Oliver Howard] [Wolfe.

Back log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club online

. (page 16 of 26)
Online LibraryOliver Howard] [WolfeBack log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club → online text (page 16 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

upon animals that it finds already dead, and that it prefers
putrefied meat to that which has been freshly killed. It
is true that it does not abhor the most putrefied carcasses,



but at the same time it has been proven in a great many
instances that the hyena often kills its own prey, which it
devours with the most ravenous appetite. Very often
horses, mules, and donkeys have been killed by these
hyenas, although they have been tied up close to the camp-
fire of the hunting party. Settlers and natives also com-
plain of the continuous attacks of hyenas upon their cattle
and sheep. One gentleman from German East Africa
told me of how three spotted hyenas in one single night
had killed and partly devoured not less than eleven cows
from his herd.

When this beast kills an animal, it generally does it in
such a way that it rips open the belly with its sharp teeth,
and then devours the soft intestines and licks out the
blood from the cavity of the chest. One of the favorite
meals of the hyena seems to be the udder of the cow, and
I have heard of an instance in British East Africa, where
a single hyena killed four cows in one night, devouring
hardly anything else but their udders. That particular
animal was probably not very hungry, for otherwise it
would not have been satisfied with as scanty a meal as that
of four cow udders, as a hyena has been known to devour
almost a whole hartebeest in a single night.

A great many authentic instances are known where
old and half-starved hyenas have grown bold enough to
attack even white men who were sleeping at the time. I
know the truth of the story, which tells of how an English
sportsman, after a hard day's march, was taking an after-
noon nap in his hammock. He had it suspended quite
close to the ground, and had fallen asleep, with his right
arm hanging down over the side of the hammock. He



was awakened by a sudden pain, caused by a bite from a
large hyena, which had taken hold of his hand, attempting
to drag him into the bush. As the hunter awoke and
shouted, the cowardly beast retreated quickly into the
thicket, and, bent on revenge, the sportsman got his rifle
and lay down again in the hammock in the same position
as when the hyena caught his hand. He had only watched
for a few minutes when the hungry beast came crouching
out of the bush to attempt a second attack, only to fall dead
the next moment, struck by a well-aimed bullet between
the eyes.

The hyena is not as strictly nocturnal in its habits as
it is often supposed. Once, when encamped on the eastern
shores of Lake Elmenteita, I had shot two zebras, as related
in the foregoing chapter. Most of the meat of the two
stallions had been brought to camp, while certain parts of
it still remained where the animals had fallen. There, in
broad daylight, a large spotted male hyena came out of
the bush to devour the remains of the zebras, when it was
discovered by some of the porters. These fellows quietly
notified their comrades and, without saying a word to me,
as yet, they surrounded the hyena. With knob-sticks,
spears and poles, they now made a concerted attack on the
beast. Before the men could come near enough to strike,
the hyena darted into a nearby thick bush, where it was
safe from any blows from sticks or poles.

The bush had a circumference of some forty feet, and
the delighted porters now closed in on it from all sides,
yelling at the top of their lungs. This " war-cry " aroused
my suspicion, and, just as I was going to start in that
direction, one of the men came running into camp to tell



me of what had happened. Unfortunately, the bush was
too thick to allow any photographs to be taken of the live
beast, which both Mr. Lang and I studied for several
minutes before I dispatched it with a heart shot. As soon
as we two white men arrived, the hyena seemed to turn
all its attention toward us, and, displaying its big, snow-
white teeth, it growled defiance. Yet it was not cour-
ageous enough to attempt an attack, which a leopard or
lion, for instance, or even a smaller representative of the
cat family, would have done under similar circumstances
without a moment's hesitation.

\ That hyenas often attack and kill old and feeble natives,
and drag little children away from the villages to devour
them in the jungle, is not so much to wonder at, for the
hyena is not the only carnivorous animal which, once
having tasted human flesh, prefers it to any other meat.
The natives themselves are to blame for the hyena's par-
tiality to human flesh, for, as previously remarked, a good
many of the tribes do not bury their dead, but throw their
bodies, as well as, in many cases, old, sick people, whom
they think may be dying, out into the bush for the very
purpose of having them eaten by hyenas and other car-
nivorous animals.

The hyenas often go together in packs of from four to
eight and possibly more, particularly in localities where
there is plenty of game. It has been remarked by some
old and experienced sportsmen that in certain districts
the hyenas have greatly increased after the regions have
been visited regularly by hunting parties. The reason for
this is probably that a great many animals, which had been
perhaps only slightly wounded, and not followed up by



the hunter, have been more easily caught by the hyenas;
and also that a great deal of meat is left on the plains from
animals killed by sportsmen, who in many instances have
only taken off the head and parts of the skin.

The hideous howl of a pack of hyenas can never be for-
gotten, if it has once been listened to in the wilderness.
It begins with a low, growling tone, which generally works
itself up to a high pitch, sounding not very much unlike
the sirens which are used on certain lighthouses. During
one of my visits to the Sotik we had been disturbed several
nights by the incessant howls of hyenas close to the camp.
My Kikuju headman, Mweri, who was very fond of catch-
ing all kinds of game alive, set a trap, in which one of
these ugly-looking monsters was caught. As I wanted to
secure some good photographs of the animal at close quar-
ters, I let it stay in the trap until about seven o'clock the
next morning. Then we surrounded the beast, and I suc-
ceeded in getting several very fine pictures of the hyena,
which was a male in splendid condition. This specimen
showed not the slightest sign of fight, only trying to
frighten away its assailants with the most awful growling
and constant snapping with the teeth. Mweri had tied the
trap near to the carcass of a lion, which I had killed the
day before, and from the howls we understood that the
place had been visited by the hyena shortly after sunset.
It had probably been caught very quickly, for its howls
suddenly ceased, and it remained perfectly mute until we
surrounded it the next morning.

If the sportsman wants to kill a hyena just for the sake
of having shot one — for hyena killing can certainly not be
classed among real " sport," unless one should come across


Hyena at Bay.

Large Wart Hog, Shot in the Kedong Valley.


a wandering hyena during the daytime, which very seldom
happens — he might do so by leaving a freshly killed animal
where it fell, without letting any human hand touch the
carcass, and then go back to the place the following morn-
ing, an hour or two before sunrise. He will then very
often find the hyenas still at work, crunching up the bones
after they have devoured the meat of the carcass. When
one of these animals is killed, the hunter will sometimes
have hard work to persuade the natives to touch it, as most
of them will have nothing to do with a hyena. This does
not much matter, however, for the hyena skin is hardly
worth while preserving for the trophy room.

The monkey is another animal which can scarcely be
classed among " game," and yet almost every sportsman
who goes to Africa likes to take home a few skins of these
creatures for souvenirs and remembrances of happy hunt-
ing days in the big forests. It seems to the reader, per-
haps, cruel that monkeys are killed at all, as some of them
certainly are very " human " in their behavior and habits ;
but it must, on the other hand, not be forgotten that a good
many species of monkeys are exceedingly destructive, both
to the crops of white men and natives. I once visited a
settler not far from Nairobi, who told me that although
he, night after night, had been shooting at baboons to
make them leave his garden alone, yet he found that the
cunning creatures would sneak in when he least expected
it, and so almost make him despair of the result of his
labors. In certain districts of East Africa one of the
smaller fur monkeys, with beautiful olive-green skin, by
the natives called " engimma," is so destructive to their



plantations that the government has taken this monkey
off the Hst of protected animals for that locality, and al-
lows the natives to kill as many as they are able to for the
sake of getting rid of this pest.

) None of the very largest representatives of the numer-
ous monkey family exists in British East Africa. Two
of the most interesting species in this protectorate are the
destructive baboon and the beautiful colobus monkey. The
range of this latter monkey, which is one of the most
coveted hunting trophies as far as monkeys are concerned,
extends from Abyssinia in the north down to the Kilima-
Njaro, wherever the condition of the country is suitable
to its requirements. The colobus love the dense tropical
and subtropical forests, where they sometimes are found
on the mountains at an altitude of six to eight thousand

I have often noticed that this monkey never goes far
away from water, and I once witnessed a most wonderful
spectacle of a whole troop of these beautiful creatures as
they were drinking from a rushing mountain stream
which tumbled down from the large glaciers of Mt. Kenia.
Big cedars and deciduous trees overhung the brook on both
sides, so that in several places the branches formed perfect
arches over the stream. From a good cover, some one
hundred and fifty yards away, I had the pleasure of wit-
nessing a regular performance by these graceful monkeys,
which slid down like eels from the dizzy heights of the
large cedars until they reached the clear water of the
stream. Here they were washing their faces in the most
cute way, and it appeared to me several times as if they
had even been drinking out of their hands. Two of my



men also thought that they saw the monkeys drink in this
way. Although I am not absolutely sure that they actually
drank out of the hands, if they did so, it was very much
like the way in which the sons of the forest, the wild
Wandorobo, generally drink. I had on this trip not shot
any colobus monkeys as yet, but it is needless to say that it
was impossible for me to disturb the peace and apparent
joy of the company. After about half an hour of dancing
around, jumping on each others' backs, and performing
some quite remarkable equilibristic feats, the band sud-
denly disappeared among the crowns of the mighty trees.
^ The skin of the colobus monkey is beautifully marked,
being, as a rule, perfectly black on the greater part of the
body, with white sides of the face, large white fields, with
much longer hair on the flanks, and with a long, white,
and very bushy tail. Another characteristic of these mon-
keys is that they entirely lack the thumb on their hands,
and are, therefore, often called by the zoologists the
" thumbless monkeys." It may here be remarked that
there is a strange difference between the hair of this
species of monkeys and that of all the rest of the family.
Whereas each individual hair of the ordinary monkey
distinctly shows different shades of color, those of the
colobus monkeys are uniformly white or black.

' On my last trip to Mt. Kenia my attention was one day
called by a Wandorobo guide to an absolutely white colo-
bus. I could not at first believe his story, but after a few
minutes' search of the trees I actually found, among a
troop of ordinary colobus monkeys, a very large specimen,
which was absolutely snow-white, without a speck of black
anywhere on its body or tail. This particular animal



seemed to be very much more shy than the rest of the
troop, and it took me almost an hour before I could get a
shot at it, bringing it down from the top of an enormous
cedar, from where it must have fallen over a hundred feet
before it struck the ground. A few minutes afterward
I secured a second specimen of white colobus monkey, but
this one was somewhat smaller, and had a tiny, thin, white
streak of grayish black hair in the middle of its back.
This faint spot was about half an inch wide and somewhat
over three inches long.

Very little is known, even by the natives, about the
habits of this generally very shy monkey, for it lives only
in the dense forest. It hardly ever does any damage to
the crops of the natives, who may have their little " sham-
bas " in the vicinity. The colobus monkeys live chiefly
on buds, fruit, and certain insects, and they often go in
troops of from twenty to one hundred at a time. It may,
perhaps, be unusual, but I once found on the southwestern
slopes of Mt. Kenia a place between two streams which
seemed literally alive with these beautiful creatures, there
being at least three to four hundred of them within a
radius of a few hundred yards.

A great many attempts have been made to capture,
tame, and bring the colobus to Europe and America, but
all in vain. It seems as if the animal were too frail to
survive the voyage, most of those shipped from East
Africa having died before the vessel reached Port Said.
I caught a beautiful young specimen in 1909, and had it
for several days in camp. It became quite tame and even
ate out of my hand. My hopes grew that it would be
possible to get the monkey safely home to New York, when


Ordixarv Colobus Monkeys.

Two White Colobus Monkeys.

The right-hand one is a large female without a black spot on its body skin.

Both secured on Kenia.


I would have given it to our beautiful Bronx " Zoo," but,
alas ! after a few days it began to ail and refused to eat. I
at once let it loose, thinking it would survive if left to
return to the troop again. But, unfortunately, we found
it dead the next morning, only a few hundred yards away
from our camp.

The baboons are ugly, doglike monkeys, which run
around in large troops. It is not an uncommon thing to
see a hundred or more of them together at one time.
Although most baboons are able to climb trees with the
greatest ease, yet they very often are seen on the ground,
and sometimes, even when pursued, they will go off at a
great pace over the grass rather than to make for the
nearest trees. This may only be a proof of intelligence on
their part, for they have probably learned that the largest
tree gives no protection from the white man's firearms.
That they are well able to distinguish between the white
hunter and natives has more than once attracted my atten-

It is very curious to observe a troop of these monkeys.
They are able to change the expression of their faces in
a most wonderful way, and who knows if this is not a
" sign language " well understood by all baboons ? When
disturbed, and the troop goes off at great speed, the little
ones ride on their mothers' backs, while the animals eject
a series of short, barklike sounds. The color of the East
African baboons is olive-green to yellowish brown. The
callosities on the buttocks are very large and of a pinkish
red color. As the " arms " and legs of this monkey are
almost equal in length, this makes him really more fit to
run on the ground than to live in trees.

16 221


\ The destructiveness of the baboon is very great and he
is, therefore, much hated both by settlers and natives.
His chief menu consists of roots, fruit, and tree-gum, but
he seems to be equally fond of insects, birds' eggs, and
small reptiles. It is fortunate for the agriculturist that
the baboon has other enemies than man, for the favorite
dish of the leopard is said to be the meat of baboons.
These monkeys are very easily tamed, and soon follow
their captors around like dogs. They are often taught
to perform all sorts of tricks, and one of the cutest
" shows," that I have seen, was exhibited in front of the
hotel in Nairobi by two Hindoos, who had a small troop
of well-trained baboons.

There are in East Africa two prominent species of the
pig family, which are ordinarily met with by the sports-
man. These are the Bush Pig and the still more common
Wart Hog. Both of these animals are quite numerous in
most parts of the Protectorate. The bush pig is hardly
worth shooting, but the hideous-looking head of the wart
hog, with its enormous tusks, makes it a rather interesting
hunting trophy. The bush pig is not so often shot by the
white man, for it appears to be more strictly nocturnal in
its habits than the latter. It is also more fond of dense
jungles and large forests, and, therefore, not often seen
by the hunter, for the animal is very wary, has very fine
hearing, and excellent scenting qualities. As it is living
mostly in dense jungles, It is able to hear or scent the
oncoming sportsman long before the latter catches a
glimpse of his prey. The bush pig is somewhat smaller
than the ordinary domesticated pig, and is of a reddish



brown color. It has comparatively small tusks, which
appear to be no larger than those of an ordinary hog.
The animal does an immense amount of harm to the crops
of both settlers and natives, the gardens of which it de-
stroys in short order. It is fond of the sweet potatoes that
many of the East African natives grow, and is the most
destructive animal in this respect in the Protectorate.
Combined efforts have fortunately, in many districts, now
almost exterminated these undesirable nightly visitors.

\ On Mt. Kenia and in the forests of the Mau Escarp-
ment there is said to exist a very large bush pig, of which
all sorts of mysterious tales are told. This animal, gen-
erally called the " giant pig," is said by the natives to be
of an almost black color and " as large as a zebra." Its
skin is supposed to be covered with long bristles, and the
beast carries enormous tusks. Very little is known about
this animal, but I have been told by a settler that he actually
saw this ferocious-looking beast only some eighty yards
away at a time when he, unfortunately, had no gun at
hand. It is said that a well-known English naturalist has
promised a reward of £500 ($2,500) for the first perfect
skin of the giant pig, which he wants to secure for his
collection. I myself have found big tusks on Mt. Kenia
which could have come from no other animal than a giant
pig. One of these, which was broken off at the point,
measured over twenty-two inches in length and almost
eight inches in circumference at the base. As far as I
know, there has been no authentic account of the life and
habits of this animal, and there is at present no perfect
skin of the giant pig in existence.

The common wart hog is larger than the ordinary bush



pig, and stands sometimes nearly three feet in height over
the shoulder. The head is disproportionately large, with
an exceedingly broad and flat forehead, which ends with
an almost square muzzle. On each side of the face there
are three strange-looking protuberances, or warts, and
from these the pig derives its name. The largest of these
warts are the two which project right under the eyes,
where they grow out to a length of some five to six inches.
Sometimes they are so long that the tips fall somewhat
down, but otherwise they stand straight out at right angles
from the side of the face. No animal could be more
hideous-looking than the wart hog, with its almost cylin-
drical body, extremely thin legs, and enormous head. The
wart hog carries tusks which sometimes attain a length
of over twenty inches, although a good average tusk only
measures from fifteen to eighteen inches on the curve.
Strangely enough, in this species, it is the tusks of the
upper jaw that are the longest. They curve in a semi-
circle outward and upward until, I have been told, some-
times in very old specimens, the tips almost meet, forming
a sort of arch over the nose.

The wart hog does not exclusively frequent swamps
and, damp places, as has often been asserted, but is more
fond of perfectly dry plains and not too dense bush coun-
try. I believe it is quite a rare thing to find wart hogs
around swamps, as I myself have hunted for weeks around
such places as the Ol-Bolossat and other marches of the
upper Rift Valley, but I have failed to find any wart
hogs in these places. Although this ugly-looking beast
is seen to feed along water courses and among the bush
that generally lines the banks of rivers, yet it is often



found quite far away from the nearest water. It seems
to feed chiefly upon the roots of certain trees and bushes,
and is fond of making big holes in the ground, in which
it occasionally hides.

"" The wart hog lives in families of four to six, but old
" tuskers " are often met with alone. It is the most com-
ical sight to witness an excited family of wart hogs as they
dash for cover, for they all turn their tails straight up in
the air, in right angles with the line of their backs, and as
the tails are bare, except for a little tuft at the extreme
end, it looks as if the animals were supplied with whisk-
brooms. This, I have several times noticed, is also the
case with lions, for one of the lions that charged me came
on with the tail held straight up in the air. It is as well
the manner of the rhinos. The wart hog never seems
to exhibit any particular courage, and even if wounded
and cornered, hardly ever dares to charge its pursuer.
However, cases have been known where wart hogs have
been hunted with dogs, and where they have been able to
rip up and kill several of the pack before the hunter could

V One of the largest wart hogs I shot, I first saw lying
down under a bush. I had been stalking it for a couple
of minutes, when it must suddenly have gotten a whiff of
our wind, for it rushed up and turned quickly around in
different directions, sniffing the air. By this time I had
come up to within seventy-five yards of the beast, which
was an old male with large tusks, which glittered beauti-
fully in the bright sunlight. As the animal turned its
broadside to me I fired, aiming for the heart, as usual.
Instantly the big wart hog ran off, as if shot out of a gun.



However, it soon began to encircle a large bush in the
vicinity at a rapid pace. Six or seven times at least it ran
madly round and round that bush, until it suddenly turned
over and made several somersaults before it stretched
itself out on the ground and expired. When cutting the
animal up, I found that the bullet had pierced both lungs,
and yet the animal was able to run for all those seconds at
such a speed before it succumbed! The meat of old wart
hogs has a very strong and disagreeable taste, but the
chops of young ones are quite palatable even to the white
man. Most of the natives, however, refuse to eat the meat
of either bush pig or wart hog, and all orthodox Moham- '
medans cannot even be induced to touch the animal, being
forbidden by their Koran to have anything to do withj
representatives of the pig family.



Africa has not nearly as many reptiles as India and
the Malayan Islands, although some of the largest and
most poisonous snakes also inhabit the Dark Continent.
Of all these, none is more dreaded than the puff adder.
This deadly reptile is spread almost all over Africa, and
is everywhere much feared and shunned by the natives.
The puff adder has gotten its name from the fact that it
is able to draw in a very large amount of air at one time,
which causes a noticeable swelling of the body, and when
it then suddenly lets the air escape it rushes out with a
queer puffing or hissing sound, which may be heard for
quite some distance.

It is a most hideous-looking creature, with a com-
paratively thick and short body and a broad, flat, triangu-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Online LibraryOliver Howard] [WolfeBack log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club → online text (page 16 of 26)