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Full text of "Wild game in Zambezia"

Glass hMZ-S^ 



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WILD GAME IN ZAMBEZIA 




THE LUPATA GORGE. 



Photo by U'fxe/seft. 
Frontispiece. 



WILD GAME IN 
ZAMBEZIA 




Ff jMAUGHAM 

F.R.G.S., F.Z.S./f.R.C.L, Etc. 

H.B.M. CONSUL-GENERAL FOR THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA 

AUTHOR OF "PORTUGUESE EAST AFRICA" "ZAMBEZIA" 

"A HANDBOOK OF CHI-MAKUA" ETC. 



WITH MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

597-599 FIFTH AVENUE 

1914 






All rights, reserved 



PREFACE 

Since I set out to give some account of the wild 
game of Zambezia 1 have unswervingly kept in 
view the, I hope, praiseworthy object of dis- 
pensing with the use of the cumbrous scientific 
names which in every book upon game beasts 
wherewith I am acquainted — my own included 
— bestrew the lines of almost every page. In 
books dealing with the purely scientific aspect 
of the question these repetitions ad nauseam of 
each creature's classification name may serve 
some useful purpose, but in one written by a 
hunter for hunters they seem to me to be out of 
place. Can you imagine two friends meeting in 
the club and exchanging some such dialogue as 
the following ? 

" Hallo, old chap, back again ? Had good 
sport ? " 

** Yes, not at all bad ; been out to British 
East Africa, you know." 

" Oh yes, what did you get ? " 

" I got Strepsiceros capensis, Hippotragus 
niger, and some really fine Phacochcerus cethio- 
picus.'' 

*' Did you really ? Did you see any decent 
Potamochcerus cheer op otamus ? " 



vi PREFACE 

" No, but I got a ripping Connochcetes albo- 
jubatus.^^ 

And so on. 

Therefore, as books destined for the hands 
of the general reader should, in my opinion, 
exclude matter and terms only intelligible to 
persons possessed of special knowledge, I have 
carefully omitted scientific names and references 
from my pages, with the exception of my chapter 
dealing with tsetse flies, where a rigid adherence 
to this rule might have imperilled the clearness 
of my text. It will even be observed that the 
animals are not grouped in their respective 
families, but follow each other very much in 
the same order as in the mind of the un- 
scientific reader. 

My object in drawing attention to Zambezia 
as a hunting centre is twofold. First of all, I 
desire to place before my shooting contemporaries 
opportunities of spending a delightful and highly 
profitable holiday in a portion of the African 
continent but little mentioned in connection 
with the pursuit of game, and thus enable them 
to garner in their memories pleasing recollections 
of a district whose name is all too seldom upon 
the tongues of men ; and secondly, I write 
largely out of a feeling of gratitude for the much 
kindness and hospitality I have received at the 
hands of its courteous colonists of all nation- 
alities. 

It will perhaps be noticed that I have done 
my best to make this a work descriptive of the 
animals, and not of their slaughter. A few 



PREFACE vii 

instances will be found of the shooting of certain 
of the larger types, but I have endeavoured to 
subordinate actual hunting, which every sports- 
man must conduct for himself according to his 
own ideas, to a simple description of the various 
members of the game families, their habits and 
surroundings, drawn from my field notebooks 
and my recollections of them, the greater part 
of my manuscript having been written very 
near to the scenes which it imperfectly describes. 
1 trust, therefore, it will be found sufficiently 
up to date to be of some slight value, not only 
to my many hunting friends in various parts of 
the world, but to those numerous representatives 
of a virile younger generation of sportsmen 
already knocking imperiously at the door. 

In the preparation of this volume I have 
derived much assistance and refreshment of 
memory from my friend Major Stevenson- 
Hamilton's excellent work. Animal Life in Africa^ 
whilst to the most accomplished photographer 
and sportsman of my acquaintance, Mr. G. 
Garden of Mlanje, Nyasaland, my grateful thanks 
are due for his excellent photographs, as for his 
kind permission to publish them. Lastly, I 
wish to express my indebtedness for my picture, 
*' A Fine Bag of Lions," to Mr. R. Wuilleumier, 
sometime British Consular Agent at Quelimane. 



R. C. F. MAUGHAM. 



British Consulate General, 
Liberia, 1.913. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. Introductory . . . . .1 

II. ZaMBEZIA : WHERE IT IS, AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE . 18 

III. The Elephant . . . . .37 

IV. Rhinoceros — Hippopotamus . . .63 

V. Buffalo — Zebra — Eland — Sable — Roan . . 88 

VI. K UDU — Water-Buck — Wildebeeste — H artbbeeste 

— Tsessebe . . . . .118 

VII. Invala — Bushbuck — Reedbuck — Impala — Duiker — 
Livingstone's Antelope — Oribi — Klipspringer 
— Steenbuck . . . . .140 

VIII. The Flesh-Eaters: Lion — Leopard — Lynx . l65 

IX. Flesh-Eaters (continued) : Cheetah — Hyena — 
Jackal — Hunting Dog — Serval — Civet — 
Genet — Mungoose .... 195 

X. The Pigs — Porcupine — Ant-Bear — Honey Badger 
— Otters — Hares — Rock Rabbit — Giant Rat 
— Scaly Ant-Eater .... 220 

XI. The Monkeys . . . . .238 

XII. Crocodiles — Snakes — Some other Reptiles . 258 

XIII. Rifles — Camp Equipment — General Hints . 284 

XIV. Birds and Bird Shooting .... 320 
XV. Tsetse-Fly — Game Reserves . . . 339 

XVI. General Recapitulation and Conclusion . . 365 

Index ...... 373 



xn 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 





PACING FACE 


Jackal .... 


. 208 


Hunting Dog 


. 208 


Civet .... 


. 216 


Wild Cat .... 


216 


Warthog .... 


. 220 


BUSIII'IGS . . . . . 


. 224 


PoHcuriNic .... 


. 226 


HoNtY BaDGKR 


. 2S2 


Crocodile .... 


. 260 


Results of a Month's Hunting . 


. 316 



Map of Zambezi a 



WILD GAME IN ZAMBEZIA 
CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY 

It may be taken as a melancholy but undoubted 
fact that, with the exception of a few remote 
and restricted areas, there are no portions of 
the southern half of the African continent con- 
taining anything like those vast quantities of 
game which more than fifty years ago moved 
one of the greatest of African hunters to write 
that " the multitude of living creatures, at 
certain seasons and localities, surpassed the 
bounds of imagination." The Cape Province, 
Natal, the Orange Free State, Bechuanaland, 
and many other immense expanses of country are 
almost denuded of wild game, whilst over wide 
portions of Rhodesia, we are told, its destruction 
has been permitted to an extent which seems 
to border dangerously on recklessness. 

Even in the formerly populous game districts 
of Mashonaland and Matabeleland the herds are 
retiring and growing scarcer year by year — 
seeking sanctuary, as it were, in remoter fast- 
nesses, from the daily encroaching advance of 
civilisation, of high-velocity rifles, and copper- 
capped bullets. Assuredly if there was ever a 



2 A NATURAL CLOSE SEASON 

time whereat the preservation of the beautitul 
varieties now growing rarer and rarer in the 
more accessible portions of the great continent 
was indicated, it is the present ; and although 
I am happy to be able in some measure to con- 
gratulate both British and Portuguese foresight 
in having established game reserves in Nyasa- 
land, the Transvaal, the Province of Mozam- 
bique and elsewhere, it seems doubtful whether 
we have done all that we might to secure the 
safety and preservation of the great game 
families as a whole. 

That is the entire question. Their preserva- 
tion, and how best to compass it. During the 
last ten or fifteen years much has been accom- 
plislied in this direction, but more remains to 
be done both at the present time and in the 
future. Of course, as will be easily understood 
by the large majority of those for whom these 
pages are written, the hunting of big game is 
an extremely absorbing pursuit, and one which, 
in the absence of due regulation, would no doubt 
be abused by many. Nature herself was the 
first to impose restraint, and a formidable one 
it is. Thus in Zambezia for fully six months 
of every year, namely, from January to July, 
hunting is attended by the almost insurmount- 
able difficulties presented by the immense height 
of the unburned grasses, and the impassable 
luxuriance of the summer vegetation. It is 
not, therefore, until the earth has cleansed 
itself by fire of the huge burden left by the hot 
rainy season that the hunter can commence 



RESERVES 3 

operations ; added to this, from October to 
May the chmatic conditions are well-nigh in- 
supportable, and it thus follows that the breeding 
season of many of the varieties found falls within 
the period last mentioned. But, as I have so 
repeatedly stated and written, what is required 
is a more extended system of inviolable game 
reserves, a more coherent method of enforcing 
regulations enacted, and more efficient machinery 
for bringing offenders against existing game laws 
before the authorities empowered to punish 
misdeeds. In Nyasaland, I believe, the regula- 
tions in force are given effect to by a sufficient 
personnel both European and native, so that 
transgression is almost certain now to result in 
the infliction of the penalty prescribed ; but if 
one might be permitted to criticise the measures 
adopted within the Portuguese Sphere of In- 
fluence, one would be forced to say that, although 
the law in itself is well imagined — well drawn 
up, its enforcement at the hands of wardens, 
rangers, verderers, or whatever we may please 
to call them, is not sufficiently stringent. My 
view of the case is that from the date of the 
creation of a reserve for the preservation of 
game, no person whomsoever should under any 
pretext be permitted to discharge a firearm 
within its limits except for the purpose of ex- 
terminating therein such predatory forms as 
may constitute a danger to the game beasts it 
contains. I think if the importance of this rule 
were more widely understood and appreciated, 
many persons who now permit themselves to 



4 PENALTIES FOR ABUSES 

accept (and sometimes to solicit) privileges in 
the nature of complimentary permits to shoot 
in game reserves would not only abstain from 
the discredit of asking for such a concession, but 
would set their faces rigorously against it if 
offered, as well as sedulously discourage its 
acceptance by their friends or colleagues or 
subordinates. In this way much might be done 
to create a feeling of recognition of the inviola- 
bility of the reserves, as also of the desirability 
of sparing no effort to secure in other parts of 
the various colonies a timely extension of the 
safeguards now provided by them. 

The man who furnishes himself with a number 
of irresistible high - velocity rifles, and fares 
forth into the haunts of Africa's splendid fauna 
intent only on numerical destruction, and with 
never a thought for the perpetuation of the 
varieties of which he is in pursuit, should either 
be placed under restraint altogether, or so bound 
down that, by the slaughter of one beast over 
and above a reasonable and restricted limit, he 
should be faced by penalties calculated in their 
severity to act as a complete deterrent in the 
cases of others contemplating a like offence. 

Whilst we are on this subject it is interesting 
and instructive to find that within the last 
year or two a new school of sport has arisen, 
and has shown signs of attaining to popular 
dimensions : a sport which will doubtless not 
only add vastly to our knowledge of African 
mammals as a whole, but whose enjoyment in 
no way threatens to strike at the existence of 



CAMERA SPORTSMEN 5 

the interesting families with which it connects 
itself. I refer to the Camera Sportsman — ^to 
that small but growing section of nature lovers 
which has arisen to demonstrate a new sport, 
and one which does not always entail the use of 
the rifle. One of its most recent apostles, Mr. 
Radclyffe Dugmore has published a splendid 
work upon the subject, magnificently illustrated 
by a collection of telephotographs and flashlight 
pictures of startling fidelity to nature. They 
form a convincing testimony to the sport and 
excitement obtainable with little loss of animal 
life, and although it would be fatuous to imagine 
that for many years to come the example of 
this artist-sportsman will be very widely followed, 
still it is a development which promises much, 
as well from the point of view of game preserva- 
tion as from that of adding greatly, as I have 
said, to our knowledge of wild beasts as they 
exist from day to day. 

In the preface to his book Mr. Dugmore says 
that " the life of any animal, be it bird or beast, 
is far more interesting than its dead body," 
and he adds that he knows many men who a 
few years ago devoted their holidays to shooting, 
but who now find greater pleasure and interest 
in hunting with a camera, whilst the excitement 
and difficulty are far greater. With these views 
I entirely concur, although I am not sanguine 
enough to suppose that the sport of great game 
hunting simply for photography is one which is 
likely to attract many beyond those who, like 
myself, have already had a fairly liberal share 



6 EXTENSION OF GAME RESERVES 

of the more tangible sport which one seeks 
with a cordite rifle. 

But to return for a moment to the question 
of reserves. What is required now is a rigorous 
safeguarding of existing beasts by an extended 
system of game reserves, so selected as, in the 
first place, to prove suitable centres for the 
conservation and propagation of many widely 
differing groups, and, in the second, sufficiently 
far removed from occupied centres as to eliminate 
the probability of their encroaching upon agri- 
cultural or other pursuits. It seems to me that 
for centuries to come the portions of the African 
continent which present the most suitable appear- 
ance for being thus utilised are those which can 
best be spared for the purpose. The slow tide 
of European immigration now setting sluggishly 
towards these vast waste places of the earth is 
not likely, for many generations to come, to 
have much effect upon the game-carrying capacity 
of the districts as a whole; and although con- 
ditions occasionally change rapidly in such 
centres as British East Africa, for example, and 
in others to which public attention is directed 
for some specific reason, or for the exploitation 
of some form of industry capable of great 
extension, still it must not be forgotten that 
British East Africa fortunately stands in a very 
unique position, not only in regard to her 
enormous extent, but to the immense areas of 
healthy uplands with which she is endowed. 
Did we seek for a further reason for our con- 
gratulations, it would doubtless be found to 



BELATED PRESERVATION 7 

consist in the fact that this rising colony has 
already very fully grasped and realised the 
important duties she owes to her magnificent 
and diversified game families. 

In the States of the South African Union, 
or such of them as have devoted attention to 
game preservation, most important results have 
already been obtained. Had our efforts in this 
direction only been made twenty years earlier, 
we should have been able to save from extinction 
at least one interesting form which, years ago, 
occurred in great numbers. I refer to that 
singular dun-coloured horse, the quagga. This 
has gone from among us, completely exter- 
minated, it is said, by the rifles of the South 
African farmers.* Only just in time came the 
existing game restrictions to perpetuate that 
fascinating form, the black wildebeeste, com- 
paratively few of which remain. A few elephants 
and buffaloes survive in a state of strict pre- 
servation in the Knysna Forest and in the 
Addo Bush near Port Elizabeth; but it is, I 
consider, most unfortunate that more was not 
done years ago in the Cape Colony and elsewhere 
to establish refugees for the protection of such 
families as the brilliant-coloured bontebok and 
others which have dwindled to a point dangerously 
near to complete disappearance. 

At the present time, in various parts of 
British East Africa, one of the most astonishing 
sights the world can offer to modern travellers 

' The same may be said of that near relation of the roan 
antelope, formerly called the blaaubok, but now entirely extinct. 



8 EXISTING GAME 

is that of thousands of animals, usually seen only 
in a well-organised zoological collection, walking 
tranquilly about in the bright upland sunshine. 
At those points whereat they are most commonly 
seen the grass is so short, through continuous 
grazing, as in no way to interfere with the spectacle 
of multitudes of zebras, of gazelles, and of count- 
less other game beasts which pay scarcely any 
attention to the railway train as it shrieks 
through their midst. It is, I understand, no 
infrequent occurrence to see rhinoceros from 
the windows of one's compartment, whilst lions 
also are by no means uncommon. Journeying 
recently down the East African coast from Mom- 
basa with a friend who had just come from Lake 
Victoria Nyanza, he assured me that he had seen 
giraffes from the railway line, and that two of 
these animals, at a distance of less than 200 yards 
from the track, showed no disposition to disturb 
their repast on the passage of the train at that 
comparatively short distance. I remember also 
hearing a story, vouched for by credible witnesses, 
— ^that on one occasion, shortly after the opening 
of the railway, a train suddenly turning a corner 
came upon a couple of rhinoceros which had 
chosen the permanent way for a temporary 
resting-place. One of these, probably the female, 
took to flight, but the larger of the two, after 
one moment of resentful stupefaction, and with 
the blind, headlong rage so characteristic of this 
singular beast, gallantly charged the engine of 
the oncoming train. I was told that quite a 
perceptible shock was experienced throughout 



EXISTING GAME 9 

its entire length. Fortunately the rhinoceros, 
which was killed on the spot, was flung off the 
track by the violence of the impact, otherwise 
the derailment of at least the engine might 
easily have occurred. 

I hope, however, my readers will not leap 
to the conclusion that incidents like the latter 
are of frequent occurrence. It is true, I believe, 
that heart-rending complaints are made from 
time to time by distracted officials of the damage 
wrought by monkeys disporting themselves on 
the telegraph wires, and by giraffes which saunter 
leisurely but irresistibly across the permanent 
way, completely forgetting that telegraph pole 
construction does not yet make allowance for 
the length of their necks. These catastrophes 
happen, -it is true, but I ask any lover of the 
beautiful wild things of the forest and plain, 
which have lent such world-wide attraction to 
the plains of East Africa, if such small incon- 
veniences as these are, in the circumstances, 
worthy of consideration as such ? 

Turning to the great game families existing 
at present in the region of Zambezia, the most 
numerous are probably the zebras ; then come 
certain antelopes, such as the eland, sable, roan, 
gnu (both the brindled and Nyasaland varieties), 
kudu, hartebeeste, waterbuck, and others. Ele- 
phants are found in the forested uplands during 
the winter, and buffaloes are still obtainable in 
the wide plains bordering some of the remoter 
streams. There are, however, no giraffes or 
gazelles, such as Grant's or Thompson's, or the 



10 EXISTING GAME 

oryx found still in the Cape Colony. The huge 
hippopotamus frequents almost all the water- 
ways — even the Zambezi itself, a little way out 
of the path of the steamers, still contains con- 
siderable numbers of these strange amphibians — 
and they are a source of great damage to the 
native gardens, as well as to sugar cane wherever 
they find their taste for these products can be 
indulged in safety. The rhinoceros is by no 
means uncommon in certain parts of the country, 
and maintains to the full the reputation for 
uncertainty of temper which has so justly been 
bestowed upon this formidable animal at almost 
all other points at which it occurs. Then the 
smaller antelopes are well represented by the 
inyala, impala, bushbuck, reedbuck, steenbuck, 
duiker, oribi, and klipspringer, as also by that 
graceful little type, Livingstone's suni. Pigs 
take the form of the unlovely warthog, and the 
smaller, toothsome bush-pig, whilst about six 
monkeys are headed by the yellow baboon and 
the formidable chacma. 

We now come to the carnivora. Throughout 
the Mozambique Province, and especially in 
Zambezia, lions occur in considerable numbers, 
and are a source of great terror to the natives 
and others, and loss of life to them and to the 
game. Leopards are almost equally numerous 
and well distributed, especially in hilly country, 
the animal found here being, I believe, in all 
respects the same as that common to most other 
parts of Africa. Servals also occur in all the 
low-lying country, and doubtless take heavy 



EXISTING GAME 11 

toll of the smaller antelopes. They are interest- 
ing, handsome animals with beautifully spotted 
skins and light-coloured bodies. Then come the 
chita, the caracal, the tiger cat, and one or two 
wild cats. Very freely distributed are the genets, 
civets, and two kinds of mungoose; whilst the 
spotted hyena is common everywhere. His 
voice is heard every night in the interior, con- 
sorting with the side-striped jackal and other 
prowlers. But probably, for his numbers, the 
greatest scourge of all is the hunting dog, which, 
throughout these districts, wanders about in 
packs of from ten to sixteen or more. I know 
of no more potent agency to clear a region of 
its game than this bold, not unhandsome, much- 
dreaded animal. Very far from shy, even when 
approached by human beings, 1 have, however, 
never heard of a case of their having molested 
natives or others. Last year, having to pass 
through a very well-known game district, I was 
much surprised to see in it neither game nor recent 
spoor. On the second day's journey, however, 
having to cross the sandy bed of a dry stream, 
I saw what I believed to be the tracks of the 
hunting dogs, and not much later in the day 
they streamed across my path in full view like 
a miniature pack of hounds. 1 was unable to 
see what they were in pursuit of, but, such is 
their speed and tirelessness, I felt sure it would 
have but small chance of escape. 

Without dealing with the smaller forms — the 
rabbits, porcupines, and others — to which refer- 
ence will be made in a later chapter, the foregoing 



12 PERIODICAL MIGRATIONS 

represent the principal beasts found in Zambezia, 
and are those with which the hunter may, with 
a very small modicum of luck, be tolerably 
certain of being able to try conclusions. 

South of the Zambezi, as well as within the 
district of Quelimane, there are wide expanses 
where at certain times of year one is rarely out 
of sight of the herds. 1 suppose the greatest 
numbers are still to be found upon the great 
flats bordering the Urema River in Cheringoma ; 
but, in addition to these, the remote inaccessible 
plains lying to the east of the Cheringoma range 
may be regarded in their season as being the 
haunts of very large quantities of animals. 

One of the most interesting and difficult 
questions regarding the habits of the game beasts 
of Zambezia connects itself with the seasons of, 
and the reasons for, their periodical migrations. 
Putting aside for a moment the elephants, the 
motives for some of whose movements are not 
unintelligible, the remainder of the animals 
under consideration have the oddest and most 
inexplicable habit of disappearing for months 
at a time, leaving their usual haunts well-nigh 
deserted, and then reappearing apparently with- 
out rhyme or reason. Thus, in the rainy season, 
a time of year at which fortunately hunting is 
now no longer permitted, I have seen on the 
Cheringoma flats, between that mountain and 
the grand range of Gorongoza, animals so plentiful 
that for several days together they were never 
out of sight. From the doorway of my tent on 
the Gungwe and Zangwe marshes I have watched 



PERIODICAL MIGRATIONS 13 

the game for hours as the animals wandered 
about on their feeding grounds, or crossed from 
the distant forest belt in long lines to drink in 
the crocodile-haunted waters of the Urema. 
Sometimes the waterbuck and wildebeeste would 
pass the tent, apparently without noticing it ; 
at others they would stand for some minutes 
regarding it with pricked ears and distended 
nostrils, then, curiosity overcoming discretion, 
they would slowly approach until at a hundred 
yards or so a vagrant current of air would give 
them our scent, and they would wheel madly 
round and gallop away for a quarter of a mile, 
where they would halt again and gaze as though 
their lives depended upon it. Zebra especially 
possess a curiosity which is positively feminine, 
and will often stand motionlessly regarding one 
on the line of march without displaying the 
smallest disposition to stampede. But to return 
to the question of migration. The foregoing 
sentences describe the plentifulness of the game 
during the rainy or summer season ; in winter, 
on the other hand, that is to say between June 
and October, you will look in vain for these 
large numbers, and have, in some cases, to work 
extremely hard for certain varieties which at 
first seem entirely to have disappeared. Take, 
for example, that splendid tragelaph, the eland. 
In northern Cheringoma there is a fine game 
country of very wide extent called Inyaminga. 
Here, in the winter season, eland and sable 
antelopes are very numerous, and run in large 
herds. Discussing this fact recently with the 



14 PERIODICAL MIGRATIONS 

Portuguese district commandant of Cheringoma, 
Senhor Alfredo Liebermeister, a very capable 
and courteous official, and an old and valued 
friend of mine, he told me to my surprise that 
in the summer or rainy season Inyaminga was 
wholly deserted by the two varieties mentioned ; 
but that buffaloes, which in the dry period 
were not numerous, returned thither in the hot 
weather in considerable herds. Buffaloes, of 
course, are well known for their curious migra- 
tions — for the singular manner in which they 
appear and disappear over intervals of several 
months at a time. On the Inyaminga flats 
some years ago there was one herd of about forty 
buffaloes, whose leader was easily recognisable 
from the circumstance that he possessed only 
one remarkably large horn, the other having 
been broken off just at the point of the turn. 
This herd was known to the natives as (I am not 
sure if my termination of the word is quite 
correct, if not it was something very similar), 
Nyangalira's family, or Nyangalira's children. 
They all knew Nyangalira, the old bull leader, 
quite well, and on certain occasions when 1 have 
been in the neighbourhood asking after buffaloes, 
they would tell me quite gravely that Nyangalira's 
family were either in such and such a place, or 
had gone away, and would not be back again 
until the rains came. None knew why or where 
he went, but I have heard Len^o, my old elephant 
hunter, say that Nyangalira was possessed of 
such powerful medicine that he was as fearless 
of lions as of the younger bulls, and that he 



PERIODICAL MIGRATIONS 15 

(Len9o) very greatly doubted if it would be 
possible to shoot him, — at any rate, he was not 
at all keen that I should undertake so hazardous 
a venture, remarking with great truth that no 
one could tell what would happen if I did. Of 
course, although nothing would have induced 
me to harm the poor old beast, there were, 
nevertheless, several good heads in the herd 
with which he was permitted to associate, and 
I have sometimes thought that the singular 
attributes with which native superstition in- 
vested him may have arisen from the unusual 
circumstance of an injured bull being permitted 
by the younger males to continue to consort 
with the herd. As a rule, waning powers are 
quickly detected in the course of the encounters 
which constantly take place between the males, 
and no time is then lost in unceremoniously 
turning away the worn-out bulls, who either 
become solitary animals, or, with several others 
in similar evil case, meekly bear the bovine 
burden of increasing years until they fall victims 
in the end to man or the lions. 

I suppose really that the true reason for game 
migrations connects itself chiefly with food con- 
siderations ; that they share in minor degree 
with the elephant the surprising knowledge of 
the exact time of year when the fruit or leaves 
or bark of some favourite tree, or some greatly 
relished grass or other plant, is at its perfection of 
ripeness and readiness to eat, and that when this 
knowledge comes to them they set out, covering, 
it may be, great distances to reach the tempting 



16 PERIODICAL MIGRATIONS 

attraction in time. However this may be, I do 
not think that the migratory habits so character- 
istic of the varieties I have mentioned are shared 
at all by the waterbuck and zebras, and not to 
anything like the same extent by the gnus and 
the hartebeestes. Still, I have observed, in the case 
of the gnus, a tendency to desert wide expanses 
of country for considerable periods of time, and 
to reappear long afterwards when their presence 
was quite unexpected. The kudu is not suffi- 
ciently numerous in any portion of the country 
with which we are dealing to enable an opinion 
to be formed as to his habits in this regard, whilst 
the continuous presence of the smaller antelopes 
in districts favourable to their well-being gives 
ground for the supposition that they, at any rate, 
are seldom seized with roving desires. 

Before completing this chapter I would say a 
few words regarding the salutary measures which 
have been adopted in certain British colonies in 
Africa with a view to checking the wholesale 
heartless destruction of game beasts which has 
been carried on for so many years, chiefly by a 
certain class who make a scandalous and un- 
necessary living by preserving the flesh of their 
victims and selling it in the form of what they 
call " biltong." In the Transvaal and else- 
where, 1 am informed, this disgraceful pursuit 
has been properly and sternly repressed, and it 
is in the earnest hope that my words may extend 
this repression to Portuguese territory, and in- 
deed assist in making it universal, that these lines 
are penned. The immature male and the female 



BILTONG BUTCHERS 17 

heavy with offspring ahke yield "biltong," and 
nothing with life in its nostrils and flesh on its 
bones is spared so long as it can put a few blood- 
stained pence into the " biltong " hunter's ever- 
gaping pocket. By him whole districts have been 
devastated, whole species almost wiped out. The 
man who wields a pole-axe in a common abattoir 
has as much right to call himself a sportsman as 
this miscreant, whose mission in life it is to 
destroy the most beautiful of living forms for no 
other object than to prolong his own contemptible, 
unnecessary existence. I trust the time is not 
far distant when the manufacture of "biltong" 
from the flesh of wild game killed expressly for 
this purpose will be made a criminal offence 
punishable with the heaviest penalties. 



CHAPTER II 

ZAMBEZIA : WHERE IT IS, AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE 

I HAVE already given an imperfect description of 
the large and important division of the Province 
of Mozambique which has come to be called 
Zambezia in a book bearing that name, and 
although this chapter becomes necessary by reason 
of the smallness of the knowledge of the average 
individual regarding so out-of-the-way a portion 
of the earth's surface, I hope I may not be con- 
sidered as having neglected this splendid region 
if I do not give more than a passing glance at its 
manifold beauties and attractions in a book which 
is, after all, meant to be a book on big game. I 
have repeatedly stated elsewhere that for any- 
thing like a full account of Zambezia, its mar- 
vellous scenery, and its wealth of every description 
of natural science, a book consisting of half a 
dozen portly volumes were surely all too insuffi- 
cient and inadequate. It is one of those im- 
mense slices of Africa whose vastness is a thing 
which stay-at-home Europeans experience diffi- 
culty in stretching their faculties even dimly to 
appreciate. It contains almost every variety of 
climate and scenery — every beauty of African 
landscape. 

The division of which Zambezia may be re- 



DESCRIPTIVE 19 

garded as consisting extends from the 14th parallel 
of south latitude, at a point about 60 miles west 
of Lake Nyassa, to the 19th degree or thereabouts, 
taking in the whole of the islands formed by the 
delta of the Zambezi, and a considerable portion 
of its southern bank. It is an immense wedge 
of irregular shape driven into the heart of the 
great continent, with a width of nearly nine 
longitudinal degrees, and separating our Nyasa- 
land colony from Southern Rhodesia by a re- 
spectable area almost exactly the shape of a 
horse's head, and some 240 miles long by 300 
wide. This wedge, however, is only a portion of 
Zambezia — certainly much less than half its full 
extent, and, whilst following the north bank of the 
Zambezi from the Loangwa or Aroangwa River 
all the way down to the coast, it yields to the 
chartered Mozambique Company (Companhia de 
Moyambique) the occupancy of the southern 
margin over not quite half of that extent. Before 
plunging into the main motif of this book, there- 
fore, I desire to devote a few pages to giving my 
readers some idea of what the country consists of, 
and its appearance at different points at the time 
of year at which the hunter of big game com- 
mences to unpack his cherished rifles and look 
once more to his camp equipment. 

From June to November, then, the South 
Central African winter is at its height, and, during 
that period, the climatic conditions are most 
favourable to hunting and travelling in the far 
interior. The days are warm and sunny, whilst 
the nights and mornings are cool in the lower 



20 DESCRIPTIVE 

elevations and piercingly cold in the beautifully 
upland regions of which so much of this portion of 
Africa consists. If, therefore, an excursion should 
be contemplated with a view to indulging in a 
satisfying allowance of great game hunting on 
the Zambezi, or in its neighbourhood, and should 
penetrate into the vast, little-known fastnesses 
of the Shupanga Forest which lie on the southern 
margin of the great river, I would have you, in 
anticipation of what you will find, cast your 
mental gaze over some such picture as the 
following. 

On the one hand the broad, shallow waters 
of the Zambezi, blue as a belt of sapphire, flowing 
placidly, 800 yards wide, between pale yellow 
banks of fine sand. Above and below, the main 
channel divides to encompass large, sandy islets 
covered with tufts of feathery spear-grass, and 
affording in their inlets and backwaters restful 
abiding-places for wild-fowl, crocodiles, and, 
possibly, a shy, experienced old hippopotamus. 
The main banks of the river — 18 or 20 feet above 
the stream — display the curious strata of their 
compositions, — first sand, then a coarser sand 
full of quartz crystals and small shells, and, 
lastly, the dark grey, almost black surface-soil 
affording rich sustenance to the rank grasses 
and countless palms which here line the 
bank of the river. Let us climb up it and 
look farther afield. From the point of our 
ascent there stretches in towards the forest 
a belt of beautiful, dark green spear-grass, that 
attractive, spiteful growth the ends of whose 



DESCRIPTIVE 21 

blades are sharply pointed to prick and scratch 
you as a path is forced through them. This 
gives on to a plain of shorter, if still very rank 
grass, over which, as we reach it, a couple of 
reedbuck gallop madly to gain the protecting 
shelter of the neighbouring forest. Here the 
magnificently fronded Borassus palm, a growth 
very similar to the well-known fan palm of India, 
and the Hyphoene, but little inferior to the 
last named either in size or beauty, lend that 
tropical aspect to the surrounding scenery which 
invests the African landscape with such grace 
and charm. We follow a narrow game path, 
and wend our way towards the tree belt, whose 
dark, umbrageous outline affords a welcome 
contrast to the dry, grassy, sun-swept plain 
which stretches between it and the descent 
to the river. On its edge stand enormous, grey, 
ghostly baobabs ; shady, shimmering groves of 
silvery-leaved bamboos, sometimes growing com- 
pletely over ancient ant-hills of such immense 
height that they would rather appear to be 
artificial than natural features of the view before 
us. Then we find, as the forest grows thicker, 
large trees roped together with depending monkey- 
ropes and llianas ; great clumps of rock-like 
euphorbias ; dwarf iron - wood and shady 
acacias ; velvety - foliaged albizzias and coarse- 
looking gomphias ; huge parinaria with lofty 
stems as straight as a mast, and as thick as the 
boiler of a good-sized locomotive. All these 
and a hundred more. Then, as the mellow 
afternoon sunlight, slowly westering, strikes the 
3 



22 DESCRIPTIVE 

peak of some distant, lofty chain of hills, we 
have a new element of beauty added to the 
absorbing picture, the details of which we have 
set ourselves to examine — that one necessary 
feature of far-away mountains which now 
completes the harmonious tropical landscape. 
Away to the south, here and there, many miles 
apart, but in appearance comparatively close 
together, rise isolated pillars of thin, blue smoke, 
the smoke of the grass fires whereby the over- 
burdened land rids itself of the redundant vege- 
tation of the past rainy season. This smoke 
now overshadows the entire country, toning 
down the overhead blue to a shade almost 
resembling transparent French grey. A haze 
overhangs the forest and plain, only to be dissi- 
pated by the first deluges of the rains of early 
December, and there is in the air the sweet, dry 
smell of the grass that awaits but the spark of 
some passing native's cigarette to burst into 
conflagration also. 

We pass onward through the forest, leaving the 
Zambezi behind, and every step of the journey 
possesses its own peculiar interest. The country 
hereabout is evidently the home of a fair 
amount of game. Each partly dried water-hole 
is paddled all round with the spoor of all kinds of 
animals, from the vast foot-print of the ponderous 
elephant to the tiny delicate impression of the 
graceful steenbuck. The prostrate trunks of 
recently flourishing trees, as also the nibbled 
extremities of the green bamboo shoots, tell of 
the passage of elephants, as do also the ponderous 



DESCRIPTIVE 28 

down-torn branches of the massive trees, and 
the straggling, levered-up roots, whose bitten- off 
ends show that they too are appreciated items 
of the elephant's daily menu. Although the 
winter season is still at its height, and here 
and there sad blackened expanses show where 
the forest fires have licked up the exuberant 
summer greenery, the delicate blades of newly 
sprung grasses are already surrounding the 
charred roots, full of the promise of that abundant 
life which, with the first of the spring rains, 
will transform the whole face of the land into a 
vast, wild, all too short-lived garden. 

We now reach one of those numerous expanses 
of swampy reed-surrounded fen which, in this 
part of Africa, are so full of interesting forms of 
life. The ground shakes beneath one, and here 
and there the black, moisture-laden soil of the 
path we follow forms a gay, sulphur-hued, 
tremulous carpet, covered as it is for several 
square yards by countless tiny, thirsty, pale 
yellow butterflies. The breeze of afternoon ruffles 
the surface of the water, gay with light blue 
lilies, surrounded by bright verdant spear-grass 
with great snowy heads, and wide expanses of 
transparent green papyrus rushes, tall marsh 
thistles, and the tender greenery of the finely 
woven bog-moss. The reeds and rushes are 
full of warblers and chats, and out among the 
great flopping leaves of the water-lilies ducks 
and spur-winged geese sit tranquilly. At the 
foot of the surrounding greenery a dozen snowy- 
white egrets are watching the water, with a 



24 DESCRIPTIVE 

goliath heron and a numerous assembly of black 
ibises. Here a small peninsula of low, green 
grass juts out some yards into the water, and 
among the giant duckweed and floating pollen 
of the encompassing grasses by which the surface 
is covered, one may see the tracks of the swimming 
ducks and dabchicks, whilst long-limbed stints 
and spidery-toed waterfowl rush in and out of 
the gleaming grass stems, where the sunlight 
seldom penetrates — those cool, grey, insect-popul- 
ated depths where every day a million lives are 
born and die. 

The rattle of the wind-swept reed stems 
sounds pleasant to our ears — a foretaste of the 
cool afternoon breeze, which in the tropics, with 
praiseworthy regularity, comes up with the wester- 
ing sunlight to wipe away unprofitable recol- 
lections of the hot, thirsty forenoon tramp. 
All through the morning hours forest and fen 
have lain slumbering in a gradually increasing 
heat. As noon approaches a deep silence seems 
to brood over the face of the entire country. 
The beasts have fed their way into their mid- 
day shelters ; scarcely a bird's note breaks the 
intense stillness of the forest. The damp air 
of the marsh, heavy with the odour of water-lilies 
and other fen blooms, reminds one of the oppressive 
atmosphere of an English hot-house. These are 
the hours of the insects' daily revels. Butterflies 
of gorgeous hues ; large, troublesome, buzzing 
flies and droning beetles, fill the air with a low, 
tremulous, drowsy hum ; glittering dragon-flies, 
each wing a separate jewel of rare brilliancy, sun 



DESCRIPTIVE 25 

themselves on the grasses and reeds, and hosts 
of other tropical insects resplendent and dingy, 
lively and torpid, feel in every fibre of their 
delicate bodies the vivifying exhilaration of 
the warm, grateful sunlight. This strange still- 
ness continues unbroken all through the later 
morning hours, and it is usually not until some 
time after midday that the first gentle waving 
of the flopping spear-grass heads heralds the 
welcome approach of the afternoon breeze. 
Thenceforward the heat becomes less and less 
oppressive, and, as the afternoon wanes, the 
sensation of heat-induced listlessness leaves one's 
perspiration-soaked limbs, and the march is 
resumed with renewed activity. 

So we leave the marsh-belts and enter the 
forest, golden lances of afternoon sunshine pierc- 
ing the leafy depths with more and more diffi- 
culty as the huge, lliana- wreathed monsters, 
joining overhead, oppose an almost impenetrable 
mass of interlaced foliage, which produces at times 
a momentary gloom. In the shadow of the timber 
trees, albeit bushes and low jungle may often 
require some effort to force a way through, the 
tall grasses of the plains are almost entirely 
absent ; the only growth of the kind being a low 
sparse variety which does not wholly cover the 
dark clayey soil. Spiteful thorn bushes and 
spiky trailers require constant watchfulness, ever 
ready as they are to tear your skin and rend 
your garments. 

Now comes a '' dambo," an open plain in 
the midst of the forest, covered with lush green 



26 DESCRIPTIVE 

grass, the morning feeding place of eland and 
wildebeeste, sable and reedbuck. These expanses 
may be of any size, from 20 to 200 acres or more. 
Usually, towards the centre, you will find a slight 
tendency to marshiness, with probably a spring 
of cool, clear water, much resorted to by all kinds 
of wild animals. A big brown bustard rises close 
by as we pass along, and a brace of fussy franco- 
lins wing their rapid way to the sheltering gloom 
beyond the edge of the dambo. We cross the 
open space, noting with appreciative self-con- 
gratulation the large quantity of fresh spoor of 
all kinds of Zambezian game, then the path rises, 
so we make our way to the shoulder of one of 
the many suave undulations which occur in these 
forested regions, and finally select a site for the 
camping ground under the shelter of a vast 
Mwangele tree, as the sun nears the horizon, and 
the crooning of the ring-doves betokens the ap- 
proach of the time for their evening drink. 

So the tent party proceeds to clear a space for 
our stout Edgington tents. The carriers, having 
been shown how to arrange their loads in a neat 
line facing the doors, have gone off to cut wood 
and draw water, and preparations commence for 
the formation of the camp in good earnest. The 
fires now show bright flickering tongues of con- 
spicuous, rosy flame. A deep luminous orange 
glow throws the belt of forest into dark purple 
relief where the sun has just disappeared with 
tropical suddenness below the horizon. In the 
overhead bluish grey a star begins to twinkle. 
The deep voices of the carriers, with their cheery 



DESCRIPTIVE 27 

laughter, come echoing up from the big wood 
fires around which they are resting, and, as night 
falls, the tremulous cry of a night- jar, and the 
melancholy " bwe-bwe " of a wandering jackal, 
very shortly give place to more sinister sounds, 
when the long-drawn sigh of an awakening lion 
takes the very heart of the woods with terror. 

So we have bathed and put on warm evening 
clothes ; dinner has been served, and the cook 
has retired to appropriate to his own use the 
remnants of the feast. The whisky flask and 
sparklets bottle repose upon the folding table, 
fast growing damp in the heavy dew. The soft 
African night encompasses us, and we feel it. 
We sit back in our chairs, gazing dreamily upward 
at the star-studded vault, filled to the brim with 
unspeakable contentment. Brushed away, left 
far behind, are the worries and cares of the life 
of cities. We feel, without knowing it, that we are 
very near to-night to that universal mother earth 
from which we have all sprung — that good 
mother who is ever waiting to take us again to 
her great maternal bosom. We are unconsciously 
communing with that majestic mystery Nature, 
feeling unusually chastened, small, inconspicuous, 
unimportant. 

Leaving the forest country, there are several 
very mountainous districts, such as Morambala, 
Chiperoni, the broken, rocky Pinda district, and, 
finest of all, majestic Mlanje, that splendid barrier 
which looks down for many miles upon the Anglo- 
Portuguese frontier of our colony of Nyasaland. 
Mlanje is a vast mass of granite, the highest peak 



28 DESCRIPTIVE 

rising to over 9800 feet. One of its chief claims 
to consideration consists in the healthiness of its 
temperate climate, whilst another connects itself 
with the well-watered fertility of its entire 
enormous extent. Upon its upland slopes is 
found the only Central African cedar, a valuable 
growth strikingly similar in appearance to the 
Lebanon variety, and yielding quantities of 
admirable, fragrant timber. Then, in addition, 
although the vegetation is not so tropical — so 
rich in its endless varieties of gaily coloured 
blooms as the lower levels bordering on the 
Zambezi, yet, in common with all the higher 
altitudes of South Central and East Africa, you 
find in the shelter of the massive granite boulders, 
and in the ravines leading down to the ever 
flowing streams, a wonderful variety of curious, 
semi-alpine growths. The grass of the mountain 
regions is short and green ; vast expanses of 
homely bracken clothe the undulating plateau 
country, and form the hiding-places of bush-buck 
and klipspringer, of partridge and quail. In the 
caves, and sheltered by the rough boulders of 
the granite which lies thick on the slopes of the 
mountain side, leopards and hyenas have their 
hiding - places ; and down below, where the 
trees grow close to the running water, large 
pythons may often be seen coiled beneath the 
limbs of the massive tree trunks. In all other 
respects, if you partly close your eyes so as some- 
what to dim the sharp outlines of the cedars' 
upper branches, their resemblance to Scotch pines 
is so considerable that with the keen pure air of 



DESCRIPTIVE 29 

the upland elevations and the brattle of the 
running water, rising familiarly from the neigh- 
bouring stream, this might indeed be a portion 
of Scotland — some out-of-the-way corner of the 
western islands. If we draw near to the edge of 
the plateau, and look out over the broad expanse 
of splendid country which lies between Mlanje 
and the Indian Ocean, the full effect of the still 
beautiful picture is considerably marred at this 
time of year by the misty atmosphere produced 
by the smoke of the winter grass fires. At the 
edge of the crater-like lip which in places forms 
the outer extremity of the high plateau, you 
crawl cautiously through the screen of low trees 
and bushes and look out over a wonderful vista 
of tree-covered undulation, and bare, glistening 
granite walls. These latter, from the edge where- 
on you are seated, descend almost sheer down for 
probably 800 feet, thence slope gradually plain- 
ward, covered with trees of inconsiderable girth, 
and rough with granite boulders unearthed by the 
terrific landslides of the past. These slopes form 
the purple-green foothills which, from a distance 
of several miles, lend so suave an aspect to distant 
African mountains. Away to the southward you 
see immense expanses of very partially forested 
country, with more hills and granite peaks rising 
in glittering, billowy confusion, and leading your 
eye onward to a distant point low down on the 
horizon where the far-away gleam of sun upon 
water reveals the whereabouts of the wide 
Zambezi. The intervening plain is sparsely in- 
habited, although from its condition of marked 



30 DESCRIPTIVE 

deforestation it is certain that at one time it was 
the dweUing-place of some very populous native 
division. At present the people have, as a whole, 
taken up their abode upon the banks of the rivers, 
and left the interior, which supported their fore- 
fathers, to the unchallenged occupation of the 
wild beasts. 

The plains of Zambezia occur chiefly to the 
south of the great river's delta, where there 
are grassy expanses so vast that they could 
scarcely be crossed in less than two or three long 
days' march. These interesting expanses, which 
occur for the most part in the area lying between 
the Inyamissengo mouth of the Zambezi and 
the Mupa River, and run inland from the coast 
probably for nearly one hundred miles, are the 
practically undisturbed resorts of large quantities 
of game, and possess for the hunter no small 
interest, not only on that account, but also by 
reason of the little that is known of them. 
When I described them just now as grass plains, 
I should perhaps have mentioned that they 
contain in addition extensive swampy areas 
full of reeds and papyrus rushes — the midday 
haunt of hippopotami and buffaloes — and curious 
island-like patches of isolated forest trees called 
" Ntundus." These, as described in my book 
Portuguese East Africa, are apparently composed 
of timber of the usual species, but inexplicably 
growing far apart from the rest of the forest 
trees, and looking for all the world like so many 
islands surrounded by the ocean-like plain. These 
also are great game resorts. At certain times of 



DESCRIPTIVE 31 

year, notably when the marula-plum ripens 
in August, and tempts the elephants from the 
fastnesses of the Shupanga Forest, you may 
see the coarse bark of the trees which compose 
the Ntundus coated with marsh mud to a height 
of 9 or 10 feet, where the elephants, after a 
satisfying roll in the neighbouring swamps, 
have rubbed themselves to get rid of as much 
of the clinging ooze as they conveniently 
could. 

These plains are crossed all over with numbers 
of game paths proceeding in all directions, and 
so well trodden that a stranger would often take 
them for native made roads. For many miles you 
may traverse the well-known, short, nutritious- 
looking buffalo-grass, and very few miles — or 
fractions of a mile for the matter of that — will 
you march without finding the spoor of these 
sporting animals, if not the beasts themselves. 
Then, doubtless for carrying off the waters of 
the heavy summer rains, these wide, prairie-like 
plains are provided with numerous channels, 
which, at the time of year when game is the 
object of a visit, are usually dry, and enable 
stalking to be resorted to with a prospect of 
success which would not present itself perhaps 
in their absence. Two rivers traverse these 
plains, which are known to the natives as the 
Mupa and Mungari Rivers. They are shown 
on most maps under the names " Sangadzi " 
and '* Thornton," but whoever may originally 
so have named them, the latter appellations 
convey nothing to the local natives of to-day. 



32 DESCRIPTIVE 

and may safely be consigned to the limbo of 
inaccurate cartography from which poor Africa 
has so long and patiently suffered. Both the 
Mupa and Mungari Rivers rise, or at least pass 
through, a very extensive system of marsh 
lying close to the fringe of virgin forest which 
forms the eastern boundary of the continuous 
tree growths, and ends at varying distances from 
the coast. This marsh is one of the most 
interesting and beautiful areas with which I am 
acquainted in this part of Africa. To begin 
with, it is many square miles in extent, and 
runs nearly due north and south, almost as far 
as eye can reach, a fascinating waving sea of 
billowy, white-capped spear-grass, and mop-like, 
apple-green papyrus rushes. Away to the east- 
ward, if you climb a short way up a convenient 
hyphoene palm, you will be able to follow the 
courses of both the rivers I have mentioned, by 
the low tree growths, occasionally varied by 
straight-trunked palms which line their banks. 
But immediately to the landward side of the 
marsh — to the westward, that is to say — the 
plain rises in a sort of grassy ledge, extending 
for possibly a mile or two before the first out- 
lying fringe of the forest is reached. Here in 
the early morning, therefore, between the shelter 
of the forest and the morning drinking-place, 
may often be seen game beasts in something 
approaching the astonishing profusion, both of 
numbers and varieties, which is unfortunately 
now becoming so rare. 

But as a sort of preliminary to discussing 



DESCRIPTIVE 33 

game beasts, I want to say a few words, before 
quitting the great Mupa marshes, about the 
teeming wild-fowl which there find an undis- 
turbed home. 

The first time I visited this region, and long 
before coming in sight of the great marsh I 
have just described, I remember watching at 
the close of day long lines of ducks and geese 
flying overhead always in the same direction. 
I supposed, as the question formed itself in my 
mind, that they had flown inland from the not 
very distant coastline, and were pursuing a 
course toward some pieces of open water which I 
knew to lie somewhat to the north-east of the 
foothills of the Cheringoma range. A day or 
two later, continuing my journey to the coast, 
I made a camp on the edge of the forest at a 
point from which the apparently limitless line 
of sedge and papyrus stretched unbroken to 
the north and south. It is my custom, after 
seeing the camp properly pitched, if there be 
still sufficient light, to take a couple of men, a 
rifle and a shot gun, and stroll away in any 
direction which holds out reasonable hope of a 
satisfactory result. On this particular evening 
I crossed the mile-wide grassy ledge already 
referred to, and speedily found myself on the 
outskirts of the papyrus which bordered, together 
with every other kind of reed, the huge swampy 
marsh on its landward side. For some distance 
I skirted it, until at length I found a well-paddled 
tunnel leading towards the water, where the 
muddy marsh soil showed the spoor of buffalo, 



84 WILD-FOWL 

waterbuck, zebra, and several other varieties 
of game, whilst the deeper imprints of the 
footmarks of the hippopotamus clove great 
seams in the somewhat higher levels of the soft 
soil from which the great rushes sprang. Follow- 
ing this tunnel cautiously, I soon saw the water 
beyond ; the surface so covered with great 
water-lily leaves and other aquatic plants that 
it appeared almost like dry land save tor certain 
unmistakable indications which I am about to 
describe. The open space before me might have 
covered some twenty or thirty acres, surrounded 
on all sides by the same high reed belt which, 
narrowing together at each visible extremity 
of the pool, opened out again beyond one's 
range of vision, where the water deepened to 
surround further and probably larger expanses 
which were hidden, as it were, round the corner. 
As I came to the end of my friendly tunnel, 
and my feet began to sink more deeply in the 
rapidly thinning ooze, 1 became aware that the 
surface of the water was alive with fowl. Those 
near at hand had already observed me, and 
had begun to swim slowly towards the centre. 
Wherever my eyes swept the surface I saw 
nothing but scores upon scores oi upstanding 
anatide ^ heads. I remember making out, as 
I watched them (for I am extracting the list 
from my field notebook wherein I made it on 
my return to camp), both black and ordinary 
spur-winged geese, dwarf geese, ducks of both 
the red and black varieties, white-backed duck, 

1 A new word is clearly demanded here. 



WILD-FOWL 85 

teal, and South African pochard. Away over 
towards the other side half a dozen pelicans 
swam leisurely on the surface ; great ash-grey 
herons looked meditatively into the water at 
their feet, white egrets dotted the rushes, snake 
birds sat on the partly submerged roots, their 
wings held stiffly out to dry after their last 
plunge, whilst numbers of shore birds ran in 
and out at the foot of the reeds and over the 
secure foothold afforded by the big flopping 
water-lily leaves. Altogether it was a sight 
which one felt one would have come a long way 
to see. At my first shot there arose upon the 
air such a thunder of wings, such a hurricane 
of quackings and squawks and whistlings and 
shrillings, as I have never heard before or since. 
Not only from the piece of water before me, 
but from all the concealed surrounding pools 
the air was darkened and absolutely palpitated 
with thousands upon thousands of rapid wing- 
strokes. The metallic staccato note of the teal, 
the piercing whistle of the plover and whimbrels, 
and the raucous bark of the giant heron, all made 
together a perfect pandemonium of wild cries, 
greatly increased in volume by the oft-repeated, 
insane, half-human laugh of the brown-plumaged, 
strident hadada. In a few brief moments I 
had killed enough duck to have furnished several 
camps, so, laden with my spoils, I withdrew; but so 
astonishingly tame were the birds that, although 
I must have fired at least twenty shots, no sooner 
had I recalled my retrieving natives from the 
shallow water into which the victims had fallen, 



86 WILD-FOWL 

than they settled tranquilly down again as though 
nothing extraordinary had happened. 

In all the districts of Zambezia wild-fowl are 
found, but in no other portion of that wide region 
have I observed them in such bewildering 
numbers and varieties as in the great marshes 
which form, I believe, the sources of the Mupa 
and Mungari and probably other unmapped 
rivers of this little known and interesting district. 



CHAPTER III 

THE ELEPHANT 

A CENTURY ago the African elephant extended 
his dominion over almost the whole of the con- 
tinent south of the vast desert expanses of its 
northern extremity ; whilst, in the days of the 
Carthaginians, it was found within measurable 
distance of the Mediterranean coasts, and cap- 
tured and utilised by that enterprising and war- 
like people. Did we seek to trace this mighty 
pachyderm still farther back into prehistoric 
times, we should find, on the solemn word of some 
of our greatest scientists, that it existed beyond 
question in Spain and Sicily, as doubtless in other 
portions of the continent of Europe. But the 
unquestioned ancestor of the elephant of our day 
must in nowise be confused with the mastodon or 
mammoth — those gigantic forms which are said 
to have occurred at no great distance of time before 
the historic period ; whose remains, in a perfectly 
preserved state, have been found in the frozen 
river gravels and " silt " of Northern Siberia, 
and whose mighty tusks, of which many are even 
now in existence, were fashioned into drinking 
cups by the cave-dwellers of France. That 
greatest of all living students of these matters, 
Sir Ray Lankester, assures us, on the contrary, 
4 



ag THE ELEPHANT 

that within the human period elephants closely 
similar to those of our own time, far more 
numerous and widely distributed than they are at 
present, and occurring all over the earth's tem- 
perate zone, belonged to a type midway between 
the great beast with which we are all familiar and 
his remote ancestor. It is stated to have been 
a comparatively small creature about the size of a 
donkey, and not only without the prolonged upper 
lip or trunk of the modern elephant, but wholly 
destitute of the latter's often enormous tusks. 

This scientific disclosure, when I read it, 
ruthlessly swept away one of my most cherished 
illusions. I had always regarded our elephants, 
both of the African and Indian varieties, as the 
descendants of either the mammoths or mastodons. 
I was never sure which, but I felt it must be the 
larger of the two, whichever that might be. I 
pictured to myself a mountainous prodigy about 
30 feet high, covered with a matted coat of 
coarse, brownish hair, and possessed of huge, bow- 
like, outward-curving tusks, whose points finally 
turned inward. When at length I learned the 
whole truth of the modern elephant's ancestry, 
therefore, I realised the true inwardness of my 
years of melancholy self-deception. 

Turnings however, from the elephant of pre- 
historic times to the splendid animal of the same 
race which still roams the forests of South Central 
Africa in considerable numbers, it is satisfactory 
to be able to say that he stands in no immediate 
danger of extinction. If you were to draw a 
circle with a centre fixed slightly to the westward 



THE ELEPHANT 39 

of the Lualaba River, or about 200 miles west of 
the middle shores of Lake Tanganyika, and whose 
distance was the coast at either Cabinda on the 
one hand, or Bagamoyo on the other, you would 
find that the whole of the immense space confined 
within its limits was still, more or less, the haunt 
of the African elephant; whilst beyond it, in 
French West Africa, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and 
many other immense territories from the Gambia 
to the Congo, as well as in Southern Abyssinia 
and the Nile Valley, these animals continue to 
exist in vast numbers. 

In Zambezia itself they are found all through 
the dense forests surrounding Mount Chiperoni, 
and extending thence northward to the Mozam- 
bique district, and eastward through Boror to 
Quelimane. To some extent, although they have 
been much slaughtered of late years, they still 
exist in the district of Luabo, to the south of 
the Zambezi delta, in the Shupanga Forest, and 
in the high wooded fastnesses of the low range of 
Cheringoma. It is, however, a curious fact that 
the elephants to the south of the Zambezi seldom 
or never possess ivory of the size and weightcarried 
by members of the herds found in the Nyasaland 
Protectorate, in North-Eastern Rhodesia, and 
on the head waters of the Congo and the Nile. I 
suppose the real reason for this is to be sought in 
the much lengthier interval during which the 
Zambezi region has been the scene of European 
occupation, and the consequently longer period 
wherein the herds have been eagerly scanned for 
the heaviest and therefore most valuable ivory. 



40 THE ELEPHANT 

Still, occasionally, tusks of 60 or 65 lbs. are some- 
times brought to the coast, but I am inclined to 
regard these as the largest that are now here 
obtainable. 

In the hot rainy months of the summer season 
these animals wander all over the districts men- 
tioned, but, in my experience at least, the dry 
season causes them to withdraw, generally speak- 
ing, from the low levels to higher forested country, 
whence they rarely descend except during the 
seasons of the ripening of certain fruits. In 
Zambezi a they are usually found, at the time of 
year mentioned, in herds of six or seven to thirty 
or more, and although their feeding time is chiefly 
at night, they nevertheless continue, when un- 
disturbed, browsing intermittently during the 
day, moving slowly, in a long irregular line, 
unless their attention be drawn to some par- 
ticularly attractive article of diet, when they draw 
together and investigate it, moving off again to 
rest, during the heat of the day, in the cool, shady 
depths of the denser forests. Apart from the 
herds, however, there are a great number of aged 
solitary beasts who, for one reason or another, 
but generally that of age, have been cast out, or 
have withdrawn from the society of their fellows, 
and these are often extremely suspicious and 
dangerous to approach. But in cases where the 
wind is steady and favourable there is probably 
no animal easier to get near. Even where cover 
may be scanty, accidental noises which would 
put other animals instantly on the qui vive are 
often wholly disregarded. I have even known 



THE ELEPHANT 41 

instances where elephants I have been following 
have turned and regarded me suspiciously for 
several minutes, but on my remaining motionless 
have resumed their march without making me 
out. But their keen sense of smell is truly 
astonishing. I do not know what may be the 
maximum distance at which they are able to 
catch the human taint in the air, but I have little 
doubt that it is fully 800 to 1000 yards, or, with 
a strong breeze, even considerably more. Some 
idea of the difficulty of their pursuit may there- 
fore be formed when account is taken of the fact 
that in forest country, during the early part of the 
day, the light breeze is variable in the extreme, 
and may move in half a dozen directions in the 
short space of half an hour. 

Elephants drink shortly after sunrise, and 
often bathe during the night in the rivers and 
pools. They are particularly fond of rolling in 
mud and damp, sandy soil, whilst in hot weather 
a favourite habit on emerging from the water is 
to cover the body with dust blown through the 
trunk. They are exceedingly fond of salt, and it 
is a common experience in elephant country to 
meet with large hills of the bhnd termite or white 
ant completely broken down to get at the salty 
earth within. Several other animals with which I 
am acquainted have the same weakness. 

The African variety is of course very much 
larger than his Indian relative, not only in regard 
to the size and weight of the ivory carried, but 
also in his height and bulk ; for whereas the latter 
rarely exceeds 9 ft. 6 in. at the shoulder, the former 



42 THE ELEPHANT 

often reaches 11 ft. at that point. Moreover, 
the female of the Indian type possesses no tusks 
whatsoever, or at best mere embryo defences a few 
inches in length ; but those of the African female 
elephant are esteemed as furnishing the finest 
quality of ivory obtained from this animal. I 
remember seeing one single male tusk which had 
been brought for sale to Zanzibar some years ago, 
and which, so far as I remember, weighed 235 lbs. 
I speak without authority, but I believe I am 
right in saying that this was the largest tusk re- 
corded at that important centre of the ivory 
trade. Those of females are rarely found to be 
over 17 or 18 lbs., but their quality is far finer 
than bull ivory. Returning for a moment to 
the question of the height of these animals, I 
understand that one of the African elephants 
exhibited at the Natural History Museum at 
South Kensington rather exceeds 11 ft. at the 
shoulder, a measurement regarded by the 
Museum authorities as somewhat exceptional. I 
do not know in what way this opinion has been 
arrived at, of course, but to my mind the di- 
mensions of the animal in question are in no way 
unusual. I have on two occasions shot elephants 
of greater height, and I am perfectly sure that I 
have seen others which, if secured, would have 
given measurements decidedly exceeding that of 
the South Kensington Museum specimen. The 
average weight of a full-grown African elephant 
bull, though extremely difficult to ascertain 
correctly, has been estimated as being close upon 
7 tons. 



THE ELEPHANT 43 

This splendid type, in addition to being much 
larger, differs very widely in torm from the 
Asiatic variety. In the latter the back, which 
so readily fits the howdah, is convex, and the 
shoulder much lower than the point of the spine. 
In the African beast, on the contrary, the highest 
point is the shoulder, and the back is strikingly 
concave, whilst from its highest point it slopes 
almost sharply down to the root of the tail. It 
has, therefore, been supposed that for that 
reason it would not lend itself to utilisation 
in captivity to the same extent, and for the same 
purposes as the Eastern variety, so long and so 
familiar an object of interest to visitors to 
India, Burmah, the Zoological Gardens, and 
elsewhere. Another peculiarity consists in the 
differences presented by the shape of the skulls 
of the two animals, as also in the sizes of the 
ears, — ^those of the African elephant being so 
enormous that the edge, when pressed against 
the side, indicates a spot through which a bullet 
may be directed to the very middle of the 
lungs. 

As a general rule, elephants are timid beasts. 
The herd on winding human beings almost 
invariably retreats, as also do solitary animals in 
most cases. This timidity of disposition cannot, 
however, be regarded as invariable. Instances 
have occurred of individuals being attacked 
and very seriously — in some cases fatally — injured, 
by the charge of unmolested elephants. The 
case of a friend of mine who, while travelling 
up to an administrative post to which he had 



44 THE ELEPHANT 

been appointed in one of the districts to the west 
of Lake Nyasa, affords a striking example of 
this. He was rechning in his machila ^ when 
suddenly an immense, solitary bull attacked him, 
and so badly injured him that for many months 
a valuable life hung in the balance. He neither 
saw the great beast before nor after the attack. 
The machila was thrown down as the carriers 
fled, and at the same moment with a shrill trumpet 
the elephant seized both the machila and its 
occupant in his trunk, and proceeded to wreak 
its unreasoning vengeance upon them. How 
the unlucky victim escaped with his life must 
ever remain a mystery, since he lost conscious- 
ness immediately, only regaining it some hours 
afterwards to find himself in a sorry plight, and 
with most of his bones broken. But my own 
opinion of such mishaps is that they are usually 
perpetrated by elephants which have been 
repeatedly hunted and, it may be, wounded. It 
is generally known that this animal's memory 
is an extremely retentive one, and thus, on the 
presence of a man making itself felt, it is quite 
probable that the recollection of former suffering 
may arouse the beast to a frenzy in which he 
may viciously attack the person approaching 
him. I have been informed that the elephants 
preserved by the Government of the Union of 
South Africa in the Cape Province have become 
exceedingly dangerous ; so much so that on 
detecting the approach of a pursuer they have 

1 A hammock slung upon a pole and carried on the shoulders 
of natives. 



THE ELEPHANT 45 

been known to turn en masse and hunt him. The 
seriousness of such a position will be the better 
appreciated when it is explained that so dense 
is the jungle in which these animals occur, that 
it is only possible to follow (or escape from) 
them along the tracks which they themselves 
have made. 

Sir Samuel Baker was of opinion that the 
elephant does not reach maturity until between 
his fortieth and fiftieth year, and deduces from 
certain doubtless well-pondered considerations 
that he may reach an age of one hundred and fifty 
years or over. With this view I entirely concur ; 
indeed, I think that his estimate of the length 
of the elephant's existence may be taken to be 
by no means an exaggerated one, judging by 
some of the immense wrinkled old beasts which 
have passed close to me from time to time, and 
have seemed to suggest, by their air of antiquity, 
that they had long passed their one hundred and 
fiftieth birthdays. 

Their diet is surprisingly varied, and consists 
of many different kinds of succulent roots, 
foliage, fruits, and the inner bark of certain 
trees. Moreover, as this animal feeds chiefly 
by night, one more proof is afforded by this fact 
of the astonishingly penetrating scent which, 
during the dark hours, guides him in his choice 
of the trees he particularly affects. He is an in- 
considerate and wasteful feeder, tearing down large 
branches, and leaving the greater portion of their 
foliage untouched, as he will also strip quantities 
of bark off forest trees, of which he will daintily 



46 THE ELEPHANT 

consume inappreciable morsels. I remember, a 
few years ago, watching for some time a herd of 
elephants, of which I had succeeded in approach- 
ing to within a very short distance. It was 
during the period of the ripening of the Marula 
plum,^ of which elephants are inordinately fond. 
At a distance of about 30 yards from where I 
was concealed a fine tree full of this fruit was 
growing. Around it the great beasts collected, 
looking upward at the tiny golden globes, which 
were, however, somewhat beyond their reach. 
At length a large female backed some few yards, 
and slightly lowering her massive head she 
charged the tree, ramming it with the centre 
of her forehead. The blow was terrific, and, 
although the tree successfully resisted it, the 
shock was immediately followed by a plentiful 
shower of plums, which the surrounding elephants 
proceeded to eat, picking them up daintily one 
by one, and conveying them into their mouths 
after a moment's scrutiny. I have often thought 
that had I been in the tree at the moment of 
impact I should have had an uncommonly good 
chance of being shaken down, so violent was the 
blow it received. The above incident is not 
unlike one which Baker himself witnessed, and 
is doubtless of constant occurrence in the 
elephant's daily experiences. 

From the foregoing it will perhaps have been 
understood that the pursuit upon foot of an 
animal endowed with such an astonishing — indeed, 
sometimes almost uncanny degree of intelligence 

^ Trachylobium Mozambicensis, 



THE ELEPHANT 47 

and vast physical strength and endurance, is an 
undertaking which demands the utmost care 
and caution, and which should never exclude any 
precaution calculated to minimise its many 
dangers and to assist towards a successful 
issue. 

Before the introduction of firearms into 
Central Africa, and indeed to some extent at 
the present time, these great animals were 
captured by the native tribes in various ways. 
There was, first of all, the pitfall method. The 
pits were shaped like the letter V> and were about 
13 or 14 feet in depth. As many as ten or a 
dozen of these would be prepared, as a rule near 
to a river or other much frequented drinking- 
place, and carefully concealed by light branches 
and reeds sprinkled with earth. The herd, 
moving by night, and arriving in the vicinity 
of these pits, the first crash and loud roar of 
dismay, betokening the capture of one of its 
members, would occasion a mad stampede in 
which one or two more might be caught. The 
shape of the hole, bringing all the four feet 
together, rendered the animals powerless, in 
which condition they were speared to death 
the following morning. Another method of 
compassing their destruction was to surround 
the herd with a ring of burning grass or jungle. 
Through this, after having been reduced to a 
condition of abject panic, the animals would 
at length charge, to be speared by scores of 
waiting savages at a moment when, blinded and 
confused by the fire and smoke, they were too 



48 THE ELEPHANT 

terrified and paralysed to offer resistance. Again, 
in certain portions of the country, an enormous 
iron weapon, like the blade of a gigantic spear 
weighted with a heavy mass of clay, is dropped 
either by a concealed native from a high tree, 
or so fixed to a horizontal limb that, on the 
disturbance of a cord stretching across the path, 
it is displaced and falls, if favourably, just at 
the junction of the head with the elephant's 
body. The animal so stricken rushes madly 
through the forest, each movement burying the 
terrible point deeper and deeper in the flesh, 
until at length the victim either bleeds to death 
or succumbs to injury resulting to the spine. 
Writers on North Africa tell of an extraordinary 
race of Arabs, formerly dwellers on the borders 
of Abyssinia, who hunted the elephant on horse- 
back with no other weapon than a heavy two- 
edged sword. Their method consisted of follow- 
ing the herd until close up, when the hunter 
by a slashing blow would sever the main tendon 
of the elephant's hind - leg, thus rendering it 
powerless to advance or, indeed, to move. It 
was then despatched. This has always struck 
me as being a magnificent performance, and 
one in comparison with which the finest achieve- 
ments of the Spanish bull-ring pale into insigni- 
ficance. 

The hunting of elephants according to modern 
ideas is assuredly one of the most exciting and 
engrossing of all forms of sport. Not only is 
their piu'suit attended by an amount of fatigue 
and, at times, hardship which would not be 



THE ELEPHANT 49 

experienced in the case of any other animal, 
but the strain upon the nerves, produced by 
long periods of excited expectation, is such as to 
prove trying to persons of an excitable tempera- 
ment, for, of a truth, no other pastime of which 
I have knowledge and experience requires cooler 
self-possession, or more of the exercise of that 
inestimable quality called presence of mind. 
It is a sport in which the successes are few 
compared with the failures, and one wherein 
there are not many trophies gained which do 
not recall hours and hours of strenuous toil, of 
hunger and thirst (especially the latter), of hope 
deferred, of discouragement bordering upon 
despair, but all richly, amply atoned for by the 
hour of success so long in coming. 

The usual practice, upon finding oneself in 
the haunts of these animals, is to rise some 
time before dawn and, accompanied by one or 
more good hunters experienced in tracking them, 
and several additional reliable followers armed 
with knives and axes for cutting out the tusks, 
set out in quest of fresh spoor. If you are 
fortunate, and recent traces — that is to say, 
tracks of four or five hours old — be crossed, 
these would be quite good enough to follow, and 
should as a rule bring you up to where the 
animal may be found resting by ten or eleven 
o'clock. At this time the sun's warmth, even 
in winter, becomes considerable, and the ele- 
phants, disliking heat intensely, having fed 
through the night and drunk at dawn, are now 
disposed to rest. For this purpose they usuall 



50 THE ELEPHANT 

select the cool depths of the forest, or a shady 
group of well-grown trees, and remain in the 
shelter of the thick foliage until early afternoon, 
when they move off once more. 

Proximity to a herd which has been tracked 
during the early hours of the day may usually 
be determined by the warmth or coolness of 
their mountainous droppings, by the moistness 
of half-masticated pieces of bark or leaves which 
have fallen from their mouths as they passed 
along, by the appearance of the branches which 
they have torn down, and by the strips of bark 
peeled off the trunks of the trees. Additional 
assistance may be derived, especially in grass- 
covered country, from an examination of the 
stems and blades of the grasses trodden under 
foot, account being taken of their moisture or 
dryness. In thick jungle the utmost caution 
must be observed, a handful of crushed leaves 
or, better still, a small bag ot flour being con- 
stantly shaken in the air for the purpose of 
detecting any momentary change in the light, 
variable woodland breezes.^ Care is especially 
necessary to avoid stepping upon dry pieces of 
stick or leaves, stumbling, or advancing in any 
but the most noiseless possible manner. In 
favourable circumstances it is perfectly extra- 
ordinary, and at times a little disconcerting, how 
close one can come to a number of these animals 
without in any way exciting their suspicions. 

On one occasion, in the Forest of Shupanga, 

^ Perhaps the best wind-gauge of all is a marabou stork's 
tail-feather. 



THE ELEPHANT 51 

I had succeeded in getting up to a number of 
elephants which were resting, as I have described, 
about eleven o'clock in the forenoon. They 
occupied a dense piece of forest which, thanks 
to a steady breeze, I was enabled to reach 
without disturbing any of them. Having crawled 
noiselessly some distance into it, plainly hearing 
the curious, loud intestinal rumblings which 
betoken their nearness, I raised myself, at length, 
behind the trunk of a sheltering tree. I found 
about a dozen elephants in front of me, standing 
about in various attitudes, the nearest being 
no more than 15 yards away. Some were 
fanning themselves with their enormous ears, 
others swaying from side to side supporting their 
immense weight alternately upon either foot. A 
young female away to the left caressed a small, 
apparently newly-born calf with her trunk, 
whilst she swung her off fore-foot backwards and 
forwards like a pendulum. Look where I would, 
however, to my growing disappointment, I could 
see nothing but females, until it seemed to me 
that on the far side of the group I caught sight 
of the gleam of what appeared to be larger 
ivory. Slipping down to hands and knees 
again, I commenced a careful crawl in a detour 
to get on their farther flank. It was a tedious 
and painful business, and my progress was slow. 
At length, after carefully removing a piece of 
stick to prevent it from snapping under my 
knee, I glanced cautiously up, to find that I 
was crouching almost under the stern of a large 
wrinkled elephant apparently of great age, which 



52 THE ELEPHANT 

was certainly not more than 3 or 4 yards from 
me. In trying to edge away my foot caught 
in some kind of a traihng creeper, and at the 
sHght noise the great beast wheeled round, 
spreading her enormous ears like two sails, and 
raising her trunk suspiciously to smell the air. 
It was an anxious moment. Had she advanced 
one step I must have fired instantly, and, apart 
from her sex, her tusks were small and insignifi- 
cant, but as I remained absolutely motionless, 
somewhat screened as I was by the low grass 
and brushwood, she quite failed to discover me, 
and after a moment or two, which I frankly 
confess seemed to me to be much longer, she 
dropped her ears and trunk, wheeled round, 
and strolled away a few paces. In the end, 
to my great mortification, I found there was no 
bull with this group of elephants, so I was forced 
to return to camp empty-handed. That was 
bad luck, but not so bad as that which I experi- 
enced a few years ago at the southern end of 
Lake Nyasa. 

I had just concluded an official tour which 
had led me across that portion of the African 
continent between the coast at Ibo and the lake I 
have named, and, stopping to wait for one of the 
Protectorate gunboats which had been kindly 
sent for my expedition by the Governor at a 
place called Fort Maguire, a large and populous 
community of interesting Mohammedan Yaos, 
the latter complained to me of the depredations 
committed by the elephants among the maize 
and millet fields. They even showed me the 



THE ELEPHANT 53 

footprints of a number of these animals which 
had passed through the cultivation the preceding 
night. I thereupon resolved to endeavour to 
bag one the following day. 

Starting away from the settlement while it 
was still starlight, accompanied by several native 
trackers possessed of local knowledge, one of 
whom was attired in quite a fashionable frock 
coat, we quickly struck the fresh spoor of five 
bulls. After leading through the outskirts of 
the gardens for some distance the foot-prints 
entered the jungle and led towards the densely 
forested promontory immediately to the south of 
Makanjira's old stronghold. It was here quite 
apparent, from the vast quantity of various 
indications, that many elephants frequented the 
neighbourhood, and after a very easy piece of 
tracking, whilst we were intent upon examining a 
piece of freshly chewed bark, a slight swishing 
noise attracted our attention a little to the left 
of our line of advance, when suddenly the leafy 
forest screen parted and, at a distance of 80 or 
40 yards, a large elephant followed by several 
others advanced directly towards us. He was a 
fine beast, of great height, and from his lips there 
projected two beautiful even tusks of yellow ivory, 
possibly weighing sixty pounds apiece. I saw in a 
flash that he had not detected our presence, and, 
as we crouched down in the covering brushwood, 
I determined to wait until he should pass and 
endeavour to secure him with a temple shot. 

But I had reckoned without the wind. 
Scarcely had this plan of attack suggested itself 
5 



54 THE ELEPHANT 

than I heard a short trumpet, and looked up just 
in time to see his great, grey stern disappearing 
into the forest whence they had emerged. To 
take up the spoor of the fleeing elephants was the 
work of a moment, and in less tlian an hour we 
were once more drawing up to them. Again the 
advance was regulated at a slow pace as, listening 
intently, step by step, we quietly drew near. All 
at once, down on our left, we heard an elephant 
blowing through his trunk ; a sound not unlike 
some immense stallion blowing through his 
nostrils. I took my double '450 cordite rifle and, 
followed by the hunter bearing a spare weapon, 
advanced in the direction of the sound. Presently, 
down in a hollow still more to our left, we heard 
the well-remembered rumbling and, advancing to 
a cover of brushwood, frequently testing the light, 
variable morning breeze, I reached a point on the 
edge of the slight declivity at the foot of which, 
and at no greater distance than 40 yards or so, the 
five elephants were standing listening intently and 
evidently very suspicious. Alas, they had halted 
in grass which reached a point high enough com- 
pletely to mask their ivory, and, as we looked down 
upon them, we sought in vain for some indication 
to show which was the fine tusker who had dis- 
played himself to us so short a time before. There 
they stood, one or two with ears and trunk ex- 
tended to catch the slightest sound or taint, the 
remainder with an expression as of heedless 
contempt for their over-cautious companions' 
ill-timed suspicions. Which was the big one ? 
Some few moments passed thus until, after a long 



THE ELEPHANT 55 

time as it seemed to me, a slight movement ex- 
posed a dull gleam of ivory in the high herbage 
as an exceptionally large beast took a step or two 
forward. I felt sure he must be the tusker, and 
my opinion was shared by my Yao companion. 
I took a rapid sight, therefore, upon the depression 
in front of the ear which marks the temple and 
fired. The huge creature instantly fell to the 
shot, whilst his companions wheeled round and, 
trumpeting shrilly, dashed off into the jungle and 
were speedily lost to sight. 

We hurriedly descended and reached the 
fallen monster, but one glance was sufficient to 
fill me with disappointment and exasperation. 
I had shot the wrong one. Instead of the 
splendid tusks I fondly hoped I was adding to 
my collection of ivory, my gaze fell upon two 
small insignificant objects which on being weighed 
barely turned the scale at 22 lbs. apiece. It was 
bad luck, of course, so there was nothing for it 
but to combine one's entire stock of philosophy 
and Christian fortitude, chop out the tusks and 
go home. That night the gunboat was due to 
arrive, and actually did so the following morning, 
so I never had another chance to try conclusions 
with the big tusker. 

The nickel- covered '450 bullet killed this 
elephant instantly. He required no second shot, 
but I would here indite a word of advice to sports- 
men which may save much disappointment, espe- 
cially with those who habitually hunt elephants 
with rifles of small bore. If, on having dropped 
your beast with a head shot, he should so much as 



56 THE ELEPHANT 

move by the breadth of a finger in any part of his 
vast body, run speedily but quietly behind him 
and fire a shot straight through the centre of the 
top of his skull. This will make assurance doubly 
sure. I have known cases where elephants have 
fallen with a bullet in the head apparently stone 
dead, and the gratified hunter, having dashed 
after the herd to get, if possible, another shot, 
has returned to find that the beast was only 
stunned by a faultily directed bullet, and has got 
up and gone off, ultimately to recover and very 
likely to prove extremely dangerous and vicious 
to future hunters. 

The elephant killed by me on this occasion 
was a splendid animal, and one of the largest I 
have secured. His measurements taken on the 
spot were as follows : Shoulder height, 10 ft. 
11 J in. ; extreme length from end of tail to tip 
of trunk, 26 ft. 2 in. ; circumference of left ear, 
15 ft. 9 in. ; circumference of left fore-foot, 
4 ft. 6 in. 

One of the most unusual of my hunting ex- 
periences connected with elephants took place in 
the Cheringoma Mountains south of the Zambezi 
on the occasion of my last hunting excursion into 
that interesting region. At a certain point on 
the plateau of this range, the elsewhere consistent 
forest breaks up into a number of open, park-like 
expanses whereon the grass is weak and thin, 
and the exuberant growths which form the im- 
penetrable jungles of the lower forest do not form 
such a hindrance alike to movement and vision. 
On the occasion referred to my camp was pitched 



THE ELEPHANT 57 

just on the inside of the forest, which here con- 
sisted of stunted trees, on the edge of a wide open 
space in the middle of which was a marshy bog 
surrounded by high grass and rushes, a mere 
muddy, stagnant, weed-covered pool. The moon, 
I remember, was very near the full, and the calm 
beauty of the African night shed a soothing 
influence, heightened by the softening half-tones 
of the clear moonlight. I must have been asleep 
some time, for after a day's elephant spooring 
one turns in early, when I became conscious of 
an excited whisper at the doorway of my tent. 
" Ngunya, Ngunya, etebo zinawa " (Sir, Sir, 
the elephants are coming). To persons living 
in Europe, the even current of whose lives is 
seldom ruffled by events of more serious import 
than a descent of poachers on a well-stocked 
covert, or the nocturnal bursting of the bathroom 
cistern, the intense excitement of so momentous 
a communication, especially in the middle of the 
night, may not be fully appreciable, but, ac- 
companied as it was in this case by the weird, 
romantic environment of the soft African night, 
and the charm of the mysterious forest, he would 
have been a laggard, indeed, who did not leap from 
his bed and, in nothing more than pyjamas and 
foot-wear, seize a brace of rifles and hurriedly seek 
the open. For a few moments I perceived noth- 
ing, as my servants and hunters, finger on lip, 
faced towards the dusky forest listening intently. 
Then there reached us a low, querulous whimper, 
as of a female calling to her calf, and immediately 
afterwards a swishing of leaves followed by the 



58 THE ELEPHANT 

crash of a breaking branch. I estimated that 
the elephants must still be some few hundreds 
of yards away, and this proved to be the case, 
for, gazing intently along the line of forest trees, I 
suddenly saw two or three advance into the open 
and enter the belt of high rushes which fringed 
the water. These were followed by others in 
twos and threes, until between twenty and thirty 
elephants, looking surprisingly small in the 
deceptive moonbeams, had plunged into the 
papyrus and reeds, in which they were practically 
engulfed. I immediately struck off into the trees 
to make the necessary detour to approach them, 
but as I did so heard the unmistakable sounds 
of still more members of the herd in the forest, 
where they had lagged behind. I therefore con- 
cealed myself in the shelter of some brushwood 
and awaited events. From the noises borne 
towards me by the steady night wind it was 
apparent that they were slowly approaching, — 
that is to say, they were feeding leisurely towards 
me in a way that would bring them across my 
front. Gradually the huge beasts drew nearer, 
until their internal stomach rumblings were per- 
fectly audible, as was also the hoarse rattling noise 
made when they blew through their trunks. 
At length, a little to my right front, the move- 
ment in the grass and rushes became more marked 
and a black, sinuous, snaky-looking trunk ap- 
peared over the concealing herbage, followed by 
another and another. The loud sucking noise 
made by the withdrawal of their immense feet 
from a depth of many inches of adhesive mud grew 



THE ELEPHANT 59 

louder and louder, and at length the grass opened 
and an immense head pushed its way through. 
This animal I took to be an old female, as the 
ivory she carried, so far as it was visible, seemed 
insignificant. It was difficult to judge sex by 
her height, as one could not be sure how much leg 
was embedded in the riiud. She continued on her 
way quite unconscious of danger, and was followed 
by two other elephants, — one a young bull with 
small but even tusks, and another whose ivory I 
was unable to distinguish. At that moment my 
hunter touched me excitedly on the knee, and 
pointed to where the first of the herd had emerged 
from the forest at the moment when a large bull 
with fine ivory strolled leisurely out from the 
trees. Even at the distance at which he displayed 
himself I saw that he possessed fine massive tusks, 
and I was consumed by an agony of doubt as to 
how to get a shot at him. Almost in less time 
than it takes to write the words he plunged into 
the rushes and was lost to sight as he mingled 
with the other members of the herd. It was quite 
clear that the rearward elephants would follow 
in the path of those now passing me, so, hastily 
abandoning my position I took a rifle in each hand 
and dashed off through the trees, if possible to head 
them off. Arrived at a point near the end of the 
marsh where the rushes dwindled to a height no 
longer capable of affording cover to so large an 
animal, I again concealed myself, and waited 
their coming with an excitement almost painful 
in its intensity. At length, after what to me 
appeared a long wait, but was probably not more 



60 THE ELEPHANT 

than a few minutes, they began to appear 70 or 80 
yards away, and nothing I have ever seen before 
or since in the wilds of Africa ever equalled the 
grandeur of the sight they presented. They 
appeared to glide noiselessly out of the rushes, 
and, looking black and massive in the moonlight, 
the vast rounded forms came almost straight 
towards me, quietly, and without any appearance 
of haste. It was ghostly, unreal, weird. I edged 
quietly away to get more on the flank as the dark 
mass drew slowly nearer. At that moment a 
loud, shrill trumpet screamed out from some- 
where to my right, and, glancing up, I saw that 
all the foremost of the elephants had wheeled 
round and, with trunks aloft and ears extended, 
were gazing in the direction of my tent. There 
was one moment of hesitation, and the next they 
had, as it seemed, disappeared. They simply 
appeared to melt away, and the only sign which 
marked their progress was an occasional crash 
far off in the forest as they dashed away in full 
flight. I never fired a shot, and, although as soon 
as it was light I took up their spoor, I never saw 
them again. I have no doubt that whilst I was 
anxiously waiting for them to pass me, one of 
those exasperating, light, variable currents of 
baffling air so common in the high forest country, 
had betrayed the whereabouts of my hidden 
carriers. The effect was instantaneous. Such 
are the heartrending disappointments for which 
the hunter of elephants must be prepared. 

I used to suppose that there was no reason 
why African elephants could not, in course of time, 



THE ELEPHANT 61 

come to be captured and domesticated or, at all 
events, trained to fulfil some useful mission in the 
Great Continent's future development, much in 
the same way as has been done in India ; but I 
have since come to feel that the difficulties in the 
way of such a project would be practically in- 
surmountable, and, even if it proved successful, 
it would be hampered by so many disadvantages 
as completely to nullify the benefits hoped for. 

To begin with, the conveyance of a complete 
kedah establishment to capture the great beasts, 
from India to Africa, accompanied as it would 
necessarily be by a numerous and highly paid 
trained staff, would be excessively costly. In 
the second place, the Indian animal being much 
smaller, it is doubtful if he would be capable 
of controlling his larger, fiercer, and more active 
African congener. Moreover, as has been pointed 
out by competent authorities on the subject, 
the herds of African elephants having such an 
immense radius of movement, the difficulties 
of their capture would be heightened, and the 
usual deliberate arrangement of the kedah estab- 
lishment rendered practically impossible. Finally, 
even if the domestication of African elephants 
proved successful, the necessary outlay for their 
maintenance would render their employment 
for ordinary purposes far too costly ; for whilst 
an elephant consumes 800 to 1000 lbs. weight of 
food per day, and will only carry about three- 
quarters of a ton, the same weight can be con- 
veyed by twenty-eight porters, whose daily 
ration of rice or maize would not exceed 56 lbs. 



62 THE ELEPHANT 

At the same time, some success has attended 
the efforts of the authorities of the Congo 
Free State in this direction. These, by dint 
of capturing the animals at an early age, 
have been successful in rearing and training 
them in various useful branches of station and 
district work. There is even understood to be 
a depot for the reception and education of young 
elephants on the River Welle, and already a 
number of them, variously estimated, are stated 
to be in active employment. In this way, of 
course, some considerable measure of success 
may be attained, but as to whether the practice 
can ever be adopted on a large scale must depend 
upon the adaptability of the African native as a 
mahout, and the suitability of the various regions 
in which the beasts may come to be employed 
from the point of view of yielding sufficient 
fodder for their daily needs. 



CHAPTER IV 

RHINOCEROS HIPPOPOTAMUS 

The eminent French naturalist Cuvier describes 
the black rhinoceros, the only variety existing 
in the districts to which this book devotes itself, 
as an animal of solitary habits, and much fiercer 
than the other four known members of this 
unlovely and unnecessary, if interesting, family. 
Speaking of these beasts as a whole, the authority 
mentioned draws particular attention to the 
singular peculiarity, not widely known, found 
in the so-called horns. As a matter of fact, the 
terrible weapons which the rhinoceros carries 
upon his thick nasal bone are not composed of 
horn at all. They are formed of hairs — ^long, 
coarse hairs glued, as it were, together by some 
curiously powerful conglutinating substance, and 
presenting, except at the base, all the appear- 
ance of horn of the hardest description. If, 
however, a section of this substance be ex- 
amined under a microscope, the capillary 
tubes composing it, glued together, are at 
once readily discernible. The foregoing is 
perhaps the chief peculiarity of this re- 
markable animal, the singular position of 
whose defensive weapons doubtless inspired 

the legends of ancient times which con- 
es 



64 THE RHINOCEROS ^ 

nected themselves with that fabulous form, the 
unicorn. 

The variety found throughout Central Africa, 
and, I believe, as far south as the North-Eastern 
Transvaal, is identical with that known to all 
great game hunters as the " Black Rhinoceros," 
although its colouring is not strikingly dissimilar 
from that of the so-called " white " variety. 
It was, I think, at one time supposed that its 
horns were equal in point of length, and several 
old writers on the fauna ot Africa have adopted 
this impression, of which I have, however, never 
yet seen an instance. As a rule the horns found 
on the Zambezian rhinoceros are smaller than 
those carried by animals found farther north, 
the largest shot by me within the district we 
are considering measuring 25j and 12f inches 
anterior and posterior respectively. This, for 
the Zambezia region, was an exceptional measure- 
ment, anterior horns as a rule seldom exceeding 
— or attaining — 20 inches. I remember reading 
in one of Mr. F. Vaughan Kirby's books a state- 
ment that this at one time prominent hunter 
had found in some village, in a neighbouring 
territory through which he happened to be 
passing, a pair of horns measuring 29 1 and 
I9|^ inches. This measurement I have never 
seen approached, and, if no mistake was made, 
I can only regard it as probable that the horns 
were brought from some distant part of the 
country. In British East Africa, however, 
specimens of this animal have been shot possess- 
ing horns greatly exceeding in length those I 



THE RHINOCEROS 65 

have mentioned. On the slopes of Mount Kenia, 
it is stated, a fine bull was recently killed with 
a horn measuring slightly over 40 inches, and 
even this measurement is said to have been 
exceeded in the same part of the country. 

The black rhinoceros is a large and powerful 
beast, probably weighing at maturity almost if 
not quite three tons. Only one calf is produced 
by the female at birth, which takes place, it is 
believed, during the early rains. The little 
beast rapidly acquires the necessary activity 
to enable him to follow his mother at a great 
pace, and is a perfect miracle of disproportionate 
ugliness for several years. But, considering its 
immense and somewhat unwieldy size, the speed 
with which the rhinoceros can get over the ground 
is extraordinary. He moves at a bounding 
gallop, not unlike that of an immense pig. Baker 
points out in one of his publications that the 
length of the hind leg from the thigh to the 
hock is the factor which affords the tremendous 
springing power which is the secret of this animal's 
vast speed, and with this I quite agree, as 
otherwise it could never reach such rapidity of 
motion with the remarkable smoothness which is 
another of its peculiarities. 

Possessing powers of scent almost if not 
quite as keen as those of the elephant, great 
quickness of hearing, unbounded irascibility, 
and the curiosity of an ill-regulated woman, the 
rhinoceros has nevertheless, fortunately for 
mankind, been furnished with very poor eyesight, 
a peculiarity to which many a hunter doubtless 



66 THE RHINOCEROS 

owes his life. As a general rule he avoids swamps, 
preferring dry, somewhat elevated tablelands, 
or belts of thorny jungle at the foot of a mountain 
range. Of extremely regular habits, he drinks 
before dawn and after sunset, frequenting as a 
rule the same watering-places. After the morning 
drink he feeds until as late as eight or nine o'clock, 
or on wet or cloudy mornings somewhat later, 
and then, entering some dense jungle or thorny 
belt, he proceeds to take his midday siesta. In 
spite of this usual practice, however, I have 
seen rhinoceros lying asleep, stern on to the 
wind, under the shelter of a tree in open grass 
country as late as noon. Contrary to the 
universal habit of charging on scent with which 
these animals are usually credited, in the case 
I am referring to the animal jumped up and 
trotted briskly away down wind, his head and 
tail in the air, without any hostile demonstration 
whatsoever. 

The favourite food of these beasts consists 
of the lower shoots and foliage of various trees 
and shrubs. Great predilection is displayed, in 
portions of the country where it occurs, for a 
kind of thorny acacia ; he also devours certain 
roots, and a low-growing ground -plant found 
on wide, treeless plains. Acacias, however, often 
denote the presence of rhinoceros, exhibiting 
clean-cut depredations where the powerful, 
scissor -like teeth and prehensile lips have pro- 
duced a topiary effect similar to that which 
would have followed the application of a pair 
of gardener's shears. With curious regularity, 



THE RHINOCEROS 67 

moreover, the rhinoceros, if undisturbed, visits, 
over considerable periods, the same places for the 
purpose of depositing his dung, which may 
sometimes be found in great piles, and forms 
another valuable indication of his presence in 
a district. It closely resembles that of a hippo- 
potamus, but is somewhat darker in colour. 

As I have already stated, the haunts of 
rhinoceros are to be found in sparse upland 
forest, on almost bare plains, and in rocky, 
thorny jungle. It was in such surroundings as 
the last-named that I came upon a very satis- 
factory bull in the beautiful Gorongoza region 
a few years ago. I was returning to my main 
camp on the Vunduzi River, after an unsuccessful 
search for elephants, and as usual was marching, 
with Lengo my elephant hunter, some few 
hundreds of yards ahead of my small party of 
native carriers. The Vunduzi, at the time of 
year at which the incident took place — namely, 
the middle of the winter season — is a small 
silvery stream of clear, cold water, splashing its 
musical way through a splendid confusion of 
big granite boulders, and under a leafy canopy 
of forest green. Here an open, grassy space 
where you could look upward at the mountain's 
scarred, precipitous sides ; there a stretch of 
thin forest where the stony ground yielded but 
poor nourishment for the multitudinous grasses 
which struggled for life. Small tongues of 
glistening sand pushed their way into the crystal- 
clear water, and on one of these, at an early 
hour of the morning, we found the fresh spoor 



68 THE RHINOCEROS 

of a passing rhinoceros, whose three-horn foot 
divisions rendered the identification of the beast 
a matter of ease. Len9o's eyes sparkled as 
he whispered " Pwete " (rhinoceros), and pro- 
ceeded in his inimitable manner to take up the 
spoor. For some distance this led down stream, 
and here the great beast had evidently browsed 
his way leisurely along, morsels of leaves and 
twigs found in the track being still wet with his 
saliva. Noiseless as shadows we now struck 
into the woodland, passing through clumps of 
feathery bamboo, and skirting great earth-red 
ant-hills. Here and there, where we traversed 
hard, stony ground thinly covered with fallen 
acacia leaves, the tracking became difficult, even 
the great weight of the rhinoceros appearing to 
make little or no impression. Still the hunters 
held steadily on. An hour passed in this way, 
when at length, approaching a thick patch of 
thorny bushes, my dusky companion stopped 
and, head on one side, listened intently. As he 
did so his usually tranquil features leaped into 
animation, and, pointing a lean but authori- 
tative finger at the cover, he nodded shortly 
to indicate that the beast had evidently fixed 
upon it for the enjoyment of his siesta. Upon 
this point we were not left long in doubt, for, with 
a sudden crash, he charged out of the bushes 
and passed us at a great rate, producing as he 
did so that curious whiffing sound which has 
been likened with some justice to the exhaust 
of a small steam-engine. As he appeared at 
first to be coming almost over us, Len9o evi- 



THE RHINOCEROS 69 

dently thought, as most natives do, that he was 
attacking us, but the merest glance was sufficient 
to show that nothing was farther from his mind. 
I had just time to push up the safety bolt of my 
•450 cordite rifle, when he was almost abreast 
of us, and my nickel-covered bullet caught 
him fair and square in the shoulder. He fell 
heavily, squealing like an immense pig, whereupon 
a second bullet behind the ear put an end to his 
troubles for good. Luckily for us, this beast 
did not appear to be attended by the almost 
invariable rhinoceros - bird (buphaga),^ or we 
should in all probability never have seen him. 
I concluded that he must have winded us when 
half asleep, and his invincible curiosity then got 
the better of him. 

Round about the southern slopes and foothills 
of Gorongoza Mountain, which I have endeavoured 
to describe in my book, Portuguese East Africa, 
there existed a considerable number of rhinoceros 
a few years ago, judging by the frequency with 
which their spoor was encountered, and only 
a few days after the incident I have just 
related, another very fine bull was lost by me 
in the same district. Curiously enough, on this 
occasion I had traced him for several miles 
down to high, reedy grass bordering somewhat 
swampy country, where, in the usual course 
of events, rhinoceros would not be expected 
to occur. Here the exasperating " rhino-bird " 
undoubtedly alarmed him, for I only got one 
glimpse of the massive body and horns before 

1 The Ox-picker. 
6 



70 THE RHINOCEROS 

he plunged into the undergrowth and dis- 
appeared. 

I have shot several specimens of the black 
rhinoceros in the northern portion of the Queli- 
mane district, where they are still to be found in 
considerable numbers. Here this animal dis- 
plays to the full his annoyance at the proximity 
of caravans of natives, a peculiarity by no means 
confined, as supposed by some, to those of 
British East Africa. I remember a story, which 
was told to me by one of the Portuguese ad- 
ministrators in the Lugella country, of a mis- 
fortune which happened to his accompanying 
kitchen-staff on an occasion when he was travelling 
in the interior. The pot-carriers seemed to have 
got in the way of a large rhinoceros, which 
charged the batterie de cuisine to such purpose 
that, as the unfortunate proprietor told me 
almost with tears in his eyes, not content with 
breaking by his tremendous impact the greater 
part of the sauce-pans and kettles, he added 
insult to injury by retiring at full gallop with an 
unreplaceable aluminium stew-pan impaled se- 
curely upon his anterior horn. 1 have often 
tried, with but partial success, to picture to my- 
self the dissipated appearance which the rash 
beast must have presented as he dashed through 
the forest thus Quixotically helmed. 

Hunting some few years ago in the southern 
part of the Quelimane district of Zambezia, I 
encountered a very large bull, the possessor, in- 
deed, of the finest pair of horns it has been my 
good fortune to obtain. His spoor was first per- 



THE RHINOCEROS 71 

ceived close to water, and for a time I was un- 
certain as to whether it might be that of a 
hippopotamus. As soon, however, as I got on 
to drier ground I saw unmistakably the kind oi 
beast we were following, and lay out along the 
tracks with an eagerness which my native com- 
panions — ^raw Zambezi villagers — were far from 
sharing. After a lew miles of easy and rapid 
progress the spoor led us to the edge of the usual 
thorny grass patch, and one of so gloomy and for- 
bidding an aspect that it seemed a likely enough 
resting-place for the animal's daily nap. It was 
very thick, and appeared to me to be one of the 
least desirable of places into which to follow a 
dangerous beast. I therefore swarmed up a 
neighbouring palm tree, and, having ascertained 
that the thicket was not one of very wide di- 
mensions — apparently not much more than an 
acre — I resolved to set it on fire on the windward 
side, and sent men round for that purpose. 

Presently a thin, blue smoke arose over the 
jungle, accompanied by the crackling of many 
exploding grass stems, then I heard a tremendous 
commotion and a warning shout. Following its 
almost invariable custom, the rhinoceros dashed 
down wind, and thus broke cover not much out 
of a straight line between me and his retreat. 
He seemed, indeed, to be coming almost straight 
in my direction as I stood in the friendly shelter 
of a good, thick tree trunk, but luckily sheered off 
somewhat as, in a few rapid bounds, he drew near. 
At a distance of about 20 yards I gave him a '577 
solid bullet high up on the shoulder as he bounded 



72 THE RHINOCEROS 

past. This brought him down squeahng lustily, 
as they appear always to do. However, he 
speedily recovered himself, and made off at a great 
rate. Having only a single-barrelled rifle of 
somewhat antiquated type, 1 was unable to get a 
second shot in until he was well under way, when 
I fired again for the root of his tail, but ap- 
parently without result. Loading the rifle again, 
I dashed after him, and soon came upon a thick 
blood-spoor which showed that the wound was a 
mortal one, its frothy appearance indicating that 
the animal's lungs had been pierced. After a 
short interval of sprinting and fast walking 1 came 
up with him going very groggily through open 
forest. I reached him just as he began to stumble, 
and as he was in the act of lying down I gave him 
a bullet in the neck which broke the spinal 
column. He was in very fine condition, and his 
horns, 25^ inches and 12 1 inches, are the finest I 
possess. 

Before leaving the subject of these interesting 
animals I should like to remind those who may 
one day go in pursuit of them that various portions 
of their anatomy can be made into most fas- 
cinating trophies, of which, as a rule, the hunter 
does not make half enough. I have in my pos- 
session, fashioned from the feet of the black 
rhinoceros, cigar and cigarette boxes, match 
stands and a jewel case; whilst the hide of 
another furnished me with a most uncommon 
and really beautiful polished table, which would 
rather resemble old, semi-transparent amber if 
it were not for the surrounding edging of natural 



THE WHITE RHINOCEROS 73 

skin, which proclaims at once the nature of the 
material. 

Although the square - mouthed, so - called 
" White " Rhinoceros is not found at any 
point in the region of Zambezia, some passing 
reference to this remarkable form may not 
be without interest. Mr. Selous has informed 
me that when he was hunting in Matabele- 
land about the year 1872, these immense beasts 
— second in size only to the elephant — were 
still so plentiful that, once away from the in- 
habited areas, he found it not unusual, without 
any special exertion, to come upon as many 
as five or six a day. On one occasion he suc- 
ceeded in killing a large male with a horn of the 
amazing measurement of more than 50 inches, 
whilst I have reason to believe that even this 
gigantic length has been greatly exceeded in other 
cases. 

Up to about the year 1890, the white rhino- 
ceros was found, although no longer plentifully, 
in Mashonaland between the Hunyani and the 
Angwe Rivers. A Mr. Coryndon, I believe, suc- 
ceeded in obtaining one or two there a year or two 
afterwards, and the last of which, so far as I am 
aware, we have any record was killed in the same 
district about the year 1894. The only surviving 
members of this interesting family in South 
Africa are at present preserved in the Zululand 
Game Reserve, and are said to number rather less 
than a score. Of late, unhappily, these animals 
appear to have been dogged by the very genius 
of evil fortune, since, I learn, one very fine bull 



74 THE WHITE RHINOCEROS 

was recently killed in a fight, which must have 
been worth witnessing, with the solitary elephant 
the Reserve boasts ; two more broke av/ay from 
their sanctuary, and were speared by natives into 
whose gardens they had penetrated ; and a fourth 
fell over a precipice during a severe thunder- 
storm, and died of the injuries he received. 

Alter many years of uncertainty — almost of 
despair — lest the great white rhinoceros should 
be upon the point of becoming extinct, it was 
suddenly rediscovered, I believe in the Lado 
Enclave on the Nile ; and it has since been 
ascertained that at this point, as also on por- 
tions of the Upper Congo and in the Western 
Soudan, it exists in such numbers as to set at 
rest for centuries to come all fear of its final 
extermination. 

The extraordinary break which occurs be- 
tween the two far-removed portions of the African 
Continent wherein the white rhinoceros occurs, 
extending, as it does, from the South Central 
Zambezi to the Upper Congo, is very difficult to 
account for. I have, however, sometimes thought 
that this animal may originally have worked its 
way down through the western central portion of 
the continent of Africa at a time when the great 
forests of the Congo were as yet undeveloped, and 
before they stretched so far to the eastward as 
they do at the present day. Spreading over 
Mashonaland, Matabeleland, and the country to 
the south, these animals were thus, in the course 
of ages, completely cut off from their northern 
brethren by the gradually eastward-spreading 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 75 

forests of the Congo basin, into which, it is well 
known, white rhinoceros will not penetrate. After 
the lapse of many centuries, therefore, had they 
felt any disposition to return to mingle once 
more with their northern relatives, they would 
have found it impossible to pass round the vast 
expanse of dense forest, their path being barred 
by the upper waters of the Zambezi, at that time 
indisputably a much deeper and more important 
stream than it is at present. Complete isolation, 
then, for many centuries overtook these southern 
migrants, and whilst they grew dangerously near 
to extinction in the south, their kindred beyond 
the Congo forest lands tasted the sweets, had they 
but known it, of a peace and comparative free- 
dom from danger to which those in the south have 
for many years been strangers. 

Throughout practically all the rivers and 
streams of Zambezia, that immense aquatic 
form, the Hippopotamus, occurs still in con- 
siderable numbers. When I first ascended the 
Zambezi, nearly twenty years ago, that river, 
and its tributary the Shire, were the abiding- 
places of many large herds of these animals. 
I have seen them sleeping on the sandbanks at 
the head of the Chinde mouth in the warm sun- 
shine of midday, whilst in the Shire they were so 
numerous, for some years thereafter, as to be a 
source of danger to the many native canoes which 
daily plied upon the river. Of late, however, in 
consequence of the increasing number of steamers 
and barges now running, and to the misplaced per- 
severance with which they have been fired upon, 



76 THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

and doubtless wounded from time to time, by a 
class of so-called " sportsmen " travelling back- 
ward and forward, they have largely withdrawn 
from the lower waters of the Zambezi, doubtless 
seeking, in the less-frequented outlets of the delta 
and the extensive swamps which lie near its 
mouth to the south of the great river, that security 
which its main channels will perhaps never again 
afford them. But, putting aside the Zambezi and 
its tributaries, practically every stream of that 
wide region affords a home and a refuge for this 
great amphibian, and he can be found in them all 
by the seeker after specimens. 

Although not occurring in any portion of the 
globe except in the continent of Africa, the range 
of the hippopotamus within that enormous 
division of the earth's surface is extraordinarily 
wide. From the Nile to the waters of Zululand, 
and from one side of the continent to the other, 
it still exists in great numbers wherever sufficient 
of its favourite element is found to afford it a 
permanent home. 

The male measures about 14 ft. from the snout 
to the tip of his tail, and is an immense and heavy 
animal, coming in point of weight probably next 
to the elephant, exceeding that of the black, and 
probably even that of the white, rhinoceros. He 
has, moreover, the distinction of possessing the 
largest mouth of any African mammal. A full- 
grown male would, I feel sure, be found to weigh 
nearly, if not quite, 4 tons, judging from the 
difficulty experienced by me some few years ago 
at Quelimane in getting one hoisted by the steam- 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 77 

winch of a large Norwegian steamer on to the 
vessel's deck. 

They are essentially amphibious, and indifferent 
as to whether the water they inhabit be fresh or 
brackish or salt. I have seen them at the en- 
trance to the Chinde River, at a point which is 
practically on the seacoast, and I am informed 
that they may still be observed at the mouths of 
some of the smaller streams which discharge into 
the Indian Ocean between that point and Queli- 
mane, as also in those to the northward. It has 
been said by some writers that the specific gravity 
of these animals is such that they are thereby 
enabled to run along the bed of a river with 
great speed. With this statement, however, I 
do not agree. I have watched them from a 
position high over the clear waters of the Shire 
River above the Murchison Falls on several oc- 
casions, and I am satisfied that their usual method 
of progression under water is by swimming. 
This they can undoubtedly do at a great rate ; 
moreover, as I have observed in the Macuze and 
Licungu Rivers, as also in the Lugella, they can 
successfully breast extraordinarily swift currents 
which would probably not be attempted by any 
other beast except an otter. 

The hippopotamus is a nocturnal animal. 
During the night he leaves the water, and, follow- 
ing the network of tunnel-like " hippo-tracks," 
as they have come universally to be called, which 
he pierces along the banks of the streams wherein 
he spends his days, he makes his way leisurely to 
the feeding grounds. A vegetarian by habit and 



78 THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

conviction, within the wide limits of the diet of 
his special predilection he displays a considerable 
catholicity of taste. In surroundings far removed 
from human habitation, his inordinate appetite 
gluts itself upon grasses, sedges, and the young 
shoots of reeds ; but woe betide the sugar plan- 
tation, the native maize garden or millet field, 
whither his errant steps may lead him — it would 
have been better that it had been stricken simul- 
taneously by several converging tempests. In 
the night, during the dry weather, his wanderings 
do not usually lead him far from the river or lake 
in which his days are passed ; but in the rainy 
season, when much of the low-lying country is at 
times submerged, he will wander far away from 
his natural haunts, to the no small alarm of 
individuals he may meet on the path, and to the 
serious detriment of areas under cultivation. In 
this way sometimes these animals may be found 
in waters far from their usual place of resort ; but 
this is usually only because of their dislike to travel- 
ling by day on terra firma. They would thus 
infinitely prefer to seek a day's lodging or im- 
mersion in unknown or unaccustomed pools, and 
there await the shadow of the following nightfall, 
to returning overland late in the morning in cir- 
cumstances which might conceivably give occa- 
sion for explanations of an embarrassing charac- 
ter. Be this as it may, the hippopotamus is a 
niglit bird, and all the sins and depredations which 
have been laid to his charge have almost in- 
variably been perpetrated under cover of the 
darkness. 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 79 

By day, if disturbed, they instantly plunge, 
and either swim away under water or remain 
concealed until the impending danger has passed 
them by. For this purpose they are endowed 
with the power of remaining below the surface for 
periods variously estimated, but believed to reach 
a maximum of ten or twelve minutes. They then 
rise to the surface, and sometimes silently, some- 
times with a curious sobbing bellow, audible for 
great distances, they release the pent-up contents 
of their enormous lungs almost without disturbing 
the surface, take in a fresh supply, and sink once 
more from view. 

The hippopotamus breeds all the year round, 
producing one calf at a birth, the period of 
gestation being between eight and nine months. 
After the birth of the calf, the cows, as in the cases 
of other animals, become extremely savage, and 
doubtless many of the stories told of attacks upon 
and overturnings of canoes and other craft may 
have their origin in some unintended intrusion 
upon the resting-place of a watching mother. I 
have heard it stated that whilst very young and 
helpless the baby hippos at times fall victims to 
the attacks of crocodiles, and it has been even said 
that several females, as the time for the interesting 
event approaches, will be at pains to rid the pool 
or other expanse of water near which their off- 
spring are born from the presence of these rep- 
tiles. In any case, for a long time after birth, 
the maternal instinct is touchingly strong, and 
the tiny animals pass the greater part of their 
time standing on the backs and shoulders of their 



80 THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

respective dams, who are ever on the watch for 
the approach of danger. 

The males are very pugnacious, and the com- 
bats which take place between them when they 
are found in large numbers are of nightly oc- 
currence. I have often listened to the tremendous 
roars by which their struggles are accompanied, 
as I have also seen on the skins of old bulls the 
marks of the terrible injuries they inflict upon 
each other. These animals are invariably very 
fat, and their meat, not unlike coarse beef, is by 
no means to be despised. They are gifted with 
good sight and hearing, and their scent is quite 
remarkably acute. 

Some years ago in the Quelimane River, 
returning in my boat from a morning among the 
wild-duck of Chuabo Dembi, I was somewhat 
annoyed at the aggressive conduct of a hippopot- 
amus which frightened the lives out of my native 
boatmen by a series of demonstrations which I 
must own were very far from reassuring. At 
length, getting somewhat alarmed for the safety 
of my smart gig, — which, moreover, was Govern- 
ment property, — I waited for a suitable oppor- 
tunity, and at a distance of about 15 or 20 yards 
I planted a '303 nickel-covered bullet low down 
between the beast's eye and ear. She dis- 
appeared instantly from view, but the water was 
shallow, and I felt convinced that my shot had 
proved instantly fatal. We were therefore pre- 
paring to " feel " for her with an oar when the 
tiny head of a calf appeared above water, and my 
materially-minded boatmen exhorted me to shoot 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 81 

again. It was, of course, a pity none of us had 
noticed the little creature before, as, had we done 
so, the mother's life might have been spared — if, 
that is, she had dropped her unpleasantly ag- 
gressive tactics ; but there it was, and so we made 
up our minds at all hazards to catch it. First 
of all, the mother's body had to be dragged as 
high up on a neighbouring sandbank as eight 
lusty arms could move it — and that, needless to 
say, was not very far ; but the manoeuvre was so 
far successful that the calf, which was about the 
size of a full-grown pig, at once drew near to its 
unconscious parent. My head boatman then 
essayed the capture, followed half-heartedly by 
the remainder of the crew. He succeeded in 
getting hold of one of the little beast's hind legs ; 
there was a momentary struggle, and both the 
combatants gallantly took the water — ^the calf to 
make its escape, and the boatman impelled by the 
momentum it administered to him. Some time 
elapsed before the little creature again came forth , 
and, in the meantime, the receding tide had ex- 
posed considerably more of the parent's carcass ; 
so another attempt was made by several of us 
together, and again, after an irresistible scatter- 
ing, he sought safety in the water. During the 
interval which now ensued we had leisure to 
concert somewhat different tactics, and when the 
favourable moment again presented itself, the 
boatmen en masse precipitated themselves upon 
their quarry and bore it down by sheer weight of 
numbers, whilst I roped it up with the mainsail 
sheet . 



82 THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

For three months young Jumbo, as he came to 
be called, was the chief feature of Quelimane, and 
my house became each evening the recognised 
lounging-place for all the lazy and curious Portu- 
guese in the district. He speedily became touch- 
ingly tame, and took his three wash-hand basins 
of warm, sweetened, preserved milk per day with 
a relish which aroused hope of approaching inde- 
pendence of the feeder. The drollery of his some- 
what elephantine antics was perfectly irresistible, 
whilst his grave imitations in the duck-pond, in 
rear of the consular premises, of the habits and 
manners of the mature beasts, was a spectacle it 
was difficult to behold unmoved. I intended to 
present him to the Zoological Society, but fate 
decided otherwise, for in the end, to my great 
regret, he faded away and died. 

One of the most remarkable features of the 
hippopotamus is his mouth and its contents. 
The principal teeth consist of four enormous 
incisors above and below. The lower canine 
teeth — so to term them — are curved into the 
shape almost of a perfect semicircle, and placed 
together will usually, in the case of a large bull, 
span the waist of a full-grown man. The upper 
teeth are by no means so impressive, either the 
grinders or the incisors; but between the lower 
" canine " teeth two enormous straight tusks ap- 
pear, sometimes fully 18 inches or more in length, 
which I suppose are employed in digging out roots 
in the same way as that in which the elephant 
uses his tusks. These, and the two immense 
curved teeth to which I have referred, are doubt- 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 83 

less the means whereby the roots of subaqueous 
plants are collected ; but viewed when the creature 
opens the vast, yawning, pink chasm in which 
they are set, they present an appearance at once 
interesting and impressive. The enamel upon 
these teeth is extremely hard, and the ivory of 
which they consist of so fine a grain that many 
years ago it commanded a high price, and was 
much esteemed by dentists for the manufacture 
of artificial teeth. 

The hippopotamus, as I think I have men- 
tioned elsewhere, is greatly, and far from unjustly, 
dreaded by the natives for the stupid habit he 
has formed of at times upsetting their boats and 
canoes. Journeying by these means, as I have 
often had occasion to do in the rivers of Zambezia, 
sometimes it has been with the utmost difficulty 
that the paddlers could be induced to pass these 
animals, and then they would only do so as close 
to the bank as possible. Although I have never 
sustained any inconvenience in this way, I have 
seen canoes upset, and I am acquainted with 
persons who have suffered considerable losses from 
this cause. I can imagine no position more 
desperate than to find oneself suddenly and with- 
out warning in the heart of Africa, stripped of all 
one's belongings — firearms, medicines, and pro- 
visions — by the overturning of a canoe in the deep 
and rapid streams one is obliged occasionally to 
cross in that country ; and one's appreciation of 
the crushing misfortune is by no means increased 
by the reflection that it may have resulted from 
the perpetration of a practical joke. This sup- 



84 THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

position, though it may be regarded as rather 
far-fetched, is heightened by the fact that, having 
overturned you, the huge, humorous amphibian 
makes no effort to do you any further harm. He 
simply raises his head out of the water a few yards 
away, and watches you struggle up the muddy 
river-bank, with a grave yet playful expression 
which seems to say, " I hope you don't mind, but 
it was a lark." 

Sir Samuel Baker in one of his books recounts 
an instance of extraodinary ferocity on the part 
of one of these beasts which I should be inclined 
to regard as rare even for the Nile, in which 
it occurred. After charging the paddle-wheel 
steamer which was engaged in towing his daha- 
beah, and breaking off a number of floats, it 
dropped astern and rammed the vessel with its 
projecting tusks, a dangerous leak being only 
stopped with great difficulty. I have never heard 
of any similar instance on the Zambezi, where, so 
far as I am aware, steamers of all kinds have been 
from the beginning entirely tree from attack. 

Judging by my personal experience of the 
hippopotamus — and I have seen many hundreds 
of these animals during the last twenty years — I 
cannot share the opinions of other writers who 
describe them as being fierce and dangerous 
animals in the water or out. Its so-called attacks 
upon boats and canoes are, in my opinion, in the 
majority of cases, the outcome of either curiosity 
or stupidity, leavened perhaps with more than a 
suspicion of practical joking. Still, no doubt 
instances have occurred where the beast meant 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 85 

mischief, and where his conduct showed every 
symptom of anger and ferocity ; but my view of 
such cases, or many of them, is that they have 
been perpetrated by some unfortunate beast 
which in the past, as the result of gunshot wounds 
or other provocation, has conceived a strong dis- 
taste for humanity as a whole, memories of his 
wrongs prompting him to wreak vengeance upon 
his tormentors in the same way that an elephant 
will under similar stimulus. I fancy that the 
responsibility for a great many of these acts of 
aggression which are laid to the charge of the 
hippopotamus should of right be laid upon the 
persons who have futilely wounded them in the 
past, and caused them pain and torture for which 
it is hardly unnatural that they should seek a day 
of reckoning. 

Natives of South, Central, and East Africa as 
a whole hunt the hippopotamus for his hide, his 
fat, and his meat. The hide of a well-grown 
bull is often nearly 2 inches thick, and makes all 
sorts of useful and attractive articles, from riding- 
whips to card-trays. It is at the same time used 
all over Africa as an instrument of torture — the 
" Sjambok " of the Boer, the " Chikote " of the 
Portuguese, and the " Khurbash " of North 
Africa being one and the same thing, with slight 
variations. In other words, it is an appalling 
and merciless whip about 5 feet long, tapering 
from the thickness of one's thumb to that of an 
ordinary pencil, and, as I have sometimes seen it 
far from the ken of the Indigenes Protection 
Society, terminating in a piece of thin steel wire. 
7 



86 THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

In skilful hands, this terrible weapon, applied to 
the native's naked back, cuts like a knife, and I 
have seen sickening sights as the result of its 
application. This hide is also used for making 
shields somewhat similar to those carried by 
certain of the Somali tribes, and fashioned from 
the skin of the black rhinoceros. From the 
coatings of the stomach as much as nearly 2 cwt. 
of excellent fat may be extracted, whilst portions 
of the meat — for example, the brisket boiled in salt 
and water — is far from unpalatable. 

The chief methods of capture pursued by 
natives are pitfalls and harpooning. The latter 
method, which used to be a very favourite 
one on the Zambezi, where I have witnessed it, 
consists in planting in the animal's body a large 
barbed spear secured by a length of strong rope 
to a heavy log of wood which acts in the water as 
a float. The hippopotamus, with one or more of 
these attached to him, is then vigorously hunted 
by several scores of savages armed with spears, 
and after a longer or shorter period is finally ex- 
hausted and speared to death. I remember some 
years ago travelling up the Shire River in an open 
boat and stumbling on to one of these not infre- 
quent hunts. The first intimation I had of what 
was in progress was a pressing request from the 
interested persons to tie my boat up to the river- 
bank until it was over. 1 then perceived a number 
of natives, armed as I have described, rushing along 
the river-bank, following the dancing vagaries 
of a large log of wood which hurtled about through 
the water as though it was endowed with life. 



THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 87 

To and fro, backward and forward, the wretched 
hippopotamus was urged without a moment's 
rest or respite, until at length, quitting 
the water, and still dragging the massive log 
behind him, he bounded over the sands and 
shallows, his pursuers running in nimbly one by- 
one and inflicting thrust alter thrust with their 
long, lance-like spears. Goaded almost to mad- 
ness, and already in evident distress, the poor 
beast made for the high banks, hoping, no doubt, 
to gain sanctuary ashore ; but between the sand- 
banks of the river and the reed-crowned river- 
banks above, a belt of soft mud occurred, into 
which his short legs sank. No sooner did he 
reach this than a score of natives flung themselves 
upon him. He made one furious effort to extri- 
cate himself, but, dragged back by the ponderous 
float, and weakened by loss of blood, he sank down 
at length and was speedily dispatched. 

For my own part; the hunting of the hippo- 
potamus, unless one attack him from a boat, 
lacks the least trace of sport. From the bank of a 
river the hunter's position is one of perfect safety, 
and he can fire away his last cartridge in the fullest 
certainty that he has nothing to fear. All that 
is required is elementary care and a powerful 
rifle, and enough of these immense animals may 
be shot to glut the appetite for slaughter of even 
the most bloodthirsty. 



CHAPTER V 

BUFFALO : ZEBRA : ELAND : SABLE : ROAN 

Passing from consideration of the pachyderms, 
we now come to the next largest of the great game 
beasts which may still be found in considerable, 
I believe in increasing, numbers in various parts 
of the district of Zambezia. 

The large, powerful, and dangerous animal 
which has come to be called the " Cape Buffalo " 
inhabited at one time in immense herds practically 
the whole of South-East Africa. But since about 
1896, as the result of an appalling visitation of 
rinderpest, which swept down the African con- 
tinent from north to south, this magnificent type, 
although still far from extinct, exists but as an 
almost negligible fraction of the vast numbers 
which formerly roamed over the country. About 
1894, Cheringoma, the country to the north of the 
lower course of the Zambezi, as also both sides of 
the Shire River, — in fact, practically the whole of 
the plains of Zambezia, — were thickly populated 
by large herds of buffaloes, which, up to that time, 
had existed practically undisturbed from, and 
long before, the earliest days whence European 
knowledge of the land can be dated. That long- 
dead Portuguese priest, Frade Joao dos Santos, 
in a supremely interesting topographical work 



THE BUFFALO 89 

published in Lisbon in 1609, and doubtless 
written many years before, tells of the buffaloes 
which at that period overran the country of 
which the once busy and important seaport of 
Sofala was then the outlet. He states in chapter 
xxii. of Ethiopia Oriental that these animals 
were exceedingly fierce and numerous, and that 
the greater part of the native hunters sooner or 
later died upon their horns. He quaintly de- 
scribes them as being very jealous of the cows and 
calves, so much so that at sight of a human being 
they would follow him and charge more furiously 
than the most savage bull of the arena.^ Thence- 
forward, as without doubt they had done for 
centuries, the vast herds went on increasing, their 
only enemy the lion; for man, with his rude 
weapons and wholesome respect, must have oc- 
cupied in this majestic animal's estimation but 
a negligible, disregarded place. Some dim idea 
of the mortality which ensued on the appearance 
of the rinderpest can therefore be formed. I 
have been told by Portuguese long resident in 
the forests of Shupanga, in the district of Sena, 
and on the plains of Luabo, that for many months 
after the appearance of the disease the whole 
face of the country stank. I myself have seen, 
deep in the forest fastnesses of these districts, 
wide expanses of snow-white bones where the 
great herds, overtaken by the fatal malady, lay 
down and perished by scores. 

^ Ha muitos bufaros mui bravos em cujos cornos morrem 
ordinariamente os cagadores d'esta terra, porque sao mui ciosos 
das femeas e filhos, e em vendo qualquer pessoa logo a vfio 
buscar e accommeter com mais furia que um bravo touro. 



90 THE BUFFALO 

Then if ever must the great carnivora have 
realised to the full their day of plenty, and the 
antelopes, with the sad exceptions of the eland 
and kudu, enjoyed a period of restful immunity 
from pursuit which they have never experienced 
either before or since. 

Only odd isolated corners here and there 
escaped, in some cases unaccountably, the effects 
of the scourge ; and now, little by little, especially 
where due and proper protection is afforded them, 
the buffaloes are increasing slowly but steadily. 
This increase, still more real than apparent, is 
found south of the Zambezi at various points, 
but notably in Luabo, and in a minor degree in 
certain parts of Cheringoma and the Shupanga 
Forest; but, travelling through the Quelimane 
district last year from the borders of Nyasaland 
to the Indian Ocean, I saw abundant evidence 
that in Mlanje, Lugella, and portions of the 
Mlokwe districts, the buffaloes were getting once 
more fairly numerous. Not that here they 
suffered from rinderpest, as it is believed that 
the Quelimane district as a whole largely, if not 
wholly, escaped the pest, but probably through 
the inactivity of former destructive agencies such 
as the firearmed native hunter, — now happily 
largely employed elsewhere, — to say nothing of 
the European sportsman who used to find in 
Quelimane a district where regulations were but 
seldom obtruded. 

In Luabo I have seen of recent years herds 
that must have numbered from one hundred to 
over three hundred head, and these, as they sweep 



THE BUFFALO 91 

in course of time back westward to Shupanga and 
Inyaminga, will no doubt enable these districts 
to present to the hunter's eye something dimly 
recalling the appearance which they must have 
presented in the far-off days of the early nineties. 

At a distance of a few hundred yards, seen in 
the open plain, a herd of buffaloes looks very like 
an assemblage of enormous dusky cattle — an illu- 
sion greatly assisted by the fact that they have 
all the habits of their domestic brethren. I do 
not know what a full-grown male may weigh, but 
it seems to me that half a ton may form a moderate 
estimate. Of dark, slaty grey, the skin of buffa- 
loes, except in the cases of the younger animals, 
usually possesses scarcely any hairy coat at all. 
The older he grows the less hair he exhibits, until, 
in the case of a really aged animal, practically no 
hirsute covering is discernible. The head is very 
large, and armed with magnificent, majestic, 
wide-based horns which curve outward and down- 
ward from the centre of the forehead, and then 
form a powerful upward hook. Those carried by 
females are much smaller than male horns ; they 
do not meet in the centre of the forehead, nor have 
they the massive, rugged wide base which lends 
him such an air of power and dignity. A bluff 
squareness of jowl, which one finds but rarely 
reproduced in illustrations of this interesting form, 
also indicates a stubborn resolution difficult to 
associate with any other family, if, perhaps, we 
except the larger carnivora. 

The cows calve in the autumn from March to 
May, producing only one calf at a birth. These 



92 THE BUFFALO 

small animals are at times not difficult to capture 
on the stampeding of a herd, and several attempts 
have been made within my knowledge to rear 
them ; but I never heard of one proving successful. 
The calves die, sometimes after having become 
strikingly and quite touchingly tame, of some 
curious malady, but not infrequently from pneu- 
monia. 

Buffaloes drink twice in the twenty-four hours, 
and are seldom found far from water ; but whilst 
slaking their thirst at night in a clear, cool river 
or running stream, their morning draught may 
be from the marsh or bog, or from any source 
which involves no trouble to reach. They are 
night feeders, and, if undisturbed, lie up during the 
day in moderately thick, bushy country ; or if it 
be very hot, they will spend some time rolling in 
wet mud, or standing, or at times lying, in marsh 
water shaded by thickets of high spear grass — 
surroundings in which, needless to say, it is most 
difficult to approach them. 

Buffaloes are exceedingly wary, and seem at 
times possessed of a degree of intelligence second 
only to that of the elephant, whose neighbour in a 
game country they will usually be found. It is a 
common experience, for example, having spoored 
a herd of these animals for hours from dawn 
onward, to find that before selecting the spot 
for their daily rest they have described a half- 
circle in such a way as to lie up down wind from 
their tracks, with the natural result that the 
hunter, following on their spoor, has no chance 
whatsoever of coming up, being given hopelessly 



THE BUFFALO 93 

away by the wind long before the herd is neared. 
They practically always stampede down wind, 
and therefore, when once they have been lost sight 
of, the only method to follow is to make a wide 
circle and follow back up wind in the hope of 
finding them. Much depends, however, on the 
conformation of the district, and upon how far 
one is able to see across it. 

I consider it probable that no animal in all 
the long list of African great game is endowed 
with more terrible ferocity than the buffalo, when 
once his resentment has been aroused. It is a 
well-known fact that when wounded these animals 
will frequently retreat into high grass or other 
similar cover, and, turning aside off their tracks, 
will await the appearance of the hunter, whom they 
will then take at a disadvantage as he approaches, 
his eyes fixed upon the ground. Having tossed or 
knocked down their adversary, they will turn upon 
the prostrate form, and, with diabolical transports 
of uncontrollable rage, stamp and gore and tear 
it until the poor unrecognisable remains are almost 
rent limb from limb. 

A wounded buffalo, it may be taken as certain, 
will charge in more than seventy per cent, of 
cases. In thick cover — forest or high grass — it 
will practically always charge if wounded at close 
quarters, and on level plain, unencumbered by 
grass or forest, they will charge at various dis- 
tances, sometimes with provocation and some- 
times without. Nearness may always be re- 
garded as an incentive for them to turn upon their 
pursuer, who must regulate his conduct by the 



94 THE BUFFALO 

exercise of cool judgment and resolution, or he 
will assuredly be killed. I have found in my own 
experience that, in open country, the charging 
buffalo must be quietly awaited, and as he ap- 
proaches, his nose thrust forward and his chest 
exposed, a bullet from a heavy cordite rifle will 
frequently stop him. A raking shot through the 
centre of the chest has twice saved me from po- 
sitions of some uncertainty, and I can strongly 
recommend it to sportsmen finding themselves in 
similar perilous case. 

On one occasion I was hunting on the great 
plains south of the Inyamissengo or Kongoni 
mouth of the Zambezi, and in the district of East 
Luabo, when I encountered a large herd of these 
animals. These plains are the sources of several 
rivers and streams, among others of the Mungari, 
Mupa, and Gadzi. They are, as a whole, bare of 
all but the shortest and most stunted of grasses, 
and the eye can follow the circle of the horizon 
nearly all the way round, save for curious island- 
like patches of trees, isolated forest-patches which 
form the cool, daily resting-places of the many 
wild animals which here abound. I had followed 
upon the tracks of the herd for several hours, 
and at length came within sight of them. They 
had halted upon an expanse of high, dusty 
ground well out in the open, and, whilst some 
stood about in groups, their tufted tails flicking 
ceaselessly at the clouds of flies which are their 
constant companions, others lay quietly resting, 
doubtless lazily chewing the cud after their man- 
ner, and, as I reconnoitred them through a pair of 



THE BUFFALO 95 

powerful glasses, looking for all the world like a 
large herd of overgrown, dusky cattle. The wind 
blew lightly but consistently in our direction, and 
at a distance of 700 or 800 yards the buffaloes 
had taken absolutely no notice of us. Luckily, 
considering its uncompromising features, the 
plain was intersected by a number of dry, shallow 
channels, evidently the means of escape for the 
heavy, torrential downfalls of the summer rains, 
and along one of these, closely followed by my 
two hunters, I proceeded to crawl slowly. It was 
a long, weary task, rendered the more difficult 
and disagreeable by the dust which flew up and 
persistently filled our eyes and mouths and 
nostrils. From time to time, as the distance 
grew shorter, the sound of the clicking of horns 
striking together, or the domineering bellow of 
some salacious bull, was borne towards us, until 
at length, weary, grimy, and out of breath, we 
peeped over the upper edge of our cover, to see, 
with a sigh of excited relief, that not much more 
than 140 yards separated us from the unconscious 
animals. By subsequent cautious manoeuvring, 
I succeeded in reducing this to about 120 yards, 
and then, fairly dead beat, and with our hearts 
thumping against our ribs as though to burst 
through, we all lay fiat down for a few seconds 
to recover our wind and steadiness. It was an 
eerie position, and we were not unmindful that 
when the herd should finally stampede, as stam- 
pede sooner or later they must, it was an even 
chance that, not having made us out, they might 
do so right over the top of us. After a minute 



96 THE BUFFALO 

or two spent thus, I raised my head and made 
out rather a fine bull with massive horns standing 
broadside on at the left-hand edge of the herd. 
Reaching for my '500 express, therefore, I took a 
steady aim for the point of his shoulder, and gently 
pressed the trigger. At the shot he stumbled 
forward with a bellow, and was immediately lost 
to sight as the great mass of astonished animals 
rose to their feet; but at that moment an ex- 
clamation from the hunters drew my attention to 
three cows, which had, I fancy, been lying con- 
cealed in some slight depression, and were quite 
close — certainly not more than 80 yards on our 
right front. Two of these halted after they had 
trotted for some distance towards us in an un- 
certain manner ; but the third, uttering a succes- 
sion of hoarse, menacing grunts, charged straight 
down upon us, her nose vengefully extended. I 
had just time, with only one cartridge in my un- 
discharged barrel, to swing the rifle on to her. At 
about 30 yards I fired for the centre of the massive 
chest, where, had it even reached her, my bullet 
might easily not have stopped her in time. For- 
tunately for me, however, at that moment she 
either stumbled in the loose dust of the plain, 
or for some other reason momentarily lowered 
her extended head. My bullet struck her full in 
the face, and she must have died instantly ; but 
so great was the momentum of her charge that 
she was carried almost up to us before she finally 
lay still. At the second shot, the herd, which up 
to that moment had been stricken motionless with 
amazement, began to move heavily off, leaving 



THE BUFFALO— THE ZEBRA 97 

as it did so the bull at which I had first fired. He 
was quite dead when I examined him, my bullet 
having fortunately found the heart. 

The charge which I sustained from the mis- 
guided cow has always been a profound mystery 
to me. She was a young animal, in good con- 
dition, unaccompanied by any calf, and, so far as 
I could ascertain, quite unwounded by any pre- 
vious hunter. This incident, therefore, affords 
additional evidence of the uncertainty of conduct 
which these beasts at a given moment will adopt, 
and is, I think, a complete answer to the con- 
tentions of some writers who have stated that 
buffaloes never charge in open country unless 
wounded or at close quarters. 

Of the three distinct species of Zebras which, 
so far as our present knowledge extends, are 
found in the various portions of the African 
continent, the only member of this beautiful 
family of the horses found in East and South 
Central Africa is that so widely known as 
Burchell's Zebra. Of course, in stating that there 
are only three varieties of this animal, I am in- 
fluenced by a desire, so far as possible, to avoid 
confusion and technicality. We know quite well 
that, of Burchell's variety alone, scientists, whose 
prevailing peculiarity it seems to be to endeavour, 
in so far as they can, to render confusion many 
times worse confounded, have identified no less 
than four subdivisions, and these have been 
accepted and established ; but as this book is 
intended for the information of the unscientific 
reader, who cares but little for " shadow-stripes " 



98 THE ZEBRA 

and other peculiarities, we will thankfully accept 
the dictum of that well-known and competent 
observer, Major Stevenson-Hamilton, who says 
of these subdivisions that " there is really no 
deeply marked lines separating any of them." 
The other two distinct members of the family, 
Gravy's Zebra, found in Somaliland and Abyssinia, 
and the small Mountain Zebra, peculiar to South 
Africa, are really types which, for the moment 
at any rate, do not concern us. 

In all the plains of Zambezia zebras are 
found, sometimes alone and at others consorting 
with water-buck, wildebeeste, and other antelopes, 
their herds numbering from six or eight at times 
to forty or fifty. They are extremely sociable, 
and very easily tamed; and although efforts 
hitherto made to utilise them in the same way as 
ponies have failed, owing chiefly to their want of 
staying power and forehand, it is still hoped, by 
means of judicious crossing, in time to evolve an 
animal which will not be characterised by their 
unfortunate weaknesses. For driving, the zebra 
has already in his pure state shown himself to be 
not unadaptable. A team of these animals was 
formerly driven in England by a well-meaning if 
eccentric individual, whilst both in South and 
British and German East Africa they have been 
captured and tamed in considerable numbers, and 
occasionally utilised for the same purpose. I was 
informed by the late Count Gotzen, at one time 
Governor of German East Africa, that regular 
drives were organised there for the capture of these 
animals, 'and but little difficulty is experienced 



THE ZEBRA 99 

in taming and breaking them. But, as Major 
Stevenson-Hamilton very truly observes, it will 
be impossible in less than several generations of 
careful experimenting to evolve a type of hybrid 
which will prove of practical utility. What 
should operate as a powerful incentive to per- 
severance, however, are the two important con- 
siderations that the zebra is impervious to the 
bite of the tsetse fly and also to horse-sickness, 
to both of which the horse and his relatives 
usually succumb ; and although a hybrid form 
might possibly not retain the zebra's immunity 
from these two terrible scourges, the probability 
of his freedom from power to contract them would, 
it is thought, undoubtedly be largely enhanced 
by conducting the experiments in portions of the 
country where the influence of these diseases 
continues to be felt. At Naivasha, in the East 
Africa Protectorate, a zebra farm of some import- 
ance has been established for many years. I have 
not heard, however, that experiments have been 
made with a view to obtaining such results as I 
have referred to above, whilst the liability of the 
animals to attack and decimation by a curious 
species of intestinal worm has been found a source 
of great embarrassment to the Department of 
the Government concerned. 

In Zambezia, horses are few ; but in spite of 
that fact no attempt has as yet been made either 
to capture or to utilise the zebra in any way. 
Many, I regret to say, are shot both by natives for 
the meat, of which they are extremely fond, and 
by Europeans for the skins, which they do not 



100 THE ZEBRA 

need. These are carefully rolled up at the time 
for conveyance to their homes, where, long after- 
wards, they are usually found in some out- 
building riddled by insects and worms, and en- 
tirely useless for any purpose. 

Lions also destroy large numbers of zebras, to 
which they are extremely partial. I have on 
many occasions passed the remains of one of 
these animals, which, in spite of the sign of other 
carnivora, were obviously a lion's kill ; in fact, it 
may be taken as a good general rule, as it may also 
in the case of buffaloes, that the presence of large 
numbers of zebras almost certainly indicates that 
of lions also. 

With all their beauty of form and colour, 

however, and in spite of their great tractability, 

it cannot be said that the presence of these wild 

equines in the vicinity of extensive cultivation is 

in any sense an unmixed blessing. They have 

playful, if embarrassing, habits of stampeding 

mules and donkeys ; whilst the presence of fences 

appears literally to invite them. At times, even 

when tamed and broken, they seem to be afflicted 

with uncontrollable transports of bad temper, 

when they are apt viciously to attack each other 

with hoof and teeth, and not seldom their 

attendants. Still I have little doubt that when 

by observation and experiment the question of 

discovering a satisfactory hybrid shall have been 

solved, we shall have gone far also in the direction 

of solving the question of difficult transport in 

many parts of the country. 

It was largely in connection with the peculiar 



THE ZEBRA 101 

coloration and markings of zebras that a con- 
siderable and not uninteresting controversy took 
place a short time ago, to which, it may be re- 
membered, Mr, Roosevelt very ably replied. On 
the one side it was contended that the coloration 
of all animals — and birds too, for the matter of 
that — was specially designed by a process of 
natural selection with a view to rendering them 
invisible, in the surroundings most affected by 
them, to their particular natural enemies, and 
one of the beasts to which somewhat emphatic 
reference was made in proof of these contentions 
was the zebra. 

Now I am perfectly ready to admit that against 
a background of thin forest or high grass, at a 
distance of several hundreds of yards, especially 
if the sun be shining upon them from the front, 
a herd of zebras, so long as it remains motionless, 
is unquestionably very hard to see. So extra- 
ordinarily do their striping and general colour 
scheme blend with such surroundings as I have 
described that the eye — of man, be it under- 
stood — is extremely liable to overlook them, and 
the same may indisputably be said of other 
varieties. But where this theory, which is such a 
touching testimonial to the care and forethought 
of benevolent Nature, would seem to me to be 
weak and faulty lies in the fact that when in the 
course of the ages the coloration of the fauna 
became definitely fixed, the game families as a 
whole knew but one enemy — namely, the great 
carnivora. These, hunting as they do by night 

and by scent, could not, as it seems to me, have 
8 



102 THE ZEBRA— THE ELAND 

been regarded as the dreaded source of danger. 
One therefore asks oneself in vain what the reason 
for a protective colour scheme for use hy day only 
could possibly have been. Except by man, the 
game of Africa is, practically speaking, left almost 
undisturbed during the daylight hours; and it 
must be quite clear that it is only during very 
recent times that protection from him need have 
entered into consideration. I remember having 
an interesting conversation a few months ago 
with Mr. Selous upon this point, and found that, 
in the main, the opinion of this distinguished ob- 
server very largely coincided with my own. 

The Eland, the largest, and to my mind 
the most valuable, of all the African antelopes, 
is common in many parts of Zambezia. In 
flat, wooded country — that charming park-like 
half-lorest, half-plain of which so much of 
this interesting region consists — they are found 
in large herds. You may perhaps imagine 
surroundings in which thinly tree-covered areas 
alternate for many miles with open grass, these 
openings surrounded by tropical-looking date and 
hyphoene palms, and overhung at the edges by 
the fronds of brilliant, glossy ficus, by acacias, 
and other forest growths ; where in their season 
the papilionaceous trees are covered with a per- 
fect blaze of bright colour, and the silvery sheen 
of acres upon acres of feathery bamboos fill in the 
gaps in a picture of rare beauty. Here in the 
early mornings herds of any number up to sixty 
or seventy elands may at times be found feeding. 
They eat both by day and by night, but chiefly 



THE ELAND 103 

during the latter, and are voracious feeders, de- 
vouring grass together with the leaves of certain 
shrubs and other plants. I have seen their fresh 
spoor in the gardens of native villages, in which 
they cause great havoc, and more than once have 
sighted them surprisingly close to human habi- 
tation. They do not, if unmolested, journey very 
far during the day, the hotter hours of which they 
spend in some sheltered locality, moving off at 
nightfall or in the late afternoon. 

Elands found in Zambezia differ in several 
particulars from those members of this hand- 
some family found in other parts of the African 
continent. They stand well over 5 feet at the 
withers, although they vary considerably at 
different seasons of the year, and the prevail- 
ing colour of the Zambezian variety is yellowish 
fawn going to the palest shade of creamy white 
under the belly. A dorsal ridge of very dark 
— almost black — bristles extends from the back 
of the neck over the withers, a curious black 
band presents itself inside the knee, whilst the 
body is divided by about half a dozen thin 
vertical white stripes, in some animals curiously 
faint, in others very decided. They also possess 
a prominent dewlap. The bulls are distinguished 
in some parts of the country by a curious frontal 
brush of very coarse bristly hairs, a peculiarity 
by no means invariable, however. This singular 
growth becomes extraordinarily developed in 
certain portions of Southern Rhodesia, as also, 
I understand, in British and German East 
Africa. Some heads I have seen exhibited a 



104 THE ELAND 

curious white chevron on the face, whilst in 
others this peculiarity was entirely absent. The 
horns carried by the elands I am describing have 
a usual maximum measurement of 28 to 32 inches, 
those of the cows (for both sexes carry horns) 
being at times as long or longer, but much 
slenderer and less massive. The calves are born 
singly in March and April, the period of gestation 
being between eight and nine months. 

Although they drink once a day, or perhaps 
oftener where water is readily procurable, they 
are, nevertheless, curiously independent of it, 
and may be found occasionally at a considerable 
distance from it. It thus happens that in case 
of need they can place for a while between 
themselves and their pursuers long distances 
of practically desert country. If disturbed they 
never stampede wildly, as in the cases of most 
other animals ; they simply trot away quietly, 
and if seriously alarmed keep up the same pace 
for a long distance without stopping. During 
the early spring and throughout the rainy season 
elands split up into small groups and become 
very sleek and fat, but in the winter the herds 
reassemble, and at this time of year the older 
bulls assume quite a dark bluish grey colour, 
and with advancing years become almost hair- 
less. 

There are still in the remoter districts — apart 
from Zambezia — large numbers of elands. They 
are on the whole wary beasts, and at times 
extremely difficult to approach, partly by reason 
of their accompanying bird — I believe the same 



THE ELAND 105 

as that which so frequently gives the alarm to 
the rhinoceros — and partly, I am persuaded, 
through their habit of posting, like the harte- 
beestes, a sentry to apprise them of approaching 
danger. 

I have always expressed the opinion that the 
eland should never be hunted. On the contrary, 
this splendid form should be sedulously pro- 
tected, domesticated, and utilised. No antelope 
with which I am acquainted yields such delicate 
meat or such large quantities of fat and milk, 
and perhaps no other is so easy to tame, or 
would give back so rich a return for kindness 
and good usage. A friend of mine in the Trans- 
vaal has given me some most interesting facts 
relative to several tame elands to which he is 
greatly attached and which form an interesting 
feature of his premises. He describes them as 
being most extraordinarily intelligent, and cites 
instances of their learning to unlatch with their 
horns the gate of the vegetable gardens, and 
make descents, both unauthorised and devastat- 
ing, upon the cabbages and lettuces. He men- 
tioned an amusing instance of the masterly 
way in which, by the assumption of a threatening 
attitude, they terrify the women and children 
passing through the compound into dropping 
their maize and millet baskets, and of the ap- 
pearance of conscious rectitude with which they 
appropriate and devour the spoils. All these 
traits of character, therefore, seem to indicate 
the advantages which would result from the 
preservation and domestication of these glorious, 



106 THE ELAND— THE SABLE ANTELOPE 

harmless, and amiable beasts, and from their 
deliverance all over Africa from the dispropor- 
tionate perils and dangers of their present daily 
existence. 

There are few of us doubtless who have shot 
through East and South Central Africa during 
the last twenty years who cannot look back 
upon a certain number of elands which from time 
to time have fallen as prizes to our rifles. So 
far as I am concerned, I can recollect, during 
the period mentioned, having been responsible 
for the deaths of five or six of these animals, 
and their horns are still in my possession or in 
that of friends upon whom I have bestowed 
them ; but I must confess that whilst the con- 
templation of other trophies taken from species 
possibly as harmless awakens in me no sense of 
self-reproach, the noble eland heads, which lend 
dignity to their surroundings, not seldom awaken, 
as I pass them by, an uneasy feeling almost of 
regret that I should have lessened, even by so 
infinitesimal a number, so splendid and useful a 
detail of Africa's majestic fauna. 

In the open forest, and at times on the 
lower stony foothills of the more elevated 
regions, the Sable Antelope may be found in 
small groups of five or six, and in herds of 
thirty or more. Occasionally in the summer 
season single animals are met with, but, 
taken as a general rule, sable are extremely 
gregarious. In Luabo, along the sovithern fringe 
of the Shupanga Forest, eastward of the Mlanje 
Mountains, and in Lugella, considerable numbers 



THE SABLE ANTELOPE 107 

are still to be met with ; and although nowadays 
nowhere numerous in the once fine hunting 
regions of the Beira districts, they existed formerly 
in large numbers in Cheringoma and Goron- 
goza. 

In point of beauty I do not consider it possible 
to compare the sable antelope with his usually 
acknowledged and, in the opinion of most ob- 
servers, successful rival the kudu. They belong 
to two wholly different types, whose grace and 
charm arise from the possession of totally 
dissimilar features. It would be as logical to 
compare the appearance of a lady robed in a 
masterly jet-black creation by Paquin with 
another present on the same occasion and 
garbed in a soft mouse-grey confection by Worth. 
Both are perfectly turned out, both present a 
charming and satisfying tout ensemble, and yet 
each differs in all respects essentially from the 
other. 

The sable is an animal of vivid contrasts. 
Take, for example, an elderly bull, who, having 
passed the grand climacteric, is nevertheless 
still in possession of that proud and majestic 
appearance which has stamped the members 
of his race with such an air of resolution and 
power. His massive, deeply annulated horns 
sweep backward almost in the form of a semi- 
circle for, it may be, anything between 40 and 
50 inches, and are thick and massive at the base. 
His coat, almost coal-black upon the back and 
withers, which are topped by a stiff fringe or 
mane, is almost pure white under the belly 



108 THE SABLE ANTELOPE 

and on the insides of his sturdy legs. His head 
continues the general colour scheme of the body, 
is very shapely, black, or almost black, down 
the frontal bone to the nose, with a whitish 
splash extending from over each eye to the 
mouth corners and meeting under the chin and 
jaws. He stands very high at the withers, 
sloping sharply downward towards the croup. 
The neck is very deep and powerful, and carries 
a pronounced if short mane. Both sexes possess 
horns, which in the females are shorter and 
more slender than those borne by the bulls. 
The coloration of the cows is, moreover, nothing 
like so decided as that of the males, the prevailing 
hue being a deep, rich brown. They grow 
darker with age, however, and, but for the thin- 
ness of the horns, might occasionally be mistaken 
for animals of the other sex. 

Sable antelope are extremely fierce, and when 
wounded or bayed require the utmost caution to 
avoid a serious mishap. I came very near to 
losing my life at the hands, or rather the horns, 
of the first of these animals to fall to my rifle. 
I was hunting in Central Africa one morning, 
when, running after a large wart-hog which I 
had wounded, turning round an immense red ant- 
heap, covered with undergrowth and crowned 
with the delicate green fronds of a cluster of 
small palms, I came right upon a very fine sable 
bull at a distance of not more than some 15 yards. 
I do not know which of us was the more sur- 
prised. In any case, he lost no time in showing 
me his heels ; but, going away in a straight line^ 



THE SABLE ANTELOPE 109 

he enabled me to plant a bullet about the root 
of his tail, which brought him down badly 
disabled. It must be remembered that I was 
a very new hand at big-game shooting, which 
must be my excuse for so unpardonable an 
imprudence ; but approaching the fallen beast 
quite closely and incautiously, he struggled 
suddenly up on his forelegs, and snorting 
viciously, swept round his powerful horns with 
a lightning sweep which came so near my ribs 
that the points penetrated the loose folds of 
my khaki shooting- jacket, and, in addition to 
tearing half of it away, threw me some distance 
from him — I have no doubt due more than any- 
thing else to my startled and hasty recoil. In 
any case, it was a lesson I never forgot. 

The bulls are desperate fighters, and I have 
seen several which bore upon their glossy coats 
ineradicable traces of their pugilistic dispositions. 
No doubt their principal encounters take place 
during the period of the rutting season. It 
used to be said that the sable was the only 
antelope that the lion hesitated to attack; but 
this is certainly not the case in Zambezia, where 
I have seen several lions' kills consisting of the 
carcasses of these animals. Still, even the so- 
called king of beasts must at times find the 
powerful, well-armed sable an uncommonly 
awkward morsel, and there are cases on record 
wherein the great feline has come off, to say 
the least of it, second best. An old friend of 
mine in Nyasaland possessed a lion skin taken 
from a beast which he found lying dead near 



110 THE SABLE ANTELOPE 

surroundings betokening a terrible struggle. The 
ground for many yards round was covered with 
blood and trampled with sable spoor, and the 
lion, pierced completely through the lungs by a 
terrible thrust from the sable's horns, exhibited 
in his hide the great holes which his active 
adversary's massive weapons had made as they 
tore their way to his vitals. The sable could 
not have sustained much damage, as my friend 
and his hunters took up the spoor, which they 
followed for some miles " until it was finally 
lost ; but although at first drops of blood 
were seen upon the track, there appeared to be 
no sign of weakness in the victorious sable's 
gait. 

These antelopes are almost it not entirely 
grass-eaters, and at early morning, and again 
at sunset, they leave the forest to browse in the 
wide glades and woodland grass clearings, where 
they remain until after nightfall. One of the 
most fascinating spectacles tropical Africa has 
to offer is that of a large herd of sable antelope 
as they gather themselves together on the first 
alarm of approaching danger. I remember years 
ago in Nyasaland, where I am glad to say these 
animals are reported to be still numerous, I 
made out one day a large herd scattered and 
feeding in thin masuhu forest shortly after 
sunrise. After a very careful and difficult stalk; 
I reached, by great good fortune, a point about 
100 yards from the nearest members, and 
there, sheltered by the crumbling moss-grown 
trunk of some fallen forest monster, I stopped 



THE SABLE ANTELOPE 111 

awhile to observe them. At length, espying a 
good bull, the only one so far as I could see 
with them, I fired and shot him, feeling some- 
what regretful as I did so at dissipating so pretty 
a picture. At the sound of my rifle the scattered 
assemblage, after one moment of stupefied alarm, 
drew together some forty strong, and, entirely 
ignorant of the direction in which danger layj 
they swept in a bounding gallop directly towards 
me. Unwilling as I was to fire again, I stood 
up on the tree-trunk and shouted, waving my 
hat in full view when they were not more than 
40 yards from me, and watched them wheel 
off to my right and disappear, a bewilderingly 
beautiful and graceful spectacle of the African 
woodlands. 

Sable antelope are not difficult to approach. 
If feeding, and the wind be favourable, they are 
stalked more easily than many other game beasts 
of my acquaintance. The only difficulty which 
presents itself is the embarrassing habit a herd 
of these animals has of spreading itself out over 
a large area. They divide themselves into twos 
and threes, and great care must be exercised to 
make sure that in drawing near to one group 
the suspicions of others, perhaps invisible to the 
crawling sportsman, should not be aroused. 
When it is remembered that there is often only 
one good bull with each herd, and that he 
usually feeds and remains somewhat apart from 
it, the difficulty of securing good heads will be 
readily appreciated. But where these animals 
are numerous, single males are at times met with, 



112 SABLE ANTELOPE— ROAN ANTELOPE 

and these are, in such circumstances, much more 
easily brought to bag than when guarded more 
or less by the presence of a number of shy cows 
and calves. 

The Roan Antelope, a near relative of 
the sable, but lacking both his splendid horns 
and vivid colour contrasts, is nevertheless a 
variety of Zambezian game of more than or- 
dinary interest. Nowhere very numerous, his 
haunts may be said almost to coincide with those 
of the sable — to " march " with them, as they 
would say in North Britain ; but the two are 
rarely if ever found in the same district. Roan 
antelope occur in small companies of seven or 
eight at a time. I have seen and shot several in 
the country to the west of Quelimane which is 
drained by the Lualua River, as also on the lower 
slopes of Meupa Mountain, where, as in the low 
country surrounding the source of the Lugella 
stream, they are far from uncommon. I have 
been told that they are to be found in the Pinda 
and Morumbala districts, but have never seen 
them, although familiar enough with this part of 
the country. In a book which he published some 
few years ago, Mr. F. Vaughan Kirby speaks of 
having met with this animal in the Gorongoza 
district, south of the Zambezi, and in the char- 
tered Mozambique Company's territory. This I 
can only regard as a case of mistaken identity, 
for I feel convinced that this antelope is nowhere 
to be found in the country lying to the west of 
the port of Beira. If further reasons were want- 
ing, Gorongoza is far too mountainous a district 



THE ROAN ANTELOPE 113 

for a beast such as this, which is a notorious lover 
of flat, or at most undulating, country. 

The roan antelope is, so to speak, the plain 
child of the family of which his handsome kinsman 
the sable is the attractive member. I regret that I 
am unable to publish a photograph of this animal, 
the more so as illustrations of him are few and 
far between. In Johnston's book, British Central 
Africa, there is a drawing of the roan which looks 
as though it might have been intended for a 
fanciful caricature ; but apart from this par- 
ticular " picture," the only good illustration I 
have seen is that which appears in Stigand and 
Lyell's admirable work. Central African Game and 
its Spoor. This latter certainly affords an ex- 
cellent idea of the roan antelope, and one from 
which it is possible to draw interesting com- 
parisons. 

The roan is larger and heavier than the sable, 
and stands about 14 or 14j hands at the shoulder. 
The general structure closely resembles that of 
the smaller beast, but is somewhat clumsier, and 
instead of the vivid black and white or brown and 
white of his good-looking relative, there is a dis- 
tinct tendency to greyness and consequent dingi- 
ness in his general appearance. His most striking 
feature is the disproportionately large ears ; so 
much are they so as almost to mask the small, 
disappointing, backward-curved horns, which look 
like a cheap, futile imitation of those of some 
immature sable. There is always, to my mind, 
about the roan an air of shifty apology, a plainly 
evinced desire for as complete self-effacement as 



114 THE ROAN ANTELOPE 

possible. He seems surrounded by an impalpable 
something which, if it were reducible into words, 
would plainly say : "I am fully and painfully 
conscious of my shortcomings. Let it go at 
that. Don't rub it in." 

As in the cases of the eland and sable, both 
sexes carry horns ; but whilst consistently mean 
and inconspicuous, those of the older males are 
usually very broken and damaged, partly by their 
furious family combats, and partly as the result 
of their habit of breaking up the ant-hills of the 
blind termite to get at the salty earth within. 
The herd bulls are thus preferable as specimens to 
the solitary old males which may sometimes be 
seen. 

The surroundings in which roan are to be 
found are, as I have said, fairly flat. Their habits 
of feeding and drinking are almost precisely the 
same as those of the sable — ^that is to say, they 
maybe found in the wide grass-clearings soon after 
dawn and at evening, and here they continue to 
feed far into the night. On being disturbed, they 
utter a short, impatient snort, and canter leisurely 
off, to stop, however, within a short distance and 
listen intently. Once alarmed, they become very 
suspicious, and it is usually extremely difficult to 
draw up to them a second time. A case of this 
kind occurred to me on the Lualua River some 
years ago. It was a fine game country, singularly 
well watered, and, as is so much of the Quelimane 
district, a landscape of peculiar beauty and 
interest. In the early morning my hunter and I 
cautiously approached an open forest clearing 



THE ROAN ANTELOPE 115 

such as I have described elsewhere, to find no less 
than eleven roan, of which two were bulls, quietly 
grazing on the sweet green young grass shoots of 
late October. Through some imprudence, how- 
ever, they perceived us, and broke away before I 
could get near enough to fire, so we took up their 
spoor and followed them. At first they cantered 
down a series of sandy glades, bounded on both 
sides by clumps of yellow, seared bamboos and 
tiresome undergrowth. Through this we fol- 
lowed, dodging behind the cover the bamboo 
clumps afforded. At last they slowed down to a 
walk, and we saw one place, under the shadow of 
a gigantic bombax, already bursting out into its 
summer clothing of sweet-smelling, deep red 
blossoms, where they had evidently stood for 
some time. Proceeding with great caution, we 
soon afterwards dimly made them out in a grey 
screen of stunted acacias, and here I left my two 
companions fully extended on the ground, and 
essayed the crawl upon my stomach which was 
literally the only chance the surroundings afforded. 
On I went, an inch at a time, slowly, painfully, 
the dust mingling in a friendly manner with the 
blinding perspiration which streamed down my 
face. But it was no good. Before I had covered 
half the distance a low whistle from behind ap- 
prised me that they were again in full flight. The 
chase now took us into lovely scenery bordering 
the Lualua itself, at this point a wide, clear, 
brilliant stream, roaring past great granite 
boulders veined with pink dolomite and quartz, 
and topped by the delicious tender green fronds of 



116 THE ROAN ANTELOPE 

raphias and wild date-palms. Here again the 
roan paused to consider their position, and I 
slipped along the brink of the stream and under 
cover of its high, reed-crowned banks, one eye 
on the wind and the other on the point from 
which it would, I thought, be possible to get a 
shot. On I went carefully from boulder to 
boulder, and at length reached a spot where I 
fancied I could reconnoitre unseen. I pushed my 
way to the top of the bank, to find — they had 
gone again. I whistled for my hunters, feeling 
now thoroughly aroused. Had I to follow all day 
and all the next, I was fully determined one of 
those bulls should be mine. I will not weary the 
reader with a detailed narrative of what I ex- 
perienced thereafter; suffice it to say that six 
times we came up to that herd of roan, and six 
times they broke before I could get within range. 
Occasionally we sighted other game, but never 
wavered. I believe my hunters felt quite as 
savage as I did; for although they would point 
out such other animals as we passed, it was always 
with an air of detachment which clearly indicated 
that we were in nowise concerned with aught but 
the elusive roan. 

At length my hour came. A small forest 
clearing surrounded by bamboo thickets was un- 
advisedly chosen by the harassed herd for a few 
moments' repose, and they halted on the edge of 
it, oblivious of the fact that a bamboo-covered 
ant-heap affords the most perfect imaginable 
cover. It was a tame conclusion to a day of 
unheard - of difficulties and disappointments. 



THE ROAN ANTELOPE 117 

Moving quietly but rapidly to my sheltering ant- 
heap, I put the thickly growing greenery gently 
aside, and found myself scarcely 100 yards from 
the rearmost bull, which I shot without further 
trouble, one single bullet from my heavy '577 
Express being all that was required to secure him. 

I do not think that the conclusion of any day's 
sport has ever afforded me more satisfaction than 
I experienced on that occasion, and, as a further 
reward for our perseverance, we discovered on our 
way back to camp indications of rhinoceros 
which enabled us to bag a very fine bull on the 
following day. 

In South Africa, I fear, but few roan antelope 
survive. In the Transvaal and on the northern 
borders of Natal they are said formerly to have 
existed in large numbers, but it would surprise 
me to learn that many members of this interesting 
if not particularly beautiful type survive outside 
the limits of the sanctuary the game reserves 
afford them. 



CHAPTER VI 

KUDU : WATER-BUCK : WILDEBEESTE : HARTE- 
BEESTE : TSESSEBE 

As shy as he is beautiful, and harmless as he 
is shy, this grandest and stateliest of all the 
antelopes is a lover of rocky, forested foothills 
and ravines, thick brushwood, and denser 
brakes than any others of his commanding 
size. Nowhere very numerous, the Kudus of 
Zambezia, especially that portion lying to the 
south of the great river, are still struggling to 
increase their never very great numbers, which 
were sadly depleted by the rinderpest of 1890. 
I fancy, on the whole, they appear to be more 
plentiful in the middle and north of the Queli- 
mane district than in any other part of Portuguese 
East Africa, if we except that of Portuguese 
Nyasaland, where, I am informed, they occur in 
great numbers. 

I do not think that any person who had not 
seen with his own eyes the delicate colouring, 
symmetry of form, and grace of proportion of a 
well-grown kudu bull would believe from mere 
description that so splendid a creature was 
known to zoology. Standing 14 hands at the 
shoulder, his prevailing colour is a soft mousy 
grey, with several clearly marked vertical white 



THE KUDU 119 

stripes, as seen in the accompanying illustration. 
A white chevron on the frontal bone immediately 
below the eyes, and a considerable mane of 
greyish hair whitening near the tips runs along 
the dorsal ridge. The beautiful spiral horns 
which crown the shapely head have over and 
over again been the inexhaustible theme of 
many an enraptured sportsman, who has rightly 
regarded them, of all others, as among his most 
prized and cherished trophies. Added to all 
this, the build of the animal coincides much 
more closely with our preconceived ideas of what 
an antelope should be. Unlike most others, 
he does not display the same bizarre tendency 
to slope from the withers to the croup as do the 
sable, hartebeeste, and so many others. He 
stands upon his firmly planted feet and looks 
just what he is, beauty and dignity harmoniously 
blended. 

The females, smaller and paler in body, carry 
no horns, and, so far as Zambezia is concerned 
at any rate, run in herds which rarely exceed a 
dozen in number. These herds, with which the 
males consort during the greater part of the 
year, feed upon the leaves and shoots of various 
trees and small shrubs, also upon the forest 
fruits in their season. They are only to a very 
limited extent grass-eaters, but are apt, in portions 
of the country where they are undisturbed, to 
do considerable damage to native gardens, where 
they display an exasperating partiality for maize 
and other native cereals, and especially for the 
contents of the tobacco patches. 



120 THE KUDU 

On taking to flight, the kudu raises his nose, 
lays his great horns along the back of his neek, 
and dashes off at a tremendous pace, darting 
from side to side, and swerving under boughs 
and other obstacles in a surprisingly rapid 
manner. If he should be in the neighbour- 
hood of the herd, the females, one of wliieh 
is usually posted as a look-out, give liim the 
alarm, and they all flee away, their short, 
white-fringed tails held high, uttering a deep, 
hoarse bark not unlike that of a bushbuek. 
Some antelopes, namely the sable and water- 
buck, as also the hartebeeste and others, before 
finally diving into the depths of the bush 
will often halt long enough to enable a hasty 
shot at times to be delivered ; the reedbuck, 
indeed, may often be checked in full flight if 
the hunter have the presence of mind to utter 
a loud, shrill whistle. Not so the kudu. From 
the moment he realises that the time for flight 
has come, I do not believe that any form of 
cajolery, be it by whistle or other means, would 
serve for an instant to check that headlong rush. 

I do not think I have ever seen kudus of 
either sex in the plains or clear of cover. They 
drink daily, and are not capable, like the eland, 
of straying far from water. The young calves 
are produced, I believe, about February, as on 
one occasion during that month, whilst after 
elephants in Boror, one of my hunters caught a 
tiny, leggy kudu calf which could not have been 
more than a few days old. Poor lanky little 
thing, I have often hoped it was returned to 




mmm^m 










1 ■•;■ ■ ,:t:i 






THE KUDU 121 

the maternal care, although I still feel doubtful 
about it. Years have passed since the incident 
occurred, but full well I remember the uncon- 
cealable air of wondering disgust which flitted 
across the hunters' faces when I not only uncon- 
cealable, as it seemed to them, declined to hand 
the bleating captive over to the cook, but 
sternly required them, as they should answer 
to me did they fail to do so, to replace it in the 
haunts of the herd. 

I have in my possession one pair of kudu 
horns 57 inches in length measured round the 
curves, and these are thick and massive at the 
base ; and although not anywhere approaching 
a record, this measurement may nevertheless be 
regarded as that of a good pair of horns, eminently 
worthy of an honoured place upon the wall. 
Of course bulls have been shot with horns more 
than a foot longer round the curves than mine, 
but these are naturally few and far between — 
the result of those lucky encounters for which 
so many of us have hoped in vain. 

The kudu has rarely been known to use his 
magnificent defences except in combats with 
foes of his own race. He is perfectly harmless, 
and I have on several occasions seen my hunters 
leap upon a wounded bull and bear him down, 
holding the head by the horns in a convenient 
position for the administration of the coup de 
grace. I do not think any bribe would have 
sufficed to induce them to pursue a like course 
in the case of the sable, or of several other 
antelopes with which I am acquainted. 



122 THE KUDU— THE WATER-BUCK 

The smaller variety, known as the lesser kudu, 
does not occur in Zambezia, being confined in its 
range to Somaliland and portions of British East 
Africa, and, I think, Uganda. 

In all the grassy plains of South-East Africa 
there is no sight so common as an assemblage 
of Water-buck, their horns dancing in the mid- 
day sun like weird motes in the heat radia- 
tion. They are fine, well-set-up animals, and 
present more of the bodily form of the stag 
than any African antelope known to me. Not 
only on the river-banks and wide plains of 
Zambezia is the water-buck found, but in thin 
forest also he passes much of his time, and not 
seldom seems greatly to appreciate the shade 
it affords, although at other times the tre- 
mendous heat of early afternoon appears to 
cause him not the slightest inconvenience. In 
East Luabo day after day I have seemed never 
to be out of sight ot herds of water-buck. They 
are friendly beasts, and fraternise freely with 
zebras, blue wildebeeste, and Lichtenstein's harte- 
beeste, in whose company they often pass many 
hours of the day. The Urema flats in Cheringoma, 
as also the wide plains through which the tipper 
waters of the Pungwe flow, used at one time to 
be the haunts of vast numbers of these animals, 
and may still, in spite of years of murderous 
and pitiless slaughter, harbour a few. But where 
they exist to a great extent unthinned by 
the paid native hunter is to the south of the 
Kongoni mouth of the Zambezi, on the vast and 
grassy plains of East Luabo. 



THE WATER-BUCK 123 

As I have just stated, this handsome antelope 
possesses a build and carriage not unlike those of 
the British stag. The females carry no horns, but 
those of the male, which, springing from the 
head, extend forward and outward for from 
25 to 30 inches, are deeply ringed, majestic, and 
form a fine trophy. In colour the water-buck is 
darkish grey, and his coat, coarse and very long, 
increases beneath the chin to 3 or 4 inches in 
length. The corners of the mouth, and a slight 
smudge in front of each eye, are white, and he 
carries on the rump a curious whitish ring. The 
females, smaller than the bull, and of a paler shade 
of grey, are, I think, even somewhat hairier still ; 
and this appearance would seem to lend colour to 
the suspicion that this fine animal has strayed 
accidentally away from some northerly latitude, 
for which he was by nature intended, and found 
his way to Africa by mistake. In any case, 
he is a distinct ornament to the country of his 
choice, and, as he is perfectly inoffensive, we 
may well express a hope that he may long remain 
there. 

Water-buck have been extremely well named, 
as there is probably no antelope, if we except the 
Situtunga of the Mweru swamps and the Letchwe 
of the middle course of the Loangwa River, pos- 
sessed of a nature so passionately fond of water. 
But as neither of the two last-named animals is 
known to occur in the region we are considering, 
we need not, I think, concern ourselves with 
them. I have more than once, when in pursuit 
of wounded water-buck, seen them take to such 



124 THE WATER-BUCK 

comparatively wide rivers as the Upper Shire 
at Gwaza's, and swim strongly and boldly 
aeross. On one occasion, coming upon a small 
herd a few miles above the old Government Boma 
at IMpimbi, I came upon eight or ten of these 
animals close to the bank of the Shire where the 
river made a somewhat pronounced bend. All 
but one wheeled to my right flank and got away ; 
but the rearward bull, which was some yards 
behind the others, seeing me run to cut off his 
retreat, promptly turned about and from the top 
of the river-bank plunged boldly into the water 
and swam out into the stream. Near the centre 
the river shallowed, and here he paused, looking 
backward as though to see if his companions were 
following. I was thus enabled to bring him to 
bag. It is probable that, in crocodile-infested 
streams like the Urema and the Pungwe, num- 
bers of these beasts must annually fall victims to 
the loathsome saurian. I have seen them in the 
evening, a little before sunset, standing slaking 
their thirst belly-deep in these rivers, and more 
than one crocodile which I have seen opened has 
been found to be full of the meat and pieces of 
skin of water-buck, doubtless caught in the act of 
drinking. My old elephant -hunter Len90 told 
me that on one occasion on the banks of the 
Madingue-dingue River, an affluent of the Pungwe, 
he came upon a full-grown water-buck bull just 
as it had been seized by the muzzle. A tremen- 
dous struggle took place, which lasted some 
minutes, when, the crocodile being a small, im- 
mature one, the bull actuallj^ succeeded in draw- 



i»«- 

#.'■ 



THE WATER-BUCK 125 

ing it a little way from the water, whereupon 
Len90 and his companions dashed to the spot and, 
knowing full well the crocodile would never let 
go, promptly speared both the reptile and his 
prisoner. 

As a rule they are inoffensive creatures. It is 
said that the bulls fight a good deal among them- 
selves ; but then, at the mating season, so do the 
males of practically all other animals. I have 
only once seen a water -buck show the smallest 
sign of aggressiveness, and that was a very fine 
bull which I had wounded severely on the banks 
of the Mungari River in East Luabo. Following 
upon his blood spoor through high stipa grass, I 
came suddenly upon him at a distance of about 
10 yards. He had turned and was facing me, 
and, to my intense surprise, he advanced towards 
me, nodding his head violently and breathing 
heavily — I cannot quite call it snorting — through 
his nostrils. Poor old fellow ! his race was almost 
run, or he would no doubt have been more active. 
As it was, Len90 dashed forward and hit him 
heavily over the head with a stout piece of 
timber he was carrying in for firewood. The 
bull fell, so near was he to succumbing, and 
was quickly dispatched. I have often thought 
that had he been a little less preoccupied by 
his wounds he might have proved quite trouble- 
some. 

They pay a heavy toll, not only to the hunting 
native — paid or unpaid — but also to the lion, as I 
have shown, to the crocodile, and without question 
to hyenas, leopards, and hunting dogs. On one 



126 THE WATER-BUCK 

occasion in the Barue I saw a wretched female 
water-buck harried by about a dozen of the last 
named cross our path one early morning. We 
were on the banks of the Luenya River, and I 
went with a couple of men to take up the spoor. 
It led us to the river-bank and thence into the 
water, which I conclude the animals swam, as at 
this point we gave the search up and resumed our 
journey. 

The flesh of water -buck, though by no means 
so well-flavoured as that of many other animals, 
is nevertheless, if properly cooked, far from un- 
eatable. I have welcomed it on many occasions 
when, after days of tinned provisions or tasteless 
fowls, a water -buck steak, well pounded and beaten 
to destroy the fibres, has proved an appreciable 
addition to the camp table. But the whole fact 
of the matter is that the meat of most animals 
is quite edible if properly hung, beaten, and 
cooked. 

In Angoniland the thick hide of water-buck 
used at one time to be employed in making the 
oval skin shields common alike to the Zulu and 
the Angoni, their descendants. At times I have 
purchased these shields, which are highly orna- 
mental, to decorate my walls ; but, as is the case 
with the skins themselves, which I have on 
several occasions endeavoured to cure, it is per- 
fectly impossible to keep the long coarse grey 
hairs from falling out, whilst the natural odour 
of the beast, which seems to cling to it, renders its 
presence in a hall or living-room a somewhat 
doubtful advantage. 



THE WATER-BUCK— THE BRINDLED GNU 127 

There are, of course, several varieties of this 
fine antelope, distributed over the various portions 
of East and North Africa, but this, the common 
and largest variety, is the only one known to the 
region of Zambezia. 

The Brindled Gnu or Blue Wildebeeste is an 
animal which goes through life under a grave 
disadvantage. Nobody will take him seriously. 
He is a mere blusterer* — one who, unduly conscious 
of his wild and shaggy appearance, endeavours 
to impose it upon the world at large, and impress 
his fellow-creatures with the supposition that in 
reality he is a devil of a fellow, and one who 
stands no trifling whatsoever. The very way in 
which he glares at you, as your scent assails his 
nostrils, and snorts, and stamps, and fumes, as 
though his one wish in life were that he might 
have just one go at you ! But he never does — 
if unmolested, that is to say. He just dashes 
madly away, whisking his tail and kicking up his 
heels as though, had they been fingers, he would 
have snapped them in your face. I do not say 
that if wounded and cornered the blue wildebeeste 
would not give a very good account of himself, 
for I have seen him do it. But it is to his appear- 
ance and general demeanour before that mis- 
fortune overtakes him that the foregoing lines 
refer. 

The wildebeeste would seem to have entered 
the ranks of the antelopes by mistake. He and 
his plain friend (some say his relative) the harte- 
beeste together do not convey the impression of 
being antelopes in the least, as will be seen 



128 THE BRINDLED GNU 

when I come to describe him in his turn. The 
blue wildebeeste is a heavy -looking, hairy-headed, 
brindled creature, standing perhaps a little more 
than 4 feet at the shoulder, but high on the 
withers, whence the back slopes very sharply 
down to the root of his tail. The horns, carried 
by both sexes, though not unshapely, yet lack 
the general appearance of antelope horns, con- 
veying rather, at first sight, the supposition of 
having belonged to some singular family of under- 
sized buffaloes. 

Zambezia contains two different families of 
wildebeeste, the first the type I have just im- 
perfectly described, and the second, called for 
inadequate reasons the " Nyasaland " Gnu, 
found but sparsely in that British Protectorate, 
but existing much more numerously in the 
centre of the Quelimane district and the rolling 
country between Chiperoni Mountain and the 
wide plains of Boror. The Nyasaland variety 
was discovered by my old friend Mr. H. C. 
Macdonald about the year 1896, who shot the 
first specimen secured not far from Zomba. The 
differences between the ordinary brindled and the 
Nyasaland gnu are chiefly that whilst the first 
named is, as described above, extremely hairy 
about the head and neck, the latter, with the 
exception of a somewhat lanky mane, possesses 
but little in the way of hirsute embellishment of 
an exuberant character. A further peculiarity 
displayed by the Nyasaland variety is a rather 
singular inverted white chevron upon the frontal 
bone an inch or two below the eyes. Whether 



THE BRINDLED GNU 129 

this chevron is constant or not, or tends, as in 
the case of the elands, to be individual rather 
than general, it is of course difficult authori- 
tatively to say, but there are grounds for 
supposing it to be much more marked in some 
specimens than in others. 

On wide, i oiling, or flat plains bordering 
forest country and near to water wildebeeste 
may at times be seen in very large herds. In 
thinly forested, woodland scenery, although not 
often found, they may at times be met with, but 
in smaller numbers. Often in the early morning 
one may see them feeding quietly on their way 
back from water to the edge of the forest, and 
again at late afternoon they may be observed 
in a long string making their way down for their 
evening drink. They are grass - feeders, and 
greatly given to associating with other animals, 
especially water -buck, zebras, and other dwellers 
in the open plains. At a short distance they 
appear to be almost black, the contrast being 
doubtless heightened by the pale colour of their 
surroundings in the winter months of the shooting 
season. 

On the Urema plains of Gorongoza a few 
years ago brindled gnus were very abundant. 
From the vantage-ground of partial concealment 
in a palm belt in which my camp was for some 
days pitched, I have watched their comings 
and goings at almost all hours of the day. On 
one occasion, having wounded a fine male, my 
hunter and I came up to him, after a long 
and wearisome spooring, in a wide, thick belt of 



130 THE BRINDLED GNU 

handsome phoenix palms. Here we came right 
upon him. The hunter, a young and courageous 
man, dashed past me, and attacked the animal 
with his spear, but made a bad shot and missed, 
whereupon the wildebeeste, uttering a succession 
of sounds, between a snort and a grunt, turned 
determinedly upon him. The native, in en- 
deavouring to avoid the animal's rush, stumbled 
heavily, and the pursuing beast was almost 
upon him before I was enabled, by a hasty but 
successful shot, to put an end to the incident 
and to the wildebeeste also. On another occasion, 
a wounded wildebeeste I was endeavouring to 
photograph leaped to its feet and advanced upon 
me with such an air of threatening resolution 
that I precipitately abandoned my camera 
and sought safety in the possession of my 
rifle once more. But it is on approaching a 
herd ^of these animals that they resort to the 
attitude of simulated fierceness to which I 
referred at the commencement of my descrip- 
tion. 

You may have made them out, for instance, 
feeding upon open plain in the early morning, 
or in some lovely forest clearing where approach 
is merely a matter of care. You may have 
reached a point where further concealment is 
impossible or useless, and you have disclosed 
your presence without more ado. For some 
few seconds the astonished herd will regard you 
en 'phalanx. Then one or other or several of 
the front rank will snort loudly, nodding their 
heads in an exasperated way, as a horse does 



THE BRINDLED GNU 131 

with an uncomfortable bit, and paw the ground 
viciously. If you now pick out one and fire, 
instead of making good these futile menaces, 
the whole herd will instantly wheel round and 
stampede madly, to pull up, wheel round, and 
renew their stare after a few hundred yards have 
been covered. The wounded member, even 
though mortally hit, will often dash wildly round 
in a half-circle and follow his companions, or at 
least attempt to do so. I have known them, 
on more than one occasion, with a bullet through 
the heart, cover quite a considerable distance 
before falling. 

Whilst I was camped on the Urema flats, 
blue wildebeeste at evening often fed up to 
within 100 or 150 yards of my tent, if the wind 
happened to be favourable, without displaying 
the smallest uneasiness or, I think, making us 
out. 

The calves make their appearance, I am told, 
in the months of December and January. They 
are curious, brown, lanky little things with large 
plaintive eyes and a depressing and ceaseless 
bleat. One of these was brought into my camp 
on one occasion by the carriers. It was most 
friendly, and took milk very confidingly. I 
kept it alive for nearly a fortnight, when suddenly 
it died, after having become quite touchingly 
tame. These animals seem to be distinguished 
in their early youth by extreme and dispro- 
portionate length of limb. It is stated that their 
mothers hide them in remote grass patches whilst 
very young during the day, and doubtless many 



132 LICHTENSTEIN'S HARTEBEESTE 

must fall victims to leopards, hyenas, and other 
predatory forms. The mothers, my hunters 
informed me, are extremely vicious about this 
period and, they were unanimous in declaring, 
would assuredly attack any intruder, either 
human or otherwise. 

Wildebeestc are not difficult to approach, 
and the shooting of these animals has never 
seemed to me to offer much in the way of sport. 
I have killed them over and over again when 
their meat became necessary for the maintenance 
of my people. Their heads form an interesting 
but not very striking trophy should the mask not 
have been preserved ; but, unless this be done, 
the huge frontal bone is most unsightly, and the 
whole skull possesses little enough to redeem it 
from utter gruesomeness. 

Lichtcnstein's hartebeeste 1 regard as the 
least attractive of all the antelopes which roam 
the forests and plains of Zambezia. It is a 
wretched creature both from the point of view 
of appearance and from that of sport. Still, I 
suppose, most of the many hunters of big game 
who read these pages will recall him to mind with 
an indulgent smile. Upon him many of us have 
fired our first shots, and few there be assuredly 
whose recollections of him do not connect them- 
selves with a liberal use of forcible language. A 
hard beast he truly is, his tenacity of life as- 
tonishing. Even when mortally wounded, he 
will often lead the weary and perspiring hunter 
long distances before consenting to be brought 
to bag. There is something unspeakably ex- 



LICHTENSTEIN'S HARTEBEESTE 133 

asperating in his ungainly, bounding canter, in 
the course of which he appears clumsily to lift 
all four feet from off the ground at the same time, 
and glances back now and then with an almost 
exaggerated air of awed, deprecating surprise 
which sits well indeed upon his long, coffin-shaped 
face. 

The hartebeeste is a lover of trees. One 
usually finds him in the thinly forested woodlands 
which form the foothills of a mountain range, or 
on moderately high, undulating, slightly wooded 
plains. He is found at times in the lower ex- 
panses, but only on such of these as afford shelter 
from the sun, and at the same time are not 
covered with thick brushwood, which he greatly 
dislikes. In park-like alternations of forest and 
grass he is most at home, and these are the 
localities where in the past I seem to recollect 
most frequently to have seen him. He is almost 
entirely a grass-eater, and does not stray far 
from water, at which he drinks twice during the 
day — at early dawn and at evening. I have 
seen them in dull or rainy weather drinking as 
late as eight or nine o'clock in the morning, 
but this I believe to be quite an exceptional 
occurrence. 

Found in small assemblages of from ten to 
thirty, although both sexes carry the mean- 
looking horns with which they have by nature 
been provided, the merest tyro could find no 
possible difficulty in distinguishing the bulls from 
the cows : the latter are much paler in their 
almost ochreous yellow than the bright reddish 

10 



134 LICHTENSTEIN'S HARTEBEESTE 

brown of the males. They are, moreover, con- 
siderably smaller. The belly and the insides of 
the legs are a dirty cream colour, almost white 
in the case of the females, while the tail, knees, 
and mane are black. They are extraordinarily 
awkwardly shaped animals, the back sloping to 
the croup at an astonishingly abrupt angle, 
which may possibly have suggested their re- 
sponsibility in the long-dead past for a similar 
peculiarity — if perhaps not quite so marked — in 
the family of the wildebeestes. 

Hartebeestes have, however, one redeeming 
feature, which has gained for them the whole- 
hearted respect of most, if not all, hunters : their 
meat is excellent — second only, I think, to that 
of the eland. 

They are curious and rather stupid animals, 
and on being disturbed will canter clumsily off for 
a few hundred yards, then stop and turn round, 
regarding the approach of the hostile agency with 
an expression of pained remonstrance. These 
tactics they will repeat over and over again, 
managing, with the nicest perception, to keep just 
beyond effective rifle range. 

On one occasion I had an opportunity to ap- 
preciate the amazing toughness of these animals. 
I had been camped for several days under the 
shadow of mighty Gorongoza Mountain, and had 
been enjoying some very satisfactory sport, when 
one evening, being on the point of returning to 
camp, I made out from the top of an ant-heap a 
very fine herd bull, looking almost dark from 
among the paler females by which he was ac- 




■|:'i*- 



' if*- > 







^^%M^^^- 



^>~^fn/''' 







LICHTENSTEIN'S HARTEBEESTE 135 

companied. They were over 200 yards off at 
the time, and it was evident that I should 
have to make an effort to get nearer, as they 
had already begun to betray symptoms of sus- 
picion. Leaving my hunter fairly conspicuously 
displayed on the summit of the ant-heap for the 
purpose of monopolising their attention, I de- 
scended, and began a crawl on hands and knees 
to gain the shelter of a large tree-trunk which had 
doubtless been long beforeuprooted in some violent 
forest storm. Very gradually and quietly I 
reached my goal without misadventure, and 
found myself separated by not much more than 
90 yards from the preoccupied animals, whose 
attention was still obviously fixed upon my hunter 
on the top of his ant-heap. I could see the bull's 
horns easily enough, but a wretched cow had ob- 
truded her mean person between us, and stood 
almost in the line of fire, consuming me with 
anxiety lest, in case they retreated, the bull 
should continue to be covered by her. After a 
few moments of uncertainty, the hunter solved 
the difficulty for me by slipping from his position 
on the ant-heap and rolling a yard or so down. I 
knew that this would send the hartebeeste off, 
and at that moment they swung round, and the 
bull's shoulder was uncovered. On receiving my 
first -303 hollow-pointed bullet he staggered, but 
though obviously hard hit he galloped off after 
the retreating cows, my second shot having 
apparently completely missed him. Joined by 
the hunters and other natives, I lost no time in 
taking up the appreciable blood spoor; but we 



136 LICHTENSTEIN'S HARTEBEESTE 

had covered almost, if not quite, a quarter of a 
mile before we almost stumbled over him lying 
at his last gasp in a patch of high stipa 
grass. 

On examination, I found that my first shot 
carried a little high, but would have proved fatal 
in the end, as it had pierced the lung. My second, 
however, a Jeff cry split bullet, had entered near 
the root of the tail, and had practically passed 
through the entire length of the unfortunate beast's 
body. It will thus be seen that, with one mortal 
wound and a second if anything severer one, this 
hartebeeste had nevertheless succeeded in tra- 
versing a surprising distance before finally suc- 
cumbing to them. This was an exceptionally 
fine beast, and measured just under 52 inches at 
the shoulder. 

Lichtenstein hartebeestes are the only members 
of that family of seven or eight species found in 
the Portuguese Province of Mozambique. The 
remaining seven are scattered all over Africa, from 
Bechuanaland in the south to the Bahr-el-Ghazal 
in the north. There is, however, a strong family 
resemblance among the different branches, and 
no special knowledge is necessary to enable the 
sportsman readily to identify them. Here, more- 
over, is another instance of astonishing gregarious- 
ness. Hartebeeste are quite as frequently as not 
found with zebra or wildebeeste, and I have more 
than once seen them accompanying a herd of 
sable. In these circumstances they are a nuisance, 
which frequently prevents, or renders most 
difficult, a successful approach to the more im- 



THE TSESSEBE 137 

portant animal. They are absolutely inoffensive 
and harmless, and I have never heard of any case 
in which they have displayed the smallest symptom 
of aggressiveness even under the most intolerable 
provocation. 

Poor old hartebeeste ! He will always have 
my esteem and gratitude for the many excellent 
meals with which he has supplied me, however 
much my feelings may be tempered by un- 
profitable recollections of the many weary miles 
he has made me traverse for them. 

Only in two localities in South-East Africa am 
I aware of the existence of that singular type, the 
Tsessebe. In East Luabo I have seen a few small 
herds on the plains bordering the banks of the 
Mungari River, and I remember some years ago 
having seen on the Pungwe River near Beira a 
few of these animals consorting with water-buck 
and a few herds of zebras. North of the Zambezi 
it has not as yet, to my knowledge, been traced, 
although I fancied, whilst on a journey from 
Nyasaland to Quelimane in 1911, that I saw a 
spoor which bore a striking resemblance to that 
of the tsessebe. It was the ssme shapely, 
clear-cut impression as that of the harte- 
beeste, but just a little large and a trifle less 
pointed. 

I have been informed by Sir Alfred Sharpe 
that in certain portions of South Central Africa — 
for instance in the valley of the Loangwa River, 
and on the immense plains surrounding Lake 
Bangweolo — very large herds of these animals 
may be seen — so large, indeed, as to contam 



138 THE TSESSEBE 

many hundreds in each. If this be the case, 
I think there must be some difference between 
them and the South African type, which 
is rarely if ever seen in parties of more 
than a dozen, and usually in smaller groups 
still. 

Tsessebe are always in the plains. They are 
grass-eaters, and seem to experience little if any 
inconvenience from the terrific heat of the mid- 
day sun, so there they remain. Rather larger 
than the hartebeeste we have been considering, 
one shot by me in Luabo several years ago 
reached a shoulder measurement of 57 inches. 
Their colouring is not unlike that of the harte- 
beeste, but somewhat brighter, whilst the coat, 
especially of the males, is distinguished by a 
remarkable gloss, which, unfortunately, fades 
away soon after death. They are exceedingly 
hard to kill ; but as cover or conceahnent is never 
sought, the task of bringing a wounded animal 
to bag becomes simply a question of how seriously 
it has been wounded, and how far the hunter 
is prepared to follow it up. 

Tsessebe are not sporting or agreeable animals 
to hunt. The awkward, hartebeeste-like body, 
the clumsy, loping, cantering flight, his long 
fiddle-head with the unfinished-looking horns — 
all these combine to stamp him as an animal not 
worth the trouble of serious pursuit — except 
for considerations of larder — from the moment 
a good specimen head has once been secured. 
Personally, I have been at peace with the tsessebe 
for many years ; but my recollections of his 



THE TSESSEBE 139 

pursuit rather painfully connect themselves Avith 
a chase after a wounded animal which seemed 
to bear a charmed life, of several burning hours 
spent in hunting him down — and of a bog ! 
But I got him. 



CHAPTER VII 

INYALA : BUSHBUCK : REEDBUCK : IMPALA *. 

DUIKER : Livingstone's antelope : oribi : 

KLIPSPRINGER : STEENBUCK 

Until Major Statham discovered that rare and 
beautiful form, the Inyala, in the Gorongoza 
district, between Beira and the Zambezi, some 
three or four years ago, I had always believed 
that, with the exception of a limited number 
which occur some distance up the Sabi River, — 
or at all events did so as late as 1907, — no inyala 
were to be found between that point and a small 
area near Chiromo in British Nyasaland, which, 
in the early years of the far-distant nineties, 
used to be somewhat facetiously called " Rose- 
bery Park." I never knew why this somewhat 
high-sounding designation should have come to 
be conferred upon a portion of the west bank of 
the Shire River, which, tor tropical wildness and 
unpark-like aspect, was, at the time of which 
I ^\Tite, probably second to no other in the 
country ; but old Central Africans, who were 
my contemporaries of those days, may perhaps 
remember that this region, whether it came to be 
called Rosebery Park during his long sojourn 
in the country I cannot recall, was the camping 

place of an extremely delightful and entertaining 

140 



THE INYALA 141 

Frenchman whose name, Edouard Foa, is still 
remembered. Monsieur Foa afterwards wrote 
an account of his hunting and wanderings in 
which, if I mistake not, although reference is 
made to Rosebery Park, but little light is thrown, 
I fear, upon the obscure reasons for its having 
been so named. In any case, within a stone's- 
throw of Rosebery Park inyala were, and I 
believe still are, to be found. Persons desiring 
to secure a specimen of this antelope whilst 
hunting in Zambezia will thus have an oppor- 
tunity of doing so in a district within easy reach ; 
otherwise the representatives of this attractive 
family to be found on the Sabi are, I am informed, 
extremely difficult to get at, occurring as they 
do in a portion of the country which has been 
described as an oasis in the midst of a sort of 
desert of thirsty bush-country. The Marchese 
de Pizzardi, shooting there in 1907, secured a 
very beautiful specimen, of which he showed me 
the skin ; but the hunt after it occupied some 
two months, and the experiences he described 
to me were certainly not of the pleasantest. I 
have no knowledge of the remote district in which 
Major Statham discovered his specimens the 
following year, and therefore can say little 
about it except that from what he told me it 
is a part of the country which takes a long 
time to reach. 

The singular characteristic of the inyala, 
which confines a certain number, never very 
large, to a given restricted area, no more occurring 
for, it may be, many hundreds of miles until 



142 THE INYALA 

the next habitation of another assemblage is 
reached, is, I beHeve, a pecuharity which is not 
noticeable in any other member of the Zambezian 
fauna. There can be little doubt that this 
strange habit connects itself with food considera- 
tions, which cause the local concentration of 
this fine animal in areas which, without incon- 
veniencing them in the smallest degree, could 
almost be confined within a ring fence. They 
are lovers of dense bush, into which soon after 
dawn they slowly retire, to issue forth, if undis- 
turbed, once more near sunset. They drink 
twice a day or, if unmolested, oftener ; whilst 
their food, so far as is known at present, consists 
but little of grass, a strong predilection being 
displayed for the leaves, fruits, and seed-vessels 
of a variety of forest growths, the names of 
which would convey but little, I fear, to the 
average sportsman at home. 

In appearance the male inyala is a beautiful, 
stately beast. The horns, which are not carried 
by the females, are of almost exactly the same 
shape as those of his relative the bushbuck, but 
attain to greater length and thickness, and are 
tipped with yellowish white. I do not know what 
may be the present record, but I should regard 
23 inches, measured along the curve, as being 
distinctly good. The colouring of this animal is 
very beautiful and unusual. The males vary con- 
siderably, a fact due doubtless to age, environ- 
ment, or other considerations, but those I have 
seen are of a singular purplish grey, with a full, 
beard-like, goaty fringe under the throat which 



THE INYALA 143 

imparts to the animal a most patriarchal appear- 
ance. From withers to croup the skin is divided 
by a black line which follows the dorsal ridge 
to the root of the tail, whilst the flanks are 
striped and spotted with white. The females, 
smaller in size than the males, are of a rich dark 
chestnut. 

I am sorry to have to confess that I have 
never succeeded in securing a specimen of the 
inyala. I fear, therefore, my hints upon how he 
should be hunted can only be regarded as based 
upon information I have received ; but it is 
generally conceded that success is dependent upon 
two vital factors — namely, to be on your ground 
some time before daylight, and not to take your 
first chance unless you are satisfied that the head 
is a good one. 

The inyala is most jealously protected in 
both the British and the Portuguese Spheres of 
Influence in Africa, and, as a rule, the sportsman 
is restricted to one. It therefore becomes highly 
necessary to use the most careful discrimination, 
and to wait for another day rather than incur 
the risk of exhausting your opportunity for any- 
thing under a good average measurement'^; and as 
inyala are known to be astonishingly regular in 
their daily habits, a postponement of your shot 
until the following morning is a measure whose 
adoption need give rise to no misgiving, since I 
am assured by competent observers and hunters 
that from the same hiding-place they have, day 
after day, been passed by exactly the same 
animals at precisely the same time. I never knew, 



144 THE INYALA— THE BUSHBUCK 

nor had I ever the courage to inqinre, what the 
precise features were by which they were so un- 
erringly recognised and identified, but the state- 
ments were made with such an impressive 
visage cle circonstance that I felt too subdued to 
insist upon obscure and wearisome details. 

The Bushbuck, a near relative of the in- 
yala, carries horns, so far as the males are con- 
cerned, of similar form but smaller dimensions — 
15 or 16 inches being considered a very good head 
— and without, as a rule, the straw-coloured tip. 
Bushbuck are found all over South, Central, and 
East Africa, and are handsome, sporting, and, on 
occasion, aggressive little beasts. The males are 
of a deep grizzled brown, with a tinge of red upon 
their white striped and spotted flanks, whilst the 
hair along the dorsal ridge and on the hind- 
quarters is rather long. The females are much 
paler — usually of a light reddish yellow — and 
their body striping is by no means so conspicuous. 
Both sexes are white under the belly and on the 
insides of the legs. Whilst the coloration of the 
bushbuck is one of the most inconstant things in 
nature, it is, to what extent soever it may vary, 
always harmonious and handsome. The most 
southerly representatives of this interesting family 
are extremely dark-coated, and, if cornered, reck- 
lessly brave — so much so that, small as this animal 
is (the weight of a full-grown male would probably 
be about 90 lbs.), fatal casualties are said to have 
happened to incautious persons, whilst dogs em- 
ployed in hunting them are frequently killed in 
the resulting encounters. As they extend north- 




^ 



THE BUSHBUCK 145 

ward, however, the exuberance of both colour and 
courage appears to wane, until, as Zambezia is 
reached, we find an animal to all bodily appearance 
similar to the Cape bushbuck but often of a dark 
yellowish chestnut. There is none, or but little, 
of that striking bluish grey which is so great an 
attraction in the southern form, while the striping 
and spotting are somewhat less distinct. 

Few wild animals there are assuredly whose 
flesh is so extraordinarily good as is that of the 
African bushbuck. I remember when, some years 
ago, I lived at Zomba in the Nyasaland Pro- 
tectorate, the wooded ravines of the plateau of 
that splendid mountain were the favourite haunts 
of large numbers of bushbuck. Meat in those 
days — in the shape of beef or mutton — was a 
luxury upon which our minds had long ceased to 
brood except occasionally when in gentle, re- 
miniscent mood. Our daily fare was frugal in 
the extreme, and consisted of wearisome, unlovely 
dishes of under-flavoured fowl or over-flavoured 
goat. Occasionally, however, one or other of the 
energetic ones would ascend the mountain and pass 
a day and a night on its cool, healthy uplands, 
there being after his return, for a brief season, an 
attraction which enabled us to face the dinner- 
table almost with enthusiasm, and revel in 
the unwonted luxury of grilled bushbuck 
steaks. 

These antelopes, unlike the other members of 
the order to which they belong, are never found 
in herds or considerable assemblages ; as a rule 
you only see two together, male and female, with, 



146 THE BUSIIBUCK 

possibly, their offspring. Often only one at a 
time is met with. They frequent the thiekest 
forest and bush, in which they lie up during the 
day. They feed on a variety of leaves, roots, 
and seed-vessels, and, in parts of the country 
where they are not much disturbed, commit 
serious depredations in the native gardens. 

Bushbuck are extremely pugnacious, and their 
encounters during the rutting season are fought 
with such fury and resolution as to cost the lives 
of many of the males. My old friend the late 
Mr. John Buchanan, C.M.G., once told me of an 
occasion on which he surprised two male bush- 
buck fighting in his coffee plantations. So intent 
were they upon their own affairs that they paid 
not the smallest attention to his approach, al- 
though he was accompanied by one or more 
natives. The fight raged, he assured me, for 
more than ten minutes, at the end of which time 
one of the combatants became stunned by a 
heavy thrust or blow from the sharp -pointed 
horn of his adversary, and sank to the ground, 
whereupon the victor, uttering a triumphant bark, 
and perceiving his human audience for the first 
time, dashed off into the bush. The vanquished 
animal was secured by Mr. Buchanan's natives 
and, I believe, deposited in the zoological col- 
lection at Zomba, where, I understand, it un- 
fortunately died. 

In the higher and more mountainous regions 
of Zambczia the same bushbuck as the one I have 
described is common. In the early morning, 
especially if the day be dull and cloudy, they may 



THE BUSHBUCK— THE IlEEDBUCK 147 

be seen feeding in the grassy clearings and on the 
edge of the bush until a late hour. They are, as 
a rule, by no means difficult to approach while 
still unsuspicious, and even when they realise 
the nature of the pursuit will often lie low, starting 
away on nearer approach with a frantic rush and 
the characteristic bark. But while feeding, es- 
pecially away from one, I have sometimes, with a 
favourable wind, succeeded in gaining a point 
not more than 60 or 70 yards away. But when, 
as occasionally happens, there are several of these 
animals together, and a male happens to be of 
the party, the females are more wary and, I 
have sometimes thought, give him the alarm. 

The natives of South-East Africa are greatly 
addicted to catching bushbuck — and other small 
antelope — by means of driving them with dogs 
into long, advantageously placed nets. I have 
been told that these periodical drives, in which 
sometimes several villages jointly take part, are 
responsible for the deaths of large numbers of 
these animals, and I hope efforts will be made by 
the respective African Governments to put a stop 
to a custom which exacts a yearly and deplorable 
toll from the smaller antelopes of all kinds. 

Rccdbuck are found in greatest plenty near to 
the coast-line, although, of course, they haunt, 
in lesser numbers, the whole of the interior of 
East and South Central Africa. 

Take, for example, one of the many small 
rivers which, both to the north and south of the 
great Zambezi, discharge their waters into the 
Mozambique channel. As they near the coast 



148 THE REEDBUCK 

their courses run through immense open plains, 
and may be traced low down on the horizon for 
many miles by a dark winding belt of wild date- 
palms, acacias of several kinds, albizzias, and 
other water-loving growths. Behind these again 
you come to a more or less wide belt of high 
spear-grass, and, as the surface of the plain re- 
cedes from the water, to reeds and grasses of a 
reasonable growth. This is the place for reed- 
buck. Near the mouths of the Mupa and Mun- 
gari Rivers I have seen their clear-cut footprints 
in the sand of the seashore, whilst in the various 
mouths of the Zambezi — especially the Chinde 
mouth — they were so numerous that the fact was 
officially noted on the Admiralty charts of twenty 
years ago. At the mouth of the Mungari there is 
a curious and somewhat extensive peninsula of 
low-lying grass land. On this, towards evening, 
I have counted from the summit of an ant-heap 
more than twenty reedbuck feeding in sight at 
the same time, and on one occasion, not very 
many miles away from the point mentioned, being 
forced by the failure of a supply of grain to arrive 
in time to provide meat for my hungry carriers, 
I killed six of these antelopes in about three- 
quarters of an hour. 

The reedbuck is a beautiful, graceful type of 
animal about the size of a fallow deer. As its 
name implies, and as I have just shown, it is a 
dweller in reeds and loves the neighbourhood 
of water. It is an animal which adheres strictly 
to the family circle, and thus, although a number 
may be seen at the same time extending over a 



THE REEDBUCK 149 

wide area, it may be taken that on the whole 
the Httle groups of two or three form the hmit 
of their sociable instincts. They are perfectly 
harmless, become exceedingly tame, and grow 
wonderfully, and I think affectionately, appre- 
ciative of kind and gentle treatment. Many 
years ago, when I lived for a time at Chinde, the 
main navigable branch of the Zambezi delta, 
I kept a young male reedbuck a by no means 
unhappy or unwilling captive in the gardens 
of the Vice-Consulate. He was remarkably 
handsome and intelligent, and a great lover of 
sugar, for which he would come readily, and 
somewhat boisterously, when called, his eager- 
ness on one occasion resulting in the wrecking 
of the afternoon tea-table, and great grief in 
the matter of cups and saucers. Poor Wilfred ! 
A roving hyena came one night and robbed me 
of one of the most cherished of the many wild 
friends with which Africa has from time to time 
endowed me. 

Of a pale reddish brown, creamy white under 
the belly and inside the thighs, the male carries 
a handsome pair of outward-spreading horns 
annulated for about half their length and thence 
smooth to the tips. In Zambezia these horns 
are small compared with those from other parts 
of Africa, 14 inches being the measurement of 
an exceptionally good pair. When alarmed, they 
usually sink down low in the grass, very much 
as a hare sometimes does, doubtless in the hope 
of the danger passing them by undiscovered ; 
but if satisfied that the hostile agency is in pursuit 
II 



150 THE REEDBUCK 

of them, they utter a wheezy but penetrating 
whistle, and bound rapidly away. Even when 
in full flight, however, in districts where they 
have not been much hunted, I have more than 
once checked them by whistling shrilly, although 
this does not by any means always succeed. 
Their food consists, I believe, entirely of grass, 
and their meat is a most appreciable addition 
to one's table. 

In the early nineties, when the British Navy 
maintained two small stern-wheel gunboats on 
the Lower Zambezi, I have on several occasions 
accompanied the officers of these vessels on 
shooting excursions up the Inyamaria and Inya- 
makativa channels, as also through the Madridane 
opening to the lower or Inyamissengo branch. 
Here we have shot numbers of reedbuck, which 
on our return were greatly appreciated by those 
at Chinde, who, by force of circumstances, were 
only able to obtain a substance dimly resembling 
fresh meat about once a week. I do not know if 
conditions have greatly changed, but it seems to 
me more than probable that even now the 
numbers of the reedbuck in the Zambezi delta 
may not have been greatly thinned since the 
time I mention. Still, shooting reedbuck only 
is doubtless far from an exciting form of sport, 
although there was, in my recollection of these 
hunting grounds, frequent opportunity of an en- 
counter with larger and more interesting beasts. 

The Impala is essentially a forest - loving 
animal, and perhaps of all the smaller of the 
African antelopes the most beautiful and graceful. 



THE IMPALA 151 

Although it is fairly abundant throughout 
South-East Africa, and exceedingly plentiful in 
Zambezia, the horns carried by the males in the 
latter district are much smaller than those found 
in the northern half of the continent. This 
peculiarity, however, in no way detracts from 
the beauty of the animal, or from the grace 
and charm which they lend to their surroundings. 

I should regard as the most favourable haunts 
of impala a park-like alternation of forest and 
glade near the banks of some such river as the 
Shire, where, above the Murchison Cataracts, I 
have seen them in herds of fifty or more. On 
the banks of the Zambezi they do not seem to be 
very plentiful until the Lupata Gorge is reached. 
Both above this point and below impala are not 
uncommon, but the gorge itself is too stony and 
barren for them. 

The males, rising to about 36 inches at the 
shoulder, are ot a brilliant, glossy chestnut, 
fading beneath their bodies to delicate fawn and 
pure white under the belly and legs. Their 
handsome horns are lyre-shaped and ringed, the 
somewhat widely set annulations being separated 
by deep notches. I suppose one would regard 
20 inches round the curves as the measurement 
of a good head, but then, as I have pointed out, 
they are much smaller in Zambezia and Nyasa- 
land than in East Africa and Uganda. 

Mr. H. L. Duff in his delightful book Nyasa- 
land under the Foreign Office, published some 
years ago, mentions a very curious and unusual 
peculiarity observed by him in the case of the 



152 THE IMPALA 

impala found in that rising colony — namely, that 
during the winter months, which no doubt 
coincide with the period of gestation, the males 
separate from the herd and keep scrupulously 
to themselves apart. It is a somewhat singular 
fact, if Mr. Duff's observations should have been 
correct, that in the adjoining Portuguese Sphere 
the impala found there, which are identical 
with the Nyasaland family, occur in the winter 
months in their greatest numbers, and, so far 
from there being any separation of the sexes, 
the winter months seem always to bring them 
together. For this there would seem to be a 
comprehensible reason in the fact that during 
that season of the year the grazing grounds 
would be much more circumscribed than in the 
rainy season, when the whole face of the country 
is covered with a marvellously luxuriant tropical 
vegetation, affording a much wider range for 
the impala, as, of course, for all other similar 
species. It is doubtless due to this that during 
the summer or rainy season the presence of 
these animals in the vicinity of perennial streams 
is much less remarkable than in the winter 
months. 

I can imagine no greater delight for a lover of 
nature than to stalk close up to a herd of impala 
and watch them from some place of concealment. 
Nothing could exceed the grace and daintiness 
of their every movement. If the herd be a large 
one, containing representatives of all ages and 
conditions, the picture is even still more com- 
pelling. As in the cases of so many species of 



THE IMP ALA 158 

African game, upon the female would seem to 
devolve the important duty of ensuring the safety 
of the entire community by the maintenance of 
unbroken vigilance. The older males stand or 
lie about, doubtless not insensible to the growing 
weight of the fleeting years ; their heads are held 
rather low, their inadequate tails ceaselessly 
flicking at the wearisome flies, assisted now and 
then by the shadow of a backward-thrust horn. 
The younger animals, gaily conscious of the 
joie de vivre of the bright period of golden youth 
through which they are passing, hasten the slowly 
fleeting hours by means of a succession of friendly 
sparring matches, rearing up, goat-like, on their 
hind legs and clicking their half-grown horns 
together as head meets head in playful combat. 
The smaller fry, not yet possessed of horns or other 
outward and visible signs of advancing adoles- 
cence, lie near their mothers, chewing the cud 
with a quick, impatient movement of the tiny 
jaws. Over all, permeating all, an air of in- 
effable peace. Should, however, the sacrilegious 
observer grow weary of the arcadian scene, and 
his material soul yearn with a savage desire to 
possess a remarkably fine pair of horns which he 
espies adorning the shapely head of one of the 
elders of the small community, the effect produced 
by the discharge of his rifle is as astonishing as the 
previous one was beautiful. With one impulse, 
as though moved by an irresistible electric shock, 
the impala leap to their feet with a quick snort of 
alarm. They cannot at first understand the 
nature of the calamity that has befallen, and they 



154 THE IMPALA 

stand irresolute, looking this way and that, some 
of the younger animals, tor no apparent reason, 
bounding high into the air. If the hunter remain 
hidden, several shots could be fired before the 
animals appear to realise what has happened to 
them, when, uttering a loud bark, not unlike that 
of the bushbuck, they stream away, leaping 
again and again ten and twelve feet into the air 
with a marvellous, elastic, bird-like bound which 
betrays a power such as probably no other animal 
in the world possesses in equal degree. Having 
retreated five or six hundred yards, the herd will 
often stop and reconnoitre curiously. If by this 
time the hunter should have discovered himself, 
or should have shown any disposition to follow 
on their tracks, they then lose no time in putting 
a much greater distance between themselves and 
him. They have a curious habit as a rule of 
retreating in a wide circle, and more than once, 
on having failed to get a shot on my first approach, 
I have been successful in cutting them off by 
hastily following a line at an angle to that of their 
retreat. 

They suffer severely from the attacks of wild 
animals, every species of the carnivorous families 
seeming to have formed a partiality for their 
flesh. So much is this the case that it appears 
hard to account for their immense numbers. 
Fortunately, they have been endowed with mar- 
vellous reproductive powers, and are, with per- 
haps the exception of the duikers, the only ante- 
lopes within my knowledge capable of producing, 
as they occasionally do, more than one calf at a 



THE IMPALA— THE DUIKERS 155 

birth. For table purposes I do not think their 
meat compares with either that of the bushbuek 
or the reedbuck, although it is by no means to be 
despised ; it has a somewhat singular flavour, which 
personally I do not appreciate, probably due to 
their diet of the leaves of certain aromatic bushes 
and trees, favourite among which is a short, 
stunted, elm-like growth with a very pale bark 
whose name I do not know, but which is singularly 
characteristic of the country most favoured by 
impala, especially in the winter season. 

Zambezia possesses all three members of 
tlie Duiker family — the blue, the red, and the 
grey. In my experience, however, they are all 
three less general there than in certain districts 
of Nyasaland, in the Barue, and the Mozam- 
bique Company's territory. I suppose Shupanga 
Forest, and the wide wooded plains to the east- 
ward which follow the course of the Zambezi 
almost to the sea, may contain larger numbers 
ot these small antelopes than are found on the 
north bank of the river ; and this view of the case 
coincides with the opinions of several experienced 
hunters with whom I have exchanged notes. Of 
the last named, the general coloration is a deep 
brownish red, paling to faint yellow under the 
belly. They have also, seen in the forest, a curious 
greenish shade of colour which seems to disappear 
on a nearer approach. I am not sure which is the 
larger ot the two, but fancy, if there be any ap- 
preciable difference, that the advantage would be 
found rather with the so-called red than with the 
grey duikers ; the curiously named blue variety 



156 THE DUIKERS 

being almost, if not quite, the smallest of all the 
African antelopes, its size when full-grown being 
not much, if anything, bigger than that of the 
common wild rabbit. 

The red duiker is of a foxy red colour, paling 
under the belly and inside the thighs in verj^ much 
the same manner as the smaller beast. Taken 
roughly, on an average I should consider it prob- 
able that the grey or common duiker may reach in 
the forests of Zambezia a shoulder measurement 
of 22 inches or thereabouts, whilst that of the 
red may perhaps reach 23. 

A very curious habit which these animals 
share with the klipspringer of the mountains and, 
I think, the steenbuck is that of depositing their 
dung in the same place over considerable periods 
of time. I have frequently seen piles of their 
droppings of varying ages in the forest which 
must have taken many days, or even weeks, to 
accumulate. They are entirely forest-loving 
animals, and very rarely leave the cover of the 
thick bush. At times, early in the morning, they 
may be seen feeding on the edge of the trees ; but 
even this is of rare occurrence. On the appear- 
ance of danger they crouch, and I have often known 
them lie until but a few yards separated us, when 
they would bolt like hares, leaping high over the 
bushes and other impedimenta with a rapidity 
which seemed to suggest the shotgun rather than 
the rifle. 1 am told that a charge of fairly heavy 
shot is quite efficacious in bringing them to bag, 
but have always felt rather nervous of making a 
fruitless attempt, which would only cause pain 



THE DUIKERS 157 

and suffering to the pretty, inoffensive little beast. 
I have, therefore, in shooting duiker and small 
buck adhered for some years to a most reliable 
little -220 rook rifle which has proved admirably 
suited to this form of sport. 

The straight, sharp-pointed horns of these 
small animals, which reach, in some cases, about 
4 inches in length, are sometimes, though ex- 
ceptionally, carried by females. It is, however, 
extremely difficult, if not impossible, on their 
bolting, when they invariably go straight away at 
a tremendous pace, to distinguish, in the shade 
of the forest, whether the animal carries horns 
or not. 

Duiker are usually seen in pairs or singly. 
They are often found at prodigious distances from 
water, and I am convinced are able to dispense 
with it over long intervals of time. This I 
account for by the tremendous drenching dews 
of winter, which, until as late as ten o'clock in 
the forenoon, saturate vegetation of every descrip- 
tion. The act of feeding, therefore, would furnish 
this small animal with sufficient liquid to enable 
him in the winter season easily to go for days 
without drinking, as that habit is usually under- 
stood, whilst in the summer, of course, the entire 
face of the country presents suitable drinking 
facilities within a few hundred yards of each 
other. 

Duikers are the most delightful of pets, and 
become so tame that they can be taught various 
accomplishments. When I resided at Beira a 
few years ago I possessed a female of the grey 



158 LIVINGSTONE'S ANTELOPE 

variety which wandered about both in and out of 
the Consular premises very much as she pleased. 
She would graze on a large open sand-flat 
immediately in rear of the house, fraternising 
in the most friendly manner with a fine bush- 
buck and some crested cranes, the property of 
my neighbours ; but she always came back 
shortly before sunset, when she would sit up on 
her hind legs and beg for cigarettes, the tobacco 
of which she ate with great eagerness and 
enjoyment. In course of time, unfortunately, 
she learnt that by dint of much perseverance 
she could manage to push up the lid of the silver 
cigarette-box with her nose and help herself — 
which she did several times, I fear, before discovery 
overtook her. She was extremely fond of dry 
toast, but would never eat bread; and so far 
did her instinctive fears desert her that she paid 
not the smallest attention to dogs. On my 
return to England in 1906 poor Bessie was given 
by me to an English lady residing in Beira, but 
shortly afterwards, in endeavouring to leap the 
fence of the back premises in which she was 
confined, she broke one of her shapely forelegs, 
and had to be destroyed. 

Among the several remaining small antelopes 
to which some reference must be made is that 
very beautiful forest-loving type called Living- 
stone's Antelope. This graceful form is extremely 
numerous in the forests of Shupanga, as also in 
various parts of the Quelimane district, as well 
as throughout the northern half of the Mozam- 
bique Province. 



LIVINGSTONE'S ANTELOPE 159 

The habits of these pretty little creatures 
are not unlike those of the duikers ; they are, 
however, much smaller than any except the blue 
variety. Except in regions where they are un- 
disturbed, it is very difficult to see them, so 
wary and alert are they in all their movements. 
So far as I am aware, females of the Livingstone's 
antelope are entirely hornless. The prevailing 
colour of the males is reddish fawn, paling, as 
in the case of all the antelopes, as it extends 
beneath the body. Their horns are to me scarcely 
distinguishable from those of the duiker, and as 
a rule are about 3 inches in length, their shoulder 
measurement reaching 13 or 14 inches. They 
are, as I have said, exceedingly wary, and, owing 
to the thickness of their favourite haunts, most 
difficult to distinguish. I have always, on this 
account, felt extremely pleased with myself on 
the successful termination of a stalk, the more 
so as they appear to have a faculty of marking 
every stage of your approach whilst completely 
hidden by what you believe to be entirely 
covering you. In nine cases out of ten, there- 
fore, on arriving at the point you considered to 
be nicely within range, the Livingstone is there 
no longer. 

Here is another of the smaller species which 
are believed seldom or never to drink, but to 
subsist, in so far as the satisfaction of thirst is 
concerned, entirely upon raindrops, dew, and 
vegetable juices. In passing through Shupanga 
in 1909 I shot a small antelope which I have not 
made up my mind was not a Livingstone, but 



160 THE ORIBK 

which presented what seemed to me several 
marked differences. Its colour was not unlike 
the type we are considering — namely, a bright 
reddish fawn ; but the belly and throat were 
straw-coloured, whilst, in addition to a marked 
darkening of the coat along the dorsal ridge, 
the entire skin on the upper portion of the body 
was distinguished by an unmistakable tinge of 
purple. In bringing this specimen to the coast, 
the skin was unfortunately, and to my great regret, 
stolen, I suspect by a steamer boy ; but as there 
are, I believe, no less than close on forty divisions 
of the sub-order to which these antelopes belong, 
perhaps it is rather a mercy that no further 
addition to this number was permitted to be 
made. 

Oribi occur as a rule most numerously in 
the more elevated regions of the Portuguese 
Province. They are of two different types — 
the Cape oribi, and the variety which has come 
to be known as Peters', a rather smaller animal 
than the first mentioned. Their appearance 
and habits are very like those of the little ante- 
lopes just mentioned, except that their affection 
for thick bush is not so marked as in the case 
of the duikers. Oribi are often to be seen in 
open grass country, on the summits of low moun- 
tain plateaux, as also, but not so frequently, 
on the plains of the lower levels. They live 
exclusively on a grass diet, and from the circum- 
stance of being seldom seen far from water it is 
to be apprehended that they do not share the 
abstemious habits of the duikers and Living- 



THE ORIBI— THE KLIPSPRINGER 161 

stone's antelope. They are far from gregarious, 
as this term is usually applied, for as a rule a 
male accompanied by one or two females make 
up the family party. When disturbed or startled, 
oribi go straight away, never pausing to look 
back ; and, ungallant as I regret to be compelled 
to admit it, the male always leads the way. 

As we come to the mountain regions 
another minute but graceful form is that of the 
leaping Klipspringer. Here is another advo- 
cate of abstention from liquid nourishment, 
whose sole refreshment of that kind is said to 
be obtained by chewing the moist fronds of the 
common aloe. Still there can be no doubt, 
when regard is had to the arid fastnesses of the 
granite ranges he inhabits, that in the dry or 
winter season it would be impossible for him to 
obtain water. 

One of his peculiarities is the extraordinary 
bristly texture of his coarse greyish coat, and 
the second is his remarkable hoof, which gives 
him a spoor more closely resembling that of a 
small pig than anything else I can recall. But 
the amazing, chamois-like confidence with which 
he leaps from one craggy rock to another appar- 
ently so distant as to render reaching it impossible 
for anything unendowed with wings, sailing 
almost bird-like over frightful chasms, and 
bounding at full speed along the edges of diz2y 
slopes, must be seen to be believed. Needless 
to say, he is not easily bagged. He frequents 
the sheltered side of a mountain range, especially 
those whose wall-like sides rise from an inner 



162 THE KLIPSPRINGER— THE STEENBUCK 

circle of foothills and spring almost precipitously 
until, with a few strongly marked inequalities, 
affording foothold for nothing but the klipspringer 
or the eagle, they reach the edge of the plateau 
above. From these eyries, therefore, except on 
the rare occasions of his descents to lower 
levels, the klipspringer scans with who shall 
say what inner feelings of conscious superiority 
the approach of the crawling danger. It requires 
but a few effortless springs to bear him safely 
out of harm's way, so there he boldly stands, 
chamois-like, or perhaps ibex-like, all four feet 
drawn closely together as he balances his shapely 
body on some tiny projection or summit of rock 
scarcely large enough to offer standing room to 
an eagle. A few moments of rapt, statue-like, 
inquiring gaze, and he seems to rise abruptly 
into the air. A series of rapid, springy bounds 
remove him from our ken. He is gone, who 
shall say whither ? 

I think the tally of the small Zambezian 
antelopes exhausts itself with the Steenbuck, 
which exists in considerable numbers on the 
open grassy plains of the entire district. In 
the Cheringoma region, I have seen numbers 
of these animals, but, beyond procuring a good 
specimen, was but little attracted to them, the 
country at that time being full of other and 
more interesting beasts, of which, since then, it 
has been to a great extent denuded. 

Steenbuck are curious, solitary little creatures, 
and though found at certain seasons of the year 
in grassy clearings and on the edges of the plains, 



THE STEENBUCK 163 

they may as a rule be met with in scrubby bush 
country, and, more rarely, in the forest itself. 
After the burning of the grass in the dry season, 
and with the appearance of the new tender shoots 
which, about the month of September, begin to 
surround the blackened grass roots, the steenbuck 
and other tiny forms steal quietly out from their 
winter retreat, and are then more easily seen than 
in the summer. With the duikers and several 
other small types they share the peculiarity of 
being, it would almost seem, unaffected by the 
sound of the discharge of firearms. Whether this 
arises from deafness I very much doubt, as their 
power of locating other sounds is incontestable ; 
but the fact remains that shot after shot may 
sometimes be fired at their tiny forms without 
causing them to display the smallest concern or 
consciousness of what is taking place. 

I have on many occasions, whilst sitting down 
to rest in the forest alter, it may be, a long and 
exhausting tramp after other game, watched 
unseen the movements of these pretty, dainty 
little creatures as, all unconscious of observation, 
they have pursued their daily avocations. I can 
see them now, as with shghtly bunched-up hind- 
quarters, and head held low, they advance 
mincingly, a step at a time, along some narrow, 
shady forest glade, the tiny, restless, white-edged 
tail moving nervously, ceaselessly, and rapidly 
from side to side — a personification of wary 
alertness, a very incarnation of delicacy and 
grace. I think the most delightful family of 
domesticated wild things I have ever seen is one 



164 THE STEENBUCK 

of five small antelopes, strongly resembling the 
Livingstone, which I saw. recently in the gardens 
of the British Agency at Zanzibar. Here a large 
piece of shaded lawn had been enclosed, and the 
tiny creatures existed in conditions as near their 
natural ones as could well be devised. I could 
never have wearied of watching them as, entirely 
freed from the anxieties and dangers of their 
daily lives in the wilds, they gradually grew more 
and more accustomed to human society. But, 
however tame these small antelopes become in 
course of time, they never wholly lose that ten- 
dency suddenly to grow panic-stricken at some 
momentary fright, unseen and unnoted, it may be, 
by the bystanders. I have often seen them in 
moments when to all appearance their confidence 
had been entirely gained suddenly as it were 
withdraw into themselves, and make a rapid dash 
for some neighbouring refuge or cover, only to 
issue forth a few moments later as calmly as though 
nothing had happened to disturb them. 



CHAPTER VIII 

LION : LEOPARD : LYNX 

The Lions found in practically all parts of Zam- 
bezia are in every respect identical with those of 
Central and South Africa. In certain portions of 
the country they are very numerous and bold, 
whilst in others they appear at intervals only. 
It may, however, unhesitatingly be said that 
throughout the length and breadth of the country 
no single place — not even the most considerable 
town or settlement — is safe from periodical 
visitations from lions. As a rule these animals 
follow game, especially zebras and buffaloes ; 
their sign and spoor are also constantly met with 
in the vicinity of large herds of elands, and doubt- 
less of other animals ; but for some reason or other 
— it may be due to a periodical liking for change of 
diet — lions will suddenly turn their attention to 
human habitations, and then either man or his 
domestic animals must pay a heavy toll. 

In appearance the lion of the Zambezi valley 
is a splendid and most majestic creature. Al- 
though in all probability no beast known to 
zoology has commanded from the earliest days 
more interest and attention, one detail regarding 
him, so far as I am aware, would appear entirely 
to have escaped attention. I refer to his weight 

12 



166 THE LION 

at maturity. I have read many books in which 
this animal's characteristics and appearance have 
been ably dealt with, and I have discussed the 
point with numerous experienced observers, but 
none could tell me with any claim to approximate 
correctness what a full-groAvn lion might weigh. 
The largest male shot by me was a heavy burden 
for four natives of good physique when secured 
to a long bamboo pole, and aiter carrying him in 
to camp, a distance of four or five miles, they dis- 
played a considerable amount of fatigue : from 
this fact I have been led to estimate the weight of 
a well-developed male of medium age at between 
350 and 400 lbs. 

1 should think that in all probability the 
district of Zambezia in which at the present time 
more lions are found than in any other may be 
that of Boror. Tlience, westward, they are found 
in considerable numbers round the eastern side of 
Morumbala Mountain and on through the Pinda 
range. Near Quelimane itself they also occur, 
seven having been shot in one week by my late 
Consular Agent there, Mr. Rene Wuilleumier, 
about a year ago. But in Boror they are such a 
danger, and so many native lives have been lost 
during the past few years as a result of their 
attacks, that the Concessionary Company ad- 
ministering this immense region advertised not 
very long ago a standing offer to pay £25 for every 
one destroyed within their borders. This resulted 
in the country being visited by several European 
hunters, but so far as I have ascertained, not many 
successes attended their efforts. I passed through 




^^:X. 




THE LION 167 

a portion of Boror in 1911, and, judging from the 
sleepless nights that they caused my carriers as 
they roared and grunted round the camp, I 
should imagine that the evil reputation of this 
portion of the country has been in no way 
exaggerated. I did not actually see any, as, 
being on service at the time, I had no oppor- 
tunity of hunting them, added to which the nights 
were dark and moonless ; but I have unprofitable 
recollections of one vigil of several hours spent 
sitting with my rifle across my knee wondering 
when the moment for using it would come, whilst 
my people, grey with fright, could only be re- 
strained with the greatest difficulty from making 
a dash for the nearest belt of trees. In no part of 
Africa in which I have lived or travelled have I 
heard lions at night in such evident numbers, or 
seen by day so much of their spoor. There is 
certainly in Boror a fair amount of game, but not 
in my opinion sufficient to justify the presence of 
the quantities of lions which for years past have 
gained for this district so sinister and unenviable 
a reputation. The numbers of native casualties 
have for years been extraordinarily high — so much 
so that the Company have not seldom experienced 
difficulty in maintaining communication between 
their outposts owing to the natural reluctance of 
their employes and labourers to undertake the 
duties of mail-carriers. I was informed by the 
people themselves that all the lions in Boror were 
man-eaters, having developed so keen a relish 
for human flesh that they practically left the 
game alone ; and although this is no doubt an 



168 THE LION 

exaggerated view to which their fears, and the 
great loss of Hfe they have sustained, may have 
given rise, the lact remains tliat more people have 
been taken of late years in Boror and the neigh- 
bouring Prazo of Lugella than in any part of Africa 
with which I have ever been acquainted. 

The lion of this part of Africa is a full-maned 
beast, varying in the colour of that striking 
feature and his skin from dark brown-shaded 
grey, with the so-called black mane, to a body 
colour of tawny senna with a mane of pronounced 
yellowish tinge. I have never seen a maneless 
lion in these regions, or one of mature growth 
which did not display at least some symptom 
of their usual characteristic adornment. It has 
been said that the greatest fullness of this 
hirsute appendage displays itself in open rather 
than in thick bush country, and that in the 
latter, due to the losses sustained in traversing 
the thorny undergrowth, the manes of these 
animals are always poor. Nothing, however, 
could coincide less with the results of my own 
observations. There are few portions of Zam- 
bezia characterised by wide plains such as those 
of which such immense areas of South Africa 
consist ; almost the whole of the face of the 
country is covered by forest usually thick, 
thorny, and dense. But of the lions shot by me 
in this part of Africa, and of the skins obtained 
there which I have examined, I do not remember 
one which w^as not normally maned, whilst the 
growth of several has been distinctly above the 
average. 



THE LION 169 

A very interesting skin which I well remember 
was one shown to me by my friend Captain 
Lage, formerly the Commandant of the great 
Barue district to the south of Tete. This, with 
a well-developed mane of the so-called yellow 
variety, had been taken from a full-grown male 
lion which was discovered by natives quite 
dead, fully 20 feet from the ground, and firmly 
wedged between either two trees growing very 
closely together or in the angle of a massive 
fork. I was told that from the surrounding 
indications it was clearly a case in which this 
animal had aroused the resentment of a female 
elephant, which had evidently seized him in her 
trunk in a paroxysm of rage and hurled him 
into the position in which he was found, whence 
it had been impossible to extricate himself. 
Both flanks were almost denuded of coat, showing 
the frightful struggles he must have made to 
escape ; but the trees or the branches held firmly, 
and who amongst the cowering denizens of the 
jungle should obey such a call for help as that ? 

It is, of course, very difficult by means of 
generalities to afford any adequate basis of 
comparison of the sizes of lions — or any other 
animals, for the matter of that — existing in various 
parts of the country, but the following measure- 
ments of a fine male which I shot in the district 
we are considering in 1902 may give some clear 
idea of the size to which they there attain. 
This lion was a fine, well-developed beast in 
perfect condition, whose mane, of grey-brown 
and yellow under the chin, somewhat exceeded 



170 THE LION 

the average in size. His length unskinned from 
nose to tail was 10 ft. 2j in. ; height at shoulder, 
3 ft. 6 1 in. ; maximum girth, 4 ft. 5 in. 

Lions in my experience, on the rare occasions 
when I have met with them by daylight, never 
occur in the large parties in which they have 
been reported in South Africa, Rhodesia, and 
elsewhere. The most I have ever seen together 
were five, but more frequently, I think, they are 
found in pairs, or two males hunting together. 
Although, of course, essentially nocturnal, it 
is by no means unusual for them to hunt during 
the daylight hours, when, in the case of two or 
three acting in concert, their proceedings appear 
to be regulated by a well-understood, precon- 
certed plan. Thus, one, told off for the purpose, 
will very skilfully round up a herd of whatever 
animals they may have designs on, and, grunting 
noisily, will shepherd them to the spot where 
the partners are concealed. Should the attempt 
prove abortive, they will all move forward and 
repeat it, but if successful they will remain on 
the spot, if undisturbed, probably through the 
night, going off to water at dawn, after which 
they will lie up for the day, possibly revisiting 
the remains at night again, or possibly not. If 
hunting singly, nothing can exceed the astonish- 
ing quietness with which the lion approaches 
his prey, and always up wind. No well-fed, 
pampered Persian cat ever crossed the velvety 
drawing-room carpet more noiselessly. On 
arriving, all unsuspected, at the required point, 
he makes one lightning dash, usually seizing 



THE LION 171 

the beast with his great rending canine teeth 
upon the nape of the neck, whilst with his claws 
he grips hold of the face, pulling it round and 
exerting his tremendous strength to break the 
victim's spine. This method of attack, added 
to his great weight, soon crushes out all resist- 
ance. Unless very hungry, a lion, after killing 
a large animal in the manner described, will not 
devour him immediately ; he will confine himself 
to drinking the blood, which he laps daintily 
like the great cat that he is. Thereafter his 
proceedings, doubtless hallowed by long custom, 
almost invariably follow the same quaint lines. 
The kill is first very skilfully disembowelled, and 
the entrails are more or less buried. He then 
discusses, no doubt by way of hors d'ceuvre^ 
such dainty morsels as the kidneys, liver, and 
other viscera, going on, after these have been 
enjoyed, to the thighs and other " meaty " 
portions of the beast. His capacity is large 
and his appetite inordinate, and thus it is that 
in lean times, when game is not plentiful, he 
can abstain from food as long as, or perhaps 
longer than, most animals in similar unhappy 
case. But although doubtless keenly alive to 
the superiority, if it be obtainable, of nice 
juicy meat, he nevertheless adapts himself to 
circumstances by taking advantage of any oppor- 
tunity of obtaining a meal which may haply 
present itself. Thus he has been known to sit 
with his gigantic paw patiently poised for hours 
at the hole of a field-rat, to devour fruit of 
various forest trees, to fill his omnivorous 



172 THE LION 

stomach with locusts and with the veriest offal 
of any kind, and, as a friend of mine informed 
me, to appease the pangs of an unpleasant 
vacuum with the malodorous flannel shirt of 
a long-unwashed native. There are authentic 
stories to the effect that he does not, in certain 
circumstances, hesitate at even cannibalism, if no 
other means present themselves of satisfying the 
pangs of hunger. It may be taken, therefore, 
that there is probably no known variety of 
beast which displays a more surprising catholicity 
of taste. 

The female produces two or three cubs at a 
birth, and these remain with the parents until, 
on the arrival of their second teeth, — at the age 
of about two years, — they proceed to hunt for 
themselves. By this time they are very nearly 
full grown, and have been duly and carefully 
instructed by the parent animals in all the arts 
of their bloodthirsty craft. During early in- 
fancy they are carefully fed by the mother until 
old enough to accompany the older animals on 
their periodical forays, when, it is said, the latter 
encourage them to make the attack, and stand 
by to see it properly delivered. There can be 
little doubt, however, that the family remains 
intact until the young beasts are almost mature. 
In Cheringoma, a few years ago, I surprised five 
lions on one occasion which appeared to me at 
first to be of equal size ; but on careful examina- 
tion with powerful glasses I satisfied myself 
that three of the animals were quite young, the 
manes of two being scarcely perceptible. I was 



THE LION 173 

so fortunate on this occasion as to secure both 
the parent beasts. It is said, and I suppose 
with good reason, that of the considerable 
numbers of cubs annually born but few live to 
reach maturity, the remainder falling victims to 
a variety of infantile ailments. Here is a dis- 
pensation of kindly Nature with which I fancy 
few indeed will quarrel, for one's mind loses 
itself in a wide field of harrowing conjecture as 
to what the aspect of the country would have 
been if, since the earliest days of this animal's 
arrival from Asia, their young had invariably 
survived. 

Contrary to general supposition, which has 
probably arisen from the stories told of the 
Indian tiger, the African man-eater is by no means 
necessarily an aged or worn-out beast. Many 
instances are recorded of this habit being con- 
tracted by young and vigorous animals. I 
remember, whilst passing through East Luabo 
on one occasion, being surprised by the number 
of deserted villages through which we passed at 
a point near the southern boundary of that large 
district. I was informed that the people had 
abandoned them owing to the depredations of 
lions, and that they all appeared to be man- 
eaters. I devoted two days and two nights to 
hunting this region, and although I heard them 
nightly, and twice they broke in the bush in 
front of me, I did not actually see one on this 
occasion. 

When a lion attacks a native village, he usually 
does so by night, when these animals are far 



174 THE LION 

bolder than they are by day. In most cases he 
leaps upon the roof, and in a surprisingly short 
time claws a way through the thatch, which he 
scatters in all directions. It seems amazing to 
us that during this performance the inmates 
should not have time to make good their escape 
by the door ; but the African is a heavy sleeper, 
and I suppose his first intimation of the dreaded 
creature's visit is to find himself dragged forth in 
its jaws. I have more than once seen the holes 
made by lions in the act of entering by the roof 
of a hut, and it affords striking evidence of the 
enormous power with which these animals are 
endowed. On other occasions the wall of the 
hut is broken in by one or two tremendous blows, 
but in practically every case the unfortunat,e 
native seems to be either too paralysed with fear 
or too sound asleep to become conscious in time 
to prevent the catastrophe. 

When charging as the result of a wound or 
of some act of provocation, a lion will often kill 
his human aggressor by a tremendous blow of the 
forepaw, the claws of which have been known 
completely to pierce the skull ; but when hunting 
human prey, be it on the native path or elsewhere, 
it is the usual practice to seize the victim and carry 
him off alive, a circumstance to which not a few 
persons owe their lives. I remember when I was 
living in Nyasaland some years ago, two Euro- 
peans were hunting in a portion of the country 
somewhat infested by lions, when, in the middle 
of the night, one of these animals entered the grass 
shelter in which they were sleeping, seized one by 



THE LION 175 

the hip, and coolly took him away. The unfor- 
tunate man actually awoke to find himself being 
carried bodily off. His cries quickly awakened 
his companion, who rushed out with a magazine 
rifle and fired rapidly in the direction from which 
the sounds came. The startled lion dropped his 
intended victim and decamped. I saw this man 
after his discharge from hospital, where he spent 
many weeks. He was quite recovered, but severe 
injury to the hip bone rendered him extremely, 
and I fear permanently, lame. In another case a 
lion entered the tent of a friend of mine, who, 
being fortunately a light sleeper, awoke before the 
beast had time to do him any injury. With 
great presence of mind, he slipped out of his camp 
bed on the side nearest the tent wall, whence his 
loud shouts were successful in scaring the lion 
away. The ghastly story of the midnight marau- 
der which entered a railway compartment on the 
Uganda Railway and took out one of three hunters 
who had actually come out in pursuit of it is too 
well known to need repetition; but perhaps suffi- 
cient has been said to show conclusively that the 
old supposition that lions but rarely enter a tent 
or other shelter is entirely erroneous, and that 
in parts of the country wherein they are numerous 
travellers should invariably take means, by the 
erection of a thorn zareha or fence of some kind, 
to secure their safety and those of their native 
followers. I think that all experienced hunters 
and observers are agreed that dark, rainy nights 
are those on which lions appear to lose all dread 
of man, and when their boldest and most fatal 



176 THE LION 

exploits are planned and executed. In clear 
moonlight they are by no means so dangerous, 
and will often take to their heels with the same 
celerity as usually characterises their retreat if 
encountered in broad daylight. Misogynists will 
learn with bitter satisfaction that on nearly all 
their predatory excursions it is the female who 
does not only most of the hunting, but is usually 
the first aggressor ; and certainly in my experience 
of these animals it is to her that I have owed 
most of my moments of embarrassment. When 
she has cubs to defend, the lioness is exceptionally, 
almost recklessly, savage ; but on these occasions 
her manifestations of anger are perhaps more in 
the nature of demonstrations intended to scare 
off the unwelcome intruder, and, so far as I am 
aware, but rarely result in much harm if a hasty 
retreat be promptly beaten. But in daylight 
cases of unprovoked attack on Europeans are 
exceedingly few. In almost all cases his in- 
stinctive fear of man is too strong for him, and 
the lion, be he one or many, promptly takes to 
flight. But what constitutes no little of the 
danger of hunting these animals is the surprising 
uncertainty of what line of conduct they will, at 
a given moment, pursue. On some occasions, on 
sustaining injury they will charge promptly and 
viciously — especially the females ; whilst on others 
they will retreat into thick cover and make no 
effort whatever to take vengeance upon their pur- 
suers. I think there can be little doubt that as 
lions vary in size, appearance, colour, and other 
features, so also they vary in personal courage 



THE LION 177 

and pugnacious disposition. In these circum- 
stances it seems to me most unsafe to generalise 
upon a matter fraught with so much personal risk. 
When, therefore, everything points to the proba- 
bility of there being but little similarity between 
the precise course of action which as a whole these 
animals will follow, I find it preferable, and cer- 
tainly safer, to look upon each lion encountered 
as likely to be governed by his own personal views 
of the situation, and to be carefully dealt with 
according to the merits or otherwise of the attitude 
he may assume. 

Lion-hunting is a form of sport possessed of 
fewer attractions than any I know. To hunt 
these beasts by daylight, unless one should come 
unexpectedly upon them or their fresh spoor and 
follow it in favourable circumstances, is the most 
exasperating and disappointing form of fruitless 
toil to which the hunter of great game can possibly 
condemn himself — unless, of course, he hunts with 
dogs, a poor and unsportsmanlike amusement. 
There is only one royal road to lion-shooting, and 
that is to undertake it by night, or, in a word, to 
"sit up " for them. We have all done it, I sup- 
pose, and few of us there assuredly are who do not 
look back with a grimace upon the miserable dis- 
comfort, the cold cramped limbs, the nervous 
tension, and finally, as the uneventful night ad- 
vanced, upon the waning interest and the ir- 
resistible desire to go to sleep. The most 
promising circumstances in which to sit up for 
lions is to do so over their own kill, if the hunter 
should be lucky enough to discover it. At times. 



178 THE LION 

of course, success attends the bait of an animal's 
carcass shot and planted for the purpose ; but it 
is obvious that the chances are greatly in favour 
of his coming to the feast of which he is already 
aware rather than to one provided for him without 
his knowledge. Opinion is divided as to the rela- 
tive merits of a pit or a platform, but personally 
I think there can be no question on this point. 
The pit involves preparation which must present 
to the returning lion the appearance of something 
new and strange. In my experience, at any rate, 
the disturbance of the smallest of the objects 
surrounding a kill is enough to fill the lion with 
misgiving, and cause him to forsake it even in 
the complete absence of suspicion of another kind. 
A platform or machan, as it is called, constructed 
some 10 or 15 feet from the ground, not only 
leaves things exactly as they were, but enables 
the hunter's scent to pass over the lion as he 
approaches or lies up to the kill. In the old days 
blue lights were usually provided for night shoot- 
ing of this kind, but a contrivance shown to me 
by Major Statham, wlio I believe elaborated it, 
entirely outclassed the old-fashioned devices. It 
consisted of a small electric lamp fitted with an 
extremely powerful reflector secured to the front 
of the hat-band by a hook or safety-pin. This was 
connected by wires passing over the back of the 
brim to a dry battery carried in the outside coat 
pocket, and operated by a switch attached to a 
convenient button-hole. This lamp throws a 
powerful ray of brilliant white light above the 
level of the eyes, which are thus in no way dazzled, 



THE LION 179 

whilst the ray follows every movement of the 
head. On one occasion, by the aid of this minia- 
ture search-light, Major Statham, shooting from a 
machan, killed either three or four full-grown lions 
in almost as many seconds. 

Very different was the painful experience of a 
gallant party of two who sat up — so the vouched- 
for story goes — at Zomba in the Nyasaland 
Protectorate some few years ago for a lion whose 
depredations for many nights had caused con- 
siderable annoyance and alarm. Recourse in 
this case was had to the usually futile practice of 
tying up a vociferous goat within easy range of 
the tree-built platform upon which the hopeful 
hunters ensconced themselves. It was a pleasant, 
light night, illuminated by a fitful half-moon, and 
after the first few hours of excited anticipation 
the time lagged rather badly. I fancy the 
watchers must have begun to doze ; but be this as 
it may, an unusually strident " baa " from the ill- 
starred bait suddenly recalled them to conscious- 
ness. They looked out from their sheltering 
tree, and found themselves gazing upon the lion, 
which, close behind the frantic goat, stood re- 
garding it with an air of amused surprise. To- 
gether the startled hunters fired — the good old- 
fashioned black-powder rifles speaking as one. It 
was a still night, and, as they prudently refrained 
from an immediate descent, several moments 
passed before the smoke cleared away. Then 
they saw that which they never told, but which, 
in spite of their secrecy, was soon yelled from 
the house-tops. No mighty savage form lay there 



180 THE LION 

to gladden their eager eyes, but with one final 
strangled "baa" the victim yielded up her 
gentle spirit — they had shot the goat ! 

Personally I am not a lover of night work. I 
find in my experience that after a long and 
fatiguing day's shooting, in the course of which 
the hunter may have covered anything between 
20 and 30 miles, it is extremely difficult to keep 
awake while sitting up in a cramped position ; 
and, added to this, the danger to health involved 
thereby is out of all proportion to the measure of 
usual success. But it must be confessed that to 
those who desire to shoot the cunning and elusive 
lion, it constitutes, I suppose, the only fairly 
certain means whereby, with perseverance, good- 
luck, and several other inestimable advantages of 
a like kind, success may be attained. 

Of course, although the opportunities of doing 
so are on the whole very rare, an encounter 
with lions by daylight can be undertaken with 
much more certainty than when one is dependent 
upon artificial light not only to shoot him by, but 
also for the no less important and even exciting 
incidents which at times follow the shot. Putting 
aside this uncertainty, I think all lion-hunters are 
agreed that if the beast be wounded, and the 
range over 50 yards, he will retreat much oftener 
than he will charge. Lions are, as a matter of 
fact, very easy beasts to kill if the hunter be cool 
and the rifle held straight ; but a time will 
assuredly come to everybody, even the coolest 
and most capable, when, by an unforeseen hap- 
pening of some sort, the little mistake will be 



THE LION 181 

made which makes all the difference between a 
dead and a wounded beast. Should the lion then 
come, nothing but sang-froid and straight shoot- 
ing combined with great quickness will save the 
hunter from grave injury at the very least. If, on 
the other hand, he should bound into the jungle 
with a roar of pain and rage, the greatest care 
and caution must be exercised in his further pur- 
suit. Lions have in such circumstances a most 
remarkable and uncanny knack of concealing them- 
selves behind a tiny cover which one would almost 
think barely sufficient to shelter a rabbit. If 
followed, they will often lie low until the hunter, 
his eyes fixed upon the ground in search of blood- 
spoor, which is nearly always very faint, ap- 
proaches near. Then there is a hoarse grunt, a 
lightning rush, and the great beast, open-mouthed 
and claws shot out, is upon him without any more 
warning. The man's disadvantage will thus 
readily be appreciated. There are, in such a case, 
unhappily, very few who have survived to recount 
their experiences, but, as I think my readers will 
agree, it would be hard to imagine a more nerve- 
shattering incident. 

In the Quelimane district some few years ago^ 
a young German gentleman whom I knew had 
such an experience as I have described. He was 
a tall, powerful man, and had not had much, if 
any, experience of lion-shooting. On the occasion 
to which I am referring he was returning to his 
camp one evening armed with a light magazine 
rifle — a Mauser or Lee-Metford, if I mistake not 
— when he espied a lioness in the act of emerging 
13 



182 THE LION 

from a brake of dense bushes. He fired at her 
at a distance of 60 or 70 yards, and must liave 
wounded her severely. The lioness with a hoarse 
roar turned back and re-entered the cover, into 
which, with great foolhardiness, the hunter im- 
mediately followed. He does not appear to have 
proceeded far on her spoor when, without any 
warning beyond a succession of exasperated 
grunts, the lioness charged. As he afterwards 
expressed it, " She seemed to come from nowhere," 
and in a moment she had him by the shoulder, 
her great claws lacerating his back. In this 
terrible plight, thanks tohis great personal strength 
and activity, he wrestled valiantly, kicking the 
lioness in the stomach with his heavy boots, and 
not only managed to maintain his perpendicular, 
but, thanks to great length of arm and shortness 
of rifle-barrel, he actually managed, by pulling 
the trigger with his right thumb, to put another 
bullet into his enraged assailant. She then released 
her hold and left him. The young German was 
luckily close to his camp, and though he was badly 
clawed, the lioness, probably owing to age, had not 
inflicted serious injury upon him with her teeth. 
To the liberal and immediate use of permanganate 
of potassium was doubtless due the rapid recovery 
he made from the inevitable septic poisoning 
resulting from the clawing he received, which 
afforded eloquent testimony to his surprising 
escape. Poor fellow, his respite was not a long 
one, for the following year he met his death 
beneath the knees of a wounded elephant. 

I do not know whether Africans are sus- 



THE LION 183 

ceptible in the same way as Europeans to the 
action of the poison with which the foul impurities 
upon the lion's claws saturate them, but I have 
sometimes thought not. An old native friend of 
mine, a headman in one of the villages in Machin- 
jiri, was clawed in three cleanly cut seams from 
shoulder to waist on one occasion as he made his 
narrow escape with a wild rush from the spring of 
an attacking man-eater. He told me that al- 
though the long lacerations did not bleed much 
at the time of their infliction, they nevertheless 
healed up without any untoward symptoms such 
as usually accompany a lion's claw wounds. 
Another case was that of a native in one of the 
villages of Cheringoma. This man, whilst em- 
ployed as a mail-runner between two adminis- 
trative posts, was attacked by a lion one evening, 
but managed, by presence of mind uncommon 
enough in the black man, although badly clawed, 
to escape with his life. The lion rushed upon him 
from behind. With surprising resource he flung 
his mail-bags at the animal's head, and in the 
momentary confusion fired at and no doubt 
wounded it. In any case, the lion went off, leaving 
his intended victim to hobble as best he could to 
the nearest habitation. The injuries sustained, 
which he was rather proud than otherwise of 
exhibiting, took the form of severe and deep 
lacerations on the hips and buttocks ; but, he 
informed me, in spite of their severity, he was 
back at his work in little more than a month. 

But I cannot conclude my remarks upon the 
king of beasts without sending to the printer the 



184 THE LION 

following wild and beautiful legend of British 
East Africa, which I believe has been told often 
enough before in that favoured land, but which 
may not yet have reached the ears of hunters out- 
side it. On one occasion, in those good old days 
when there was no railway or telegraph wire or 
other annoying contrivance calculated to get in the 
way of those persons whose one ambition it was 
(and perhaps still is) to be a law unto themselves, 
a considerable expedition of pack-donkeys on its 
way up country was passing through a region 
where lions were known to be numerous. After 
the first night spent within this danger zone, the 
donkeys were duly saddled and laden, and, once 
on the way, it was most forcibly remarked by all 
hands that, however drowsy their rate of pro- 
gression might hitherto have been, nobody could 
now complain of their slowness, since it took the 
native and European attendants all their time 
to keep up. But one donkey there was which 
dawdled, and it was not until his arrival in camp 
that, amid appalling commotion, the truth was at 
last apparent. It seemed that the preceding night 
a lurking lion had svicceeded in getting among 
the donkeys, with one of which he gorged himself 
to such an extent that all desire to escape left him. 
The following morning, as dawn drew nigh, he was 
so inert, weighed down by the immense weight of 
donkey which lay heavily upon him, that he 
allowed himself in the darkness, and in mistake 
for the deceased animal, to be laden with the 
others and hurried along after them. The record 
march which resulted was thus due to his scent, 



THE LION— THE LEOPARD 185 

which, every time he drew near to the flagging 
leading files, inspired them with their astonishing 
and unaccountable energy. I have never been 
able satisfactorily to ascertain what became of 
the lion, and it has always seemed to me that 
neglect to place on record his ultimate fate was a 
most serious and lamentable omission. 

Although lions are slowly tending to grow more 
and more difficult of access — falling back gradu- 
ally, as it were, before the slow advance of the tide 
of civilisation — I suppose many years must never- 
theless necessarily elapse before they will be 
driven to take refuge in the solitary forest fast- 
nesses to the north of the Zambezi already in- 
habited by so many of their race. South Africa 
has gradually pushed them back to the farther 
banks of the Orange River, but beyond that — 
their southern limit, so to speak — there are few 
centres outside the larger and more populous 
cities where a marauding visitation of lions might 
not take place. The great distances they are 
accustomed to travel, the readiness with which, 
without any pressure, they take to the water, and 
their great wariness and intelligence — all these 
qualities and several others are of a character 
calculated greatly to militate against any prospect 
of their early extinction. 

The *' Grey Cat " of scientists, or the Leop- 
ard, as he is known to persons intelligently 
interested in African zoology, is by no means 
confined to Africa. In North and South 
America, with slight differences of appearance, he 
is known as the Puma or Jaguar ; in Ceylon and 



186 THE LEOPARD 

India he is the Panther, in addition to being 
known by his own name ; whilst, with that fine 
independent disregard of accuracy which is so 
striking a characteristic of that country, he is 
known throughout South Africa as the " Tiger." 
But the leopard of Zambezia, identical in type, 
size, and colouring withthose found all Africa over, 
is a handsome beast whose skin is usually one of 
the first to ornament the premises of the new- 
comer, probably never destined, even after years 
of residence or wandering, to behold him in the 
flesh. Africa does not contain in all its length 
and breadth a more cunning, silent, or elusive 
animal, nor yet one with greater powers of des- 
truction, to which so frequently he gives full 
rein, as the leopard. Hidden during the day in 
thick cover, in rocky, tree-clad ravines, or in the 
shady retreat afforded by the gigantic limbs of 
some vast lliana-covered forest tree, the leopard 
waits thus efficiently concealed until the shades 
of night send him faring forth to the game-path, 
the water-hole, or the hen-roost. Wholly noc- 
turnal by habit, there is probably no rarer 
African experience than to encounter his beautiful, 
lithe, graceful form abroad in the daylight hours. 
At early dawn he quits his kill and drinks at some 
neighbouring water, and it will be well under- 
stood that, as most of his ambushes are near by 
the drinking-places of the game beasts, he has not 
far to go to quench his thirst. 

The Zambezian leopard is the incarnation of 
sinuous, feline stealth — a beautiful cat, in a word, 
weighing about 100 to 120 lbs. and between 



THE LEOPARD 187 

6 and 7 feet from nose to tail-end. What he 
lacks in impressiveness, as the lion's near relation, 
he gains in beauty of colour and markings. Seen 
in the early morning, he crosses your range of 
vision like a swift, yellowish flash; but if your 
shot should have been successful, you find that the 
pale creamy smudge which at a short distance he 
resembled resolves itself, on nearer approach, into 
a delicately coloured coat spotted — or, to be more 
precise, rosetted — inblackuponapale, softly furred, 
sulphur-coloured ground, growing white under the 
belly and on the thighs, fore-arms, and throat. 
Near the dorsal line the spots or rosettes are much 
more numerous than on the flanks, and the colour 
of the skin is generally darker, and richer in its 
suggestions of yellow. The leopard's head is 
rounded, somewhat heavy for the size of the 
body, and the ears slightly pointed. The tail is 
usually thick, full, and beautifully and softly 
furred. 

I wish it to be understood that the foregoing 
passage more or less correctly describes the low- 
country leopard, found — with luck — upon the 
banks of the Zambezi. In the higher elevations 
the same animal exists, but possessed of a much 
thicker, finer, and softer coat. So much is this 
the case that several attempts have been made, 
I understand, because he wears a slightly heavier 
suit of clothes than his brother of the heated 
plain, to give him a separate scientific designa- 
tion, and add one more to the number of local 
varieties into which this animal has been so 
foolishly and unnecessarily divided. 



188 THE LEOPARD 

TJic liabits of the leopard are not unlike those 
of his relative tlie lion, except that he rarely, so 
far as 1 am aware, becomes an liabihial nian- 
eater, and is not given to attacking luunan beings 
miless wounded or otherwise provoked. Once 
brought to bay, however, he is a most dangerous 
animal, and will charge his assnilnnt with the 
utmost courage {u\d resolution frequently in cases 
where the lion would retire, llis wonderful 
quickness, tremendous energy, and extraordinary 
bodily strength combine to make his attack far 
more fenred tlian is that of the lion, and I consider 
it probable that, in a given niuuber, more fatal 
mishaps have resulted from the charge of the 
leopard than from that of the larger beast. 

Nothing can exceed his cool, cnleulated ac- 
ceptance of risks such as few otiiers of the earni- 
vora. woidd take. Tluis in Central Africa, in the 
early morning, I have frequently seen the spoor of 
leopards on the garden paths all round my small 
bungalow, and have even traced them u}ion the 
plnnking of the lower verandas. Small dogs, in 
country where these animnls are munerous, should 
never be allowed to wander about after sunset. 
So noiseless is the prowling leopard's attack, and 
so rapid and business-like his subsequent jn'oeeed- 
ings, that frequently the life of the unfortimate 
terrier is choked from it before the victim has 
even time to utter a parting yelp. 

IMore than once has every inmate of my goat- 
houses and fowl-runs been savagely and ruthlessly 
destroyed. In these cases a blind, furious lust 
for slaughter seems to take possession of the in- 



THE LEOPARD 189 

vader. On gaining admission, instead of helping 
himself to the fattest or most tempting inmate, 
he sets deliberately to work mercilessly to destroy 
every single member of the family, nor does he 
hold his murderous teeth and claws until his 
victims lie at his feet in a lifeless heap. In natural 
surroundings, however, he contents himself with 
one victim at a time, which he secures by ambush- 
ing a game-path or water-hole. Leopards have the 
same weakness as lions for lapping the quickly 
flowing blood of newly killed animals, and, as they 
climb trees with cat-like ease and agility, they 
avail themselves of the comparative security 
afforded by the branches to deposit therein the 
remainder of their kills at a good height from the 
ground. On several occasions I have seen por- 
tions of the bodies of reedbuck, duiker, and other 
animals among the branches deposited by leop- 
ards at the end of a meal, 15 or 18 feet from the 
ground. These arboreal habits render the hunt- 
ing of leopards, especially by " sitting up " for 
them, a matter of no small difficulty ; for whereas 
terrestrial animals such as the lion are never im- 
pelled by the presence of danger to look upward, 
the leopard seems to realise the perils of the 
machan as keenly as any other, and, in his stealthy, 
silent approach, appears to advance with one eye 
on the carcass and the other on the surrounding 
branches. 

They are usually solitary. Personally, I have 
never seen more than one leopard at a time, al- 
though pairs have not infrequently been met with. 
They are also very silent beasts, giving vent at 



190 THE LEOPARD 

early dawn to a curious, throaty, coughing bray, 
something like the immature effort of an insane 
donkey. As a rule, the female gives birth to two 
or three cubs, which when young make charming 
pets, but as maturity is approached are better 
deposited in some zoological collection. One of 
these creatures was for some time an interesting 
feature of the Consular premises when I was 
serving many years ago in the Protectorate of 
British Nyasaland, and had never exhibited the 
smallest symptoms of ferocity until one day, 
being approached by one of my staff, she attacked 
him without warning, and his escape from 
possibly serious injury could only be attributed 
to the chain with which she was secured having 
become entangled in the shafts of an adjacent 
wheel-barrow. 

Although assuredly but few of these animals 
are shot, except perhaps in circumstances where 
a raid on a poultry yard may have resulted in the 
failure of the prowler to find his way out again, 
nevertheless many are annually secured by the 
natives in cleverly contrived traps of several 
patterns. The most general in Zambezia con- 
sists of a heavy log of wood supported at one end 
and placed between two lines of closely driven, 
strong stakes. A bait is arranged in such a 
manner that at the moment of its disturbance 
the support which holds the log up is pulled away, 
and the heavy weight falls upon the leopard's 
back. Many are caught by this contrivance, and 
by others which are but variations of it. 

The bodily strength of the leopard is, in my 



THE LEOPARD 19.1 

opinion, greater in proportion than that of the 
lion. In fact, it is amazing that so slightly built 
a creature can perform such prodigies of strength. 
Instances are not few of their having scaled at a 
bound stockades 10 and 12 feet high, and retired 
by the same way with a 40-lb. goat in their 
mouths. As a man-eater, which, truth to tell, 
the leopard but rarely becomes, he has an un- 
pleasant and most effective habit of lying in wait 
over a native path extended along some massive, 
leafy tree-trunk, and dropping suddenly from 
above upon his unfortunate victim. His teeth in 
the poor wretch's throat choke back the cry of 
alarm with a pressure which is never relaxed until 
death ensues, and it has thus not seldom hap- 
pened that, owing to attacks by leopards, persons 
and animals have disappeared with an uncanny, 
noiseless suddenness which has done much to 
increase the universal dread and detestation in 
which these animals are held by the natives. 

I shall close this description with a little story 
which, although it cannot be regarded as adding 
much to our knowledge of the life-history or 
habits of leopards, would never have been related 
but for the untimely exploit of one of them. It 
has, moreover, the unusual merit of being in all 
respects, with the exception of the names of its 
chief actors, absolutely true. 

One tranquil Sabbath afternoon many years 
ago the small Nyasaland gunboat Halcyon was 
lazily rising and falling at her moorings to the 
glassy swell of the great African lake which has 
given its name to that prosperous British colony. 



192 THE LEOPARD 

Almost everybody was ashore except the Royal 
Naval Reserve Commander, a man of deeply 
devout conviction and habit, who, devotional 
book in hand, paced nervously backward and 
forward, furtively eyeing with an expression of 
the strongest disapproval the dilapidated copy 
of a Princess's Novelette which fluttered in the 
hands of the elderly ex-naval quartermaster 
seated on the fo'c'sle head. Time passed, and 
that cheery, red-faced individual had almost 
read to the last page of his rather unsabbatarian 
print when his commander slowly and somewhat 
uneasily approached him. 

" Lovely evening, Watson," he remarked. 
" Always seems to me one can tell Sundays from 
other days ; doesn't it to you ? " 

" Can't say as 'ow it does, sir," replied the old 
salt, rather shortly, casting an apprehensive glance 
at the book the officer still bore in his hands. 

" Look here, Watson," the latter resumed, 
though manifestly not without an effort, 
" wouldn't you like to hear a chapter or two of 
the Word read to-night ? Quite take you home 
it would, wouldn't it ? " 

The old man changed his position uneasily, 
reflected for a moment, and said, with great 
conviction, " Well, no, sir, thank you all the same. 
The fact is, sir, I don't 'old much with Scripture 
readin'. It wouldn't take me 'ome, not much it 
wouldn't ; and if it did, I don't know as I should 
be best pleased." 

" Ah, well, never mind, Watson," said the 
commander, stifling a sigh, " perhaps a little later 



THE LEOPARD— THE LYNX 193 

you would like to join in a few words of prayer 
instead ? " 

" Mr. Sheepyard, sir," said the old sailor, with 
great emphasis, " I've a great respect for the 
'Igher Powers — always 'ad, sir. They're very good 
to us and all that 'ere, and wot I says is leave 'em 
alone. If you goes on a-prayin' to 'em and a- 
disturbin' of 'em every day same as wot you do, 
Mr. Sheepyard, you'll rouse ^em, that's wot you'll 
do, and then goodness knows wot'll 'appen. You 
take my tip, sir, and leave 'em alone." 

The commander turned sadly upon his heel, 
and shaking his head good-humouredly, slowly 
gained his end of the ship. 

But Watson will never be convinced to his 
dying day that the spirit of prophecy was not 
upon him as he spoke, for the very next morning 
the ill-starred commander went ashore with a 
shotgun, fell in with a leopard, and was so 
severely clawed in the encounter that finally he 
succumbed to his injuries. 

The African Lynx occurs sparingly throughout 
Zambezia, subsisting upon birds of all kinds and 
small mammals. 

He is a long-limbed, almost inelegantly built 
creature, much smaller than the leopard, to 
which he bears but a scanty resemblance. The 
spotting of the lynxes is very sparse and faint, 
but from the ears spring curious tufts of hair, by 
which alone his species may readily be identified 
apart from a somewhat dingy yellowish colour 
scheme. 

Lynxes are very rarely seen. They frequent 



194 THE LYNX 

the thickest of jungle during the daylight hours, 
find are very wary and stealthy in their movements. 
Perfectly at home in the branches of trees, where, 
in the early summer season of the year, they must 
create great havoc among the young birds of all 
kinds still occupying the parent nests, they are, 
nevertheless, most usually met witli upon the 
ground. 

One of these animals provided my table with 
a very excellent and welcome hare when I was 
travelling through the Baru6 district in 1907. 
The hare when discovered had only just been 
killed, and beyond a rather badly lacerated throat, 
which was still bleeding when my people recovered 
it, and a few body scratches, appeared to have sus- 
tained but little injury. As I had been living for 
over a week on tinned provisions, varied by lean 
antelope meat, the lynx's involuntary contri- 
bution was received almost with entluisiasm. 

Lynxes are animals of bnt little interest from 
any point of view except that of the scientist, and, 
so far as I can see, but little if in any degree 
redeemed from classification as vermin. 



CHAPTER IX 

CHEETAH : HYENA : JACKAL : HUNTING DOG : 
SERVAL : CIVET : GENET : MUNGOOSE 

Cheetahs or Hunting Leopards are not very 
numerous in the Zambezi valley, oceurring per- 
haps most plentifully between Muterara and the 
Lupata Gorge, where reedbuck and other small 
antelopes are common. I have also seen them in 
the Mlanje district of Portuguese East Africa, in 
the Barue to the south of Tete, and in the open 
country south of the Shupanga Forest. 

At first sight you think you are looking at an 
ordinary leopard, but a moment's reflection re- 
moves this impression. The cheetah is not quite 
so long or so sinuous, while at the same time he 
is longer-legged and stands higher. He lacks the 
rich coloration of the leopard, and instead of 
being rosetted, his spots are spots, so to speak — 
that is to say, they are simple round dots of deep 
black. The cheetah possesses a small shapely 
head, large luminous eyes, and a further pe- 
culiarity, which distinguishes him from the ordin- 
ary leopard, is a singular thickening of the coat at 
the neck and shoulder, which gives him the ap- 
pearance of wearing an undeveloped mane. 

There is probably no member of the flesh- 
eating families of African game which can develop 

'95 



196 THE CHEETAH 

and maintain such astounding speed as the 
cheetah. Where the hon, leopard, and other cats 
carefully drive their prey to an ambush, or stalk 
it, or lie in wait overhead or in concealment, the 
cheetah overtakes his game and kills by sheer 
superiority of pace. His principal fare consists 
as a rule of the smaller antelopes and the half- 
grown young of some of the larger varieties, and 
these, from the moment of alarm, he can run down 
in every case. On coming alongside his fleeing 
quarry, the cheetah usually endeavours to strike 
it a terrible blow on the croup with his forepaw, 
which, when going at full speed, frequently has the 
effect of knocking the buck completely over, 
whereupon the pursuer fixes his teeth in the wind- 
pipe, and death ensues quickly from strangulation. 
Should these tactics fail, however, the cheetah 
launches himself with a tremendous spring upon 
the fleeing antelope's shoulder, and maintains his 
position there, holding on with teeth and claws 
until exhaustion brings both headlong to the 
ground. 

A very charming French gentleman who passed 
some years vainly endeavouring to make a living 
by agriculture in a somewhat remote portion of 
the Mozambique Company's territory, and finally 
died there, informed me that once, in the great 
slightly wooded plains to the east of Gorongoza, he 
saw a cheetah run down and capture an immature 
blue wildebeeste. From the account he gave me 
of what took place, as witnessed by him from 
beginning to end from the summit of a lofty ant- 
hill, I remember that there was no evidence that 



THE CHEETAH 197 

the cheetah stalked his game at all. Unlike the 

stealthy, cat-like methods so characteristic of the 

leopard, the cheetah boldly emerged from some 

high grass on to the bare, short-grazed plain, 

standing at the full height of his comparatively 

long legs, his head well up, and his eyes fixed upon 

the unconscious wildebeeste, several of which were 

grazing quietly towards him. At that time he 

was at least 100 yards from the nearest. What 

followed was no doubt somewhat difficult to 

observe and afterwards to describe, being merely 

a lightning-like impression ; but my informant 

told me that the cheetah simply appeared to take 

wings and fly through the air at a dizzy pace. 

The wildebeeste raised their heads, and without 

one moment's pause turned and galloped away as 

hard as they could lay legs to the ground ; but 

inside 400 yards the end came. The cheetah 

literally flew over the ground, and came up to his 

prey apparently without effort. Feeling himself 

closely pressed, the young wildebeeste made a 

futile attempt to double, in the hope, no doubt, of 

baffling his pursuer ; and although he gained a 

momentary advantage, the cheetah recovered 

himself in an instant, and, almost in a second as it 

seemed, had regained the ground he had lost. In 

this case he struck the fleeing antelope a lightning 

blow, and in the twinkling of an eye had him by 

the throat. My informant told me that the 

distance covered, although comparatively short, 

was one which afforded an unobstructed view 

of the whole incident, and showed the cheetah to 

be possessed of a turn of speed from which the 

14 



198 THE CHEETAH 

fleetest among the many varieties upon which he 
preys would seek to escape in vain. 

I have only seen two or three of these animals, 
which, although fairly numerous in some portions 
of the country I have visited, are, it would 
seem, but rarely encountered. I have sometimes 
thought it possible that the infrequency with 
which they have been reported may connect itself 
with the probability of their having been mis- 
taken for leopards. In any case, I have never 
shot one, and the only specimen to come into my 
possession did so in a singular and perhaps not 
uninteresting manner. I had been shooting south 
of the Inyamissengo branch of the Zambezi, and 
was in the act of resting one day after many 
hours of toilsome march in a portion of the district 
which struck me as being particularly beautiful 
and park-like — a fascinating alternation of thin 
forest and plain in which the latter appeared 
somewhat to predominate. Whilst thus occu- 
pied, I saw a large eagle of, I believe, the crested 
martial variety, which had been soaring not very 
far over the adjacent tree-tops, make a determined 
but unsuccessful swoop down at something on 
the edge of the bush not very far away. This 
manoeuvre the bird repeated, then made another 
attempt, which seemed equall}^ fruitless. As 
she came over me I shot her with a charge of 
S.S.G. Down she came with a broken wing, and 
as my people approached to recover her she got 
upon her back and presented so menacing and 
fierce an appearance, with her large hooked beak 
and immense, powerful talons, that she had to be 



THE CHEETAH— THE HYENA 199 

dispatched with much circumspection and a 
heavy stick. In the meantime, another of my 
people who had gone off to investigate the cause of 
her interest in the locaHty, returned in due time 
bearing two dehghtful httle cheetah cubs about 
a fortnight old, which he had discovered in the 
shelter afforded by a somewhat curiously formed 
ant-bear hole. These, of course, were the secret 
of the eagle's repeated swooping ; and from what 
I know of the habits of these birds, I have never 
been able to understand why she did not succeed 
in carrying one of them off. One of these little 
beasts became very tame, and was in my pos- 
session until he had arrived at quite three-quarter 
growth. During a somewhat prolonged absence, 
in which I had to leave him in other hands, he was, 
I fear, neglected, and one morning it was found 
that he had made his way back to the bush, for 
he was never seen again. Personally, I look upon 
the cheetah as being a fine, bold, sporting type of 
animal, and although he may lack a good deal of 
the interest which is lavished — for inadequate 
reasons, as I think — upon such better-known forms 
as the lion and the leopard, I am far from sure 
that he is not infinitely worthier of it, and that if 
he were better known he would be much more 
highly esteemed. 

Zambezia possesses only one Hyena — namely, 
the larger or spotted variety. It is the fashion, I 
believe, to refer to the hyena in terms of op- 
probrium and disgust, and to look upon him with 
that virtuous loathing which is rightly felt for 
anything of a furtive, underhand, treacherous, or 



200 THE HYENA 

unprincipled character, or for the convicted ac- 
cessary after the fact. There is no sort of denying 
that the hyena is all these things and many more ; 
but I must own that after many months, or it 
may be years, spent in the midst of the unin- 
teresting and unedifying life of East African coast 
ports, one looks forward on returning to the wilds 
to the first call at nightfall of this thieving prowler. 
If one should be accompanied by a fellow-hunter, 
a pleased nod is exchanged as the first siren-like 
howl falls upon the ear, and with a smile of 
satisfaction one or other ejaculates, *' Good old 
Fisi ! " ^ or words to that effect. The usual cry 
of the spotted hyena — for he has at his command, 
if he care to employ them, a weird and extensive 
gamut of strange sounds — is so eerie, so mournful, 
and yet so intensely reminiscent of the unfre- 
quented African forest and plain, that few who 
have once heard it there could be oblivious of 
the pleasant sporting memories it must awaken. 

The presence of the hyena, although not an 
invariable, is a fairly good indication of the 
presence of game. Not that he kills it himself as 
a rule, although at times, when pressed by hunger, 
he will even go so far as that ; but on the whole 
he prefers to let bolder animals provide the meal 
for which he is quite willing to await his turn. 
Still, in times of scarcity, there is little indeed 
that comes amiss to the powerful jaws of the 
spotted hyena. 

I do not know to what other animal, if any, 
the hyena of Zambezia can be compared — he 

* A Bantu word signifying hyena. 



THE HYENA 201 

stands so singularly apart in his odd ungainliness 
from the other families of the flesh-eaters, partly 
by reason of the general detestation in which he 
is held, and partly by his extraordinary and, it 
must be confessed, unlovely appearance. His 
colour varies considerably, but is as a rule of a 
dirty, yellowish grey, the body covered with 
brownish spots. At the shoulder the spotted 
hyena stands probably 3 feet high, sloping abruptly 
down to the root of his short, skimpy tail. He thus 
looks disproportionately heavy in the forepart 
of his structure, an appearance which his massive 
head goes far to accentuate. In length this 
animal is probably between 5 and 6 feet ; he is 
thus a heavy, powerful beast, and personally I 
am far from sharing the generally accepted sup- 
position of his invariable cowardice. A curious 
gland which appears beneath the anus gave rise 
among the ancients to the quaint supposition that 
the hyena was hermaphrodite. 

I have for many years entertained, for what 
appear to me to be good and sufficient reasons, 
the belief that the spiritless timidity which these 
animals are so well known to assume is a de- 
liberately adopted pose. Valour to the hyena 
would be of but little use, since his place in the 
order of African events is that of the scavenger, 
the cleaner-up — the individual, in a word, who does 
the necessary tidying after the confusion en- 
gendered by the feasts of the larger flesh-eaters. 
He need thus only wait for his opportunity, and 
is singularly well equipped to bear with equa- 
nimity the painful vacuum of which Nature is said 



202 THE HYENA 

to have such a horror. Still, he does not always 
do so, as the following incident will show. In 
September 1904, I was proceeding through an 
out-of-the-way portion of Portuguese East Africa 
on an official tour when, early in the morning, 
which was cloudy and dull, a reedbuck closely 
pursued by a hyena dashed across the path we 
were following, and was pulled down about half 
a mile farther on. Some of my people said that 
there were two hyenas in pursuit of the buck, but 
I only saw one ; in any event, we promptly took 
up the spoor and came up in about twenty 
minutes to the buck newly killed. It had already 
suffered some slight damage from the hyena's 
teeth, but the brute slunk away as we approached, 
so we were unable to get a shot at him. We were, 
however, very glad of the reedbuck meat, of which 
we promptly took possession. We found, on 
examination, that one of her legs was injured, a 
circumstance which may have tempted the hyena 
out of his usual custom in giving chase to her. 

In some of the larger Zambezian settlements 
hyenas are very numerous at night ; here on 
occasion they can be seen slinking about in the 
shadows in their search for garbage and offal of 
all kinds. Stories are told of their snatching 
goats, kids, lambs, and even young children at 
times almost from within the shelter of the huts, 
and instances are numerous of their having badly 
bitten sleeping natives and others benighted by 
the wayside, tearing from them substantial pieces 
of flesh. One native woman whom I have seen at 
Vicente presented an appalling spectacle as the 



THE HYENA 203 

result of such an attack, the whole of the lower 
portion of her face, including the jaw, having 
been torn from her whilst she slept. 

Encamped in hyena-infested portions of the 
country, I have frequently been disturbed early 
in the night by a chorus of yells from my followers, 
accompanied by a volley of burning brands from 
the fire, discharged at some prowling form dis- 
covered lurking with lawless intent in the vicinity 
of the carriers' quarters. If shooting have been 
in progress, and the camp one of several days' 
standing, the greatest care and pains must be 
taken to see that all skins, heads, masks, and 
meat are deposited at nightfall high up a tree to 
keep it out of danger of these lurking pests, to 
which scarcely anything that has been in contact 
with animal matter is unwelcome. Even articles 
of thick tanned leather are readily masticated, 
as the disappearance, on one occasion, of a solidly 
made binocular case, which had been carelessly 
left under my tent-fly, taught me. A friend of 
mine who was hunting with ponies some years 
ago in similar country to that described in this 
paragraph lost a pair of leather saddle-bags in the 
same way, and was obliged to shoot one of his 
mounts through the poor beast sustaining fatal 
injury from the teeth of a hyena. Ordinary thick 
antelope bones are masticated and swallowed with 
the ease with which mankind disposes of a bis- 
cuit : it has even been said, so tremendous is the 
strength of their capacious jaws, that they have 
been known to crush the thigh-bone of an elephant 
to get at the marrow within. Here is a feat which 



204 THE HYENA 

I should regard as little if at all easier than the 
fracture of a steel telegraph pole. In any case, 
I have known this animal bite in two the largest 
bone a buffalo contains, namely, that of the thigh, 
the whole of which, ends and all, it swallowed in 
the course of its meal. 

Hyenas may often be seen late in the evening 
as they leave their lairs in search of food. They 
are lonely beasts, and, although many may 
congregate at a kill, or at some well-accustomed 
centre where food is known to occur, they do not 
belong to anything in the nature of a family or 
other assemblage. At break of day, therefore, 
each one will take his solitary way back to his 
daily hiding-place. The females produce two or 
three whelps at a time, which are said to be 
supported during their later period of helplessness 
by the food which their mother, on arrival in the 
morning from some over-night feast, purposely 
vomits for their benefit. 

In native folk-lore, and stories relative to 
witch-craft, the greatest faith is felt for cases in 
which persons accused of the detested offences 
falling within this category receive the power to 
transform themselves into hyenas and disinter 
and devour, whilst so disguised, the bodies of the 
newly buried dead. This, of course, arises from 
occasional acts of the most degraded cannibalism, 
of which, as a form of madness, I am satisfied that 
at times certain natives are unquestionably guilty. 
Indeed, years ago, when I was vested with certain 
magisterial powers, I ascertained, from the details 
of the evidence of cases which came before me, 



THE HYENA 205 

that this appalling custom beyond all doubt still 
survived. It is implicitly believed among certain 
tribes whose country borders the Zambezi that 
these corpse-devouring wizards hold periodical 
meetings or sabbaths, when they associate 
together in the forms of hyenas assumed for the 
purpose ; it is further believed that they can, if 
they should so desire, render themselves invisible. 
The act of disinterment is said to be effected by 
the issue of a summons to the dead man couched 
in the form of an incantation, and in language 
known to and used by the wizards only whilst 
appearing in animal form. This summons the 
newly sepulchred dead cannot resist. The corpse 
is compelled, conjured by the name of childhood 
before puberty,^ to leave its tomb and appear at 
the dreadful trysting-place, whereupon the as- 
sembled hyena-men fall upon and devour it, 
whilst night-jars and the great eagle-owl watch 
without. These superstitions are implicitly 
believed over a great portion of the Zambezi 
valley, and it will therefore be readily imagined 
that to native ears the curious, uncanny bass- 
falsetto howl of the questing hyena is a sound 
pregnant with awful significance. 

The only occasion upon which I fancy one of 
these animals had any design upon my tent was 
one night in the Barue where I made a long and 
deeply interesting journey in 1907. Sleeping as 
I almost invariably do with my tent door open, 
and a heavy service revolver upon the ground 

1 At puberty Zambezian natives receive a new name which 
they bear throughout Ufe, 



206 THE HYENA— THE JACKAL 

beside me, I awoke at some time in the night, and 
after a pull at my water-bottle, found my attention 
drawn to two large and very luminous eyes ap- 
parently gazing into the tent from a distance of 
some 10 or 12 feet from the door. I fired promptly, 
and missed the beast, which I ascertained by the 
foot-marks the following morning to have been a 
large hyena. No sooner had I made the dis- 
covery than I also found that a fine sable antelope 
head which had been carelessly placed in an 
adjacent tree overnight had fallen and been taken 
doubtless by my reconnoitring friend. Its re- 
mains were discovered during the day with little 
but the horns left whereby to identify it. 

The Side-striped Jackal is heard nightly 
throughout the Zambezi valley, and although 
there is no reason why the smaller black-backed 
variety should not occur, I have nevertheless 
neither seen nor heard of him. I have possessed 
two or three of these small animals, which have 
grown extraordinarily tame when reared from a 
tender age. One of these, curiously enough, 
became apparently greatly attached to a fox- 
terrier which belonged to me years ago at Queli- 
mane, and this oddly assorted couple would ac- 
company each other all over the Consular premises. 
The tame jackal is a not ungentle creature of 
various shades of reddish brown, possessed of a 
bushy, white-tipped tail, and is generally of a 
somewhat foxy appearance. His distinctive 
name is derived from the black and white stripes 
which run laterally along the flanks, and are much 
more distinct in some animals than in others. 



THE JACKAL 207 

The jackal in the wild state is often a de- 
graded animal, subsisting upon the refuse in search 
of which he is a nightly intruder into villages and 
small towns, consorting, at a respectful distance, 
with hyenas and, after a kill and at a still more 
respectful distance, with even the greater flesh- 
eaters themselves. When thrown in the wilds 
upon their own resources, jackals prey largely upon 
game birds, their eggs and young, insects, in- 
cluding locusts, of which they are extremely fond, 
and all sorts of small and immature animals. To 
persons possessed of a hen-roost, they are a serious 
nuisance, fowls and eggs disappearing in a manner 
as mysterious as exasperating. If they should be 
caught inside the poultry -run or hen-house, jackals 
turn very nasty, and one of my servants at Blan- 
tyre, years ago, sustained a most unpleasant bite 
from one of these animals. They are, of course, 
nocturnal, and soon after sunset their curious, 
plaintive cry of " bwe-bwe " can be heard on all 
sides as they issue forth from their lairs. 

The old-fashioned story of the jackal being 
found in constant attendance upon the lion is 
certainly not borne out by the observations of 
latter-day hunters and observers, who have found 
the best of reasons for believing that in lean times 
both the lion and the leopard are by no means 
averse from a meal of jackal meat should no other 
and more desirable means of sustenance present 
itself. It is, of course, painful to be compelled 
to remove illusions hallowed by the bright halo 
of many years of firm belief, but it is a duty which 
often presents itself in describing Africa, and many 



208 THE HUNTING DOG 

things besides the wild beasts which that astonish- 
ing country contains. 

Let us now consider for a while that abomina- 
tion — ^that blot upon the many interesting wild 
things for which Zambezia provides a home — ^the 
murderous Hunting Dog. Twice only have I seen 
these animals, and on the second occasion, in 
the middle of the little-frequented Baru6 region 
in 1907, I frankly thought for a moment that I 
was not safe from them. I was marching one 
afternoon through the high, forested tableland, 
of which so much of this beautiful district con- 
sists, when I came right upon about sixteen hunt- 
ing dogs which had been lying asleep probably 
after one of their unholy feasts. I suddenly be- 
came aware of a chorus of curious sounds, barks 
yet not barks, as the pack leaped to its feet and 
stood for a moment regarding me. It seemed 
at the first glance that I was face to face with a 
nightmare pack of large, powerful hounds between 
2 and 3 feet high, their bodies blotched all over 
black, white, and reddish brown, and there for 
several seconds we stood regarding each other. 
My gun-bearers were clearly alarmed, and I don't 
think it would have taken much in the way of a 
demonstration on the part of the dogs to have 
sent them shinning up the nearest tree. How- 
ever, I reached for my double '303, and as they 
unwillingly turned to go, I shot one old dog and 
severely wounded a second. This hastened their 
pace for a while, but after covering about 80 or 
100 yards they all stopped, and, much to my 
astonishment, turned in their tracks for another 




JACKAL. 




u.;^ 



^^•^' ^^^'^^^^S:'.- M'•■ 




To /ace p. 208. 



HUNTING DOG. 



THE HUNTING DOG 209 

look at me, some of the rearmost animals balancing 
themselves on their hind legs to get a better view. 
My startled dusky companions, evidently the 
victims of their fears, now protested that they 
were upon the point of returning to attack us, so 
I gave them two more barrels, which I know did 
some, though I never knew how much, damage, as 
on this they went off. The dog I shot on this occa- 
sion was a large and, judging by his teeth and other 
indications, somewhat elderly beast. He was, how- 
ever, a fine sturdy animal weighing, so far as 
I could judge, not less than 60 or 70 lbs. Not 
unlike a small hyena in structure, his shoulder 
height fell away to the tail, the head being broad 
and disproportionately short. 

As I have stated, the demeanour of these 
animals was very bold ; they seemed, indeed, in 
nowise inclined to give ground, but I suppose this 
was due to the fact that in such a remote portion 
of the country they were unused to human in- 
trusion and practically undisturbed — certainly 
their behaviour was quite unlike that of another 
pack which I met some time before in Shupanga 
Forest. These, consisting of ten or a dozen indi- 
viduals, took instantly to flight, not even giving 
me sufficient time to get in a shot at them. 
Although they are commonly slow to retreat 
before man, I have never yet heard of human 
beings suffering attack by these animals, which, 
if this were their habit, would probably become 
a more serious and formidable scourge than any 
of the existing man-eating species. Woe would 
indeed betide the solitary forest wayfarer who 



210 THE HUNTING DOG 

should form the object of iiiirsuit of these 
heavy, powerful creatures, ^vhose method is one 
from Avhich escape, cxcci^t by means of a pro- 
vidcnlially placed tree, would be absolulcly im- 
possible. 

There are few, if any, influences capable of 
ridding wide areas of their game bcasis with the 
astonishing rapidity of the hunting dog. He is 
practically tireless, extremely speedy, })ossesses 
an appalling ap})elite, and eats nothing but 
freshly killed meat. Herein lie the chief thorns of 
the seourgc he is. Almost if not all the antelopes 
fall victims to him, and it is generally atlmitted 
that from the moment the pack lay themselves out 
on the spoor of a coveted animal its fate is sealed. 
It is believed that the only families, apart from 
the lion, more or less exempt from the hunting 
dog's attack are those of the buffalo and zebra. 
Leopards take to the trees on their approach 
without any unnecessary waste of time, and it is 
probable t hat even the lion woidd hardly be spared 
if he were found to possess any bodily infirmity 
calculated to impair his powers of defence. Their 
method of hunting, moreover, is one w-hicli renders 
them practically irresistible. It should be re- 
membered that the average African game beast, 
though speedy over short distances, is not ac- 
customed, in the ordinary course of events, to keep 
on his top pace for long periods of time. After 
a burst of a few hundred yards at the outside he 
will slacken down to a trot or a walk, and probably 
stop and listen for the danger which has startled 
him. On the great plains, as I myself have ex- 



THE HUNTING DOG 211 

pericnced, by cantering quietly along alter the 
game on a serviceable pony, not pushing your beast 
at all, it will be found that before any great dis- 
tance has been covered, you are not very far 
behind. These are precisely the tactics of the 
hunting dog. After a while, as his distressed and 
fleeing quarry grows breathless and exhausted, 
the pack closes up, and then, in turn, its com- 
ponent members make a dash forward, sprinting 
up to the side of the wretched, panting antelope. 
They now, one by one, leap up at the fleeing wild 
thing, inflicting with their teeth the most ap- 
palling wounds and gashes, and tearing out great 
mouthfuls of flesh and entrails, until at length 
agony, exhaustion, and loss of blood tell, and the 
poor beast falls and is quickly disposed of. The 
numbers of antelopes killed in a given time by 
hunting dogs must be enormous, since their un- 
tiringly active life renders necessary an immense 
amount of animal food. 

Hunting dogs travel immense distances, and 
although quite systematic in their methods, 
if here to-day may be 30 or 40 miles away to- 
morrow, and thus it is that they are so seldom 
seen twice in the same district except after the 
lapse of some considerable time. Still their stay 
is usuall}^ quite long enough to scatter and 
demoralise the game over a wide area, and to so 
shatter the nerves of the grass-eating animals as, 
at times, to drive them forth and to change com- 
pletely the aspect of a normally game-haunted 
region. 

Although I have never had an opportunity of 



212 THE HUNTING DOG— THE SERVAL 

trying such an experiment, it is nevertheless 
stated on excellent authority that hunting dogs, 
if captured young, grow extraordinarily tame. 
Their young, which are believed to appear three 
or four to the litter, are produced in regularly 
constructed kennels, one of which I have seen. 
These are hollowed out underground, an ant-bear 
hole being selected for the beginning, and warmly 
lined with grasses and leaves. The pups remain 
several months in these retreats, their mothers 
providing for their necessities in much the same 
unlovely fashion as the mother hyena. 

I suppose they have few enemies, except man, 
capable of making any impression on their 
numbers, which, from all accounts, though slowly, 
tend gradually to diminish. It will be an excellent 
day for African game and its preservation when 
means can be devised to give practical effect 
to some well-thought-out scheme for this un- 
necessary creature's complete extermination. 

The chief remaining carnivorous families to 
be enumerated are the servals, civets, genets, and 
mungooses. 

The Serval is another leopard-like animal to 
some slight extent, spotted after a curious fashion, 
the simple markings displaying a curious tendency 
to run into one another, and almost, here and 
there, to form stripes. He is, moreover, although 
much smaller than the leopard in body, endowed 
with longer legs and, proportionately, a much 
shorter tail. The general colouring and appear- 
ance of these animals are not unsuggestive of the 
cheetah, whilst, on the other hand, the tufted 



THE SERVAL 213 

ears are strikingly characteristic and reminiscent 
of the lynxes ; but, apart from the evil reputation 
which they share with others of the smaller cats 
of being incurable hen-roost robbers, servals are, 
nevertheless, bold and successful hunters, and 
run down their prey in the same sporting manner 
as that which distinguishes the methods of the 
hunting leopard. Although essentially night 
prowlers, I have nevertheless seen them in pur- 
suit of guinea-fowls and francolin up to a late 
hour of the morning. I have also seen them in 
the branches of trees, which their cat-like claws 
enable them to climb with great ease. 

Sitting resting one day in the interior of 
Quelimane district whilst the midday meal was 
being prepared, my chair and table set out on a 
widish road bordered by high grass and bushes, 
and surrounded by a silent cohort of tired carriers, 
a distressed and evidently injured guinea-fowl 
suddenly rushed out of the grass cover, closely pur- 
sued by a beautiful serval. They disclosed them- 
selves at a distance of not more than 20 feet from 
where we were all reposing. There was a pause 
for a fraction of a second, and then the serval 
made good his escape. Not so the guinea-fowl, 
however, which was promptly run down by some 
of the more active among my people, and soon 
afterwards became my property by means of the 
usual method of exchange. I do not know how 
far my impressions formed from the momentary 
glimpse which I caught of this animal justified 
the estimate, but the serval I then saw — certainly 
a larger animal than any I had up to that time 
15 



214 THE SERVAL— THE CIVET 

secured — was fully 4 feet in length, and had a 
shoulder height of quite 3 feet. 

Servals are very untractable animals. While 
young they are pretty and interesting, and like 
most wild creatures display no little appreciation 
of care and kind treatment ; but as they reach 
maturity, the inborn savageness of their dis- 
position would appear to remove all grateful 
recollections, and nothing whatsoever can now be 
done except to place them under permanent 
restraint. 

Civets are also numerous. In colour of a 
rather dull, tawny grey, sprinkled over with simple 
spots, they are handsome little animals, and 
when the mane of long black hairs which runs 
down the dorsal line is erected in anger they 
present quite a formidable appearance. Natives 
prize their skins for purposes of an ornamental 
character, but would seem, so far as I am aware, 
to place no value at all upon the scent glands 
tound at the base of the tail. 

The habits of civets are strikingly similar to 
those of the servals, except that I fancy they are 
powerless to climb trees. At all events I have 
never seen one in the branches, and doubt very 
much if the character of their claws would enable 
them to reach that elevation. The civet follows 
the singular practice of resorting to the same 
place day after day for the purpose of depositing 
its dung, which may at times be seen in large piles 
in the native paths nightly frequented by it in 
pursuit of rats, mice, and other small animals and 
insects. 



THE CIVET 215 

On one occasion I saw a small civet captured 
and carried off bodily in the talons of a large eagle 
of whose identity I was at the time uncertain, but 
which must have been a crested martial eagle 
similar to the one already mentioned in my re- 
marks relative to the cheetah. The bird paid 
not the smallest attention to my tent or to my 
native carriers and others grouped about. I first 
noticed it hovering in wide circles over the camp 
well out of gun-shot, and some time afterwards 
marked it down to the branches of a large feathery 
albizzia tree not more than 150 yards away, 
where the whitish hue of the breast feathers 
rendered it rather a tempting mark for a small- 
bore rifle bullet. I resisted the murderous im- 
pulse, however, and was lazily watching the great 
bird through my field-glasses when it suddenly 
leaped from its perch and darted through the air 
right past me to a piece of bare ground some little 
distance in rear of the camp. What took place 
there I was not able to see, but in a few seconds 
the eagle rose from the ground bearing something 
fairly bulky which still appeared slightly to writhe 
in the powerful talons, and which I made out with 
the aid of my glasses to be a small civet — indeed 
the animal's spots and tail rendered him un- 
mistakable. It is very curious how oblivious of 
their surroundings certain great birds of prey 
become when they perceive good cheer at hand. 
I have had several opportunities of observing this 
peculiarity, which I will deal with in a later 
chapter. 

I possess rather an uncommon motor rug, which 



216 THE BLOTCHED GENET 

has frequently attracted the admiring attention 
of friends, and is made of some sixty skins of the 
Blotched Genet, another small and very pretty 
cat found throughout the Mozambique Province. 
It is said to be nearly related to the civets, but 
has no glandular pouch for the perfume borne by 
the latter, which was at one time a not unimportant 
article of commerce. The genets, or rather the 
representatives of that attractive family found in 
the district of Zambezia, are handsome little 
beasts of a whitey-grey colour, their soft thick 
coat covered with spots — or perhaps more cor- 
rectly blotches — of a bright umber brown. They 
grow very tame and make charming pets, al- 
though, curiously enough, one rarely sees them in a 
state of domestication. 

As a rule blotched genets are wood-dwellers, 
making their squirrel-like homes in holes in the 
trunks and branches of great forest trees. They 
follow a mode of life, however, which bears no 
resemblance to that of the harmless squirrel, 
being, I believe, exclusively carnivorous, and 
causing considerable havoc among game birds, 
to say nothing of the poultry and eggs of the 
remotely established farmer. 

There are several other small cats scattered 
about the Province, whose skins are usually 
obtained by trapping. I have, therefore, found 
it advantageous and most interesting to provide 
when travelling in the interior two or three strong 
steel traps. These, set with a little meat and laid 
at the sides of the native paths, a couple of 
hundred yards or so from the camp, have not 




CIVET. 




To /ace J>. 216. 



WILD CAT. 



THE MUNGOOSE 217 

seldom yielded a good return in skins of various 
small beasts which otherwise one would seldom 
or never see. 

I believe there are altogether in the Portu- 
guese East African Province some four or five 
different varieties of the Mungoose. It is an 
interesting, amusing, and useful little beast, and 
the families mentioned comprise the slender, 
grizzled, banded, white-tailed, and Meller's. 

These small creatures are frequently tamed, 
even by the natives, and are possessed of the 
appreciable quality of ridding one's abode of 
cockroaches, snakes, and many other disagreeable 
forms of life so common to dwellers in tropical 
Africa. Whilst some of the varieties of mun- 
goose — notably the slender — are more or less 
solitary in their habits, others are happily 
gregarious, and their cheery, bustling family 
parties may often be seen in the forest hurrying 
to and fro in search of food, and uttering their 
curious bird-like chirp which in Zanzibar has 
obtained for them the native name of " M'chiru," 
which strongly resembles it. 

I have possessed many of these animals, 
which become so tame that they will dwell in 
one's pocket or camp up one's sleeve, poking out 
with disconcerting suddenness from time to time 
an inquisitive, beady-eyed little head. They 
devour white ants, centipedes, and scorpions, 
whilst locusts have no more deadly enemy, and 
snakes are said to pay a heavy toll. I do not 
think any animal of my acquaintance is endowed 
with such vast, such unconquerable inquisitive- 



218 THE MUNGOOSE 

ness as the mungoose. It pries into everything, 
sometimes with disastrous results. As an in- 
stance of this, I was travelling on one occasion 
between Zanzibar and Mozambique, and one of my 
lady fellow-passengers had purchased a tame mun- 
goose at the former place. It used to run about 
the decks and poke its curious little nose wherever 
it could. One hot afternoon — it happened to be 
on a day which its mistress had selected for the 
display of quite her loveliest and most expensive 
costume — the mungoose discovered that by care- 
fuly choosing its time it could run in and out 
of the steering-chain pipes which skirted the 
deck, and which are necessarily about half an 
inch thick in the blackest and most forbidding of 
engine oils — but I need not continue the narration 
further, nor harrow the feelings of my lady 
readers. I will only add that, as the result of 
the painful sequel, this particular mvmgoose 
mysteriously disappeared, and was seen no more 
on board. 

The mungoose — whatever may be this animal's 
correct plural designation — is extremely fond of 
eggs, and therefore a sad source of tribulation 
unless it can be kept out of the poultry run, and 
few poultry runs there assuredly are capable of 
excluding such a weasel-shaped, sinuous busy- 
body. 

Its appearance is so well known as to render 
a description in detail almost unnecessary, but 
for those who have not yet made this animal's 
acquaintance it may be described as a somewhat 
stoat-shaped creature of a pale brown colour. 



THE MUNGOOSE 219 

possessed of a long, hairy tail, short legs, and \ 
abbreviated, inquisitive-looking ears. They vary 

somewhat in size according to family, but J 

15 inches might perhaps prove a fair average I 

length. The coat, which is somewhat long, is \ 

rather harsh and bristly, banded or striped as the j 

case may be ; but taken altogether the mun- ! 

goose impresses one first of all by his air of im- | 

perturbable good humour, and, secondly, by his i 

unceasing restlessness. I feel sure they do a great j 

deal of good in their perpetual warfare against ; 

vermin, and regard them as quite as important | 

an adjunct to the African dwelling-house as the \ 

domestic cat to that of more temperate climes, if i 
not more so. The latter either grows plethoric, 

and disinclined to exertion, as the result of repose ^ 

and over -feeding, or else, smitten with a longing j 

for adventure not usually associated with his | 

eminently respectable appearance, he makes ex- I 

cursions into the bush of longer and longer | 

duration until at length he throws in his lot • 

altogether with uncivilised brethren, and his ' 

home knows him no more. ' 



CHAPTER X 

THE PIGS : PORCUPINE : ANT-BEAR : HONEY 
BADGER : OTTERS : HARES : ROCK RABBIT : 
GIANT RAT : SCALY ANT-EATER 

The two wild pigs which make their home on the 
banks of the River Zambezi are the same in all 
respects as those found throughout South and 
East Central Africa, namely, the large, dis- 
proportionately-headed, warthog, and the com- 
paratively gaily-marked, guinea-pig-like bushpig 
of the somewhat higher elevations. 

Warthogs are almost invariably found in 
families, and have an extremely happy, easy- 
going faculty which enables them to make them- 
selves quite at home in practically any part of 
the country, high or low, forest or plain. They 
are most entertaining animals to watch, and, if 
proper caution be exercised, are usually far too 
much engrossed in the preoccupations of the 
moment to mark the presence of a hostile in- 
fluence. In the cultivated areas, especially where 
roots are grown and ground-nuts planted, wart- 
hogs are a terrible pest. They will travel daily 
from their sleeping-places and cover many miles 
to reach some well-known garden, where they 
plough up the ground and create amazing havoc. 
They love especially loose, sandy, friable soil, 



THE WARTHOG 221 

wherein they root with their snouts for tubers 
and other subterranean food, but I have quite as 
often found them in marshy swamps, apparently 
equally contented with these damp surroundings, 
which enable them to take a daily mud-bath, of 
which they are passionately fond. As noon 
approaches, if undisturbed and well fed, they will 
make for some conveniently situated sand-pit, 
either shaded or unshaded, where they will roll, 
afterwards resting until the cool of the evening. 
On several occasions I have come upon large 
families lying fully extended, or with legs in the 
air, in the surroundings described, exposed to the 
full force of the sun's rays. In the late afternoon 
they seek for food again, and drink shortly before 
sunset. 

In appearance the warthog, as will be seen 
from the accompanying illustration, is almost the 
last word of picturesque ugliness. I do not know 
what a well-grown boar may weigh, but consider 
it probable that when cleaned he may turn the 
scale at 180 lbs. The head, compared with the 
rest of the body, is enormous, and much of its 
curious uncouthness is due to the presence of the 
four large warts to which it owes its name. Of 
these disfiguring excrescences, the larger ones, 
placed below the eyes, would almost seem to be 
designed as a protection for those organs, a pur- 
pose for which the two remaining warts, placed 
slightly above the corners of the mouth, would 
appear to be of little, if any, use. There is hardly 
anything in the way of hair or bristles, especially 
on the persons of the boars. Along the dorsal 



222 THE WARTHOG 

line runs a scraggy mane of long bristles which, 
with the short, skimpy, tufted tail, is stiffly 
erected in moments of excitement or alarm. 
But, after his warts, the most singular character- 
istic of this curious pig is his four large tusks. 
The lower, or, as it is sometimes called, the cutting 
tusk, is, of course, much the smaller of the two, the 
best pair in my possession measuring just under 
5 inches ; but the upper tusks are so long and 
heavy as to give him the appearance of wearing 
defences which do not belong to him. These 
often reach a measurement of 9 or 10 inches, and 
at times, I believe, considerably more, and their 
effect, viewed at close quarters, confers upon the 
wearer somewhat of the appearance of some 
misshapen, perky stage beast seen in a pantomime, 
and wearing an immense ivory moustache sedu- 
lously trained up at the ends as though by the 
aid of a German Schnurrbart-binde. 

Nothing could be more amusing than a family 
of warthogs as, lying at their ease in a sand-pit or 
mud-hole, they suddenly detect the presence of 
danger. As I have stated, the party is a family 
one, and may consist of one or both parents and 
any number of piglings from three to eight or 
ten, consisting, in the latter case, of two different 
litters. At the first alarm, haste to gain their 
feet is so great that a second or two passes before 
this position is reached — a delay quite long 
enough to entail serious consequences in the case 
of attack by a leopard or other flesh-eating 
prowler. After a moment spent in scrutinising 
the surroundings, whilst they stand with mane 



THE WARTHOG 223 

and tail erected stiffly, Monsieur gives a short, 
impatient grunt which is echoed by Madame, 
when, unless they should now be reassured, they 
trot quickly away in single file, led by the parents, 
the members of the family following strictly in 
order of primogeniture and, consequently, of size. 

Adult warthogs, especially males, are very 
tough beasts to kill, and at times make good their 
escape after having sustained injuries which 
would have brought most other animals promptly 
to bag. If wounded and overtaken, they charge 
with great quickness and courage, and, although 
I never heard of a serious mishap, their tusks 
enable them at times to inflict severe gashes. 

On one occasion 1 had wounded a large boar in 
East Luabo with which, after a long chase, I had 
succeeded in coming up. He promptly turned 
upon me and charged with a perfect cyclone of 
shrill, excited grunts, and, on my avoiding him, 
did the like to my gun-bearer. So quick and 
pertinacious were his movements that several 
seconds elapsed before I was enabled to get in a 
second and final shot. On another occasion some 
friends of mine in similar circumstances directed 
one of their natives to run in and finish a warthog 
with a spear, when the animal leaped to its feet 
and inflicted upon his naked leg a gash which laid 
it open to the bone. 

The female possesses neither the size, length of 
tusks, nor spirit of the male, except she have her 
young at hand, when she becomes endowed with 
the most reckless courage, and has been known, in 
their defence, to charge and put to flight animals 



224 THE WARTHOG— THE BUSHPIG 

which in other circumstances she would not have 
faced for a moment. The young commence to 
follow the parents almost immediately after birth, 
and whilst still quite small develop an activity 
which renders their capture a matter of no small 
difficulty. They grow extraordinarily tame, and 
whilst young their ungainly antics and gambols are 
most amusing. 

Although possessed of but little fat, a leg of 
warthog is a dish by no means to be despised, the 
piglings furnishing one for which an epicure 
would or should go far. 

Bushpigs inhabit, for the most part, the higher 
levels, although by no means uncommon on the 
lower plains. I have used in connection with this 
animal the comparison of the guinea-pig, and if 
perhaps not quite an exact one, there is still to 
my mind something of a resemblance. If, there- 
fore, my reader should be prepared to give his 
imagination a small modicum of rein, he might 
picture to himself an immense, reddish-brown 
guinea-pig marked with rather long yellow, grey 
and white hair, and provided with quite a heavy 
white collar. The head is by no means dis- 
proportionate as in the case of the warthog, and 
the tusks are insignificant. 

Unlike the warthog, bushpigs feed chiefly by 
night, and although they may occasionally be 
seen grubbing for grass roots in the early morning, 
they never abandon themselves in mud-holes and 
sand-pits to the gaze of their enemies in the frank, 
careless manner of the former. During the day 
they retreat into thick bush, and do not leave 



THE BUSHPIG— THE PORCUPINE 225 

their cover again until nightfall, when they 
wreak terrible damage upon cultivated gardens, 
especially those containing sweet potatoes, ground 
nuts, and cassava. 

Both these species of pig suffer much from the 
attacks of lions and leopards, and there is no 
doubt are a very favourite food for both these 
cats. 

I have already given my views upon the 
excellence of the flesh of the warthog, but most of 
those whose experience is similar to my own will 
agree with me that, in comparison to that of the 
tender succulent bushpig, it is, without question, 
as water unto wine. 

I am informed that some few years ago a new 
form of bushpig was suddenly identified and 
named after its doubtless gratified discoverer, as 
the difference between this interesting animal 
and the previously known form was regarded 
as of immense importance. I may, of course, 
have been misinformed, but I fancy it con- 
sisted principally in the proud possession of 
a hollow incisor tooth ; but whatever it may 
have been it was looked upon at the time as a 
discovery far transcending Mr. Pickwick's long- 
debated theory of tittlebats, and requiring much 
special knowledge for its adequate comprehen- 
sion. 

As the wayfarer trudges along the Zambezian 
native path, he will not infrequently stoop to 
pick up, as souvenirs of his journey through the 
country, quite good-sized porcupine quills ; but 
unless he be endowed with more than the average 



226 THE PORCUPINE 

measure of good fortune, these will be the only 
indications of this interesting animal that he will 
see. Porcupines occur sparingly all over the 
country, and are, to the extent of their limited 
capacity, rather a nuisance in the damage they 
cause to native pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and 
other produce. 

The porcupine is a solitary type which passes 
the daylight hours in ant-bear holes, in hollow 
tree-trunks, and in the shelter afforded by the in- 
terior of a hospitable ant-heap. At night it steps 
meditatively forth in search of provisions, and 
takes its contemplative way along the deserted 
native paths, its coming heralded by the ceaseless 
rattling of its quills. To all intents and purposes 
the porcupine is neither more nor less than a 
glorified hedgehog, with the exception that where- 
as the latter, even while rolled up into its familiar 
ball, may be handled with care, the former has a 
disagreeable habit of leaving its quills sticking 
deeply in the flesh of the person or animal by 
whom it is molested. 

To no members of the game families is this 
power more deadly than to the great flesh-eaters 
who have passed the grand climacteric. There 
comes a time when, owing to the lapse of the fast- 
fleeting years, the lion and the leopard, finding 
their usual prey becoming more and more difficult 
to capture, are compelled to have recourse for a 
living to forms which cost them a minimum of 
effort to obtain. Foremost among these is the 
porcupine, but he proves a terrible meal. His 
quills are designed hke the blades of certain 




.. I^M'hm, 










^m;M- ;..afc,: 



I '' 






THE PORCUPINE 227 

grasses and their seeds which, once having effected 
a lodgment in the skin or the clothing, work their 
way farther and farther in, aided thereto by 
countless invisible but capable barbs. When, 
therefore, the beast of prey who casts a longing 
eye upon the easily captured porcupine retires 
from his difficult and unsatisfactory feast, he 
does so with his paws and lips full of quills 
which defy all attempts at removal. After a time, 
of course, inflammation is succeeded by sup- 
puration, and not infrequently death from star- 
vation ensues as the natural result of the wretched 
beast's inability from these causes to get about 
and obtain a livelihood. I remember some years 
ago at Quelimane a lion, in a state of the most 
pitiable emaciation, was washed down the Qua- 
Qua River, its fore-paws and lips containing a 
number of porcupine's quills which had effected 
an immovable lodgment in the flesh. It was 
evident that in a condition of great feebleness the 
luckless beast had attempted, as lions often do, to 
swim the river, and had been carried down on the 
ebb and drowned. 

Young porcupines are pretty little creatures, 
and are covered with coarse bristly hair which 
gradually stiffens into quills. They grow very 
tame, and will eat bread and milk. During the 
daylight hours they are lethargic, and disinclined 
to make themselves agreeable, but submit to 
being handled without any display of irritation 
or annoyance. Lastly, but by no means least, 
the flesh of the porcupine is exceedingly dainty. 

Probably the most rarely encountered of all 



228 THE ANT-BEAR 

animals, either in Zambezia or anywhere else, is 
that quaint creature whose yawning holes dot 
the surface of the ground sometimes by the score ; 
this is the Ant-bear. Mr. Tupman describes the 
mid- Victorian arbour as a refuge which humane 
men have erected for the accommodation of 
spiders, but the future writer upon some of the 
obscurer phases of African zoology will doubtless 
refer to the ant-bear hole as a refuge for the 
accommodation of all sorts of less innocent crea- 
tures. Herein the hyena often spends the hours 
of daylight ; the hunting dog, after some time 
spent in enlargement and renovation, here brings 
forth its piratical brood ; in ant-bear holes lurk 
the smaller predatory forms, as well as snakes 
and owls, and herein, should you be mounted 
and riding with a slack rein, you may take a toss 
that will be a lesson to you for some time to 
come. 

During the day ant-bears are never seen, but 
at night, leaving their subterranean retreats, they 
come up for a time to the earth's surface, with 
disastrous results occasionally from the teeth and 
claws of the midnight prowlers. 

I discovered one of these animals in Shupanga 
in 1909, obviously the kill of a leopard, which I 
must have disturbed soon after the fatal deed. 
This was the first ant-bear I had ever seen and 
I examined it with no small interest. It was a 
clumsy-looking, short-limbed creature, provided 
with lengthy digging claws, covered with thin hair 
of a dirty reddish colour. A long, pig-snouted 
face was crowned by donkey-like ears, which 



THE ANT-BEAR— THE HONEY BADGER 229 

gave to the deceased's countenance a patient air 
almost amounting to resignation. I suppose the 
specimen I examined must have measured some- 
thing over 3 feet in length, and weighed perhaps 
70 or 80 lbs. I remember my carriers gleefully 
despoiled the leopard of his kill, and devoured the 
ant-bear themselves with every sign of the com- 
pletest satisfaction. 

This curious animal, which, in spite of the 
rareness of its appearance, must be very numerous 
in certain parts of the country where ants abound 
— and it would be hard to mention a corner of 
tropical Africa where they do not — nourishes itself, 
it is believed, entirely upon these insects, which it 
collects upon its long, sticky tongue. I have often 
considered it a misfortune alike to mankind and 
to the ant-bear that the latter's incurably noc- 
turnal habits should perhaps largely stand in the 
way of his discovering and disposing of the enor- 
mous armies of the terrible driver ant which may 
so frequently be seen crossing the African path, 
and which are so severely left alone there. If the 
ant-bear should be impervious to the driver's 
powerful mandibles it is sad to think of the many 
rich meals he must miss. However, it is possible, 
and greatly to be hoped, that he may meet them 
occasionally in the course of his midnight pere- 
grinations, if such an encounter should result in 
the destruction of these truly awful creatures. 

Another interesting form occasionally met 
with is the carelessly designated, so-called Honey 
Badger. I refer to him as carelessly designated 
because, although honey is a much appreciated 

i6 



230 THE HONEY BADGER 

detail of this creature's somewhat lengthy bill of 
fare — as it is with other items of the creation — it 
is far from the only comestible upon which the 
honey badger supports itself. I have seen several 
of these creatures, and once, unfortunately, was 
reluctantly compelled to kill one, which I found 
on skinning him contained a large number of 
half-grown locusts. But in addition to honey 
and insects of various kinds, including white and 
other ants, the honey badger is a great destroyer 
of rats and mice, in pursuit of which he has been 
furnished by nature with ample means of bur- 
rowing for their nests. 

The unfortunate honey badger I was com- 
pelled to kill was first espied during the morning 
march by one of my carriers in the Barue region 
of Zambezia. Casting discipline to the winds, 
and his load after it, the misguided porter dashed 
off in pursuit. Supposing that his disappearance 
was occasioned by other causes, I paid no atten- 
tion to the matter until loud yells from some 
distance in the direction which he liad taken 
intimated the occurrence of some incident of an 
untoward character. Fearing snake-bite, or some 
such mishap, I hurried in the direction whence 
the sounds came, wondering as I did so whether 
my lancet and permanganate of potassium were 
fairly accessible, but when I arrived the following 
tableau presented itself — The carrier, with an 
expression of face in which pain and alarm were 
admirably depicted, was executing a kind of 
danse fantastique and roaring lustily, whilst from a 
portion of his anatomy which the late Dr. Busby 



THE HONEY BADGER 231 

used to declare was especially designed by Provi- 
dence for the correction of youth, there hung with 
great determination a curious - looking animal. 
This pendant beast was like neither dog nor cat ; 
it looked, rather, a curious mixture between an 
otter and a badger, was about the size of the latter, 
and gave one the impression of having been 
originally more or less grey all over but having, 
by accident, fallen into some black substance 
which had so coloured it half-way up the flanks 
and almost to the top of its head. The teet 
terminated in good serviceable claws, and the 
expression on the animal's face as it maintained its 
determined hold was one of placid resolution. 
This I afterwards ascertained to be a honey 
badger. Several others of my people having by 
this time appeared upon the scene, the sufferer 
was speedily relieved, but no sooner had the honey 
badger been discouraged from maintaining his 
grip on the carrier by means of heavy blows from 
a stick than, instead of retreating like any well- 
ordered beast into the fastnesses of the bush, he 
transferred his attentions to my gun-bearer whom 
he attacked quietly but mischievously. Having 
by this time two men suffering more or less as the 
result of this small but determined animal's bites 
I had now no option but to shoot him. 

He was a fine, well-grown specimen, and I 
kept his skin by me for several years. It was a 
curious trophy, of great thickness, and when 
stretched from having been pegged out, appeared 
to have come from some animal of considerably 
larger size. To this curious fact — namely, the 



232 THE TIONF.Y BADGER -OTTKKS 

thickness and looseness of his skin — is attributed 
his inniuniity from the bites of snakes. I do not 
know whether this may lu^ tl\e ease, but my 
hunters liave on several occasions recounted to 
me most exciting instances fo this creature's 
triumphs over the most deadly of the African 
poison snakes — even the justly dreaded mamba. 

Here is another of tliose forms with which 
the averao'c hunter is more likely to become 
acquainted by means of a trap than a ritie. 

The rivers of this part of Africa contain, so 
far as T am aware, but two kinds of otter — the 
spotted-necked variety and the widely distributed 
Cape otter. These are found in great numbers in 
the extensive marshes of which such wide areas 
south of the Zambezi consist. The smaller ani- 
mal last mentioned is of a dull, soniew^iat pale 
brown, the former being darker in colour and 
distinguished by the peculiar characteristic neck 
spots. My friend Mr. II. L. Duff mentions in one 
of his publications having seen in Nyasaland the 
skin of an otter of larger size than either of these, 
and showing a broad patch of silvery grey on the 
throat and chest. This animal is by no means 
unknown in the marshes which form the sources 
of the Mupa and Mungari Rivers, where I have 
seen them myself in the possession of the 
natives. It is possible that this may be a new 
species. 

Otters are night animals, whose curious 
grunting is perhaps oftener heard than recognised. 
They live on lisli, frogs, and landcrabs, varying 
this diet occasionally on the appearance of a 



HARES— DASSIE— THE GIANT RAT 233 

flight of locusts, but due to their nocturnal habits 
and inaccessible haunts, they are rarely seen by 
Europeans. 

Hares, and that curious little creature the 
rock rabbit or dassie, are not uncommon, but some- 
what localised. I fancy the Hare is the same as 
that found in the Nyasaland Protectorate. It is 
a fine large animal, weighing 6 or 7 lbs., reddish 
brown in colour, running up to black, streaked with 
grey, and dirty white underneath. In Gorongoza, 
and in the hilly country south of Shupanga, these 
hares are very frequently put up. They do not 
seem to me to be so good as the home-bred 
variety, their flesh being singularly tasteless. 

The Dassies are not found, so far as I am aware, 
at a low elevation ; but on the high mountain 
plateaux of Mlanje, Morumballa, and other high- 
lands they exist in large colonies. 

That curious creature the Giant Rat is com- 
mon wherever there are marshes containing the 
ordinary bango-reed and papyrus rushes. In weight 
this animal must attain to fully 10 lbs. or over, 
and is about the size of a large hare. Its body is 
rat-like in shape, and its tail, though not very long, 
is quite characteristic of the family to which it 
belongs. I am informed that its flesh is a great 
delicacy, but I must confess never to have had 
the courage to try it. The appearance of this 
animal, with its great bulk and uncomfortable, 
bristly coat, is so abnormal, so suggestive of the 
horrors of a disordered dream, that these con- 
siderations completely relieve me of the smallest 
desire to partake of it. 



234 THE GIANT RAT 

I have just stated that giant rats frequent 
swampy, low-lying ground, and low elevations 
generally, but apparently that is not always the 
case. Several years ago, I was bidden one night 
to dine with three friends at that most admirable 
and comfortable house of entertainment, the 
Savoy Hotel at Beira, and afterwards, at the in- 
vitation of our host, we proceeded upstairs to the 
top of the three-storied building to indulge in a 
rubber of bridge. This over, we were sitting 
chatting quietly, and enjoying the beauty of the 
soft African night, when I suddenly saw my host's 
usually jovial face stiffen and freeze into an 
expression of unbounded horror. Following the 
direction in which he gazed, I saw an immense 
rat, such as I have described above, quite casually 
and leisurely making its way along the top of the 
outer veranda rail. I rushed to catch it by its 
stiffly projecting tail in order to swing it round 
and beat its brains out against the iron of the 
railing, but the creature was a little too quick 
for me, and in trying to run down the outer face 
of the balustrade, it lost its footing, and fell into 
the street below, a distance of some 45 feet. 
At that moment several Portuguese soldiers and 
police officials were passing the hotel. Exactly 
what happened I shall never know, but, as we 
gazed over into the darkness, first an exclamation 
of surprise rose upon the quiet air, then a wild yell 
of dismay, followed by the pattering of hastily 
retreating feet. We hurried below, but by the 
time we had reached the roadway all was quiet, 
so that tliere was nothing for it but to separate, 



THE ANT-EATER 235 

which we accordingly did, after having once 
more assured each other with great fervour that 
we had all seen it. 

I have never received a satisfactory ex- 
planation of how or why this rat should have gone 
into a building at all, or what it was doing at 
that height from the ground. Two of the party, 
in addition to myself, recognised it instantly, so 
that the creature's identity does not admit of a 
doubt. 

Occasionally, if you should be residing or 
stopping for any length of time in Zambezia, the 
natives will bring you for sale, all curled up in 
some disused hencoop, a very scared, recently 
captured Ant-eater. These curious creatures, 
about three or four feet long, are rather like a 
crocodile-shaped armadillo. They are covered 
all over, except on the under side, of course, with 
an armour of proof consisting of large, thick, 
horny scales, which must be a complete protection 
to them when once curled up into the hedgehog 
shape they assume upon the approach of danger. 
These scales are very thick, and of a tough, hard 
substance, and impervious, I should imagine, to 
anything short of a rifle bullet. In handling these 
creatures the greatest care must be taken to 
avoid getting the fingers caught under the closing 
armour as he rolls himself up, otherwise they may 
be very badly crushed indeed. 

The scaly ant-eater, as the name indicates, 
maintains itself, 1 believe, entirely upon the blind 
white termite and such other kinds of ants as it 
can find, but preferably upon the former. It 



236 THE ANT-EATER, ETC 

feeds itself in a manner similar to that followed 
by the ant-bear, gathering up the helpless, strug- 
gling insects many at a time upon its long, sticky 
tongue. It is perfectly harmless and, owing to 
its nocturnal habits, but rarely seen. Ant-eaters 
are furnished at the extremities of their short 
limbs with powerful digging claws, and the 
rapidity with which, upon inducement offering, 
they can get underground must be seen to be 
believed. 

The native witch-doctors, in some parts of 
the country, utilise the scales of the ant-bear in 
determining the innocence or guilt of persons 
accused of the commission of serious offences. 
Six of these scales and an equal number of flat 
shells are manipulated, and after much shuffling, 
division, redivision, and reunion are believed ac- 
curately to exonerate or condemn the individual 
appealing to them. 

In addition to the foregoing there are, spread 
throughout the length and breadth of the country, 
a number of other small animals of a more or less 
insignificant character, such as the pole-cats, 
squirrels, weasels, rats, mice, and moles, with a 
description of which I have not considered it 
either necessary or desirable to waste the reader's 
time. They are really only interesting to the 
naturalist or the man possessed of special know- 
ledge, and to these this book is not particularly 
addressed. 

Should a collection of these small forms be 
desired, they must be trapped and carefully pre- 
pared for preservation, and an application should 



SMALLER FORMS 237 

be made to my friend Mr. Oldfield Thomas of the 
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, S.W., 
who takes great pains in kindly instructing 
would-be collectors in the best methods to be 
pursued. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE MONKEYS 

Zambezia certainly cannot be said to possess 
many families of Monkeys. None of the great 
apes such as have been found in the equatorial 
regions and on the western side of the African 
continent are found here, nor yet can we hope to 
see that striking form existing as far south and 
east as the high country north-west of Lake 
Nyasa, and known as the colobus monkey — that 
wonderful white and jet black type which is rarely 
if ever seen lower than the topmost branches of 
the forest trees. 

I remember when I was living at Mozambique, 
where I was serving at the British Consulate in 
the later nineties, that a statement vouched for 
by the local natives was to the effect that upon 
and around a certain large, table-topped mountain 
some twenty odd miles to the northward, monkeys 
had been seen compared with which the largest 
baboon was but as a child to a full-grown man. 
On two occasions 1 went up to a point as near the 
mountain as I could reach to endeavour to obtain 
more definite and detailed information regarding 
this animal, but, although I was shown his haunts, 
and made what attempts I could to obtain a speci- 
men, or at least to see the creature, I never suc- 

338 



THE BABOONS 239 

ceeded in doing either. Making certain allowances 
for native exaggeration, it is difficult to believe 
that the stories one heard of it could possibly have 
been so consistent and convincing if no foundation 
really existed for them in fact. 

But putting aside this uncertain and shadowy 
possibility of what there may be, and confining 
ourselves to the more tangible consideration of 
what there are, we are at once faced with those 
fascinating types the two Baboons, which are 
very well distributed, and quite sufficiently 
numerous. These are the grey or chacma, and 
the yellow baboon. To the latter, by reason of 
his unmistakable colouring, the world of sport and 
science has grown well accustomed; but there 
are probably few among the wild creatures of 
Africa who get themselves so frequently dis- 
covered and rediscovered as the unintentionally 
deceitful chacma. Almost all observers, especially 
if they should possess, or believe themselves to 
possess, that vague, intangible quality called 
special knowledge, have found themselves over 
and over again on the brink of a new discovery 
as they gloated over the corpse of some newly 
slain " old man," whose coat, owing to youth, old 
age, skin disease, or other similar cause presented 
slight differences of colour compared with perhaps 
the last member of his family to fall into their 
hands. I am convinced that the chacma is 
almost as varied in the colour of his coat as is his 
distant relative, the observer ; thus you may find 
him of all shades from bluish grey to dark brown 
streaked and tinged with grey, and from dirty 



240 THE BABOONS 

white beneath to a paler continuation of the 
general hue. It has been stated by other writers 
that this animal does not extend to the north of 
the Zambezi, but this is incorrect, as I have seen 
the chacma and shot several specimens in the 
Quelimane district and in the rocky, mountainous 
highlands of the Lugella Prazo, but without 
achieving anything in the nature of a new variety. 
In little-frequented districts, and by that I 
mean, of course, those little frequented by the 
man with a gun, baboons grow extremely bold. 
So much is this the case that not infrequently 
they display considerable reluctance to give way 
before one, especially where they appear in large 
troops. South of Shupanga Forest, and on the 
little-known eastern foothills of the Cheringoma 
mountain range, I have seen them in bands of 
nearly a hundred strong. I have a very vivid 
recollection of one particular evening in Shupanga 
in 1909. I was encamped for the night in the 
outskirts of a native village, and, accompanied by 
a hunter carrying a rifle, had been out for a stroll 
with my shot-gun, looking for guinea-fowl and 
pigeons. On the way back we had to cross a 
small glade of ten to fifteen acres wherein I could 
see in the longish grass a number of chacmas 
strolling very slowly in the same direction as 
ourselves, some on the path and some parallel 
to it. From time to time they would look at us 
over their shoulders, stop for a second or two to 
examine a grass root for insects, and then stroll 
on again. In this way we continued until 1 was 
not more than fifty yards from the outlying score 



THE BABOONS 241 

or so, which contained some exceptionally large 
animals. Frankly, I did not much like it. With- 
out displaying a threatening appearance, they 
seemed to be intent upon showing us that they 
were not going to be hustled by us. At that 
moment my companion uttered a loud shout, in 
the expectation of scaring them away, but this 
simply brought them all round facing us, barking 
and chattering and evidently in a state of great 
excitement. As we advanced they continued to 
retire, still facing us, but at no faster pace than 
our own, several on each side of the path, mouth- 
ing and grimacing and evidently trying hard to 
get us to retreat. Had we done so I think it very 
probable that we should have been attacked, 
and, but for our firearms, severely injured. I 
refrained from firing upon them, however, and 
when we gained the trees on the other side near 
our camp they gradually edged away, but for long 
afterwards their barks and chatterings, and that 
singular noise they make like a diamond traversing 
a pane of glass, were distinctly audible. I have 
never known baboons make a more hostile 
demonstration . 

Of course the chacma, a considerably larger 
creature than the common yellow baboon of 
East Central Africa, is a large, powerful, and 
formidable animal. Stories are on record of their 
having attacked human beings when in large 
numbers, and I remember, years ago, hearing one 
in Nyasaland, which certainly bore the stamp of 
circumstantiality, of an unfortunate European 
who, under the influence of intoxicants, succeeded 



242 THE BABOONS 

in provoking a band of baboons to the point of 
attacking him and injuring him most seriously. 

Baboons, although usually to be found in the 
granite hills of which so much of South Central 
Africa consists, are frequently met with in forest 
country. In the thickly tree-covered plains 
bordering the Zambezi they are very numerous, 
and do a great deal of damage to the native gar- 
dens, the attack upon which is conducted with the 
nicest regard for well-thought-out detail. Thus, 
on approaching the scene of the raid, the troop 
takes open order, so to speak, the females, with 
their babies clinging round their necks, or with 
those of slightly riper growth following behind, 
advancing directly but noiselessly upon the scene 
of the robbery, whilst several of the " old men " 
take up positions, by either climbing trees or 
getting upon an adjacent rock or ant-hill, which 
enable them to observe and signal the approach 
of danger. This they do by the utterance of a 
gruff bark, whereupon, snatching all they can 
lay their hands upon, and with cheek-pouches 
stuffed to their utmost capacity, they tear away, 
uttering the curious " glazier's diamond " sound 
to which I have referred above. Should the in- 
terruption be caused by the appearance of one or 
two women, however, they will frequently turn 
en bande, literally mob them, and usually put them 
to flight, promptly appropriating anything of an 
edible character which they may have been carry- 
ing at the time. There can be no doubt what- 
soever that baboons discriminate readily between 
the males and the females of the human species, 



THE BABOONS 243 

and are fully alive to the ease with which, in 
comparison with the former, the latter may be 
stampeded and driven off. It is incontestable 
that native women hold baboons in the strongest 
detestation and terror, and various scarcely 
credible stories are related of the boldness of these 
animals when women have been reduced through 
fear to helplessness. Personally I incline strongly 
to the view that the baboon's one object in de- 
monstrating before native women is to possess 
himself less of the affrighted female than of any 
small articles of an edible character she may have 
in her possession at the time, and I have never 
heard an authenticated case of the animal having 
occasioned her further cause for reproach, if one 
except a severe fright into the bargain. Still, 
however improbable the belief in the designs 
which baboons are said to have upon native 
women and girls, it has gained such ground as to 
have obtained practically universal belief. 

The intelligence of the chacma is extra- 
ordinary, and whilst young they make most 
amusing companions. Very affectionate, and 
with a perfect memory for acts of kindness and 
the reverse, they frequently form a strong attach- 
ment for their masters which does not altogether 
fade on the arrival of the deeper preoccupations 
of maturity. The same is no doubt true of the 
yellow variety. 

At my consular post at Mozambique I had for 
more than a year led a quiet life of unbroken 
peace — ^unbroken that is save for the periodical 
attacks of fever by which that unhappy island is 



244 THE BABOONS 

perpetually overshadowed, when one evening, 
during dinner, I was informed that a Portuguese 
soldier and a monkey desired to see me. I 
accordingly descended to the court-yard of the 
Consulate, and found a young corporal of cavalry 
shedding bitter tears at the prospect of the 
morrow's departure for Lisbon, which would 
separate him from his comrade of several years' 
standing, a large, formidable, singularly evil- 
looking, yellow baboon named Joao. Touched by 
the pathos of the unhappy man's manifest sorrow, 
and not a little flattered at the confidence he 
expressed that in my charge Joao would find a 
comfortable home — a reflection which would 
soften the poignancy of his grief — I consented, 
not without some considerable misgiving, to 
assume charge of him. 

From that evening I count most of the 
bitterest moments I experienced whilst I resided 
in the island of Mozambique. 

Joao was secured to a large tree which grew 
in the middle of the quintal or court-yard of the 
consular premises, and singularly enough, and as 
though he had fully assimilated his late master's 
valedictory exhortations, he and I became fast 
friends. In fact I was practically his only one, as, 
except to convey to him his daily food, none of 
my servants dared to go near him. 

A few days later, whilst in the middle of some 
important task, I received a coldly worded noti- 
fication from the Commissioner of Police stating 
that an immense and formidable monkey, said to 
be mine, had gained its freedom and had prac- 



THE BABOONS 245 

tically taken charge of an important thoroughfare, 
had bitten, more or less severely, divers peaceful 
citizens, and must at once be secured or shot. I 
found Joao shortly afterwards, seated upon the 
counter of an Indian sweet shop, and having the 
time of his life, whilst the tearful and affrighted 
proprietor, note-book in hand, kept careful ac- 
count of his ravages by dint of peeping nervously 
in at the window through which the two from 
time to time relieved the monotony of these pro- 
ceedings by making frightful grimaces at each 
other. Joao came to my call with a meek and 
angelic expression apparently of conscious recti- 
tude, and the spectacle of the British represen- 
tative's progress through the city leading and at 
times almost carrying a large and larcenous 
baboon was one which the delighted populace 
was probably long in rorgetting. 

Soon afterwards, seated in my study one 
morning, a soft pattering of hasty naked foot- 
steps on the stairs heralded the entry of the 
breathless and tearful Goanese cook of my neigh- 
bour the Bishop Apostolic of the Province of 
Mozambique — one of those great princes of the 
Church who take precedence of even the highest 
ot the administrative authorities. His painful 
recital, interrupted by frequent gasps of indig- 
nation and horror, was to the effect that whilst 
making preparations for his eminence's luncheon, 
an immense baboon, who must be the father of all 
the baboons, of unexampled fierceness, had 
suddenly leaped upon his back through the open 
doorway. Regarding what followed, the narrative 
17 



246 THE BABOONS 

was a little vague, except that the immediate 
flight of the cook had been in no small degree 
expedited by a vicious bite which he had received 
in what the late Dean Stanley was wont to de- 
scribe as the " bosom " of his trousers. 

" And now, Senhor Consul," continued the 
excited oriental, his voice growing gradually 
higher and shriller as his mind had leisure to 
grasp more fully the abuses and indignities to 
which he had been subjected, "and now, it has 
broken all my eggs, there is nothing left un- 
broken in ni}^ kitchen, and if you will look from 
the gardens of the Consulate you will see it sitting 
upon the wall and eating the Bishop's cold 
turkey." 

1 must confess I felt the position to be one of 
unusual difficulty : first to secure the delinquent, 
who, perched upon a high party-wall, was enjoying 
himself with the air of one who has the world at 
his feet, and, secondly, successfully to placate the 
just wrath of the despoiled prelate. Fortunately 
I succeeded, after some slight difficulty, and a 
little coldness, in achieving both, and once more 
Joao was led captive to his accustomed tree. 

I could fill a chapter with other incidents in 
this graceless creature's criminal career, or such 
portion of it as was spent within the scope of my 
own immediate observation. What was his ulti- 
mate fate I never knew — never indeed had the 
courage to inquire. Being directed soon after- 
wards to assume office at the British Consulate 
at Beira, 1 made all preparations for my departure, 
and finally locked up the premises preparatory to 



THE BABOONS 247 

proceeding on board my steamer. But before 
doing so, I stole quietly to the tree whereunder 
Joao was tethered, very gently unfastened his 
detaining bonds, and — fled. We never met again. 

This animal, as I have stated elsewhere, 
belonged to the smaller yellow variety, but even 
so he was almost it not quite as big as a good-sized 
mastiff, and his strength, activity and energy 
were boundless. He certainly seemed to entertain 
a great affection for me, a circumstance which I 
have long looked back upon as a somewhat 
doubtful compliment, and whilst barely tolerant 
of the native and other servants, would welcome 
my approach with unmistakable signs of the most 
touching pleasure. He was quite full grown, but 
displayed none of the mature chacma's morose- 
ness of disposition on arriving at that stage of 
life's journey ; on the contrary, Joao was never 
tired of romping and gambolling, and I have not 
seldom felt inclined to attribute most of his more 
regrettable irregularities to that feeling oijoie de 
vivre which, during youth, renders the commission 
of sins so attractive an occupation to most of us 
during the all too fleeting passage of that bright 
period. 

But I cannot pass from my account of the 
baboons without reference to the one weak spot 
in their claim to intelligence — the one blot on 
their reasoning powers. That is the stupid, 
unnecessary manner in which they allow them- 
selves to be captured. When first I was told of 
this method of catching baboons I could not 
refrain from suspecting that an attempt was being 



248 THE BABOONS 

made to catch me, but I have since found the 
practice I am about to describe to be a very general 
one. All that is necessary is a well-secured 
calabash gourd. Into this, through a small 
aperture barely large enough to admit the open 
hand of the victim, a few grains of maize or a 
small quantity of millet is placed, and the trap 
deposited in some spot where the baboons are 
likely to pass. On arrival the eager band are 
not long in discovering it, and the unlucky wight 
to do so promptly squeezes his hand through 
the hole, and closes it triumphantly on the grains 
of food within. Game is now called, and the 
watching natives draw nigh to secure their cap- 
tive. Seeing their approach he makes the most 
desperate efforts to escape, but finds that with 
his marauding hand now firmly closed on the 
bait, which it never for one moment occurs to him 
to relinquish, he cannot get it out of the gourd, 
and is thus forced to permit the detaining sack 
to be thrust over his head without further 
resistance than a few desperate bites at the hands 
of his captors. 

But however tame baboons may become in 
captivity, nothing will ever finally extinguish 
that mischievous spirit of inherent naughtiness 
which every one of these animals possesses. I 
remember, as a case in point, an incident which 
took place at Beira when I resided there in 1898. 
I do not quite recollect the occasion, but I fancy 
it was connected with the Vasco da Gama cele- 
brations which took place in that year, a part of 
which was the celebration of a High Mass to which 



THE BABOONS 249 

I was officially bidden. It was, of course, cus- 
tomary to attend these functions in full uniform, 
and the scene in the small church — of corrugated 
iron, and containing a temperature not usually 
associated with places of worship — was quite a 
brilliant one. On this occasion, on leaving, I was 
accompanied by an officer of the Lisbon Civil 
Guard some distance on my return to the Con- 
sulate. He was, needless to say, very smartly 
uniformed, and bore in his helmet a fine plume 
of cock's feathers not unlike those worn by 
British General Officers. After a moment of 
adieux, he turned into the gardens of his residence, 
and I continued upon my way. Before I had 
traversed a dozen yards, however, I heard an 
exclamation ot alarm, and, turning quickly, saw 
the officer, his helmet hanging over the back of 
his neck, rush from the premises hotly pursued 
by a large chacma baboon holding, as it tore after 
him, a good-sized double handful of the beautiful 
cock's feathers to which I have just alluded. The 
pursuit was a short one, the officer drew his sword, 
and made a number of rapid but ineffectual 
passes at his active assailant who, despite a dis- 
play of fine swordsmanship, always kept just out 
of reach of the whistling blade. A moment after- 
wards we joined forces, and the baboon was 
driven off. This animal was the property ot a 
neighbouring railway employe, and having got 
loose allowed my military friend to get quite 
close to the tree in which he had taken refuge 
when, leaping lightly upon his shoulders as he 
passed, he seized the smart helmet by the plume, 



250 OTHER MONKEYS 

dragged out half tlie feathers, administered a 
severe bite on the back of the officer's neck, and 
regained the tree in the twinkhng of an eye. The 
alarmed guardsman made a precipitate rush into 
the roadway, scarcely comprehending what had 
befallen, and, as anybody with a knowledge of 
baboons well knows, retreat before them is a 
certain precursor of further trouble. But Avhat 
filled me with the greatest regret was the sadden- 
ing spectacle of the moulted plume, which had 
been shorn of a great amount of its former 
jauntiness. 

Now I do not think for a moment that the 
baboon acted out of malice ; it was tickled, I 
suppose, by the appearance of the dancing cock's 
feathers, and being siifTicicntlj^ tame to have lost 
all dread of humanity, thought it would per- 
petrate a practical joke. Personally I am con- 
vinced that monkeys have as keen an appreciation 
of practical jokes as we have — in fact few who 
have watclied them will be unaware of their love 
of leaping with lightning spring on and off some 
unconscious, until startled, native's head, and 
regaining their tree or box with a grimace of en- 
joyment wliich reminds one of that of a small 
underbred boy. 

There are in Zambezin, in addition to the 
baboons, two or three types of monkeys which 
we may refer to as the grivet, Sykes' monkey, 
and that very handsome type the Samango. 

The Grivets are perhaps the most familiar of 
the three I have mentioned above. This is the 
small, grey, blackfaced animal, with a faintly 



THE GRIVET 251 

straw-coloured under-tingc, which becomes such 
an amusing and intelh'gent pet if kept in a suit- 
able place of confinement . He is full of life from 
morning to night, and never quiet for a moment. 
One of these small creatures was given to my wife 
by my friend Major Stevenson-Hamilton whilst 
we resided last year at Delagoa Bay, and during 
the remainder of our stay there was a source of 
continual amusement to us. Not more than half- 
grown at the time of his arrival, Algernon grew 
apace, and loved nothing so much as a little rough 
horse-play in the sand. As evening approached 
and the air grew cooler he would draw over his 
head and around his shoulders a small, very dirty 
piece of cloth which thus did duty as a sort of 
cape, holding it, until slumber relaxed his small 
fingers, tightly beneath his chin. Should a 
vagrant current of the afternoon breeze remove 
this coverlet to a point beyond his reach, his shrill 
and piercing lamentations would continue until 
it was restored to him, when, as the gloom 
deepened, he would" climb into his box clutching 
it nervously to him, and methodically i oiling it 
round him, compose himself to sleep. 

Throughout Zambezia grivets arc very com- 
mon, and their skins may frequently be seen in the 
possession of the natives. They do a good deal 
of damage, in common with other varieties, to 
the native gardens, which they despoil of grain, 
ground-nuts, and other produce. They are fre- 
quently seen in small parties in the branches of 
the mangrove trees which skirt the East African 
rivers, and in the forest itself may often be 



252 THE SAMANGO— LEMURS 

detected fleeing through the branches of the 
trees, which they agitate hke a strong wind. 

Sykes' Monkey is a comparative rarity. The 
only one I have seen was in captivity, in pos- 
session of a member of the numerous family of 
my old Portuguese friend Senhor Balthazar 
Farinha at Quelimane. Somewhat Iprger than 
the grivet, and with a much thicker and hand- 
somer coat, the colouring of this type is in every 
way richer, running in fine gradations from the 
reddish black of the lower portion of the back to 
a fine greenish tinge over the neck and shoulders. 

The Samango, of which I recently saw a 
particularly fine and remarkably tame specimen 
at the African Lakes Hotel at Chindc, is again, if 
I mistake not, larger than Sykes' variety. This 
really beautiful animal passed its days in the 
branches of a small tree in the back premises of 
the hotel, where, for hours at a time, it would 
swing backward and forward at the extremity of 
its generous tether. The general colour scheme 
is rich, glossy, dark steel-grey, with black head 
and limb extremities, the fur very soft and thick, 
and the features handsomer — if one may use 
sucli an expression in connection with a monkey 
— than are those of others of the smaller varieties. 
It lacks the velvety gradations of colour seen in 
Sykes' monkey, as also the bright blue scrotum of 
the more plainly apparelled grivet. 

A very pretty and interesting creature, which 
also makes a delightful pet, is the small, fluffy, 
wistful-looking Lemur. I believe in certain parts 
of Africa, notably the south, this small animal has 



LEMURS 253 

been not inappropriately named the *' Bush- 
baby," by reason of the resemblance of its cry 
to that of a newly-born infant feeling in need of 
the ministrations of its nurse. The lemur is 
extraordinarily soft and light, the fine, bluish- 
grey hair reminding one irresistibly of that of the 
chinchilla without the latter' s pronounced grey- 
ness. Nothing could exceed the dignified sedate- 
ness of these small creatures, nor the daintiness of 
their every movement. They can leap con- 
siderable distances in pursuit ot moths and other 
insects, alighting with a noiseless lightness in- 
credible in a creature unprovided with wings. 
One of these small animals which I possessed for 
a long time developed quite a touching tameness, 
and the only flaw in its otherwise irreproachable 
conduct was the inconsiderate manner with which 
it would occasionally leap from some high vantage 
ground upon the fez or shoulders of the native 
servants as they brought in afternoon tea. This 
arose from the leaper's fondness for milk, which he 
understood would now make its appearance ; but 
his impatience was on one occasion attended by 
most serious consequences, the nerve-shattered 
attendant upon whom he alighted dropping the 
tea-tray with dire consequences. 

In a wild state the lemurs spend most of their 
time in the trees. They are rarely seen moving 
owing to their nocturnal habits. During the 
night the small family leave their hollow tree- 
trunk, or other place of refuge, and move leisurely 
through the branches in search of the leaves which 
they particularly affect, and the resinous gum 



254 ANTHROPOID APES 

which exudes from the bark of certain trees, such 
as the acacia and others, which it varies oc- 
casionally when tempted by a nice, fat night 
moth. It is probable that many of these small 
creatures, particularly before reaching maturity, 
fall victims to the various types of owl which 
their cries must attract. 

As I remarked at the commencement of this 
chapter, it is a somewhat curious circumstance 
that in no part of East Africa, so far as we are at 
present aware, do we find any representatives of 
the great, and in some cases almost humanly in- 
telligent man-apes, or ape-men — I do not know 
which may be regarded as the more appropriate 
term — w^hich exist in Equatorial and certain other 
portions of West Africa. Chief among these is 
the gorilla, that enormous terrible type, standing 
in many cases over 6 feet in height, and prac- 
tising the power of walking erect to a greater 
extent perhaps than any other of the diverse 
families of what are in India so picturesquely 
designated the " monkey-people." Then another 
interesting absentee is the chimpanzee of Sierra 
Leone, Liberia, and other West African geo- 
graphical divisions. The " chimp," as he is in- 
variably called there, is so human, and recognises 
so quickly hi? relationship to the white man that 
at times, even it is said when newly captured, 
he has been known to make the greatest dis- 
tinction between the native and the European, 
regarding the latter, almost from the commence- 
ment of the acquaintanceship, with the utmost 
confidence, and forming for him an affection as 



CHIMPANZEES 255 

touching as it is strange. In this regard in- 
stances are not few in which, in a few weeks, these 
creatures are taught to sit and eat at table, using 
knife, fork, and glass with scrupulous correctness. 
It is further now a matter of almost common 
knowledge that this remarkable type of monkey 
so far resembles the most highly developed of his 
kind as to experience the emotions prompting to 
laughter and tears. Chimpanzees also sing and 
dance, and have oral methods of communicating 
definite meaning to others of their species. 
Several West African friends of mine who have 
owned chimpanzees are all agreed upon these 
points, and further assure me that they early 
learn to appreciate the custom of kissing, and cry 
bitterly it scolded for a fault. Whether the joys 
of osculation are mutual as between the chimp 
and his human trainer, I was not told. 

But, after all, I do not see why this should 
not be so. When one comes to consider the very 
small differences between so-called monkey and 
so-called man, much which we look upon in the 
former as abnormal and uncanny provides itself, 
to my mind, with a very clear and easy ex- 
planation. Take, for example, the fact of the 
possession of a tail. Even the highest form of the 
man of to-day possesses at birth — and naturally 
thereafter — attached to that large bone called 
the sacrum several — three or four — apparently 
unimportant vertebrae. They are, of course, 
sunk beneath the skin, but cases have not been 
wanting in the past of the birth of men-children 
possessing free and discernible tails. But if we 



256 SIMIAN SIMILARITIES 

should come to compare this curious condition of 
things with the structure of the chimpanzee, and 
possibly others of the larger apes, we should find 
that they possess the same rudimentary or atro- 
phied or hidden tail-bones as those found in the 
structure of man. Huxley has proved to de- 
monstration that, although the same peculiarity 
cannot be traced in the cases of other animals, 
every recognised bone and muscle and sinew and 
formation, even to the possession of a vermiform 
appendix, found in the larger apes, such as the 
gorilla and chimpanzee, are present also in the 
structure of man, with the exception of one or 
two small muscles in the human hand or foot — I 
forget which, but I think the latter, since it is a 
matter of scientific fact that the hand of the 
higher apes coincides in every respect with that 
of man. 

Then again take the question of hairiness. 
There are probably few among us who, stripping 
for a swim, or changing flannels in the club 
pavilion, have not remarked among our con- 
temporaries hairiness of body or limbs or both 
almost as great as would be found in the cases of 
some of the lower animals. There is, in my opin- 
ion, no reason for supposing that this hairiness 
may not at one time have been general in the race, 
whilst, if we come to examine the cranial forma- 
tion of the human being, and compare it with 
that of, say, the chimpanzee, we shall find that, 
apart from form, both possess to all intents and 
purposes the same peculiarities of structure, a 
similarity extending to the number, formation. 



SIMIAN SIMILARITIES 257 

and grouping of the teeth, which are the same in 
twentieth-century man as in the man-hke apes 
mentioned. Of course there are shght differences 
of form, but they only connect themselves with 
the size, length, and disposal of the larger canine 
teeth. 

I am afraid the foregoing remarks have but 
little in common with the purpose which this 
book originally set out to serve, namely, to de- 
scribe something of the wild animals of Zambezia, 
but to my idea the fascinating study of the 
evolution of our species, and of the peculiarities 
which characterise and bring near to us our more 
backward relations, is a subject upon which, in 
passing, I cannot refrain from writing a few words. 



CHAPTER XII 

CROCODILES, SNAKES, AND SOME OTHER 
REPTILES 

We now come to what it is, I think, impossible 
to refrain from regarding as the loathsome, ab- 
horrent, and repulsive among the inhabitants of 
this part of Africa — those revolting forms which 
Nature would seem to liave created in some 
regrettable moment of boundless vindictiveness, 
for the express purpose of surrounding the beauti- 
ful and useful members of the animal creation 
with the ever-present risk of a ghastly death by 
constriction, venom, or drowning. Were there 
traceable in this incomprehensible dispensation 
any beneficial or indeed intelligible purpose, any 
advantage to the many in the sacrifice of the few, 
the horrible mission of the reptiles might be 
understood and, to some slight extent perhaps, 
respected. But there is none whatsoever. When 
one comes to reflect upon the immense and lam- 
entable loss of human and animal life caused by 
the vast numbers of reptiles by which Africa is 
infested — a loss of life uncompensated by any 
single discoverable advantage, unrequited by the 
smallest benefit to those who survive — one fails 
hopelessly to comprehend their inclusion in the 

scheme of Nature, or to feel anything regarding 

258 



THE CROCODILE 259 

them other than vain regret that their numbers 
and varieties should to-day be to all intents and 
purposes just as great and numerous as at any 
period regarding which we possess reliable data. 

Another singular and incomprehensible fact 
connected with this subject is the length of the 
period of life assigned to certain members of the 
reptile families in comparison with that which the 
mammals enjoy. Take, for example, that hideous 
blot upon the creation, the crocodile. There can 
be little doubt that the life of this murderous pest 
is, in favourable conditions, far longer than that 
of any of the terrestrial animals, probably not 
even excepting the largest. The astonishing 
manner in which the crocodile's teeth renew 
themselves practically rejuvenates the reptile, 
and there can be no doubt that this marvellous 
continuous process of dental change goes on and 
on until the creature reaches an immense age, 
altogether, in the present state of our know- 
ledge, beyonjd computation. Scientists, even those 
possessed of special knowledge, can afford no 
insight into the question of how many times, or 
up to what age, the teeth of the crocodile renew 
themselves — in fact it may be taken as a fact 
that these are points regarding which science has 
nothing whatsoever to tell us. 

There is, I believe, only one kind of crocodile 
found in Africa,^ and this is thought by some 
writers to be identical with the type existing 
and exacting so heavy a tax upon human life in 

1 Since the foregoing was written I learn that West Africa 
possesses two forms of crocodile, with which I am unfamiliar. 



260 THE CROCODILE 

the rivers of our Indian Empire. Whatever 
may be the case in other parts of the continent, 
those existing in the Zambezi and its tributaries 
are not distinguished by extraordinary length, 
althougli at times the girth to which they attain 
is very considerable indeed. The measure- 
ments of the largest recovered by me from the 
great numbers I have destroyed were : length 
just over 17 ft., girth behind the fore-arms 
7 ft. 2 in. This, however, was an exceptionally 
large specimen, and was killed by me on the 
banks of the Urema River in Cheringoma in 1904, 
and was, I suppose, quite 3 ft. longer than the 
average length to which they attain in this part 
of Africa. The Urema, like all Portuguese East 
African streams, is full of crocodiles, many of 
which are of large size. At the point at which I 
shot the monster above referred to the river 
flows through an immense open plain destitute 
of] trees, but high grasses, papyrus rushes, and 
reeds, growing close to the water, and on wide 
flats extending for miles back from its banks, 
invest the whole region with a mournful air of 
extreme and depressing desolation. These flats 
become converted during many months of the 
year by rain and overflows into wide systems 
of impassable marsh. Through these wastes of 
high grass and reeds there used to be game 
tracks — narrow, tortuous ways followed in the 
dry weather by the large numbers of animals 
which at one time used the Urema as their 
daily watering-place. Following one of these 
one morning I was in time conducted to the 



THE CROCODILE 261 

river, flowing sluggishly behind low banks, which, 
nevertheless, concealed it until within a few 
yards. Glancing up and down the stream, I 
saw that at a short distance below me it de- 
scribed a sharp bend, the left margin jutting 
out in a shallow sand-bank midway across the 
river. Upon this, fast asleep in the sun, their 
serrated tails drawn just clear of the water and 
their terrible jaws wide open, reposed several 
large crocodiles. By making a quiet detour I 
reached a point a little above, and not more 
than 40 yards from the unsuspecting reptiles. 
My Lee-Metford bullet struck the one selected 
a little behind the eye, and carried away a large 
portion of the back of the skull. The only 
evidence that he had been hit lay in the immediate 
closing of the wide-open jaws. He lay perfectly 
still, whilst his companions gained the water in a 
great hurry to an accompaniment of hollow 
plunges. On opening him, the stomach was 
found to contain some water-buck meat and a 
little of the flesh of a mud-fish, but that he was a 
malefactor was evident from the much eroded 
remains of a copper or brass wire bangle found 
among several pounds of stones and pebbles of 
various sizes. The skull of this creature is still 
in my possession, and is a trophy of no small 
interest. A very singular characteristic of 
crocodiles is their astonishing nervous vitality. 
Until more than an hour after the death and 
dismemberment of the specimen above described 
the muscles continued to twitch and the heart to 
palpitate. Whilst struggling to remove the hard, 
i8 



262 THE CROCODILE 

thick skin of the upper portion of the body, 
this monster occasioned much alarm among 
such of my people as were engaged upon the task 
by making a most life-like nervous movement 
of the tail whilst practically in pieces, and with 
the whole of his inside removed. So sudden 
and violent was the movement as completely 
to trip up one of the operators, who fell under- 
neath the remains and yelled dismally for 
several moments in the full belief that his last 
hour had assuredly come. 

At the commencement of this chapter I 
made some reference to the peculiarities of 
crocodiles' teeth. These are sixty-eight in 
number, thirty-four in either jaw. They fit 
accurately into spaces provided for them above 
and below on the same principle as a rat-trap. 
The two largest teeth of the lower jaw, some 
3 inches in length, fit snugly into hollows pro- 
vided in the bone of the upper jaw. It is clear, 
therefore, that the crocodile's teeth are designed 
more for the purpose of seizing and holding his 
prey than for the ordinary purposes of food 
mastication, for which they appear to be entirely 
unsuited. It would thus seem that crocodiles, 
instead of feeding by the usual means of chewing 
their food, either tear it to pieces and bolt it in 
huge lumps, or swallow it whole. These teeth 
are hollow and, on becoming worn out, are 
pushed out of place by new ones which slowly 
form beneath to replace them. I have examined 
the teeth of a great many of these reptiles, but 
never remember to have seen one in a state 



THE CROCODILE 263 

indicating much wear, as is so frequently the 
case among the terrestrial animals of all kinds. 
At the extremities of the short forearms croco- 
diles are furnished with a hand -like foot terminat- 
ing in long claws sometimes fully 2 inches in 
length, which, it has been suggested, are used 
for holding their prey whilst with their teeth they 
tear and devour it. They carry four small 
glands of musk, two beneath the jaws and two 
a little in front of the hind legs, but though 
strong and of good quality I am unaware that 
the natives attach any value to it. Certain 
portions of the skin can be utilised for com- 
mercial purposes, but I fancy that only a very 
small percentage of the vast numbers of articles 
which are exhibited in Europe made apparently 
from the hides of these reptiles ever came from 
the body of any creature even remotely re- 
sembling them. 

Although not possessed of lungs of abnormal 
size, these weird types can apparently remain 
submerged for unlimited periods of time and, 
unlike the hippopotamus, on regaining the sur- 
face, renew their air supply without a sound, 
quietly and unostentatiously withdrawing from 
the surface obviously intent upon avoiding 
notice or remark. It has been suggested by 
other observers that the stones invariably found 
in the stomach of the crocodile are swallowed as 
in the cases of fowls and other birds for the 
purpose of assisting digestion. The natives 
of various parts of Africa, however, state 
that they are swallowed to assist the creature 



264 THE CROCODILE 

motionlessly to maintain its required or desired 
degree of submersion — in other words, as ballast. 
Now without being in a position personally 
to support either view, from the results of my 
own observation, I think, when regard is had 
to the immense potency of the crocodile's gastric 
fluid, that the idea would seem to have much to 
commend it. 

There can be, I imagine, little doubt that 
crocodiles hibernate. Certainly they do so in 
the '* tanks " of India, whilst when annually 
Lake Hardinge in British East Africa dries up, 
crocodiles are said to remain there in a state of 
torpor, half concealed in the mud, where they 
await the return of the rainy season. 

The crushing force of a crocodile's jaws is 
enormous. On the Zambezi I was once shown 
an ordinary galvanised iron bucket which, tied 
to a cord, is thrown into the river to draw water 
for deck washing and other similar purposes. 
This had been taken by a crocodile at Shupanga, 
and when recovered was quite flat, the bottom 
bent outward like a doubled piece of paper, and 
the sides pierced completely through by the 
merciless drill-like teeth. On another occasion 
one of my natives was drawing in a large barbel 
caught on an ordinary line when, as he described 
it, there was a rush and a swirl and he drew up 
about one-third of the fish, the remainder having 
been cut clean off by a single snap from a 
crocodile's jaws. I have also seen on several 
rivers halves and other portions of fish drifting 
down which could only have been separated 



THE CROCODILE 265 

from the missing sections by this cause. Of 
course the crocodile no doubt is an extensive 
fish-eater on those many occasions when he can 
get nothing else — indeed there are said, in portions 
of British East Africa, to be certain small lakes 
(Lake Baringo for example) containing these 
reptiles where it is perfectly safe to bathe as, 
owing to their invariable habit of devouring 
fish, they have never been known to take 
mammals of any description. Personally I 
must confess that I should not care, in the 
light of my knowledge of these creatures, to 
take the risk. But in crocodile-infested waters 
they may at times be watched in pursuit of the 
fish when, usually at early morning or late after- 
noon, these seek the landward shallows. Often, 
seated upon the river banks of several East 
African streams, at a respectful distance from the 
edge of the water be it understood, I have seen 
the crocodiles pursuing the teeming river fish, 
into the midst ot which they dash with great 
violence, so much so that it is no unusual 
occurrence for half a dozen or more of the 
affrighted creatures to leap clear of the water 
upon the sandy bank, there to fall an easy prey 
to the ever - present fishing eagles or to the 
omnivorous native. 

Possibly to the fact that these reptiles pursue ' 
the shoals into shallow water about the sunset 
hour may be due also the circumstance that just 
before and after nightfall is regarded as the time 
at which their attack is most to be feared. Then, 
as at early dawn, it is literally unsafe to stand 



266 THE CROCODILE 

within six or eight feet of the edge of the water un- 
less you are many feet above it. It is a generally 
admitted fact that the crocodile has a surprising 
power of seeing distant objects from under water, 
and once having marked down prospective prey, 
his method of procedure is one of the utmost cool- 
ness and the most methodical calculation. He 
rises so slowly and unobtrusively to the surface 
that only the eyes and crown of the head are 
exposed, and probably in nine cases out of ten 
these escape observation. Sinking once more he 
gradually and imperceptibly draws near to the 
unconscious object of his desires, which may 
be a native knee-deep performing his evening 
ablutions ; a woman, her sleeping child slung 
upon her back, filling the domestic water-pots ; an 
antelope drinking — all is grist to the devouring 
crocodile. Little by little, still invisible, that 
terrible dusky form glides slowly beneath the sur- 
face of the water, until, arrived fit a point but a 
few yards from its unsuspecting victim, there is 
suddenly a terrific, a lightning rush, a heavy 
splash, a wild, agonising scream, and — silence. A 
disturbance takes place out yonder in the deeper 
water, a hand and arm appear and disappear, a 
slight wave dances gently landward, and the 
eartlienware water-pots on the river bank are the 
sole evidence of a tragedy which is all too frequent. 
I have seen two persons thus taken, or rather 
I saw them and saw them no longer, so in- 
stantaneous was the ghastly incident ; but what 
is so terrible in such experiences is their hopeless- 
ness, the impossibility, though the victim were 



THE CROCODILE 267 

taken from your very side, of help or rescue. The 
last case I saw was particularly distressing. The 
man, a native, was in the act of washing in the 
shallows, as natives will, although fully aware of 
the dangers they risk in doing so, and I had 
actually turned to address a remark to the 
European upon whose veranda I was sitting, 
regarding the foolhardiness of the misguided 
bather. As I did so he uttered an exclamation, 
and leaped to his feet, and I looked back to the 
river just in time to hear a piteous scream and see 
a commotion in the deep water a few yards out 
from the river bank upon which the victim had 
been standing — just such an agitation as would 
be made by some huge fish swimming rapidly 
towards the centre. This died gradually away, 
and we realised that the poor fellow was indeed 
gone for ever. We rushed to the water's edge. 
There lay a red fez, and a small pile of clothing. 
The wide Zambezi flowed placidly at our feet and 
— that was all. The victim in this instance was 
my host's capitdo, or head plantation superin- 
tendent, and, he told me, a man who would be 
extremely difficult to replace ; but what doubtless 
contributed in this as in hundreds of other 
cases to the fatal issue is the blind faith the ill- 
advised victim as usual reposed in the efficacy of 
some charm purchased, probably at no little 
cost, from a local medicine man and guaranteed to 
render him immune to crocodiles, as well as to 
other perils of African daily life. Over and over 
again I have questioned natives as to the meaning 
of some row of little pieces of reeds or bark or 



268 THE CROCODILE 

bones, strung together round their necks or wrists 
or about their bodies, and if they have known me 
well enough to unbosom themselves of the seeret, 
they have replied quite quietly and frankly, but 
with an unshakable air of steady conviction, that 
it was a charm rendering bullets powerless, or 
wild beasts blind, or the wearer invisible, or some 
similar rubbish — virtues in which most South 
Central Africans have the blindest faith, which no 
words of mine could discourage for an instant. 
Thus it is, without question, that, with a con- 
fidence in their superstition not wholly destitute 
of pathos, they sacrifice themselves daily to the 
horrible monsters which inhabit in unsuspected 
numbers almost every African creek and water- 
way. 

The boldness of crocodiles at times is in- 
conceivable. Captain Ross, of one of the Flotilla 
Company's Zambezi steamers, lost the coxswain 
of one of his barges, who was taken in the act of 
micturition w^hilst crouching upon one of the 
barge's rudder pintles, and this whilst the steamer 
was under way in the Shire River. A case oc- 
curred in the Ruo stream near Chiromo of a 
native being swept from the stern of his 
canoe by a blow from a crocodile's tail, and in- 
stances are not wanting of persons standing or 
walking several feet from the water's edge being 
thrown down in a similar manner and carried off. 
In very few instances, where the reptile gets a 
good hold, is escape possible, unless it be a young 
one of small size. As I think I have pointed out 
elsewhere, the teeth of these creatures are 



THE CROCODILE 269 

specially designed for holding, and their tenacity 
is such that they will frequently allow themselves 
to be drawn from the water and speared rather 
than loosen that terrible, remorseless grip. One 
or two cases, however, of escape from crocodiles 
are within my recollection. One was that of a 
Blantyrc Mission boy who was seized in the Shire 
River near Katungas. Fortunately he was en- 
abled to grasp a neighbouring tree branch, and 
no doubt his assailant was of small size. In any 
case he held on, yelling loudly for help, which 
luckily came in the nick of time. The second 
case was less fortunate, for ..although delivered 
from the jaws of the crocodile in circumstances 
similar to those described in the preceding in- 
stance, the unhappy native died under the 
anaesthetic employed in the amputation which his 
injuries rendered necessary. 

In crossing African rivers known to be haunted 
by crocodiles the safest plan, although one not 
always effective, is to do so accompanied by a 
number of natives splashing and shouting loudly. 
I remember on one occasion having to ford the 
Urema River in Cheringoma together with about 
forty carriers and servants. The water was about 
waist-deep, and as we glanced up and down the ill- 
omened stream we could see the horrible coffin- 
shaped heads of at least a dozen large crocodiles 
both above and below us. Before venturing 
into the water I fired several shots from a mag- 
azine rifle, and made my men shout loudly and 
together. The heads withdrew and we began the 
crossing. I was shouldered over by two stalwart 



270 THE CROCODILE 

Shangans, and when about half-way I saw to my 
alarm that the crocodiles' heads had reappeared, 
and seemed if anything rather nearer than before. 
Raising my rifle, therefore, I fired at the nearest, 
and the next moment my two carriers and myself 
were lying in a struggling heap in the bottom of 
the river. Startled by my shot they dropped me, 
and then in an access of nervousness fell over on 
the top of me. However, we were soon out and, 
to my inexpressible relief, none of my people were 
missing, so the rest was of no importance ; but 
I have never seen a more unpleasant sight than 
those grim heads regarding us on either hand as 
we shouted and splashed our way across the 
crocodile-infested waters of the Urema. 

The females of these ill-devised creatures lay 
about fifty or sixty eggs, burying them rather more 
than a foot deep in the sand bordering the waters 
they frequent, the localities being plainly identi- 
fiable by the marks of their belly-scales and claw 
excavations. The egg is white, about the same 
size as a duck's egg, and almost spherical. The 
young are hatched out by the warmth of the sun's 
rays, and the tiny creatures, only a few inches 
long, take immediately to water, most of them 
to find sanctuary in the omnivorous and canni- 
balistic stomachs of one or other of their own 
species. These eggs are greatly prized as articles 
of diet by certain tribes, but I do not know up to 
what stage of the young crocodile's unhatched 
existence. 

A somewhat amusing experience befell one 
of my officials when I was serving in 1912 at the 



THE SNAKES 271 

British Consulate at Louren^o Marques. This 
gentleman, who has many friends scattered over 
South Africa, was one day the recipient of a small 
wooden box which, a letter received by the same 
post informed him, contained several crocodile's 
eggs. Being an uninquisitive person of singularly 
placid and insouciant temperament, he allowed 
the box and its contents to repose for some days 
unopened beneath the shadow of an office or 
other table. One drowsy afternoon our friend's 
attention, not being for the moment monopolised 
by an overburdening amount of work, was 
gradually attracted to a curious, inexplicable, 
scratching, rustling sound, as elusive and as 
difficult to locate as that of a midnight mouse 
gnawing the skirting - board. The obstinate 
continuation of this monotonous noise placing 
further repose out of the question, efforts were 
made to ascertain its cause, and after a pro- 
longed search it was found, I think several days 
later, to proceed from the identical box wherein 
the crocodile's eggs were enclosed. This was 
at last cautiously opened, whereupon several 
of the eggs were found to have hatched out. 
The small reptiles, exceedingly active and no 
doubt very hungry, were speedily placed in an 
improvised pond where, the last time I saw 
them, they appeared to be doing uncommonly 
well. 

Among African snakes I suppose the most 
justly dreaded of all is the deadly Mamba, which 
is found, happily not in very great numbers, 
throughout the valley of the Zambezi, and there- 



272 THE SNAKES 

fore all over the area witli which these pages 
connect themselves. 

The mambas which I have seen and killed 
in Zambezia were, on the average, about 7 or 8 
feet long. In some cases of a dull, greenish 
black ; in others of a fine transparent green. 
This curious variation of colour, however, is 
believed to be only indicative of the reptile 
having recently sloughed his skin ; the newly 
acquired integument gradually darkening in 
colour until the characteristic hue of what is 
somewhat unnecessarily called the " black 
mamba " is attained. Beneath the belly these 
snakes are white. 

The mamba is an appallingly venomous 
reptile, its bite being said to be followed by 
certain death in from ten to twenty minutes. 
Apparently this creature spends as much time 
in the branches of trees as upon the earth's 
surface ; especially is this the case in the spring 
and early summer, when, doubtless, it subsists 
largely upon the young birds at that time leaving 
the parent nests. Mambas travel through the 
leafy branches at an astonishingly rapid pace ; 
where the trees are continuous they pass from 
one to another with a smooth, speedy, gliding 
motion which must be seen to be appreciated. 
On land their method of progression, with about 
one-third of the body raised from the ground, is 
so swift that the fleetest runner, if followed by 
them, would have but little if any chance of 
escape. Fortunately, however, mambas, like 
all other inhabitants of the wilds — if we except 



THE SNAKES 273 

certain unpleasant insects — do not seek human 
society. Except in cases where the biped 
intruder blunders into the vicinity of a nest, 
or finds himself between the creature and its 
hole, it will practically always retire. 

The recorded cases of the deaths which have 
taken place as the result of the bites of mambas 
are not, 1 believe, very numerous. Certainly, 
during the whole of my many years of service 
in Africa, I have never heard of an authenticated 
case of loss from snake-bite of any kind of human 
life. The only casualty from this cause which 
1 have actually seen was the death of a pig in 
the outskirts of a native village near Tete, the 
perpetrator of the tragedy (which I did not see) 
being described to me as a reptile whose peculi- 
arities coincided exactly with those of the mamba. 
In this case certainly death was very rapid. 

But what renders the name of this snake so 
dreaded by Europeans and natives alike is the 
certainty that death must ensue from the 
injection of its venom. In the cases of nearly 
all other poisonous reptiles, such, for instance, 
as the puff-adder and, in some cases, I believe, 
the African cobra, the bites of these creatures 
are often, but by no means always, followed by 
a fatal result ; but the mamba is more thorough, 
and from the punctures of its fangs there is no 
escape. 

The head of this serpent is small, as, indeed, 
is the girth of its entire body. The poison, 
contained in glands above and on each side of 
the root of the tongue, is injected through two 



274 THE SNAKES 

hollow fangs which, in the act of striking, arc 
thrown forward in the jaw and project 
momentarily from it.^ On the reptile's head 
recovering itself after the blow, these fangs fly 
back, and are restored to their normal position 
pointing to the back of the throat. I do not 
think that the natives of Zambezia extract and 
utilise snake poison as is done in other parts of 
the continent and elsewhere for the poisoning of 
arrows and other unpleasant purposes, nor are 
they aware of any special remedies for snake- 
bite such as have made quite a small reputation 
for themselves in certain parts of South Africa. 
They certainly apply messy-looking decoctions 
of herbs to the part bitten, but I should, 1 fear, 
have but little faith in the efficacy of their 
ministrations in case of necessity. 

The Python, compared with the form we have 
just been considering, is a comparatively innocent 
and harmless creature, although perhaps he may 
not look it. Pythons in Zambezia, especially in 
Shupanga Forest, in Cheringoma, and in some of 
the rocky streamways of Gorongoza, grow to 
great and impressive size ; one shot by me some 
years ago on the Mudi stream near Blantyre, in 
the Nyasaland Protectorate, measuring a little 
over 20 feet in length by possibly 30 inches in 
girth at the thickest point. Pythons love cool, 
dim forest, or rocky, mountainous surroundings, 
and are rarely found very far from w^ater. I 
remember seeing one swimming strongly and well 
in the Zambezi River a little above Mozambique 

^ By means of opening the jaws to their widest extent. 



THE SNAKES 275 

Island in the Lupata Gorge. From time to time 
it immersed itself completely, but the greater 
part of the distance over which I traced it the 
head was held clear of the surface. On land 
they are slow and, unlike the mambas, move 
apparently at the expense of no little effort ; 
but they delight in water, wherein they spend a 
great portion of their time, and whence they 
seize and capture no small proportion of their 
prey. These creatures are not unhandsome in 
appearance, and stand at the head of the seventy 
per cent, or so of African snakes which possess 
no venom. They kill their prey entirely by 
constriction. It consists of small animals, birds, 
and, at times it must be confessed, children. 
I never heard of a full-grown man or woman 
being taken by a python, but I have actually 
conversed with the parents of a small child who 
met his death near a village in the Barue from this 
cause. They informed me that the poor little 
creature, who used to play all day long at a reed- 
bordered stream which flowed past their village, 
was one day missed and the inhabitants turned 
out to search for him. The quest continued for 
nearly two days, when a large gorged python 
was discovered concealed in a reed-patch. It 
was killed without difficulty and the body of the 
missing child, already a mass of decomposition, 
was removed from it. Ordinarily, however, I 
do not think it is usual for any animal larger 
than a duiker or small reedbuck to be found in a 
python. Once seized, the great snake rapidly 
coils itself round the victim's body and proceeds 



276 THE SNAKES 



\. 



gradually and methodically to squeeze the life 
out of it. Just how long this dreadful process 
takes must depend largely upon the age and 
vitality ot the creature caught, but I do not 
suppose many minutes would elapse before the 
unrecognisably crushed form was ready for the 
gradual process of deglutition. The python 
can, of course, in lean times, abstain from food 
without apparent serious consequences for many 
months at a time ; but how long it takes him 
to get rid of a good-sized animal by the process 
of digestion I am unable to say. Certain it is, 
however, that while thus gorged he is wholly 
helpless, and may fall a victim to one or several 
of many enemies, foremost among which are the 
mungooses and those terrible insects the driver 
ants. I have heard the natives say that pythons, 
before embarking on the risks inseparable from 
one of their periodical feasts, will quarter the 
country for days to assure themselves that there 
are no drivers, holding these frightful creatures 
apparently in the greatest dread. How this 
interesting practice has been ascertained I have, 
of course, no means of knowing, but it is some- 
what curious that both in East and West Africa 
the story is believed. In their ungorged and 
therefore presumably hungry condition pythons, 
although not difficult to capture, assume at times 
an extremely unpleasant not to say threatening 
aspect as, with head raised and thrown back and 
the uncomfortable-looking inward curved teeth 
displayed, they regard one with sinister glance and 
low menacing hiss. 



THE SNAKES 277 

Although they invariably retreat before man 
with all the small amount of celerity which Nature 
has bestowed upon them, these reptiles are by no 
means averse to taking up their abode in the 
vicinity of human habitations, being doubtless 
attracted thereto by the fowls and domestic ani- 
mals, which afford them a moderate certainty of 
plenty with a minimum of effort. Dogs, cats, and 
fowls begin then mysteriously to disappear, and 
continue to do so until the marauder is discovered, 
probably in the space between the flooring boards 
and the ground without which few houses in the 
interior ot Africa are considered to be properly 
built. If the new-comer should unguardedly ask 
what this ill-devised space is for he will probably 
be contemptuously told that it is for fresh air and 
ventilation, and will retire feeling rather crushed. 
If this should be the case, all I can say is that the 
advantages mentioned must be obtained at no 
small cost, for I find as a rule that little by little 
this ventilation space degenerates into a squalid 
rubbish-heap, the happy hunting ground of rats, 
snakes, cockroaches, and specimens of many 
species of the countless types of spiteful and 
noxious vermin with which poor Africa has been 
so richly — so undeservedly — endowed. 

Exactly what is the amount of constriction 
which pythons can exert is not known. Oc- 
casionally they are disturbed in this portion of the 
preparations for their melancholy feast, and more 
than once the victim has been snatched from their 
jaws in the very nick of time. I think it was my 
old friend Pere Torrens of the Franciscan Mission 
19 



278 THE SNAKES 

Station at Shupanga who told me that on one 
occasion a dog to which he was much attached 
was heard at some short distance from the 
Mission's well-known vegetable garden, yelping 
pjteously as though in great trouble. Hastening 
to the spot, it was found in the grip of a medium- 
sized python, which was immediately killed. The 
dog's body showed signs of severe crushing, prac- 
tically all the ribs being broken. It was still alive, 
but so terribly had the organs of the body been 
displaced by the appalling pressure to which they 
had been subjected that it was deemed necessary 
to put it out of its pain. 

Returning to the venomous varieties, probably 
the most dangerous and dreaded among the 
poisonous snakes, after the mamba, is the 
common Black-necked Cobra. This very hand- 
some snake is neither so large nor so deadly as the 
variety mentioned, rarely reaching a length of 
more than 6 or 7 feet. 1 do not know whether 
its relationship to its Indian namesake is pro- 
claimed by any other peculiarities than the 
characteristic hood which it raises by swelling out 
the skin of the neck when angry or disturbed. 
These snakes are very fond of rats, and of the 
eggs and young of domestic fowls. In the cold 
weather they have an undesirable habit of coming 
into outhouses, and sometimes into the ceilings 
of the main dwelling. When I resided at Blan- 
tyre in the early nineties, officials of the Govern- 
ment were not lodged so luxuriously as they are at 
present. For some months I occupied two rooms 
adjoining the Court House over which I presided, 



THE SNAKES 279 

a building constructed of crumbling sun-dried 
brick, the ceilings of which, in pathetic imitation 
of the white ceilings of Europe, were made of 
white calico, and swayed up and down in the 
slightest breeze. The entire building was infested 
by rats of large size and bold demeanour, who 
gibbered at one as one lay in bed, and generally 
made things uncomfortable. More than once I 
have distinctly seen making its way across my 
calico ceiling the sinuous form of a rat-pursuing 
snake, which I have no doubt was a black-necked 
cobra. It was an unhappy feeling to follow the 
course of this reptile in the calico, harassed, as 
one could not help feeling, by a lurking doubt as 
to whether, after some years of use, the texture 
of the ceiling was sufficiently strong to support 
the ill-omened thing which visibly squirmed 
across it. On occasion they will seek still closer 
acquaintanceship with human beings, a striking 
illustration of this tendency being the painful 
experience of a lovable old Blantyre Mission lady 
who, on turning down the sheets preparatory 
to getting into her comfortable bed, therein dis- 
covered one of these ambitious reptiles. 

The black-necked cobra, like the South African 
ringhals, possesses also the power of spitting its 
venom, with which it can strike an opponent — 
usually aiming for the eye — at a distance of two or 
three yards, or perhaps more, setting up an unbear- 
ably painful inflammation which, if no aid be near, 
may well cost the sight of one or both eyes, and 
in any case leaves effects which do not wear off 
for several weeks. I have been informed that the 



280 PUFF-ADDERS 

appearance of the poison as it leaves the cobra's 
mouth is similar to that which would be presented 
by a tiny jet of colourless fluid projected with 
great force from a hypodermic syringe. 

Another extremely unpleasant and very 
common type of reptile is the somewhat sluggish 
but very venomous Puff-adder. These semi- 
torpid, rather prettily marked creatures only 
achieve a length of about 3 feet, but are broad 
and corpulent in proportion. Their venom is said 
to be only occasionally fatal to human beings, but 
is probably invariably so to the small mammals 
and batrachians which form its staple diet. They 
are very fond of taking refuge from the cold in 
travellers' clothing and blankets, in the folds of 
the tent curtain, or any corner which promises 
warmth and shelter. They love to lie extended 
in native paths and game tracks, and administer 
— if nothing worse — many a shock to the nerves 
of human beings advancing, i t may be, somewhat 
carelessly through the bush. I suppose their 
powers of hearing must be poor, and thus they 
are, unlike other reptiles, unaware of the approach 
of an intruder until he is close at hand, when they 
utter a low threatening hiss and strike, if the 
opportunity present itself, with lightning speed 
and serious result. More than once in my 
African outhouses I have had unexpected and 
extremely unwelcome meetings with puff-adders, 
one of which succeeded in striking me, but luckily 
on a thick leather shooting-boot. Dogs fre- 
quently fall victims to their bites. A very hand- 
some, well-bred Irish terrier belonging to a friend 



OTHER REPTILES 281 

of mine at Beira was killed by a puff-adder 
during an evening stroll ; he lived some hours 
afterwards but, in spite of every effort and the 
ministrations of two doctors, finally succumbed. 
In another instance a very smart little pony, the 
property of a Swiss gentleman of my acquaintance 
at Quelimane, met with a similar fate from the 
same cause. 

There are one or two other venomous adders 
of smaller size which are capable of inflicting 
painful and dangerous if seldom fatal bites. 

In the Nyasaland Protectorate, however, and 
doubtless in parts of the adjoining Portuguese 
Sphere, there is the persistent rumour of an 
arboreal snake which the natives certainly regard 
with such dread that nothing would induce them 
to go within a long distance of their reputed 
haunts. I refer to this creature, I must confess, 
with some diffidence, for an allusion to it con- 
tained in one of my previous books was received 
with so much wonder, not to say amusement, that 
it almost cost me my reputation for seriousness ; 
but, let doubters and cavillers say what they 
will, I am nevertheless satisfied, first from the 
unanimity of detail with which native report 
describes the creature, and secondly from the 
statements made to me by a cautious Scots 
cleric on the subject, that this reptile exists, and 
that one day his scientific name, almost as long 
and far more unsightly than his stuffed carcase, 
will be duly chronicled in the list of African 
reptiles. 

The snake in question would appear to be 



282 THE " SONGO " 

something akin to our conception of the cocka- 
trice, and is said to possess a red comb upon its 
head, and to have the unusual power of pro- 
ducing at will a curious melancholy, metallic 
cry. A description given to me many years ago 
by the Rev. D. C. Ruffelle-Scott of the Church 
of Scotland Mission, than whom no more 
scrupulously accurate person ever entered 
Nyasaland, of an experience in the course of 
which he caught sight of one of these creatures, 
was that of a snake of bright green colour, not 
more than 7 or 8 feet long, but of great and 
almost disproportionate girth, which moved 
through the branches with wonderful speed, and 
successfully stampeded every carrier who 
accompanied him. My informant was unable 
to vouch for the comb upon the reptile's head, 
not did he hear its not unmusical cry, but he was 
fully convinced during the remainder of his life 
that this was the semi-legendary tree snake so 
firmly believed in by the Nyasaland natives 
from the north of Lake Nyasa to the most 
southerly boundary of that fascinating colony. 

In his book, Nyasaland under the Foreign 
Office, Mr. H. L. Duff mentions having heard the 
cry of some creature which his terrified servants 
assured him was that of the " Songo," a serpent 
" with a head like a cock," and he adds that all 
the natives in the district of Livingstonia pro- 
fessed the greatest dread of the creature ; whilst, 
if further 'prima facie evidence be wanting, he 
tells us that a Mr. Murray of the Livingstonia 
Mission informed him that a native stated to 



LIZARDS 283 

have been struck by a " Songo " was on one 
occasion admitted to the Mission, where he died 
shortly afterwards in great agony. 

I myself have on several occasions found my 
natives refuse to proceed in a given direction 
across country for the same reason, namely, 
that it was the haunt of the '* Songo." More 
than once I have left them behind, and alone and 
unaccompanied have endeavoured to solve the 
mystery surrounding this snake, but, unhappily, 
without success. For all that, however, I am 
convinced that there is foundation for the per- 
sistent reports of this creature's existence, and I 
confess that I would give much to have an 
opportunity of clearing the matter up. 

Zambezia contains numerous lizards, the 
largest of which, commonly called the iguana, 
reaches at times to a length of 4 or 5 feet. This 
creature is more or less amphibious, and is 
never found very far from water. There are, 
in addition, several very beautifully coloured 
lizards, foremost among which the agama, 
brilliant in blue and yellow, and the grey and 
olive green rock lizards, bask all day in the hot 
sunshine. Then there are the large-headed 
arboreal geckos, scarcely distinguishable from 
the bark of the trees up which they dart, and 
many others. 

Land and water tortoises are fairly numerous, 
and greatly liked by the natives as articles of 
food. Great care should be exercised in handling 
the latter, as they are vicious creatures, and can 
administer a terrible bite. 



CHAPTER XIII 

RIFLES : AMMUNITION : CAMP EQUIPMENT : 
GENERAL HINTS 

On a hunting expedition of whatsoever duration 
the choice of suitable arms, ammunition, and 
camp equipment must always be the chief factor 
in the success or failure of the enterprise, and 
although in other and more detailed works on 
the subject than this can claim to be the subject 
has been ably dealt with, improvements, never- 
theless, succeed each other nowadays with such 
rapidity that what is dernier cri to-day may 
easily be outclassed to-morrow. 

Few persons who have not paid the price of 
experience on one or more protracted African 
journeys either of business or pleasure realise 
the importance of the little things which mean 
so much when one is far from the last centre 
where they could have been procured ; and 
certainly fewer still of those who have antici- 
pated with satisfaction a period of unshaven, 
uncollared freedom, and the reputed joys of 
" roughing it," would believe how seldom these 
joys as such prolong themselves beyond the first 
week or so, and how much more rarely after the 
first sharp attack of fever. And so, in addition 

to descanting to the best of my knowledge upon 

284 



FIREARMS 285 

the more indispensable elements, I shall en- 
deavour, from recollections of the occasions 
when I myself wished that I had them, to in- 
corporate a few remarks upon what 1 can only 
refer to en masse as those precious little things 
which matter so much. 

The question of firearms leads one insensibly 
to cast a backward glance at the astonishing 
evolution of the modern arm which has taken 
place within the recollection of contemporary 
hunters. Writing as recently as 1890, Sir 
Samuel Baker recommended to persons con- 
templating a hunting expedition to Africa a 
battery consisting of two double-barrelled 8-bore 
rifles, firing a charge of 14 drams of black powder 
and a three-ounce bullet of hardened metal. 
One of these was to be the rifle for every-day use — 
the sort of little toy that the sportsman would 
pick lightly up and tuck under his arm when he 
went for a stroll whilst his meal was being got 
ready ; but did he require anything really 
formidable, something capable of administering 
a still greater shock, his attention was directed 
to a single-barrelled rifle " weighing 22 lbs.," and 
sighted most accurately to 400 yards. This 
frightful weapon, designed to be fired if necessary 
from a tripod, was built to carry a half-pound 
steel shell containing a bursting charge of half 
an ounce of fine grain powder, and the propelling 
charge was sixteen drams of black powder. 

Turning from these appalling pieces of 
ordnance of almost the other day, and glancing 
through an illustrated catalogue oi modern 



286 FIREARMS 

high velocity arms, the rapidity with which, step 
by step, the present light, powerful, perfectly 
balanced and accurately sighted rifle has been 
reached is comparable only to the astonishing 
improvement in the ammunition of the present 
day. Naturally the preponderating amount of 
credit for this truly marvellous result is accorded 
quite justly to the persevering gunmaker ; but 
no small share in the responsibility is due to quite 
another person, namely, to the man who buys 
and uses the arm when completed, and whose 
experiences with it enable him to offer sug- 
gestions for future embodiment in a more perfect 
weapon. 

Twenty years ago, the expresses and the old 
Martini '450 were just being superseded by the 
smaller, lighter, handier Lee-Metford. Men of 
my acquaintance who had shot for years with 
heavy, punishing express rifles of -400, -450, -500, 
and '577 were amazed at the accuracy and pene- 
tration of the neat, comparatively tiny '303 
cartridge, and its success as a sporting arm was 
rapid and overwhelming. The immense advan- 
tage of cordite as a propulsive force was at once 
understood and appreciated. The practical 
elimination of the old cumbersome back-sight by 
the flat trajectory afforded by the use of the new 
powder was in itself an unhoped for revelation. 
What did it matter whether the beast stood at 
100 or 150 or 200 yards ? One fixed sight and a 
straight-held rifle were capable of doing all that 
had previously demanded anxious and accurate 
estimates of distances and a careful adjustment of 



FIREARMS 287 

sights thereafter. Then think of the unaccus- 
tomed absence of smoke ; of having no longer, 
after a shot in the damp, hanging mists of early 
morning, to peer anxiously through the smoky 
curtain beyond which, for all you knew to the 
contrary, an enraged beast might be in the act of 
furiously charging. No, the introduction of cor- 
dite marked an epoch as important in its way as 
those which transformed flintlock into percussion, 
or the insertion of the charge from the muzzle to 
the breech. 

But we have advanced so far along the road 
towards perfection in firearms that many have 
perhaps overlooked the fact that what led to the 
crowning triumph of the gunmaker's art which is 
placed in our hands to-day was not the study of 
rifling or barrel construction, but the perfecting, 
after years of heart-breaking experiment, of the 
modern elongated bullet. The first really suc- 
cessful bullet for fairly long ranges was, I suppose, 
the old Martini -450. It was as superior to the 
Snider, which it practically put out of business, 
as was the latter to the projectile used in the old 
Brown Bess. By its apparently disproportionate 
length it was not only more satisfactorily gripped 
by the barrel than was the shorter bullet, but 
enabled considerable and important modifications 
to be made in the rifling itself. Since it made 
its appearance we have had all sorts of extra- 
ordinary bullets invented, some almost as long 
as a waistcoat-pocket pencil, some pointed and 
some hollow-pointed, some copper-capped and 
some lead-nosed, but never have any of these 



288 CHOICE OF WEAPONS 

sacrificed by so much as an iota the length of body 
which conferred upon them their immense range, 
fiat trajectory, and tremendous muzzle velocity. 
It is, I think, no small stride to have increased 
within living memory the flight of a rifle bullet 
from the 1650 feet per second of the old '577 
express, to the 3500 feet per second of the modern 
cordite-propelled projectile; and although it is as 
unsafe as it is undesirable to dogmatise upon a 
matter such as this, where constant experiment 
aims at still higher things, it is perhaps probable 
that, in point of killing efficiency, the game rifle 
of to-day is almost as near perfection as it is 
destined to reach. 

Glancing now at the question of the arms with 
which shooting in Africa should to-day be under- 
taken, it is, of course, difficult if not impossible to 
lay down any definite rule. Opinion upon these 
points is extremely divided, and a weapon which 
in the hands of one man would prove all that was 
desired, might in those of another be found dis- 
appointingly ineffective. Still, generally speak- 
ing, in the selection of a battery the following 
elementary considerations should be carefully 
borne in mind. First of all the character of the 
game likely to be encountered. In the case of 
beasts of dangerous type and great vitality, it is 
obviously essential to be provided with at least 
one weapon which combines great penetration 
with tremendous shock. Penetration alone, in 
the cases ot animals from which a charge may be 
expected, is by no means the only quality for 
which to bargain ; what is far more necessary is 



CHOICE OF WEAPONS 289 

the power to inflict a smashing, demoraHsing blow 
capable of removing from the beast struck the 
smallest interest in subsequent events. To effect 
this it is essential that the bullet should remain in 
its body, and not pass completely through it. If 
it remain within, the entire propulsive force be- 
hind it is felt by the creature against which it is 
directed ; but should it penetrate the resisting 
body and pass on beyond it, threading its way 
through the unresisting flesh like a needle, the 
power which forces it through follows it, and is 
entirely wasted. To deal with this problem, 
especially in the cases of beasts of thin skin and 
great vitality, a variety of bullets have been 
invented capable of satisfactorily coping with any 
of them : solid and nickel-covered for hard-skinned 
animals of large size ; hollow-pointed and side- 
split for thin-skinned ruminants and the large 
carnivora ; and a variety of others too numerous 
to mention, from the sharp-nosed speciality of the 
•280 Ross rifle, to the copper-capped deadliness 
of this and the various forms of Mauser and 
others. 

But a consideration of great importance, and 
one which should in no case be lost sight of, is 
that of the weight of the weapon considered in 
relation to the physique of the individual by whom 
it is to be used. Clearly a heavy double rifle, such 
as many still in use, would greatly and painfully 
tax the powers of a small man of strength below 
the average, and might so weary him that at the 
crucial moment his powers of using it might be 
insufficient for the purpose. Double-barrelled 



290 CHOICE OF WEAPONS 

rifles, except in the case of the small, handy- 
double '303, are usually heavy by reason of the 
great reinforcement required at the breech ; but 
I have always used them in preference to arms of 
the light magazine type, for I have held the opinion 
that, no matter how many cartridges your maga- 
zine may contain, the hunter armed with his 
double weapon is tjie better armed of the two. 
He has two shots in the delivery of which he can 
be as deliberate or as rapid as he chooses. There 
is no occasion for hurry as in the case of the 
magazine, and, to me, the most important con- 
sideration of all is that your second shot is 
delivered without the loss of a moment, or at 
times without disturbing the alignment which 
follows the necessary removal of the magazine 
rifle from the shoulder. I cannot, moreover, 
refrain from the view that, in the case of young 
and excitable men, the consciousness of a maga- 
zine full of cartridges upon which to draw pro- 
duces a carelessness which may simply wound 
instead of cleanly killing, and may permanently 
impair the individual's shooting. 

Personally, I have always proceeded on the 
principle of furnishing myself with one good, 
sound, all-round rifle, and holding a heavier second 
in reserve in case of emergency, and I think my 
views in this regard coincide with those of most of 
my contemporaries. For a long time my battery 
consisted of a double '303 by Holland & Holland, 
which I found, during the fourteen years it re- 
mained in my possession, an absolutely perfect 
model of precision of workmanship. This, with 



CHOICE OF WEAPONS 291 

a double -500 express, and backed by a double 
8-bore firing a bullet of 1164 grains of solid lead, 
propelled by 10 drams of black powder, constituted 
my collection of rifles for big-game shooting, and 
they were supplemented by a good, stoutly built 
shot-gun and a rook-rifle for small antelope and 
large birds impenetrable to shot. In course of 
time I discarded the -303 for the '450 cordite, 
a magnificent weapon, and capable of dealing 
effectively with any animal on earth. This, how- 
ever, I found extremely heavy to carry, and, in 
my final journey, I found that, so remarkably 
had the craft of the gunsmith advanced, I was en- 
abled to effect the most satisfactory results with a 
double -375. If I should again hunt big game in 
Africa, I would only take two rifles, a double 
•350 and a double '500, and these I have no 
hesitation in recommending to any one who may 
be contemplating a journey into the interior for 
sporting purposes. It is some years now since 
I used my old 8-bore, and 1 do not think, con- 
sidering the immense power of the '500 cordite 
rifle, that I should feel inclined to subject myself 
again to its appreciable recoil ; but for all that I 
have a keen recollection of the comfort I have 
derived from the consciousness, in moments of 
uncertainty, that it was ready at my back, neither 
am I unmindful that on one occasion at least the 
old 8-bore undoubtedly relieved me from a situa- 
tion of some precariousness. Let it not, however, 
be forgotten that the weapon weighed something 
over 19 lbs., and required some strength of fore- 
arm for its effective use. 



292 AMMUNITION 

Ammunition must be fresh. I do not know 
whether the last year may have produced a cor- 
dite impervious to the considerable variations 
of temperature inseparable from the African 
climate, but I fear not. That the efficiency of 
one's cordite ammunition is thus varied there can 
be no shadow of doubt, in fact I have had occasion 
to observe it on more occasions than one. I 
would, therefore, impress upon new-comers — and 
some old ones for the matter of that — the ad- 
visability of conveying as much of the stock of 
cartridges as possible in their original stout tin- 
lined ammunition case. On hunting days a 
sufficiency may be taken out for conveyance in 
the belts or bags, but on return the remaining 
rounds should be at once replaced in their original 
shelter, and not left lying about in the sun, or 
exposed to unnecessary heat. For road journeys, 
involved by the shifting of camp, enough am- 
munition can readily be stowed away in the 
pockets, or in a small cartridge bag, for all prob- 
able contingencies ; but a most important con- 
sideration, and one I fear too frequently neglected, 
is the golden rule, not of keeping your powder 
dry, but of keeping your cordite cool. 

Shot-gun ammunition is not nearly so sus- 
ceptible to temperature, even when loaded with 
the now almost universally used nitro powders. 
A tew hundreds of these should be taken loaded 
with No. 3, No. 6, and AAA shot, the last 
mentioned in wire cages. Of the three sizes 
mentioned No. 6 should predominate, for the 
excellent dove shooting which is often obtainable. 



GUN CLEANING 29^ 

I make it a rule, although 1 am afraid it is one 
which will not commend itself to many, of in- 
variably cleaning my firearms myself at the end 
of the day's shooting. I do not believe the 
African native hunter or gun-bearer, be his abili- 
ties and excellences as a tracker and skinner 
what they may, can ever be safely entrusted with 
this all-important task. The unpleasant ex- 
perience of a friend of mine which befell him 
through his failure to observe this practice is a 
valuable object lesson. He had got up to 
buffaloes in swampy ground — fifteen or twenty of 
them — and had severely wounded a large bull. 
He pressed aside the top lever of his double '400 
to reload the discharged chamber when the 
barrels dropped off the stock, muzzle downward, 
of course, into a foot of mud. The missing fore- 
end was discovered on his empty-handed return 
to camp. His gun-bearer, who had been en- 
trusted over night with the cleaning of the rifle, 
had forgotten to replace it at the end of that 
operation, with consequences which might have 
been most serious. When it is remembered that 
the morning start for most successful hunting 
days takes place by starlight, it will easily be 
understood how it was that the absence of the 
fore-end remained undetected. 

In cleaning cordite rifles it is a good plan to 
use plenty of boiling water to wash out the 
barrels, dissolving about a quarter of an ounce of 
bicarbonate of soda to the quart of water. In 
applying this mixture, it is not always enough to 
pour it through, and allow it to run out at the 

20 



294 GUN CLEANING -PISTOLS 

muzzle end ; a very effective means of neutral- 
ising the corrosive gas of which cordite fumes 
consists being to cork up the muzzle, fill the 
barrels with the boiling solution of soda, and stir 
for a few seconds with a cleaning rod. This will 
satisfactorily remove all deleterious influences 
before the drying and greasing of the metal sur- 
face. Many lubricants are sold, as a rule at high 
prices, expressly to counteract corrosion in cor- 
dite rifles ; but this expense may be avoided, and 
precisely the same result attained by stirring a 
dram of bicarbonate of soda into an ounce of 
ordinary vaseline with a flexibly bladed knife, 
and applying the mixture to the steelwork after 
washing it thoroughly as I have described. It 
should be remembered that as a rule the first shot 
from a well-cleaned rifle barrel is apt to travel a 
trifle higher than those which follow. Finally, 
when hunting, always see that one or other of 
your native companions is provided with an 
efficient cleaning rod. 

I am a great believer in having in the tent at 
night a good serviceable, heavy revolver or 
automatic pistol. If predatory forms should 
take it into their heads to pay one a visit, it is 
much more quickly and quietly grasped in the 
confined, canvas-bounded space than a long 
cumbrous rifle, and its effect may be quite as 
satisfactory ; but let me not be understood as 
advocating the use for this purpose of the small, 
silver-mounted, pearl-handled toys which I have 
seen in the possession of some hunters ; these 
may be well enough for production in the exciting 



CAMP EQUIPMENT 295 

scenes of a modern drama, and may satisfactorily 
cause the deaths of many persons to whom the 
knowledge of their use is but imperfect, but for 
Africa you want at least a '450 Webley, or a 
•455 automatic Webley & Scott. With either of 
these admirable and powerful weapons at hand 
he would be a nervous person indeed whose sleep 
was affected by dread of night prowlers. 

We will now pass to the consideration of the 
camp equipment, the proper selection of which is 
so indispensable to comfort, and consequently 
to the preservation of health. Tents to-day can 
be obtained at a dozen great emporia, and there 
is perhaps little to say upon this subject on the 
whole. I suppose most persons who have used 
them will agree that the most satisfactory of 
all is that excellently designed speciality of 
Benjamin Edgington of London Bridge. In 
1906 this maker manufactured for me a small 
one-man tent, the measurements of which were 
7 ft. by 6 ft. 6 in. It was an ordinary double- 
roofed ridge tent, but made with that regard for 
lightness and efficiency for which Edgington 
tents are now so well known. This, with fly, 
poles of brass- jointed bamboo, pegs, mallet and 
cover weighed when dry only 55 lbs., and was 
therefore a reasonable load for one carrier. The 
curtain was made to lace up at each corner, a 
great advantage, which enabled admission to be 
afforded to the breeze no matter from which 
direction it blew. About a dozen stout hooks 
were firmly sewn on to the walls at each side, and 
were of immense use for hanging up all sorts of 



296 TENTS 

things out of the way of the various insect pests 
which get into them if thrown upon the floor, 
whilst, in addition to the extra large curtain 
pockets, other smaller receptacles were furnished 
upon the ceiling and doors ; the ventilator spaces 
were mosquito-proofed, and the strap-hooks for 
use on the tent-poles were of superior pattern and 
very serviceable. 

For two men, however, and no hunting 
expedition should ever consist of more, a larger 
abode would, of course, have to be provided — 1 
should think one measuring about 11 ft. by 9 ft. 
This would be much heavier than that already 
described, and furnish loads for two men at 
least, with a trifle left over to be added to the 
burden of some lightly laden carrier. 

For my own part, for many years past I have 
made it a rule to hunt unaccompanied by any 
other European, and I fancy many experienced 
hunters will agree with me that the most satis- 
factory sport is thus obtained. Many have 
said to me, " Oh, but surely you would enjoy 
it much more if you had company — somebody 
to chat to in the evenings. How dreadfully 
dull you must find it by yourself ! " To this I 
reply that if you are keen you have no time to 
be dull or bored during any portion of the trip. 
You are, as a rule, on the move from before dawn 
to nightfall. You turn in gladly about 8.0 p.m. 
You have a more or less numerous retinue of 
dusky followers, whose welfare both of body and 
mind engrosses you. Should you be acquainted 
with their dialect (or dialects) you have a rich 



HUNTING COMPANIONS 297 

store of amusement in gaining your people's 
confidence, and learning the many useful and 
entertaining lessons of woodcraft and folk-lore 
which these good-natured children of the wilds 
delight to teach you, and, finally, you are face 
to face with Nature at her grandest and most 
impressive. If any other reason were wanting, 
it would be found in the fact of the extreme 
rarity of a really congenial and at the same time 
hard-working fellow- sportsman. You may meet 
a man in town or country at home three hundred 
and sixty-five times during the year, and feel 
that he is the most delightful person of your 
acquaintance. So he may be so long as he 
remains at home. But let him be your sole 
daily companion for a number of months in the 
interior of Africa, and if your friendship con- 
tinue unimpaired yours is of a truth a rare enough 
case. I will not say more than this ; but every 
man who has hunted or travelled with a com- 
panion of his own nationality and colour in 
the surroundings I am endeavouring to describe, 
will immediately comprehend my meaning, and 
realise to the full the difficult situations which 
so constantly arise. My advice, therefore, to 
persons contemplating hunting in pairs is to 
make separate camps, wide enough apart to 
render unlikely any encroachment of the one 
into the country shot over by the other. Meet- 
ings may take place once a week or oftener, 
when there will be far more to discuss than would 
arise if the association remained unbroken 
throughout. In these circumstances each man 



298 CAMP FURNITURE 

would, of course, require a small tent of dimensions 
similar to the first described by me. 

Camp equipment has now come to be so 
specialised that a very large choice awaits the 
prospective purchaser. There are numberless 
different systems of folding furniture, a be- 
wildering selection of folding chairs and tables, 
and as for canteens of cooking utensils, their 
name is legion. But of all the systems with 
which in past years I have provided myself, 
that known as the X patent camp folding 
furniture is the most desirable and satisfactory. 
A selection of necessary articles comprises an ex- 
cellent and really comfortable folding bed, with 
strong, yet light, w^ooden mosquito frame made of 
jointed hard wood, the sections secured together 
by means of short chains, and therefore not liable 
to be lost ; a capital folding table, so contrived 
that the green canvas top is stretched by means 
of wooden slats, folding when not in use into a 
neat roll round the legs, which are carried inside 
it. These, with a combined green canvas bath 
and wash-stand, and a Rhoorkee chair, are all 
that one need actually take in the way of furni- 
ture ; but should expense be no object, there are 
other small refinements designed upon the same 
system which no doubt go far to rob life in hhe 
wilds of many of the inconveniences inseparable 
from it. A reliable ground sheet should be of the 
same size as the floor of the tent when pitched, 
and a small piece of carpet, about 2 feet square, 
is a very comforting article to stand upon Avhcn 
changing one's stockings or removing or putting 



MOSQUITO CURTAINS 299 

on one's clothing. At the time of year in which 
hunting is pursued the nights are intensely cold, 
and the contact of a bare foot with the chilly 
waterproof ground sheet is by no means pleasant. 
The mosquito curtain, of which two should 
be provided, is most efficient when made of the 
finest green net, and none but those of the 
smallest mesh should on any account be selected. 
There are many small insect pests in addition 
to mosquitoes against which it is necessary to 
guard, and among the worst of these is a tiny 
so-called sand-fly which seems to be endowed 
with a specially unpleasing power of penetrating 
mosquito curtains. If, however, by any lament- 
able oversight the net selected should not prove 
impervious to this pest, his attentions may often 
be checkmated by using the two nets together, 
one over the other. But in the provision of these 
necessary adjuncts to comfort, care should be 
taken as to the method of weighting them. The 
most efficient nets are those of which about ten 
or twelve inches repose upon the floor all round. 
At the bottom there should be a piping about 
the thickness of a black-lead pencil, but divided 
into small chambers 2 inches long and about 
6 apart, and these should be filled with shot in 
such a manner that the netting lies evenly upon 
the ground sheet, and no portion of it is raised 
in the smallest degree above its surface. If the 
shot are not thus divided into compact little 
chambers, it speedily displays a tendency to run 
together, with the result that while the curtain 
round the foot of the bed may be properly 



800 BEDDING 

weighted, the further extremity may be in the 
air, affording ingress to all sorts of undesirable 
bedfellows. 

The bedding and pillows should be carried in 
one of those admirable waterproof canvas con- 
trivances called a Wolseley valise, than which 
nothing yet devised is " just as good." Made of 
stout impermeable canvas, it safely contains 
your three double Witney blankets, two pairs of 
sheets, and two pillows with their cases, and can 
be made to hold, in addition to your pyjamas, 
all sorts of odds and ends of clothing. On one 
occasion a Wolseley valise which had accom- 
panied me on my travels for many years was 
actually dropped fairly into the Zambezi River, 
but upon being opened was found to have ad- 
mitted so little water that it was scarcely necessary 
to dry anything. Care should be taken in the 
selection of pillow cases, which should be of the 
finest linen, and at least one pillow should be of 
the comfortable feather variety. I have found 
that the restfulness afforded by these in com- 
parison to harder and less sympathetic stuffing, 
especially in cases of slight feverish headache, or 
other unimportant if troublesome ailments, has 
been very real. 

An immense boon to the traveller on its 
introduction was the aluminium bucket canteen. 
This, in extraordinarily light and most portable 
form, contains every necessary for culinary and 
table use, from frying-pans, saucepans, and meat 
dishes to plates, cups and saucers, condiment 
boxes, knives, forks, and spoons. But although 



AVOIDANCE OF " ROUGHING IT " 301 

the table contents of these excellent contrivances 
are all that may be regarded as strictly necessary^ 
they are by no means calculated, for several 
reasons, to please the jaded senses of the tired 
and it may be feverish wayfarer when translated 
from the depths of the well-devised canteen to 
ordinary use on the folding camp table. Their 
capable but unlovely metal plates, which speedily 
show knife-marks that fill with grease and dirt ; 
their cups ; their unappetising knives and forks 
and spoons ; their sauce and condiment boxes 
and bottles, all of which are guilty of undue 
intimacy with each other, resulting in a general 
intermingling of each other's contents, all these 
things completely divest the camp table of the 
neatness and prettiness which are never so highly 
appreciated as when they form a striking contrast 
to rough and ready surroundings. 

Some few years ago I wrote a book^ upon 
another portion of the Portuguese Province of 
Mozambique, in which what the press were pleased 
to call my sybaritic methods aroused much good- 
natured chaff among my friends both at home and 
abroad. I do not know if that book was the first 
actively to advocate decency in camp life, and 
the avoidance of what is called " roughing it," 
but this I do know, that the perusal of my views 
on the subject, and the surprising simplicity of 
my methods as described therein, gained me 
many imitators, among whom I number at least 
one whose relish for living in the wilds more like 
a native than a civilised being had procured for 

1 Portuguese East Africa. 



302 TABLE ARRANGEMENT 

him, to say the least of it, an unsavoury reputation. 
But, as I have so frequently stated and written, 
no pains should be spared to provide in the camp 
as attractive and well-laid a table as one would 
sit down to at home, with clean glass, snowy- 
white linen, and well-cleaned, glittering silver. 
All that is required at first is a little system and 
supervision ; by dint of these, and servants of 
average intelligence, the " butler's department " 
should soon run by itself. 

There is probably nothing more nausea- 
provoking than certain stages of low fever and 
what is called sun-headache, the latter being 
possibly a more successful robber of appetite 
than anything of the kind with which I am ac- 
quainted. But it is precisely in succumbing to 
disinclination to eat that the demon of fever is 
usually invoked. Yet whilst in this state — one, 
be it remembered, in which practically everybody 
visiting the country sooner or later finds himself — 
can you not imagine the difference awakened in 
your feelings by the contemplation of a disgusting 
metal plate of greasy soup, with a drowned cock- 
roach and several feathers floating in it, reposing 
upon the dirty bottom of an upturned provision 
case on the one hand, and on the other a neatly 
laid table with its well-washed cloth, clean 
tumblers and nicely polished china ? To ensure 
these advantages all days and every day is a 
matter of the greatest ease, and one which should 
be the aim of every traveller who values his health 
and his hopes of success. 

A case should be provided called the " service 



PROVISION CASES 303 

box," which, in addition to crockery and glasses, 
should contain all the bottles and tins of provisions 
actually in use. For the plates and dishes 
wooden battens are nailed across it sufficiently far 
apart to contain them standing immovably on 
edge, one in front of the other, whilst for the wine- 
glasses and tumblers a small wooden box fitted 
with a lid, large enough to hold the required 
number, is secured by means of screws to the 
bottom of the service box, and divisions of the 
well-known soft, brown, tubular packing-paper, 
if possible lined in turn with rather a thick layer 
of cotton wool, contrived just wide enough to 
divide them from each other. This small box 
can thus be made to convey in complete safety 
all glassware, including candle-lamp glasses. 
Leather holders are disposed round the interior 
for the reception of knives, forks, and spoons, 
while the centre, also divided into compartments 
of varying size, can be made to accommodate 
rigidly the open tins, bottles, and the cruet, the 
whole being covered in by the soft folds of the 
table-cloths and dinner napkins. 

The provision cases themselves should be of 
that special light wood provided by Messrs. 
Lawn & Alder of Brackley Street, Golden Lane, 
E.C., who know exactly what to provide in the 
nature of expedition commissariat, and also how 
to pack it. Their provision cases combine great 
strength with phenomenal lightness, and are often 
made in nests of three or four so that as they are 
emptied they can thus be carried one inside the 
other. I do not think, however, that this ad- 



304 MISCELLANEOUS EQUIPMENT 

vantage counterbalances the added weight of the 
empty case. In my experience I have found it 
preferable to purchase cases of one size, namely, 
2 ft. by Ij ft. by 1 ft. For two persons hunting 
together about ten such cases would be required, 
which should be numbered consecutively, and it 
is a good plan for each person to possess a numeri- 
cal roll of them containing an exact inventory of 
the contents of each. At the end of the day's 
march, after the selection oi the camping ground, 
the head servant should be required to train the 
carriers before retiring to their shelters to set the 
cases down facing the tents in numerical order 
with padlocks to the front. This practice, into 
which the men rapidly fall, saves much trouble 
and delay when something is wanted in a hurry 
after darkness has fallen. 

The camp should be lighted by those excellent 
wind-proof candle-lamps known as the "Punkah," 
for which several spare glasses and tops should be 
taken. These must be provided with composite 
candles, not wax, on account of the latter's well- 
known tendency to soften and run into all sorts of 
shapes on exposure to the smallest heat. For 
purposes other than those connected with the 
table, folding tin candle lanterns with talc slides 
are the best. 

For use in standing camps, two or three large 
canvas buckets will be found most useful, as 
also several canvas water-bags of various sizes. 
Two of these latter should be of a size cap- 
able of holding two gallons of water, and be 
furnished with a small tap for drawing ofi the 



STANDING CAMPS 305 

liquid without undue disturbance. They are 
filled daily with boiled and filtered water, for 
which purpose one of the portable Berkfield 
" Traveller's " filters should be provided. As 
the contents ooze very slightly through the 
texture of the canvas and meet the breeze 
outside, the water is cooled to a degree which 
persons unacquainted with the practice would 
scarcely believe possible. For the road, or the 
hunt, the best water-flask is that made of 
aluminium covered with felt, holding about a 
quart, and with a strap to sling it over a native's 
shoulder. 

Of course, when a stay of several days is made 
in one locality, much may be done to heighten the 
comfort of the traveller's surroundings. For in- 
stance, a pleasant, shady site for the tent having 
been selected, the fly, instead of being employed, 
for its normal purpose, can be pitched as a con- 
tinuation of the main structure, and as a pro- 
longation from the front door. This is done by 
cutting a long straight bamboo to serve as a ridge- 
pole, and a forked support to hold it horizontally, 
the tent-fly being thrown over it and secured by 
its own pegs. This affords a separate shelter 
under which the whole of the loads may be con- 
veniently placed, the centre being large enough 
for the chairs, table, and other articles. Here 
meals may be partaken of, guns cleaned, and rest 
enjoyed without exposure to the nightly annoy- 
ance of the heavy dew which is such a striking 
feature of the African winter season. In such a 
camp as this, for the occasions on which laundry 



306 CLOTHING ] 

operations are in progress, a couple of dozen ! 
small spring clothes-pegs are necessities and, 

used with the indispensable ball of strong string i 
to serve as a clothes-line, prevent the linen 

from being laid to dry in the grass from which : 

it is practically certain that it will come back full I 

of ants, microscopic ticks, and other unpleasant ! 

forms of insect life. ; 

At the height of the winter or dry season, it 
is at times necessary, in traversing unusually ; 
waterless portions of the country, to carry a | 
supply of drinking water sufficient for one ' 
or two days. For this purpose one or more 
of the useful, wickered aluminium demijohns j 
obtainable at Messrs. Lawn & Alder's and else- 
where, are indispensable, and great care should '. 
be taken on no account to permit the key for ' 
a moment to leave your possession. '' 

With regard to clothing, it will be found most | 

convenient to carry it in a good-sized canvas ' 

lock-up hold-all, which should be absolutely ; 

waterproof in fact as well as in reputation, and ' 

provision must be made for the exigencies of two i 
distinct climates. There is, to begin with, the 

sunny warmth of the daylight hours, when the \ 

thermometer may ascend to 90° or 95°; then I 

there is the sharp cold of the brilliant starry : 

nights, when it may easily fall to 45° or lower. ' 

For hunting, marching, or daylight work nothing, j 
to my mind, is so satisfactory as a shirt or 

" jumper " of improved khaki-coloured, sun- ] 

resisting cloth, about the same thickness as good ; 
quality khaki, the same colour, and worn over 



CLOTHING 307 

a cotton or silk-and-cotton under-shirt ; with 
this a pair of easy buttonless breeches, fashioned 
somewhat after the style of football knickers, 
of the same material, will be found very com- 
fortable, and are secured by a stout belt pro- 
vided with a small pouch for carrying a lancet, 
a small quantity of permanganate of potassium 
in case of snake-bite, and other small neces- 
saries. The extremities should be clothed in 
putties and light but well-made ankle boots. 
The *' jumper " should be made with a pad 3 or 
4 inches wide down the back to protect the spine 
from the sun ; it should be collarless, provided 
with waterproof pockets, and a dozen or so 
holders for reserve cartridges. As soon as the 
wearer's arms are able to bear the sun's rays 
without discomfort, he should get out his scissors 
from a well-furnished housewife, and cut off 
the sleeves above the elbow. Nothing in the 
nature of a coat should ever be worn on the 
march or in the field, it is entirely unnecessary — 
a mere useless encumbrance. For evening wear, 
a good hard-wearing suit of stout Harris tweed 
is unapproachable, a soft tennis shirt of Viyella 
or some similar material, and easy brown leather 
ankle boots, which are superior to shoes or 
slippers as they keep mosquitoes and sand-flies 
from biting your ankles, especially if you stuff 
the bottoms of your trousers into the pro- 
jecting tops of your socks. A warm, well-lined 
overcoat must on no account be forgotten; it 
will be required both for ordinary night use in 
camp, and also for sitting up over a kill for 



308 FOOTWEAR 

lions and leopards. Great care should be taken 
to provide suitable footwear for marching. I 
have in my possession a pair of ankle boots in 
which I have traversed on foot nearly 2000 
miles of the African continent, and they are quite 
capable of carrying me another 500. They were 
made by Messrs. M. Wildsmith & Sons of 17 
Jermyn Street, and are, I think, the most perfect 
marching boots it would be possible to devise. 
For circumstances in which exceptional quietness 
is indispensable, the hunter can provide him- 
self at any place on the East African coast for 
the sum of two shillings with a pair of Indian 
rope-soled calico shoes of great lightness and 
strength, which will be found of great use. 
Socks should always be worn with suspenders 
to prevent them from working down and chafing 
the feet. I have found the most satisfactory 
socks for African travel to be those of seamless 
natural grey wool, which are not liable to irritate 
the skin, and are very absorbent and good. Their 
tendency to shrink renders it desirable to supply 
more than would usually be necessary; thus, 
for a two months' expedition, I should recommend 
not less than two dozen pairs. 

An important question is the supply of proper 
and well-fitting head-gear. As Zambezia is, on 
the whole, a forested country, let no inducement 
prevail upon the intending visitor to provide him- 
self for travelling or hunting with anything in 
the nature of a helmet, in which it is impossible to 
stalk properly, to penetrate jungle, or to run. 
For these purposes his best, safest, and most 



FIELD-GLASSES AND MEDICINES 309 

efficient head-covering is the excellent, soft felt 
double terai hat. This clings to the head in the 
densest undergrowth, and affords the fullest pro- 
tection from the sun. On the wider plains, where 
at times the heat is rather trying, great relief 
may at once be obtained by filling the crown with 
fresh green grass or leaves — care being taken to 
see that no pernicious insects find their way in at 
the same time. For night use, one or two com- 
fortable soft caps should be included, and, for 
tonsorial purposes, a pair of barber's hair-clippers. 

With regard to the many miscellaneous articles 
of equipment with which it is necessary to be 
furnished, the importance of a really serviceable 
field-glass is difficult to exaggerate. I know 
opinions vary upon the best type for the purpose, 
but personally I have found that a single Zeiss 
reflex glass, magnifying eight diameters, is better 
than the binocular glasses now so generally 
carried. In appearance the glass I have carried 
for some years with the greatest satisfaction looks 
like half an ordinary pair of Zeiss glasses, which is 
precisely what it is. Carried in a small, neat case, 
it is so light that it need never be out of the 
hunter's possession, and comes up to the eye in one 
hand much more easily than a pair of glasses, and 
never needs readjustment. A reliable compass 
may be of great service, as also an electric torch 
with one or two spare dry batteries. 

Messrs. Burroughs, Wellcome & Company of 
Snow Hill, E.C., pack most excellently arranged 
and selected medicine chests of very small 
dimensions for travellers to any part of the world, 

21 



310 CARE OF THE FEET 

it being only necessary in ordering to specify 
the district it is intended to visit ; but in addition 
to the contents of these conveniences it is desirable 
to carry a good stock of common Epsom salts for 
the needs of the native carriers and servants. 

While I am on this subject, let me say a few 
words upon that most important of matters, the 
care of the feet. This is a duty far too often 
relegated to chance, and heavy have been the 
penalties which I have seen paid by the careless. 
Of course chafes and blisters usually, but not 
always, make their appearance after the first or 
second long march, and it is, therefore, a good 
plan to harden the feet for some days before the 
expedition starts. An excellent way of doing this 
is to soak them nightly in a bucket of hot water 
containing about a pound of common rock salt 
and a little alum in solution. The feet should be 
immersed when the water is so hot as to be hardly 
bearable, and remain therein until it grows cool. 
They should be allowed to dry slowly, and not be 
wiped with a towel. On starting in the morning 
excellent results are also obtained by soaping the 
feet all over with a good coating of ordinary 
toilet soap and water. 

Should, however, blisters make their appearance 
in spite of these precautions, and despite most 
carefully selected boots and socks, they must at 
once be dealt with lest worse befall. In my early 
days I was once confined to camp for ten days, and 
a shooting trip was completely spoiled, by march- 
ing upon a blistered foot, and my case is by no 
means a singular one. If the blister be a small one 



MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES 311 

and unbroken, soaking it in very hot salt and 
water two or three times in the course of the 
evening will often lead to its absorption ; but if 
the skin be broken, or upon the point of break- 
ing, the best course is relentlessly to strip it off 
and lay bare the flesh beneath. Upon this a 
series of cold cloths soaked in a strong solution 
of permanganate of potassium should be placed. 
The effect of this rather severe treatment is to 
produce a new if somewhat discoloured skin on 
the tender part, which, with twenty-four hours' 
rest, will usually admit of the resumption of the 
journey. 

For cutting up game several hatchets and large 
knives are required. In selecting these, highly 
tempered steel is to be avoided, as the softer metal 
is the easier to resharpen. The knives which I 
usually employ for finishing off and skinning 
antelopes are long-bladed cheap knives similar to 
those used in the kitchen for cutting hams, sides 
of bacon, and joints. They must be provided 
with well-fitting leather sheaths, and carried daily 
by the gun-bearers. Several pairs of scissors of 
different sizes are of great use for all sorts of pur- 
poses, whilst needles, buttons, and a supply of 
good strong pack-thread must on no account be 
omitted. 

For the collection of small nocturnal mammals 
a few capable steel traps are useful. These on 
being set should be secured by a yard or two of 
strong brass chain well pegged down ; I find 
brass better than steel, as it is rust-proof, and 
cleaner. Care should be taken to see that they 



312 MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES 

are not placed, as the negro left to himself will be 
almost certain to deposit them, in the centre of 
the native path, or unpleasant results may ensue. 
Whilst we are discussing the subject of iron- 
mongery, let me strongly recommend the pro- 
vision of a hammer, and a pound of one-inch nails. 
These are most useful for repairing damage to the 
packing cases, strengthening native shelters for 
the men, and many other purposes. 

Of course, owing to bad weather, fatigue, or 
other causes, a day will from time to time be spent 
in camp, and therefore, as well as for occasional 
unemployed evenings, a few good sound books, 
together with note-books and writing materials, 
must be included in the personal baggage. For 
my own part I always take books relating to the 
sport I am following at the moment, as well as 
one or two volumes of fairly solid reading ; but 
I would impress upon my readers the desirability 
of taking nightly the most copious notes of their 
experiences. Nothing should be regarded as too 
trivial for inclusion in the journey's record, and 
the careful observer will reap a rich harvest in 
after years as he slowly turns over the leaves of the 
story of his African experiences. 

As a few final words of sage counsel, I would 
recommend hunters in Africa to be guided so 
far as possible by the following scraps of vale- 
dictory advice : — 

Avoid cold bathing from the first day of your 
arrival in the country ; warm baths only should 
be taken. 

Never fish within 10 feet of the water's edge, 



POINTS TO BE REMEMBERED 813 

unless you are at least 6 feet above it. Crocodiles 
are everywhere. 

Never pitch your camp in or nearer than 
500 yards from a native village, and your prospect 
of contracting malarial fever will be greatly 
lessened. 

Endeavour, in so far as may be possible, 
when changing ground, to select the site for your 
camp not later than about 4.0 p.m. This en- 
ables everything to be comfortably arranged, 
and gives your tired carriers plenty of time to 
build their shelters for the night. 

Never set out for a day in the field without a 
substantial early breakfast, and a small supply of 
food, and water, cold tea, or other non-alcoholic 
beverage in your water-bottle. 

Before leaving your camp for a new one, 
never omit to make a personal examination of 
the ground to satisfy yourself that nothing has 
been left behind. You will soon be surprised 
at the number of small articles of the most 
precious description recovered at the last 
moment which you would otherwise have 
irretrievably lost. 

Having concluded your examination of the 
over-night camping ground, accompanied by 
your gun-bearer, push your way to the head 
of the column, leaving your servant to act as 
whipper-in, and make a point of carrying yourself 
a light rifle in anticipation of early morning 
shots. You should march about a quarter of a 
mile ahead of your carriers. 

All converging paths not taken by your 



314 POINTS TO BE REMEMBERED 

expedition must be ** closed " in native fashion, 
in order that none of your followers may be 
separated by mistake from the main body. This 
is done by scratching a line or two across them 
with a stick, or throwing down into them a fresh 
bunch of leaves or a bunch of grass. 

When hunting across country, and some 
distance ahead of such natives as may be accom- 
panying you, it is a safeguard, where the grass is 
thick, to take a few stems in your hand every 
hundred yards or so, and bend them over in the 
direction you are taking ; this signal is well 
understood. 

When nearing game and speech is impossible, 
the existence in the line of march of thorns, 
fallen timber, a column of ants, or anything it is 
necessary to step over, is conveyed to the person 
following behind by lightly slapping your right 
thigh twice. 

On the road with carriers fully laden, it is a 
good plan to allow them ten minutes' rest after 
each complete hour's march. This delay is of 
little consequence, and is much appreciated by 
them ; but never allow them to sit down and 
rest without permission. 

Never allow any member of the expedition, 
under any pretext, to appropriate without pay- 
ment anything he may fancy in the native 
villages or gardens. It is a weakness of which 
they are not seldom guilty, and should on all 
occasions be most sternly repressed. 

Returning to the game of Zambezia, those 
who have had the patience to peruse these pages, 



HUNTING DISTRICTS 315 

and who may be contemplating a shooting 
excursion into the remoter portions of Portuguese 
East Africa, may well be asking which particular 
district they should select as the scene of their 
sport. My reply to this is that one of the dis- 
tricts north of the Zambezi is calculated in the 
present aspect of the country as a whole to give 
the best results. Personally, if I were to return 
to Portuguese East Africa for a final sojourn in 
the wilds, I should make Quelimane my base of 
departure into the interior. Throughout this 
little-known region practically every animal de- 
scribed in this book may be found, and in some 
of the divisions, notably in Lugella, Boror, and 
the Alto M'lokwe, very little shooting has taken 
place. Moreover, although game is abundant, I 
am unaware of the presence of tsetse flies, whilst 
for those to whom such considerations appeal, the 
scenery of the interior of this attractive district 
is beautiful and striking in the extreme. 

The courses of the Zambezi and Shire Rivers 
have been for so many years frequented by 
steamers and barges that, except in one or 
two circumscribed areas, the game has largely 
retired ; but above the confluence of the Shire 
fine shooting may be found practically all the 
way, upon the north bank, up to the Lupata 
Gorge. South of Tete the extensive, healthy 
region of the Barue, described in my book 
Zambezia, is an excellent game country into 
which an ideal hunting expedition may be 
undertaken, whilst a number of splendid types, 
exclusive, however, of elephant and rhinoceros. 



316 QUELIMANE 

as also magnificent and unlimited wild-fowl 
shooting, may be obtained in the Luabo territoiy, 
immediately to the south of the southernmost 
branch of the Zambezi delta. All these wide 
areas fall within the vast region of Zambezia, 
and there are, of course, many others wherein 
moderately good sport can unfailingly be found. 
But what attracts me in this little-known portion 
of East Africa is that here the country and the 
native are largely unspoiled. Here you still 
receive, if you deserve it, the old-time courtesy 
traceable, doubtless, to the centuries of Portu- 
guese occupation, through which the place has 
come down to us in its still attractive form. 
There is still something in the very languorous 
warmth of its tropical climate, and the aspect 
of the quaint old houses, redolent of Livingstone's 
earlier journeys, which cannot fail to appeal to 
the imagination. It is not simply a matter of 
drawing a cheque and finding your arrangements 
falling automatically into stride. Here arrange- 
ments are made in a different way, and occasion- 
ally at the expense of some little time and 
patience ; but I have never met anybody who 
grudged of either what small meed the exigencies 
of his journey may have cost him. 

I have known Quelimane intimately since 
1896. Here I have spent much pleasant time, 
and my recollections of the place are among the 
most delightful among my African memories. 
Moreover, Quelimane displays no tendency to 
change like those struggling centres to the south- 
ward, torn as they are yearly limb from limb 



QUELIMANE 817 

in the struggle for commercial supremacy. My 
last visit to this small haven of rest, seventeen 
years after the date at which I first beheld it, 
showed me the small group of brightly coloured 
houses nestling cosily in their bower of luxuriant 
tropic greenery, unchanged and apparently un- 
changing. There were many gaps in the ranks 
of my old friends, it is true, but the new-comers 
appeared to the full to have assimilated the 
courteous hospitality of tradition, and thus, as I 
have just stated, Quelimane appeared to be little 
changed from what it was when I knew it first in 
the distant days of the early nineties. There are, 
I think, but few settlements situated elsewhere 
of which the same can with truth be said. 

For the convenience of new-comers, I have 
appended hereto a list of provisions sufficient for 
two men of ordinary wants over a period of about 
two months. Wines and spirits have been pur- 
posely omitted, as upon this point everybody has 
his own ideas. I may perhaps add that the 
light, harmless, and very excellent table wines of 
Portugal, readily obtainable upon the coast at 
most moderate prices, appear to me to be so good 
as to render the importation of this detail from 
Europe entirely unnecessary. 



APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XIII 

List of provisions and general necessaries for 
two persons, calculated for a hunting trip of about 
two months, wines and spirits excluded. 

2 dozen Rose's Lime Juice Cordial. 
1 ,, Packets Price's London Sperm 

Candles. 
J ,, Orange Marmalade. 

1 ,, Assorted Jams. 

2 „ Ideal Milk. 

2 „ Tins Plain Lunch Biscuits. 

1 ,, ,, Butter (Harmen & Zoom). 

2 ,, ,, Westphalian Sausages (Crosse 

& Blackwell). 

1 ,, Brown & Poison's Corn Flour. 

3 ,, Assorted tins Fruits in Syrup. 

2 ,, Assorted Potted Meats. 

1 ,, Tinned Salmon (Lazenby's). 

1 ,, ,, Lobster (Lazenby's). 
6 ,, Safety Matches. 

2 „ French Beans. 

2 ,, Tinned Green Peas. 

2 ,, Asparagus. 

1 ,, Quaker Oats. 

h ,, Baking Powder. 

1 ,, Cooking Lard. 

J ,, Worcester Sauce (large size). 

I „ Cerebos Table Salt (large size). 

I ,, Pickles. 

j „ Chutney. 

1 bottle Cayenne Pepper. 

3 ,, Tabasco Sauce. 

1 ,, White Pepper. 

J dozen Lunch Tongues. 

2 tins Apple Rings. 

318 



LIST OF PROVISIONS 319 

4 lbs. Coffee. 

3 tins Colman's Mustard. 
7 lbs. Chopped Sugar. 

J dozen Assorted Afternoon Tea Cakes 

(Swallow & Ariel Brand). 
J ,, Red Currant Jelly. 
2 tins Curry Powder. 
J dozen Pea Flour. 
h ,, Van Houten's Cocoa. 

4 lbs. Ridgway's Tea. 
50 ,, Potatoes. 

40 „ Onions. 
25 „ Flour. 

25 ,, Rock Salt, for curing skins. 
25 ,, Alum Crystals, for curing skins. 
6 pckts. Sunlight Soap for laundry pur- 
poses. 
1 side Bacon. 
20 lbs. Soft Mauritius Sugar. 



CHAPTER XIV 

BIRDS AND BIRD SHOOTING 

In that portion of the preceding chapter dealing 
with the question of arms and ammunition, I 
recommended the provision of a fair supply of 
shot-gun cartridges. For these, in many parts of 
Zambezia, much use can be found, not only to 
provide desirable variety in the daily diet of the 
party, but some variation in the character of the 
sport itself. 

Scattered over the face of the country there 
are large lagoons, swamps, and marshes populous 
with wild-fowl of every description, from the 
immense unwieldy pelican to the delicate painted 
snipe. In the neighbourhood of the larger villages 
two or three different kinds of guinea-fowl are 
plentiful, as are the pretty familiar turtle-doves, 
fruit-eating pigeons, and other birds ; whilst 
the forest, especially where it breaks up into 
grassy glades, is the home of the francolin and 
the bustard. 

On the Zambezi itself, and throughout the 
various mouths of its delta, wild ducks are found 
in such astonishing numbers that in one morning's 
or evening's shoot a fairly large canoe could 
easily be filled with these sporting and savoury 
birds. About the flighting time, that is to say. 



DUCK SHOOTING 321 

from about an hour before sunset until night has 
fallen, they come over, flying about 40 yards high 
in small assemblies of from ten to thirty or forty ; 
and on many occasions, so rapidly has flight 
followed flight, I have wished that I had been 
possessed of a pair of guns instead of my trusty 
old double 12-bore only. The variety to which I 
am referring is the small whistling duck commonly 
called the " Tree " duck from the circumstance 
that these birds readily alight upon the tree 
growths by which nearly all African waters are so 
consistently surrounded. On one occasion, while 
I was the guest of one of the British gunboats 
which some years ago cruised about the waters 
of the lower Zambezi, the commander and I 
killed between us over seventy of these birds during 
one single hour of shooting. The number men- 
tioned was that of those actually gathered, and 
I fear that a considerable number in addition 
were of necessity lost. 

It was a glorious evening in June, and H.M.S. 
Herald was **tied up" for the night on the 
southern bank of the Kongoni or Inyamissengo 
branch of the Zambezi delta a few miles below the 
point at which it receives the now well-known 
Chinde channel. We descended into the small 
dingy, put the arms and ammunition on board, 
and were soon travelling rapidly down stream 
propelled by a muscular Sidi-boy. The river here 
is very wide, and, being above the mangrove belt, 
the banks were covered with luxuriant and strik- 
ing vegetation. Here a graceful grove of waving 
coconut palms marks the plantation of a half- 



322 DUCK SHOOTING 

caste Portuguese proprietor ; farther on a mass 
of forest trees, their riverward branches thickly 
matted with grey, beard-hke orchilla weed, and 
in the distance the rounded masses of the deep 
green, majestic mangoes ; wild bananas, baobabs, 
lliana-entangled African teak trees, and a pro- 
fusion of other interesting growths too numerous 
to mention. 

My host was landed at a point where a small, 
dry, grass- overgrown creek emptied the waters of 
the rainy season into the river, and a similar post 
was found for me on the other side. We had not 
long to wait. 

As the golden light of the waning afternoon 
threw long shadows upon the tranquil water, the 
advance guard of the " whistlers " came in sight 
round a corner, and for over an hour thereafter 
the firing on one side of the river or the other 
was almost continuous. The only varieties we 
secured apart from the ducks referred to were three 
spur- winged geese, and one or two teal and poch- 
ard. There was great glee that night among the 
blue- jackets of the lower deck when the tooth- 
some birds came to be distributed. 

The following morning, accompanied by two 
light native canoes carried upon the backs of their 
respective owners, we left the ship at an early 
hour, and pushed our way through the drenching 
dew to a large marsh or swamp lying several miles 
to the south of the main channel of the Zambezi. 

I do not think any person who had not had the 
experience would realise how intensely wet he 
could get in forcing his way in the early morning 



DUCK SHOOTING 323 

through the chill, dew-drenched grasses of tropical 
Africa. The large bunches of seed-vessels, all 
roped together by exquisitely glittering strands 
of dew-bejewelled cobweb, discharge cataracts of 
icy water upon one, and, such is the volume of 
moisture they can contain in the cases of the 
taller cane-like grasses, that one is often com- 
pletely drenched to the skin in less than the first 
mile. It does not, however, take the rapidly 
increasing heat of the sun very long to remedy 
this, at worst, but temporary discomfort. 

But to continue my narrative. In due time, 
and with the inevitable soaking, we finally reached 
the marsh, I having come off better than the rest 
by unostentatiously marching in the rear, thus 
coming into contact with grass already rubbed 
partially dry by the persons or clothing of my 
immediate predecessors. Our further progress 
was here barred by the usual surrounding belt of 
reeds, so, as the piece of water was of an irregular 
oblong shape, it was decided that one of us should 
get afloat at each end, and we should thus be 
enabled to keep the wild-fowl as long as possible 
on the move between us. My companion there- 
upon set out for the lower end, and, in order to 
give him time, I seated myself upon my canoe and 
waited. After the lapse of about half an hour, 
judging that he must about now be reaching his 
starting-point, I gave orders to push the canoe 
quietly through the high spear-grass which hid the 
water from us. Very gently this was done. I 
seated myself in the bow, the proprietor pushed 
off, and we dragged our way as quietly as possible 



324 DUCK SHOOTING 

through our screen of swishing reed stems. Open 
water, or at least water as open as these marshes 
ever possess, soon appeared. In size the sheet 
was perhaps about a mile and a quarter long by 
about 600 yards wide, and I speedily made out a 
satisfactory number of ducks of various kinds, 
spur-winged geese, hosts of herons, cranes, and 
storks, with the usual throng of dabchicks and 
shore-birds. Luckily, as I emerged from the reeds 
I was hidden from observation by a thin bed of 
low papyrus rushes behind which I could recon- 
noitre unsuspected. 

With the exception of a narrow expanse of 
unruffled water in the middle, the marsh or lagoon 
was covered over with the pretty, pale blue water- 
lily so common in this part of Africa, and in 
between the great, flat green leaves, almost as 
though outlined by it, a curious, lettuce-like water 
growth which has been not unaptly described as a 
sort of giant duck-weed. But popping up all 
over the surface one sees innumerable heads of 
wild duck, of geese, of widgeon and teal. Peering 
impatiently towards the farther end, I find that 
my friend the commander is invisible by reason of 
a bend in the marsh which conceals him from view 
behind a group of wild date palms against whose 
greenery, like so many white specks, the snowy 
forms of a score of egrets are discernible. 

At this moment a quick double discharge, 
sounding very far away, relieves me of further 
anxiety, so I get ready for the birds his shots may 
drive over me. Several more shots are heard in 
rapid succession, but the birds in my vicinity, 



DUCK SHOOTING 325 

which are large in size and of a dull chestnut 
colour, betray little or no uneasiness. Had they 
been whistlers they would have been gone already. 
At last a small flock of the latter variety are seen 
flying very high over the middle, and passing me 
far out of range circle once or twice and gracefully 
execute a vol plane down into the water at my end. 
At the far extremity of the marsh there are many 
varieties of wild-fowl in the air, and just as I am 
about to give orders to push along the edge of the 
reeds, about a dozen spur-winged geese flying 
low, with their peculiar, deliberate, distinctive 
wing stroke come straight from the sound of the 
firing in my direction. Changing the cartridges 
quickly for No. 3 shot, I cower down uncomfort- 
ably in my uncomfortable seat. On they come, 
nearer and nearer, not an inch over 25 yards high. 
Seventy yards, sixty, fifty. Ah ! the leader has 
seen me, and widens out towards the centre. I 
take number four in the line, and down he comes 
to my right, the left barrel failing on number five, 
although I distinctly hear the sound of the shot 
through the wing-feathers. These spur-winged 
geese are extraordinarily hard birds ; the amount 
of shot they will successfully carry away with 
them is sometimes amazing. We gather the fallen 
one and push along. Now the red ducks get up in 
twos and threes, and in ten minutes I have col- 
lected a round dozen, and lost — and missed — half 
as many more. At this point I congratulate 
myself on having stuck to the edge, for, doubtless 
disturbed by the firing in some adjacent water, 
several numerous flocks of whistlers appear, one 

22 



326 DUCK SHOOTING 

of which, driving past me in a round mass and 
at about 35 yards, gives me three for my two 
barrels. Things now begin to grow very ani- 
mated ; I can hear the other gun having an ex- 
cellent time, and the birds, now fairly on the move, 
are satisfactorily divided between us. Still they 
come, red duck, black duck, whistlers, teal, 
shovellers, and sheldrake. The geese, as is their 
invariable habit, abandon the locality on the 
first alarm, but, in spite of that, about an hour later 
when firing ceased, it was found that between us 
we had gathered in almost as many birds as upon 
the preceding evening, to say nothing of a fine 
hare picked up on our way back to the ship. 

In the neighbourhood of the villages, especi- 
ally of those more remotely situated, and suffi- 
ciently well established to possess in their vicinity 
extensive areas of maize and millet gardens, I 
have seen guinea-fowls literally in hundreds, and 
so tame that, having secured a brace or two, all 
desire for further shooting left me. It would have 
been no better sport than taking a gun into a well- 
stocked fowl run. But putting aside the now 
rare occasions upon which these birds are en- 
countered in these immense numbers, there are 
few neighbourhoods in the interior where the 
peculiar morning and evening call of guinea-fowls 
may not be heard at those times of day. They 
are not as a rule difficult to flush unless they have 
been much shot, and afford a fine, satisfying mark 
as, with a veritable thunder of wings, they rise 
boldly into the air. Guinea-fowls are extra- 
ordinarilv local birds, and cling with a strange 



GUINEA-FOWLS 327 

pertinacity to a given area, waxing within it 
both numerous and fat ; and even after their 
haunts have been discovered they may, unless 
ruthlessly slaughtered at the outset, be made 
to yield a brace or so occasionally without 
manifesting the least anxiety to change their 
quarters. 

When I resided some years ago at Mozam- 
bique, I lighted accidentally one day upon such a 
colony of unsuspected guinea-fowls which were 
always to be found within measurable distance of 
a point on the neighbouring mainland, which, if I 
remember rightly, was called Sancoul Point. 
Nobody else knew of the presence of these birds, 
and, as shooting of any kind was practically un- 
obtainable — if one except shore birds, and a few 
duck in some marshes 8 miles away — I kept my 
discovery carefully to myself. About once a fort- 
night I would go over and help myself to a brace 
or two, upon which the eyes of passers-by would 
on my return grow big with surprise, but although 
a sharp look-out was maintained for a long time, 
and I believe I was once followed, the locality 
of my preserve remained a profound mystery 
until my departure. This was a very necessary 
precaution as, had I once afforded the smallest 
clue to the whereabouts of the birds, all the 
Portuguese possessed of a shot-gun would have 
swept in a cloud through the unsuspected refuge, 
and not a single guinea-fowl would have been left 
either for me or for anybody else. 

In Zambezi a there are three kinds of these 
birds which, eschewing scientific names, I will call 



328 GUINEA-FOWLS— BUSTARDS 

the blue-helmeted, the yellow-helmeted, and the 
crested varieties. Of these the last named is by- 
far the handsomest. There is at all times of year 
a wonderfully bright, almost metallic, sheen on 
his dark, steely-grey feathers, but during the 
spring and early summer his brilliancy of plumage 
seems to redouble, an effective majestic touch 
being imparted by the glossy, jet-black crest of 
feathers which adorns his shapely head. I do 
not think the crested variety is quite so delicate 
a table bird, nor does he reach to quite the 
generous dimensions of his plainer kinsfolk ; 
what is lacked in size and succulence is almost 
atoned for in brilliance and beauty. 

The bustards are not very numerous. The 
only one I have obtained — or indeed seen — 
being the handsome, black-bellied type ; yet, 
when it is remembered that in portions of the 
country not very far south of the area we are 
considering there are at least six or seven others, 
not to mention the enormous giant bustard, which 
will often turn the scale at five-and-forty pounds, 
it would appear highly probable that, however 
sparsely, some of these may have penetrated 
to the banks of the Zambezi. 

Bustards are most frequently seen in grassy 
glades in the early morning and late afternoon. 
They are extremely shy, and are most frequently 
flushed within range when one is unprepared 
for the opportunity. I came very near to losing 
one of the few of these birds which I have shot 
through the larcenous propensities of a white- 
throated fishing eagle one evening while awaiting 



BIRDS OF PREY 329 

the flighting duck on the upper waters of the 
Pungwe River. 

The bustard flew over my head, and fafling 
to my shot about the middle of the stream, 
began to drift slowly down on the current as 
my canoe put out to gather it. The frail craft 
had certainly not made five yards in its direction, 
however, when the fishing eagle, which I had 
already observed perched upon a large tree on 
the opposite side of the river, swooped down and 
actually seized my bustard, having paid not the 
smallest attention to the report of t^ie gun. I 
was only loaded with No. 6, but the eagle's stoop 
brought the great bird into easy range, so I fired 
both barrels at the thief, and must have given 
him some painful food for thought. He did not 
come down, but was so perturbed by the stinging 
he received that he fortunately dropped the 
bustard, which my dusky retrievers duly re- 
covered. 

I have on several occasions observed among 
the great birds of prey an astonishing disregard 
of danger from the moment that their attention 
has become concentrated upon an object likely 
to offer something particularly dainty in the 
nature of a meal. Especially is this peculiarity 
noticeable in the cases of the crested eagle, the 
tailless bateleur eagle, and the handsome, cheery 
bird whose unlawful designs upon the bustard I 
have just recounted. Usually, with the excep- 
tion perhaps of the last named, one will seek 
in vain to stalk them upon their roosting trees. 
They are up and away upon the first hint of 



330 EAGLES 

approaching danger. But if they should be 
hungry, and you should happen to have shot 
something that attracts their attention ; or if, 
at your feet almost, they should espy a favourite 
bird or animal, they will on occasion come 
straight down and, catching the coveted morsel 
in a powerful talon, get them gone before the 
astonished onlooker has fully grasped the signi- 
ficance of the rushing sudden swoop. Such of 
my readers as have had the patience to peruse 
the preceding chapters will already have noted 
two examples of this peculiarity observed by me 
in the larger raptorial species, and, although 
I do not remember to have read similar experi- 
ences recorded in the works of other hunters, 
the propensity referred to can be by no means an 
uncommon one. 

Eagles are, of course, soulless, cruel creatures, 
but I never kill one if I can possibly avoid it, 
first of all because they are such invaluable 
scavengers, and, secondly, because my admiration 
for their grand, wild, expansive existences is so 
real and deep-seated that I would not willingly 
curtail them by so much as an instant. Who 
among those who are compelled to make their 
way about the wilds of Africa on foot has not, 
as the burning afternoon wore on, and, weary, 
travel-stained, and athirst he has wondered 
if the long day's march would never end, 
glanced wistfully upward into the blue vault and 
followed with envious eyes the easy, graceful, 
effortless flight of one or other of the great African 
eagles sailing majestically in vast circles without 



EAGLES 331 

the motion of a wing or the tremor of a feather ? 
I do not know who would wish to bring to a close 
so joyous and space-annihilating a life as this. 
The specimens at which one gazes through the 
great barred cages in the Zoological Society's 
Gardens always fill me with the deepest com- 
miseration ; I pass their narrow lodging with 
hastening steps, wondering vaguely what the 
inmates' feelings would be did they but realise 
one tithe of the grandeur of the life they have 
missed. 

The three eagles I have mentioned are, I 
think, the largest, most powerful, and most 
impressive among Zambezi an birds of prey. 
Opinions differ as to which may have the most 
claim to be regarded as the handsomest among 
them, but my own bias is all in favour of the 
highly ornamental, if somewhat gaily marked, 
loud-voiced fishing eagle. The head, neck, 
breast and shoulders of this fine example are 
of snowy white, forming a dazzling contrast to 
the sombre chocolate brown and black of the 
remainder of his colour scheme. I once possessed 
one of these birds, which was presented to me 
by a German friend, having, from some cause or 
other, sustained a fractured wing. This bird — 
a female — became very tame, and, when once 
her passionate interest had been successfully 
divorced from my fowl-run, could be trusted 
practically without supervision in the gardens. 
One day I heard this eagle giving tongue in a 
state of extraordinary excitement. Her piercing, 
indescribable cries rang through the premises 



332 EAGLES 

in a most deafening manner, and, going out to 
ascertain the cause, I heard them repeated Hke 
an echo from above. At that moment a large 
shadow flitted across the garden, and I became 
aware that Francisca was deliberately encourag- 
ing a follower. After some preliminary circling 
there was a rush of wings and the stranger 
alighted some few yards from the crippled 
captive. Both then threw back their haughty 
heads and made the whole surroundings ring 
with their cries. What would have happened 
had they remained undisturbed I have, of 
course, no means of knowing, but, unluckily, 
attracted by the unusual vociferations, a servant 
rushed out and, before I could prevent him 
from doing so, put the bold stranger to flight. 
Francisca made imsuccessful and most pathetic 
efforts to follow, and did not for some time 
regain her wonted composure. So far as I am 
aware, the visitor never returned. 

With the crested, variously called " warlike '•' 
and '' martial " eagle, I have had less to do. I 
remember when I was residing at Zomba in the 
Nyasaland Protectorate in 1894 there was a 
wretched-looking, half -starved and utterly miser- 
able specimen of this splendid type confined in a 
small wire-netting enclosure in the back premises 
of the Government buildings. This unfortunate, 
whose air of unspeakable dejection never failed 
to arouse my compassion, was said to have 
become sufficiently tame to be reconciled to its 
somewhat squalid surroundings, an allegation for 
which, however, there was little enough apparent 



EAGLES 333 

justification. Even in captivity, with the inevit- 
able accompaniment of bedraggled feathers pro- 
duced by its narrow quarters, this poor semblance 
nevertheless possessed some small remnants of 
its former majestic appearance. Feathered all 
the way down to the talons, the prevailing hue of 
these birds is a dark, slaty grey, turning to pale 
grey on the breast. The head, surmounted by its 
short, gay plume, is dull black, whilst the fierce- 
looking hooked beak is of dark yellow. These 
birds prey upon all sorts of reptiles and small 
mammals. With a wing-spread of about 6 feet, 
they are enabled to capture and fly off with 
considerable weights. 

The bateleur eagle is easily identified as he 
soars aloft in the clear African sky. Owing to his 
practically imperceptible tail his form, with wings 
outstretched, is almost exactly that of a new 
moon. His colour scheme is much gayer than is 
that of the species just referred to, being dull 
black, reddish chestnut on back and wing covers, 
whilst the sides of the face, beak, and legs are of 
brightest red. The head is black, and the ap- 
pearance of the bold eyes and terrible beak is the 
last word of untamable ferocity. 

The habits of the bateleur are said to be far 
less predatory than those of the other African 
eagles ; in fact it is confidently and authoritatively 
stated that his method of maintenance is neither 
more nor less than bare-faced scavenging. In any 
case he is a splendid creature, and said, in cap- 
tivity, to grow extraordinarily tame. 

There are, in addition to the foregoing, many 



334 GROUND HORNBILL 

other eagles and birds of prey, including the 
great tawny eagle, the hawk eagle, the African 
hawk and the crested hawk eagles, besides num- 
berless vultures, buzzards, hawks, kites, and 
falcons. Secretary birds pursue their benevolent 
mission in the slaughter of the snakes, and about 
seven or eight varieties of owls shatter the nerves 
of the rats, mice, and other small mammals and 
birds. 

But before I leave the subject of the scavengers 
I must write a few lines concerning that weird 
type, common throughout South East Africa, 
called the ground hornbill. 

No more entertaining creature was ever 
domesticated ; no more shameless thief was ever 
unmasked. The appearance of this bird (called 
Dendera by the natives of Zambezia) would sug- 
gest that he had been intended by Nature to pose 
as the incarnation of dull, unctuous respectability 
— as a sort of hereditary sepulchre-keeper, or pall- 
bearer-in-chief to the feathered world. The 
ground hornbill is a large bird garbed in rusty 
black, with one or two white wing-feathers. His 
chief feature is an immense beak, upon which, 
when tame, he will resignedly submit to have 
fastened a pair of spectacles, provided with which 
his appearance is unspeakably mirth-provoking. 
He is a tireless if deliberate pedestrian, and, when 
domesticated, wanders about the gardens, which 
he speedily rids of all noxious forms of insect life, 
uttering a curious wheezy moan which earned 
for the first one I was enabled to study the 
appropriate name of the " hard breather." He 



GROUND HORNBILL 335 

also has a habit of chattering his beak in a fashion 
which recalls a similar trick practised by the 
marabou stork. Nothing assimilable comes amiss 
to this extraordinary creature. Small animals, 
young birds, insects, out-of-date meat, snakes, all 
these and much more he impales with his long 
sharp beak, jerks neatly into the air, and skilfully 
catches in his capacious throat, shaking his head 
thereafter with an air of profound dejection. 
Ground hornbills become so tame, and are 
possessed of such an amazing degree of in- 
telligence, as to recognize readily persons to whom 
they become attached. They also learn to answer 
their names, and readily acquire various unusual 
accomplishments, such as placing the head under 
a wing and simulating slumber, raising and 
putting down their feet by word of command, and 
several others. They are rather trying by reason 
of the fascination which glittering objects such 
as spoons, forks, and articles of table silver 
generally have for them — a friend of mine who 
lost in this way a valuable jewelled sleeve-link 
being a lamentable example of this larcenous 
tendency. But their lives seem to be over- 
shadowed by the very genius of gloom, and to 
attempt to describe a ground hornbill who ap- 
peared to be satisfied with life would be as 
difficult as to try to portray a hornpipe executed 
by undertakers. 

Nothing gives one more sporting shooting 
than the ever-present turtle-dove, and nothing 
affords more excellent material for a really meri- 
torious ragout. These delightful little creatures, 



336 DOVES— PIGEONS 

whose crooning voices are heard on the outskirts 
of every village at early morning and each 
evening at sunset, may be seen about the latter 
hour flying in large numbers across the maze and 
millet fields to the nearest watering-place. They 
travel through the air at a prodigious rate, and 
usually singly, or in twos and threes. Occasion- 
ally, however, where for a long time they have been 
undisturbed, and the native gardens are very 
extensive, they may be seen in large swarms, and 
must consume enormous quantities of native 
food-stuffs ; but their pace is one which, when 
crossing the sportsman's front or coming down 
wind overhead, is calculated to try the skill of 
the most capable. 

There are several other varieties of these birds, 
including the pretty and extremely delicate fruit- 
eating pigeon, which is considerably smaller than 
the rosy-hued, white-collared turtle-dove. 

High up on the plateaux of Gorongoza and 
Morumbala I have seen and shot a very large 
bird which is, of course, a true pigeon. It is of 
white-speckled bluish grey with yellow beak, and 
of a size slightly larger, I think, than the ordinary 
British stock-dove. This fine variety inhabits 
the forested portion of the higher altitudes, and 
is exceedingly shy and wary. I have been in- 
formed that they are numerous in certain portions 
of the Shupanga Forest, which I should have 
regarded as rather low for them, were it not that 
some few years ago I actually shot one not very 
far from Lacerdonia. 

Partridges, consisting of two different species 



OTHER BIRDS 337 

of francolin in the forest, and a third, a larger 
and much more sporting bird not unUke the 
British variety, in the higher portions of the 
country, may occasionally be shot. As a rule, I 
find, the most favourable opportunities occur 
when one is armed with a rifle. The open grass 
country abounds with quail of, I believe, two or 
three species, whilst here and there the good- 
looking painted snipe may occasionally be flushed. 
The last mentioned, however, are far from 
numerous, and many persons familiar with this 
part of Africa are entirely unaware of their 
occurrence. 

For those who are interested in obtaining 
striking ornithological specimens there are many 
types among the shore birds and waders, and 
among the marsh-dwellers of Zambezia, as well 
as hundreds of others which are well worthy of 
preservation. Foremost among these come the 
rarely beautiful saddle-billed storks, the crested 
crane — ^that splendid creature which grows so 
touchingly tame, and which should be sedulously 
encouraged to acclimatise itself in England in 
place of the deafening and often frowsy peacock. 
In addition to the foregoing there are to select 
from about twenty-six varieties of pelicans, 
cormorants, storks, and herons ; twelve of ducks 
and geese ; twenty-five of hawks, buzzards, kites, 
eagles, and falcons ; ten of kingfishers, and about 
fourteen of jewel-like sunbirds — those rarely 
beautiful creatures, the vividly iridescent sheen of 
whose exquisite polychromatic feathers makes one 
at times almost gasp with surprise and pleasure, 



338 OTHER BIRDS 

and for which there is really no good basis of 
comparison possible. All these there are, and 
between seven and eight hundred others. It 
cannot, therefore, be justly said that bird life on 
the banks of the great East African river is not 
fully as representative as it probably is in any 
other portion of the continent. 



CHAPTER XV 

TSETSE FLY : GAME RESERVES 

The presence of the common tsetse fly in various 
parts of Zambezia, as doubtless the intending 
visitor to this great area is hkely to discover at 
the cost of his patience before he has explored 
very much of it, impels me to write at least a 
portion of a chapter upon this insect, and upon its 
relationship to sleeping sickness in man, disease 
in cattle, and to its dependence or otherwise upon 
the African game beasts. 

Hitherto in these pages I have been at no little 
pains, sometimes almost at the sacrifice of clear- 
ness, to avoid the use of scientific or technical 
terms for the reasons explained in my preface ; 
but I fear it would be well-nigh impossible to 
elucidate my meaning did I continue to do so in 
dealing with the important considerations to 
which the contemplation of tsetse flies and their 
fell work gives rise. 

I will begin, therefore, by dealing with the 
elementary facts that whilst sleeping sickness was 
until recently believed to be a malady spread by 
the tsetse fly whose scientific name is Glossina 
palpalis, the member of the same unnecessary 
family whose mission was supposed to consist in 
the dissemination of Trypanosomiasis, or "fly 



340 TSETSE FLIES 

disease," a sickness fatal to horses and generally 
to domestic stock, was known as Glossina morsi- 
tans, the two being by the layman practically 
indistinguishable. 

Sleeping sickness has probably been in ex- 
istence in West Africa for several centuries ; some 
of the earliest writings descriptive of the voyages 
of the slavers who visited the coast in the seven- 
teenth century stating that care was exercised in 
the selection of the negroes purchased lest any 
should be included exhibiting swollen neck 
glands, as it was found that these did not long 
survive. How long this terrible malady took to 
cross the continent from west to east there are, of 
course, no means of knowing, but, about fifteen 
years ago, attention in England began to be 
attracted by the appalling reports of native mor- 
tality occurring from this cause in Uganda, es- 
pecially in Busoga, and on the shores and islands 
of Lake Victoria as well as in the division called 
Kavirondo. The services of such medical ex- 
perts as we then possessed were promptly 
requisitioned, and after careful study it was 
found that the mysterious disease was caused by 
the injection into the human system of a minute 
parasite or trypanosome called Trypanosoma 
gamhiense, named after the region in West Africa 
wherein it had first been recorded. It was also 
conclusively proved that such injection was 
effected during the bite of the tsetse fly stated 
above. The progress of the disease to which 
the bite of this fly was found to give rise 
signalised itself in a swelling of the neck glands. 



TSETSE FLIES 341 

fever, pronounced physical and mental languor 
and, in later stages, great emaciation and the 
irresistible desire to sleep from which the malady 
takes its name. From the outset of discovery of 
infection there were few, if any, survivals, and to 
increase the gravity of the matter it was soon 
found that Europeans were susceptible almost as 
much as the natives, who were, of course, the 
chief sufferers. No remedy has as yet, so far as 
I am aware, been discovered, and the only steps 
which it has been found possible to take have 
been those of carefully segregating affected per- 
sons, and the removal of human habitations back 
from the shores of lakes and other waterways 
which the insect disseminator of the sickness 
selects as his favourite dwelling-place. 

As years went on it became gradually evident 
that sleeping sickness was spreading southward. 
Slowly but surely it passed along the western 
shore of Tanganyika, and thence, to the dismay 
of the administration and the settlers, it found its 
way little by little into the hitherto healthy up- 
lands of North-Eastern Rhodesia, where it has 
proved, especially during the last three or four 
years, a hard problem for the local medical staff, 
as, to make matters more serious, especially from 
the point of view of attracting the immigrants 
necessary to the country's development, a number 
of cases, which afterwards proved fatal, were 
identified among Europeans already established. 
This in itself was bad enough, but what added a 
hundred-fold to the perplexities of the medical 
officials of the British South Africa Company was 
23 



842 TSETSE FLIES 

the fact that, in spite of the most careful and 
systematic search, with the exception of one or 
two well-defined areas, no trace of the Glossina 
palpalis, the hitherto supposed sole means of the 
distribution of sleeping sickness, could be found 
throughout the length and breadth of the land. 
The common cattle tsetse, Glossina morsitans, 
was very generally present in North-Eastern 
Rhodesia, it is true, but so far that insect had not 
aroused suspicion. 

My readers will probably be vainly asking 
themselves how all this affects the well-being of 
wild game in Zambezia ; but I would crave 
their patience yet a little, for we are coming to 
that. 

About three years ago, some person, I fancy 
of European origin, who had been found suffering 
from sleeping sickness in a portion of North- 
Eastern Rhodesia which had already gained a 
somewhat sinister reputation by reason of the 
relatively large number of cases discovered there, 
was sent home to England and examined at one 
of the great establishments which devote special 
attention to bacteriological problems. Here it 
was found that the trypanosome or parasite 
contained in his blood exhibited marked differ- 
ences from those hitherto identified as the result 
of the bite of Glossina palpalis, the new germ 
being at once named after its country of origin, 
Trypanosoma rhodesiense. 

About this time, the planters of the Nyasa- 
land Protectorate became alarmed at the fre- 
quency with which cases of sleeping sickness 



TSETSE FLIES 848 

appeared in their midst, coming, as it were, from 
nowhere, and also in spite of the complete absence 
of Glossina palpalis. They also grew increasingly 
uneasy at what they regarded as the inexplicable 
spread in their midst of the common cattle- 
killing fly Glossina morsitans. To increase the 
mystery some fine healthy specimens of the 
newly discovered Rhodesian parasite just re- 
ferred to were found in the blood of a missionary 
said to have been undoubtedly infected in 
Nyasaland, the assumption rapidly gaining 
ground that the sleeping sickness which had 
appeared in North-Eastern Rhodesia and the 
type discovered in Nyasaland were one and the 
same, and produced by identical means, whatever 
they might be. As the best method of inquiring 
into these momentous matters was evidently 
to employ experts, an important commission 
was appointed in 1912 by the British South 
Africa Company to investigate the whole 
question of sleeping sickness within their terri- 
tory, and, about the same time, another com- 
mission, under the able direction of Sir David 
Bruce, commenced its important labours in the 
Nyasaland Protectorate. 

The former established itself in the Loangwa 
Valley, at or near the spot where the case of 
sleeping sickness which had furnished the clue 
to the new parasite had been contracted. Here 
the medical men entrusted with this difficult 
task began their investigations, and proceeded 
step by step to trace the source or main reservoir 
of the parasite, and the reason for the outbreak 



344 TSETSE FLIES 

of the terrible malady in a country where no 
trace of the Glossina palpalis, the sole known 
medium of the disease's transmission, could be 
found. The attention of these experts was first 
attracted to the fact that although the last- 
named insect was apparently wholly absent, 
the other commoner member of the family, the 
transmitter of "fly disease " in cattle, existed in 
extensive belts. Investigation into the latter 
insect's habits, peculiarities, and mode of life 
were then pushed forward, with the somewhat 
startling result that his responsibility for the 
conveyance of the newly discovered sleeping 
sickness parasite was placed beyond doubt. 

Here then was the whole secret ; but with its 
discovery science found itself confronted by 
difficulties compared with which those attending 
the elimination of the disease in Uganda paled 
into utter insignificance. Here is the reason. 
Glossina palpalis, the first discovered spreading 
agency of the parasite of the disease, is an insect 
to whose existence water in fairly large volumes 
appears to be necessary. They dwell and pro- 
pagate upon the shores of lakes, rivers, and 
fairly large streams. By the removal of human 
habitations from the vicinity of water, therefore, 
the destructive activity of this fly is at once 
checked, and the cases of infection greatly 
reduced in number. But what preventive 
measures could be adopted to prevent the spread 
of sleeping sickness disseminated by the newly 
discovered medium ? Glossina morsitans appar- 
ently cares nothing for water. Its myriads 



TSETSE FLIES 345 

cover the face of the country in belts sometimes 
70 or 80 miles across. The bush in district, 
no matter how dry, is full of them. They bite 
human beings and animals alike incessantly from 
sunrise to sunset, and make life on the road one 
long purgatory. In the case of this insect, 
therefore, there was no place to which the 
unhappy people could be removed unless they 
abandoned the country altogether. To make 
matters worse, it could not be stamped out by 
the collection or destruction of its eggs. The 
tsetse fly does not deposit eggs like the general 
mass of insects. Its larva is extruded perfect 
from the oviduct of the female, and is dropped 
in a shady place, preferably in loose crumbHng 
soil. There it creeps into the earth, grows so 
dark in colour as to become practically indis- 
tinguishable from its surroundings, and in a 
short time turns into the pupal or chrysalis 
stage. Each female fly, with a lifetime of three 
or four months, may produce eight or ten of these 
larva, so that when one comes to reflect upon the 
propagatory activities of a large belt of tsetse 
flies, the hopelessness of attempting to extermin- 
ate them in the undeveloped stage will be readily 
appreciated. 

The Loangwa Valley commissioners now 
turned their attention to ascertaining what 
constituted the host, or main reservoir, of the 
new sleeping sickness parasite, the Trypanosoma 
rhodesiense, and to this end began the systematic 
examination of the blood of a large number of 
wild and domestic animals, including that of 



346 TSETSE FLIES 

elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lion, buffalo, 
fourteen different species of antelope, and that 
of many small mammals, including monkeys, 
rats, and mice. The conclusions at which they 
arrived, as the result of this extensive investiga- 
tion, were of great importance. They indicated 
that a number of the antelopes (percentage and 
names not stated) were found to be infected with 
trypanosomes identical with those producing 
sleeping sickness in human beings and " fly 
disease " in domestic stock. Taking the great 
game as a whole, it was found that something 
like fifty per cent of the animals were so in- 
fected, although, doubtless owing to oversight, 
or possibly uncertainty as to the species to 
which they belonged, the names of the innocent 
varieties have not, so far as I am aware, been as 
yet made known to us. 

So far, then, the commission had succeeded 
in carrying out the task entrusted to them. 
They had found that in North-Eastern Rhodesia, 
and Nyasaland also, in all probability, the trans- 
mitting agent of sleeping sickness which had 
grown so gravely common was, without doubt, 
the hitherto unsuspected common Glossina 
morsitans, whose previous character, though 
besmirched by its offences against horses and 
cattle, had never been assailed by suspicion of 
crime so grave as the spread of sleeping sickness. 
To complete their success the commissioners 
had further placed their fingers upon the reservoir 
or host of the hitherto mysterious parasites of the 
terrible disease. 



TSETSE FLIES 347 

We are now approaching, little by little, the 
raison d'etre of this chapter. 

I remember a couple of years or so ago per- 
using in certain Nyasaland and Rhodesian news- 
papers indignant letters from angry settlers 
fixing responsibility upon the moderately close 
proximity of certain game beasts for the presence 
of tsetse flies, which they not unnaturally re- 
garded as a standing menace to their cattle 
and other beasts, although, at that time, in 
common with the rest of the world, they were 
unaware of the more serious powers which these 
insects unsuspectedly wielded. Proposals were 
set on foot to present petitions to the respective 
administrations pleading for the immediate 
wholesale destruction of all game beasts in order 
that the tsetse flies, having nothing more to feed 
upon, might be induced to pass along to some 
other and farther removed area, leaving the 
civilised haunts to the European and his indis- 
pensable instrument the native. About the same 
time interest in the United Kingdom was 
stimulated by an ably-conducted controversy 
which took place in the columns of a leading 
sporting journal, sustained by that careful 
observer Sir Alfred Sharpe on the one hand, and 
Mr. F. C. Selous on the other. The matter in 
dispute, so far as I remember, affected the 
question of how far the presence of game in a 
district was responsible for that of tsetse flies, 
and to what extent, if any, the removal or 
extermination of game beasts, in areas in which 
these insects occurred, would lead in turn to 



348 TSETSE FLIES 

their final extinction. Others, myself included, 
joined in the discussion, but I fancy but little 
beyond assertion against assertion was reached. 
At all events the public began to realise the 
trend of events, and the danger in which Africa's 
splendid fauna was soon to find itself. That 
danger now begins to assume an acute form. 

Speaking at a meeting held recently under the 
auspices of the Liverpool School of Tropical 
Medicine, Dr. Warrington Yorke, one of those 
gifted experts whose researches in Rhodesia laid 
bare the important results which I have just 
outlined, attempted to furnish something in the 
nature of a suggestion as to how far the diffi- 
culties of dealing with so apparently hopeless a 
proposition as the rooting out of sleeping sick- 
ness could be overcome. He proposed that, as 
there was considerable evidence that tsetse flies 
spread with the game, and increased in numbers 
as the herds increased — as the great game 
formed the reservoir of sleeping sickness virus, 
which the fly transmitted to the human being, the 
only chance of getting rid of the possibility of 
further infection was to " drive back the game 
from the neighbourhood of human habitations." 
He further proposed that a census of the popula- 
tion should be taken, and the proportion suffering 
from sleeping sickness noted, an index of the 
percentage of infected flies ascertained, and these 
steps repeated over prolonged intervals of time. 
The keynote of the address, however, was the 
driving back of the great game from the neigh- 
bourhood of human habitations, as though it 



TSETSE FLIES 349 

were to be found in the village gardens, inter- 
mixing sociably with the goats and fowls. It 
rather reminded one of the suggestion by Lewis 
Carroll's walrus of the employment of " seven 
maids with seven mops." 

Taking as a whole the observations of Dr. 
Warrington Yorke and other experts, one is 
irresistibly forced to the conclusion that these 
gentlemen are one and all unshakably imbued 
with the firmly-rooted impression that the 
presence of tsetse, flies invariably presupposes 
the presence of game. You see repeatedly in 
their writings, and in the accounts of their public 
utterances, such phrases as " Drive back the 
game," " This fauna is antagonistic to civilisa- 
tion," " The big game must go," and so on. If 
this be so ; if this be indeed their firm con- 
viction, then my opinion, based upon twenty 
years' observation in fly-infested countries, and 
supported by that of a number of far more com- 
petent students of this complex question than I 
am, is that they are simply beating the air, and 
advocating, without any proper sense of their 
responsibilities, measures of the success of which 
they cannot afford the smallest guarantee. 

With regard to the dependence of these 
insects upon game, it may be convenient here to 
mention that, equally with a number of other 
sportsmen and observers, I am acquainted with 
enormous fly-belts in Portuguese East Africa, 
where for many miles tsetse flies are a daily and 
constant source of annoyance, and have been 
so for many years, but where there is not the 



850 TSETSEjiFLIES 

smallest trace of game, nor recollection of its 
occurrence among the more elderly of the native 
inhabitants. 

In 1908 I was ordered to proceed for certain 
purposes upon an official tour in the division of 
Africa which I have just mentioned, in the course 
of which I crossed over on foot from the Indian 
Ocean at the port of Ibo to the south-eastern 
corner of Lake Nyasa at a point in British 
Nyasaland called Fort Maguire. Twice on this 
journey did my expedition, upon which I was 
accompanied by the well-known zoologist and 
authority upon great game, Major J. Stevenson- 
Hamilton, pass through extensive fly-belts, one 
of which must have been fully 80 miles in width. 
It lay between the M'salu and Lujenda rivers, 
and throughout its extent we were all badly 
bitten. Arrived at the village of an elderly 
headman named Che-chequeo in the Yao country, 
at which the insects still mercilessly annoyed us, 
he told me that the country through which 
we had passed since leaving M'salu was known to 
his people as the " fly country," and had cer- 
tainly contained no game within his recollection. 
I had, on this occasion, about eighty men to feed, 
and, as will be easily understood, I lost no oppor- 
tunity of obtaining animal food for them ; but 
throughout this and other fly country through 
which we passed, where, if there be any point in 
the contentions of those who advocate game 
extermination, we should have found the country 
teeming with animals, we discovered, in spite 
of our constant searches, neither game nor game 



TSETSE FLIES 851 

spoor. Soon after we had passed the fly country, 
however, we encountered game, not very plenti- 
fully it is true, but sufficient to enable us to 
provide our hard-worked carriers and servants 
with a welcome change of diet. I could, if it 
were necessary, cite other instances of fly- 
infested, game] ess areas. 

In the light of these indisputable facts one 
asks oneself in vain by what means these countless 
thousands of insects feed themselves. It cannot 
be upon human beings, because villages do not 
occur far from the waters of the two rivers I have 
mentioned ; it cannot be upon game, for to all 
intents and purposes there is none ; and it cannot 
be upon the small mammals, because these are 
almost all nocturnal, and do not leave their day- 
light refuges until after the tsetse fly's period of 
activity. Putting these aside, it seems highly 
improbable, when we come to consider the average 
duration of this insect's life, that it can maintain 
itself exclusively during the whole of that period 
upon the blood of reptiles, yet here we are con- 
fronted with an immense, fly-infested area, which 
is known to have been the haunt of the tsetse for 
many years, and in which it is impossible to 
discover, in the blood of any living creature, 
sufficient nutrition to account for their long- 
continued presence. In these circumstances it is 
difficult indeed to imagine what useful purpose 
can be served by advancing the contention that 
the extirpation of the large, four-footed mammals 
would infallibly be followed by the disappearance 
of the fly. 



352 TSETSE FLIES 

In the public speeches of Dr. Warrington 
Yorke much importance has been attached to the 
theory that by " driving back " Africa's magnifi- 
cent fauna, only a portion of which, as he himself 
admits, has shown itself to afford hospitality to 
the sleeping sickness parasite, the main reservoir 
of infectivity will be removed ; but I cannot 
understand how this portion of the case can 
possibly be considered (viewed from the stand- 
point of our present knowledge) to have been fully 
made out. To begin with, we have, so far as I 
am aware, no evidence of the role played as hosts 
of disease by the hundreds of species of diurnal 
birds commonly found in the affected portions of 
the sub-continent ; moreoever, if we were to dis- 
miss them one and all from consideration, we must 
not forget that in some cases where parasites have 
been discovered in the blood of certain of the 
four-footed types examined, it was found, I under- 
stand, that they were so few and far between that 
their discovery was only effected after long and 
patient search. One may thus, I think, form, with 
some slight approximation to certainty, a faint 
idea of how many times the animal might be 
bitten without infecting the puncturing fly at all. 
It is perhaps possible that the beast might pass 
from infancy to old age without bestowing one of 
its rarely- occurring parasites upon a single tsetse. 
Again, although, I doubt not, it will be said that 
the present is no time for temporising, and that 
every potential source of infection must be ruth- 
lessly " driven back," I cannot refrain from 
pointing out our entire want of evidence that the 



TSETSE FLIES 858 

infectivity of beasts of any kind may not be an 
accidental or temporary condition, and not by 
any means one of life-long duration. 

The Secretary of State for the Colonies, the 
Right Hon. L. V. Harcourt, has pointed out with 
absolute understanding of the matter that *' to 
talk of the extermination of the wild fauna of a 
sub-continent is to talk wild nonsense," adding 
that " the suggestion is only possible from those 
who take their natural history and geography 
from a school atlas." With this view, I feel sure, 
all those who have considered this matter with 
calmness and judgment cannot but fully concur. 
If, then, the difficulties of extermination be so 
stupendous, what measure of success, I ask, is 
likely to attend the " driving back " of the many 
types of active ruminants accustomed to travel in 
one short night many miles farther than they 
could be driven in several long and weary days ? 
Of course if Dr. Warrington Yorke's methods of 
*' driving back " are such as he would desire to 
see entrusted to the wanton, armed native, or the 
murderous " biltong " manufacturer, to whom I 
have referred elsewhere, he should be frank and 
say so. 

Let us regard the question from another point 
of view. It is a well-established fact, as I myself 
have just pointed out from my own experience, 
that for reasons of which we are still entirely 
ignorant tsetse flies adhere to the same areas for 
long periods of time, wholly irrespective and 
independent of the presence of game therein. 
About the year 1896, the visitation of rinderpest 



354 TSETSE FLIES 

depopulated certain game areas wherein these 
insects were well established. In its terrible 
march through the country this disease did not 
depopulate every portion of it ; many small 
areas were entirely untouched, and it is the 
descendants of the fortunate dwellers therein who 
are now slowly restocking the country. In 
Nyasaland, for example, the destruction wrought 
by the rinderpest upon animal life in no way, 
district for district, affected the previous presence 
of the tsetse. They were there before the 
rinderpest, when doubtless they waxed fat upon 
the blood of the multitudinous mammals the 
country contains, but the destruction of the 
game affected them not a whit — ^there they con- 
tinued. When I was in Nyasaland in 1911, I 
found the inhabitants, most of whom to me were 
more or less new-comers, almost panic-stricken 
because, as they stated, tsetse flies were now 
appearing in new and previously unvisited locali- 
ties ; but, as I reminded them, that is one of the 
peculiarities regarding the insect for which science 
is unable, in spite of commissions, and experts, 
and men possessed of special knowledge, to afford 
us any explanation. If they come they come, 
and means may be devised to rid the country of 
them, but the fact of their having chosen, as in 
these cases, portions of the Nyasaland districts 
where game is decidedly scarce, would not appear 
to hold out much hope of success to Dr. Warring- 
ton Yorke's scheme of getting rid of the tsetse 
fly by " driving the animals back." 

Personally, I feel convinced that the tsetse 



TSETSE FLIES 855 

has other sources of obtaining nourishment than 
those afforded by the presence of the blood of 
either wild or domestic beasts. I am satisfied 
that on no less than two occasions I have seen 
these insects in the act of sucking vegetable 
juices, and I have conveyed full particulars of my 
observations to the proper quarter. My state- 
ments were apparently not welcomed, and there, 
so far as I am concerned, the matter ends. I may 
have been mistaken ; I may be told that the pro- 
boscis of the tsetse fly does not admit of this 
insect's alimentation by other means than those 
afforded by mammalian blood, but I shall always 
firmly believe that they are, upon occasion, 
capable of maintaining themselves upon vege- 
table juices, and I shall always believe that I have 
seen them in the act of doing so.^ 

Let me not, however, be understood, in any 
single word that I have penned upon this import- 
ant subject, as having been actuated by any 
desire to undervalue or belittle the splendid and 
invaluable services which, in this most difficult 
and delicate investigation, expert and courageous 
men like Dr. Warrington Yorke and his devoted 
colleagues have so successfully rendered, not only 
to science, but to every individual, of whatsoever 
nationality, who may seek in the future a South 
Central African home. Their deeds and their 
discoveries will live for ever, and nobody more than 
myself will entertain for them a greater or more 

^ In the Republic of Liberia, where I_have recently located 
Glossina palpalis, this insect is commonly called the "Mango 
Fly " from its alleged fondness for the fruit of that tree. 



856 TSETSE FLIES 

abiding admiration. But what I would most 
earnestly implore of them is patience yet awhile. 
The epoch-making facts which they have brought 
to light will lose nothing of their value by the 
lapse of the time necessary to enable us properly 
to appreciate them. Let us, therefore, not be 
hasty, nor yet too drastic in our first applied 
remedies, and, above all, let us be sure before we 
adopt our preventive measures that they con- 
stitute in very truth the only way out. Do not 
condemn to extirpation even the meanest detail 
of the African fauna until the blood of every 
living creature containing it, from the eagle in the 
zenith to the serpent in his hole, has been care- 
fully examined, so that no small unsuspected host 
continue unharmed whilst the great fauna are 
ruthlessly slaughtered. 

I hold no brief for wild beasts beyond my 
boundless admiration for them as one of the 
most attractive and absorbing features of the 
African landscape. It is indeed well within the 
bounds of probability that I may never again see 
in its wild state another African mammal ; but 
while my voice is heard in connection with that 
great continent wherein I have passed the best 
years of my life, I shall raise it in defence of the 
defenceless fauna until we know beyond question 
that that fauna must go. 

Since the signature in 1900 by all the European 
powers possessing Spheres of Influence in Africa 
of a Convention for the protection of the fauna 
of that continent, which, I believe, was largel}^ 
the humane idea of the late Sir Clement Hill, 



ABUSES 857 

then at the head of the African Department of 
the Foreign Office, much has been done to put a 
period to the indiscriminate and wanton slaughter 
whose recital, in books printed as a rule by 
" sportsmen " thirsting for notoriety, had at last 
aroused public deprecation in England. 

About that time the slaughter of game, un- 
checked by anything in the nature of properly 
framed and enforced regulations, proceeded at a 
rate which entirely denuded immense and formerly 
populous areas, leaving them in the bare, desolate 
condition of so many hundreds of thousands of 
square miles of monotonous, shot-out country 
over which the South African train- traveller gazes 
from his carriage window to-day. 

The International Convention came just in 
time to save the game of Zambezia, and other 
portions of Portuguese East Africa as well. Up 
to that time no steps had been taken. For a 
ludicrously small sum the slaughterer might — 
and usually did — wade through seas of un- 
necessarily spilled blood. In 1898, during a 
short tour of duty at the British Consulate at 
Beira, the district behind which small port was 
at that time one in which good shooting was ob- 
tainable, I heard of cases of butchery which often 
aroused my indignation, and cases not always 
perpetrated by the ignorant or irresponsible. 
One instance of scandalous abuse has always 
clung to my memory as possibly the worst to 
come to my knowledge. This was committed by 
a hunting party from one of the South African 
towns who visited the district about that time. 
24 



358 ABUSES 

These men were said to have boasted on their 
return to Beira of having shot in one month over 
600 head of wild animals, or an average of more 
than twenty a day. The professional hunter who 
accompanied them, and who informed me of what 
had taken place, was moved at length to re- 
monstrance when he saw two of these creatures 
actually shoot eleven brindled gnu in one morning, 
leaving their carcases untouched, and lying upon 
the plain, a prey for the hyena and the vulture. 

In the Nyasaland Protectorate, somewhere 
about 1894, great amusement was created by the 
originality of a certain naval officer who was said, 
I believe with truth, to have taken his blue- 
jackets ashore and concluded their annual mus- 
ketry course, with satisfactory results, by volley- 
firing at long ranges at a target formed by the 
large herds of buffaloes which at that time 
occurred upon the banks of both the Zambezi and 
the Shire Rivers. Generally speaking, the whole 
wretched business was looked upon as a great 
joke, and never a thought went out to the numbers 
of innocent creatures, immature calves and cows 
heavy with young, dragging out the miserable 
remnant of their pain-racked days in the agony 
induced at every movement by their festering 
wounds and shattered limbs. 

Then take the bloodthirsty " biltong " brig- 
ands, and the hunters of meat for sale. The 
Beira and Mashonaland Railway in 1898, and for 
several years before, ran through a country be- 
tween the sea and the mountains of the Southern 
Rhodesian border which was full of game, and 



ABUSES 359 

here these slayers, with a perseverance which to 
me seems devilish, and wholly unchecked by the 
Mozambique Company, shot daily. Every morn- 
ing there arrived by train, as also by boat from 
the Pungwe River, numbers of carcases of antelopes 
of all kinds, some for immediate consumption and 
some probably for transformation into " biltong." 
What is the result ? Eight years later, in Sep- 
tember 1906, I came down by train from Salisbury 
to Beira, and crossed once more the enormous 
expanses surrounding Fontesvilla, which in my 
previous recollection were full of game. On the 
whole journey, however, I did not see one single 
living animal. 

Twelve years ago Beira was full of skins and 
heads and horns of game beasts. If you were a 
buyer you could secure any specimen you desired 
for next to nothing. Four European professional 
hunters conducted parties to the interior, each of 
these netting £100 a month for his services upon 
the trip. It is evident, therefore, that, as their 
patrons never were heard to complain of ineffi- 
ciency on the part of these men, the return on 
their investments must have been a large one. 

But what has Beira and its formerly populous 
game districts to show to-day for all this wanton 
heedlessness of big game butchery ? A few 
ancient, worm-eaten horns hang from the ceilings 
of one or two deserted stores, growing more and 
more unsaleable year by year. None of the old- 
time European hunting cicerones remain, nor 
have others come to take their places. 

The whole fact of the matter is that the 



360 GAME RESERVES 

Mozambique Company's territory is no longer 
what it was, and game must now be worked for so 
hardly as to make it doubtful whether the result 
justifies the outlay and hardship involved. I 
believe the Company have established one game 
reserve, but my recollection is that it was selected 
at a spot where at no time were animals very 
plentiful nor varieties extraordinarily diversified. 
I doubt, therefore, if it has served any strikingly 
useful purpose, the more so as I have never heard 
of the appointment of any person possessed of 
technical knowledge or trained observation in the 
capacity of warden, nor have I seen any published 
reports of the results of the experiment. 

The only other game reserves within the 
Portuguese possessions in East Africa are at 
Inhambane, of which one never hears anything, 
and in the extreme south of the district of 
Lourengo Marques. Regarding the latter, my 
charge against the Mozambique Company rela- 
tive to lack of trained personnel repeats itself, 
and with this addition, namely, that the authori- 
ties actually permit on occasion privileged persons 
to shoot within the limits of this sanctuary. 
This I have never heard of the Mozambique 
Company doing, but then I do not suppose that 
the contents of their reserve would justify them 
in doing so. 

In the Nyasaland Protectorate there are two 
game reserves which up to 1911 had admirably 
fulfilled their humane purpose, and whose 
sanctity had, I think, never been violated. 
Unhappily in that year the restrictions placed 



GAME RESERVES 861 

upon shooting in the more important of these 
near Chiromo were largely removed, with the 
result that the area was promptly invaded by 
representatives of a type which is ever waiting 
to take advantage of such an opportunity. These 
doubtless worked their will upon the long-pro- 
tected and bewildered animals, and it is sad to 
think of what must have taken place. 

Of the several reserves established in British 
South Africa, perhaps the most important in the 
results it has given is that situated between the 
Drakensberg and the Lebombo Mountains, and 
widely known as the Sabi Reserve. The super- 
vision of this large area is vested in a warden, 
and he is assisted by a number of European 
and native rangers and police. Major J. 
Stevenson-Hamilton, the present warden, who 
has for so many years watched unremittingly 
over its welfare, has attained most remarkably 
successful results by the uncompromising 
thoroughness with which his methods have been 
followed. Indeed it would be difficult to find 
anywhere one possessed of and exercising such 
methodical patience in the pursuit of efficiency. 
I firmly believe that the warden of the Sabi 
Reserve knows the greater part of his animals 
by sight, and is almost on bowing terms with 
many of them. Certainly there is not the 
smallest detail connected with them, their 
histories or their habits, with which he is not 
perfectly acquainted, and the result of all this 
untiring care and study places him, without 
doubt, in the foremost rank of contemporary 



362 GAME RESERVES 

zoologists. It may be remembered that the 
success of South Africa's gift of a wonderful 
game collection to the King on the occasion of 
His Majesty's coronation was, I believe, wholly 
due to Major Stevenson-Hamilton's efforts, which 
his many friends both at home and abroad still 
look to see suitably recognised. 

I have no hesitation in stating that of all the 
game sanctuaries I have mentioned, that which 
I have last referred to is the only one which can 
be regarded as completely fulfilling the purposes 
for which it was intended, or at all events comes 
nearest to doing so. For although the estab- 
lishment of these areas has received a certain 
amount of more or less apathetic attention in 
all the British Spheres of Influence in Africa, 
the adoption of proper measures for the well- 
being of the species sought to be preserved and 
increased has not always been allowed to 
monopolise sufficient attention. It is all very 
well to publish in the official Gazettte of a colony 
or protectorate the boundaries of a large area 
in which the hunting or taking of game is for- 
bidden ; but it is quite another to take the proper 
measures, by the allocation of suitable annual 
grants of money, and the employment of a 
properly selected staff, for the realisation of the 
purposes of the increase and protection of game. 
Of course we must not lose sight of the diffi- 
culties with which in these regards our admini- 
strators are surrounded ; their positions do not 
always enable them to carry out much which is 
obviously desirable. For all that, however, I 



GAME RESERVES 363 

fear we do not sufficiently realise that in the 
important matter of game preservation ; in 
relation to the wonderful fauna of Africa, a 
fauna probably unsurpassed in any portion 
of the world's surface which so many of our 
colonies contain to-day, we are merely the 
trustees of posterity, and have no right or title 
at the behest of irresponsible and not seldom 
self-seeking individuals to allow the birth -right 
of the future to be imperilled by the perhaps 
immaturely considered decrees of to-day. 

In this connection I think that the un- 
doubted benefits which have resulted from the 
formation of game protection societies, especially 
in certain portions of South Africa, are such as 
should give rise to an extension of the move- 
ment to others of our dependencies where the 
advantages of these associations may not have 
received sufficient attention. From such bodies 
as these, and from the salutary influences which 
they undoubtedly wield, public opinion is largely 
formed, and my own view of the question of game 
preservation is that in public opinion properly 
moulded will the game beasts of the future find 
their chief protection. After all, when one comes 
seriously to consider the question, the safeguards 
afforded by regulations and reserves are far from 
being measures upon which for game preserva- 
tion permanent reliance can be securely placed. 
Governors come and go, and with the arrival of 
each new-comer, did the wild things but know 
the issues involved, a tremor of apprehension 
might well thrill through the heart of the jungle. 



364 GAME RESERVES 

I do not suppose that such measures are ever 
taken without grave reflection, nor do I imagine 
for one moment that any one of our hard-worked 
administrators ever dreamed of sacrificing the 
sanctity of game reserves or the lives of their 
occupants without feeUng convinced that he was 
actuated by good and sufficient reason. But I 
would beg leave to suggest that before any de- 
finite step is irrevocably taken that such section 
of public opinion as might have interested itself 
in the more complex aspects of game preserva- 
tion should be consulted in an advisory capacity. 
This would do no harm, and might very con- 
ceivably greatly strengthen the action of the 
chief authority, should it be at any time called 
in question. 



CHAPTER XVI 

RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 

The imperfect description of the game families 
and the sporting advantages of the immense 
region of Zambezia contained in the foregoing 
pages will, I sincerely hope, demonstrate to the 
host of sportsmen who annually leave the United 
Kingdom in search of big game the fact that it is 
one which very seriously merits their attention, 
and this not solely and entirely for the large 
number of animals it contains, but for the little 
that is known of this attractive and beautiful 
portion of the African continent. 

Sport and travel are terms which of late years 
have become so closely associated that the former, 
in the judgment of many, largely depends upon 
the amount of interest afforded by the regions in 
which it is enjoyed. Where, for example, would 
any attraction be found to lie if the number of 
wild animals secured during an average successful 
journey to Africa could, by the ministrations of 
some enterprising purveyor, be shot, say, in the 
Essex marshes ? Nobody would do it. It would 
not be worth while. But when, to a fine col- 
lection of interesting and beautiful trophies, is 
added the glamour of having obtained them in 

almost unknown, wild, and romantic surroundings 

365 



366 RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 

— in a land where few have preceded one — such a 
consideration is capable of operating to give rise 
to the execution of prodigies. The number of 
such regions, however, even in the immensity of 
Africa, grows yearly smaller and smaller, so that 
when they come to be temptingly held out to us it 
grows difficult indeed to disregard them. 

For years past the plains of British East Africa 
have been the scenes of most of the game ex- 
peditions of note. So much is this the case that 
even among those who have never participated 
in them there is something of familiarity in the 
names of the different centres, as in the scenery 
depicted in the numberless photographs which 
have laid bare the character of the country for 
the information and entertainment of those at 
home. Who among us, to whom African shooting 
is a matter of interest, has not heard of the Athi 
Plain, the Rift Valley, Taveita, Elgon, Naivasha, 
and all the rest of them ? Who does not conjure up 
before his mental vision, when such names as these 
are pronounced, a wide plain, sometimes covered 
with stunted thorn trees, sometimes offering an 
unexampled view over the short, well-grazed 
verdure, of zebras, gazelles, and hartebeestes ? 
One seems to have seen it all without having been 
there — to have had some of the sport without 
drawing any of the indispensable cheques. But 
farther south it is different; you get your shooting, 
as much as any man is reasonably entitled to, but 
instead of the over-commercial " you draw the 
cheque and we do the rest " methods of British 
East African expedition caterers, you have a new 



RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 867 

land which has not as yet made the grandest of 
sport on earth so overpoweringly business-Hke a 
business proposition. In Zambezia you can take 
more time ; your expenses are considerably less ; 
and there is not the smallest present possibility 
of being jostled by som.e inconvenient European 
with just as much right to be there as you have. 
The region is too vast for that, and in addition to 
its enormous area it fulfils in the most satisfying 
manner one's preconceived and perhaps unspoken 
conception of a great " Land of the Mountain and 
the Flood." With regard to the climate, at the 
the time of year when hunting would normally be 
undertaken, it is as delightful as, with ordinary 
care, it is harmless. 

Of course, with the exception of one or two 
more favoured areas, game is rarely if ever seen 
in the vast numbers in which one can gaze upon 
it in the Rift Valley, or upon the plains between 
Nairobi and Makindu ; but for my own part I 
regard that as no great disadvantage. The man 
who always seems to me to enjoy his hunting the 
most is he who goes out in the morning without 
the faintest idea of what he will find, but sure 
that the day holds out something worth finding. 
His path through the forest is unfailingly pursued 
with that sustained interest to which such con- 
ditions must of necessity give rise. Instead of 
gazing across immensity, and seeing numberless 
suspicious beasts upon the far horizon (if that 
should be what they do in British East Africa), 
he glances with redoubled interest and antici- 
pation upon every thicket and into every glade. 



368 RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 

The next step may bring him full upon the fresh 
spoor of an eland or an elephant, of a rhinoceros 
or a roan, or indeed upon these beasts themselves. 

If any further inducement were wanting, the 
grandeur of the scenery, unspoiled as yet (un- 
fortunately for the economic future of this fair 
land) by railways, motor roads, or manufactures, 
would abundantly supply it once the coast was 
left behind. Nothing in my experience and 
opinion could exceed or approach the wild beauty 
of Boror, of Lugella, of the Namuli Peaks to the 
northward or, farther to the west, of mighty 
Morumbala and gigantic Chiperoni. They ex- 
hibit every variety of African landscape, every 
splendour of Nature in her wildest and most prodi- 
gal moods. If, having set out the foregoing, any 
additional element calculated still further to 
predispose the reader in favour of this wide and 
splendid game country were wanting, it would be 
found, I doubt not, in the kindly willingness of 
the well-disposed, peaceable natives. There are 
none of your boot-shod, blanket-pampered, ex- 
orbitantly paid carriers here ; the men, whilst in 
every sense worthy of their hire, are satisfied with 
humane, just, and reasonable treatment, without 
expecting to have embroidered on to it the sense- 
less indulgences with which the wealthy plutocrats 
who hie them to the plains of British East Africa 
have so delighted to spoil the market for other 
sportsmen quite as keen and possibly keener, but 
unluckily less favoured in their share of this 
world's indispensable goods. 

I must confess, knowing the region as I do, 



RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 369 

that I have never been able to understand why 
it is that so meagre a measure of attention has in 
the past been devoted to Zambezia. It has come 
to be regarded, I am afraid, as a kind of unfor- 
tunate, not very desirable East African waif, and 
its neglect has been so consistent that the country 
as a whole is nowadays rarely spoken of except in 
terms of belittlement and dispraise. Yet those 
who live there — ^those who know it intimately — 
have a very different account to give. Its com- 
mercial capacity is so vast as, of recent years, to 
have gained for it a small, apparently reluctantly- 
conceded measure of periunctory attention, and 
with that attention a half-hearted interest in 
Zambezian game has slowly raised its anaemic 
head. That the country to the north of the 
lower courses of the Zambezi compares favourably 
with that to the south, which for so many years 
was regarded as one of the finest shooting grounds 
in the southern half of East Africa, no longer, to 
my mind, admits of a doubt ; and as the temoter 
districts are reached, the numbers of the game 
beasts are found to be as great as their varieties 
are interesting. Much of this interior consists, as 
described in my book Zambezia, of moderately 
high forested country, from whose irregular un- 
dulations chains of granite mountains at times 
abruptly spring ; but from the Zambezi to the 
Lurio the district is a wonderfully well watered 
one during the whole year, and the plains forming 
the lower levels of such river basins as those of the 
Lugella, Licungo, Ruo, and Shire are well worthy 
of the most careful examination, not so much for 



370 RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 

the sake of what we know to be there, as for that 
which may be. I am of opinion that these un- 
frequented vastnesses of Africa have still much to 
yield us in the way of zoological and other sur- 
prises,, and these rewards not seldom reserve 
themselves for those to whom appreciation of 
sport and travel adds its advantage in the in- 
vestigation of the more untrodden fields of 
African research. 

I am afraid, were it in my power to do so, I 
should devote a large portion of the country lying 
to the north of the Zambezi to the purposes of 
game preservation, and to such a design it would 
admirably lend itself. It possesses all the neces- 
sary qualities for the establishment of a sanctuary 
capable of affording a perfect refuge to every 
beast within its borders, and not only to these, 
but it would admit of most interesting experiments 
in the acclimatisation and propagation of varieties 
from other parts of the country which are tending 
from one cause or another to grow alarmingly 
scarce. This is a phase of game preservation to 
which, I have sometimes thought, sufficient at- 
tention has not in the past been directed. It is of 
course obvious that, left to themselves, certain 
types, such for example as the springbuck, the 
oryxes, and others, have preferred to pass their 
lives on the vast plains of Africa, moved thereto, 
doubtless, by considerations which to observers of 
understanding are perfectly intelligible, and no 
useful result would attend any experiment having 
for its object their removal therefrom ; but there 
are many types among the forest-dwellers un- 



RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 371 

accountably absent from surroundings which, so 
far as can be ascertained, are in all respects 
favourable to their establishment and well-being. 
It seems not to have occurred to zoologists that 
means might be found in our great game reserves 
to introduce and acclimatise many species at 
present unknown in them caught in and imported 
from other and not dissimilar regions where they 
may seem to be growing rarer. What, for ex- 
ample, would there be, save the mere question of 
expense, to prevent the capture and turning down 
of the Congo buffalo in the lower levels of the Sabi 
Reserve, or the introduction of a pair of pygmy 
hippopotami from Liberia into the waters of the 
rivers flowing through the same admirably con- 
ducted refuge ? Nothing could exceed the in- 
terest of such experiments as these, nor their 
value from almost every conceivable point of view. 
To my mind a game reserve should be con- 
ducted more or less upon the lines of a carefully 
tended botanical garden. That is to say, it should 
be made the scene of the propagation and pro- 
tection not only of the animals which it contained 
at the outset, but of every African beast from north, 
south, east, or west which might be induced to 
live and multiply within its limits. I trust the 
day may still be in store for the fauna of Africa 
when every European Sphere of Influence par- 
ticipating in the development of that great con- 
tinent will possess not only well -organised reserves 
for the preservation of their game, but a regular 
system of exchange of the various animals for the 
purpose gradually of widening the distribution of 



372 RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION 

the hardier families. This is, I think, the ideal 
towards which all persons interested in game 
preservation should direct their energies, an ideal 
whose attainment would secure, better than any 
other means, the everlasting safety of the wild 
game of Africa. 



INDEX 



Abyssinia, 39. 

Addo Bush, 7. 

African Lakes Hotel, Chinde, 252. 

Agama, 283. 

" Algernon," 251. 

Ammunition, 292. 

Angoni, the, 127. 

Angwe River, 73. 

Ant-bear, 228. 

Anti-corrosive preparations, 294. 

Aroangwa River, 19. 

Athi Plain, 366. 

Baboon, 239 et seq. 

Bagamoyo, 39. 

Baker, Sir S., 45, 84, 285. 

Balthazar, Senhor, 252. 

Bangweolo, 137. 

Baringo, Lake, 265. 

Barue, the, 126, 169. 

Bateleur eagle, 329, 333. 

Beira, 107, 357 et seq. 

" Biltong " hunters, 15, 358. 

Bird life, 24. 

Blaaubok, 7. 

Black duck, 326. 

Black-necked cobra, 278. 

Black rhinoceros, 63 et seq. 

Black wildebeeste, 7. 

Blantyre, 207. 

Blantyre Mission boys, 269. 

Blister, 310. 

Blue wildebeeste, 127 et seq. 

Bontebok, 7. 

Borassus palm, 21. 

Boror, 39, 128, 166. 

Brindled gnu, 127 et seq. 

British East Africa, 6, ' , 367-8. 

British gunboats on Zambezi, 150. 

Bruce, Sir D., 343. 

Buchanan, late Mr. J., 146. 

Buffaloes, 7, 14, 88 et seq. 

Buphaga, 69. 

Burchell's zebra, 99 et seq. 

Burroughs, Wellcome & Co., 309. 

Bushbuck, 10, 144 et seq. 

Bushpig, 10, 224 et seq. 

25 



Bustards, 334. 
Buzzards, 334. 

Cabinda, 39. 

Camera sportsmen, 5. 

Camp equipment, 298 et seq. 

Camp pitching, 26. 

Cape Province, i . 

Caracal, 11. 

Carnivora, 10. 

Cats, 216. 

Cedar, Central African, 28. 

Chacma, 10, 239. 

Che-chequeo, 350. 

Cheetah, 11, 195. 

Cheringoma, 11, 39. 

Chimpanzee, 254. 

Chinde, 149. 

Chinde River, 77. 

Chiperoni, 27, 39. 

Chiromo, 140. 

Chuabo Dembi, 80. 

Church of Scotland Mission, 282. 

Civets, II, 214. 

Cobra, 278. 

Congo River, 39. 

Cormorants, 337. 

Corj-ndon, Mr., 73, 

Crested crane, 337. 

Crested eagle, 329. 

Crocodile, 20, 259 et seq. 

Curiosity of animals, 13. 

Cuvier, 63. 

" Dambos," 25. 

Dassie, 233. 

Dos Santos, Frade, 89. 

Doves, 320. 

Ducks, 34, 320 et seq. 

Duff, Mr. H. L., 151-2, 282. 

Dugmore, Mr. R., 5. 

Duiker, 10, 155 et seq. 

Eagles, 324. 

East Luabo, 94, 122, 125, 137, 223. 

Edgington tents, 295. 

Egrets, 35, 324. 



374 



INDEX 



Eland, 9, 13, 102 et seq. 
Elgon Mount, 366. 

Falcons, 334. 

Feet, care of the, 310. 

Fens, 23. 

Fishing eagles, 328, 331 et seq. 

Flotilla Co., 268. 

Foa, Monsieur E., 141. 

Fort Maguire, 52, 350. 

Franciscan Mission, 277. 

Francolins, 336. 

Gadzi River, 94. 
Gambia, the, 39. 
Game preservation, 2. 
Game reserves, 360 et seq. 
Gazelles, 8, 9. 
Geckos, 283. 
Geese, dwarf, 34. 
Geese, spur-winged, 34, 322. 
General maxims, 312. 
Genets, 11, 215. 
Giant rat, 223. 
Giraffe, 8, g. 
Gorilla, 254. 
Gorongoza, 12, 67, 69. 
Gnu, brindled, 9, 127 et seq. 
Gnu, Nyasaland, 9. 
Gotzen, late Count, 98. 
Great tawny eagle, 334. 
Grevy's zebra, 98. 
Grivets, 250. 
Ground hornbill, 334. 
Guinea-fowl, 320, 326 et seq. 
Gun-cleaning, 293. 
Gwaza's, 124. 

Hadada, 35. 

Harcourt, Right Hon. L. V., 353. 

Hardinge, Lake, 264. 

Hares, 233. 

Hartebeeste, 9, 132 et seq. 

Hawk eagles, 334. 

Hawks, 334. 

Herald, H.M.S., 321. 

Herons, 35, 337. 

Hill, late Sir C., 356. 

Hippopotamus, 10, 75 et seq. 

Holland & Holland, Messrs., 290. 

Honey badger, 230. 

Hunting dog, 11, 208 et seq. 

Hunting leopard, 195. 

Hunyani River, 73. 

Hyenas, 11, 199 et seq. 

Hyphoene palm, 21. 

Ibo, 52, 350. 
Iguana, 283. 



Impala, 10, 151 et seq. 
Insects, 24. 

Inyamakativa channel, 150. 
Inyamaria channel, 150. 
Inyaminga, 13, 14. 
Inyamissengo, 30, 150, 
Ivory, weight of, 42. 

Jackal, II, 206 et seq. 
" Joao," 244. 

Katungas, 269. 

Kedah estabhshment, 61. 

Kenia, Mount, 65. 

Kingfishers, 337. 

Kirby, Mr. F. V., 64, 112. 

Kites, 334. 

Klipspringer, 10, 161. 

Knysna Forest, 7. 

Kongoni mouth of Zambezi, 94, 

123. 
Kudu, 9, 118 et seq. 

Lado Enclave, 74. 

Lage, Captain, 169. 

Land Tortoise, 283. 

Lankester, Sir R., 37. 

Lawn & Alder, Messrs., 303, 306. 

Lemurs, 252. 

Lenco, 14, 68, 125. 

Leopards, 10, 185 et seq. 

Liberia, 39. 

Lichtenstein hartebeeste, 9, 132. 

Licungo River, 77, 369. 

Liebermeister, A., 14. 

Lions, 10, 165 et seq. 

Lisbon Civil Guard, 249. 

Liverpool School of Tropical 

Medicine, 348. 
Livingstone's suni, 10, 158 et seq. 
Loangwa River, 19, 123. 
Loangwa Valley, 345. 
Luabo, 39. 
Lualua River, 112. 
Luenya River, 126. 
Lugella country, 70, 168. 
Lujenda River, 350. 
Lupata Gorge of the Zambezi, 151. 
Lynx, 193. 

Macdonald, Mr. H. C, 128. 
Machans, 179. 
Macuze River, 77. 
Madingue-dingue River, 124. 
Makanjira's, 53. 
Makindu, 367. 
Mambas, 271 et seq. 
Mammoths, 38. 
Man-eating lions, 173. 



INDEX 



375 



Marshes, 23, 32. 

Martial eagle, 332. 

Marula plum, 46. 

Mashonaland, i. 

Mastodon, 38. 

Matabeleland, i. 

Meupa Mountain, 112. 

Mice, 236. 

Migrations, 12. 

Mlanje, 27. 

Mlokwe, 90. 

Moles, 236. 

Monkeys, 238 et seq. 

Morumbala Mountain, 27, 166. 

Mountain zebra, 98. 

Mozambique, Bishop of, 245. 

Mozambique Company, 19, 358. 

Mozambique Island, 274. 

Mozambique, Province of, 18. 

Mpimbi, 124. 

Msalu River, 350. 

Mudi Stream, 274. 

Mungari River, 31, 125. 

Mungoose, 11, 217 et seq. 

Mupa River, 30. 

Murchison Falls, 77, 151. 

Muterara, 195. 

Nairobi, 367. 

Naivasha, 366. 

Namule Peaks, 368. 

Natal, I. 

Natural History Museum, 42. 

Nile Valley, 39. 

North-Eastem Rhodesia, 39, 343. 

" Ntundus," 30. 

" Nyangalira's family," 14. 

Nyasa, Lake, 44. 

Nyasaiand Game Reserves, 3. 

Nyasaland gnu, 127. 

Nyasaiand Protectorate, 2, 39. 

Orange Free State, i. 
Oribi, 10, 160. 
Oryx, 10. 
Otters, 232. 
Owls, 334. 

Paquin, M., 107. 

Partridges, 336. 

Pelicans, 35, 337. 

Pigeons, 306, 320, 

Pigs, 220. 

Pinda, 27. 

Pizzardi, Marchese de, 141. 

Plains, the, 30, 94. 

Plover, 35. 

Pole-cats, 236. 

Porcupine, 225. 



Provisions, 318. 
Puff adder, 280. 
Pungwe River, 122. 
Python, 274. 

Quagga, 7. 
Quail, 337. 

Rat, giant, 233. 

Rats, 236. 

Red duck, 326. 

Reedbuck, 10, 147 et seq. 

Rhino-bird, 69. 

Rhinoceros, 8, 10, 63 et seq. 

Rhodesia, i. 

Rhodesia, North-Eastern, 39, 343. 

Rifles, 285 et seq. 

Rift Valley, 366. 

Rinderpest, 89, 353. 

Roan antelope, 9, 112 et seq. 

Rock rabbit, 233. 

Roosevelt, Mr. E., loi. 

Rosebery Park, 141. 

" Roughing it," 284. 

Ruffelle-Scott, Rev. D. C, 282. 

Sable antelope, 9, 13, 106 et^seq. 

Saddle-billed stork, 337. 

Samango monkey, 250, 252. 

Sangadzi River, 31. 

Savoy Hotel, Beira, 234. 

Scaly ant-eater, 235. 

Secretary bird, 334. 

Selous, Mr. F. C, 102, 347. 

Serval, 212. 

Sharpe, Sir A., 137, 347. 

Shire River, 77, 151. 

Shupanga Forest, 20, 31, 39. 

Sierra Leone, 39. 

Situtunga, 123. 

Sleeping sickness, 339 et seq. 

Snake birds, 35. 

Snake-bite remedies, 274. 

Snakes, 271. 

Snipe, 337. 

Sofala, 89. 

" Songo," 281. 

Spear-grass, 20. 

Spur-winged goose, 34, 322. 

Squirrels, 236. 

Statham, Major J., 140, 141, 179. 

Steenbuck, 10, 162. 

Stevenson-Hamilton, Major J., 98, 

99, 251, 350, 361. 
Storks, 337. 
Sunbirds, 337. 
Sykes' monkey, 250, 252. 

Tanganyika, Lake, 39, 341. 
Taveita, 366. 



376 



INDEX 



Teal, 35, 324. 

Tete, 169. 

Thomas, Mr. Oldfield, 237. 

Thornton River, 31. 

Tiger cat, 1 1 . 

Torrens, Pere, 277. 

Tortoises, 283. 

Transvaal, the, 2. 

Tsessebe, 137. 

Tsetse flies, 339 et seq. 

Turtle-doves, 335. 

Upper Shire River, 124. 
Urema flats, 122. 
Urema River, 12. 

Vasco da Gania celebrations, 2^ 
Vicente, 202. 
Victoria, Lake, 340. 
Vultures, 334. 
Vunduzi River, 67. 

Warthog, 10, 220 etseq. 
Waterbuck, 9, 13, 122 et seq. 
Water tortoises, 283. 
Weasels, 236. 
Welle River, 62. 
Whimbrels, 35. 



Whistling duck, 326. 
White rhinoceros, 73 et seq. 
Widgeons, 324. 
Wild cats, rr. 
Wild duck, 320. 
Wildebeeste, 13, 127 et seq. 
Wildfowl, 20, 33, 321 et seq. 
Wildsmith & Son, Messrs., 308. 
Winter months, 19. 
Worth, M., 107. 
Wuilleumier, Monsieur R., 166. 

X Compactum Folding Furniture, 
298. 

Yellow baboon, 10, 239. 
Yorke, Dr. Warrington, 348, 349, 
352, 353. 354. 355- 

Zambezi River, 20. 

Zambezia, boundaries of, 19. 

Zambezia, vegetation of, 21. 

Zangwe Marshes, 12. 

Zanzibar, British Agency at, 164. 

Zebras, 8, 9, 13, 97 et seq. 

Zeiss glasses, 309. 

Zomba, 145. 

Zululand Game Reserve, 73. 



Printed by Morrison & Gibd Limited, Edinl/urg^h