day we reached the Turkwell River. After 
descending several hundred feet from the high plateau we crossed 
by the ford and pitched camp on the opposite or north bank. The 
Turkwell has its sources in the crater of Elgon and its slopes. Its 
waters reach the dry, hot plains of Karamojo after a drop of about 
9,000 ft. in perhaps twenty or thirty miles. In the dry season — 
when it is fordable almost anywhere — it totally disappears into its 
sandy river bed while still some days' march from its goal, Lake 
Rudolph. It is a queer and romantic river, for it starts in lava 
14,000 ft. above sea-level, traverses bitterly cold and often snow- 



KARAMOJO 25 

covered heath land, plunges down through the dense bamboo belt, 
then through dark and dripping evergreen forest to emerge on the 
sandy plains of Karamojo. From this point to Rudolph its banks 
are clothed with a more or less dense belt of immense flat-topped 
thorn trees interspersed with thickets of every kind of thorny bush, 
the haunt of rhino, buffalo and elephant. Throughout its entire 
course its waters were drunk, at the time of which I write, by 
immense herds of elephant during the dry season. Even after 
disappearing underground, elephant and natives easily procured 
water by simply making holes in the soft clean sands of its 
river bed. 

At that time the Turkwell formed the northern boundary of 
European rule. North of it was no rule but disrule. The nearest 
cultivated settlement of Karamojo natives was at Mani-Mani, some 
150 miles to the north, but scattered about in the bush were many 
temporary settlements of poor Karamojans who got their living by 
hunting and snaring everything from elephant downwards. 

Dreadful tales of murders of peaceful travellers had been related 
by Swahilis, and we were careful not to let anyone straggle far from 
the main body. At night my eight askaris mounted guard and 
kept a huge fire going. Their vigilance was extraordinary, and 
their keenness and cheerfulness, fidelity and courage of a very high 
order, showing them to be born soldiers. Their shooting was 
simply atrocious, in spite of practice with a 22 I had, but notwith- 
standing their inability to align and aim a rifle properly, they used 
sometimes to bring off the most brilliant shots under the most 
impossible conditions of shooting light, thereby showing a great 
natural aptitude to point a gun and time the shot. 

While we were drying out the gear that had got wet while 
crossing the Turkwell two natives strolled into the camp. These 
were the first Karamojans we had seen, and I was very much 
interested in them. They showed great independence of bearing 
as they stood about leaning on their long thrusting spears. I had 
some difficulty in getting into conversation with them, although I 



26 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

had an excellent interpreter. They seemed very taciturn and sus- 
picious. However, I got it explained to them that I had come 
for one purpose only, i.e., to hunt elephant. They admitted that 
there were plenty of elephant, but when I asked them to show 
me where to look for them they merely asked me how I proposed 
to kill them when I did see them. On showing them my rifle they 
laughed, and said they had seen Swahili traders using those things 
for elephants and, although they killed men well enough, they were 
useless against elephant. My answer to this was that I had pro- 
cured some wonderful medicine which enabled me to kill the largest- 
sized elephant with one shot, and that if they would like to see this 
medicine working all they had to do was to show me where the 
elephant were and that I would do the rest and they should have 
as much meat as they wanted. They retorted that if my medicine 
was truly sufficiently powerful to kill an elephant instantaneously, 
then they could not believe that it would fail to show me their 
whereabouts also. This grave fault in my medicine had to be ex- 
plained, and I could only say that I grieved heartily over the 
deficiency, which I attributed to the jealousy of a medicine man 
who was a rival of him who had given me the killing medicine. 
This left them not altogether satisfied, but a better impression was 
produced when I presented them with a quarter of buck meat, 
while telling them that I killed that kind of meat every day. They 
went off without holding out any hope of showing me elephant, and 
I thought that I had seen the last of them. I sat until late in my 
long chair by the camp fire under a brilliant sky and wonderful 
moon listening to the talk of my Nzamwezi boys and wondering 
how we were going to fare in the real wild land ahead of us. 

An early start was made next morning and we had covered 
perhaps six or seven miles when the two natives, visitors to our 
camp of yesterday, came stalking along appearing to cover the 
ground at a great rate without showing any hurry or fuss. I 
stopped and called the interpreter and soon learned that four large 
elephants had that morning passed close to their camp in the bush and 



KARAMOJO 27 

that when they left to call me the elephants could still be heard in 
the vicinity. At once I was for going, but the interpreter and the 
headman both cautioned me against treachery, declaring that it was 
only a blind to separate us preparatory to a general massacre. This 
view I thought a bit far fetched, but I ordered the safari to get 
under weigh and to travel well together until they reached the 
first water, where they were immediately to cut sufficient thorn 
trees to completely encircle themselves in camp, to keep a good 
look-out and to await my coming. 

Taking my small boy and the gigantic cook's mate — whose 
feather-weight load I had transferred to the cook's head — I hastily 
put together a few necessities and hurried off with the two Kara- 
mo jans at a great pace. We soon struck off from the main trail 
and headed for the Turk well Valley. Straight through the open 
thorn bush we went, the elephant hide sandals of my native guides 
crunching innumerable darning-needle-sized thorns underfoot, the 
following porters with their light loads at a jog trot, myself at a 
fast but laboured walk, while the guides simply soaked along with 
consummate ease. 

Supremely undemonstrative as natives usually are, there was 
yet observable a kind of suppressed excitement about their bearing, 
and I noticed that whenever a certain bird called on the right hand 
the leader would make a low remark to his companions with an 
indescribably satisfied kind of gesture, whereas the same calling on 
the left hand drew no notice from them beyond a certain increased 
forward resolution and a stiff ignoring of it. 

The significance of these signs were lost on me at that time, but 
I was to come to learn them well in my later dealings with these 
tribes. They were omens and indicated success or failure to our 
hunting. 

On the whole they were apparently favourable. At any rate, 
the pace never slackened, and I was beginning to wish for a slow- 
ing down. As we drew nearer the Turkwell Valley signs of 
elephant became more and more numerous. Huge paths worn 



28 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

perfectly smooth and with their edges cut as clear as those of garden 
walks by the huge pads of the ponderous animals began to run 
together, forming more deeply worn ones converging towards the 
drinking places on the river. Occasionally the beautiful lesser 
koodoo stood watching us or loped away, flirting its white fluffed 
tail. Once we passed a rhino standing motionless with snout ever 
directed towards us. A small detour round him as we did not 
wish to get mixed up with his sort and on again. Halt ! The little 
line bunches up against the motionless natives. A distant rumble 
resembling somewhat a cart crossing a wooden bridge, and after a 
few seconds of silence the crash of a broken tree. 

Elephant! Atomel (in Karamojo). Word the first to be 
learned and the last to be forgotten of any native language. A 
kind of excitement seizes us all ; me most of all, the Karamojans 
least. Now the boys are told to stay behind and to make no noise. 
They are at liberty to climb trees if they like. I look to my -303, 
but, of course, it had been ready for hours. Noting that the wind 
— what there was of it — was favourable, the natives and I go for- 
ward, and soon we come upon the broken trees, mimosa and white 
thorn, the chewed fibrous balls of sansivera, the moist patches with 
froth still on them, the still steaming and unoxidised spoor, and the 
huge tracks with the heavily imprinted clear-cut corrugations of a 
very recently passing bunch of bull elephants. In numbers they 
were five as nearly as I could estimate. Tracking them was child's 
play, and I expected to see them at any moment. It was, how- 
ever, much longer than I anticipated before we sighted their dull 
grey hides. For they were travelling as well as feeding. It is 
remarkable how much territory elephant cover when thus feeding 
along. At first sight they seem to be so leisurely, and it is not 
until one begins to keep in touch with them that their speed is 
realised. Although they appear to take so few steps, each step 
of their lowest gait is about 6 ft. Then, again, in this feeding 
along there is always at least one of the party moving forward at 
about 3j miles per hour, although the other members may be stop- 



KARAMOJO 29 

ping and feeding, then catching up again by extending the stride 
to 7 ft. or more. 

As soon as they were in sight I got in front of the Karamojans 
and ran in to about 20 yds. from the stern of the rearmost animal. 
Intense excitement now had me with its usual signs, hard breath- 
ing through the mouth, dry palate and an intense longing to shoot. 

As I arrived at this close proximity I vividly remember glancing 
along the grey bulging sides of the three rearmost animals, who all 
happened to be in motion at the same time in single file, and remark- 
ing a tusk of an incredible length and size sweeping out from the 
grey wall. I instantly determined to try for this one first. With 
extraordinary precautions against making a noise, and stoopings 
and contortions of the body, all of which after-experience taught 
me were totally unnecessary, I got away off at right-angles to the 
file of elephants and could now grasp the fact that they were all 
very large and carried superb ivory. 

I was now almost light-headed with excitement, and several 
times on the very verge of firing a stupid and hasty shot from my 
jumping and flickering rifle. So shaky was it when I once or twice 
put it to my shoulder that even in my then state of mind I saw that 
no good could come of it. After a minute or two, during which I 
was returning to a more normal state, the animal with the largest 
tusks left the line slightly, and slowly settled into a halt beside a 
mimosa bush. I got a clear glimpse at his broadside at what looked 
about 20 yds., but was really 40 yds., and I fired for his heart. 
With a flinch, a squirm and a roar he was soon in rapid motion 
straight away, with his companions in full flight ahead of him. I 
was rather surprised at this headlong flight after one shot as I had 
expected the elephant here to be more unsophisticated, but hastily 
concluding that the Swahili traders must have been pumping lead 
into them more often than one imagined, I legged it for the cloud 
of dust where the fleeting animals had disappeared. Being clad in 
running shorts and light shoes, it was not long before I almost ran 
slap up against a huge and motionless grey stern. Recoiling very 



3o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

rapidly indeed from this awe-inspiring sight, I saw on one side of it 
an enormous head and tusk which appeared to stick out at right- 
angles. So drooping were the trunk and ears and so motionless 
the whole appearance of what had been a few seconds ago the very 
essence of power and activity that it was borne straight to even my 
inexperienced mind that here was death. And so it was, for as I 
stared goggle-eyed the mighty body began to sway from side to side 
more and more, until with a crash it fell sideways, bearing earth- 
wards with it a fair sized tree. Straight past it I saw another 
elephant, turned almost broadside, at about 100 yds. distance, 
evidently listening and obviously on the point of flight. Running 
a little forward so as to get a clear sight of the second beast, I sat 
quickly down and fired carefully at the shoulder, when much the 
same performance took place as in the first case, except that No. 2 
came down to a slow walk after a burst of speed instead of to a 
standstill as with No. 1. 

Ranging rapidly alongside I quickly put him out of misery and 
tore after the others which were, of course, by this time, thoroughly 
alarmed and in full flight. After a mile or two of fast going I 
found myself pretty well done, so I sat down and rolled myself a 
cigarette of the strong black shag so commonly smoked by the 
Swahilis. Presently my native guides came with every appearance 
of satisfaction on their now beaming faces. 

After a few minutes' rest we retracked the elephant back to 
where our two lay dead. The tusks of the first one we examined 
were not long but very thick, and the other had on one side a tusk 
broken some 2 ft. outside the lip, while on the other was the magni- 
ficent tusk which had filled me with wonder earlier on. It was 
almost faultless and beautifully curved. What a shame that its 
companion was broken ! 

As we were cutting the tail off, which is always done to show 
anyone finding the carcase that it has been killed and claimed, my 
good fellows came up with the gear and the interpreter. Every- 
one, including myself, was in high good humour, and when the 



KARAMOJO 31 

Karamojans said that their village was not far off we were more 
pleased than ever, especially as the sun was sinking rapidly. After 
what appeared to the natives no doubt as a short distance, but what 
seemed to my sore feet and tired legs a very long one, we saw the 
welcome fires of a camp and were soon sitting by one while a group 
of naked savages stood looking silently at the white man and his 
preparations for eating and sleeping. These were simple enough. 
A kettle was soon on the fire for tea, while some strips of sun-cured 
haartebeeste biltong writhed and sizzled on the embers. Mean- 
while my boys got the bed ready by first of all cutting the grass and 
smoothing down the knobs of the ground while another spread grass 
on it to form a mattress. Over this the canvas sheet and blankets 
and with a bag of cartridges wrapped in a coat for a pillow the bed 
was complete. Then two forked sticks stuck in the ground close 
alongside the bed to hold the rifle and all was ready for the night. 



II. — Ivory and the Raiders 

After a hearty supper of toasted biltong and native flour por- 
ridge, washed down with tea, I cleaned my rifle, loaded it and lay 
down utterly tired out and soon dropped off to the music of hyenas' 
howling. As soon as ever it was light enough to see, we left for 
the dead elephant, and the way did not seem half so long in the 
fresh morning air as it had appeared the evening before. We 
quickly arrived, followed by all the villagers, men, women and 
children, every one in high spirits at the sight of the mountains of 
meat. In this country the meat of elephants is esteemed more 
highly than that of any other animal, as it contains much more 
fat. The Karamojan elephants are distinguished for their bodily 
size, the quality and size of their ivory and for the quantity of fat 
on them. 

I was anxious to get the tusks out as rapidly as possible in order 
to rejoin my caravan, so I divided the Karamojans into two gangs 
and explained to them that no one was to touch the carcases until 



32 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

the tusks were out, but that then they could have all the meat. 
They set to with a will to get all the skin and flesh off the head. 
It is necessary to do this so as to expose the huge bone sockets con- 
taining the ends of the tusks. About a third of their length is so 
embedded, and a very long, tedious and hard job it is to get all the 
skin and gristle cut away. Nothing blunts a knife more quickly 
than elephant hide, because of the sand and grit in its loose texture. 

When the skull is clean on one side the neck should be cut. 
This alone is a herculean task. The vertebra severed, the head is 
turned over by eight or ten men, and the other side similarly 
cleaned. When both sockets are ready an axe is used to chop them 
away chip by chip until the tusk is free. This chopping should 
always be done by an expert, as otherwise large chips off the tusk 
itself are liable to be taken by the axe. 

This chopping out of ivory is seldom resorted to by natives, 
requiring as it does so much hard work. They prefer to leave the 
sun and putrefaction to do the work for them. On the third day 
after the death the upper tusk can usually be drawn without diffi- 
culty from the socket and the underneath one on the following day. 

On this particular occasion no one was at all adept at chopping 
out, and it was hours before the tusks were freed. Later on my 
Wanzamwezi boys became very expert indeed at this job, and 
twelve of them, whose particular job it became, could handle as 
many as ten bull elephants in a day provided they were not too 
distant one from the other and that they had plenty of native 
assistance. 

While the chopping out was going on I had leisure to watch the 
natives, and what struck me first was the remarkable difference 
between the men and the women. The former were tall, some of 
them quite 6 ft. 4 ins., slim and well made, while the latter were 
distinctly short, broad, beefy and squat. The married ones wore 
aprons of dressed buckskin tied round the waist by the legs of the 
skin and ornamented with coloured beads sewn on with sinew 
thread. The unmarried girls wore no skins at all and had merely 



KARAMOJO 33 

a short fringe of black thread attached to a string round the waist 
and falling down in front. As regards hair, all the women wore it 
plaited and falling down all round the head and giving somewhat 
the appearance of "bobbed" hair. Some of the men wore the 
most extraordinary-looking periwigs made up of their own and also 
their ancestors' hair mixed with clay so as to form a kind of cover- 
ing for the top of the head and falling down the back of the neck. 
In this pad of human felt were set neat little woven sockets in such 
a way as to hold upright an ostrich feather in each. 

The people with whom we are dealing at the moment were poor 
and therefore hunters. Africans differ from us entirely on the 
question of hunting ; whereas among us it is the well-off who hunt, 
among them it is the poor. Having nothing but a few goats and 
sheep, these hunters inhabit the bush, shifting their village from 
site to site according to the movements of the game. 

Their system of taking game is the snare ; their only weapon a 
spear. The art of snaring has been brought to a unique develop- 
ment by these people, for they have snares varying in size for all 
animals from elephant down to dik-dik. 

The snare for elephant is a great hawser, 4J ins. in diameter, 
of twisted antelope or giraffe hides. One may find in the same 
rope haartebeeste hide, eland, zebra, rhinoceros, buffalo and giraffe 
hide. If made of haartebeeste alone no less than eleven or twelve 
skins are required. The skins are scraped and pounded with huge 
wooden mallets for weeks by the women before being twisted or 
"laid" into the rope which is to form the snare. The running 
nooses at both ends are beautifully made. Besides the snare there 
is a thing like a cart wheel without any hub and with scores of thin 
spokes meeting in the centre where their points are sharp. The 
snare is laid in the following manner : 

A well frequented elephant path is chosen and somewhere near 
the spot decided upon for the snare a large tree is cut. Judgment 
in the choosing of this must be exercised as if it is too heavy the 
snare will break, and if too light the snared elephant will travel 

3 



34 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

too far. A tree trunk which ten or twelve men can just stagger 
along with seems to be the thing. This log is then brought to the 
scene of action and at its smaller end a deep groove is cut all round 
to take the noose at one end of the rope. After this noose has 
been fitted and pulled and hammered tight — no easy matter — the 
log is laid at right angles to the path with the smaller end pointing 
towards it. A hole a good bit larger than an elephant's foot is 
then dug in the path itself to a depth of two feet or so. Over this 
hole is fitted the cart wheel. Round the rim the large noose of 
the snare is laid and the whole covered carefully over with earth to 
resemble the path again. The snare is now laid, and if all goes 
well some solitary old bull comes wandering along at night, places 
his foot on the earth borne by the sharp spokes of the hubless wheel, 
goes through as the spokes open downwards, lifts his foot and with 
it the wheel bearing the noose well up the ankle, strides forward 
and tightens the noose. The more he pulls the tighter draws the 
noose until the log at the other end of the snare begins to move. 
Now alarmed and presently angry, he soon gets rid of the cart 
wheel, but as its work is already done, that does not matter. The 
dragging log is now securely attached to the elephant's leg, and 
it is seldom that he gets rid of it unless it should jamb in rocks or 
trees. Soon he becomes thoroughly alarmed and sets off at a great 
pace, the log ploughing along behind him. Should a strong, 
vigorous young bull become attached to a rather light log, he may 
go twenty or thirty miles. 

As soon as it becomes known to the natives that an elephant 
has been caught, everyone within miles immediately seizes all his 
spears and rushes to the spot where the snare had been set and 
from there eagerly takes up the trail of the log. When they come 
up with the somewhat exhausted animal they spear it to death. 
Then every scrap of meat is shared among the village which owns 
the snare, the tusks becoming the property of the man who made 
and laid the snare. The spearing of an elephant, with its enor- 
mously thick hide, is no easy matter, as the animal can still make 



KARAMOJO 35 

short active rushes. Casualties are not infrequent, and should 
anyone be caught he is, as a rule, almost certain to be killed. 

While the tusk-getting operations were going on I took the 
opportunity to examine the respective positions of the heart, lungs 
and brain in relation to the conspicuous points of the animal's 
exterior, such as the eye, the ear, the line of the fore leg and the 
point of the shoulder. In order to fix the position of the heart 
and lungs I made some boys get the stomach and intestines out. 
This was a terrific job, but we were ably assisted by the powerful 
native women. The "innards" of elephant are very greatly 
prized by all natives who eat elephant. The contents of the 
stomach must have weighed a ton, I should think, and I saw the 
intestine or sack which contains the clear pure water so readily 
drunk by the hunter during the dry season when he finds himself 
far from water. It is from this internal tank that the elephant can 
produce water for the purpose of treating himself to a shower bath 
when there is no water. He brings it up into his throat, whence 
it is sucked into the trunk and then delivered where required. The 
first time I saw an elephant doing this I thought he must be stand- 
ing by a pool of water from which he was drawing it. I was many 
weary miles from water and the sun was scorching, and I and the 
boy with me were very thirsty, so we hastened towards the elephant, 
which moved on slowly through the bush. Very soon we arrived 
at the spot where we had seen him at his shower bath, but no spring 
or pool could I find. I asked the Karamojan about it and he then 
told me, with a smile at my ignorance, that the nearest water was 
at our camp and that all elephant carried water inside them and 
need not replenish their stock for three days. Coming up with 
the elephant I killed him and got Pyjale (my Karamojan tracker) 
to pierce its water tank, and sure enough water, perfectly clear 
barring a little blood, gushed out, which we both drank greedily. 
It was warm certainly, but quite tasteless and odourless and very 
wholesome and grateful. 

When everything had been got out, except the lungs and heart, 



36 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

I had spears thrust through from the direction from which a bullet 
would come. I meanwhile peered into the huge cavity formed by 
the massive ribs and when a spear pierced a lung or the heart, I 
immediately examined its situation and tried to commit it to my 
memory. One thing I noticed was that with the animal lying on 
its side the heart did not occupy the cavity which was obviously 
intended for it when upright, therefore an allowance had to be 
made. Another thing I was impressed with was the size of the 
arteries about the heart. It extended the killing area a consider- 
able distance above the heart, and I have often since killed elephant 
with a shot above the heart. About the situation of the brain I 
also learned a lot. I thought I had its position fixed to a nicety in 
my mind, but I subsequently found that all I had learned was one 
of the many positions the brain does not occupy. And it was by 
a series of these misplacings that I finally came to know where the 
brain really does lie. It is a small object contained in a very large 
head. It lies so far from the exterior that a very slight and 
almost unnoticeable change of angle causes the bullet to miss 
it completely. 

From this my first dealing with Karamojans it began to be 
borne in on me that they were not so bad as the Swahili traders had 
tried to make out. And my subsequent dealings with them con- 
firmed this impression. As far as I was concerned I had hardly 
any trouble with them. But at the same time some terrible mas- 
sacres took place while I was in their country. These affairs were 
the most completely successful operations I have ever heard of from 
the native point of view. On three occasions massacres of well 
armed trading caravans were attempted, and on two there were no 
survivors among the traders and no casualties among the natives, 
while on the third there was one trader survivor who escaped. I 
will describe later on the methods employed by the natives so suc- 
cessfully, for it was not until my Karamojan friend Pyjale came to 
me that I heard the inside of the thing. For the next few days 
nothing of note happened except that we passed the remains of 




KARAMOJAN WARRIOR, 

After a warrior has hilled anyone he is entitled to wear a white ostrich 

feather dipped blood-red, and tattoo himself on the right side if the slain 

was a man and the left if a woman. 



KARAMOJO 37 

two black men by the roadside — stragglers from some trading 
caravan probably, judging by the bits of cloth lying about. Now 
here was a state of things requiring explanation. We were now 
close to Mani-Mani, the up-country base for all trading caravans. 
Mani-Mani was also a populous centre for Karamojans, with whom 
the traders were perforce at peace. And yet here on the roads 
were two murdered men obviously belonging to the traders. On 
my arrival at Mani-Mani I found the explanation. It was thus : 
Among Karamojans, as among Masai, Somals and other tribes, a 
young man is of no consideration, has no standing with the girls, 
until he has killed someone. It does not matter how he kills him, 
he may be asleep or unarmed. When he has " done someone in," 
either man or woman, other than Karamojan of course, he has the 
right to tattoo the right side of his body for a man victim and the 
left side for a woman. Moreover, at the dances he mounts a very 
tall ostrich feather dipped blood red, and then he is looked upon 
as a man. He may and does now demand anything from the un- 
married girls. He may flog them should they resist. And this 
atrocious incitement to murder is the cause of death to any leg- 
weary straggler from caravans. That the Swahili leaders never 
made these wayside murders a casus belli shows them to be what 
they are, callous snivellers. That they could have put down this 
custom was shown when some of my boys lost their way among 
the villages. As soon as it was reported to me I at once got 
together five of my askaris and raced off among the herds of Kara- 
mojan cattle. We rounded up a huge mob and held them more 
or less in one place. Spearmen rushed about, women holloaed, 
and shields were produced from every hut. I was so hot and angry 
— thinking that the missing boys had been murdered — that I was 
eager to begin by attacking straightaway. It looked as if about 
400 spearmen were assembled and I meant to give them a genuine 
shaking up with my 10-shot :303, followed by my 10-shot Mauser 
pistol. I felt confident that as soon as I let loose on them and 
killed one or two the others would run like rabbits. It never came 



3$ WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

to a fight, for some old unarmed men and women came tottering 
up, picking grass at every step, biting it in two and casting the bits 
to the winds. This meant peace ; peace at any price. Where were 
my porters? They did not know, really they did not. But they 
would be all right. Nobody would harm them. I told them to go 
and produce every one of them unharmed or I would take and kill 
all their cattle and a lot of them besides. Moreover, if any armed 
man approached anywhere near to the cattle I would shoot him 
dead. The cattle would remain there — between ourselves we could 
not have handled them — until the porters were produced. 

And produced they were, very quickly. They had merely lost 
their way among the villages and had been guided back. 

I did not regret having had this opportunity of showing the 
natives that as far as my people were concerned we were prepared 
to fight savagely for any member of the safari and not — as did the 
traders — let stragglers be murdered without even a protest. The 
noise of this affair travelled far and probably saved us a lot of trouble 
in our after dealings. 

Another reason for this apathy on the part of the Swahili leaders 
was, I think, that the certainty of murder awaiting anyone on the 
road prevented desertion. They were enabled by this means to 
keep their boys for years without payment of wages. So long as 
they could prevent the boys from reaching Mumias alive there was 
no redress. Hence it was difficult for the Government representa- 
tive at Mumias to get reliable information of the internal state of 
Karamojo. 

On our arrival at Mani-Mani we were met by one Shundi — a 
remarkable man. Kavirondo by birth, he had been captured early 
in life, taken to the coast and sold as a slave. Being a man of great 
force of character he had soon freed himself by turning Moham- 
medan. Thence onward fortune had smiled upon him until at 
last here he was, the recognised chief Tajir (rich man) of all the 
traders. Having naturally the intelligence to recognise the value 
of bluff and from his primitive ancestors the nerve to carry it off, 



KARAMOJO 39 

he was at this time the greatest of all the traders. Just as he had 
been a leader while slave-raiding was the order of the day, so now 
he led when ivory had given place to slaves as a commodity. One 
other thing makes him conspicuous, at any rate, in my mind, and 
that was the fact that he had owned the slave who had laid low 
the elephant which bore the enormous tusks, one of which now 
reposes in the South Kensington Museum. These tusks are still, 
as far as I know, the record. The one which we have in London 
scales 234 lb. or thereabouts. According to Shundi his slave killed 
it with a muzzle-loader on the slopes of Kilimandjaro. 

Shundi was accompanied by a large body of traders of all sorts. 
There were Arabs, Swahilis, one or two Persians and a few African 
born Baluchis, and a pretty tough lot they looked. Beside their 
mean and cunning air Shundi — the great coal-black Bantu — ap- 
peared like a lion among hyenas. What an extraordinary calm 
and dignity some of these outstanding black men have. Here was 
a kin spirit to Buba Gida. 

They hated my appearing in their country, but did not show 
it. Shundi took it in the spirit that what had to be had to be, but 
some of the lesser villains were obviously nervous. They pretended 
to wish me to camp inside the town, but I preferred to remain out- 
side. The town was of very considerable size, although the build- 
ings were of a temporary construction. I remarked an extra- 
ordinary number of women about and thought that I recognised 
Masai types among them. This was so, as I afterwards learnt that 
Shundi alone had over eighty women, many of whom were Masai 
from Kilimandjaro. 

With native politeness gifts of food, etc., were offered and 
presently all withdrew, intimating that they would return when I 
had rested. 

They must have been feeling rather uncomfortable about the 
appearance in their midst of a white man, possibly an agent of 
that detestable Government so troublesome about raiding. I did 
not actually know at the time, but learnt afterwards that at the 



4 o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

very moment of my arrival in their midst they had an enormous 
raid on the Turkana underway. 

In the afternoon they came again and we had the usual cere- 
monial palaver. Every one was strictly guarded, but they made a 
distinct effort to embroil me with the natives in the hope, I sup- 
pose, of getting me so mixed up in some shooting affair that I would 
become more or less one of themselves. I refused to have any- 
thing to do with their intrigues. I got little information regarding 
elephant from these people. In fact, neither side could quite over- 
come a severely suppressed but quite strong hostility to the other. 

I stayed a few days at Mani-Mani as there were repairs to be 
attended to and man and beast required a rest. The first sign of 
trouble soon appeared, caused, I feel certain, by Swahili intrigue. 
It was the dry season and all animals were watered once a day at the 
wells dug in the otherwise dry river-bed. My animals were being 
watered as usual. That is, water was drawn from the well in 
buckets and emptied into a watertight ground sheet laid over a suit- 
able depression in the sand. Word was suddenly brought to me 
that the natives refused to allow my animals to be watered. I 
went at once to the scene and asked the natives what all the trouble 
was about. There were about forty young bloods leaning against 
their spears and they laughed in the most insolent manner without 
giving me any answer. I turned to my herds and beckoned them 
to bring up the animals. As they began to do so three of the 
bloods strode over and began flogging the thirsty bullocks in the 
face and driving them off. It was now or never, first impression 
and so on. I seized from the nearest Karamojan his cutting-edged 
club, sprang over to one of the bullock obstructors and dealt him 
the hardest blow on the head I possibly could. I was fairly hefty, 
in good training, and meant all I knew. To my astonishment the 
native turned on me a smile instead of dropping dead or at least 
stunned, while the club flew to atoms. I had hit his shock-absorb- 
ing periwig, previously described. I might as well have hit a 
Dunlop Magnum. 



KARAMOJO 41 

I must confess it was rather a set-back. However, one good 
effect it had was that everyone, except myself, roared with laughter, 
and then when even I began to see the humour of it I spotted a 
mischievous devil calmly jabbing his spear through our priceless 
waterproof ground sheet. This would not do, so I drew my Mauser 
pistol. Now these natives were then at a most dangerous stage of 
ignorance with regard to firearms. Their experience of them had 
been gathered on raids with the Swahilis, and they all firmly held 
the conviction that all you had to do to avoid being struck by the 
bullet was to duck when you saw the smoke. While I was fitting 
the wooden holster to the Mauser they watched me carefully. They 
had probably never seen such a gun before if they even recognised 
it as such. When therefore I had it fitted up and was covering 
them no one moved. They were waiting, I suspect, for the smoke. 
And when they heard the particularly vicious bang of the little 
Mauser and saw no smoke, the laugh this time was rather on them, 
and especially on the gentleman who had been so busy with his 
spear and my ground sheet ; for he now stood looking at a half 
severed and completely spoilt spear in his hand with a ridiculous 
air of surprised injury. In a few seconds the humour of this phase 
struck all concerned, although the natives began to edge nervously 
away. All their swagger was gone now. I had been approaching 
the fellow with the damaged spear, and now suddenly set upon 
him, relying upon my herds to help me. Never have I felt any- 
thing like the sinewy strength of that greasy native ; he was all but 
off when the boys secured him just in time. Seeing some flourish- 
ing of spears going on among the others, I began pasting dust 
about them with the little Mauser. Seeing no smoke again, yet 
getting whing whang right and left of them, they turned and 
bolted. I got in another clip of ten and kept them dodging dust- 
bursts for 400 or 500 yds. 

On returning I put it out among the natives that our prisoner 
would be released when ten goats and sheep had been paid by his 
family as a fine. They were soon forthcoming. 



42 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Up till now I had been looked upon by the natives as a sort of 
poor Arab. In this idea they were no doubt helped by the traders. 
They had never seen white men, and they saw my mean little safari 
and drew their own conclusions from appearances. But after the 
affair at the water hole I was treated with much greater respect, 
and with a kind of good-humoured indulgence, much as a very per- 
sistent headstrong child might be looked upon. And eventually, 
after a few more "incidents," we became fast friends and they 
would do almost anything for me or for my people. One instance 
of this I may as well here record, although it happened long 
afterwards. 

Away down in civilised parts I had left two aged Wanyamwezi 
boys in charge of my cattle ranch. This was situated a few miles 
from Nandi Boma (Government Post). At the Boma post office 
I had left directions for my letters to be forwarded to another Boma 
on the slopes of Elgon, where I used to send every six months or so 
to get them. All my letters went as directed until there occurred 
a change of District Commissioner. Now one of my old pen- 
sioners looking after the ranch had orders to report every fortnight 
to the D.C. that all was well or otherwise. In pursuit of these 
instructions the old boy appeared one day before the new D.C, 
who asked him who he was. He said he belonged to me, naming 
me. The D.C. said he had some letters for me, and told the boy 
to take them to me, thinking that I was at the ranch a few miles 
off, instead of which I was actually over 600 miles away. That 
dear old man took the letters without a word, went straight back 
to the ranch and prepared to follow me into what was much of it 
quite unknown country. He told the other boy, who was also 
about sixty-five years of age, that he would have to look after every- 
thing himself as he was going after the Bwana (master). Being a 
thrifty old soul, he had by him much stock of dry smoked beef from 
cows which had died. His preparations were, therefore, almost 
complete. An inveterate snuff -taker, he had only to grind up a 
good quantity for the journey and he was ready. Shouldering his 



KARAMOJO 43 

Snider and with the packet of letters cunningly guarded against 
wet, off he set through the wilderness, steering due north. Sleep- 
ing by night alone by his camp fire and travelling the whole of the 
day, he came wandering through what would have been to anyone 
else hostile tribe after hostile tribe. Countries where if I sent at 
all I sent at least five guns as escort he came through without 
trouble. How often he must have been looked upon by the 
lecherous eyes of would-be bloods as fair game for their spears and 
as means of gaining the coveted tattoo marks and the blood red 
ostrich feather. But so sublimely unconscious was he of any feel- 
ing of nervousness and so bold and confident his bearing that 
nothing happened. Being old and wise, he courted the routes 
which led through the most populous centres instead of dodging 
along the neutral zones between tribes as a nervous man would 
have done. Had he done this he would to a certainty have been 
killed. Wherever he went he slept in the largest village, demanded 
and got the best of everything, and eventually reached me intact. 
It was a splendid effort. He walked into camp as if he had left it 
five minutes before, and he still had smoked beef and snuff when 
he arrived. The dear old hoarder had lived to some purpose on the 
natives as he passed through. He arrived, if you please, escorted 
by a number of Karamojan big-men, this dingy and, I have to say 
it, very dirty old man. The letters, alas ! proved to be most uninter- 
esting in themselves, but, nevertheless, they formed a link with 
civilisation. They were chiefly bills from unscrupulous Coast mer- 
chants being rendered for the third and fourth time although 
already paid at least once. 

The newspapers were, of course, very old, but produced an 
extraordinary feeling of uneasiness or disquietude. Leading the 
life I then was, with its freedom from financial care — money was 
valueless and never handled — from responsibility — there was no 
law in the land except that of force — it had rather the effect of a 
sudden chill to read of strikes, famines, railway accidents, unem- 
ployment, lawsuits, and the other thousand and one unhappinesses 



44 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

usually contained in newspapers. Although I read them, every 
word, including the advertisements— here again remedies for ills — 
I felt distinctly perturbed for two or three days after. The hap- 
piest literature I ever had in the bush was "Pickwick Papers," 
and the happiest newspaper the dear old Field. 



III. — The Coming of Pyjale* 

From Mani-Mani we moved on to Bukora, another section of 
Karamojans. I was warned by the Swahilis that Bukora was a 
very bad country. The people were very rich in cattle and corre- 
spondingly insolent. Everyone who passed through Bukora had 
trouble. Either stock was stolen or porters murdered. 

I cannot say that I believed all this, or perhaps I would not have 
been so ready to go there. But that there was some truth in their 
statements I soon found. In fact, there were moments when it 
was touch and go. Looking back on it calmly I can see that 
nothing but chance luck saved us. It was thus : We pushed our 
way smartly right into the middle of Bukora, intending to camp 
near some large village. But to our disappointment the catch- 
ments of water were nearly dry. What remained in them was 
merely mud. We were obliged therefore to move on to some wells 
on the outskirts of the villages. This is always a bad place to be 
attacked in. Natives are much more willing to attack people out- 
side than when they are right in their midst. When you are close 
alongside a village and there is any question of hostilities, the people 
of that particular village feel that they will probably come in for 
more than their share of the trouble when it begins. They have 
their goods and chattels there, their corn, cows, babies, fowls, etc. 
For these reasons they are against hostilities. Another advantage 
to the travellers when close to stockaded villages — as these were — 
is that such a village can be rushed and then held against the rest 
of the tribe. 

However, I was young and without much thought of anything 



p-^Vsn ^S 




KARAMOJO 45 

in those days, and camp by the wells I would. We accordingly 
did so. And presently the camp began to fill with apparently 
friendly natives. They dropped in by twos and threes and stood 
around, each man with two spears. I thought they seemed a nice 
friendly, sociable crowd, and took little further heed of them. 
Then comes my headman, a Swahili, to me. " Bwana, there is 
no good brewing. These people mean trouble. Look around, do 
you see a single woman anywhere?" I laughed and asked him 
what he thought they would do. He said that at a given pre- 
arranged signal they would start spearing everyone. And then it 
dawned on me how absurdly easy it would be for them to do so. 
When you came to look around with this thought in your mind it 
became apparent that every man was being marked by several 
spearmen. If he moved they also lounged about until they were 
again close to him. I must say they appeared to me to act the 
indifference part very well. When I had convinced myself that 
something of this nature really was afoot, I naturally got close to 
my shooting irons, ready to take a hand when the fun started. In 
those days I always wore fifty rounds in my belt. 

Now I thought that if I could only supply something sufficiently 
distracting the affair might never begin. There over the plains 
were plenty of game. I took my rifle and got the interpreter to 
tell the Karamojans to come as I was going killing meat. They 
came at once in fair numbers. They had already heard of my won- 
derful rifles, and wherever I went I always had an audience eager 
to see them or the Bom-bom (Mauser pistol) at work. 

Hardly had we gone a few hundred yards, and while we were 
still in full view of the camp, when a herd of zebra came galloping 
across our front. They had been alarmed by some abnormal move- 
ment of natives and had somehow got mixed up and lost. 

They came well spaced apart and just right for my purpose. I 
shot one after the other as hard as I could fire. I was using a 
10 shot -303, and when I had fired the ten shots the survivors of the 
herd were too far off. I was careful not to reload in the ordinary 



46 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

way, for I carried another charged magazine. Consequently the 
natives thought I might have any number of shots left in this quite 
new and terrifying weapon. No smoke and such a rapid fire of 
death — they had never seen the like. Bing ! bing ! bing ! bing ! 
bing ! they kept saying to themselves, only much more rapidly 
than the actual rate of fire. And the zebras, strong brutes, knocked 
right down one after the other. No ! this was something new. 
They had better be careful about fooling around with this red man. 
He was different from those red men among the Swahilis, who used 
to fire great clouds of smoke and hit nothing. 

After an episode of this kind one feels somehow that a complete 
mental transformation has taken place. One is established right 
above these, in some ways, finer but less scientific people. But 
this knowledge comes to both at the same time. I now ordered 
these previously truculent, now almost servile, savages to flay, cut 
up and carry to camp every bit of meat and skin. When I saw 
anyone sneaking a bit of fat or what-not I blackguarded him 
soundly. I rushed the whole regiment back to camp loaded with 
several tons of meat, many of them forgetting their spears in their 
hurry. But had I ventured to bullyrag them like this before the 
zebra incident I would have had a spear thrust for answer and right 
quickly too. 

I now began to push enquiries about elephant, but with no 
great success at first. One day a Bukora boy came to camp and 
while in conversation with some of my people casually told them 
that he had recently returned from no man's land, where he and 
some friends of his had been looking for Kumamma. The 
Kumamma were their neighbours to the west. They had 
been looking for them in order to spear them, should things 
be right — that meaning should the enemy be in sufficiently 
small force for them to easily overcome. When the numbers are 
at all equal, both sides retire smartly to the rear. This is the 
normal kind of state in which these tribes live. It leads to a few 
deaths certainly, but it keeps the young men fit and out of other 



KARAMOJO 47 

mischief. Every young man goes looking for blood frequently, 
and as they carry no food except a few handfuls of unground millet 
simply soaked in water, and as they never dare to sleep while in the 
neutral zone, it acts as a kind of field training. 

This youth, then, had seen no Kumamma but had seen elephant. 
My boys told me this and I tried to get the lad to go with us to 
hunt. He said he would come back and let me know. He did so 
and brought a friend. This friend of his was a most remarkable- 
looking man. Strange as it may seem, he had a most intellectual 
head. He was a man of perhaps thirty-five years of age, most 
beautifully made and tattooed for men victims only, I was relieved 
to see. Pyjale was his name, and now began a firm and long friend- 
ship between this distinguished savage and myself. I cannot say 
that I have ever had the same feelings for any man as I came to 
have for Pyjale. He was, I found, a thorough man, courageous, 
quiet, modest, with a horror of humbug and untiring in our common 
pact, the pursuit of elephant. He was with me during the greater 
part of my time in Karamojo, and although surrounded by people 
who clothed themselves, never would he wear a rag even. Nor 
would he sleep comfortably as we did on grass and blankets. The 
bare hard ground out by the camp fire with a hole dug for his hip 
bone and his little wooden pillow had been good enough for him 
before and was good enough now. No one poked fun at Pyjale 
for his nakedness ; he was the kind who do not get fun poked 
at them. 

Pyjale was game to show us elephants, but said we would have 
to travel far. His intelligence was at once apparent by his saying 
that we ought to take tents as the rains might come any day. He 
was right, for come they did while we were hunting. 

I took to Pyjale right at the start and asked him what I should 
do about the main safari. He said I could leave it where it was ; 
no one would interfere with it. If I liked I could leave the ivory 
in one of the villages. This I gathered was equivalent to putting 
one's silver in the bank at home. And so it is, bizarre as it mav 



4* WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

seem. You may leave anything with natives — ivory, beads, which 
are money, trade goods, stock, anything — and not one thing will 
they take provided you place it in their care. But if you leave 
your own people to look after it they will steal it, given the chance. 

Thinking that it might save trouble I put all my trade goods 
and ivory in a village, and leaving the safari with plenty of rations, 
I left for a few days' hunting, taking a sufficient number of porters 
to bring home any ivory we were likely to get. This was necessary 
at this time as the natives did not yet follow me in hundreds 
wherever I went, as they did later on. 

We trekked hard for three days and came once more in sight 
of the Debasien range, but on its other side. On the night of the 
third day the rains burst upon us. The light calico bush tents were 
hastily erected in a perfect gale and downpour. Even Pyjale had 
to shelter. 

In the morning Pyjale said we were certain to see elephant if 
we could only cross a river which lay ahead of us. When we 
reached its banks it was a raging torrent, red with mud and covered 
with patches of white froth. There was nothing for it but to camp 
and wait until the spate subsided. 

While this was being done I saw a snake being carried down 
by the swollen river. Then I saw another and another. Evidently 
banks were being washed away somewhere. 

A boy pointed to my shorts and said that a doodoo (insect) had 
crawled up the inside of one of my legs. Thinking, perhaps, it 
was a fly, or not thinking at all, perhaps, I slapped my leg hard with 
open hand and got a most frightful sting, while a huge scorpion 
dropped half crushed to the ground. But not before he had 
injected quite sufficient poison into me. "Insect," indeed! how 
I cursed that boy. And then, by way of helping me, he said that 
when people were stung by these big black scorpions — like mine — 
they always died. He was in a frightful state. And then another 
fool boy said : " Yes, no one ever recovered from that kind." I 
shouted for whisky, for you certainly could feel the poison going 



KARAMOJO 49 

through the circulation. I knew that what the boys said was bun- 
kum, but still I drank a lot of whisky. My leg swelled and I could 
not sleep that night, but I was quite all right next day. 

The river had gone down somewhat, so I proposed to cross. 
No one was very eager to go across with a rope. A rope was neces- 
sary, as some of the boys could not swim and the current was run- 
ning too strong for them to walk across the bottom under water, 
carrying stones to keep them down, as they usually did. 

I carried at that time a Mexican raw hide lariat and thought 
that this stretched across would do nicely for the boys to haul them- 
selves over by. So I took one end to the other side and made it fast, 
when the safari began to come over. Once the plunge had been 
taken I found that more of them could swim than they had led me 
to believe. Then the inevitable — when raw hide gets wet — hap- 
pened and the rope parted. As luck would have it there was a boy 
about mid-stream at the instant. The slippery end slid through 
his fingers and he went rapidly down-stream. His head kept going 
under and reappearing I noticed, but thought that, as he had a 
smile on his face each time he came up, he was another humbug 
pretending to be unable to swim. His friends, who knew per- 
fectly well that he could not swim a yard, said, of course, not a 
word. And it was not until he gushed water at the mouth instead 
of air that I realised he was drowning. I ran down the bank while 
another boy plunged in at the crossing place. I reached the boy 
first by a second and we soon had him towing to bank. Black men 
are good to save, they never seem to realise their close call and do 
not clutch and try to climb out on you. While towing to the 
bank I felt something on my head and put up a hand to brush it 
off. Horrors, a snake ! It was merely trying to save itself on any- 
thing above water level, but I did not realise this. Whenever I 
knocked it off it seemed to come again. Luckily we just then 
reached the bank or in another instant I would have abandoned 
my drowning porter to save myself from that beastly serpent. It 
was all very silly, and the snake was nearly at its last gasp, but I 

4 



5o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

did not see the humour at the moment. Needless to say, the boy 
was perfectly all right in ten minutes after vomiting up a bucket 
or two of water. 

While we were getting ready again for the march we heard 
elephant. To my inexperienced ear the sound seemed to come 
from some bush 400 yds. or 500 yds. away. But Pyjale said, to 
my astonishment, that they were a long way off and that unless 
we hurried we should not see them before sundown. As the sun 
then indicated about one o'clock, I thought he was wrong. But 
he was not ; for it was half an hour from sunset when we saw them, 
still far away. I remember looking industriously about all those 
miles expecting momentarily to see elephant, while Pyjale soaked 
along ahead of me without a glance aside. The only explanation 
of this extraordinary sound-carrying that has ever occurred to me 
is humidity of atmosphere. During the dry season the earth 
becomes so hot that when the first rains fall much is evaporated in 
steam and the humidity is remarkable. 

Here we were face to face with such a gathering of elephant 
as I had never dared to dream of even. The whole country was 
black with them, and what lay beyond them one could not see as 
the country was dead flat. Some of them were up to their knees 
in water, and when we reached their tracks the going became very 
bad. The water was so opaque with mud as to quite hide the huge 
pot-holes made by the heavy animals. You were in and out the 
whole time. As we drew nearer I thought that we ought to go 
decently and quietly, at any rate make some pretence of stalking 
them, if only out of respect to them. But no, that awful Pyjale 
rushed me, splashing and squelching right up to them. He was 
awfully good, and I began to learn a lot from him. He treated 
elephant with complete indifference. If he were moved at all, 
and that was seldom, he would smile. 

I was for treating them as dangerous animals, especially when 
we trod on the heels of small bogged-down calves and their mothers 
came rushing back at us in the most alarming fashion, but Pyjale 



KARAMOJO 51 

would have none of it. Up to the big bulls would he have me go, 
even if we had to go under infuriated cows. He made me kill 
seven before sundown stopped the bloodshed. 

With great difficulty we found a spot a little higher than the 
surrounding country and fairly dry. As usual at these flood times 
the little island was crawling with ants of every description. How 
comes it that ants do not drown, although they cannot swim? 
They appear to be covered with something which repels water. 

Scorpions and all kinds of other horrors were there also. One 
of the boys was bitten and made a fearful fuss all night about it. 

I expected to do well on the morrow, but when it came, behold, 
not an elephant in sight. Such are the surprises of elephant hunt- 
ing. Yesterday when light failed hundreds upon hundreds in sight 
and now an empty wilderness. 

We had not alarmed them, as I noticed that when a shot was 
fired only the animals in the vicinity ran and that for a short dis- 
tance only. There were too many to stampede even had they been 
familiar with firearms. And the noise was such as to drown the 
crack of a -303 almost immediately. 

I asked Pyjale what he thought about it. He said that at the 
beginning of the rains elephant wandered all over the country. 
You could never tell where they might be. With water and mud 
and green food springing up everywhere they were under no neces- 
sity to frequent any one district more than another. Pyj ale's 
advice was to get the ivory out and take it home, and then he would 
show me a country where we were certain to get big bulls. Accord- 
ingly the boys set about chopping out while I went for a cruise 
around to make certain there was nothing about. 

I saw nothing but ostrich, giraffe and great herds of common 
and Topi haartebeeste. On crossing some black-cotton soil I 
noticed that it clung to the boots in a very tiresome way. Each 
time you lifted a foot, 10 lb. or 15 lb. of sticky mud came with it. 
At this stage the ground was still dry underneath, only the top 
few inches being wet. From the big lumps lying about where 



52 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

antelope had passed it was obvious that they had, too, the same 
trouble as I was having, i.e., mud clinging to the feet. 

But on watching Pyjale it appeared that it did not stick to 
naked human feet to anything like the same extent. Pyjale told 
me, and I afterwards saw it actually done, that it was possible to 
run down ostrich and the heavy antelope, such as eland, when the 
ground was in this state. 

Returning we found the boys well on with their chopping out. 
Towards evening we started for home, being much troubled with 
swollen rivers. Most of the boys walked through the rivers when 
we could find a place where the current was not too strong. The 
heavy tusks, of course, kept them on the bottom. But it was a 
curious sight to see them calmly marching in deeper and deeper 
until their heads went right under, reappearing again close to the 
other bank. Of course, the distance they thus traversed was 
only a few yards, but for fellows who cannot swim it was 
not bad. 

One camp from home (the safari) we slept near some flooded 
wells. The boys took their tusks to scrub them with sand and 
water, the better to make an appearance on the morrow when 
we should rejoin the safari. This is always a source of joy to 
Wanyamwezi, to carry ivory to the base. When allowed to do 
so they will spend hours dancing and singing their way into the 
camp. The women turn out, everybody makes a noise of some 
kind, from blowing a reed pipe, to trumpeting on a water buck 
horn or beating a drum or a tin, in fact anything so that it pro- 
duces noise. 

While they were scrubbing the tusks one of these slipped from 
the boy's hands into a well. I heard of it and went to see what 
could be done. To test the depth I tried one of Pyj ale's 9 ft. 
spears. No good. Then I tied another to it, but even then I 
could not touch bottom. Pyjale said the bottom was very far. 
Then I looked at one of my boys squatting on the edge of the well. 
He had been a coast canoe-man shark-fisher — than whom no finer 



KARAMOJO 53 

watermen exist — and knew what I meant without a word passing. 
He tied his cloth between his legs and stripped his upper body. 
Then jumping into the air he twisted half round and went down 
head first into the very middle of the well. It seemed ages before 
his head reappeared. At last it did so, but only for an instant. 
Down again ; apparently he had not found it the first time. After 
another long wait he came up with the tusk and swimming or tread- 
ing water. Eager hands clutched the tusk and drew it out, the 
boy crawled out himself. This particular tusk weighed 65 lb., the 
length being almost the diameter of the well, so it had to be brought 
up end on. How he did it I cannot imagine. The water was the 
colour of pea-soup, and a scrubbed- tusk is like a greasy pole to hold. 
Of course, it would not weigh 65 lb. when submerged, but it was a 
pretty good effort I thought. I know I would not have gone 20 ft. 
or 30 ft. down that well for any number of tusks. 

These boys have the most extraordinary lungs. I once sent 
one of them down to disentangle the anchor of a motor launch, 
which had got foul of something. There were about four fathoms 
of chain and the boy went down this hand over hand. I only 
wanted him to clear the anchor, when we would heave it up in the 
ordinary way. But presently up the chain came the boy and the 
anchor. 

On the morrow we entered Bukora again, with fourteen fine 
white tusks. We had a great reception at our camp. The natives, 
too, were rather astonished at our rapid success. Pyjale stalked 
along without any show of feeling. 

The boys who had stayed behind had nothing to report except 
the loss of three of our sheep by theft. Now it was essential to 
nip this kind of thing in the bud. I did nothing that day, merely 
sending Pyjale to his home with a handsome present. I knew he 
would put it round as to the kind of people we were. Natives 
always exaggerate enormously when back from a scurry in the 
bush, and his account of our doings would probably have made me 
blush had I heard it. 



54 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Next day when Pyjale came with a pot of fresh cow's milk as 
a present, I asked him if he had heard anything about our sheep. 
He said no. I asked him to point me out the village which had 
stolen them. He said they would kill him if he did so. There- 
fore he knew. I then said that he need not go with me, if only 
he would indicate it. He said the village with the three tamarind 
trees was where the thieves lived. 

I went over quietly, as if looking for guinea-fowl, in the even- 
ing. The village was quite close to our camp. When their stock 
began to come in I signalled up some boys. We walked up deliber- 
ately to the herds, no one taking any great notice of us. I separated 
out a mob of sheep and goats and we started driving them towards 
camp, but very quietly and calmly. It is wonderful how imitative 
Africans are. If you are excited they at once become so. If you 
are calm and deliberate, so are they. 

A more dramatic thing would have been to take the cattle. 
But these native cattle are not used to boys wearing clothes, as 
mine did, and we found at Mani-Mani that they became excited 
and difficult to handle unless they see their black naked owners 
about. Pyjale I had carefully left out of this business. 

As soon as our object dawned upon the Karamojans there was 
the usual commotion. Women wha ! wha ! wha-ed while rushing 
from the huts with shields ; warriors seized these and rushed with 
prodigious speed directly away from us ; while we pushed our two 
or three hundred hostages slowly along. 

Arrived at camp we just managed to, squeeze them all into the 
bullock boma. There were noises all round us now. The boys 
were uneasy ; there is always something in the alarm note when 
issued by hundreds of human throats. Dark was soon on us and 
we sat up by the camp fires till fairly late. Nothing happened, as 
I anticipated. Discretion had won. They hated that little bom- 
bom so. 

What I wanted now was that they should come. I wanted to 
tell them why I had taken their sheep. No one appeared, but I 



KARAMOJO 55 

consoled myself with the thought that they jolly well knew why I 
had taken them. 

Presently there appeared to be great signs of activity in one of 
the nearer villages. Native men kept coming from all directions. 
My boys were all eyes for this, to them, impending attack. I 
thought they must be born fools to try anything of that sort in 
broad daylight. Night was their best chance. 

Pyjale had been absent, so I hoped that he was at the meeting. 
Presently he appeared. He said they had had a discussion and 
had concluded not to attack us. I told him to go straight back 
and invite them all to come ; I wanted to be attacked. And more- 
over, if my sheep were not instantly brought I would proceed to 
kill the hostage sheep we held, and that then I would proceed to 
hunt the thieves. 

This acted like magic ; I suppose they thought that as I had 
known the village of the thieves, I also probably knew the actual 
men themselves. Our sheep were very soon brought and the 
hostages released. 

I took the opportunity when the natives were there to impress 
upon them that we did not want anything from them. All we 
wanted was to hunt elephant in peace, but at the same time I 
hinted that we could be very terrible indeed. I got some of the 
older men to dry up and sit down, in a friendly way, and we had 
a good talk together. I now brought out the card to which I owed 
all my success in killing elephant in Karamojo. I offered a cow as 
reward for information leading to my killing five or more bull 
elephant. This was an unheard of reward. There a cow of breed- 
ing age is simply priceless. Normally natives never kill or sell 
she-stock of any kind and cows could only be obtained by success- 
ful raiding. Now among Africans there are numbers of young 
men who just lack the quality which brings success to its lucky 
owner, just as there are in every community, and to these young 
men my offer appealed tremendously. That they believed in my 
promise from the very start was, I thought, a great compliment, 



'x 



56 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

not only to me, but to their astuteness in perceiving that there was 
a difference between white men and Swahilis. 

When my offer had gone the rounds the whole country for 
many miles round was scoured for elephant, with the result that I 
never could have a day's rest. Everyone was looking for elephant. 
But had the reward been trade goods scarcely a soul would have 
bothered about it. 

The first man to come was remarkable looking enough to satisfy 
anybody. A terrible looking man. A grotesquely hideous face 
above a very broad and deep chest, all mounted on the spindliest of 
knock-kneed legs. Chest, arms, shoulders, stomach and back 
heavily tattooed, denoting much killing. By reputation a terrific 
fighter, and very wealthy. 

At first I thought that he was come to show me elephant. That 
was his intention, he said, but first he wanted to become my blood- 
brother. He said he could see that I was a kindred spirit and that 
we two should be friends. He said he had no friends. How was 
that? I asked. Pyjale answered in a whisper that the lion never 
made friends of jackals and hyenas. And so we became friends. 
I was not going through the blood-brotherhood business, with its 
eating of bits of toasted meat smeared with each other's blood, 
sawing in two of living dogs or nonsense of that kind. I took his 
hand and wrung it hard, and had it explained to him that among 
us that was an extraordinarily potent way of doing it. That seemed 
to satisfy the old boy, for the act of shaking hands was as strange 
to him as the act of eating each other's blood is to us. 

He started off then and I said : " What about those elephant?" 
" Wait," was the answer, and off he went, to return shortly with a 
fat bullock. And then I found that my friend was the wealthiest 
cattle owner anywhere about — a kind of multi-millionaire. I 
thought to myself, well, he will not look for elephant. Nor did 
he ; but he had sons without number, being much married, whom 
he scattered far and wide to look for them. He had arranged the 
thing most perfectly. We went with food for a few days and 




LONGELLY-NYMUNG, THE AUTHORS BLOOD BROTHER. 

One of the best spear-fighters and therefore wealthy in 

cattle. He ivas an exceptional man, ivould accept no 

gifts, but took Mr. Bell's native name and also called his 

male children by it. 



KARAMOJO 57 

returned laden with ivory. Besides which we had some of the 
jolliest nights in the bush. 

This great man being now my friend, our troubles were at an 
end. Wherever we went we were followed by scores of the young 
unmarried girls and one old maid — the only one I have come across 
in Karamojo. She was so outstandingly above the average in good 
looks, so beautifully made and so obviously still quite young, that 
I often asked why she should remain a spinster. They told me 
that no man would marry her because she was so beautiful. But 
why should that be a bar ? we white men like our wives to be beau- 
tiful. They thought this strange, even for white men. They said 
they never married very beautiful women as all men wanted them. 
They also gave as another reason that these very attractive women 
wanted all men. And I must say that our camp beauty gave 
decided colour to this latter statement. 

No sooner were we arrived back with our imposing line of beau- 
tiful tusks than other natives clamoured to take us to elephant. 
They wanted me to go there and then, but I needed a rest. 

In the evening I presented my friend with a heifer, when to my 
astonishment he refused it. He said he wanted nothing from his 
friend. I was rather suspicious about this at first, but I need not 
have been, as I subsequently found this man to be thoroughly 
genuine. I am convinced that he would have given me anything. 
It is a big affair in their lives, this blood-brotherhood. Apparently 
we now owned everything in common. He offered me any of his 
daughters in marriage, and, thank goodness, never asked me for 
my rifle. From now on he followed me about like a faithful dog, 
some of his young wives attending to his commissariat arrange- 
ments wherever he was. He even took my name, which was 
Longelly-nyung or Red Man. And he began now to call his young 
male children, of whom he was very fond, by the same name. He 
was a delightfully simple fellow at heart and as courageous as a 
lion, as I had proof later. 

After a few more journeys to the bush lasting from four to 



58 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

ten days, I found suddenly that I had as much ivory as I could 
possibly move. And this, while still on the fringe of Karamojo. 
I decided to return to Mumias, sell my ivory, fit out a real good 
expedition capable of moving several tons of ivory, and return to 
Karamojo fitted out for several years in the bush. 



VI 

DABOSSA 

HAVING now the wherewithal to fit out a real good safari 
from the sale of my ivory, I proceeded to discharge my 
Baganda porters and to engage in their place Wanyamweze. 
Bagandas being banana-eaters had shown themselves to be good lads 
enough, but poor "doers" on ground millet, flour and elephant 
meat. Dysentery was their trouble. Whereas Wanyamweze 
seemed capable of keeping their condition indefinitely under severe 
safari conditions. All my former boys had a good pay-day coming 
to them, as, of course, they had been unable to spend anything while 
in Karamojo. Consequently they one and all went on the burst. 
A few new clothes from the Indian shops and the rest on native 
beer was the rule. When drinking largely of native beer no other 
food is required as the whole grain is contained in it. My two 
Nandi cowherds spent hardly anything of their wages. The only 
things I ever saw them buy were a fat sheep and two tins of sweet 
condensed milk. They rendered down about two quarts of fat 
from the tail of the sheep, poured in the contents of the milk tins, 
stirred it well and drank it off. 

This time bullocks were not employed, donkeys taking their 
place. It was in connection with the buying of these donkeys 
that a remarkable feat of foot-travelling came to my notice. A 
trader wished to sell to me some donkeys — probably raided — which 
he had left at Mani-Mani, about 150 miles away. He offered a 
Karamojan a cow as reward for bringing them down in time for 
me to buy, and the boy had them there at the end of the fourth 
day. As nearly as I could ascertain he had covered 300 miles in 
100 hours. 

59 



6o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

We crossed the Turk well about 102 strong, this number not 
including women and camp followers. At Mani-Mani and Bukora 
some of our cows were exchanged for sheep, goats and donkeys. 
A decent cow would bring sixty sheep or goats. A donkey was 
the equivalent of ten sheep or goats. Having now so many mouths 
to feed it was necessary to buy many donkeys. I raised our donkey 
strength to 160, This meant that I could have constantly loaded 
about eighty. They were chiefly employed in carrying grain to 
our base camp in Dodose, sometimes from Mt. Elgon, where 
banana flour could be got, over 200 miles away, or from the country 
near the Nile, 150 to 200 miles distant. Throughout all this trek- 
king, with two donkeys to one saddle, they never had a sore back. 

On our arrival at Mani-Mani we found the Swahili village almost 
deserted. Everyone was out on a raid. They had reckoned that 
no one in their senses would return to the wilderness so soon as I 
had. They could not conceive how I had spent the proceeds of all 
that ivory in so short a time. I learnt that they were out against 
the Dabossans in whose country I meant to hunt. I therefore laid 
out my route so as to intercept the returning raiders. 

Passing through Bukora we were greeted as old friends, a very 
different reception from our first. Pyjale immediately joined up, and 
after taking a few good bull elephants from the Bukora-Kumamma 
neutral zone we trekked leisurely and heavily laden northwards. 

At the last village of Bukora we met commotion and wailing. 
The occasion was the murder of three young Bukora girls of mar- 
riageable age at the hands of some roving band of Jiwe bloods. 
These affairs were of quite common occurrence, and the natives 
could never understand the disgust and abhorrence they drew from 
me. I was eventually able to stop the killing of females, at least 
while I was in the country. 

Pitching camp late one night in the fighting zone between 
Bukora and Jiwe, lions were sighted leaving the rocky hills for the 
game-covered plains. Although almost dark I succeeded in killing 
two within a short distance of camp. I returned and was seated 



DABOSSA 6 1 

by the camp-fire when I heard alarming shouts from the direction 
of the dead lions. In this kind of life something is constantly 
turning up, and one soon learns to be always ready. The occur- 
rences are so simple as to require but simple remedies. Everything 
seems to demand the presence of a rifle and just an ordinary sense 
of humour to transform an imminent tragedy into African comedy. 
Seizing my -275 I rushed through the darkness towards the shouts, 
and what I found was that one lion had been skinned and the other half 
flayed when it had suddenly come to life again. The boys said that 
as they were removing its skin it suddenly and without warning 
stood up, opened its mouth and rushed at them. But what I 
found was a half -skinned lion with its head alive but the rest of it 
dead or paralysed. It could open its mouth and growl ferociously. 
Its springing at them must have been supplied by the boys' 
imaginations or to excuse their headlong flight. Some nerve must 
have suffered damage in the lion's neck, leaving the body paralysed 
but the head active. One of the boys had been seated on it when 
it growled, and his account of the affair in camp raised bursts of 
deep-chested Nyamwezi laughter. 

These camps in the wonderful African nights of the dry season 
linger in my memory as the most enjoyable I have ever experienced. 
Other nights have been more exciting and more exhilarating, but 
also more harmful in their after-effects. Poker or flying by night, 
sitting up for elephant or lion, provide quicker pulse-beats between 
periods of intense boredom, but for level quiet enjoyment give me 
the camp-chair by the camp-fire with a crowd of happy and con- 
tented natives about and the prospect of good hunting in front 
and the evidence of good hunting by your side. Looking back on 
my safaris I can discern that they were quite exceptionally happy 
little collections of human beings. For one reason, health was 
simply splendid. Everyone was well and amply tented. All 
slept warm and dry. Mosquitoes were rare and stomachs full. 
Fun was of poor calibre, perhaps, but high animal spirits were 
there to make the most of it. The boys had their women — wives 



62 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

they called them. Tobacco could be traded from the natives or 
bought at cost price from the safari slop-chest. 

Fighting among the men was always settled in the ring and 
with 4 oz. gloves provided by me. When this was*found too slow 
— and they sometimes pounded each other for an hour on end, 
rounds being washed out — sticks were provided and the thing 
brought to a head more rapidly with the letting of a little blood. 
When the women bickered too persistently a ring would be formed, 
permission got and the two naggers dragged in. Each would then 
hitch up short her cloth about her ample hips and, after being pro- 
vided with a hippo-hide whip, at it they would go with fire almost 
equal to that of the men. But with this difference. Where the 
men used their heads and tried to prevent the other from injuring 
them, the women waited motionless and guardless for each other's 
strokes. It was the most extraordinary form of fighting ever seen. 
A. would catch B. a stinging swinger on the back and stand wait- 
ing for B. to give her a frightful cut across the shoulders. And so 
on it would go — szwip ! szwop ! — for about ten minutes, when B. 
would suddenly cast her whip on the ground and flee, A. in hot 
pursuit, while shouts of laughter greeted the decision, especially 
strong when either combatant lost her last shred of cloth. I must 
say the women never bore malice and were always great friends 
afterwards. Even during the fighting they never showed vice, for 
they could as easily as not have cut the eye out of their unguarded 
opponent. Yet I never saw anything approaching an injury 
inflicted in these affairs. 

Then in the evenings there was football. When I first intro- 
duced this game I tried to teach them rugger. They were born 
rugger players. Fast, bare-footed, hard, muscular and slippery, 
they cared not at all for the ant-heaps, boulders, or thorn bushes 
which littered their day's playground. After carrying a hundred- 
weight all day, pitching camp, building thorn bomas for the animals 
and bringing in firewood for the night, they would go to rugger until 
dark. So bad were some of the injuries sustained, owing to the bad 



DABOSSA 63 

terrain, that a new game had to be evolved more suited to the ground. 
After various trials a game was settled upon which seemed to suit. 
It was simply a kind of massed rush in which any number could 
engage. Goals were marked out at distances one from the other to 
suit the ground. Then the ball was placed at half-way and the two 
opposing sides drawn up in line about 15 yds. from it. At a signal 
both sides charged full tilt at each other, meeting about where the 
ball was. Then the object was to get the ball by hook or by crook 
to the goal. No off-side, no boundaries, no penalties, no referee 
and no half-time. Darkness terminated the game. So hard was 
the ground and so incessant the wear on the ball that it was seldom 
one lasted a month. How they could kick it without breaking 
their toes always puzzled me. 

Our reputation had preceded us, and we were welcomed by the 
Jiwe people. So much so that they wished for blood-brotherhood, 
but I evaded it. We hunted happily in their country for some 
time and learnt of an attack on their country by a Nile tribe with 
numerous guns of muzzle-loading type. The Jiwe with spears 
alone had not only repulsed the attackers but had massacred most 
of them. Inadequate supplies of munitions had been their down- 
fall. The firearms which had been picked up by the Jiwe had 
since been traded off to Swahilis. 

While chasing elephant in the Jiwe country one day we hap- 
pened to start some ostrich running. They took the same line as 
the fleeing elephant and soon overhauled them. When close up 
the cock bird suddenly began the fantastic dashes here and there 
usually seen in the breeding season. One of his speed efforts took 
him close past a lumbering bull elephant on the outside of the little 
herd. These elephants had already been severely chased and several 
of their number had been killed. When, therefore, the black form 
of the ostrich raced up from behind him the poor old elephant nearly 
fell over with fright. His trunk shot out and his ears looked like 
umbrellas turned inside out by a sudden gust. But recovering 
almost instantly, he settled back to his stead v fast retreat. 



64 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Our next country northwards was Dodose, where I proposed 
to establish the base camp. On entering it we found it high-lying 
country among steep little granite hills. We were well received 
and soon became friendly. Some wonderful elephant country was 
reached from Dodose, and it was here that I got my heaviest ivory. 
Buffalo were also very numerous. It was beautiful hunting country, 
as elephant could frequently be found, with glasses, from one of 
the numerous hills. 

It was now the dry season ; there was, for that reason, only one 
route to or from Dabossa, where the Swahili raid was on. I there- 
fore put a look-out post on this route to bring me news of anyone 
coming south on this trail. This post consisted of four of my best 
Wanyamweze boys with two natives. As soon as any sign of the 
returning raiders was seen the boys were to send a native with the 
news while they remained to try to keep any Swahilis until my 
arrival. I had expected the raiders to have a fore-guard of some 
sort and that I would have time to arrive on the scene between its 
arrival and the coming of the main body. Instead of this, up 
marched the whole body of raiders, cattle and captives, all in charge 
of my four stalwarts. What they had told the Swahilis lay in 
store for them I never learnt, but it was evidently something 
dreadful, judging by the state of panic they were in. I counted 
their guns and took their captives — all women — and cattle from 
them, warned them that next time they would land up in prison 
or be shot, and sent them packing. 

After a considerable hunt in and around Dodose, it was now 
time, the first rains being imminent, to be moving northwards 
towards Dabossa. In entering new country for elephant it is 
always best to get there when the first rains are on, as the animals 
then desert their dry-season thick haunts for the open country. 

Before approaching the inhabited part of Dabossa I knew that 
it would be necessary somehow to get into communication with the 
natives. They had just recently been raided and would be very 
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DABOSSA 65 

country. The Dabossan cattle recently taken from the raiders were 
therefore placed in the charge of some of the Dodose notables, while 
I and a good little safari headed northwards, taking with us all the 
captive women. 

When still about forty miles from Dabossa it became evident 
from signs that Dabossans were about. We therefore camped by 
water and built a strong thorn boma. Everyone was warned not 
to leave the boma at night, but one of my personal boys — a brain- 
less Kavirondo — thinking perhaps that orders were not meant for 
him, broke camp and was promptly speared. His cries effectually 
roused the camp, but the extent of his hurt bore little resemblance 
to the volume of his noise. He had a nice little spear thrust in a 
tender spot. 

The boy's misfortune was promptly turned to account, for, 
after stilling his cries, we got the Dabossan captives to shout into 
the night all our news. Our reason for being there, our intentions, 
how we had their cattle ready to return to their owners — so far had 
the narrative got when first one voice from the dark and then others 
began asking for news of such and such a cow or heifer, so-and-so's 
bull or bullock. Later women or girl captives were asked after. 
Eventually men appeared and were persuaded to come to camp. 
Relations became friendly almost at once. At daybreak it was 
arranged for some of the natives to go at once to Dabossa and 
spread the news, while others accompanied some of my boys back 
to Dodose in order to identify their cattle. This was thought neces- 
sary as we did not know the cattle from any others, and also because 
it was almost certain that the Dodose notables would try to palm off 
their duds in place of the good Dabossan animals. Meanwhile I 
remained hunting the surrounding country. 

In a few days there arrived a runner from Dodose with the news 
that my Dodose notables had held a meeting and, courage brewed 
by numbers and beer, had flatly refused to give up the Dabossan 
cattle left in their charge. Not knowing my native gentlemen 
quite as well as I ought to have, and that courage so rapidly got was 

5 



66 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

as rapidly lost, I was on the point of rushing back to Dodose when 
another runner arrived saying that all was well and that notable 
after notable had singly and surreptitiously returned the full tally 
of cattle left with him. I was relieved to hear this, as these con- 
stant native palavers were taking up a great deal of my hunting 
time. 

The cattle soon arrived, drank up our small pool of water, and 
we pushed off all together for Dabossa. The captive women were 
now, of course, quite free to go or stay and, without exception, they 
remained with us in idleness until removed by their men folk on our 
arrival in Dabossa. Had I allowed it, most of them would have 
remained as " wives " to my men rather than go back to the heavy 
work of tilling in their home gardens. 

We had a huge reception in Dabossa. There must have been 
close on 5,000 spears assembled in the huge open space where we 
camped. Pow-wows were the order of one long weary day when 
the cattle were handed over and the captives returned to their rela- 
tions. Peace for us at any rate was assured, but when I told the 
Dabossans that no one would attack them and that they ought to 
trade peacefully, they swore they would massacre every Swahili 
who might venture near their country. After I had explained my 
wish to hunt elephant, an old woman got up and made a long speech 
to the effect that they owed everything to me and that they ought 
to give me a pair of tusks. This they did, not particularly large 
ones. But what was better than tusks was guides to the Murua 
Akipi (Mountain of Water) country, said to abound in elephant. 

This Murua Akipi was the aim of my journey. I had heard of 
it from native sources. It was a wonderful country where anything 
might happen. Huge elephant lived there. Bad Abyssinians came 
there. Elephant cemeteries were to be found there. Water 
which killed whoever drank it was there and which looked so cold 
and clear. No white man had ever seen it, although every traveller 
was supposed to be trying to reach it for the mysterious " thahabu " 
(gold) it contained. In fact, if one asked for anything under the 



DABOSSA 67 

sun anywhere within a radius of one hundred miles he would be 
referred to that mysterious blue peak, Murua Akipi. 

We trailed along through monotonous cultivated country for 
several days. Then coming to the end of Dabossa we entered on 
an exceptionally large deserted zone. Here hardly anyone ven- 
tured, as Habashi (Abyssinian) prowlers might be met. For 
several days the large open cotton-soil plains, with bands of thorn 
bush, were covered with great numbers of ostrich and topi haarte- 
beeste. Abyssinians had recently raided the outskirts of Dabossa 
and all the boys were rather nervous, having heard dreadful tales of 
the Habashi. 

We were not long in coming on signs of Habashi methods. 
Away over the plains some small black objects were seen. Zeiss 
showed them to be people, apparently women, seated on the 
ground. At closer range there were seven of them, all young 
women. Closer still, they appeared to be bound in a sitting pos- 
ture, and all were in a very bad state. For one thing, their tongues 
all protruded and were black and fly covered. This was thirst. 
Their arms were passed inside the knee and were lashed securely to 
the outside of the ankle, and so used they were abandoned in this 
shameless fashion to rescue on the one hand or death from thirst 
on the other. 

Having water with us we soon released them and gradually 
forced sufficient moisture between tongue and teeth. Contrasted 
with those dreadful tongues how perfectly beautiful primitive 
man's teeth appeared. Small, regular and widely set apart from 
each other, nothing seems to tarnish their whiteness. 

These hardy creatures soon recovered sufficiently to stand up, 
and we packed each on a donkey to our next camp, where sufficient 
water for all was got. The next day we sent them off to their 
homes, feeling pretty certain there could be no Abyssinians between 
us and Dabossa, as water was still scarce. 

We now sighted Murua Akipi as a minute tooth of pale blue 
just cutting the horizon. I thought we would reach it in two days, 



68 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

but it required four days of long marching to reach a small kopje a 
few miles from its base. That tiny tooth grew larger and larger 
each day until it looked an enormous size. I daresay it is not more 
than 2,000 or 3,000 ft., but being surrounded by huge plains it 
shows to great advantage. 

One day while crossing the plains we had a smart shower which 
turned the black powdery soil into very tenacious mud. Walking 
became a trial for anything but naked feet, and I asked Pyjale if 
the conditions were right for running down antelope. He assured 
me they were, and I urged him and the Dabossans to try it when 
opportunity arose. This was not long, for as we came out of a 
thorn belt we surprised a herd of eland and topi. Off went Pyjale 
and the Dabossans, taking off their spear-guards as they ran. Off 
went the antelope, too, and for some time Pyjale and Co. lost 
ground. Through my glasses I could see that the eland threw up 
much more mud than the topi and the topi much more than the 
natives. These latter hardly ever lifted a clod, whereas the gallop- 
ing eland hove great masses into the air at every lurch. Consum- 
mate runners as all the natives were, Pyjale was easily best. He 
could probably have closed with his beast sooner than he did but 
for his running it in a circle for my benefit. The heavy and fat 
eland were soon blown, and Pyjale presently ranged alongside and 
with a neat and lightning dart of his spear thrust it to the heart. 
The movement was barely perceptible through the glass. 

While on the subject of native runners I would like to tell what 
took place at Kampala, the capital of Uganda, in the year when 
Dorando won the marathon in England. Everyone was marathon 
mad, and the fever spread to Uganda. A marathon for native 
runners was organised as part of the attractions of the Show. 
Native chiefs were warned to seek out and train any likely talent 
they might have. The training consisted of feeding the runners 
largely on beef. 

The course was from Enteble to Kampala show ground with 
one complete circuit of the ground. The course was carefully 



DABOSSA 69 

marked and two whites on bicycles were told off to ride with the 
runners. The distance, I believe, was almost exactly the same as 
the English course. About thirty runners started in the hottest 
part of the day, experienced heavy rain en route, which turned the 
road to mud and washed out the bicycles, and thirty runners arrived 
together at the show ground, tore round the ground singing and 
leaping in the air, fresh as paint, completed the course still all 
together, and went on circling the ground, thinking they were 
giving their lady friends a treat I suppose. They had to be stopped 
eventually, but the most astonishing thing was that their time for 
the course was almost exactly Dorando's time, if I remember 
rightly. They thought it was better fun to come in all together 
than by ones and twos. 

Camp was pitched at the foot of the kopje, sufficient rain water 
being found in the elephant baths for all our requirements. The 
next morning I climbed the little hill in pouring rain. From its 
top I had a good view of the Murua to the south, while to the north 
a river was visible flowing northwards. On its banks were large 
verdant green flats which might have been as smooth as tennis 
lawns but for the fact that they were thickly speckled with black 
dots which the glasses and then the telescope showed to be the 
backs and heads of scores of bull elephant. The grass consequently 
was young swamp grass and about six or seven feet high. The 
big tripod telescope showed some wonderful ivory, and I have never 
seen before or since so many old bull elephant in one place. 
Bunches of young herd bulls were comparatively common, but here 
were numbers of aged bulls. 

Knowing how all naked men hate rain, I left Pyjale in camp 
and took instead a well-clad boy whose feet had worn off earlier 
in the journey, and who had since been recuperating at the base 
camp. Nothing takes condition off a naked African like heavy 
rain. Strong as their constitutions are they wilt when constantly 
wet once the natural oil of the skin is pierced. 

Striking straight for the swamps through the thorny flats we 



7o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

came out of some very dense wait-a-bit almost under the trunk of 
a single old monster. I thought of trying a shot up through the 
palate for the brain, but wisely refrained and withdrew quickly a 
few paces while the old bull stared straight at us, still unsuspicious, 
and affording an easy frontal shot. 

Passing on, we were presently on the edge of the green swamp. 
And now how different the smooth-looking lawn appeared ; huge 
broad-leaved grass, still young, but seven or eight feet high in 
places. While all the dry country was still parched after the long 
dry season, here on this rich flood-land the grass had two or three 
months' start. Hence the numbers of elephant. But why only 
bulls? That is known to them only. I had a grand day among 
them in spite of the grass. Soaked to the skin, the temperature 
just suited the white man, and I returned washed out but happy to 
a comfortable tent, hot bath, dry towels and pyjamas, food ready 
and good enough for keen appetite and the best of service. Off 
with wet and mud-covered things, dump them on the ground-sheet ; 
good boys are there ready to pick them up, wash them and dry them 
by the huge camp-fire. Fresh clothes every day — what real solid 
comfort one has in the bush ! No laundry bills to face and no 
clothes to be careful of. Creases in the trousers not required below 
the knee, and the harder the usage the softer the wear. Having 
tasted Heaven already I think I must be booked for the other place. 
Ten good tails was the count for the day. 

Mounting Look-out Hill next morning, no elephant was visible, 
so off went the cutting-out gang with their axes, etc., and my 
yesterday's companion as guide to the slain. In the evening they 
returned with some magnificent ivory, but having found only nine 
carcases. Having the tails of ten, I thought they had failed to find 
the tenth, and I turned in, meaning to show them it on the morrow. 
I remembered now on looking at the ivory that the missing animal 
had exceptionally long tusks. I had measured them with my fore- 
arm, and three and a half lengths had they protruded from the lip. 
Resolved to find him, we searched the whole area of that swamp, 



DABOSSA 71 

but nowhere could he be found. At last I came to the spot from 
which I had fired, as I supposed, the fatal shot. After a little 
search I found the empty -275 case. There a few yards away 
should have been the elephant. Here was where he lay on his side ; 
grass flattened, mark of under tusk in mud, all complete. But no 
elephant could be found. It was a case of stun and nothing else. 
And there on those plains there probably wanders to this day an 
elephant distinguished from other tailless elephants by having had 
his tail painlessly amputated by human hand and Sheffield cutlery 
while under the influence of a unique anaesthetic. Meanwhile I 
had lost two grand tusks. One of the other bulls had a single tooth 
only, but almost made up for this fraudulent shortage by weigh- 
ing in 134 lb. for his single tooth. The weight for the nine bulls 
was 1,463 lb., all first-rate stuff, and the value then in London 
somewhere about £877. 

After some fairly successful hunting in the neighbourhood it 
was time to move on to the wonderful mountain. Its wonder had 
somewhat eased off by our close contact. Indeed, it now appeared 
as just an ordinary-looking African hill, extremely sterile and for- 
bidding-looking. Although from a distance it had appeared as an 
isolated peak, on closer acquaintance there were seen to be not a 
few foot-hills of insignificant height. It was on the spur of one 
of these that we met with Abyssinians. As we headed across the 
plains men were seen scuttling up the rocks, and my glasses showed 
mules tethered some way up. We were therefore about to 
encounter our first Abyssinians. Everyone was in a twitter. 
Habashi have a truly awful reputation for nameless atrocities in 
those parts, and had it lain with them my safari would have chosen 
instant flight rather than come within rifle-shot of those mounted 
terrors. For my part, I felt tolerably all right, as the glasses 
showed no sign of the enemy being in any force. And then I 
thought that if I were in their place and saw a safari of our size 
marching resolutely towards me I should feel pretty anxious. This 
thought comforted me to such an extent that I did a foolish thing. 



72 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

I was at that time trying to get a really good pair of oryx horns, 
and when almost under the noses of the Abyssinians lying in the 
rocks up got a good oryx and I let drive. Too late, the thought 
that the enemy might think I was firing at them flashed through 
my mind. I rushed up to the fallen buck and seemed busy with it. 
As a matter of fact, we subsequently found that the great, fierce, 
bold Abyssinians were in a much greater funk than we were. We 
shouted in Arabic that we were friends, and invited them to come 
down. We tried everything without success, and at last camped 
peacefully beneath them. As evening was drawing on and they 
had not yet come I strolled up to the mules without arms in case 
they might be scared. Then I sat down and smoked, hoping they 
would join me. But no, all I could see of them was their heads 
among the rocks. I went slowly towards them, and when I was 
quite close I found the poor devils were literally shivering. Good 
Heavens ! I thought, what devilment have you been up to, to be 
in such a state? It was only by sitting down with them in their 
funk holes and chewing coffee berries which they offered that they 
could be persuaded to come forth. But at last they came to camp 
and settled down. It was impossible to talk with them. They 
knew no Arabic, and we knew no Abyssinian. However, we 
made out that they were ten days' ride from their base and were 
out for elephant. Slaves, in other words, I suspect. They made 
me a present of a goodish young mule with saddle and bridle com- 
plete and a French Daudeter rifle, while I gave them in return a 
fine tusk. We parted, mutually relieved to see the last of each 
other. 

At the end of a short march across lava-dust plains we reached 
the wonderful mountain Murua Akipi. Skirting the base of it, 
we found a fine, well-worn elephant road, which we followed for 
some miles, until a branch led us up a gully to a little level plain 
surrounded by rocky lava-strewn hill-slopes of a most forbidding 
description. For a few yards in the centre of the plain there was 
some very short and verdant green grass dotted here and there by 




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DABOSSA 73 

the white bleached skulls of elephant while half-buried leg bones 
showed their huge round knuckle ends. In the centre of this 
green oasis were three pools of intensely clear green water. All 
round the edges of the grass there were glistening lines of white 
powder, evidently high- water marks. I tasted the water ; it was 
certainly very bitter. 

Here was what native information called an elephant cemetery, 
and at first sight I thought it was. But on looking round and 
thinking it over a bit I was first struck by the fact that there were 
no recent bones or skulls. Again, all the skulls seemed to have 
undergone about the same amount of weathering. I talked it over 
with Pyjale, and he told me that he had heard from the old men 
who had had it from others that once there came a dreadful drought 
upon the land ; that so scarce had water become that springs of 
the nature in question were the only ones left running, and that 
they then became so strong that animals and men drinking of their 
waters immediately died. Even now as we drank it in a normal 
season the water was very bitter, although it appeared to have no 
after-effect beyond acting as a slight aperient. Natron is, I believe, 
the impregnation. So much for the elephant cemeteries. 

Still skirting the base of Murua Akipi on well-worn elephant 
paths, we next day sighted zebra high up on the mountain side. Halt- 
ing the safari I went to investigate and found a pool of fresh water, 
sufficiently large for several days. Here we camped, and from this 
spot I did the mountain. From its top away to the north-east 
could be seen a distant line of hills which I took to be Abyssinia. 
To the N.W. I could trace the course of the river which had 
afforded such good results in elephant. It meandered away through 
huge open plains until lost in the distance. I imagine it must flow 
into the Akobo or Pibor. At the time of which I write the maps 
were a blank as regards this region. 

With my eyes well skinned for gold I washed the gravel in the 
pot-holes of the stream beds but without result. Soon tiring of 
this prospecting I began to search the surrounding country for 



74 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

game. With clear atmosphere and good glasses all kinds of game 
were seen. The dry lava-dust plains were covered with herds of 
oryx, ostrich, giraffe and gazelle. In the thorn belts elephant were 
seen. To find game I used prismatic binoculars, and to examine 
the animals more closely I had a large telescope on a tripod. With 
this I could almost weigh the tusks of elephant seven or eight miles 
distant. It was most fascinating to watch the animals through 
this glass. Sometimes rhino would be seen love-making. The 
inclination was to spend too much time at the eye-piece. But 
what dances that glass led me. I would watch two or three heavy 
old bull elephant feeding slowly about. It looked absurdly easy 
to go down to the plain and walk straight to them. But this I knew 
was not so, and I would try to memorise the country which lay 
between me and the animals. But however I tried it was always 
most difficult to find them once the flat was reached. Everything 
altered and looked different. 

My hunting round Murua Akipi was so successful that I found 
my safari already too heavily laden to attempt the following of the 
north-flowing river. Only in these two particulars — the presence 
of large elephant and Abyssinians — had the wondermongers been 
right about Murua Akipi. Gold was not found. The deadly 
waters were merely natron springs. The elephant cemeteries had 
been cemeteries during one exceptionally dry season only, or so it 
seemed. 

For a hunter well equipped with food stuffs a hunt of three 
months' duration in the country surrounding Murua Akipi would 
have shown astonishing results. As it was we carried with us flour 
traded on Mt. Elgon, some 600 miles south of us. Of course 
everyone was on half rations, that is every boy received a condensed 
milk tin half filled with banana flour for the one day with the addi- 
tion of as much elephant meat and fat or buck meat as he cared to 
take. In addition to this everyone got salt. The condition of all 
was magnificent. My food was arranged for in the following 
manner. There were four milk cows constantly in milk. As they 



DABOSSA 75 

went dry they were exchanged for others from the native herds. 
Two of these cows, with their calves, accompanied me wherever I 
went ; while two rested at the base camp in Dodose. Hence I 
always had milk, the staple of all the native tribes. In time I came 
to drink it as they did, that is sour. Mixed with raw blood as they 
took it, I could never master, although it then becomes a perfect 
food I am convinced. Fresh milk as we drink it at home is regarded 
by all pastoral tribes in the light of a slow but sure poison. They 
all declare that the drinking of milk in its fresh state leads to anaemia 
and loss of power. Under no conditions will they drink it fresh, 
but will always stand it in a calabash where it soon sours. 

My two cows were milked night and morning. The evening 
milking was put to stand in a calabash and was sour by morning. 
The calabash was carried by a boy and I drank it about 9 a.m. 
after marching from about 6 a.m. This I found did me well 
throughout the day without anything else, and no matter how hard 
the travelling. It seemed a perfect food. One did not get thirsty 
as after a meat meal, neither did one become soon hungry as after 
a farinaceous meal. Meanwhile that morning's milk was carried 
in a calabash all day and was " ripe " for the evening's meal. Then 
round the camp fire I would frizzle dry buck-meat in the embers. 

A boy's feeding arrangements were as follows : He would wake 
up about 2 a.m., having slept since about 8 p.m. On his camp fire 
he would warm up a chunk of smoked elephant or buck meat. This 
he would not touch until the first halt in the day's march, generally 
about 9 a.m. He would then have this first meal, consisting entirely 
of smoked beef. After that he would perform his hard day's work. 
In the evening at sun-down his flour, if on half rations, would be 
made into thin gruel with fat added and a pinch of wild tamarind 
to "mustard" it. When on full rations thick porridge stiffened 
off the fire with raw flour would be made, after that more smoked 
meat. Here again absolutely fresh meat was never eaten, always 
the smoked or dried meat. 

As regards the thirst-resisting qualities of the grain and meat 



76 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

diet as opposed to the milk and meat diet there was no comparison. 
Pyjale, who shared my milk, once went three days without either 
food or drink, whereas a grain-eating boy who became lost was 
rescued just in time after only thirty-six hours without water. 

After consulting the donkey-headman it was decided that we 
had almost as much ivory as we .could carry. Many of the tusks 
were too long for donkeys and should have been taken by porters. 
It was decided to return to our base through untouched country. 
The news was received with shouts of joy. It is wonderful how 
one comes to regard the base camp as home. Whereas, on our 
way up, the camps had been rather gloomy — disasters having been 
prophesied for this expedition — now all was joy. The safari 
chronicler became once more his joyous self and his impromptu verse 
became longer and longer each night. The chronicler's job is to 
render into readily chanted metre all the important doings of the 
safari and its members. It is a kind of diary and although not 
written down is almost as permanent, when committed to the 
tenacious memories of natives. Each night, in the hour between 
supper and bedtime, the chronicler gets up and blows a vibrating 
blast on his waterbuck horn. This is the signal for silence. All is 
still. Then begins the chant of the safari's doings, verse by verse, 
with chorus between. It is extraordinarily interesting but very 
difficult to understand. The arts of allusion and suggestion are 
used most cleverly. In fact, the whole thing is wonderful. Verse 
by verse the history rolls out on the night, no one forgetting a single 
word. When the well-known part is finished, bringing the narra- 
tive complete up to and including yesterday, there is a pause of 
expectation — the new verse is about to be launched. Out it comes 
without hesitation or fault, all to-day's events compressed into four 
lines of clever metric precis. If humorous its completion is greeted 
with a terrific outburst of laughter and then it is sung by the whole 
lot in chorus, followed by a flare-up of indescribable noises ; drums, 
pipes, horns and human voices. And then to bed, while those 
keen-eyed camp askaris mount guard; although they cannot hit a 




THE CAMP CHRONICLER. 



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ABYSSINIAN SLAYERS. 



DABOSSA 77 

mountain by daylight they fire and kill by night with a regularity 
that always leaves me dumb with astonishment. Remember they 
are using -450 bore bullets in -577 bore barrels, and explain it who 
can. They call it " medicine." 

We traversed some queer country on our return to Dodose. All 
kinds were met with. We went thirty days on end without seeing 
an elephant, and in the succeeding four days I killed forty-four 
bulls. A lioness came within a foot of catching a boy and was 
shot. The dried skins of elephant were found occupying much 
the same position as when filled with flesh. Now they contained 
nothing but the loose bones, all the meat having been eaten away 
by maggots and ants, which had entered through nature's ports. 
Why the skin had not rotted as in other parts I could but ascribe 
to the dryness of the atmosphere. Finally, we staggered home, 
heavily laden with ivory, to our base camp. 

That safari was one of my most successful. We "shuka'd," 
or went down country, with over 14,000 lbs. of ivory — all excellent 
stuff. 



VII 
THROUGH THE SUDD OF THE GELO RIVER 

AT the time of which I write, about 1908, the wild countries 
flying around the western and south-western base of the 
Abyssinian plateau seemed to us to present the most favour- 
able field of operations. And as the boundaries had not yet been 
delimited between Abyssinia and the Sudan on the one hand and 
Abyssinia and Uganda on the other, we felt that there would be 
more scope for our activities in that region than elsewhere. The 
object was elephant hunting. 

In order to reach this country we were obliged to cross Abyssinia. 
We took steamer to Djibuti on the Red Sea, ascending thence by 
railway to the then railhead, Dirre Doua, and then by horse, camel 
and mule to Addis Abeba, the capital. Here, the only trouble we 
had was from our own legation. Our representative regarded every 
English traveller in the light of being a potential source of trouble 
to him personally, and was at little pains to conceal his thoughts. 
Luckily, we had been recommended financially to the bank, and this 
fact smoothed our path. Apparently, in these matters the main 
question is whether one is the possessor of a few hundred pounds or 
not. If so, zeal in helping the traveller on is forthcoming ; but if 
not, every obstacle is put in the way of his ever making any pro- 
gress. In one of our colonies I was once asked bluntly by the 
Government representative if I had any money. Of course, the 
poor man was merely trying to do his duty ; but before I could think 
of this I had replied, " Precious little." Throughout my stay in his 
province he regarded me with the gravest suspicion. 

Along the route from Addis Abeba to Gore in the west we were 
much pestered for presents by the Abyssinian military governors. 

78 



THROUGH THE SUDD OF THE GELO RIVER 79 

We had been warned about this and were supplied with some auto- 
matic pistols. They invariably turned these down and tried to get 
our rifles, but as invariably accepted the pistols. These gentry have 
to be reckoned with, as it is within their power to hold up the 
traveller by simply declaring the road to be dangerous. 

At Gore we came under the rule of the famous chief Ras Tasama. 
He reigned over the whole of the western part of Abyssinia, toler- 
ating no interference from the Emperor, but paying to him a con- 
siderable tribute. This tribute was mainly composed of slaves, gold 
dust and ivory. The dust was gathered annually from the river 
beds, after the rains, and by the subject races. We were informed 
that Gore's quota amounted to 4,000 oz. Ivory was obtained from 
the negro tribes living in the lowlands below the Abyssinian plateau. 
One chief with whom we came in contact was required to provide 
300 tusks annually, and apparently could do so easily. It will give 
an idea of the immense numbers of elephant in the country when I 
mention that this chief had under him quite a modest little tribe, 
occupying a country which could be traversed in four days of easy 
marching. 

Slaves were raided from tribes which could not or would not 
provide ivory. We gathered that these raids were extremely brutal 
affairs, for which the Abyssinian habits of eating raw meat and 
drinking rawer alcohol seemed peculiarly to fit them, and that just 
before our arrival at Gore a raid had resulted in the capture of 10,000 
men, women and children. This figure is probably an exaggera- 
tion, but it was evident from the accounts of witnesses whom we 
questioned that the numbers must have been very considerable. 
They said that the mules, with children lashed on them like faggots, 
required half the day to pass through the town. The only sign of 
slaving that we ourselves saw was when we met a body of mounted 
Abyssinians guarding some wild-looking natives from some distant 
land. Even if their patient phlegm and air of despair had not drawn 
our attention to them, the fact that they were completely nude, 
very black, and wore ornaments such as necklaces made up of count- 



8o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

less little round discs of ostrich eggshell, otherwise unseen in Abys- 
sinia, would have done so. We were spared the sight of children. 

From information gathered, it now became necessary to obtain 
permission from Has Tasama to proceed off the beaten track for the 
purpose of hunting elephant. So far we had followed the well 
beaten Addis-Gambela-Khartoum track. We stated our wishes 
at the first interview with the Has. He was an imposing-looking 
old man, short of stature, but with the expression of power, authority 
and dignity so often found in outstanding Africans. Accompanied 
by our one-eared interpreter, who had lost the other as a punish- 
ment for having sided with the Italians in the war, we were received 
in the hall of his house, a two-storeyed building of oval shape and a 
fine specimen of Abyssinian architecture. The usual compliments 
passed between us and the customary present was duly presented 
by us. It took the form, on this occasion, of a case of liqueur 
brandy and a little banker's bag containing fifty golden sovereigns. 
As is usual in Africa, the gifts were received without demonstration. 
We then proceeded to state our business, through our interpreter. 
We were elephant hunters and wished to have the Ras's permission 
to hunt and his advice on where to go. Drinks were served. Our 
choice was old tedg (honey-mead), the natipnal drink. It was clear 
and sparkling, very good and rather like champagne. The Has told 
us it was nine years old. He himself preferred arahi, which is 
almost pure alcohol flavoured with aniseed. He then remarked 
that he knew of a country where there were many elephant. This 
remark we thought distinctly promising, but he made no further 
reference to the subject of so much importance to us. The visit 
ended. 

On our return to camp we asked our interpreter what we should 
do now. He said we would get what we wanted, but that we should 
give the Has another present. We looked about and finally decided 
to give him one of our sporting rifles. Next day, after arranging 
to call on him, we duly presented this beautiful weapon together 
with a lot of cartridges. More hope was doled out to us, without 



THROUGH THE SUDD OF THE GELO RIVER 81 

anything definite happening. And so on it went for three weeks. 
By that time the Has had become possessed of eight mules, fifteen 
camels (he asked for these), several firearms and sundry cases of 
liquor, besides the presents first mentioned. We were then at the 
end of our resources and in desperation. This the Has probably 
knew as well as we did, for at long last the desired permission was 
given. But only verbally and without witnesses. Once he had 
given his word, however, the thing was thoroughly well done. A 
guide was provided to take us to the hunting grounds. This man 
not only guided us, but as long as we remained in country owing 
allegiance to the Ras we were provided with everything the country 
afforded. 

After descending the steep edge of the Abyssinian Plateau we 
arrived at the rolling plains, several thousands of feet lower and very 
much hotter than Gore. Mosquitoes were to be reckoned with once 
more. The natives were now very black, naked, Nilotic and pagan, 
but paid tribute to Ras Tasama in ivory. 

The guide furnished us by Ras Tasama took us to the chief of 
these people. He was a great swell and wore an Abyssinian robe. 
While at his village he feted us and our Abyssinians, and in the 
night came secretly to ask if we wished to buy ivory. We replied 
guardedly that much depended on the price asked. He then sent 
for a tusk and we were overjoyed to see that the ivory of the country 
was large and soft. We asked if that was all he had. He said he 
had more. Could we see it? Yes, and he led us to a stockade 
where he had a considerable amount of tusks hidden in a hole and 
covered with mats. One was very large — about 150 lb., I would 
say. We then asked him what he wanted for his ivory. " Guineea," 
he said. It took us some time before it dawned on us. He wanted 
guineas, as English or Egyptian sovereigns are called. We were 
astonished, and wondered how he was acquainted with them. It 
appeared that at Gambela there was a Greek trader who apparently 
bought ivory and it was there that our friend had dealt in sovereigns. 
But of their true value he was ignorant, evidently confusing them 



82 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

with some smaller coin as he asked for an impossible number for a 
tusk. We knew that this chief was in high favour with Ras Tasama 
and that he paid tribute of 300 tusks annually. This fact, combined 
with the sight before our eyes, seemed to denote enormous numbers 
of elephant somewhere, and yet we had seen no tracks so far. We 
asked where all this ivory came from. The chief smiled in a superior 
way, telling us to wait and he would show us so many elephant that 
we would be afraid to look upon them, let alone hunt them. 

He was right about their numbers, for a few days after leaving 
his village we came upon the trail of a roaming herd. The well- 
beaten part of this trail was literally several hundreds of yards wide. 
I am afraid to estimate how many animals must have been in that 
herd. 

Although it was several days old I wanted to follow it. I took it 
to be a migration of sorts. But the natives said no, there was no 
need to. There were plenty more. And, sure enough, they were 
right. We arrived at a small village on the banks of the Gelo. 

Looking up our map we found that the Gelo River from Lake 
Tata down-stream was marked as unknown. Accordingly, we 
made enquiries among the natives about the country down-stream, 
and were told that there were no natives for many days, that the 
whole country was under water at this season and that no one 
would go. 

This was good enough for us. We opened negotiations with the 
chiefs for some dug-out canoes, which we obtained for various sun- 
dries. They were poor carriers and very crank, so I lashed them 
together in rafts of three. 

It was now necessary to deal with our followers. All the Abys- 
sinians would have to return as they were daily becoming more fever- 
stricken. With them would go the mules. The guide rightly con- 
sidered he had done his job. There remained four of my old Swahili 
followers from British East Africa, who had been shipped, through 
Thos. Cook and Son, from Mombassa to Djibuti, and four Yemen 
Arabs we had picked up on our way through. The Swahilis were 



THROUGH THE SUDD OF THE GELO RIVER S 3 

old hands, had been everywhere with me for about ten years, and 
cared not a rap where we went. The Arabs were new, but splendid 
fellows. They hated the thought of recrossing Abyssinia by them- 
selves and were, therefore, obliged to go on with us. 

On loading up the flotilla it was found impossible to carry all our 
stores. We made a huge bonfire of the surplus, and I well remember 
how well the ham and bacon burned. We regretted burning all 
these good things, but, as a matter of fact, we were better without 
them. Laying in a stock of native grain we pushed off into the 
current and swung down-stream. 

It was the rainy season and the discomforts we suffered were 
sometimes acute. Almost immediately on quitting the chief's vil- 
lage we entered a region where hard ground rose only a few inches 
above water level. Great areas were entirely covered by water, 
only the tops of the 12-foot grass showing above it. Whenever we 
turned one of the many bends of the river, and these were hard 
banks, there would be a continuous line of splashes, which advanced 
with us as the crocodiles plunged in. The waters teemed with fish, 
especially the lung-fish, which continued rising night and day to 
breathe, as we supposed. 

In this swamp country every night was a time of horror, and 
camping a perfect nightmare. Well before the sun was down the 
mosquitoes appeared in myriads. Luckily our boys had each been 
provided with a mosquito net. These nets I had procured with a 
watertight canvas roof so that they also acted as small tents. They 
could be slung between sticks or paddles stuck in the ground. 
Without these nets no man could long survive the quite serious 
loss of blood and sleep ; for, to add to our troubles, firewood was 
non-existent. In the hot, sweltering nights, when it was not rain- 
ing, the moon would appear almost obliterated by the clouds of 
mosquitoes hanging to the net, while the massed hum seemed to be 
continuous. And yet there was no fever among us, presumably 
because of the lack of infection sources. Several times no dry spot 
could be found and we stuck it out as best we could on the canoes. 



8 4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Of game we saw nothing except elephant. No buck or buffalo 
nor even hippo in that desolate region. How numerous elephant 
were I cannot say, as we never hunted them unless we actually saw 
them from the canoes. Low on the water as we were and with 
high grass everywhere, it was necessary for the animals to be within 
a few yards of the bank in order to come within our view. Hunt- 
ing thus we killed some 30 bulls as we drifted along. Allowing 
that we killed half we saw, that would mean that 60 bull elephant 
crossed our narrow path at the moment we were there or there- 
abouts. If the region were only a few miles deep on either bank 
and were frequented on a similar scale, it would indicate an enor- 
mous number of elephant. We took little heed of cows, but of 
these quite a hundred came within our view. 

All our boys being Mohammedans, we two whites were the only 
eaters of elephant meat. Luckily for the others, fish were easily 
caught. 

At one place where we killed elephant we found a raised piece 
of ground perhaps three or four feet above the water. It even had 
three trees on it. We were simply delighted to reach shore again, 
and as we had killed six good bulls that day the camp was merry- — 
at any rate, the white portion of it. As we were obliged to wait 
here three or four days for the elephant to rot before drawing the 
tusks, we pitched our tents and made everything comfortable. In 
the night a terrific rain storm blew up, and when it was at its height 
red ants invaded us. My companion was got first, and had to 
vacate his bed and tent. I could hear him cursing between the 
thunder claps. Presently he came into my tent, quite naked, as 
they had got into his pyjamas. I told him to lay a trail of paraffin 
all round the tent, while I proceeded to tuck my net well in all 
round me. As he was laying the trail the rising water came rush- 
ing in, bearing with it thousands of desperate ants. They swarmed 
up everything they touched. I lay, as I thought, secure, my com- 
panion fled, slapping and brushing his naked legs and cursing 
dreadfully. 



THROUGH THE SUDD OF THE GELO RIVER 85 

For some time the enemy failed to penetrate my fine-mesh net, 
but when they did get me they all got me at once. Without two 
thoughts I was out in the pouring rain and throwing off my pyjamas. 
After brushing off the fiery hot devils I found they were mounting 
my legs just as fast. My companion yelled through the storm to 
get up on an up-turned bucket. I found one at last and mounted. 
And thus we rode it out. 

There was bad " medicine" in that camp, for next day my 
companion got gassed when he drew a tusk, and was violently sick ; 
and while carrying the tusk back to camp stepped on a huge fish, 
while wading through mud and water, which threw him headlong 
into it. 

We were now obliged to cast gear in order to carry ivory. Spare 
axes, tools and camp gear went first, and finally provisions and 
tents. At last we could take nothing more aboard and float. We 
left fine ivory standing on the banks. We had formed the idea of 
returning, properly equipped, for this inland navigation, and 
headed down-stream with about two inches freeboard. Our slug- 
gish Gelo bore us slowly into the sluggish Pibor which pushed us 
gently into the livelier Sobat. On our way down this river to the 
Nile we were so short of food and the usual wherewithal to buy it 
that we were obliged to part with one of our tusks for native grain, 
fowls, and a couple of sheep. We camped frequently by the vil- 
lages of the Nuers, and were astonished to learn on our arrival at 
the Nile that we were then at war with this tribe. 

I am inclined to think that we were rather lucky to have come 
through the sudd region of the Gelo so easily. At one place the 
open channel divided equally into two, and we debated which one 
we should follow. We tossed, and the paddle decided on the right- 
hand channel. We followed it, but never saw where the other 
channel rejoined. 

After reaching the more open waters of the Sobat the lightest 
breeze raised sufficient lop on the water to come aboard with our 
dangerously low freeboard. As it was, we were caught about mid- 



86 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

stream once, and before we could reach the bank the whole flotilla 
settled down. Luckily, we were only a few yards from shore and 
in about ten feet of water. Our boys were magnificent, and got 
everything up while we plugged shots into the water to keep off 
crocs. Had we foundered further out, the whole of our ivory and 
rifles, etc., would have been lost. 

The hunting of elephant in this swamp region was of the 
severest description. That is the reason of their congregating there 
in such numbers, I think. The ground was too rotten for ponies or 
mules, even should they survive the myriads of flies and mosquitoes. 
The grass was mostly the 12-foot stuff with razor-like edges and 
countless, almost invisible spines, which stick into exposed limbs. 
Locomotion for humans was only possible when following elephant 
tracks. When within even a few paces of the animals it was 
generally impossible to see them. I used to mount on a boy's 
shoulder and fire from there, but the stance was so wobbly and the 
view so obstructed by grass tops as to make it most unsatisfactory. 
Having a large telescope mounted on a stout tripod I fitted a tiny 
board to fix on the tripod top, and found it most satisfactory ; 
although the jump from my rifle, slight as it was, knocked me off 
once or twice. 

On this safari the health of everyone was excellent, considering 
the hard work and poor food. We whites were troubled somewhat 
with indigestion, caused I think by our native-grain flour having 
got wet, and fermented a bit. There was practically no fever, and 
my tough old Swahilis came through without turning a hair. The 
Arabs, however, lost condition. 




FROM 



THE SHOULDERS OF A TALL NATIVE .' A VERY WOBBLY METHOD. 




TELESCOPE TRIPOD AS STAND IN HIGH GRASS. 



VIII 
THE LADO ENCLAVE 

AT the time of which I write the Enclave de Lado comprised 
the country bordering the western bank of the Upper Nile 
from Lado on the north to Mahazi in the south. It was 
leased to Leopold, King of the Belgians, for the duration of his life 
and for six months after his death. This extension of the lease 
was popularly supposed to be for the purpose of enabling the occu- 
piers to withdraw and remove their gear. 

While the King was still alive and the Enclave occupied by the 
Congo authorities, I stepped ashore one day at Lado, the chief 
administrative post in the northern part. Luckily for me, the 
Chef de Zone was there, and I immediately announced my busi- 
ness, the hunting of elephant. The Chef was himself a great 
shikari, and told me he held the record for the (then) Congo Free 
State, with a bag of forty-seven, I think it was. He was most kind 
and keenly interested in my project, and promised to help in every 
way he could. 

As regards permission to hunt, he told me that if I merely 
wished to shoot one or two elephants, he could easily arrange that 
on the spot, but that if I wanted to hunt elephant extensively, I 
should require a permit from the Governor, who lived at Boma, at 
the mouth of the Congo. The price of this permit was £20, and 
it was good for five months in one year. It was quite unlimited 
and, of course, was a gift to anyone who knew the game. The 
Belgians, however, seemed to think that the demanding of 500 frs. 
for a permit to hunt such dangerous animals was in the nature of 
pure extortion ; they regarded as mad anyone who paid such a sum 
for such a doubtful privilege. 

87 



88 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

I was, naturally, very eager to secure such a permit, especially 
when the Chef told me of the uncountable herds of elephants he 
had seen in the interior. By calculation it was found that the 
permit, if granted, would arrive at Lado in good time for the open- 
ing of the season, three months hence. I deposited twenty golden 
sovereigns with the Treasury, copied out a flowery supplication to 
the Governor for a permit, which my friend the Chef drafted for 
me, and there was nothing more to do but wait. 

My visit to Lado was my first experience of Belgian domestic 
arrangements. The Chef de Zone lived entirely apart from the other 
officers, but with this exception they all messed together. The 
Chef himself was most exclusive ; he gave me to understand, in 
fact, he regarded his subordinate whites as " scum." He gave me 
many cryptic warnings to have no dealings with them, all of which 
were rather lost on me then, as I had never hitherto come in contact 
with white men just like that. When, therefore, I was invited to 
dine at the mess I accepted, little knowing what I was in for. 

The mess-room was a large room, or rather a large thatched 
roof standing on many pillars of sun-dried brick. In place of walls 
nothing more substantial than mosquito netting interposed itself 
between the diners and the gaze of the native multitude, comprising 
the station garrison, and so on. This system of architecture suits 
the climate admirably, its sole drawback being its publicity. For 
when the inmates of such a structure have the playful dinner habits 
of our forefathers, without their heads, and try to drink each other 
under the table, and when, moreover, the casualties are removed 
by native servants from that ignominious position one after the 
other, speechless, prostrate and puking, naturally the whole affair 
becomes a kind of " movie" show, with sounds added, for the 
native population. When, for instance, the Chef de Post, whose 
image is intimately connected in most of the spectators' minds with 
floggings, ambitiously tries to mount the table, fails and falls flat, 
the "thunders of applause" of our newspapers best describe the 
reception of his downfall by the audience. 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 89 

At the dinner in question we started well. One member of the 
mess contributed five dozen of bottled beer. Another a case of 
whisky. A demi-john or two of the rough ration table wine ren- 
dered somewhat alcoholic by the vagaries of wine in the Tropics 
was also available ; but the effort of the evening was when a sport- 
ing Count produced a bottle of Curacao. We sat down. 

Directly in front of me, in the usual position, I found some 
plates, a knife, fork and spoon. But on three sides I was sur- 
rounded by eggs. There were, I think, three dozen of them. On 
looking round I observed that each diner was similarly provided. 
Then soup arrived, very strong, good and liberally flavoured with 
garlic. It was made from buffalo killed by the Post's native 
hunters. Meanwhile I noticed my neighbours handing out their 
eggs to the boys and giving instructions regarding them. I was at 
a loss. Hitherto I had regarded my eggs as being boiled and ready 
to eat, all the time mildly wondering how I was to eat so many. 
Then I caught the word omelette pass my neighbour's lips as he 
handed a dozen or two to the boy. I tumbled to it. They were 
raw and you simply handed them out as you fancied, to be turned 
into fried, poached, boiled eggs or omelettes. What a capital 
idea ! I set aside a dozen for an omelette, a half dozen to be fried, 
and a half dozen to be poached. I thought that if I got through 
that lot I should have enough. 

The next dish appeared and was placed before the senior officer 
at the head of the table. It looked to me like a small mountain of 
mashed beetroot. Into its sugar-loaf apex the officer dug a large 
wooden salad spoon, turning in one rotary motion its perfect sugar- 
loaf shape into that of an extinct volcano. With deft and prac- 
tised hand he then broke egg after egg, raw, into the yawning 
crater. His spare dozen or so were quickly swallowed up and more 
were supplied. As well as I could judge, the contents of the eggs 
were in no case examined. To anyone acquainted with the average 
African egg this means a lot. 

On to the sulphur-splotched and quivering mass pepper and 



9o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

salt were liberally poured; then vinegar and a vigorous stirring 
prepared it for presentation to the one bewildered and suffering 
guest. I took a moderate helping of the red crater slopes, avoid- 
ing the albuminous morass, wondering how you handled it anyhow 
and what would happen if you broke the containing walls. I 
watched the dish go the rounds with great interest, hoping some- 
one would be too bold with the large spoon, prematurely burst the 
crater and be engulfed in the ensuing flood. But, alas ! with mar- 
vellous dexterity man after man hoicked out a plateful of the 
nauseating stuff without accident. They were used to it. 

Now I tried a taste of the minced beetroot lying before me. 
It wasn't beetroot at all. It was raw buffalo flesh. I did not 
like it awfully. Why, I do not know. I have always admired, 
theoretically, men who eat raw meat. When I saw the Abys- 
sinians eating their meat raw I did not admire them particularly, 
and now when I saw the Belgians eating it raw I did not seem to 
admire them either. And yet when I read of Sandow and the crack 
boxers eating raw meat I admired them. Perhaps it is the sight 
of men eating raw meat which stops the admiration, or, perhaps, 
the men who can safely eat raw meat must be admirable to begin 
with. Anyhow, this lot revolted me, to the complete extinction 
of my usually robust appetite. It only recovered when cake was 
served up with syrup and you poured wine over it, an excellent 
sweet. 

Drinking had meanwhile been going steadily on. I would say 
that by the time the cake came on each man had absorbed two litres 
of 18 per cent. wine. I was diligently pressed to drink, but 
managed to avoid more than my share. I excused myself by saying 
that I was not used to it, and had rather a light and unreliable head 
anyhow. As this was really a fact, I was rather astonished to 
notice that already some of the diners were beginning to show un- 
mistakable signs of deep drinking. I subsequently discovered that 
while there was liquor in the station the drinking of it went on 
more or less night and day. 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 91 

Towards the end of the meal some bottles of fine wine were pro- 
duced and ran their course. After dinner beer was produced and 
diligently dealt with as a preliminary to the drinking of the case of 
whisky. This latter was regarded as serious drinking, requiring 
careful preparation. I have noticed the same curious attitude 
towards whisky in Frenchmen also. They affect to regard it as a 
frightfully potent and insidious drink. One will often see an 
absinthe-sodden toper take a ludicrously small tot of whisky, drown- 
ing it with a quart of water on the score of its great strength. 

They began to taunt me with not drinking level. Stupid 
remarks were made about Englishmen and their inability to drink. 
I helped myself to a moderately large peg of whisky — which was 
good — and drank. 

Now, they took this act to be a direct challenge. Here was a 
miserable Englishman taking far more whisky and far less water 
than they themselves were in the habit of taking. It was enough. 
The man to whom I passed the bottle had to go one better, taking 
a large peg ; and so it went on progressing round the table until, 
about half-way, the bottle was finished. More were soon brought, 
uncorked and placed ready. When it came to a man opposite me 
I could see his hand tremble as with pale determination he poured 
out what he believed to be the strongest liquor in the world. With 
shouts of defiance the second bottle was drained, having passed up 
about four places. From noisy drinking the affair passed into a 
disorderly debauch. Diner after diner fell and was removed, until 
there remained seated but two men and myself. One was a Dane 
of fine physique, and the other was the Belgian Count. We looked 
at each other and smiled. We all thought we were strictly sober, 
but the Count, at any rate, was mistaken ; for, when he rose to 
fetch another bottle of Curacao from his boxes, he, too, joined the 
casualties. The Dane and I carried him to his bed, found his keys 
in his trouser pocket, unlocked his boxes and found the liquor, 
soberly drank the contents round the corpse of the fallen and toasted 
the Count with the dregs of his excellent stuff as the sun came blaz- 



92 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

ing over the horizon and the station sweepers got busy. That Dane 
was hard at work an hour afterwards. 

I had now some two months to while away somehow until my 
hunting permit should arrive. I took a flying trip down through 
Uganda and got together a fine lot of Wanyamweze porters ready 
for the hunting when it should begin. I took sixty of these boys, 
as I was pretty confident of getting the permit, and quite confident 
of getting elephant, anyhow. I arrived back at Lado and was glad 
to hear from the Treasury man that he had the permit for me all in 
order. He pointed out to me that the permit stated that the hunt- 
ing of elephants was not to begin until the middle of May. It was 
then March, and here was I with a large safari and everything ready 
to begin. I was wondering what to do about it when whom should 
I see but my friend the Treasurer. I pointed out my difficulty, 
which he quite saw. He said it was unfortunate, very, shaking his 
head and looking thoughtfully away. The true significance of this 
pretty gesture was lost on me at first, and he had to put it pretty 
broadly to me that, if he were squared, it would be possible to begin 
right away. I did not do so, and thereby made a bitter enemy. 
One of the considerations dissuading me from oiling this gentle- 
man's palm was that it seemed to me that, if I squared one, I should 
have to square all, a somewhat too costly business. 

Passing over to the English side of the Nile, I occupied myself 
as well as I could obtaining my two elephants allowed on my 
Uganda licence from the sporting herd of cow elephant which then 
haunted the Gondokoro region. This cow herd was even then 
notorious for chasing travellers on the Nimule-Gondokoro road, and 
had killed several natives and a gun-bearer of the D.C. who was 
trying to scare them from some native gardens. I fell in with them 
only a few miles from the post and managed to kill two passable 
herd bulls. One of these, shot in the brain, fell upon a large calf, 
pinning it to the ground in such a fashion that neither could the calf 
release itself nor could I and my boy help it do so. Nothing could 
be done without more help, so I sent the boy off to the camp for all 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 93 

hands. Meanwhile I waited under some trees 100 yds. from the 
dead bull and living calf. The latter was crying in a distressing 
way, and suddenly the cow herd came rushing along back to it. 
They surrounded it and crowded all about it while some of them 
made short rushes here and there, trunks and ears tossing about, 
with plenty of angry trumpeting. Now, I thought, we shall see a 
proof of the wonderful intelligence of the elephant. If elephants 
really do help off their wounded comrades, as is so often and so 
affectingly described by hunters, surely they will release a trapped 
youngster. All they have to do is to give a lift with their powerful 
trunks and the trick is done. Nothing of the sort happened. After 
a couple of hours of commotion and stamping about all round the 
spot my boys arrived, and it was time to drive off the herd. I 
found this was not so easy as it looked. First I shouted at them, 
man-fashion. Several short angry rushes in our direction was the 
answer. The boys did not like it, and I certainly did not want to 
do any cow shooting, so I tried the dodge of trying to imitate 
hyenas or lions. Whenever I had tried these curious sounds on 
elephant before it had invariably made them at first uneasy and then 
anxious to go away. But here was tougher material. They drew 
more closely round the fallen bulls and more tossing fronts were 
presented. As for any moving off there was no sign of it. I 
redoubled my efforts ; I screeched and boomed myself hoarse, and 
I am certain that any other herd of elephants would have rushed 
shrieking from the spot. But nothing would move the Gondokoro 
herd. Even when I fired repeatedly over their heads nothing much 
happened, but when I pasted the dusty ground about their trunks 
with bullets they began to move quite slowly and with much stop- 
ping and running back. It was a gallant herd of ladies ; very 
different its behaviour from that of a bull herd in a similar 
situation. 

When the ground was clear we seized the head of the dead bull 
and with a combined heave raised it sufficiently to release the calf, 
but it was too late, he was dead. 



94 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Having entered my rifles at Lado and cleared them through the 
Douane, it was not necessary again to visit a Belgian post. So 
when the hunting season opened, I already had a herd of bull 
elephant located. Naturally, I lost no time when the date arrived. 
The date, that is, according to my calculations. This matter is of 
some importance, as I believe I was afterwards accused of being too 
soon. I may have begun a day or even two days before the date, 
but to the best of my knowledge it was the opening date when I 
found a nice little herd of bulls, several of which I killed with the 
brain shot. I was using at that time a very light and sweet- working 
Mann.-Sch. carbine, -256 bore and weighing only 5\ lb. With 
this tiny and beautiful little weapon I had extraordinary luck, and 
I should have continued to use it in preference to my other rifles had 
not its Austrian ammunition developed the serious fault of splitting 
at the neck. After that discovery I reverted to my well-tried and 
always trusty 7 mm. Mauser. 

My luck was right in on that safari. The time of year was just 
right. All the elephant for 100 miles inland were crowded into 
the swamps lining the Nile banks. Hunting was difficult only on 
account of the high grass. To surmount this one required either a 
dead elephant or a tripod to stand on. From such an eminence 
others could generally be shot. And the best of it was the huge 
herds were making so much noise themselves that only a few of 
them could hear the report of the small-bore. None of the 
elephant could be driven out of the swamps. Whenever they came 
to the edge and saw the burnt-up country before them, they 
wheeled about and re-entered the swamp with such determination 
that nothing I could do would shake it. Later on when the rains 
came and the green stuff sprang up everywhere — in a night, as it 
were — scarcely an elephant could be found in the swamps. 

Just when things were at their best tragedy darkened the pros- 
pect. Three of my boys launched and loaded with ivory a leaky 
dug-out. The leaks they stopped in the usual manner with clay, 
and shoved off. The Nile at this place was about a mile broad, and 



: :if 




| 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 95 

when about half way the entire end of the canoe fell out ; it had 
been stuck in with clay. Down went everything. Now, here is 
a curious thing. Out of the three occupants two could swim. 
These two struck out for the shore and were drawn under by 
"crocs.," while the one who could not swim clung to the barely 
floating canoe, and was presently saved. He kept trying to climb 
into it from the side, which resulted, of course, in rolling it over 
and over. It may well be that to this unusual form of canoe 
manoeuvring he owed his life. At any rate, the crocs, never touched 
him. A gloom settled on the camp that night certainly ; but in 
Africa, death in, to us, strange forms produces but little impres- 
sion on the native mind, and all was jolly again in a day or two. 

After about two months' hunting it became necessary to bury 
ivory. The safari could no longer carry it, so a site was chosen 
close to the river bank and a huge pit dug. Large as it was, it 
barely took all our beautiful elephant teeth. Ivory has awkward 
shapes and different curves, and cannot be stowed closely. Conse- 
quently there was much earth left over after filling the pit, to show 
all and sundry where excavating had taken place. Where cattle 
or donkeys are available, the spot is enclosed by a fence of bushes, 
and the animals soon obliterate all traces, but here we had nothing. 
So to guard our precious hoard I erected a symbol which might have 
been mistaken by a white man for a cross made in a hurry, while 
its objectless appearance conveyed to the African mind the sure 
impress of "medicine." I remember that to one rickety arm I 
suspended an empty cartridge and the tip of a hippo's tail. That 
the medicine was good was shown three or four months later when 
I sent some boys for the ivory. They found that the soil had been 
washed away from the top, exposing completely one tusk and parts 
of the others, but that otherwise the cache was untouched. In 
spite of my giving to the boy in charge of this party one length of 
stick for each tusk contained in the pit, he returned with one short 
of the proper number. To convince him of this fact it was neces- 
sary to line out the ivory and then to cover each tusk with one bit 



96 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

of stick, when, of course, there remained one stick over. Straight- 
way that party had a good feed and set off for the pit again, well 
over a hundred miles away. It never occurred to them that one 
tusk might have been stolen. They were right. Through just 
feeling that they themselves would not have touched anything, 
guarded as our pit was guarded, they judged correctly that no other 
native man would do so. At the bottom of the open pit and now 
exposed by the rains was found the missing tusk. 

After the hot work of the dry season in the swamps the open 
bush country, with still short grass, was ideal for the foot-hunter. 
The country was literally swarming with game of all sorts. I 
remember in one day seeing six white rhino besides elephant, 
buffalo and buck of various kinds. Then happened a thing that 
will sound incredible to most ears. I ran to a standstill, or rather 
to a walking pace, a herd of elephant. It happened thus. 
Early one morning I met with a white rhino, carrying a mag- 
nificent horn. I killed him for the horn. At the shot I heard 
the alarm rumble of elephant. Soon I was up to a large herd of 
bulls, cows, half-growns and calves. They were not yet properly 
alarmed, and were travelling slowly along. Giving hasty instruc- 
tions to my boy to find the safari and to then camp it at the 
water nearest to the white rhino, I tailed on to that elephant herd. 
The sun then indicated about 8 a.m., and at sundown (6 p.m.) 
there we were passing the carcase of the dead rhino at a footpace. 
By pure luck we had described a huge circle, and it was only by 
finding the dead rhino that I knew where I was. Throughout that 
broiling day I had run and run, sweating out the moisture I took 
in at occasional puddles in the bush, sucking it through closed teeth 
to keep out the wriggling things. At that time I was not familiar 
with the oblique shot at the brain from behind, and I worked hard 
for each shot by racing up to a position more or less at right angles 
to the beast to be shot. Consequently I gave myself a great deal 
of unnecessary trouble. That I earned each shot will become 
apparent when I state that although I had the herd well in hand by 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 97 

about 2 p.m., the total bag for the day was but fifteen bulls. To 
keep behind them was easy, the difficulty was that extra burst of 
speed necessary to overtake and range alongside them. The 
curious thing was that they appeared to be genuinely distressed by 
the sun and the pace. In the latter part of the day, whenever I 
fired I produced no quickening of the herd's speed whatever. No 
heads turned, no flourishing of trunks, and no attempted rushes by 
cows as in the morning. Just a dull plodding of thoroughly beaten 
animals. This day's hunting has always puzzled me. I have 
attempted the same thing often since, but have never been able to 
live with them for more than a short distance. Although a large 
herd, it was not so large but that every individual of it was 
thoroughly alarmed by each shot. I think that perhaps they com- 
mitted a fatal mistake in not killing me with a burst of speed at the 
start. I left them when I recognised the dead rhino, and found 
camp soon afterwards. The next two days I rested in camp, while 
the cutting-out gang worked back along the trail of the herd, find- 
ing and de-tusking the widety separated bodies of the dead 
elephants. 

Shortly after leaving this camp four bull elephants were seen in 
the distance. As I went for them, and in passing through some 
thick bush, we came suddenly on two white rhino. They came 
confusedly barging about at very close range, and then headed 
straight for the safari. Now, it is usual for all porters familiar with 
the black rhino to throw down their loads crash bang whenever a 
rhino appears to be heading in their direction. Much damage then 
ensues to ivory if the ground be hard, and to crockery and bottles 
in any case. To prevent this happening I quickly killed the rhino, 
hoping that the shots would not alarm the elephants. We soon 
saw that they were still feeding slowly along, but before reaching 
them we came upon a lion lying down. I did not wish to disturb 
the elephants, but I did want his skin, which had a nice dark mane. 
While I hesitated he jumped up and stood broadside on. I fired a 
careful shot and got him. He humped his back and subsided with 

7 



98 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

a little cough, while the bullet whined away in the distance. At 
the shot a lioness jumped up and could have been shot, but I let her 
go. Then on to our main objective. 

This morning's work shows what a perfect game paradise I was 
then in. 

Presently King Leopold of Belgium died, and the evacuation 
of the Lado began. As I mentioned before, the Belgians had six 
months in which to carry this out. Instead of six months they 
were pretty well out of it in six weeks, and now there started a kind 
of "rush" for the abandoned country. All sorts of men came. 
Government employees threw up their jobs. Masons, contractors, 
marine engineers, army men, hotel keepers and others came, 
attracted by the tales of fabulous quantities of ivory. More than 
one party was fired with the resolve to find Emin Pasha's buried 
store. It might almost have been a gold " rush." 

Into the Enclave then came this horde. At first they were for 
the most part orderly law-abiding citizens, but soon this restraint 
was thrown off. Finding themselves in a country where even 
murder went unpunished, every man became a law unto himself. 
Uganda could not touch him, the Sudan had no jurisdiction for six 
months, and the Belgians had gone. Some of the men went utterly 
bad and behaved atrociously to the natives, but the majority were 
too decent to do anything but hunt elephants. But the few bad 
men made it uncommonly uncomfortable for the decent ones. The 
natives became disturbed, suspicious, shy and treacherous. The 
game was shot at, missed, wounded or killed by all sorts of people 
who had not the rudiments of hunter-craft or rifle shooting. The 
Belgian posts on the new frontier saw with alarm this invasion of 
heavily armed safaris ; in some cases I believe they thought we might 
be trying some kind of Jameson raid on the Kilo goldfields, or some- 
thing of that sort. Whatever they thought, I know that in one 
case their representative was in a highly dangerous state of nerves. 
He was at Mahagi on Lake Albert Edward. I happened to be 
passing down the lake in my steel canoe. My boys and gear fol- 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 99 

lowed in a large dug-out. With the rising of the sun a breeze 
sprang up, and with it a lop on the water sufficient to alarm the 
boys in the dug-out. They happened to be passing Mahagi Port 
at the moment. I was miles ahead and out of sight. They decided 
to wait in the sheltered waters of Port Mahagi until the breeze 
should die down. They did so, and on landing were promptly 
seized by Belgian soldiery, made to unload my gear, and to carry it 
up to the fort. 

Some hours later I came paddling along shore searching every 
bay for my lost safari. Crossing the mouth of Mahagi Port, and 
never dreaming that they would have put in there, what should I 
see through my glasses but my large dug-out lying on the beach, 
abandoned. I entered to investigate, but could see none of my 
boys about. Some natives told me they had been marched up to 
the fort. 

Now, it was my habit when canoeing in those waters to do so 
with bare feet. It suddenly dawned on me that I had left my shoes 
with my safari. I thought it would be devilish awkward walking 
up to a strange frontier post in bare feet, to say nothing of the dis- 
comfort of climbing four or five hundred yards of stony path. I 
sat down and wrote a note on a scrap of paper to the officer in charge 
of the post, explaining what had happened, and asking him to send 
my safari on to the English side, only a few miles away. I also 
mentioned that I was on my way there. I wrote this note in 
English, as the Belgians usually have an English-speaking officer in 
their frontier posts. Beckoning a native, I sent my note up to the 
fort and paddled off. As I was clearing the bay I saw some soldiers 
issue from the fort, one of them waving a letter. I returned to 
the beach and waited for them to arrive, much against the advice 
of my boy, who said there was bad " medicine " about. I took the 
precaution to remain out a yard or two from the shore. Soon black 
soldiers were approaching. When a few yards from the canoe the 
corporal who was carrying the letter, or piece of paper, shoved it 
quickly into his pouch, slung his rifle to his shoulder, rushed to the 



IOO 



WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 



bow of my canoe, saying to the others " Kamata M'zungu " in 
Kiswahili. This means " Catch or seize the white man." 

I had been watching the whole manoeuvre carefully, paddle in 
hand. When he said those words I knew there was dirty work 
afoot. When, therefore, the leader laid hold of the canoe I hit him 
a terrific blow on the head with my stout ash steering paddle. At 
the same time my boy shoved off, and there we were almost at once 
10 yds. from the shore gang. Their leader was not stunned by my 
blow — it seems almost impossible to stun black men — and he had 
hurriedly unslung his rifle and was feverishly loading it. His com- 
panions were likewise occupied. The first ready raised and levelled 
his rifle, and before he could fire I shot him, aiming for the arm. 
He yelled and dropped his arm, while the others let fly a volley as 
they ducked and ran. I fired no other shot, but was sorely tempted. 
My boy and I now paddled vigorously for the open water, bullets 
raining around us, but not very close. I could distinguish a small- 
bore among the reports of the soldiers' guns ; it was the white man 
of the fort taking a hand. I drew a bead on him and was again 
tempted, but managed to withstand it. Presently they got their 
cannon — a Nordenfelt, I believe — into action, but what they fired 
at I cannot conceive, for the shots came nowhere nearer than 
100 yds. to us. I feel that one or two good rifle shots might 
have taken that post without any great trouble or danger to 
themselves. 

I wondered now what to do about it. The whole thing was an 
infernal nuisance. I thought the best thing I could do was to go to 
the nearest English port and report the matter to the authorities, 
which I did ; and in a day or two all my boys turned up except one. 
They said that when the row started down on the beach all the 
soldiers and the white man seized their rifles and rushed out to the 
heights overlooking the bay. With them went the guards detailed 
to look after the prisoners. When the road was clear these latter 
simply walked out of the deserted post, spread out, and were quickly 
lost in the bush. All except one, who foolishly ran down to the 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 101 

beach. He was shot. The others soon made their way overland 
and arrived safely at the English port. 

After reorganising my safari I found myself heading for a new 
region, the country lying around Mt. Schweinfurth. Native 
information said elephant were numerous and the ivory large. This 
time I took all my sporting rifles. This meant that, besides my two 
personal rifles, I had five smart boys armed with good rifles. We 
all felt ready to take on anything at any time. 

A few miles back from the Nile we found an exceptionally dense 
and isolated patch of forest. There was no other forest for miles 
around, and into this stronghold were crowded all kinds of elephant. 
They could not be dislodged or driven out as we very soon found on 
trying it. I never saw such vicious brutes. When you had killed 
a bull you could not approach it for furious elephant. I devoted 
some time to this patch, getting a few hard-earned bulls from it. 
Right in its centre there was a clear space of an acre or two in 
extent. Here, one day, I found a few cows and one bull sunning 
themselves. I had an easy shot at the bull and fired, killing him. 
At the shot there arose the most appalling din from the surrounding 
forest. Elephant in great numbers appeared from all sides crowd- 
ing into the little clearing until it was packed with deeply agitated 
animals. Those that could, shoved their way up to the dead bull, 
alternately throwing their heads high in the air, then lowering them 
as if butting at the prostrate bull. They did not know my where- 
abouts, but they knew that the danger lay in the forest, for they 
presented a united front of angry heads all along the side within my 
view. They seemed to regard this clear spot as their citadel, to be 
defended at all cost. Short intimidating rushes out from the line 
were frequently made, sometimes in my direction, but more often 
not. But when I got a chance at another bull and fired, I really 
thought I had done it this time, and that the whole lot were coming. 
So vicious was their appearance, and so determined did they seem 
as they advanced, that I hurriedly withdrew more deeply into the 
forest. Looking back, however, I saw that, as usual, it was mostly 



io2 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

bluff, and that they had stopped at the edge of the clearing. Pre- 
sently they withdrew again, leaving, perhaps, 20 yds. between them 
and the forest edge. I approached again to try for another bull. 
Clumsy white-man fashion I made some noise, which they heard. 
A lightning rush by a tall and haggard looking cow right into the 
stuff, from which I was peeping at them, sent me off again. I now 
began to wonder how I was to reach the two bulls I had shot. I 
did not want to kill any of the cows, but thought that it might 
become necessary, especially as they seemed to be turning very nasty 
indeed. The annoying part was that I had seen several bulls right 
out in the sea of cows. Fitting cartridges between my left hand 
fingers and with full magazine I approached as quietly as possible, 
fully prepared to give anything heading my way a sound lesson. 
Looking into the brilliantly lit open space from the twilight of the 
forest, I saw over the backs and heads of the cows between us the 
towering body of a large bull well out in the centre of the herd. 
His tusks were hidden by the cows, but it was almost certain from 
his general mass that they would be satisfactory. Just the little 
dark slot above the earhole was intermittently uncovered by the 
heads, ears or trunks of the intervening cows, which were still much 
agitated. At last I got a clear slant and fired. The image was 
instantly blocked out by the thrown-up heads of several cows as 
they launched themselves furiously towards the shot. I was imme- 
diately engaged with three of the nearest, and sufficiently angry 
with them to stand my ground. I hoped also to hustle the herd out 
of their fighting mood. I had spent days of trouble in this patch 
of forest. My boys had been chased out and demoralised when 
they attempted to drive them. I myself had been badly scared 
once or twice with their barging about, and it was now time to see 
about it. My shot caught the leading cow in the brain and dropped 
her slithering on her knees right in the track of two advancing close 
to her. One kept on towards me, offering no decent chance at her 
brain, so I gave her a bullet in a non- vital place to turn her. With 
a shriek she stopped, slewed half round and backed a few steps. Then 




LOOKING INTO THE BRILLIANTLY LIT OPEN SPACE FROM THE TWILIGHT 

OF THE FOREST. 



THE LADO ENCLAVE 103 

round came her head again facing towards me. I was on the point 
of making an end of her when a mass of advancing heads, trunks 
and ears appeared on both sides of her. From that moment 
onwards I can give no coherent description of what followed, 
because the images appeared, disappeared and changed with such 
rapidity as to leave no permanent impressions. In time the space 
was clear of living elephant. So far as that goes, it was my victory ; 
but as for clearing that patch of forest — No. That was their vic- 
tory. I had merely taught them not to use the clear space as their 
citadel. 

Passing on, and climbing all the time, we reached a truly won- 
derful country. High, cool and with rolling hills. Running 
streams of clear cold water in every hollow, the sole bush a few 
forest trees lining their banks. In the wet season covered with 
high, strong grass, it was now burned off and the fresh young green 
stuff was just coming away. In the far distance could be seen from 
some of the higher places a dark line. It was the edge of " Darkest 
Africa," the great primeval forest spreading for thousands of square 
miles. Out of that forest, and elsewhere, had come hundreds upon 
hundreds of elephants to feed upon the young green stuff. They 
stood around on that landscape as if made of wood and stuck there. 
Hunting there was too easy. Beyond a few reed buck there was 
no other game. Soon natives flocked to our camps, and at one 
time there must have been 3,000 of them. They were noisy and 
disturbed the game, no doubt, but when it came to moving our 
ivory they were indispensable. Without them we could not have 
budged. 

At a camp close to the edge of the great forest I was sitting on 
a little hill one evening. Along one of the innumerable elephant 
paths I saw a small bull coming. Suliemani, my faithful servant 
and cook, had for years boasted of how he would kill elephant if 
he were given the chance. Here it was, and I should be able to see 
the fun. I came down to camp, called for Suliemani, gave him a 
rifle and thirty rounds, pointed out to him the direction of the 



io 4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

elephant and sent him off. Then I re-climbed the hill from which 
I could see both Suliemani and the elephant. The bull, having, 
perhaps, caught a whiff of our camp, had turned, and was now 
leisurely making towards the forest. Soon Suliemani got his tracks 
and went racing along behind him. The elephant now entered some 
long dry grass which had escaped the fires, and this stuff evidently 
hid him from Suliemani 's view. At the same time it was not suffi- 
ciently high to prevent my seeing what happened through my 
glasses. In the high grass the elephant halted and Suliemani came 
slap into him. With two frightful starts Suliemani turned and fled 
in one direction, the elephant in the other. After half a hundred 
yards Suliemani pulled himself together and once more took up the 
trail, disappearing into the forest. Soon shot after shot was heard. 
There was no lack of friends in camp to carefully count the number 
poor Suliemani fired. When twenty-seven had been heard there 
was silence for a long time. Darkness fell, everyone supped. Then 
came Suliemani stalking empty-handed into camp. A successful 
hunter always cuts off the tail and brings it home. Suliemani had 
failed after all his blowing. The camp was filled with jeers and 
jibes. Not a word from Suliemani as he prepared to eat his supper. 
Having eaten it in silence, the whole time being ragged to death by 
all his mates, he quietly stepped across the camp, disappeared a 
moment into the darkness, and reappeared with the elephant's tail. 
He had killed it after all ! There was a shout of laughter, but all 
Suliemani said was, " Of course." 




SULIEMANI BUMPS INTO HIS BULL. 








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IX 

HUNTING IN LIBERIA 

IN the year 1911 the search for new hunting grounds took me to 
Liberia, the Black Republic. I secured a passage by tramp 
steamer to Sinoe Town, Greenwood County, some few hundred 
miles south of the capital Monrovia. Here I landed with my little 
camp outfit and a decent battery, comprising a 318 Mauser and a 
•22 rook rifle. 

Right on the threshold I was met by conditions which are unique 
in Africa, with possibly the exception of Abyssinia ; for here the 
white man comes under the rule of the black, and any attempt at 
evasion or disregard of it is quickly and forcibly resented, as I wit- 
nessed immediately on stepping ashore. Among a crowd of blacks 
was a white man held powerless. His appearance seeming familiar, 
I had a nearer look, and was astonished to recognise one of the 
officers of the tramp steamer from which I had just landed. I asked 
him what the trouble was about, but he could only curse in- 
coherently. Just then a very polite black man, in blue uniform and 
badge-cap, informed me that the officer had struck a native, and that 
the officer would have to answer for it to the magistrate. He was 
then promptly taken before the beak, who fined him 25 dollars and 
the ship's captain 50 dollars, although the latter had not even been 
on shore. 

After this episode I began to wonder what I had let myself in 
for. I found, however, that my informant in uniform was the 
Customs officer, and extremely polite and anxious to help me to 
pass my gear through. He seemed to have absolute power in his 
department, and let me off very lightly indeed. In all my dealings 
I invariably treated the Liberians with the greatest politeness, and 
I was invariably received in the same way. 

105 



106 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

As soon as I had got clear of the Customs I looked out for a 
lodging of some sort. There were no hotels, of course, but 
eventually I found an Englishman who represented a rubber 
company. He very kindly put me up. I found that my host was 
the only Englishman, he, with a German trader, comprising the 
white community. 

My host, whom I will call B., was much interested in my expedi- 
tion into the interior. He told me frankly that I would have a devil 
of a time. He said that the jurisdiction of the Liberians extended 
inland for about ten miles only, and beyond that the country was in 
the hands of the original natives. These were all armed with guns 
and a few rifles, and were constantly at war with each other. This I 
found to be true. 

As I was determined to penetrate and see for myself, he advised 
me to call on the Governor ; also that I should take suitable presents 
to him. I resolved to do so. On my friend's advice I bought a case 
of beer and a case of Kola wine, the Governor, it appeared, being 
very partial to these beverages mixed. He told me that if I pressed 
a golden sovereign into his hand I should get what I wanted, i.e., a 
permit to hunt elephant. 

I had to engage servants, and B. said I could either buy them or 
hire them. He explained that slavery was rampant. Whenever a 
tribe in the interior brought off a successful raid on their neighbours 
the captives were generally brought to the coast and there sold to 
the Liberians, themselves liberated slaves from the United States of 
America. Alcoholism was so prevalent and widespread and had 
reached such a pitch that scarcely any children are born to the 
Liberians proper, in which case they buy bush children and adopt 
them as their own. 

B. was going to a dance that night, and asked me if I would care 
to go with him. I was anxious to see what I could of the people and 
agreed to go. Later on I was surprised to see B. in full evening dress. 
He explained that everyone dressed. Now, as I had not brought 
mine, it was very awkward. But B. said it would be all right. As 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 107 

we were changing, a fine buxom black girl burst into our house and 
marched straight upstairs to B.'s room, throwing wide the door. 
There was B. with his white shirt and nothing else. I closed my 
door, but could hear the lady engaging B. for some of the dances. 
She then asked for the white man who had arrived that day, and then 
my door was thrown open. I was far from dressed myself, and some- 
thing about my appearance seemed to tickle the lady immensely, for 
she went into peals of the jolliest laughter. She spoke English with 
a strong American accent, as nearly all the Liberians do. She 
made me promise to dance with her that night, in spite of my protests 
that I could not dance at all. She turned the place upside down and 
then departed. I hastened to ask B. what kind of dances they had, 
and he told me they liked waltzing best. 

After dinner we sauntered off to a large barn, where a musical 
din denoted the dance. Here we found a fine lay-out. Lavish re- 
freshments, chiefly composed of cakes, cold pork, gin and beer, were 
provided for all. Everybody was very jolly, and they could dance, or 
so it seemed to me. The girls were nearly all in white or pink dresses, 
but not very decollete. A tall coal-black gentleman in full evening 
dress was master of ceremonies, but introductions soon became un- 
necessary. Round the refreshments gathered the old men, some in 
frock coats of a very ancient cut, others in more modern garments. 
I was hospitably pressed to drink. The musicians drank without 
pressing. Everybody drank, women and all. What added zest was 
the fact that the fines inflicted on the steamer captain and his officer 
paid for the feast. German export beer and Hamburg potato spirit 
were then only a few pence per bottle, consequently the dance became 
a debauch, seasoned drinkers though they were. The din and heat 
became terrific. Starched collars turned to sodden rags and things 
indescribable happened. Thus ended my first day in the Black 
Republic. 

As notice had been sent the Governor of my intended visit, and 
I had bought the necessary beer and Kola wine, next day I set off to 
visit him at his residence, some little way out of town. Bush, with 



io8 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

clearings planted with coffee, describes the country between the town 
and the Governor's residence, itself situated in a large coffee planta- 
tion. The house was of lumber construction and two storeys high, 
well built, and the largest I had yet seen. I marched up, followed by 
B's two boys carrying the present, to the front door. I was met 
immediately by a splendid-looking old black, very tall, very black, 
dressed in a long black frock coat, high starched collar and black 
cravat. With snow-white hair and Uncle Sam beard and accent to 
match, he received me in a really kind and hearty manner. I must 
confess that I felt rather diffident with my two cases of cheap liquor 
in the background, while I fingered a few hot sovereigns in my 
pocket. However, the bluff old fellow soon put me at my ease. 
Seeing the stuff out there on the boys' heads, he beckoned them in, 
helped them to lower their load, shouted to someone to come and 
open the boxes, sent the boys in to get a drink, and ushered me into 
his sitting-room, all in the jolliest manner possible. Here we talked 
a bit, and then I told him what I had come for. A permit to hunt 
elephant ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! he roared. Of course I should have a permit 
to hunt elephant. He wrote it there and then. Would I stop for 
dinner? I said I would be delighted. Then we had beer and Kola 
wine mixed until lunch was announced. Then the old boy took off 
his coat and invited me to do likewise. I did so and followed my host 
into the eating-room. Here was a long trestle table laid for about 
twenty people — white tablecloth, knives, forks, etc. As we seated 
ourselves, in trooped enchanting little black girls, all dressed neatly 
in moderately clean print dresses, with arms, necks, and legs bare. 
And then Mrs. Governor appeared with some larger girls. After 
shaking hands we all sat down to a very substantial meal. It was 
perfectly charming. Everyone was at ease. The old man was an 
excellent host and the old lady just as good a hostess. Conversation 
never flagged. The old man was full of his brother's doings. It 
appeared that his brother was a lazy, good-for-nothing fellow, who 
would let his cows stray on to his neighbours' plantations. My host 
had repeatedly remonstrated, but without effect. So that morning, 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 109 

having discovered some of his brother's cows meandering about the 
plantation, he had gone straight for his shot-gun and had rendered at 
least one incapable of further depredations. This act had, it ap- 
peared, stirred the brother profoundly, but in an unusual way, for he 
could be heard for miles bawling religious songs from his bedroom 
window. Whenever there was a lull during lunch we heard the 
monotonous chant, which appeared to amuse my host immensely. 

All the little girls were called their children, but I subsequently 
found that the old couple were quite childless, and that these were 
bush children from the interior and were now adopted. 

My host told me that he had been a slave in the Southern States ; 
he said he could remember well being flogged. He said that elephant 
were numerous in the interior, also bush-cow (the little red buffalo), 
leopard, and the pigmy hippo. As regards the tribes, he laughed and 
said that they were a rough lot. He said that Liberia was almost 
continually at war with them. In this connection I heard afterwards 
that the bush men had been down on a raid to a neighbouring town. 
They had seized, stripped, and tarred and feathered the Governor, 
raided and carried off all the liquor in the trading stores, and enjoyed 
themselves generally. 

Altogether, Liberia was, at the time of which I write, about the 
funniest show it has ever been my lot to see. When they set up their 
Customs to levy import duty on spirits, etc., they soon discovered 
that an extensive and very lucrative trade in smuggling started up. 
Steamers used to draw in close to the coast and sell for spot cash and 
gold dust whole cargoes of gin, gunpowder, caps, and articles of 
general trade. Natives would put off in their canoes in clouds, and 
in a very short time the cargo would be sold on deck and landed. In 
order to stop this the Republic bought a second-hand steam yacht 
which had originally belonged to King Leopold, I believe. For the 
following account of the doings of this navy I am indebted to B. ; for 
its accuracy I cannot vouch. 

According to B., then, the yacht was armed with a light gun and 
some machine guns. The crew were all blacks, with the exception 



no WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

of the captain, who was an Englishman. This Englishman was 
admiral of the fleet, captain and commander all in one. Evidently 
his gunners were so bad that he found it necessary to fire the gun 
himself whenever it had to be fired. As his salary was never forth- 
coming when due, he used to take it out of the fines he imposed on 
ships caught in the act. That he was energetic is shown by his first 
encounter with a smuggling ship. This happened to be a German, 
well inside the three-mile limit. The Liberian navy signalled her to 
stop. She disregarded this and carried on. The admiral jumped to 
his gun and let fly a shot across her bows. She still carried on. So 
then the admiral let rip and carried away a part of her bridge with 
the first shot. One can imagine the guttural curses and funk on that 
German bridge. Nothing more was needed, she hove to. The game 
ceased to be so popular after this encounter. Smuggling by the ship- 
load was stopped. Passing through the French West African port, 
Dakkar, some time after my visit to Liberia, I saw the Liberian 
navy — a beautiful little craft — lying at anchor. In answer to my 
enquiries I was told that she had been in dock for repairs, that the 
bill for these amounted to some £600, that the Republican Treasury 
had been unable to meet it, and that the repairers refused to let her 
sail until it was met. How long she remained there I cannot say. 

With the acquisition of the hunting permit and the hiring of 
some lads from the interior, I was soon ready for the road. For ten 
miles or so we passed through lazily-kept coffee plantations, mostly 
worked by slave labour. The coffee is excellent, but produced with- 
out system. After this we began to rise gradually through virgin 
forests, with no inhabitants. Our road was a mere footpath. There 
were no flies, which was pleasant. Throughout the forest country 
there were neither flies nor mosquitoes, in spite of the dampness. 

The first night we camped in the bush, where there were three 
huts. In one of these huts there lived a sort of " medicine " man. 
I got hold of him and asked him about my prospects of finding 
elephant. He was the most wide-awake business man I had met 
since leaving London, for he at once offered to make such 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA in 

" medicine " as would lead to my killing elephant with large tusks 
in great numbers. I told him to fire away, but before doing so he 
asked what I would give him. I promised that if I got large tusks I 
would give him a case of gin. He was delighted, but wanted a few 
heads of tobacco added. This was also agreed to. He said I might 
consider the whole thing arranged. Then he asked me if I would 
care to buy gold dust. I said yes. He then produced a tiny skin bag 
of the stuff. I scoffed and said that I could not be troubled with 
quantities so small. Turning indifferently away, I was about to leave 
him, when he said he had some more. He produced more of it, little 
by little, until there was perhaps £80 worth. Then I became more 
interested and asked him what he wanted for it. Gunpowder came 
the answer at once. I told him I had none. When he had brought 
himself to believe this he said he would exchange it for an equal 
weight of golden sovereigns. Had his stuff been pure this " trade " 
might have shown a small profit ; but as it was obviously not so I, of 
course, refused to buy. As a matter of curiosity I bought a pinch of 
his dust and subsequently found that it contained about 25 per cent, 
of brass filings. There were certainly no flies on that magic-monger. 

To his business of making medicine this hoary old rascal added 
the, perhaps, more lucrative one of slave dealing ; for when I had 
retired to my camp-bed my boy came to tell me that the medicine 
man wished to see me. I told the boy to tell him to go now and come 
in the morning. The answer came that he wanted to see me very 
particularly. He was let in and came with a pleasant-looking young 
native girl following. She carried a small calabash, which the old 
man took from her and gave it to me, saying it was a present of 
honey. The girl remained kneeling and sitting on her heels. The 
old ruffian kept leering at her and then leering at me. He wished 
to sell her. 

As we expected to reach the first village of the bush people that 
day, we were off early in the morning. As a rule, in forest country 
it is as well not to start too early. Until ten or eleven o'clock the 
bush bordering the narrow native trails is saturated with moisture 



ii2 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

and remains wet even after the passage of several people ; then there 
is no sun to contend with, as in open country. 

On the way we saw monkeys of several kinds and tracks of bush- 
buck and bush-cow. Hornbills were common and various kinds of 
forest birds. The country was in ridges, heavily wooded, with 
running streams of clear cold water in the hollows. Here and there 
could be seen scratchings where natives had been looking for gold. 
The whole of this country is auriferous, I believe. The gold is 
alluvial, and the particles widely separated by dirt ; too widely for 
Europeans, I expect. 

Late in the afternoon we arrived at the village. They knew of 
our coming, and the headman met us with a crowd of his people, and 
jolly independent in manner they were. Among the crowd there 
was quite a sprinkling of trade guns of the percussion cap type. 
Almost immediately I was shown to the hut allocated to travellers, 
and very grateful its shade and coolness were after the long and hilly 
march. Water and firewood were brought, and the cook got busy. 
The construction of the huts was new to me and quite excellent. 
The floor of the hut was raised some four feet off the ground and 
consisted of stout bamboo mats tightly stretched over poles. As the 
mats were rather loosely woven, all dirt and water simply fell through 
to the ground. If a bath is required you squat on the floor and dash 
the water over yourself ; it all runs through and soon dries up again. 
Then the mats, being springy, make a most excellent bed. Vermin 
are absent. One is obliged to have one of the huts, as the bush runs 
close up to the villages, leaving no room for a tent, besides which 
the ground is so damp as to make a floor well off the ground desirable. 

After refreshment I called the headman and told him I had come 
to hunt elephant. He asked to see my rifle. I showed it to him, my 
•318. He smiled and said it would not do, peering into the small 
muzzle. He called for his own to show me, a huge affair, muzzle- 
loading and shooting a long wooden harpoon with an iron head 
heavily poisoned. But, he said, my rifle might do for bush-cow, of 
which there were plenty near at hand. He asked me if I would go 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 113 

after them next morning. I did not wish to a bit, but I thought it 
might be as well to create a good impression by killing something, 
so I promised to try. He then left me, and presently a nice present 
of food, a couple of fowls and eggs, arrived. 

On the morrow I left for the bush with some local guides. We 
soon found fresh bush-cow tracks and took them up. They led 
through a lot of deadly thick stuff, wet and cold. The guides made 
such a noise that I thought any bush-cow that allowed us near enough 
to see them would have to be both sound asleep and deaf ; and so it 
turned out, for presently we heard them stampeding through the 
bush. I gave it up at once, and consoled the natives by promising 
to kill some monkeys for them on the way back, which I had no 
difficulty in doing. Arrived back in the village, I gave the headman 
a couple of monkeys and some tobacco in return for the hospitality 
we had enjoyed. Then we set off forward for the hunting grounds. 
We had a set-back about half way, as our guides deserted us, saying 
they were at war with the people we were going to. This is always 
awkward in Africa, for the paths are so misleading. There was 
nothing for it but to trust to luck and push on. 

After some miles of chancing our way along we saw a native on 
the path. As soon as we saw him he saw us and dived into the bush, 
trailing his long gun dangerously behind him. The alarm was out, 
and it was imperative to arrive at the village before anything could 
be organised. I gave my rifle to a boy to carry and on we went. 
Luckily the village was handy, and we marched straight into the 
middle of it and sat down, the natives, who had been having a pow- 
wow, scattering right and left. This is always a very disconcerting 
thing for natives ; they seemed quite lost to see what they had 
regarded as an enemy an instant before sitting quietly right in the 
middle of their town. It is necessary on these occasions to suppress 
any signs of nervousness on the part of one's followers, which is not 
always easy. When this is done and there is no flourishing of lethal 
weapons I have never known it to fail. In a short time up came the 
headman, in an awful funk, but outwardly composed. He demanded 



ii 4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

of me what I wanted. I said, " Sit down ! " He continued to stand. 
I told one of my boys to bring a mat, and beckoned the headman to 
sit down. He did. Then I told him why we were there, and that if 
they showed us elephant they should have the meat. He went away 
and had a talk with some of his men, who had returned from the 
bush. I noticed that nearly all of them were armed with guns. 
Presently he came back and led me to a hut. I got the thing made 
habitable, and the usual procedure of peaceful travellers went on. 
No notice was taken by us of anyone, and presently the native women 
began to be once more visible, a pretty fair indication that no hos- 
tilities were intended, for the moment, at any rate. In an hour or 
two the headman came in most cordial mood. He had been pushing 
enquiries among my boys, I knew. Apparently all was well. He 
said I could not have come to a better spot for elephant, or to a better 
man than himself. He presumed that I had heard of him ; he seemed 
to think that London must be ringing with his prowess. I did not 
tell him I had never heard of him ; I merely smiled. 

His news was most inspiring, although I knew enough of Africans 
to discount 75 per cent, of it. He said the bush was full of elephant. 
I decided to try next day for them, and told the headman so. He 
laughed and said we would have to sleep some nights in the bush and 
that food would have to be taken. Therefore, the following day was 
devoted to preparing food for the journey. In the evening I warned 
the people that I was going to fire, and showed them the penetration 
of a modern rifle with solid bullet. I chose for this purpose a certain 
white-barked tree, the wood of which I knew, from former trials, 
set up less resistance to the passage of a bullet than that of other 
trees. This particular tree was very thick, and I hoped the bullet 
would not fail to come out on the other side. It traversed it easily, 
to my relief and the astonishment of the natives, who came in crowds 
to see the exit hole. Of course, none of their guns would have looked 
at it. It is just this kind of childish little thing that impresses 
Africans, and when done quietly and indifferently enough is most 
useful. In this case the effect was doubled by the fact that in their 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 1 1 5 

mode of waging war the taking of cover behind trees was more than 
half the game. Luckily, no one was sufficiently acute to ask me to 
fire through some of the smaller but much tougher trees. They 
began to think that my rifle might kill elephant after all. 

On the morrow we stored our heavy loads in the headman's hut 
and left for the bush. I took my camp-bed, and a ground-sheet 
which could be slung on a stick over it when it rained. These, with 
some plain food and 200 rounds of cartridges, comprised the loads, 
and, as we had plenty of followers, each man was lightly laden. 

After passing through some plantations we were almost immedi- 
ately in the virgin forest. We trekked hard all that day without 
seeing anything more interesting than monkeys and forest pig, but 
on the following day the country began to show signs of game. Bush- 
cow tracks became common, and we crossed several elephant paths, 
but devoid of recent tracks. This day I saw for the first time the 
comparatively tiny tracks of the pigmy hippo. In one place quite a 
herd of them had passed in the night. I gathered from the natives 
that they sometimes remained throughout the day in the dark pools 
of the smaller forest streams, but that usually they passed the day- 
time in the larger streams, when they would come up to breathe 
under the overhanging banks, only the nostrils emerging from the 
water. The reason for this extreme shyness appeared to be that the 
natives possessed firearms, the animals were quite defenceless, and 
the price of meat was high in all this stockless country. There exists 
such a dearth of flesh food that cannibalism is practised. Towards 
evening we reached a stream, on the bank of which it was decided 
we should camp. While a clearing was being made someone spotted 
a python coiled up on a rock a few feet out in the stream. They 
called me to come and shoot it. I ran up with my rifle to do so, and 
arrived just as the great snake was beginning to uncoil itself. First 
its head came, more and more of its body uncoiling behind it until 
the head reached the shore, the body bridging the space between it 
and the rock, where there still remained several coils. It landed in 
face of us, and I was waiting till enough of it had reached hard 



n6 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

ground before firing. Meanwhile the boys, who had been clearing 
bush, rushed up with their slashers and attacked the huge serpent 
vigorously. It appeared to make no attempt to defend itself and 
was soon disabled by a few dozen blows on the head and neck. 
Although dead, the body continued to writhe with great force as it 
was being cut up into sections. All the natives were in high glee 
at securing so much good food. They said it was very good to eat, 
and certainly the flesh looked all right. When cooked, it became 
as white as boiled cod and seemed to lie in layers in the same way. 
The python was about 16 ft. long and contained the almost digested 
remains of one or more monkeys. 

As I had killed two or three monkeys for them during the day 
the boys had a splendid feast with the python added. I noticed that 
they ate the python and roasted the monkeys whole to carry forward 
cold. I gathered that elephant might be expected next day. 

It poured hard most of the night, and it was quite cold. Luckily, 
the forest was a splendid wind break, and but little rain reached my 
snug camp-bed. The boys made little shelters with under-bush, 
kept the fires going and ate python all night. 

As soon as we were warmed up a bit next morning we started. 
Now, when the bush is wet and the cold of the early morning 
is still on, it is very hard to get a native to go ahead. Being 
naked, they come in for a shower bath every time they touch a 
branch. They simply loathe it. With difficulty one will eventually 
be pushed in front, but in a very short time he will pretend to have a 
thorn in his foot or some other pressing reason for stopping, and 
another has to be pushed forward. This continues until things heat 
up with the heightening of the sun. Not that you can see the sun 
when in this kind of forest ; but, somehow, its heat rays penetrate 
the dense roof of foliage, although quite invisible. 

We soon reached a lot of fresh elephant tracks. I examined 
them carefully, but could find no bull tracks at all. I could not even 
find one moderately big cow track. I was puzzled. All the tracks 
appeared to have been made by calves and half -grown animals. The 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 117 

boys were very pleased with them, however, and when I said I was 
not going to follow such small stuff they assured me that the smaller 
the track the bigger the teeth. This belief I have found to be 
common all over Africa, not only among native hunters, but also 
among whites. In my experience it has failed to stand the test of 
careful observation. But it is so widely held and so firmly believed 
in that it may be interesting to state the conclusion I have arrived 
at after very many opportunities of testing it. It is, of course, 
merely one man's experience, but I give it for what it is worth. 

Very large and bulky elephants appear to carry small tusks. 
Why they appear small is this : A tusk reaches a great length and 
a great lip diameter in a comparatively small number of years, but 
is very hollow and weighs light. At this stage the bearer is still 
young and slim, as with man. Therefore, his tusks look enormous 
in proportion to his general bulk. Therefore, however, his tusks 
gain but little either in length or girth, but the hollows fill up more 
and more with the decades ; while his body continues to fill out, he 
stops chasing the cows, takes less and less exercise, becomes bulkier 
and sourer in the temper, suffers from gout, for all I know, gets a 
liver — for I have found them diseased in very old elephant — and now 
his tusks look small in proportion to his general size. To bear me 
out I would point to the enormously heavy tusk in the Victoria and 
Albert Museum. It is only some 9 ft. long and only just over 24 ins. 
diameter, yet it weighs 234 lb. I have had heaps of tusks 9 ft. long 
and 23^ ins. in diameter which weighed a mere 100 lb. to 150 lb. 

Pointing to a track which in any other country would have indi- 
cated a young cow, the headman said that its maker would be found 
to carry enormous tusks. I knew this was bunkum ; all he wanted 
was meat. But it began to dawn on me that perhaps the elephant 
of Liberia were, like its hippo, a dwarf race. This decided me to 
go and have a look, so off we started. 

The herd was a fairly large one and the ground soft, consequently 
the tracking was easy and the speed good. All were hungering for 
meat. What an appalling spectacle we would have been, as we 



u8 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

raced along, for wise, calm, judicious eyes not out for blood — the 
natives all eager, searching the ground for tracks here and there like 
hounds on the trail. Some, more enterprising, chancing ahead to 
find the trail. A slap on the thigh signals this to the more tardy, 
while the pale-skinned man rests at the checks, the better to carry 
out his deadly work when that should begin. Watch him peering 
furtively through the bush in all directions, for human eye cannot 
pierce the dense foliage. Far better good ears than good eyes in 
this kind of country. Watch him during the checks listening. He 
imagines that those terrific vibrations his dull ears faintly gather may 
be caused by his quarry. How stupid he is to continue thinking so 
when surrounded by living evidence that it is not so, for not one of 
the native men has paused even for a second ; they know monkeys 
when they hear them. 

All the same, these were not ordinary "monks," they were 
chimpanzee, a whole colony of them. They were very busy gather- 
ing fruit, and I pointed my rifle at one huge old man "chimp." 
Like a flash my natives disappeared, and with such a clatter that the 
chimps heard and also disappeared. I had had no intention of firing, 
but I almost began to believe that I must have done it, so rapidly had 
the stage cleared. However, up came the headman, relieved that 
the chimps had gone. I asked him what was the matter. He told 
me then that chimps when in bands will attack if fired at. I don't 
believe it, but I am glad to say I have never tested it. They looked 
such jolly old hairy people. 

After this we pushed along faster than ever, for the day was 
getting on. The quarry led us in every conceivable direction. Had 
I got lost or had my natives deserted me, I could not have found my 
way back to the village at all. The sun's position did not help, it 
being invisible. A compass would not have helped unless a kind of 
rough course had been jotted down with the distances travelled 
between changes of direction. 

Towards evening I began to think that it was a rum go. I could 
see no reason why the elephant should travel so : food appeared to be 




A COLONY OF " CHIMPS " FRUIT -GATHERING. 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 119 

plentiful. There were no signs of man anywhere. But the fact 
remains that their signs showed that we had gained but little on them 
during our nine hours' march. We had to camp for the night. 

Rain during the night obliterated the tracks to some extent and 
made trekking slower. We had not gone far when the unexpected 
happened. The natives all stopped, listening. "Only monks," I 
thought. Wrong again, for it was elephant this time. They must 
have wandered round back on to their tracks, and we happened along 
just in the nick of time to hear them crossing. Had we been a few 
minutes earlier we should probably have had another day's hard 
going for nothing. 

Some of them were quite close, making all the usual sounds of 
feeding elephant. The sighs, the intestinal rumbles, the cracks, the 
r-r-r-r-ips as they stripped branches, the little short suppressed 
trumpet notes, the wind noises and the thuds of flapping ears — all 
were there. 

Now, leaving the boys, I approached alone. It was astonishing 
how thick the stuff seemed. I was certainly very close indeed to 
elephant, but nothing could I see. I started through some bush, 
came out sure of seeing something — and did so when I lowered my 
eyes. I had completely forgotten my idea about these being dwarf 
elephants, and had been unconsciously peering about for a sight at 
the elevation of an ordinary elephant's top parts ; whereas here I 
was looking straight into the face of an elephant on a level with mine 
and only a matter of feet between us. At first I thought it was a 
calf, and was about to withdraw when I noticed a number of animals 
beyond the near one. All were the same height. None stood over 
7 ft. at the shoulder. Their ivory was minute. I withdrew to think 
it over calmly. I met the headman, much too close in, and cursed 
him soundly. I said there was no ivory and that I was going to look 
for a bull among the main body, and that he had better keep well 
back. I was intensely annoyed at his pressing up like that and also 
with the appearance of the elephant. I was not so interested in the 
natural history point of view then as I would be now, and the fact 



i2o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

that these elephant were as out of proportion to the ordinary elephant 
as the pigmy hippo is to the ordinary hippo merely irritated me. 

Circling round the lot I had first seen, I got up to the bigger herd, 
searching vainly for a bull. I had now more leisure to examine the 
beasts and to compare them one with another. I soon spotted what 
should have been a fair herd bull, judging by the width of his fore- 
head and the taper of his tusks, but he stood scarcely 6 ins. higher 
than the cows about him. His tusks were minute, but )^et he had 
lost his baby forehead and ears, and looked, what in fact he was, a 
full-blown blood. I shot him. But here again I was at fault. I 
took a calm, deliberate shot at his brain, or rather where I thought 
his brain ought to be, and where it would have been in any decent 
elephant. But it was not there. Whether or not he was a brainless 
elephant I cannot positively say, for I killed him with the heart shot. 
But I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I 
subsequently found out where others of his race kept their brains, 
and their situation in the head was not that of an ordinary elephant's. 
The ears were also different, although this is a poor distinction upon 
which to found a pretension to difference of race, for ears differ all 
over Africa. Then, the tail hairs were almost as fine as those of 
giraffe. As regards bulk, I should say it would take six of them to 
balance a big Lakka elephant. 

I was thoroughly disgusted, but the boys were jubilant. They 
thought he was enormous. I said that I could not think of hunting 
such stuff. The tusks looked about 10 lb. — when weighed after- 
wards they scaled 15 lb. each, being shorter in the hollow than I had 
guessed them. " Well," I said, " if all your elephant are like this, 
I shall have to pull out." Then came some more surprises. They 
said all the " red " elephant were the size of the one I had just killed, 
but that the " blue " elephant were much bigger. "And where 
were the ' blue ' elephant to be found ? " I asked sarcastically ; for I 
thought all this just the usual bosh. " There were not many," they 
said, " and they never mixed with the ; red ' ones, but they were 
huge." 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 121 

" And how big were they?" I asked. " As high as that," point- 
ing with their spears to a height of about 11 ft. or 12 ft. After all, 
I thought, it might be so, more especially as I had seen a pair of 
tusks of about 25 lb. each on the " beach" — as a shipping port is 
always called in West Africa — which were reputed to have come from 
this country. We then camped by the dead elephant, and the busi- 
ness of cutting and drying meat on fires began. 

In a way, the smallness of the elephant helped me, for the meat 
was soon all cut into strips and hanging over fires, and the boys were 
eager for more. Therefore I had no difficulty in getting some of 
them to go with me the next day to look for the so-called ' ' blue ' ; 
elephant. I thought that if these were as big as the natives said 
they were, they were probably wanderers from the interior, where 
I knew normal-sized elephant lived, having hunted them in the 
hinterland of the Ivory Coast. 

We hunted all that day without success, but I saw the old tracks 
of an ordinary elephant. These the boys said were made by a 
" blue " elephant. We returned, after a long day, to the meat 
camp. The headman announced his intention of accompanying 
me on the morrow, as his women would arrive that evening and 
would take charge of the meat. Now, here is a curious thing about 
Africans. If one acquires, say, a lot of meat, he tries to get it into 
the charge of his wives as soon as possible. While he remains in 
possession everybody cadges from him : friends, relations, everybody 
of similar age, the merest acquaintances, all seem to think that he 
should share the meat with them. But once the meat is handed 
over to his wife it is secure. Whenever anyone asks for some he 
refers them to his wife. That ends it, for nobody will cadge from a 
woman, knowing, I suppose, that it would be hopeless, for if the wife 
were to part with any she would be severely beaten by the husband. 
Yet that same husband, while still in charge of the meat, cannot 
refuse to share it. 

With this in view, the headman had sent a runner to the village 
to bring his women to the elephant shortly after death, and in 



i22 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

the night of the second day they arrived. Our rather dismal little 
camp became quite lively. Fires were lit all over the place, and 
everyone was extremely animated. When natives have recovered 
from the effects of their first gorge of meat they become very lively 
indeed. If they have a large quantity of meat, requiring several days 
to smoke and dry it, they dance all night. The conventional 
morality of their village life is cast off, and they thoroughly enjoy 
themselves. 

Early on the following day we were off for the big elephant. 
About twenty natives attached themselves to us. We wandered 
about, crossing numerous streams, until someone found tracks. If 
they were small I flatly refused to follow them. Late in the after- 
noon a real big track of a single bull was found. It was quite fresh 
and absurdly easy to follow. We soon heard him, and nothing 
untoward took place. The brain was where it ought to be, and he 
fell. As I anticipated, he was a normal elephant, about 10 ft. 10 ins. 
at the shoulder, with quite ordinary tusks weighing 31 lb. or 32 lb. 
The boys thought him a monster, and asked me what I thought of 
"blue" elephant. He certainly was much more nearly blue than 
the little red-mud coloured ones of the day before. 

As it was too late for anyone to return to the village that night 
we all camped by the elephant. Being dissatisfied with the numbers 
of warrantable bulls about, I decided to return to the village with 
the boys. So off we set across country. We travelled and travelled, 
as I imagined, straight towards the village. This was far from being 
the case, as I discovered when we all stopped to examine a man-trail. 
It was ours. We had been slogging it in a huge circle, and here we 
were back again. I had often admired and envied the Africans for 
their wonderful faculty for finding their way where apparently there 
was nothing to indicate it. I have never yet been able to exactly 
" place " this extraordinary faculty. They cannot explain it them- 
selves. They simply know the direction without taking bearings 
or doing anything consciously. Always puzzling over this sense 
which we whites have to such a poor degree, I have watched closely 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 123 

leading natives scores of times. The only thing they do, as far as 
I could observe, is to look at trees. Occasionally they recognise one, 
but they are not looking for landmarks. They are quite indifferent 
about the matter. Something, which we have probably lost, leads 
them straight on, even in pitch darkness. 

The occasion of which I am writing is the exception which proves 
the rule, for it is the only instance of natives getting seriously lost 
which has come under my observation, and that is more than twenty 
years of hunting. For seriously lost we were. We wandered about 
in that forest for three days. Leader after leader was tried, only to 
end up on our old tracks. Food ran out. The boys had eaten all 
the elephant meat they brought with them. My food was finished, 
but the cartridges were not, thank goodness. I remember ordering 
a cartridge beft from Rigby to hold fifty rounds. He asked me what 
on earth I wanted with so many on it. I said I liked them, and here 
was the time when it paid to have them. For now we lived entirely 
on monkeys, and horrible things they are. Tasting as they smell, 
with burning and singeing added, they are the most revolting food 
it has ever been my bad luck to have eaten. 

At the end of the third day I thought to myself that something 
would have to be done. This kind of thing would end in someone 
getting "done in" with exhaustion. As it seemed to me that I 
should be the first to drop out, it appeared to be up to me to do 
something. But what? I had not the foggiest notion where we 
were. But one thing I knew : water runs downhill. Brooklets run 
down into streams, streams down into rivers, rivers to seas. Next 
morning I took a hand. I made the boys follow scrupulously the 
winding bed of the first stream we came to. It joined a larger one ; 
we followed that. Not a word of remonstrance would I listen to, 
nor would I tolerate any short cuts. At length we reached a large 
river, and I was relieved to see that they all recognised it. Did they 
"savvy" it? I asked. Yes, rather. So I sat down for a rest. 
The boys were having a fearful argument about something. It 
appeared that some held that our village lay up-stream, others that it 



i2 4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

was down-stream. They came to me to settle it. I asked the up- 
streamers to come out ; they numbered seven. I counted the down- 
streamers ; they numbered nine. I said : " The village lies down- 
stream " ; and by the merest hazard it did. 

The village from which I had done so much hunting and where 
I was so profusely " feted " had acquired great riches with the meat 
I had given the people. In spite of this, or, perhaps, because of this, 
they showed great opposition to my going. At first I paid no 
attention to their protests, continuing calmly my preparations for 
departure, weighing and marking my ivory, etc. When my loads 
were ready I announced my intention of leaving on the morrow. 
This was wrong. What I should have done was to have kept my 
intention entirely to myself, then suddenly to have fallen in the boys, 
shouldered the loads and marched off. All would then have been 
well. 

As it was, when the morrow came the boys did not. They could 
not be found. I could not move my loads without them. 

I found the headman, accused him of playing this mean trick, 
and demanded the boys. He then tried all the persuasions he could 
think of to get me to stay. He offered me any women I fancied. 
That is always the first inducement in the African mind. Slaves, 
food, anything I wanted if I would only stay. 

I got angry and cursed him and threatened to shoot up the town. 
He said quietly that the king was coming and I could talk to him. 

Meanwhile I had to wait. I was simply furious. The suspicion 
that they were after my ivory kept poisoning my mind. I argued 
with myself that they knew the value of ivory ; that they knew what 
a lot of gin and " trade " they would get if they took my tusks to the 
coast. And a white man, a hunter of elephants, " done in," what 
would it matter? People would say : " Serve him right," probably. 
Then they wanted my rifle. They had seen it kill elephant with one 
shot. It had wonderful medicine. Curious how near we are to the 
primitive. I thought of shooting someone ; I actually wished to 
shoot someone. But that would not have helped matters. Then 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 125 

sense and experience came to help me and — I laughed. As soon as 
I laughed they laughed. I felt master of the situation. 

Where was the king ? Drinking beer. Let me talk to him. 

I sat down in front of my hut. In a short time the king arrived 
with an escort of some forty guns. He seated himself in front of a 
hut directly across the street from me. I wanted to shake hands 
with him, but I did not wish to take my rifle with me, nor did I wish 
to leave it behind me, as it was to play a part in the comedy I had 
thought out. 

No one could reach me from the back, as I leant against the wall 
of the hut. Therefore I assumed a belligerent attitude from the 
first, demanding to know why all my boys had been taken. The old 
king was, luckily, still sober — it being early in the day — and very 
calm and dignified. When I had stated my demand he started. He 
said that his people had shown me elephant ; that without them I 
could not have found them. He said his people had treated me well. 
They had offered me wives of my own choosing. Food I had never 
lacked. Elephant were still numerous in the bush. Why should 
I wish to desert them in this manner ? 

I admitted that all he had said was true, but begged to point out 
that I was not a black man. I could not live always there among 
them. White men died when they lived too long in hot countries, 
and so on. Then I pointed to the fact that I had never sold the meat 
of the elephant I had killed, although I might have done so and 
bought slaves and guns with it. I had given it all freely away to him 
among others ; and now when I wanted to go they seized my porters. 

Then he tried another line. He said I could go freely if I gave 
him my rifle. He said I could easily get another in my country. 

I turned this down so emphatically that he switched to another 
line. 

He said, when black men went to the coast they had to pay 
custom dues on everything they took to or brought away from it. As 
this was entirely a white man's custom and yet they enforced it upon 
black men, putting them in prison if they did not pay, he would be 



i26 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

obliged to make me pay customs on my ivory. He thought that if 
he and I divided it equally it would be a fair thing. At this I could 
not help laughing. The king smiled and everyone smiled. I sup- 
pose they thought I was going to pay. 

But, I said, there is a difference between your country and white 
man's country. When a traveller arrives at the gates of the white 
man's country the very first thing he sees is a long building and on 
it the magic sign " Customs." Now on seeing this sign the traveller 
knows what lies before him. If he objects to paying customs, or if 
he has not the money with which to pay, he departs without enter- 
ing that country. But when the traveller reaches the gates of the 
king's country, he looks in vain for "customs." Therefore, he 
says to himself, what a very wise and good king rules this happy 
country. I will enter, for there is no " customs." But if, having 
entered the country on this understanding, the king levies customs 
without having a Customs House, that traveller will recall what he 
said about the king and will depart, cursing that king and spreading 
his ill-fame so that no more travellers or elephant hunters will come 
near him. Therefore, I ended, the whole matter resolves itself into 
this : Have you a Customs House or have you not ? Here I peered 
diligently about as if searching among the huts. The whole lot, 
king, court, escort and mob roared with laughter. 

They were not done yet, though. The palaver ran its usual inter- 
minable length. The king accused me of disposing of the pigmy 
hippo meat in an illegal manner. Pigmy hippo were royal game, 
and every bit of it should have been sent to him. I had him again 
with the same gag as the customs one, i.e., that when he made a law 
he should write it down for everyone to read, or if he could not write 
he ought to employ some boy who could. And so on and on. 

Wearied to exhaustion, I at length decided to try what a little 
bluff would do. I had hoped that I would not have to use it, but it 
was now or never. If it came off, and the porters were forthcoming, 
we could just make the next village, hostile to the king, before dark. 

Suddenly seizing my rifle I covered the king. No one moved. 



HUNTING IN LIBERIA 127 

The king took it very well, I must say. I said I was going to fight 
for my porters and begin on the king. 

He said that to fight was a silly game. However well I shot, I 
could not kill more than ten of them before someone got me. I 
replied that that was so, but that no one knew if he would be among 
the ten or not. 

I had them. They gave it up. I kept the old king covered and 
told him not to move until the porters arrived. He sent off runners 
at once. They came on the run, picked up the loads and marched. 
I stopped a moment to shake hands. The insatiable old rascal begged 
for at least some tobacco. I felt so relieved and pleased at seeing my 
loads on the road at last that I promised him some when we had 
caught up with the caravan. 

B. told me on my arrival at the coast that during my absence in 
the interior the inspector of his company had come on a visit, straight 
from London. He had started from the coast with a caravan of head 
carriers to visit another of their depots. He had been promptly 
arrested, carried before the magistrate and fined twenty-five dollars 
for travelling on the Sabbath. The fine had been demanded at once, 
and someone sent off to purchase gin. The magistrate knocked the 
neck off a bottle, took a pull and offered it to the prisoner! 

B. said the inspector had been very haughty with the Liberians 
and that they were out to get their own back. 

It must not be thought that they are unfriendly towards whites. 
If treated politely they are very nice people indeed ; they will do 
anything to help. But they must be treated just as if they were 
ordinary white foreigners. I liked them immensely, and regretted 
having to leave their country owing to the smallness of the ivory. 
And so ended my dealings with the citizens of Liberia and the natives 
of the hinterland. 



BUBA GIDA, THE LAST AFRICAN POTENTATE 

NOW situated in the French sphere of influence can still be 
found a remarkable relic of the old slave-dealing days. The 
country goes by the name of its despotic ruler, Buba Rei on 
maps, Buba Gida to everyone cognisant of it. The principal town 
is also so called. And the whole organisation is an example of what 
can be done by courage, energy, force of character and extreme 
cunning allied to ferocity and cruelty ; for the redoubtable Buba 
Gida, the owner — body and soul — of tens of thousands of slaves, is 
no scion of a kingly race. Mothered by a slave of the Lakka tribe 
and fathered by a Scrub Fulani of sorts, everything he has and is 
he owes entirely to his own ability. 

In early life he left his humble home and started out into the wild 
no man's land with some companions of a like spirit. Slaves at all 
costs were what Buba Gida and company were out for. Perhaps it 
was mere chance that led them towards the Lakka country, whence 
Buba Gida's mother had been raided, or perhaps it was information 
from her. However that may be, in close proximity to the Lakka 
country they found what they were looking for — a fine country, well 
watered and obviously good for cattle. Pagan Lakkas and other 
bush tribes were in plenty within raiding distance. Their first raid 
set them up in labour. Their tiny camp became a village. More 
raids were planned and carried out with invariable success. The 
village became a town. 

Buba now ruled supreme. By pursuing the system of " putting 
away" all those who obstructed him, judiciously mixed with 
generous treatment in the matter of women — to acquire which the 
African will do anything — he obtained such a power over his 

128 



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* 



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BUBA GIDA, THE LAST AFRICAN POTENTATE 129 

people that none, not even the white man, has been able to 
overthrow it. 

I will now try to describe how my companion and I fared when 
the pursuit of elephants took us into Buba Gida's country. To 
reach this country we traversed some very rich cattle districts 
inhabited by Fulani, a tribe akin to the Somals. At Buba Gida's 
boundary we were met by some forty or fifty of his smaller fry, for 
it must be understood that we were simple elephant hunters and not 
" big " white men. Everything about us was known to Buba Gida 
days before our arrival at his boundary by his wonderful system of 
intelligence. We remembered noticing casual horsemen about our 
caravan ; they were Buba Gida's intelligence. From the boundary 
to the king's town was six days' march, and the headman of every 
village we slept at was under orders to escort us to Buba Rei. As 
each headman in turn was escorted by five or six men, all being 
mounted, it will be seen that we formed quite a little army by the 
time we got to the capital. Had we been " big " white men, doubt- 
less we should have been several hundred strong by that time. At 
the end of the sixth day we were camped within sight of the mys- 
terious city. And mysterious it certainly is, for, surrounded as it 
is by well-known, if somewhat distant countries, and within 120 miles 
of a large Government post, nothing is known of this curious 
mediaeval city or its despotic tyrant, Buba Gida ; and yet every white 
man wishes to know more about it. Countless thousands of ques- 
tions must have been asked about Buba Gida. He even visits the 
Government station Garua ; and sufficiently foolish to us he appears 
when he does so, for he goes with thousands of followers, women and 
men. Special beds and tents are carried with all kinds of para- 
phernalia ; in fact, anything for show. He even must buy the whole 
contents of the stores he honours with a visit, much of them quite 
useless to him. 

It was not clear to us why we had to camp so near the city, so we 
asked why we did not proceed. The answer was that the king had 
ordered us to sleep at that spot. There are few remaining places in 

9 



i3o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Africa where a white man's actions are governed by a black man's 
wishes. Abyssinia under Menelik was one. Liberia and Buba Rei 
are still among them. 

On the following morning we all sallied forth in our very best 
paint. As all the riding horses are stallions and some of them alarm- 
ingly vicious, and all of them ready at any time to bite, kick, strike, 
rear and prance, and, indeed, taught to do so, it is easy to imagine 
the scene as we drew near the capital. Right in the thick of it, in the 
middle of the prancing melee, on a very high rakish-looking stallion 
over which he appeared to have no control, was a gentleman with a 
very white and anxious face. He seemed to be somewhat insecurely 
seated on a flat saddle and appeared to be trying to do something to 
his horse by means of a snaffle. I know all this because I was he. 
My companion looked much more at ease, but I must confess I felt 
thoroughly alarmed lest I should fall off and disgrace the whole show. 
This will be better understood when I explain that all the riders 
except ourselves were in saddles with great high horns in front and 
high cantles behind. Most of them clung openly to the horns ; and 
besides this, their mounts were bitted Arab fashion, with great 
spades and a ring round the lower jaw, so that they really had control 
over their beasts. 

Luckily, I did not fall off, and presently we halted about a mile 
from one of the great gates in the w T all which surrounds the town. 
We were told we should have to wait here until the king gave the 
order to enter. After waiting about two hours — done chiefly to 
impress the people with the greatness of the king, to see whom even 
the white men had to wait — a mob of mounted men about two 
hundred strong was seen to come forth from the city gate and to 
approach. We now hastily mounted, and I remember having more 
trouble with my infernal beast. The two opposing bodies of horse- 
men now began to approach one another until there remained 
perhaps forty yards separating us. Some very impressive speeches 
were made. Luckily for us, the king had lent us a speech-maker, 
and he held up our end in a very creditable manner, judging by the 




I 



BUBA GIDA, THE LAST AFRICAN POTENTATE 131 

amount of talking he did. I thought it would never end, my horse 
becoming more and more restive. Every time he squealed and bit 
one of the neighbouring horses the whole mob began playing up. I 
was awfully afraid he might take charge and go barging in among the 
knights, for such they were. Genuine knights — if not in armour, at 
any rate all clothed in arrow-proof quilted cloth — horses and all. On 
their heads the knights had bright native iron caskets. They carried 
long bamboo spears with iron heads. At their sides were Arab 
swords. Beneath the bright little caskets were faces of such revolt- 
ing ugliness and ferocity as to be almost ludicrous. We had the 
speeches of the opposition translated to us, and the gist of them was 
to the effect that we were about to have the honour of entering the 
town of the greatest king on earth — a king who was, if not immortal, 
next door to it, and so on. Then we were requested to count the 
knights. Before we had time to count more than twenty or so we 
were told that they numbered 500. An obvious lie ; 200 at the out- 
side. Then we were told that each of these knights had under him 
500 other knights, armed and mounted as he was. After that our 
attention was drawn to a foot rabble in leopard skins and large quivers 
full of arrows. I had failed to notice these before owing to anxiety 
about my steed's capers. They looked a pretty nasty crowd. Never 
have I seen so many hideous men together. 

After the speeches we proceeded slowly towards the gates, 
gallopers continuously going off to report progress to the king. The 
wall totally encloses the town, and the gates are wide enough to allow 
of six men riding abreast. The wall itself is perhaps 20 ft. high and 
made of sun-baked mud. The thickness at the gateway is about 
50 ft., but this is chiefly to impress the visitor and to shelter the 
guard. The rest of the wall is no more than perhaps 6 ft. at the base. 

The buildings in the town are simply the ordinary grass and mud- 
and- wattle huts of that part of Africa, any more pretentious style 
of architecture not being allowed. Even pretentious or costly 
clothing, ornaments or style of any sort are forbidden. Music is 
forbidden. The drinking of intoxicants within the town is punish- 



2 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 



able by death. Outside it is allowed. No child must cry, none may 
laugh loudly or sing or shout. Noises of any sort are forbidden in this 
dismal city. The filth is indescribable. The obvious healthiness of 
its dwellers may be due to the fact that Buba Gida has every one of 
them out of it hard at work in his immense plantations every day and 
all day long, and also perhaps to the fact that everyone is well 
nourished. Where all belongs to the king who but he can make a 
ring in corn ! Who but he can raise the cost of living ! The only 
approach to a grumble that we heard from his people was the wish 
that they might own their own children. 

Near about the centre of the town a great high inner wall became 
visible. This, we were informed, surrounded the king and his 
palaces. Few townsmen had ever been inside, and the king seldom 
comes out. Under this wall our quarters were situated, two unpre- 
tentious grass huts. In front of our huts, besides our usual ration, 
there were mountains of prepared foods. The things for us two 
white men would have fed thirty. With the food came a taster. 
That is a man who, by tasting everything before you, thereby 
guarantees it free from poison. This is the usual thing in Africa. 
Generally the chief of the village does it. Everything was most 
comfortable, and we began to think highly of our chances of coming 
to some arrangement with the king about elephant hunting. We 
were left alone for about two hours. 

When the time came for our audience we were led through streets 
partly round the wall, and it became evident that the inner wall 
encircled an enormous area. It was from 40 ft. to 50 ft. high, and 
enormously thick at the base and in very good repair. Arrived at 
the gate itself, we got some idea of the immense thickness of the 
walls, the opening in them forming a high and very long guard-room, 
with huge doors of black timber at each end. This guard-room was 
filled with men — soldiers I suppose they were. 

Arrived at the inner doors we were halted. Our guide entered 
alone. After some twenty minutes' waiting — again done to 
impress, I suppose — a slave appeared at the door and beckoned us 




AN ENORMOUS MAN, FULLY SEVEN FEET HIGH, ROSE FROM 

A PILE OF RAGS AND EXTENDED HIS RIGHT HAND, SWINGING 

A STRING OF HUGE AMBER BEADS IN THE OTHER. 





m^^ r '- : Z\:'-ZZZZZZ'^. ZZZ 

ft; 



|f^:--^;, -:■Ir^ 








BUBA GIDA, THE LAST AFRICAN POTENTATE 133 

in. He talked in a whisper and was almost nude. We entered and 
the great doors were closed behind us. Now we were in a courtyard 
with more huge doors in front of us. Another wait, but shorter. 
Presently appears our guide. Up till now he had seemed to us to 
be rather an important fellow. He had been decently dressed, at 
all events. But now here he was as nude as the other slaves. 
Another of the rules of this strange court. Everyone, barring white 
men, but not excepting the king's own sons, must approach the 
Presence almost nude, and on all fours. They must never look at 
the king's face, but must keep their foreheads to the ground. And 
you can bet these rules are strictly observed. Even our man — who 
must be in and out continually — was several shades more ashen than 
when outside. Our interpreter then stripped himself, and a very 
trembly wretch he looked. At last all was ready for our entry to 
the Presence. We passed through the door into a large and spot- 
lessly clean courtyard. Along one side ran what was evidently the 
reception house, a lofty building beautifully thatched, with a low 
verandah. Lolling on a pile of cushions on the floor of the verandah 
was a huge and very black negro. We walked quickly towards him, 
passing two nude slaves with their heads glued to the ground, while 
our interpreter and the functionary crawled on all fours behind us. 
This at last was Buba Gida, and a very impressive creature he 
looked. As we drew near he got up. A fine specimen indeed, 7 ft. 
high if an inch, and wide in proportion. Soft, of course, but other- 
wise in fine condition. He extended a hand like a bath sponge for 
size and almost as flabby, swinging a string of enormous amber beads 
in the other. Having shaken hands white-man fashion, he waved us 
to two European chairs while he subsided on his cushions and com- 
menced to stoke up a small charcoal fire, throwing incense on to it. 
Silence had the stage for some moments and then the king sneezed. 
At once there was a wail from the two bowed slaves in the middle of 
the courtyard. This was instantly taken up and drowned by a 
chorus of wails from the precincts. Whenever, throughout all our 
interviews, the king thought we were approaching the familiar or 



i34 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

asking awkward questions, he would sneeze or cough or spit, or even 
clear his throat, and there would follow this uproar from his wailing 
chorus. 

The first question he asked was about our rifles. He was very 
anxious to buy them. We were overjoyed to hear that he would be 
pleased to help us to a good elephant country, at the same time men- 
tioning the fact that he was very fond of ivory. 

Presently the conversation drifted to fever. And here we were 
astounded to find that he really appeared to believe that he was 
immortal. He naively told us he was a great friend of God's, and 
that sickness of any sort never touched him. After many polite 
speeches on both sides we departed from our first visit to this 
remarkable man. 



XI 

BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 

A FTER the usual interminable delays inseparable from dealings 
/-^ with African potentates, we were at last ready for the trek 
to our hunting grounds. Report had it that these lay fifteen 
days' march to the south. The king had been most generous. He 
lavished upon us food, carriers, guides, horses and even milk-cows to 
accompany us. He sent with us his most renowned elephant 
hunters, from whom I tried to get information regarding the country 
we were going to. The tales of countless numbers of immense 
elephant told us by Buba Gida himself we frankly disbelieved, as he 
had shown us forest tusks from his ivory store as having come from 
the Lakka country, which we knew lay well to the east of the great 
forest belt. There is no mistaking the difference between forest 
ivory and that from grass or scrub bush country, and, from all 
accounts, the Lakka country was of the latter description. 

For some twelve days or so we followed narrow winding native 
trails through good but almost totally deserted country. Only on 
two occasions did we camp by human habitations, and these were 
merely outposts of Buba Gida's. The contrast between this well 
watered and healthy but uninhabited country and the miles of 
plantations and teeming thousands of the immediate vicinity of 
Buba Rei was most striking. Enquiry elicited the fact that all the 
former inhabitants of these rolling plains had been " gathered in " 
by Buba Gida, and that he was surrounded similarly on all sides by 
broad uninhabited belts . Game was wild and scarce . Giraffe , haarte- 
beeste and oribi we saw in the flesh, while pig and buffalo tracks were 
infrequently met. Lion we heard once only. Buba's hunters told 
us that at one time elephant were numerous all over this country. 

135 



1 36 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

One of them showed us where he had killed his last one. I asked him 
what reward he had got from the king. He told me that the tusks 
were only so high, indicating a length of about 3 ft., which would 
correspond to a weight of perhaps 20 lbs. or 25 lbs. Continuing he 
said what other king would have given him so much as Baba (i.e., 
Father), for, in spite of the smallness of the tusks, Baba had given 
him another woman, making his fourth, and had filled his hut with 
corn sufficient to keep him drunk on beer for two months. Few 
indeed are the Sovereigns who could have rewarded their gamekeeper 
in such a fashion. This man was firmly loyal to his king, and it may 
be of interest to enquire into this loyalty to a cruel and despotic 
tyrant, for it was shared by all of his subjects, as far as we could see. 

Now, in this kingdom everyone and everything belongs to the 
king. He farms out his female slaves to all and sundry as rewards 
for meritorious services rendered the king. All children born as a 
result of these operations belong to the king, just as the parents do. 
It must be remembered that this is " domestic " slavery and not at 
all the horrible affair commercial slavery once was. There is no 
export of slaves, as the coming of the white man has prevented it. 
Domestic slavery entails upon the master certain duties towards the 
slave. Should the slave work well and faithfully for the master, the 
latter is bound to find for him a wife. The slave may, should he 
choose, become a freeman after sufficiently long and good service. 
At any time, should he possess sufficient intelligence to embrace 
the Mohammedan religion, he automatically becomes a freeman, for 
it is forbidden to enslave one of the Faith, and Buba Gida himself 
was a Mohammedan. To my mind the only explanation of the 
undoubted devotion shown by slaves to their masters is — women. 

To the African a wife is everything. It is equivalent in Western 
life to having a living pension bestowed on you. For your wife 
builds your house, provides wood and water, grows your food, makes 
the cooking utensils, mats, beds, etc., not only for your use, but also 
for sale. You sell them and pocket the proceeds. Not only this, 
for she brews beer from the corn which she grows, and you drink it. 





A FOOT SOLDIER. 



BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 137 

She drinks it and likes it, too, but naturally, you see that she does 
not overdo it. Then, again, she bears you children, who also work 
for you, and you sell the females. It really amounts to selling, 
although it is very bad manners to speak of the transaction as such. 
Marriage they call it, and dowry they call the price paid. Here 
again you are the lucky recipient of this dowry, and not the girl. 
True, you have to provide your daughter with certain things, such 
as a few mats, cloths, cooking pots, etc., most of which your wife 
makes. From all this it will be seen what very desirable creatures 
women are in Africa. There, as elsewhere, will be found bad wives, 
but where we have to grin and bear them, or divorce them, or be 
divorced by them, the African can send his back to her father and 
demand her sister in her place. This procedure is only resorted to in 
the case of a wife failing to bear children ; any other fault, such as 
flirting, nagging, quarrelling, impudence, neglect or laziness, being 
cured at home by means best known to themselves. It is not so 
surprising, after all, that a man will work for the better part of his 
life to serve a master who will, in the course of time, bestow upon 
him that priceless possession — a wife. 

So far our attempts to gain the confidence of our escort had 
always been met with great reserve on their part. In the evenings 
round the camp fire is where the African usually unburdens himself, 
but our lot had evidently been warned not to open their mouths to 
the white men. These orders they very faithfully obeyed until we 
approached the boundaries of what might be called Buba Gida's 
sphere of influence. Gradually they became less secretive, and we 
began to hear of strange doings. In a moment of excitement, 
brought on by the death of a fine buck, one of the old elephant 
hunters disclosed to me that the king's people were in the habit of 
raiding slaves from the Lakka country. As we would enter this 
country in another day or two's march for the peaceful purpose of 
hunting elephants, and as I hoped for the usual and invaluable help 
from the natives, this news was rather disconcerting, accompanied as 
we were by fifty or sixty slavers. In reply to the question, What 



138 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

will the natives do when they see us? came the cheering reply, Run 
like hell ! 

Where elephant frequent settled country, and especially where 
they are in the habit of visiting plantations, it is essential for the 
hunter to be on the most friendly terms with the natives. He must 
at all costs avoid frightening them. The natural suspicion with 
which all strangers are regarded must somehow be allayed. 
Generally speaking, the hunter's reputation precedes him from 
country to country, and, if that reputation be a good one, he is 
welcomed and helped. Only when tribes are at serious war with 
each other is there a break in this system of intelligence. 

On entering the Lakkas' country, therefore, we were severely 
handicapped, firstly, by not having previously visited either it or 
its neighbours, and, secondly by having as our safari a villainous band 
of slave-raiders, already well known as such to the Lakkas. I anti- 
cipated trouble, not so much from the natives as from our own band 
of thieves. I could see that it would be necessary to take the first 
opportunity of impressing upon the king's people in as forcible a 
manner as possible that we white men were running the show and 
not they. 

To my astonishment, on arriving at the first Lakka village we and 
our raiders were received in quite a friendly way. On enquiring 
into this, I found that this section of the Lakkas admitted allegiance 
to Buba Gida and were at war with the section further on, where 
we hoped to meet with elephant. Hence our welcome. 

A chance to assert ourselves occurred on the first day of our 
arrival among the Lakkas, for no sooner had the camp been fixed 
up than our merry band had a Lakka youth caught and bound and 
heavily guarded. On enquiring into this affair it transpired that 
this youth had been taken in a previous raid, but had escaped and 
returned to his country. We had the lad straight away before us, 
asked him if he wished to go back to Buba Gida, and, on his saying 
that this was the last thing he desired, at once liberated him. He 
did not wait to see what else might happen ; he bolted. Of course, 



BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 139 

the king's people were furious with us. We, on our part, were 
thoroughly disgusted with Buba Gida for having designed to carry 
on his dirty work under the cloak of respectability afforded by the 
presence of two Englishmen on a shooting trip. We had all of 
them before us, and explained that the very first time we found any 
one of them attempting anything in the slaving line we would tie 
him up and march him straight to the nearest military post. We 
let them see that we were thoroughly determined to take complete 
command of the expedition from now on, and had little further 
trouble from them. Later on, it is true, we were annoyed to find 
that small native boys attached themselves as camp followers to our 
safari. They rather embarrassed us by saying that they wished to 
go with us, but they quickly disappeared when their probable future 
was explained to them. I reckon that we must have spoiled Buba 
Gida's scheme to the extent of at least a round dozen of valuable 
slaves. 

After all our trekking and the fussing with semi-civilised 
Africans, it was a great relief to find ourselves one day at the entrance 
to a village of the real genuine wild man. We had been passing 
through No Man's Land — as we may call the neutral zone between 
tribes at war — for the last few hours. As the grass was high at this 
season we had not been spotted, and our arrival at the village was a 
complete surprise. Amid terrific excitement women and children 
rushed for the bush, fowls raced about, dogs barked, while the young 
men appeared from the huts with their shields and spears, and faces 
dangerously scared. This is the moment of all others when anything 
but a perfectly tranquil outward appearance generally precipitates a 
tragedy. Either a native bloods his spear or arrow in the body of 
one of the visitors or some strung-up visitor fires his gun, when the 
situation gets out of hand at once. At these tense moments the 
appearance of a perfectly cool white man, for preference unarmed, 
acts in a most extraordinary manner. But duck or dodge, or get 
close to cover, or put up your rifle, and the thing is spoiled. There 
is no finer instance of this than when Bovd-Alexander went to visit 



i 4 o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

the Sudan chief who had sworn to do him in. Without rifle or 
escort Boyd-Alexander voluntarily strolled up to this man's strong- 
hold, knowing, as he must have done, having been warned by the 
Sudan authorities, that his only chance was to appear perfectly 
unafraid, or to avoid the country altogether. He visited the chief 
and, in due course, left the village, closely followed by him. In 
full view of the inhabitants of his village it was certainly "up to " 
the chief to show his hand, and I am convinced that he was on the 
very point of murdering Boyd- Alexander when he turned a per- 
fectly unmoved face upon the chief and fixed him with a steady look. 
The chief slunk back to his village, while Boyd- Alexander pursued 
his way. From those who can read between the lines his descrip- 
tion in " From the Niger to the Nile " of this little incident is an 
epic. 

On the occasion of our first introduction to the Lakkas luckily 
nothing serious happened. After a few seconds of very nervous 
demonstrating with spears and shields, our friends-to-be rushed off 
in a panic, one fat youth getting a spear crossed between his legs 
and falling flat. As we required a guide, and as our only chance 
of getting one was to seize him, we secured him before he had quite 
recovered. He at once showed his sense by yielding quietly, although 
he must have been in an awful funk. This lad eventually became our 
voluntary guide and introducer, but for the moment we were com- 
pelled to hold him prisoner. Keeping a sharp eye on our ruffians 
to see that they took nothing from the huts, we passed through and 
finally reached the village of a man who was supposed to be the best 
able to show us elephant. The village, of course, was deserted, so 
we pitched camp bang in the centre of it. We also got our captive 
to shout to his friends that all was well, that we were friends and had 
come to hunt elephant only. This latter statement required some 
believing, judging by the time it took to get any answer to our over- 
tures — which was not surprising, accompanied as we were by 
notorious slavers. But at last an old woman came, nosed about a 
bit, and left again, returning presently with the man we wanted. 



BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 141 

I have often admired the infinite capacity of the African to take 
things as they come with composure, but never more so than on 
this occasion. Here was his village in the hands of his enemies, 
added to this the complication and anxiety caused by the presence 
in their midst of two white men. So far, his dealings with white 
men had been anything but pleasant — a German military expedition 
had passed through. Yet here he was, ready for anything that 
might turn up, unarmed and with a face of brass — for a day or so 
willing to please, but, above all, willing to speed the parting guest. 
Elephants? Rather! Hundreds of them, all round So-and-So's 
village fifteen miles further on. None here? Oh, no ! They were 

here, but all have gone to . And what about those tracks we 

saw as we neared his village ? Oh ! those were made by some 

elephant which came from , but which returned to the 

next morning. 

It was obvious that this eagerness to get rid of us would last just 
as long as we remained unwelcome ; that is, until we had killed an 
elephant and shared the meat with the natives. After that event 
relations might reasonably be expected to become more cordial, 
provided that meanwhile we could avoid fighting in any shape or 
form. Now, this avoiding of fighting must necessarily depend 
largely on the natives themselves, for of course if one is attacked 
one must defend oneself. Especially so among these Lakkas was 
this the case, for they had no powerful chiefs whom they obeyed. 
Indeed, they were what my companion and myself called, loosely 
enough, I dare say, Bolsheviks. Every man was out for himself, 
and to hell with everything else. No authority of any kind was 
obeyed. And to this total lack of cohesion or combination we 
undoubtedly owed the fact that we were not attacked seriously 
before we became friendly with them. They had developed the art 
of running away to a fine point by storing their grain and beer- 
making appliances in the thick part of the bush, by building huts, 
the loss of which by fire at the hands of an enemy would occasion 
least labour to repair, by keeping all livestock, such as goats and 



142 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

sheep, tethered at a convenient distance from the village, and in 
many other ways assisting their one trump card — instant flight. 

Few people who have not experienced it can have any conception 
of how effective such a "barrage" can be. You perhaps wish to 
traverse the country. You arrive at a village. Nobody there. 
You proceed along a path which seems to lead in the direction in 
which you wish to go. It lands you in another deserted village. 
Now you have to camp, and water has to be found. Sometimes in 
the dry season this may be miles from the camp. The drawers of 
water must be escorted. Then you wish to purchase food for your 
carriers. No one to sell it. You think to take it and leave the value 
in kind in its place, only to discover that no food of any kind is kept 
in the village. All this time not a soul is seen or even heard. You 
give it up and pass on to some actively hostile or friendly tribe, as 
the case may be. 

As we appeared to be so unwelcome in this village we decided 
to move on the next day. The chief man of the village promised 
to provide us with a guide to the village where elephant were reported 
as visiting the gardens every night. Anxious as he was to get rid 
of us, we reasoned that, to attain that object, he would surely pro- 
vide the guide or lead us himself. We consequently liberated our 
captive guide, loading him with presents and promising him moun- 
tains of meat when and wherever we should kill an elephant if he 
would come to claim it. He stayed around for some time, and I 
began to hope that he would accompany us further, but he presently 
disappeared. 

On the morrow our reasoning about the guide was completely 
confounded, as white men's reasoning so often is when applied to 
African affairs. No guide was forthcoming, nor could the village 
headman be found. The village was once more completely deserted. 
As, however, we had been able to get the general direction from the 
headman before he went to bush, we broke camp and took a likely- 
looking path. 

After much wandering from one deserted village to another we 



BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 143 

arrived in the afternoon at a large one on the edge of a slough. As 
usual there was not a soul to be seen, but I have no doubt that our 
every movement was being carefully watched. On the march some 
kob had been shot and a good portion of the meat reserved for any 
native who might venture to approach us. After we had had our 
meal an old man came in. He was taken no notice of by anybody — 
far the best way to allay suspicion. When he seemed more at his 
ease I gave him some buck meat. He took it and at once began to 
cook it, as he had seen it cut from a leg with the skin still on it. It 
was unlikely, therefore, to be poisoned, and besides, if he took the 
meat away with him he would have to share it with others. To 
avoid this he evidently purposed eating it in our camp. 

When he had fairly got the taste of meat on his palate, I got the 
interpreter to work on him about elephant. At first he said there 
were none. We did not worry him, although we knew this to be a 
lie, as we had seen recent tracks that day. After some time he 
volunteered the information that elephant had been in the gardens 
the night before. I said to him that I thought I would go and kill 
one or two, in as indifferent a tone as I could, and that if he cared 
to come along he would certainly get some meat. He became quite 
excited then, saying he would fetch me a man who would show me 
where the elephant had been eating the corn in the night. Off he 
hurried and soon came back with several men. We were ready for 
them, and as they preceded us some of them ran on ahead to pick up 
the freshest tracks, blowing as they went their curious little signalling 
whistles. With these whistles they can talk over quite a distance — 
in fact, it is a sort of short-range wireless telegraph. We found it 
subsequently of great assistance, as the notes of these whistles were 
familiar to elephant, and they appeared not to mind them in the least. 

Although the sun was already half-way between the vertical and 
the sundown, we judged from the air of suppressed excitement about 
our guides that the game was not far off. This surmise proved to be 
correct, for about a mile from our camp we entered a large planta- 
tion literally ploughed up by elephant. My companion, who was 



i 4 4 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

naturally the most stoical of men, showed signs of great interest. 
This was his first safari in real wild country, and he had never yet 
seen a wild elephant. All the tracks were those of bulls, and some 
of them were colossal. Plenty of 63-in. and 64-in. feet had been 
there, and one with a circumference of 70 ins. This meant that the 
owner had a shoulder height not far short of 12 ft. We thought 
that if their tusks were in proportion to their feet we had indeed 
struck lucky. 

The elephant had evidently been visiting this plantation nightly 
for some time, and the damage must have appeared terrible in the 
eyes of the owners. Bananas had been stripped, broken off, or 
completely uprooted. Sugar cane ceased to exist. Much of the 
millet had been eaten and more trampled down. But it was the 
ground-nuts which had suffered most. These nuts grow in clusters 
on the roots of a clover-like plant and are barely covered with soil. 
The shell is quite fragile and cracks on the least pressure being 
applied. When it is remembered that the foot of an elephant covers 
some two square feet of ground, and that he has four of them, and 
that when feeding he is seldom still for long, one begins faintly to 
appreciate the devastating effect two or three dozen of them would 
have on any garden. 

Wasting no more time than was necessary to unravel the tracks, 
we were soon hot on the trail of a large bull. This trail led us 
among other gardens for a time, all similarly raided. But presently 
we left cultivation and plunged into high bush, fairly dense in parts, 
with long grass in the more open places. I stopped and told the 
crowd of natives who had tagged themselves on to us that no one was 
to follow us on any account, hinting with my rifle what would happen 
if they did so. Then we took with us one native and followed the 
trail. In a very short time we heard noises ahead of us. We 
stopped to listen. Sure enough it was elephant. Leaving the 
native, we walked carefully but rapidly toward the noises. It had 
been arranged between us that, as I had had previous experience of 
this game, I was to do the shooting, while my companion picked up 



BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 145 

what tips he could. I was leading when I suddenly saw through the 
clearer ground-stems of the bush the feet and parts of the legs of a 
motionless elephant. At the same time the noises we had been 
approaching appeared to come from beyond this quiet elephant. A 
glance through the leaves revealed nothing of his body. This was 
awkward. He was only a few paces distant, and the wind was all 
over the place, as is usual in thick stuff. If we ran into him and 
killed him the chances were that the shot would stampede the others. 
And then, he might have little or no ivory, although his legs and feet 
were massive enough. Relying on these elephants being quite 
familiar with human smell, I slipped round behind him, making 
plenty of unavoidable noise, and so got between him and the noisy 
bunch. We were rewarded for this manoeuvre by reaching an open- 
ing in the bush which gave us not only a view of the noisy ones, but 
also a glance at our first friend as he moved off. This glance showed 
that he had short but thick ivory. I instantly put a shot into him 
and another into what appeared to be the largest among the noisy 
ones. Both were heart shots, as in this type of bush the lower half 
of an elephant is generally more clearly disclosed than the upper half. 
At the shot there was the usual terrific commotion, crashing trees 
and dust. Hot on the vanishing sterns we raced and jumped to a 
standstill, face to face with the first elephant I had fired at. Head 
on, there he stood, perfectly motionless, about ten yards away. To 
me, of course, he was merely a stricken animal and would topple 
over in a few moments ; but to my companion he must have appeared 
quite sufficiently grim and menacing. I dropped him with the 
frontal brain shot, and showed my companion the direction and 
elevation for this shot, and then off we raced again on the trail of 
the others. We soon came upon the second elephant ; he was down, 
but not yet quite dead. As he raised his head my companion tried 
a shot at his brain with his -450, but failed to find it. I finished him 
with a -318. 

Leaving W. to wait for the natives, I tried on alone. I had not 
gone a quarter of a mile when I caught sight of a large bull elephant. 



1 46 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

He was moving towards an abandoned plantation through nice open 
stuff, and had I been able to reach him before he arrived at the 
densely bushed plantation I would have got him easily. But he 
reached and disappeared into the thick stuff without offering a 
chance. One would imagine that so massive an animal would leave 
behind him a passage clear enough for a man to pass along with ease 
and speed. This is by no means the case ; everything rises up and 
closes in behind him again, and the trail remains almost as difficult 
to follow as before. I plunged into the horrible stuff and was soon 
close up to his stern. All I could do was to keep close up and wait 
until either we reached an open patch, when I might be able to range 
up alongside, or until he turned so as to give a chance at the brain. 
The rifle cartridge is not yet invented which will rake a full-grown 
elephant from stern to vitals. 

As I stumbled and clambered and pushed and sweated along behind 
this fellow he suddenly stopped, stood for an instant, then threw his 
head up, backed sharply towards me and to my left, at the same time 
bringing his front end round with a swing, and there he was now 
facing me. This manoeuvre was so unexpected and done so swiftly 
— all in one movement, as it were — as to be perfectly amazing. The 
transformation from that massive but rather ridiculous-looking stern 
to the much higher head, with its broad forehead, gleaming tusks 
and squirming trunk, was so sudden and disconcerting that I missed 
the brain and had barely time to reload and fire again — this time 
into his body and from the hip, with the muzzle perhaps only a few 
inches from his hide — as he rushed over the very spot I had occupied 
an instant before. Whew ! But I thought I had him, although I 
suspected I had placed my shot too low. This was wrong, for I just 
then heard a crash and knew he was down. He was stone dead when 
I reached him. It was almost sundown, and I called up the natives. 
W. came with them. I was very exhausted and thirsty, having done 
no elephant hunting since before the war, so we demanded beer from 
the Lakkas, who were now our bosom friends. This was soon forth- 
coming from the bush, and very refreshing we both found it. We 




HE DISAPPEARED INTO THE THICK STUFF. 



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BUBA GIDA AND THE LAKKAS 147 

had three very large elephants, which would supply everyone with 
meat, and we expected that it would bring the natives in from other 
parts with further news of elephant. The ivory was very disappoint- 
ing ; it was of good quality, but very short and hollow. After the 
death of the first elephant, runners had gone to bring up the safari to 
a nearer village, so that we had not the long and deadly trek so com- 
mon after an elephant hunt. In fact, we had barely gone a mile 
when we saw the welcome reflection of our fires on the trees, and we 
were soon as comfortable as possible. 

After a substantial meal of buck-meat and rice, I asked W. what 
his impressions had been like. He told me the most vivid occurred 
when I fired the first shot. He said it appeared for all the world as 
if the elephant were motionless and the trees rushing past them. 

As anticipated, the Lakkas became much more friendly after 
enjoying such mountains of meat, to say nothing of the riddance of 
the marauders from their gardens. They never became of very 
much use to us in the capacity of carriers, and always bolted to the 
bush when the subject was mentioned. Even when we offered lavish 
payment in trade goods for the carrying of our ivory from one village 
to another they invariably bolted. They could never quite trust our 
following, I think. 

We hunted elephant for some time in this country. There were 
numerous bull herds scattered about, living chiefly upon native 
plantations, and we ridded the Lakkas of a fair number, although 
the nature of the country was against big bags. When the time 
came for us to return to Buba Rei to get our canoes we parted firm 
friends with the Lakkas. The return journey was accomplished 
without incident more alarming than a poor abortive attempt by 
some Lakkas to spear some of our following. No one was hurt, and 
we were overjoyed to receive news while on the return journey that 
our canoes had arrived. The short rains had begun, and we had 
some trouble crossing some of the rivers. We could now begin the 
real expedition, which had as its object the ascent of the practically 
unknown and quite unexplored Bahr Aouck. 



148 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

On our arrival at Buba Rei for the second time we again visited 
the king to thank him for all he had done for us. This time relations 
were rather frigid. To begin with, the king remained lolling on his 
couch when he received us. He had, of course, heard all about our 
refusing to allow any " recruiting " of slaves to be carried out, and 
I daresay he was furious with us. He remained polite but cold, and 
we noticed a great falling off in the presents of food, etc., which are 
demanded by custom. Among other things we were distinctly 
annoyed to find that we were classed by the king as third-class white 
men. To Buba Gida there were three classes of European. In the 
first category were French governors, French administrators, and 
French military officers. For these sweet champagne was forth- 
coming, in quantities to suit the individual importance of the visitor. 
Class two comprised minor French officials, important American or 
English travellers, scientific expeditions, surveys, etc. ; these got 
whisky, while ginger beer was reserved for elephant hunters, clerks, 
or small commercial people. We were Ginger Beerites. 

In spite of this we calculated what we owed the king, and paid 
him by presenting him with three tusks. He seemed only tolerably 
pleased with these. It was with a feeling of relief that we departed 
from Buba Rei and its atmosphere of intrigue and cruelty. 



XII 

THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 

IT was from native sources that I first heard of the Bahr Aouck. 
While hunting elephant both to the north and south of its junc- 
tion with the Shari River I had repeatedly heard of a large river. 
But I had noticed that whenever I tried to get a native to give 
definite information about this mysterious river he at once became 
very reserved. For some time I treated the existence of this river 
as being rather mythical, until I came across a vague reference to it 
in Kumm's book on Africa. I made more enquiries both among 
white men and natives, and at last I came to the conclusion that there 
was nothing for it but to go and see. Some accounts said it existed, 
some that it existed for some distance, but then disappeared into the 
ground ; some pooh-poohed its existence altogether, while others had 
it that no one could penetrate in face of the opposition that would be 
encountered. Another authority on the subject — he was military 
governor of the whole country in which the mysterious river was 
supposed to exist — held the view that all the remnants of the 
Khalifa's die-hards and the riff-raff from all parts had a kind of last 
stronghold on this river, and that nothing short of a well-equipped 
military expedition could go through. Another account said there 
was no water during the dry season. 

All these conflicting accounts proved to be wrong. There was 
enough water to float a river steamer at the height of the dry season. 
There were no die-hards or riff-raff of any sort — indeed, there were 
no inhabitants at all, for the very good reason that the whole country 
became inundated during the wet season. And as for its disappear- 
ance into the ground, all that we who ascended it can say is that it 
was not doing it while we were there. The outbreak of war pre- 

149 



ISO WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

vented any attempt on my part to probe the mystery. Here I 
might as well confess that it was not so much a desire to probe the 
mystery as the hope of finding some good elephant country which 
decided me to attempt an ascent. 

Obviously some kind of water craft would have to be employed. 
If there was a river there would probably be sufficient water to float 
a canoe. At the same time there would probably be shallows where 
even a native canoe would ground. Native canoes are very heavy 
to portage, therefore it seemed to me that Canadian canoes of the 
6 ' freight ' ' type were the only means of transport holding out any 
hope of proving successful. Hence, when the war was over, my 
friend W. and myself decided to try our luck. With this end in 
view we ordered two canoes from the Peterborough Canoe Company 
of Canada to be shipped direct to Africa from New York. One of 
these canoes was 18 ft. by 44 ins., and carried an enormous amount 
of stuff, while the other was smaller. Their construction was vertical 
strip covered with canvas. The big one weighed 150 lb. and could 
be carried by two men easily. I may say at once that these canoes 
were the greatest success. We had with us quick-repair outfits, and 
whenever a hole was knocked in them we patched it up in a few 
minutes. As regards propulsion, they proved to be by far the 
cheapest form of transport I have ever had, for one's ordinary boys, 
cook, and gun-bearers could and did paddle and push them along 
against the current at a rate of twenty miles a daj^, and that without 
great fatigue, so easily do these delightful, graceful, fine-lined and 
efficient little craft slip through the water. Out of all our boys only 
one was what could be called a waterman ; the others had no previous 
experience whatever of canoes or water. 

To reach the watershed to which our mystery river belonged — if it 
existed at all — it was necessary to travel many hundreds of weary 
miles. First 500 miles against the current. Then a land portage 
of eighty miles. Then a descent with the current of 200 miles, and 
then an ascent against the current of some 450 miles. Incredible 
as it may seem in these days of quick transport, this trek took four 




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THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 151 

months to accomplish, and that before reaching the beginning of the 
unknown river. Long before we arrived there our scanty store of 
European provisions was finished, and we lived entirely upon the 
country. We had left England very poorly provided with pro- 
visions, as there were regulations still in force prohibiting the export 
of foodstuffs. 

On our way and while waiting for our canoes, which had got 
sadly delayed among the shippers, we visited the native Sultan Buba 
Gida, as I described in Chapter X. On our return from Buba's 
country — where we had some interesting shooting — we found our 
canoes ready for us. It did not take us long to get our gear ready, 
and off we started up-stream for the long and arduous journey before 
us. We made sails and fitted masts to the canoes, as we often had 
a following wind, and they assisted tremendously. W. was an 
accomplished waterman and steered one canoe, while I steered the 
big one. So as to be handy to our fleet we had been camped on a 
beautiful sand-bank while preparing for the start, and every evening 
we practised the boys in paddling. When the day came, when all 
was stowed neatly away, we rattled off up-stream at a great pace, 
passing easily any craft on the river. 

As our way now lay for hundreds of miles through more or less 
well-known country, I will merely recount the incidents of more 
than ordinary interest. One of these happened when we made a halt 
for washing clothes. One of our boys — who could not swim — 
calmly walked into a very deep and dangerously swift part of the 
river to recover his shirt which had blown in. To his astonishment 
he found that he could not keep his head above water. Judging by 
the expression on the face which every now and again bobbed up at 
a rapidly increasing distance, this — to him — curious fact did not seem 
to alarm him at all. The perfect fool kept grinning every time his 
head came out. It suddenly dawned upon me that I had seen this 
kind of thing before, and that the boy was really drowning. I 
immediately shoved the naked headman — a clever swimmer — into 
the river, telling him to save the lad. But long before he reached 



152 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

him the gallant W. had towed him to the bank, where he continued 
to grin foolishly. 

Another was when I pipped an enormous "croc." He was 
floating lazily down the centre of the current when I shot him. Hit 
in the brain, he happened to float until some natives got their fish- 
harpoons into him. They towed him ashore and cut him up, and 
there in his inside was what I had read of in travellers' tales, but had 
never before seen — a native woman's brass bangle. The natives of 
the place claimed to know this croc, well, and even to know the name 
of the bangle's former owner. The finding of the bangle did not at 
all prevent the natives from eating the croc. In connection with the 
finding of bangles in crocs.' insides, a missionary we met advanced 
a theory that the crocs, picked up and swallowed a lot of these from 
the river bed. But he could not explain how the bangles got there. 

Throughout this expedition W. and I lived for the most part on 
what we shot and on what we could buy from the natives. Almost 
everywhere we got whistling teal with great ease. One shot from 
W.'s 12-bore would usually provide enough for all hands. He 
seldom picked up less than five or six, and once we gathered twenty- 
nine from a single discharge. They were tender and fat enough to 
cook in their own juice, and their flavour was exquisite. They were 
literally in tens of thousands in some places. There were many other 
fowl in thousands also, but none were so good to eat as the whistlers, 
except the tiny and beautiful "butter-ball" teal. These were 
rather rare. The spur- winged goose and the Egyptian goose were 
also very numerous, but tough and strong in the pot. Guinea-fowl 
were very common, and the young ones were delicious, while the 
old ones made capital soup. On one occasion we heard guinea-fowl 
making a tremendous clatter in the bush by the river bank. We 
paddled over to shoot some for the pot. W. fired at one in a tree 
from the canoe. At the report a large lioness slunk away through 
the bush. This occurred on our way home, and as we were by that 
time satiated with lion we let her go unmolested. 

Besides all the fowl there were fish in abundance. W. was a 



THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 153 

great fisherman, and had brought a good assortment of hooks and 
strong sea lines. We were seldom out of fish. As soon as we arrived 
at the camping ground W. and the boys would bait their hooks with 
teal-guts or a piece of buck meat, and in a very short time either the 
tackle was broken or a fine fish landed. W. could never resist for 
long the temptation to bait a hook with a small fish of ^ lb. or so, in 
the hope of catching that most sporting and excellent fish the tiger 
or " capitaine." It always ended in his hooking a tiger, but it also 
ended in the complete loss of hook and most of the line. No gear, 
however strong, seemed capable of holding this fish. We often 
admired them as they leapt feet into the air when in hot pursuit of 
some smaller fish. They presented such an air of activity and energy 
on these occasions as to make the movements of running salmon 
appear quite tame and slow in comparison. That they are equally 
good on the table we had many opportunities of testing, as we 
always chose them in preference to the others when buying from the 
natives, who catch them in clever traps. We once had a " capi- 
taine " served up with mayonnaise and the most perfect wine ; this 
was when we lunched with the Governor, and a more delicious fish 
could not be imagined. We were told, as a tribute to its excellent 
qualities, that it derived its name from the fact that it was considered 
that no one below the rank of " capitaine " was worthy to eat it. 

Time accomplishes wonders even in Africa, and at last we were 
actually about to enter the Bahr Aouck. We were deeply laden 
with foodstuffs, ready for anything that might turn up. W. had a 
•318 Mauser, a -450 D.B., and a 12-bore shot-gun. I had a -318 and 
a -22. Stacks of ammunition for these lay snugly packed in tins in 
the canoe hold. Then we had six "boys," all pretty expert with 
canoes by this time. We had these boys in splendid order. They 
were of no particular tribe or caste — in fact, they were all of different 
tribes or castes. We paid them well, but, what was of far greater 
importance, we kept them in tip-top condition. Living ourselves, 
as we were by this time, entirely upon native food, we appreciated 
at their correct value the many and various grains, nuts, oils, etc., 



i54 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

and whatever we had our boys also shared. Fish and meat, millet 
or maize meal, rice and ground-nuts, palm oil, sim-sim oil, ground- 
nut meal and honey, all were to be found in the capacious hold of 
our cargo canoe, and all at a trifling cost. Whenever we were com- 
pelled to replenish our store of foodstuffs we killed a hippo or two, 
rolled it up on a sand-bank, and immediately a market would 
spring up. 

The consequence of this high living was a state of high efficiency 
and contentment among the crew. As none of them had ever been 
with white men except the cook, who had been with a German, they 
were all unspoiled and all willing to do anything that turned up. 
The cooks were boys one day, tusk-choppers the next, canoe carriers 
the next, and so on. Everybody had to turn their hands to any- 
thing, and all were crew. 

When, therefore, we sighted the junction of the Bahr Aouck 
with the Shari, against whose sluggish current we had paddled so 
many weary miles, we all felt keen and ready to tackle anything that 
might turn up. We had been careful to keep our destination secret, 
so that when we actually steered our canoes into the Bahr Aouck our 
boys had not the slightest inkling of our intention to ascend this 
river. All being strangers to this country they had never heard of 
the Bahr Aouck — or, indeed, of any other of the many " bahrs " 
there. But had they known the name, through our having men- 
tioned that we were going there, it is almost certain that they would 
have made enquiries among the natives we had already met with, and 
that from them they would have received such dreadful reports as 
would have led them to desert rather than penetrate the unknown. 
Consequently, when we paddled vigorously into the swifter current 
of the Bahr Aouck we were all a merry crew ; the boys were merry 
because they did not know where they were, and W. and I were 
merry because we did know where we were, and also because the 
water which bore us at that moment was obviously that of a consider- 
able river, and we thought that if it did not split up into many 
smaller streams we would go far, and perhaps discover something 




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THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 155 

worth while. I do not know what W. would have considered worth 
while, as he never showed feeling of any sort and he did not tell me. 
Although all this was quite new to him, one would have said, on 
seeing him at this moment, that he must have been exploring un- 
known country all his life and had grown tired of it. To me, the 
moment of our entry into the Bahr Aouck was most exhilarating. 
I had visions of immense herds of unsophisticated elephant with 
enormous ivory ; perhaps new tribes, gold, diamonds, stores of dead 
ivory waiting for someone to pick them up, new animals, water- 
elephants, and a thousand and one other visions. As usual with 
visions, none of these materialised. 

As we poled up-stream I took soundings. There were eight feet 
of water in some places, in spite of it being the dry season. For the 
first few days we saw very little game. A few kob and water buck, 
baboons and duiker. Once we saw some fishing natives with their 
traps. They sold us some excellent smoked fish, and told us that 
there was one village ahead of us, but beyond that nothing. The 
next day we saw where a herd of elephant had crossed the river some 
days before. Hippo now became more common, and at one place 
where the river formed a large pool there must have been about a 
hundred of them bobbing up and down. A mile or two further and 
we came to the village mentioned by the fishermen. It was not 
actually on the banks, but we knew we were close to it by the canoes 
and paths. Here we camped, hoping to get some information of the 
river ahead of us. This was not forthcoming to any extent. When 
asked, the natives generally appeared uneasy, said they had never 
been up-stream, or muttered something vague about bad people 
further on. All agreed, however, that there were no more villages. 
This determined us to lay in a large cargo of foodstuffs. In order to 
do this I dropped down-stream to the hippo pool with the small 
Canadian, now empty. I paddled to a sand-spit which stuck out con- 
veniently into the pool. It was literally covered with fowl of various 
kinds as we approached. From the sand-spit I proceeded to shoot 
hippo in the brain, and had no difficulty in killing enough to provide 



156 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

us with sufficient food for a month or two, when the meat had been 
exchanged for flour, etc. Hippo sink to the bottom when shot in 
fhe brain, remaining there for a variable time, depending on the 
temperature of the water, the stage of fermentation reached by the 
stomach contents, the inflation or otherwise of the lungs at the 
moment of death, and the state of the river bottom. Generally this 
period ranges between twenty minutes and one and a half hours. 
Shortly after the first carcase had floated to the surface the natives 
began to arrive. Some of these I sent off hot-foot to tell the whole 
village that there was meat and fat for all who should bring food in 
exchange. Meanwhile the carcases were towed to land and rolled 
up as soon as they floated. When the last had been so dealt with the 
cutting up commenced, and when that was completed there were 
already dozens of women waiting with calabashes of meal, etc., to 
exchange for meat. Such a feast I dare say they had never seen 
before. It is seldom that more than one hippo is killed at one time 
by native methods, except on the Upper Nile, where they have a 
kind of grand battue in which hundreds of canoes take part. Pre- 
sently our market became very big. No sooner did the natives see 
the size of the chunks of reeking beef given in exchange for the 
various commodities than they rushed off to their homes to bring 
something to barter. We obtained every conceivable kind of native 
produce. Among the items was a canoe-load of smoked fish. This 
must have weighed about 200 lb. and was bartered for half a hippo. 
We also got some curious tobacco. Only the very small leaves and 
the tobacco flowers were in this particular mixture. We both 
smoked it regularly and became very fond of it. But it was very 
potent indeed, and had a far more drug-like effect than ordinary 
tobacco. 

The slaughter of these hippo and the subsequent bartering had 
brought us into touch with the natives very nicely indeed, and all 
were most friendly. So much so was this the case that I ventured to 
approach one of their canoe-men with the suggestion that he should 
accompany us up-stream. Rather to my surprise he agreed to do 




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THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 157 

so. Encouraged by this, I suggested that perhaps he had a friend 
who might like to go with him. He said that he thought one of his 
friends would go also. We were very glad indeed to have these 
fellows. The first was quite a youth but a good waterman, while 
the second was a hard-bitten man of middle age. I thought he 
would make a good tracker for W. when we should reach elephant 
country. He was not a waterman at all ; in fact, he fell overboard 
from the small canoe — which was W.'s — so often that I was obliged 
to put him in the larger and more stable one. 

When all was ready we pushed off, very deeply laden. All was 
now new river ahead of us. As we progressed day by day hippo 
became more and more numerous. In some places they formed 
almost a complete barrage across the river. Sometimes it was 
ticklish work steering between them. Their heads often came up 
quite close to the canoes, and then they stared at us goggle-eyed with 
astonishment. Once W.'s canoe ran its stem on to the neck of a 
rising hippo, the fore part being lifted clean out of the water, canting 
over dangerously, and then let down with a whack as the old hippo 
dived. They shipped a deal of water, but there was no damage done. 
We soon found that if we kept on the shallow side of the pools we 
ran less chance of bumping into them, our only danger then being 
from hippo asleep on the bank suddenly waking up and rushing 
blindly towards deep water. Had we ever had the ill luck to have 
been across their way, I believe they would have rushed clean into or 
over us. 

For many days we saw no sign of elephant. Kob and water buck 
were fairly numerous on the banks, and whistling teal, guinea-fowl, 
Egyptian geese, spoonbills and egrets were common, while inland 
giraffe, rhino, buffalo, haartebeeste, topi, oribi, roan, and duiker 
were numerous. Lion were frequently heard, and W. shot a fine 
male on the carcase of a hippo which was pretty far gone. This 
hippo must have been wounded by man somewhere, as it was full 
grown and quite beyond a lion's ability to kill. Fish became so 
unsophisticated as to take anything you liked to put on a hook, and 



158 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

that right alongside the canoe. So tame were they that our boys 
used to dangle buck gralloch in the water and spear the fish which 
immediately swarmed round it. Why fish were so numerous I do 
not rightly understand. It may have been because there were no 
natives, who, with their gigantic traps, must destroy countless fish. 
A curious thing was that the enormous " crocs." we saw appeared to 
prefer buck to fish. One which we shot was dragging a dead haarte- 
beeste into the water. The haartebeeste was full grown and had 
evidently been kept under water for some time. We often spotted 
these monsters lying motionless in the grass, waiting for buck to 
come along, I imagine. Another large crocodile whom we were 
tempted to photograph was taken by W. at only about 8 yds. range. 
He had sustained damage to one eye — the one nearest the photo- 
grapher — and probably that was why W. could approach him so 
closely. 

So far we had not met with great numbers of tsetse. But now 
we began to reach a very flat country which was evidently all under 
water in the wet season. Half submerged evergreen forests became 
more and more common. These cool, damp forests were full of 
tsetse, and in a few days we were overjoyed to find that elephant 
frequented them in goodly numbers. Buffalo also seemed fond of 
them. Had it not been for the swarms of tsetse I think we would 
have found these groves of evergreen standing full of elephant and 
buffalo. As it was they came to them only by night, withdrawing 
to the open bush and dry grass lands in the daytime. Only once 
did we actually see elephant from the canoes in the daytime, although 
we frequently did so by night. 

One day we saw ahead of us what appeared like pure white trees. 
When we drew near we saw that the white on the trees was caused 
by a colony of egrets sitting on their nests, the surrounding foliage 
being covered with their droppings. A curious fact in connection 
with this colony was that when we repassed it on our way down- 
stream some six weeks after, white spoonbills had taken over the 
nests and were busy sitting on them, while their earlier occupants, 



THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 159 

the egrets, were all over the sand-banks, teaching their half -grown 
progeny how to catch fish, etc. 

At the time of our up-stream journey the Egyptian goose was 
also breeding. On every sand-bank there were scores of ganders, 
while the geese were hidden away in the vegetation, sitting on their 
nests. These we found, but always with great difficulty, so well 
were they hidden. 

Fly and game became more and more plentiful as we journeyed 
on. When I speak of fly I mean tsetse ; there were other flies in 
plenty, but they appeared of no importance beside the fiendish tsetse. 
We began to see buffalo now, and one day we saw where the river 
bank had been trampled down. As we approached it became clear 
that a very large herd of elephants had been there. It was soon 
evident that the tracks were quite recent, having been made the night 
before. We found a nice site for camp on an island, where our fires 
would not be seen by elephant revisiting their drinking place. We 
hoped that they would come in the night, and sure enough they did 
so, soon after sundown — such a splashing and rumbling, trumpeting 
and crashing. Lions were also busy, roaring on both sides of the 
river. It was a busy spot and one of our happiest camps. From it 
as base we hunted in all directions. And what a long way the 
elephant used to go in the daytime from the river. They would come 
to the river just after sundown when the flies were quiet. There 
they would spend the night, crashing the evergreen gallery-forest, 
plastering themselves with mud as a protection against fly on the 
following day, eating acres of the still green river grass, and generally 
enjoying themselves. It must be remembered that at this season 
everything a few yards back from the river is burnt up either by sun 
or fire. The dry season in these tropical parts is the winter of the 
Northern Hemisphere, in its effects upon vegetation. Instead of 
dying off the grass is burnt off. The grass fires wither the leaves on 
the trees and they fall immediately after. All temporary water, 
such as pools, puddles, etc., dries up. Fly desert the dry parts and 
congregate in myriads in the shade of the river forest. But they will 



i6o WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

follow man or beast for miles into the dry country. It is astounding 
to look behind one as one leaves the vicinity of the river. Behind 
each man there is a small cloud of tsetse ; they keep about two or 
three feet from the ground. Each traveller keeps flicking away fly 
that settle on the man in front of him. It is rather startling at first 
to receive a hard slap on the back when one is not expecting it. Fly 
generally got us under the brims of our hats and, when near to 
buffalo, one would be bitten every thirty seconds. Lucky for us that 
there were no natives about with sleeping sickness. During the dry 
season there is not much for elephant to eat away from the river. 
They pick up a fair lot of tamarind fruit, dig up roots, and chew aloes 
and sansivera fibre, spitting out the fibre in balls. But it is on the 
river that they depend for the bulk of their green food and water, 
and, were it not for fly, they would doubtless remain there day and 
night. 

Early on the following morning W. and I separated, he taking 
one bank while I took the other. I tracked a large herd back from 
the river for about five hours' fairly slow going, as the tracking 
was difficult. Dry season tracking is difficult because the ground 
becomes so hard, also because all the old tracks remain, as there is no 
rain to obliterate them. 

About fifteen miles back from their drinking place there were 
signs of the elephant having left their huge and well worn trails, 
scattering right and left into small groups, the better to find their 
scanty food. We saw plenty of fresh rhino spoor, but this 
was one of the few days upon which we did not encounter them 
in the flesh. 

We had been disentangling the trail of a large bull and had 
brought it, through the scores of other tracks, right from the river 
bank. We were rewarded presently by sighting him by himself, 
wandering gently on. The country was altogether in favour of the 
rifle, and he had no chance. But after the shot I was astonished to 
see elephant emerge from the bushy parts, strolling aimlessly about, 
apparently quite unscared by the sound of a rifle. I went through 







* 




THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 161 

crowds and crowds of them, getting a bull here and there. It was 
many years since I had seen elephant so unacquainted with firearms. 
They appeared to take the crack of the 318 for the crack of a break- 
ing tree-stem or something of that sort. 

As our hunting operations were all rather similar to the above, 
except in result, I will pass them over and merely remark on the 
extraordinary numbers of rhino we met. They were so stupid and 
so numerous as to be a perfect nuisance. On sighting one we 
generally tried to avoid him by making a detour, but even then they 
would sometimes follow us. On several occasions our boys got into 
trouble with them and they had to be shot in order to avoid accidents. 
Once, on leaving camp for a few days' tour in the bush, we started 
a big cow and a bull from the river bush. They trotted away and I 
thought no more about them. About an hour afterwards I heard 
a frantic shout behind me. I looked round, and there was my boy 
legging it straight towards me, with our two friends of the morning 
close behind him. The big cow was leading and was quite close to the 
boy. They were all going their hardest, and really appeared bent 
on mischief, so I was compelled to shoot the cow and, shortly after- 
wards, the bull also, as he went barging stupidly about. I sent 
afterwards for the horns of these rhino when I thought they would be 
sufficiently rotten to disengage easily. The boy who went for them 
found the bodies in the possession of three lions, which refused to 
budge when shouted at. We had provided the boy with a rifle. He 
said that he fired it at the lions, who took no notice of it, but con- 
tinued to growl at him. He then had another shot, which hit one of 
them. They all withdrew a little distance, when the boy had another 
shot at the wounded one and killed him. He said that the others 
remained about in the vicinity while he skinned the lion and pulled 
off the horns of the now putrid rhino. 

Besides rhino there were many lions, some of immense size, 
although with poor manes. Although I knew the Athi Plains in 
British East Africa in the old days, and many other parts of Africa, 
I have never seen such numbers of lions. I believe I am correct in 

ii 



1 62 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

stating that every carcase of elephant that we shot during the entire 
time was found in the possession of at least one lion when visited for 
the purpose of drawing the tusks. The greatest number that I 
personally saw round a carcase was five, but when I camped a few 
hundred yards to windward of some dead elephants we all had a very 
lively time indeed. Some boys had meat hung up and drying round 
huge fires too close, as it turned out, to the dead animals. I am safe 
in saying that from one hour after sundown until one hour before 
dawn nothing could approach the carcases because of the lions about 
them. Hyenas and jackals were constantly trying to sneak up to 
them, only to be chased off with the most terrific growls and rushes 
by the lions. So impertinent did they become that eventually they 
occupied with impunity one of the carcases which lay only 15 yds. 
from the nearest fire. Here they were clearly visible to the boys in 
the meat camp, and when they first came the boys had tried to drive 
them off by throwing burning sticks at them. This offensive was 
so effectually countered by the lions as to cause it to cease at once. 
The arrival of the first firebrand was greeted with such an appalling 
outburst of growls, snarls, and showing of teeth as veritably to scare 
the throwers almost to the point of flight. The lions were not again 
molested and pursued their scavenging in peace. I spent some days 
at this spot, as it held the only water for miles around, and one could 
hear the lions approaching each evening. They commenced to roar 
about an hour before sundown and continued until they arrived. 
Where they all disappeared to in the daytime was a mystery, though 
dogs would have shown them. 

This particular camp was also remarkable for the extraordinary 
number of marabou storks. I had often before seen hundreds of 
these huge birds collect on a carcase, and I had seen large numbers 
assembled for the fish which were left high and dry by a receding 
river, but here they were literally in tens of thousands. And what 
digestions they have ! Huge lumps of elephant offal are snapped up 
and swallowed. Then when the interior mechanism has received all 
that it can handle, the foul provender is passed into the great flesh- 



THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 163 

red sack which depends from the neck. This sack bulges and 
lengthens until it nearly touches the ground. But what a weary air 
they have as they flap slowly and heavily away, completely gorged, 
to a convenient perch, there to digest the putrid mass. As 
scavengers I should say that five or six marabou would about equal 
a full-blown incinerator. 

As we were so short-handed we found it impossible to cut out 
the tusks of the elephant we got. Consequently we were obliged 
to leave them until the action of putrification loosened them in the 
socket, when they could be drawn. We found that four days were 
required before this could be done. On the third day the topmost 
tusk would generally come away, but the under one remained fast. 
It was owing to this fact that some of our little party had to visit the 
carcases when they were in a highly advanced state of putrification, 
and they were invariably found in the possession of one or more lions. 
Why the lions were such dirty feeders was not apparent. The whole 
country was seething with game ; kob and haartebeeste, giraffe, 
buffalo, topi and smaller antelope were all numerous. Nearly all 
cover, such as grass, was burnt off, and it is possible that this made 
it more difficult for lions to kill. 

The skins of these lions were of a peculiarly dark olive tinge for 
the most part, with the scanty mane of a slightly lighter tint. Some 
of them were of immense size, and all that we shot were in good 
condition. 

One day our Kabba boy divulged the fact that he had been up 
the river before. He had come at high water with some companions 
to gather the leaves of the Borassus palm for making mats. He said 
that the highest point they had reached lay about a day's travel ahead 
of us, and then we should reach a country of palms. 

We did so. The whole country became covered with these 
beautiful palms. The huge fruit hung in dozens from the crowns, 
while the vultures were nesting among the leaves. As our food con- 
sisted chiefly of meat and grain^ anything in the shape of fruit was 
eagerly eaten. We used to stew these palm fruits, each the size of 



1 64 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

a grape fruit. Although the flesh was almost too stringy to swallow, 
the juice mixed with honey was excellent. 

As we plunged along upstream one day, what did we see in mid- 
stream ahead of us but a floating hippo spear, travelling slowly along 
with the current towards us. These spears are so constructed that 
the buoyancy of the shank is sufficient to float about one-third of the 
spear standing straight up out of the water. This enables the hunter 
to recover his spear when he misses a hippo. 

From this floating evidence it was clear that there were natives 
in the vicinity, and as we were about to pick up the spear we saw its 
owner's head watching us from the bank. We salvaged his spear 
and rested easy, while we tried to talk across the river to him. We 
tried him in all the native languages known to any member of the 
safari, but it was not until we tried the Sango tongue of Ubangui 
watershed that he answered. But he was shy and frightened, and 
we made little headway. When we offered to bring him his spear 
he quietly disappeared from view. However, we hoped we had 
sown good seed by telling him that we were come to hunt elephant, 
and that all who helped were welcome to the meat. On we went on 
our way, our progress, as usual, impeded at every pool by 
hippo. That night we camped on the bank opposite to that of the 
natives. 

Nothing happened. In the morning as we drew out a young 
water buck was shot for food for the boys — we whites preferred teal. 
While on the subject of teal I would like to say that we never tired 
of these birds. We ate them stewed at regular meal times, and we 
ate them roasted on the spit between meals, cold. We ate them 
not as we do here, a mere slice or two from the breast ; but we each 
ate one or two whole birds at a sitting. 

As the buck was being skinned we heard a shout from the 
opposite bank, and there were some natives. This was splendid. 
On these occasions it is best to show no haste or eagerness, so the 
skinning and loading of the buck went on methodically. Everything 
of the buck was taken, as we did not want our newly-found natives 



THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 165 

to get any meat until we had come to some understanding as to their 
showing us elephant. 

When all were aboard we paddled slowly across to the natives, 
who were obviously shy. Anchoring the canoe by clinging to the 
grass, we held a kind of introduction ceremony. Among the natives 
we were glad to see our friend of yesterday's hippo-spear incident. 
We laid bare to them our object in ascending this river, and asked in 
return with whom we had to deal. They said that they came from 
the south, to reach their village requiring four days' travelling with- 
out loads. Knowing the kind of thing they meant by this, I 
estimated the distance at about 180 or 200 miles. They disclosed 
also that they had originally been under Senussi at Ndele, that they 
still paid taxes and found labour for that post, but that since the 
occupation of the country by the French, following upon the killing 
of the old Sultan Senussi, they now lived three or four days' march 
to the north of the post Ndele. While Senussi reigned they had 
been obliged to live in the capital ; as with Buba Gida, all the 
inhabitants of the country for 300 miles round had been ' 6 gathered 
in." Meanwhile, they said, elephant were now in the neighbour- 
hood and that they could show us them. We were ready in a very 
few moments to accompany them, merely taking a mosquito net, a 
small packet of tea and sugar and a kettle. Presently we joined up 
with some more natives, some of whom were armed with the enor- 
mous elephant spear of the Arab elephant hunters, whose country 
lay to the north. These spears have a leaf -shaped head from 7 ins. 
to 9 ins. across, and are kept razor-edged. The system of hunting 
is this. In the dry season, when most of the grass has been burnt 
off and the harmatan is blowing, all the young bloods arrange an 
expedition. The harmatan is the north-east monsoon of the Indian 
Ocean, and is a hard breeze at midday of a velocity of about 
30 m.p.h., dry and hot when it comes off the desert, and constant as 
regards direction. At this season so dry is the air that sound carries 
no distance, and one may walk up to within a few feet of elephant 
without fear of discovery. These expeditions sometimes number 



1 66 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

300 spears. All the old crocks of horses are raked up. The rich are 
represented on the expedition by slaves, mostly on foot. All are 
armed with the huge spears, with their bamboo shanks 10 ft. or 12 ft. 
long. Off they set for the south, poorly supplied with food, as they 
reckon to live " tough " on what they can kill. When they set out 
they and the horses are in very good condition, but when they return 
the men are haggard and thin, leg- weary and footsore, while most 
of the horses are bleached and well gnawed skeletons in the bush. 
Few survive the hard work, poor food, and constant attacks of the 
tsetse fly. When they meet with the fairly recent trail of a herd of 
elephant they take it up with tremendous vigour, push along it with- 
out a stop until dark, camp, on again next day without a stop, perhaps 
camp again and eventually sight their quarry. Then those on horses 
dismount, the protectors are taken off the razor-sharp spear-heads, 
and all advance shoulder to shoulder, spears held projecting 6 ft. or 
7 ft. in front, the flat of the spear-head lying in a horizontal direction. 
With the harmatan blowing its hardest it is possible for the line of 
spear-men to come within thrusting distance of the elephants' sterns, 
and at a signal the spears are driven in with the aim of cutting the 
large tendons and arteries. Hence the width of spear-head. In the 
consequent commotion casualties among the spear-men are frequent, 
as might be expected. Off go the unwounded animals, the horses 
are brought, and the chase is again taken up. Now the elephant will 
not stop for miles and miles, so they must be ridden to a standstill, 
or nearly so, before another assault on them can be attempted. 
Away into desperately dry and waterless country they go, but, try 
as they may, those human devils are always with them. The hard- 
ships these latter bear are almost incredible. They seldom have 
water or food with them. Often they are starving, and their only 
hope, the death of an elephant. Kill, or die miserably in the bush, 
is not a bad system and, as might be expected, leads to perfectly 
awful destruction of elephant life. Ivory is primarily the object, 
but, as the hunt develops, water and meat become of more import- 
ance. Water, I must explain, is obtained from the elephants' 



THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 167 

intestines and, although warm, is quite good to drink. In the 
average herd cows and calves predominate, consequently they suffer 
most. In the case of this country the coming of the white man is 
the indirect cause of the destruction of elephant, and not, as in other 
parts of Africa, the direct cause of their protection. Natives are 
permitted to hunt elephant in the above manner on payment of a 
small fee, in order that they may acquire the wherewithal to pay their 
taxes — a policy short-sighted indeed, when we remember Darwin's 
calculation that in 900 years two elephants become a million. 

With our newly -found friends as guides we were soon on the trail 
of our game, and by their aid we ran into and killed late in the after- 
noon. Our friends were simply overjoyed at the sight of so much 
meat. They became extremely friendly, cutting grass for my bed, 
fetching wood and water, ready to do anything. From being rather 
surly and reserved they became very communicative. As they 
roasted tit-bits from the elephants on their fires nothing but shouts 
of laughter and merry chatter could be heard. And when, later, we 
had all eaten and everyone was smoking — for they carried tobacco — 
they told me more of themselves. I found that they all talked 
Sango. They said that every dry season they came to the Bahr 
Aouck to hunt hippo or elephant, but that so far they had had no 
luck. During the rains the whole country for miles on either side 
was under water. No villages existed nearer the river than theirs. 
They knew the river up to the point where it issued from Lake 
Mamun. This item was a complete surprise to me, for I had never 
heard it even suggested that the Bahr Aouck issued from that lake. 
I pressed my enquiries among the older men, and arrived at the 
information that shortly after leaving the lake the Bahr Aouck was 
joined by another river which came from a country I knew to be 
within the Egyptian Sudan border. I asked after the natives of 
Lake Mamun, who were supposed to live on the waters themselves, 
constructing for that purpose huts on piles. They told me that since 
the slave-raids had ceased, when Senussi was shot by the French, the 
natives had abandoned their lake dwellings and now lived on the 



1 68 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

shores like normal people. They said that the whole country ahead 
was teeming with game. I had learnt more in half an hour round 
the camp-fire with full bellies than weeks of intercourse in the 
ordinary way would have yielded. Such is the power of meat on 
the African. 

This system of penetrating the country by feeding the natives 
has the disadvantage that if you kill a large animal they dry the meat 
they cannot eat and take it home to their villages, when it can be 
bartered for all kinds of commodities. Therefore you have constantly 
to be making new acquaintances. Everything else is entirely in its 
favour, not the least being its economy. They will carry light loads 
for you for days through the bush, hunt diligently for game, chop out 
and carry to the base any ivory you may get. If you are within fifty 
miles or so of villages the women bring food of all sorts, and it is 



ARAB SPEAR FOR HAM-STRINGING ELEPHANT. 

seldom that a few eggs — more or less fresh — are not forthcoming for 
the white man. Then they hold dances in the camps. When there 
are plenty of young girls about these dances become rather loose 
affairs. The usual restraints of village life seem to be relaxed in 
the bush, and everyone enjoys himself or herself to the utmost. 
Abundance of animal food has a curious effect on natives. Where 
they inhabit stockless country they go months without flesh, with the 
exception of an occasional rat or mongoose or bird. The craving 
for meat becomes intense, and is, in my opinion, the cause of 
cannibalism. Then when they suddenly become possessed of almost 
unlimited meat they simply gorge themselves. A man will eat 
15 lb. or 20 lb. in the twenty-four hours. All night long he eats 
and dozes, then eats again. This turns him a peculiar dull matt 
colour and yellow in the eyes. On the third day he has completely 
recovered from this and is again full of energy. In a very short 
time he wants his grain food again, and if he has the choice will eat 




foitfrt 



THE KILANGOZI OR HEAD PORTER WHO CARRIED THIS TUSK 
(148 LBS.) FOR SIXTY-THREE CONSECUTIVE MARCHING DAYS. 



THE ASCENT OF THE BAHR AOUCK 169 

a large portion of grain to a small portion of meat. If, as with 
elephant, there is a good proportion of fat, natives become extremely 
fit on these rations. As an example of this I can cite the case of a 
" kilangozi," or head porter, of mine. This man, of slight build, 
carried a tusk weighing 148 lb. plus his mat, blanket and rations, 
another 15 lb., for sixty-three days' consecutive marching. The 
shortest day was five hours, and some were very long indeed. He 
had as rations throughout this march 2 lb. of native grain each day 
and as much meat as he cared for with elephant fat. His condition 
was magnificent throughout. 

In the morning I pushed off to look for elephant. The natives 
promised to cut out the tusks and to bring them to the canoes, which 
they faithfully did. 

After hunting in this region for some days, during which we saw 
many lion and killed six, we pushed on upstream again. We were 
soon held up by more elephant and more natives. The news of our 
doings had already reached the villages south of us, and we had a 
continuous stream of natives coming hungry to us, carrying our bush 
loads all over the country, to be rewarded eventually with meat, and 
then stopping to smoke it while their places were taken by new- 
comers. So prolific in game was the country that we never reached 
Lake Mamun, as we had intended. Our time was up, food exhausted 
and canoes laden. So one fine day we decided to return. 



XIII 

BUFFALO 

THERE is no animal in Africa with such a sinister reputation 
as the buffalo, whether the bush cow of West Africa or the 
great black Cape buffalo be under discussion. It has been 
repeatedly accused of dreadful cunning and great ferocity, and it has 
undoubtedly caused many deaths and maulings among both white 
and native hunters. Among the cases which have come under my 
own observation or of which I have heard from reliable sources, the 
maulings have been far more numerous than the deaths. The 
wounds caused by buffalo horns seem to heal better than lion bites ; 
the latter, when made by old lions with dirty teeth, can be very 
troublesome. 

Why the buffalo should have got such an evil name has always 
rather puzzled me. I have shot hundreds of both kinds during my 
hunting career, and I have never been charged. And yet I have 
constantly read of fierce encounters between hunters and their game. 
Two white men were killed recently in Nigeria by a bush cow, and 
I have frequently asked for certain natives by name on revisiting 
villages and have been told that they have been killed by buffalo. 
Yet, even when I came suddenly on a buffalo bull lying wounded in 
thick stuff, he did not charge. This animal had been mauled by 
lion, and according to all the rules should have charged as soon as he 
became aware of my approach. What he would have done had I 
not put a bullet through his neck I do not know. Perhaps he might 
have charged. 

I well remember the mixed awe and apprehension with which I 
approached a herd of buffalo in my early hunting efforts. I had read 
of all the hair-breadth escapes hunters usually had with these animals, 

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BUFFALO 171 

of their diabolical cunning, etc., and I was quite determined not to 
wound any. I was also very cautious not to approach too near. 
There were many of them out in fairly short grass. I could see them 
all clearly, and as we wanted meat I thought I would select a nice 
fat cow. With me were about forty young bloods from the tribe 
with which I was hunting. They were all fully armed in their 
fashion — each man carried two thrusting spears and a rhino or giraffe 
hide shield. The reason they carried shields was that we had been 
hunting elephant in no man's land, where prowlers from the enemy, 
i.e., the neighbouring tribe, might have been met. Telling this 
mob to get away back while I did the shooting I left them and 
approached the browsing and unsuspicious herd. Selecting what I 
thought would be a fat one, I fired. Without pausing or wavering 
the whole herd started straight for me, closing together as they came. 
I fired again at one of the leaders and then started to get out of their 
way. As I ran to the side I met and ran through the forty spear- 
men, who were now rushing straight to meet the herd. Stopping 
and turning, I was astounded to see these fellows right in among 
the buffalo, some retreating cleverly backwards and receiving the 
charging animals' rushes on their shields, while others jabbed spears 
into their vitals from the sides. No sooner was an animal down than 
off they went after the retreating herd. And here, again, all my 
preconceived notions were upset, for the natives caught up with the 
buffalo again and killed several more. But for the herd's arrival at 
a belt of forest, perhaps they would all have been speared. Not a 
native was touched. I must say I was rather staggered by what had 
taken place ; the awe-inspiring charge was apparently a simple 
running away ; the terrific speed, strength and agility of the story- 
book buffalo all shown up by a handful of nimble lads armed with soft 
iron spears ; the formidable buffalo made to cut a very poor figure, 
and the white man with his wonderful gun made to look extremely 
foolish. 

This incident put me right about buffalo, I think, for I have 
killed scores and scores since, and I have never had any trouble with 



i72 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

them. I have shot them in West Africa, where they are usually met 
in thick stuff and in long grass, and also in the Liberian forests, east 
of the Nile and in the Congo — and invariably with small bores. The 
most killing bullet I found to be the solid. 

The stampede or rush straight towards the shot was a fairly fre- 
quent occurrence in my experience ; and if one were convinced that 
the animals were charging, one would have to write down the buffalo 
as an extremely dangerous animal were it not for the ease with which 
they are killed with end-on delivered solid bullets. Of course, flesh 
wounds are no good. The vitals must be raked. But in thick stuff 
the target is so close and so big that no one should miss it, as for all 
game of this nature a reliable magazine rifle is streets ahead of a 
double. In a mix-up with buffalo in bush it is sometimes necessary 
to fire four or even five shots in rapid succession, and for this the 
double is mere handicap. 

Much has been written about the difference in colour among 
buffalo, and there have been attempts to separate them into different 
races. How all the colours may be found in one herd may be 
witnessed on the Shari River in the dry season when the grass has 
been burned. I have shot a grey bull, a black bull, a red and a 
fawn-coloured bull from the same herd, all fully adult. And I shot 
them after watching the herd through glasses for fully half an hour, 
during which time I saw many of each of the above colours. It 
must not be supposed that this was an isolated instance of these 
colours happening in the same herd, for every time I saw any con- 
siderable number of big buffalo in open country I have observed the 
same sprinkling of colours. 

The jet black is the colour of the solitary bulls one meets casually, 
and I imagine from that that black is the final colour. 

As with the semi-wild domesticated cattle of the ranching 
districts of America, the sight or smell of blood seems to infuriate 
buffalo more than anything. On one occasion when in want of meat 
I hit a cow buffalo in the lungs with a -22 high-velocity bullet. She 
was one of a small herd, and as she staggered about in her death 



BUFFALO 173 

agony all the others, including the calves and yearlings, went for 
her, goring her and knocking her about and completely hiding her 
from me. They were dreadfully excited, bellowing and roaring and 
even butting at one another. 

Natives of almost all tribes have far less respect for buffalo than 
the white hunters. They will attack buffalo with very primitive 
weapons. I remember once going after an old bull buffalo which 
had spent the night in a native garden. Two middle-aged natives 
tracked for me. Each carried an abnormal number of short spears, 
for what purpose I did not understand until later. They tracked 
well and quickly as the dew was still on the ground, and wherever 
the buffalo had passed was a perfectly plain track. We presently 
came to a large depression filled with high reeds well over a man's 
head. Here, the natives said, we were sure to find our game. Now, 
at this time I was still in my novitiate as regards buffalo, and my head 
was stuffed with the nonsense one is usually told about these animals. 
Consequently, I was rather surprised that the natives should be still 
willing to go out into the reed-bed. However, I thought it was up 
to me to lead the way, and I did so for a few yards, when we got into 
such a maze of buffalo tracks and runs and tunnels that I was obliged 
to let one of the natives re-find the tracks and lead the way. This he 
did quite cheerfully, handing to his companion his surplus spears. 
On we went into the most appalling stuff — reeds fourteen feet or 
fifteen feet high, and so strong and dense that one could not force one's 
way along except in the buffalo runs. Visibility was good for about 
two yards ahead. I felt very uncomfortable indeed, but what gave 
me confidence was that the leading native was quite at ease, and I 
kept thinking that he ought to know all about buffalo, if anyone did. 
Personally I expected to see infuriated buffalo suddenly appearing 
at a yard's range at any moment. 

We went very quietly, and after prowling for half an hour the 
leader stopped. We stood listening, and there, as it were almost at 
arm's length, was a heavy breathing. The tracker leant gently to 
one side to let me pass, and I crept cautiously forward. I must con- 



i74 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

fess that I was in a mortal funk. I felt sure that a frightful charge 
was imminent. The breathing could not be more than eight yards 
or ten yards distant, and yet nothing was visible. When I had 
covered, I suppose, five yards or so there was a terrific snort and a 
rushing kind of crash. I had my rifle up covering the noise, ready 
in an instant to loose off. Nothing appeared because the buffalo was 
in as great a state of terror as I was, and was off. This fact gave me 
great confidence, as did also the eagerness with which my companions 
took up the trail. We tracked and tracked that wretched buffalo 
until he must have been in a frightful state of nerves. We came to 
within hearing distance of him frequently, but never saw him. My 
confidence grew by leaps and bounds, and I tried rushing at him as 
soon as we knew he was close. This almost succeeded as I saw the 
reeds still in motion where they had closed after his passage. 

On the way home I stopped with a spear point almost touching 
my shirt front. The cheery fellows with me had planted their spears 
in the buffalo runs pointing in the direction from which they thought 
the buffalo might come — and extraordinarily difficult they were to 
see, presented, as they were, point on. 

My experience of buffalo is that they are worthy game in thick 
stuff, but ludicrously easy things to kill in open country. Any form 
of expanding bullet should not be used, although for a broadside shot 
any kind of bullet is good enough. But if one carries mixed bullets 
one is certain sooner or later to find oneself loaded with just the 
wrong type of bullet, and, perhaps, with no time to change. I have 
always found the solid very deadly for all kinds of game. An end-on 
shot suits this type of bullet to perfection, as the vitals are certain to 
be raked if the holding is as it should be. Blind terror-stricken 
rushes by buffalo are not uncommonly straight towards the gun, but 
the brutes are easily dropped with a well planted shot. I believe that 
buffalo can be very nasty when in thick stuff with a flesh wound, but 
there is no earthly reason with modern firearms why one should miss 
such a target as is presented by a buffalo's vitals. Always know 
where you are sending your bullet, I have found to be an excellent 
maxim. 



XIV 

AFRICAN LIONS 

4 FBICAN lions may be placed in two categories — those which 
/-\ kill their game, and those which live largely on carrion, as 
hyenas do. Among the former, carrion-eaters will sometimes 
be found, but this foul feeding is generally due to old age or broken 
teeth, and it is among these that the habit of man-eating takes place. 
While in robust health and full possession of their power these lions 
will never touch dead meat, preferring to kill zebra, haartebeeste, 
wildebeeste, or even buffalo or giraffe ; whereas the pig-eaters — as 
the lions of the second category are called — prey upon much smaller 
stuff, such as warthog, reedbuck, duiker, etc., failing which they will 
eat anything dead they may find. There are, therefore, lions and 
pig-eating lions. 

Lions are much finer, bolder and more courageous than the pig- 
eaters. At night they will attack cattle inside strong zerebas in spite 
of fires, shouts and shots. When they take to man-eating they do 
it thoroughly, as, for instance, the two or three old lions which 
terrorised the coolie camps at Tsavo during the construction of the 
Uganda Railway. These accounted for some scores of victims in 
spite of colossal thorn zerebas, fires and armed guards. Their doings 
are recounted in the " Man Eaters of Tsavo," and I will only add to 
that able account the doings of an old Sikh ex-soldier and his son. 
It was when the Government had offered a large reward for every 
lion killed within a mile on either side of the railway. Fired with 
the prospect of immediate wealth, this old man obtained a Rigby- 
Mauser -275, and he and his son took to hunting lions. There were 
then in East Africa troops of lions sometimes over twenty strong. 
Knowing from the permanent-way gangs of coolies the likeliest spots, 
the hunters began their operations. These consisted of building 

i75 



176 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

shelters from which to fire by night, and they were generally situated 
close to reed beds known to be used by lions. At first the shelters 
were quite elaborate affairs affording considerable protection. 
Familiarity taught them that no protection was necessary, and 
latterly the cache was merely a ring of boulders over which one could 
fire from the prone position. The old man could imitate a goat or a 
cow to perfection, but whether it was desire on the part of the lions 
to eat goat or cow, or merely curiosity to find out what the strange 
noise was, must remain a mystery. Certain it is, though, that the 
Sikhs' cache was a sure draw. The young fellow shot straight and 
true, and lion after lion succumbed. In nine months these two men 
claimed the reward on some ninety skins. On about forty-five the 
reward was actually paid, there being some doubt as to whether the 
remainder were killed within the mile limit. 

As East Africa became better known, sportsmen came in greater 
numbers for big game, and many lions were killed. At this period 
some extraordinary bags were made. The hunting was done entirely 
on foot, and it was not until later that the use of ponies and dogs for 
hunting lions became common. Sometimes the natives could be 
induced to drive them out of their strongholds, the great reed beds 
of the Stony A thy. To do this armed only with spears requires some 
nerve, as most men who have entered these reed beds will admit, 
even when armed with modern rifles. The reeds are not the little 
short things we know in this country, but great high strong grass 
well over a man's head. 

This hunting of lions by men who were novices at the game was 
attended by many casualties. I was told that in one year out of 
about forty visiting sportsmen who devoted themselves seriously to 
lion hunting, twenty were mauled. Of these twenty, more than 
half were killed or died from the effects of wounds. The lions 
of that period were extraordinarily bold and courageous. In the 
early morning on those huge plains I have walked steadily towards 
a troop of lions numbering a score. Just as steadily walked away the 
troop — no hurry or fear of man. When I ran, a magnificent male 




DRIVEN OUT OF THE REED BEDS. 

As a game animal the lion affords first-class sport, and sportsmen will be glad that some 

protection has been given lions in East Africa. This, combined with the large stock in 

the game reserves, should ensure good sport for many years to come. 



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AFRICAN LIONS 177 

deliberately turned and stood facing me. As I approached he 
advanced quietly towards me, while the others idled along in the 
opposite direction. One could hardly imagine a finer sight than this 
great bold fellow facing the rising sun on the dead open plain. But 
it was futile swagger on his part, for he was not a man-eater. He 
had killed and eaten to repletion like all the lions on those plains. 
And yet, there he was, deliberately advancing without cause or 
reason. This is the only instance in my experience of a lion, as it 
were, meeting one ; more often they are off to cover, although when 
pursued and pressed they will sometimes turn. 

The reason of the high mortality among those who hunt lions 
casually is, I think, the simple one of not holding straight enough. 
Buck-fever or excitement, coupled with anxiety lest the animal 
should slip away, is probably the cause of much of the erratic shoot- 
ing done at lions. This frequently results in flesh wounds or stomach 
wounds, which very often cause the lion to make a determined 
charge ; and there are a great many things easier to hit than a 
charging lion. Great care should be taken to plant the bullet right. 
The calibre does not matter, I am convinced, provided the bullet is 
in the right place. Speaking personally, I have killed sixteen lions 
with -256 and -275 solid bullets, and, as far as I can recollect, none 
of them required a second shot. One showed no sign of having been 
hit. This was a lioness which galloped across my front. I was 
carrying a Mannlicher-Schonauer -256 loaded with solids. I let 
drive at her and she carried on as if untouched. I thought that I 
had missed her clean, until I found her some way further on, stone 
dead. Search as I would, nowhere could I find either entrance or 
exit bullet hole, and it was not until she was skinned that I found 
the tiny wound channel through the kidneys. This lioness had had 
a companion lioness, and in the evening as I was pottering about I 
was astonished to see her walking round the flayed carcase of her 
dead friend : both of them were very old. When lions have cubs 
and are disturbed they will sometimes show fight. I have seen a 
native severely chased in one direction while the cubs scuttled away 



178 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

in the other. I do not think that the lioness really meant business, 
as it would have been an easy matter for her to have caught the 
native. She merely scared the wits out of the lad by bounding 
leisurely along, growling and snarling in an alarming manner. 

Lions in their encounters with game frequently come by nasty 
wounds, as almost any old lion skin will show. They are often 
bested by buffalo, and this is not surprising when one considers the 
weight and strength of an adult Cape buffalo. The surprising thing 
is that an animal weighing 300 lb. to 400 lb. should ever be capable 
of overcoming such a powerful, active and heavy one as the buffalo. 
But, probably — as Selous observed — lions attack buffaloes en masse 
and not singly. 

The oryx, with their scimitar-like horns, occasionally kill lions 
outright. These beautiful antelope are extraordinarily dexterous in 
getting their 3-ft. horns down from the normal position, where they 
almost sweep their backs, until the points are presented almost 
straight in front. This movement is so quick as to be scarcely 
visible. Lions have been found pierced from side to side. 

In country where game is very plentiful lions are distinctly casual 
in their hunting. I have seen one rush at a zebra, stop when within 
about ten paces of it, and turn indifferently away. When I first 
saw him he was about thirty or forty paces from the zebra, and he 
covered the twenty or so yards at terrific speed. 

As a game animal the lion affords first-class sport, and sportsmen 
will be glad that some protection has been given lions in East Africa. 
This, combined with the large stock in the game reserves, should 
ensure good sport for many years to come. 



XV 

RIFLES 

THE question of which rifles to use for big-game hunting is for 
each individual to settle for himself. If the novice starts off 
with, say, three rifles : one heavy, say a double -577 ; one 
medium, say a -318 or a -350 ; and one light, say a 256 or a -240 or 
a -276, then he cannot fail to develop a preference for one or other 
of them. 

For the style of killing which appeals to me most the light calibres 
are undoubtedly superior to the heavy. In this style you keep per- 
fectly cool and are never in a hurry. You never fire unless you can 
clearly see your way to place the bullet in a vital spot. That done 
the calibre of the bullet makes no difference. But to some men of 
different temperament this style is not suited. They cannot or will 
not control the desire to shoot almost on sight if close to the game. 
For these the largest bores are none too big. If I belonged to this 
school I would have had built a much more powerful weapon than 
the -600 bores. 

Speaking personally, my greatest successes have been obtained 
with the 7 mm. Rigby-Mauser or 276, with the old round-nosed 
solid, weighing, I believe, 200 grs. It seemed to show a remarkable 
aptitude for finding the brain of an elephant. This holding of a true 
course I think is due to the moderate velocity, 2,300 ft., and to the 
fact that the proportion of diameter to length of bullet seems to be 
the ideal combination. For when you come below -276 to -256 or 
6-5 mm., I found a bending of the bullet took place when fired into 
heavy bones. 

Then, again, the ballistics of the 275 cartridge, as loaded in 
Germany at any rate, are such as to make for the very greatest 

i79 



180 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

reliability. In spite of the pressures being high, the cartridge con- 
struction is so excellent that trouble from blowbacks and split cases 
and loose caps in the mechanism are entirely obviated. Why the 
caps should be so reliable in this particular cartridge I have never 
understood. But the fact remains that, although I have used almost 
every kind of rifle, the only one which never let me down was a -276 
with German (D.W.M.) ammunition. I never had one single hang- 
fire even. Nor a stuck case, nor a split one, nor a blowback, nor a 
miss-fire. All of these I had with other rifles. 

I often had the opportunity of testing this extraordinary little 
weapon on other animals than elephant. Once, to relate one of the 
less bloody of its killings, I met at close range, in high grass, three 
bull buffalo. Having at the moment a large native following more 
or less on the verge of starvation, as the country was rather gameless, 
I had no hesitation about getting all three. One stood with head up 
about 10 yds. away and facing me, while the others appeared as 
rustles in the grass behind him. Instantly ready as I always was, 
carrying my own rifle, I placed a -276 solid in his chest. He fell 
away in a forward lurch, disclosing another immediately behind him 
and in a similar posture. He also received a 276, falling on his nose 
and knees. The third now became visible through the commotion, 
affording a chance at his neck as he barged across my front. A 
bullet between neck and shoulder laid him flat. All three died 
without further trouble, and the whole affair lasted perhaps four or 
five seconds. 

Another point in favour of the -276 is the shortness of the motions 
required to reload. This is most important in thick stuff. If one 
develops the habit by constant practice of pushing the rifle forward 
with the left hand while the right hand pulls back the bolt and then 
vice versa draws the rifle towards one while closing it, the rapidity 
of fire becomes quite extraordinary. With a long cartridge, neces- 
sitating long bolt movements, there is a danger that on occasions 
requiring great speed the bolt may not be drawn back quite suffi- 
ciently far to reject the fired case, and it may become re-entered into 



RIFLES 181 

the chamber. This once happened to me with a -350 Mauser at very 
close quarters with a rhino. I did not want any rhino, but the 
villagers had complained about this particular one upsetting their 
women while gathering firewood. We tracked him back into high 
grass. I had foolishly allowed a number of the villagers to come 
with me. When it was obvious that we were close to our game these 
villagers began their African whispering, about as loud, in the still 
bush, as a full-throated bass voice in a gramophone song. Almost 
immediately the vicious old beast could be heard tearing through the 
grass straight towards us. I meant to fire my first shot into the 
movement as soon as it became visible, and to kill with my second as 
he swerved. At a very few paces' distance the grass showed where 
he was and I fired into it, reloading almost instantaneously. At the 
shot he swerved across, almost within kicking range, showing a 
wonderful chance at his neck. I fired, but there was only a click. 
I opened the bolt and there was my empty case. 

I once lost a magnificent bull elephant through a -256 Mannlicher 
going wrong. I got up to him and pulled trigger on him, but click ! 
a miss-fire. He paid no attention and I softly opened the bolt. 
Out came the case, spilling the flake powder into the mechanism and 
leaving the bullet securely fast in the barrel lead. I tried to ram 
another cartridge in, but could not do so. Here was a fix. How to 
get that bullet out. Calibre -256 is very small when you come to try 
poking sticks down it. Finally I got the bullet out, but then the 
barrel was full of short lengths of sticks which could not be cleared 
out, as no stick could be found sufficiently long, yet small enough. 
So I decided to chance it and fire the whole lot into the old elephant, 
who, meanwhile, was feeding steadily along. I did so from suffi- 
ciently close range, but what happened I cannot say. Certainly that 
elephant got nothing of the charge except perhaps a few bits of stick. 
That something had touched him up was evident from his anxiety 
to get far away, for he never stopped during the hours I followed 
him. 

At one time I used a double -45 0-400. It was a beautiful 



182 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

weapon, but heavy. Its drawbacks I found were : it was slow for 
the third and succeeding shots ; it was noisy ; the cartridges weighed 
too much ; the strikers broke if a shade too hard or flattened and cut 
the cap if a shade too soft ; the caps of the cartridges were quite 
unreliable ; and finally, if any sand, grit or vegetation happened to 
fall on to the breech faces as you tore along you were done ; you could 
not close it. Grit especially was liable to do this when following an 
elephant which had had a mud bath, leaving the vegetation covered 
with it as he passed along. This would soon dry and tumble off at 
the least touch. 

I have never heard any explanation of the undoubted fact that 
our British ammunition manufacturers cannot even yet produce a 
reliable rifle cartridge head, anvil and cap, other than that of the 
service -308. On my last shoot in Africa two years ago, when W. 
and I went up the Bahr Aouck, the very first time he fired at an 
elephant he had a miss-fire and I had identically the same thing. 
We were using -318's with English made cartridges. Then on the 
same shoot I nearly had my head blown off and my thumb severely 
bruised by an English loaded -256. There was no miss-fire there. 
The cartridge appeared to me almost to detonate. More vapour 
came from the breech end than from the other. I have since been 
told by a great authority that it was probably due to a burst case, due 
to weak head. On my return I complained about this and was 
supplied with a new batch, said to be all right. But whenever I fire 
four or five rounds I have a jamb, and on investigating invariably 
find a cap blown out and lodging in the slots cut for the lugs of the 
bolt head. Luckily these cartridges are wanting in force ; at one 
time they used fairly to blast me with gas from the wrong end. The 
fact that these faults are not conspicuously apparent in this country 
may be traced to the small number of rounds fired from sporting 
rifles, or, more probably, to the pressures increasing in a tropical 
temperature. 

I have never been able to appreciate "shock" as applied to 
killing big game. It seems to me that you cannot hope to kill an 



RIFLES 183 

elephant weighing six tons by " shock " unless you hit him with a 
field gun. And yet nearly all writers advocate the use of large bores 
as they "shock" the animal so much more than the small bores. 
They undoubtedly "shock" the firer more, but I fail to see the 
difference they are going to make to the recipient of the bullet. If 
you expect to produce upon him by the use of big bores the effect a 
handful of shot had upon the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, you 
will be disappointed. Wounded non-vitally he will go just as far 
and be just as savage with 500 grains of lead as with 200. And 100 
grains in the right place are as good as ten million. 

The thing that did most for my rifle shooting was, I believe, the 
fact that I always carried my own rifle. It weighed about 7 lb., and 
I constantly aligned it at anything and everything. I was always 
playing with it. Constant handling, constant aiming, constant 
Swedish drill with it, and then when it was required there it was 
ready and pointing true. 



- 



XVI 
AFRICAN ADMINISTRATIONS 

MY object in writing this is to contrast the different adminis- 
trations I have come in touch with during my hunting. I 
have made no deep study of the matter and simply record 
the impressions I received. The French system of administering 
native races in Africa appears to differ fundamentally from the 
British. They look upon country they occupy as conquered terri- 
tory, and anyone may buy it or lease it who wishes ; whereas, in West 
Africa at any rate, the British consider the country as belonging to 
the natives, and it is extremely difficult for a white man to acquire 
land. 

When the French take over a new country they occupy it most 
efficiently. We frequently are contented to paint it red on the map, 
close it up to trade and leave it simmering, as it were, in its own juice 
of savagery. This appears to lead to considerable trouble ultimately, 
for firearms are liable to find their way in, or the country gets raided 
white. When the French have to deal with a new country a special 
force of military character — Colonial Army it is called — takes it over 
by marching into it and establishing posts. If this force encounters 
obstruction, so much the sooner will the country be subjugated. 
Terrorise or kill the present generation and educate the next genera- 
tion, and in course of time you have a race of black Frenchmen. In 
the fullness of time perfect equality is given her black citizens, as 
anyone may see at Dakar in West Africa. 

Here we have a modern town which might be anywhere in 
France. Remarkable docks and landing arrangements strike one 
first. Then the houses and cafes. French whites and French blacks 
apparently on perfect equality. I was told that Dakar elected a 

184 



AFRICAN ADMINISTRATIONS 185 

black Deputy to send to France. Every black speaks French — real 
French, not like our pidgin English. And their blacks are so polite ; 
perfect manners. Contrast this with the following ; it happened to 
me at Sierra Leone, one of our most " advanced " black possessions : 

I was travelling by tramp steamer — the only passenger. As we 
dropped anchor I was leaning on the rail looking at the town and 
shipping, when, directly below me, I saw a black stoker crawl slowly 
out of the coaling port and coolly dive into the sea, when he struck 
out for the land. I thought he was a stowaway and wished him luck 
and thought nothing more about it. Some time after, the captain 
asked me if I had seen a boy jump overboard, and I admitted I had. 
He then told me that that boy had been to the magistrate, had sworn 
that he had been thrown overboard and much more to the effect that 
he had been half murdered, etc. The magistrate had summoned the 
captain and the chief engineer, and they asked me to go as a witness. 
We went ashore at the appointed time, and never have I seen natives 
so badly out of hand. At the landing place we were met by a mob 
of sympathisers of the boy's, or, in reality, a mob of natives actively 
hostile to whites and not afraid to show it. In the Court House 
itself there was more or less peace. At any rate, the howling was 
confined to the outside of the building. I gave evidence to the effect 
that I had seen the boy drop quietly into the water apparently of his 
own volition. The result was given against the ship, whether justly 
or not I do not pretend to judge. But when we three proceeded to 
leave the Court our appearance was greeted in such a way by the 
mob outside as to send the captain back in alarm. Under police 
escort we went, with perhaps two hundred howling blacks baiting us 
the whole way. Now this scene would be unthinkable under any 
other flag. It may be the result of even-handed justice, but, I ask, 
what good does it do ? Those blacks hated us and had no respect for 
us or any other white man. 

Lest from the above remarks on French administrative methods 
it be thought that I am in favour of them, I would like to say that, 
on the contrary, I think that all wild tribes suffer by contact with any 



- 



1 86 WANDERINGS OF AN ELEPHANT HUNTER 

Western culture. All their old customs, many of which were good 
and all binding, go, and in their place we substitute English or 
Indian law, which is entirely unsuited to the African. But if we 
must go there, I honestly think that the French method entails least 
suffering in the long run. 

It was my lot to travel in the German Cameroons while still under 
German rule. There every black was required to remove his hat 
when any white passed. This simple little law was undoubtedly 
good, at any rate for the first few generations of contact ; and the 
natives appeared to me to be happier and much more contented in 
the Cameroons than anywhere else I have been. We say that we do 
not tolerate the brutality which French and German methods entail. 
And we do not do so directly. But under our system of employing 
and paying native chiefs and kings to gather taxes and to settle dis- 
putes we blind ourselves if we do not recognise that far worse 
injustices and cruelties go on than could ever happen under direct 
white administration, however corrupt. 

In the Sudan I came in contact with, to me, quite a new idea of 
governing native races. It happened thus : I and a companion had 
arrived from Abyssinia by native dug-out. We came down the 
Gelo into the Pibor and then down the Sobat until that river joined 
the Nile. Just before its junction there was an American Mission 
Station. As we were floating leisurely down towards this, the boy 
steering one of our canoes was seized by a crocodile and pulled off 
the stern. The other occupant had a gun and let fly in the air. The 
crocodile abandoned his victim, who swam back and clambered on to 
the canoe. When we arrived we saw at once that the boy was very 
badly mauled, and we paddled him down to the Mission Station. 
There the doctor did what he could for him ; but the poor fellow died 
soon afterwards. The Mission people told us that if we wished to 
dispose of our canoes they would gladly buy them, as wooden canoes 
were almost priceless on the Nile. In return for their kindness we 
promised to give them our canoes after we had unloaded them at 
Tewfikia Post. 



AFRICAN ADMINISTRATIONS 187 

We proceeded to Tewfikia and found it a large and well-laid-out 
military post. One of the crack Sudanese regiments, picked officers, 
grand mess, band ; altogether a show place. Sentries on the bank, 
too. Well, we were most hospitably received, and I hasten to add 
here that no one there was to blame for the ridiculous thing that now 
happened. It was the fault of the man or men who had evolved 
this unique and wonderful system of governing native tribes. 

We drew our flotilla of canoes up to the bank at a spot indicated, 
where there was a sentry who would keep an eye on our gear, which 
was mostly ivory. We off-loaded this, so that the canoes should be 
ready for our friends of the Mission. As the band was playing in 
the evening the natives came and stole all our canoes under the very 
noses of not only the sentry, but numerous other people. They were 
certainly lying not more than thirty yards from the mess. 

The theft created a tremendous flutter, but no one seemed to 
know what to do. All was utter chaos. Eventually someone was 
found who knew of a chief, and he was sent for. He refused to come 
in. And then I heard that the policy of the Government (sic) was 
to leave the natives alone. I was told that this was carried out to 
the extent of allowing pitched battles between tribes to be fought on 
the large plain opposite the post, and the wounded of both sides were 
left to be tended in Tewfikia hospital. 

We never heard that the canoes were recovered. This is the 
kind of thing that makes for trouble in the future, in my humble 
opinion. Far better clear out and let someone else have a try. 



INDEX 



Abyssinian slave raids, 79 
Anatomy of elephant, 35 
Antelope-hunting, 68 

Belgian domestic arrangements, 88 
Blood -brotherhood, ceremony of, 56 
Body shot, 8 

Boyd- Alexander, visit to Sudan chief, 140 
Brain shot, advantages of, 6 

disadvantages of, 7 
Buba Gida, interview with, 133 

autocratic government by, 136 
Buffalo, sinister reputation, 170 

difference in colour, 171 
Bukora, trouble at, 44 

Canoes, Canadian "freight type," 150 

Elephant cemeteries, 73 

Fighting, forms of, among natives, 62 
Foot-travelling, remarkable feat of, 59 

Government of native races, new idea of, 
in Sudan, 186 

Habashi methods of punishment, 67 
Harmatan, 165 

Hearing distances, getting within, 2 
Honey-guides, dealing with plague of, 1 3 

mead, drinking, 17 
Humidity of atmosphere, effect on sound- 
carrying, 50 

Imitative ways of natives, 54 
Ivory trading at Karamojo, 32 
raiders, 21 

Karamojans, dealing with, 36 

incitement to murder amongst, 37 



Killing elephants, chances of success 
in, 4 
most humane method of, 6 

Lado, evacuation of, by Belgians, 98 
Lakkas, absence of authority amongst, 

141 
Lion-hunting by novices, 176 
Lions, African, courage of, 175 
encounters with game, 178 
high mortality amongst hunters of, 
177 

Marathon racing, 68 
Medicine men, assistance to hunters, 
13 
power of, 1 2 
Mumias, town of, 21 
Murua Akipi country, 66 

Native ignorance of firearms, 41 

Ras Tasama, rule of, 79 
Rifles, most suitable types of, 6 

selection of, for big-game hunting, 
179 

Scorpion sting, effect of, 48 
Smuggling in Liberia, 109 
Snaring, art of, 33 
Storks, marabou, 162 
Swamp region, hunting in, 86 

Trap, setting of, 2 
Turkwell River, 24 
Tusks, method of removal, 32 

"Wa Boni tribe, 1 6 

Wife, African idea of, 136 

Witchcraft, African, 12 



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