Oliver Howard] [Wolfe.

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

. (page 2 of 26)
Online LibraryOliver Howard] [WolfeBack log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club → online text (page 2 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

many of the smaller antelopes, and sometimes even wilde-
beests. Then when, near Fort Hall, the Tana River is
reached, the safari may follow that stream down for an
hour or two to some fine camping grounds among large
mimosa trees, and here the sportsman will be able to shoot
hippos and crocodiles to his heart's content.

Then continuing the northward march, the caravan
passes the fort, or " boma," the native name for all mili-
tary and government stations, where the hunter generally
pays his respects to the Provincial Commissioner, who
may require him to show his game license and the special
permit to proceed farther, as the Kenia-Laikipia is one of
the " closed " districts, for which such a permit is a neces-
sity. From the boma the safari proceeds along a fairly
good native path, which in a few days' time leads up among
the foothills of the magnificent, snowclad Kenia, which
rears its domelike peak over eighteen thousand feet high.
Now the sportsman may at any time come across fresh ele-
phant tracks, or meet with buffalos, eland, bush buck, with
luck, even the coveted bongo, impalla, water buck, and in a
day or two more with the beautiful oryx beisa, wild dogs,
possibly giraffes, plenty of rhinos, lions, and leopards, while
higher up on the foothills the hunter may bag with ease his
allowed number of the beautiful colobus and other fur
monkeys, if monkey killing does not seem to him too much
like " murder.'* So day after day the party may go on,



finding big game everywhere, including the Grevey's zebra
in the country northwest of Kenia and near the lovely river
Guaso Narok at its junction with the Guaso Nyiro, to the
north of which junction the northern game reserve begins.
Turning thence upstream on the right bank of the Guaso
Narok, the path takes the safari back again toward civili-
zation, returning to the railroad by another also very inter-
esting route.

On this beautiful Laikipia plateau there are scattered
a good many Masai villages, or " manyata," where it is
possible to obtain fresh, fine milk for trade goods, such
as "Americano" (a kind of unbleached muslin), brass
wire, glass beads, or, nowadays, also for money. All along
the river to the north, at a distance varying from half a
mile to two miles from the river bed, there are large
plains, extending from rather abrupt bluflfs from the river
valley for miles and miles inland, dotted here and there
with single good-sized trees, or clumps of the thorny

These highlands seem to be the favorite play and feed-
ing grounds of countless rhinos, which, if one is carefully
observing the wind, and using some cover, can be ap-
proached to within thirty yards and less before they either
run away or else, like the Chinese, take exception to
being photographed and stared at, and with " pufifs " and
" snorts," with lowered horns and uplifted tails, charge
down on the intruders. On these plains, where often also
eland, oryx, and girafifes are seen, I once met not less than
eleven rhinos within one hour, mostly in pairs of male and
female or female and young. I was fortunate enough to
secure some good photographs of them, but although not



intending to shoot any at that time, I finally had to kill a
charging bull, whom I had given a chance to save his life
by " changing his mind," mitil he was within ten yards of
my camera. What happened then will be later described
in the chapter on rhinos.

Following the Guaso Narok farther up, the path leads
to a very large swamp, formed by the river and all over-
grown with papyrus. Toward the northwest end of this
swamp is a Protestant American mission station, where in
1909 Mr. and Mrs. Barnett and two fellow-laborers were
doing a splendid work among the Masai people. They
were highly commended by the British Commissioner of
that district for their untiring efforts for the betterment of
the natives.

At the extreme western end of this large and, strange
enough, not unhealthy swamp, lies the government
boma Rumuruti, where Mr. Collyer, a most able and
kind-hearted official, in 1909-10 represented the British
Government in the Laikipia Masai reserve. By the time
this appears in print, the Masai of this reservation may
have been already shifted away to join the rest of their
tribe in the southern Kedong Valley and the Sotik and
Loita plains, and the Laikipia plateau opened up for
white settlements. This would mean, as everywhere else
where the white man settles, the diminishing, and finally
the complete disappearance, of the big game from the

' From Rumuruti there are three paths to take. One
goes in a north-northwest direction down toward Baringo,
a lake swarming with crocodiles and hippos, but as this is
one of the most unhealthy parts of British East Africa,



and as there are no special animals to hunt, except the
magnificent greater kudu, which at present is wholly pro-
tected by the law, it is hardly worth while to take the risk
of hunting in this district, where, besides, the water is
poor and the heat great, for the land lies more than fif-
teen hundred feet lower than the surrounding plateaus.

Another path follows the lovely Guaso Narok up-
stream for a couple of days more. It afterwards descends
into the upper Rift Valley, leading thence into the Nakuru
railroad station, from which the hunter in from seven to
eight hours may return to Nairobi by train which runs
three times a week.

The third path, along which there is shooting all the
way, runs in a more southwesterly direction along the
northern slopes of the Aberdare Mountains. From here
it suddenly drops down to the swamplike lake Ol-Bolos-
sat, around which lions are often found. Thence the path
goes over the extreme northern part of the Naivasha pla-
teau, full of zebra and Jackson's hartebeest, and finally
ends at the Gilgil station, one hour and a half nearer by
railroad to Nairobi than Nakuru.

The animals which the sportsman with ordinary luck
may bag on such a Kenia-Laikipia tour during four to
eight weeks are the following: Coke's hartebeest, zebra
(Burchell's and Grevey's), crocodile, hippo, buffalo, ele-
phant, eland, oryx (beisa), rhino, water buck, bush buck,
bongo, impalla, giraffe. Grant's and Thomson's gazelles,
wart hog, bush pig, lion, leopard, hyena, serval, jackal, colo-
bus monkey, baboon, Jackson's hartebeest, and a good
many smaller antelopes, as well as any amount of guinea
fowl, wild geese, partridges, and quail. This, together



with the fine climate and splendid water, makes the Kenia-
Laikipia trip one of the most enjoyable and profitable hunt-
ing excursions in the world.

Another interesting tour can be made by going to the
Guas Ngishu plateau. This trip takes longer time and
costs a great deal more, and as these regions have lately
been partly settled with hundreds of South African Boers,
and much shot over by hunting parties, the game there is
becoming extremely wary and shy. One of the last hunt-
ers to return from this part of British East Africa in 1909
told me that he was greatly disappointed with the results
of his long and expensive safari. He had seen compara-
tively little game, and the elephants he encountered near
Mount Elgon were mostly cows and young bulls, not worth
shooting at.

It was to this part of Africa that the famous hunter
Mr. F. C. Selous went on his last trip for the main pur-
pose of securing a large, black-maned lion. Unfortunately,
the great hunter did not even see a single lion during all
the weeks spent on the plateau, although he was able to
enrich his wonderful museum at Worpleston, not far from
London, with a few new species of antelopes. The climate
of the Guas Ngishu is delightful, the altitude ranging from
seven thousand to eight thousand feet, and the water is
plentiful and good.

Another " Eldorado " for the big-game hunter in Brit-
ish East Africa are the Sotik and Loita plains, southwest
of Nairobi. They seemed to have been actually infested
by lions, which here feed leisurely on the countless herds
of zebra, hartebeest, and gnu that cover the plains and
the near-by hills, for during the last fifteen months over



one hundred and sixty lions have been shot there. One
sportsman was lucky enough to kill twenty-one in two
weeks, and not less than six in one single day, including
three half-grown cubs !

These healthy, game-filled plains, lying at an altitude
of over five thousand feet, are most easily reached by
taking the train to Kijabe station, about three hours north-
west of Nairobi, and either marching from there through
the Rift Valley over the Mau escarpment, here more than
eight thousand feet high, then across the Guaso Nyiro
South on to the plains, or using hired South African ox
wagons from Kijabe, which must be arranged for in
advance through one of the Nairobi firms.

If the start is made from Kijabe during or right after
the big rainy season, or, say, about the end of April or
beginning of May, it is easy to reach these wonderful
plains by regular marches with the caravan. But during
the dry season this is impossible, as then all the little
streams and water holes between Kijabe and the next large
stream, on the western slopes of the Mau escarpment, are
dry, and for from two to three days no water can be
found. On one of my safaris the whole caravan of one
hundred and seventeen men almost perished from thirst,
when we were trying to penetrate to the Guaso Nyiro
South during the dry season. But if ox wagons are se-
cured, they are loaded up with enough water for men and
beasts, until the last-named river is reached. On the plains
themselves there are, fortunately, a few springs and water
holes that never dry up, and it is often around these that
the hunter secures a great deal of game of various kinds.
He may bag lion, wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, rhino,



leopard, eland, giraffe, the beautiful topi, impalla, Grant's
gazelle, and a number of small antelopes, wart hogs, and

By going a few days in a west-northwest direction the
safari reaches the Kisii country, where elephants, buffa-
loes, and even roan antelopes, as well as hippos, bush and
reed bucks can be had. From there the caravan generally
emerges out of the jungle either by marching to Kisumu,
on the Victoria Nyanza, or by returning via the Kericho
boma to the Lumbwa railroad station. Such a tour of
both Sotik and Kisii can be easily made in from six weeks
to three months, and is among the very finest hunting
trips imaginable. The climate is good and healthy until
the party reaches the country near the great lake, where
special care has to be taken in regard to malaria mos-
quitoes and the deadly sleeping-sickness fly. But by re-
turning from the Kisii forest by way of Kericho and
Lumbwa one escapes these latter two evils entirely.

Great care should also be taken in providing for
enough food, or " posho," for the men during this trip,
as it is very hard to secure any new supply after leaving
the railroad until the Kisii boma is reached, which may
take from three to five weeks, according to the time spent
on and around the Sotik and Loita plains.

Many other good hunting grounds may be mentioned
here, such as, for instance, the partly waterless Seringetti
Plains, between Voi station and the big snow mountain
Kilimanjaro. Then the half-opened bush country near the
stations Simba, Sultan Hamud, and Muhuroni, near which
last-named place the beautiful roan antelope may be easily
bagged. But none of these places begin to compare with



the before-named districts either in regard to healthfulness
of climate or variety and abmidance of game.

British East Africa is supposed to have four different
seasons: December, January, and February, the dry, hot
season, the East African summer; March, April, and the
half of May, the heavy rainy season ; end of May to Septem-
ber, the long dry, or " winter " season, and then again Oc-
tober and November the " small rains." But the seasons
have for the last years been most irregular. The only
really unpleasant months to be out on safari in British East
Africa are March and April, when there is pouring rain
everywhere and almost every day.

The height of the nowadays quite fashionable shooting
season is from October to February, when it is safe to
say that dozens of hunting parties are out in the field ; but
the pleasantest time for shooting tfrips is, without ques-
tion, from May to October, when comparatively few hunt-
ers are in the land, owing to the social summer seasons
in Europe and America. During that time it is much
cooler, and the sportsman is not so likely to run across
another safari when in the field. It is then also much
easier to secure good porters, guides, and horses than
at the height of the season, when *' everybody " comes.
I myself have tried both seasons, and should I go back
again would certainly choose our summer for the sojourn
in British East Africa.

The game laws of British East Africa have recently
been materially changed, and are now not as liberal to the
hunter as in the years gone by. For thorough information
I have copied below the exact rendering of the new law
of December, 1909, as recorded in the Official Gazette.
3 13


Only such paragraphs as deal directly with the sports-
man who visits the country for shooting are included;
all other matter is omitted :


1 6. (a) The following licenses may be granted by a
Provincial Commissioner or a District Commissioner or
by such other person as may be authorized by the Governor
on the behalf, that is to say:

A Sportsman's License.
A Resident's License.
A Traveler's License.
A Landholder's License.

(b) The following fees shall be paid for licenses: For
a Sportsman's License, 750 rupees ; ^ for a Resident's Li-
cense, 150 rupees; for a Traveler's License, 15 rupees; and
for a Landholder's License, 45 rupees.

(c) A Sportsman's License, a Resident's License, and
a Landholder's License shall be in force for one year from
the date of issue. A Traveler's License shall be in force
for one month from the date of issue.

18. A Sportsman's License and a Resident's License,
respectively, shall authorize the holder to hunt, kill, or
capture animals of any of the species mentioned in the
Third Schedule, but not more than the number of each
species fixed by the second column of that schedule.

24. {a) A Provincial or District Commissioner may,
on the application of the holder of a Sportsman's or Resi-
dent's License, grant a Special License authorizing such
person to hunt, kill, or capture either one or two elephants
as the application shall require and as shall be specified

' There are exactly three rupees to one dollar of United States currency.



therein. Such Special License shall not authorize the
holder to hunt, kill, or capture any elephant having tusks
weighing less than thirty pounds each.

(b) There shall be paid for such Special License the
fees following :

For a license to hunt, kill, or capture

one elephant 150 rupees.

For a license to hunt, kill, or capture

two elephants 450 rupees.^

33. No license granted under this ordinance shall en-
title the holder to hunt, kill, or capture any animal or to
trespass on private land without the consent of the owner
or occupier.

First Schedule

Animals not to be hunted, killed, or captured by any
person except under Special License :

Elephant, girafife, greater kudu bull (in the District
of Baringo), greater kudu (female), buffalo (cow), Neu-
mann's hartebeest in the area (2) of this schedule; eland
in the following areas :

(i) An area bounded on the south by a line drawn
from Kiu Station due east to the western boundary of
Machakos Native Reserve to a point where the Athi River
enters the said reserve, thence by the Athi River to a point
due north of Donyo-Sabuk, thence by a line drawn direct
to Fort Hall, on the north by the Nairobi-Fort Hall main
road, on the west by the Uganda Railway.

(2) The Rift Valley south of Lake Baringo.

(3) Guas Ngishu plateau south of the Nzoia River.

* It is also provided for that if the sportsman takes out this Special License to
kill two elephants, but fails to do so, the government refunds him three hundred
rupees, but not more.



Roan (female), roan (male), in areas (i) and (2) of
this schedule, sable (female), rhinoceros (on the northeast
side of the Uganda Railway and within ten miles thereof
between Sultan Hamud and Machakos Road Station),
vulture (any species), owl (any species), hippopotamus
(in lakes Naivasha, Elmenteita, and Nakuru), fish eagle.

Second Schedule

Animals, the females of ivliich are not to be hunted,
killed, or captured when accompanying their young, and
the young of which are not to be hunted, killed, or captured
except under Special License:

Rhinoceros, hippopotamus, all antelopes and gazelles
mentioned in any schedule.

Third Schedule

Animals, a limited number of which may be killed or
captured under a Sportsman's or Resident's License:

Buffalo (bull), 2; rhinoceros, except as provided in the
First Schedule, 2 ; hippopotamus, except as provided in the
First Schedule, 2; eland, except as provided in the First
Schedule, i ; zebra (Grevey's), 2; zebra (common), 20;
oryx (callotis), 2; oryx (beisa), 4; water buck (of each
species), 2 ; sable antelope (male), i ; roan antelope (male),
except as provided in the First Schedule, i ; greater kudu
(male), except as provided in the First Schedule, i ; lesser
kudu, 4; topi (in Jubaland, Tanaland, and Loita Plains),
8; Coke's hartebeest, 20; Neumann's hartebeest, except as
provided in the First Schedule, 2; Jackson's hartebeest, 4;
Hunter's antelope, 6; Thomas's kob, 4; bongo, 2; palla,
4; sitatunga, 2; wildebeest, 3; Grant's gazelle, four vari-
eties, typicus, notata, Bright's, and Robertsi, of each, 3;
Waller's gazelle (generuk), 4; Harvey's duiker, 10;



Isaac's duiker, lo; blue duiker, lo; Kirk's dikdik, lo;
Guenther's dikdik, lo; Hinde's dikdik, lo; Cavendish's
dikdik, lo; Abyssinian oribi, lo; Haggard's oribi, lo;
kenya oribi, lo; " suni " (Nesotragus moschatus), lo;
klipspringer, lo; Ward's reed buck, lo; " Chanler's reed
buck, lo; Thomson's gazelle, lo; Peter's gazelle, lo;
Soemmerring's gazelle, lo; bush buck, lo; bush buck
(Haywood's), lo; colobi monkeys, of each species, 6; mar-
about, 4 ; egret, of each species, 4.

Fourth Schedule

Animals, a limited number of which may be killed or
captured on a Traveler's License :

Zebra, 4. The following antelopes and gazelles only:
Grant's gazelle, Thomson's gazelle, Jackson's and Coke's
hartebeest, palla, reed buck, klipspringer, steinbuck, wilde-
beest, paa (Medoqua and Nesotragus), oryx beisa, bush
buck. Waller's gazelle, topi (in Jubaland, Tanaland, and
Loita Plains).

Five animals in all, made up of a single species or of
several; provided, however, that not more than one of
each of the following may be shot on one license :

Grant's gazelle, palla, wildebeest, oryx beisa, bush buck.
Waller's gazelle, topi, Jackson's hartebeest.

Fifth Schedule
(game reserves)

(Caravans with guns are not even allowed to pass
through these. вАФ Ed.)

I. The Southern Reserve.

An area bounded by a line following the right bank of
the Ngong River from the railway line to the edge of the



Kikuyu Forest, along the edge of the forest to a beacon at
the point where the M'bagathi River leaves the forest by
a line of beacons to the Survey beacon on the Ngong hills
(Donyo Lamuyu), thence to Mt. Suswa by a line of bea-
cons and from Suswa due west to the Mau escarpment,
which it follows south to the Guaso Nyiro and by the left
bank of that river to the German frontier.

Thence following the German frontier to the Tsavo
(Useri) River.

By the left bank of the Tsavo River to a beacon at the
point where the Ngulia and Kyulu hills approach the
river. Thence following the foot of the eastern slopes of
Kyulu hills to the Makindu River, which it follows to the
Uganda Railway.

From the Makindu River the line follows the railway to
the Ngong River.

2. The Northern Reserve.

Eastern Boundary

Starting from the ford at " Campi ya Nyama Yangu "
on the Northern Guaso Nyiro River, the boundary follows
the eastern slopes of the following hills :

Mt. Koiseku, Mt. Kalama, Mt. Lololugi, Mt. Wargies
(Table Mountains), Mt. Leo, Mt. Endata, Mt. Kulal.

From Mt. Kulal by a line northeast to Mt. Moille,
thence following the eastern slopes of this mount and
Mount Seramba, Mt. Loder Moretu, and Mt. Kul.

From Mount Kul to a beacon on the western side of
Mt. Marsabit.

Northern Boundary

From the beacon on the western side of the Mt. Marsa-
bit by a straight line west to Mt. Nyiro.



Western Boundary

From Mt. Nyiro following the foot of the Laikipia
escarpment to the Mugatan River.

Thence in a direct line to the junction of the Guaso
Nyiro and Guaso Narok.

Southern Boundary

Thence following the left bank of Guaso Nyiro to the
ford at " Campi ya Nyama Yangu."
(See map.)



Safari is a Ki-Swahili word, which is commonly used
not only for designating the caravan itself, meaning
thereby all the people who serve as headmen, gun bearers,
porters, etc., but it also means traveling by any other
means than by railroad or steamer. If it is said, for in-
stance, that anyone is " out on safari," it conveys the idea
that the person in question is out on a trip with porters,
oxen, mules, horses, or donkeys; in one word, moving
about the country living in his tent. " Safari," therefore,
is one of the first words the traveler learns of the useful
Ki-Swahili language, the lingua franca of the whole East
and Central Africa. In fact, I have heard hunters say that
they were surprised to find this language so serviceable
to them even far in the interior of the Congo Free State.
On account of this great usefulness of the Ki-Swahili lan-
guage, there will be a chapter at the end of the book de-
voted to the rudiments of grammar, words, and phrases
most necessary for the hunter, who would be independent
of irresponsible and often inefficient interpreters, and who
also wishes to get his information about the game and
paths at ^rst hand from the natives of the different
tribes. This is often of the greatest importance to the



As soon as the hunter arrives at Nairobi he will at once
set about getting his safari ready, unless he has made his
arrangements beforehand through some of the Nairobi
agents or, as they call themselves, " safari outfitters."
This is, of course, the most convenient way, saving quite
a little personal work, trouble, and a few days of time, but
costing considerably more than when the sportsman fits
out his caravan himself. One of the largest safari out-
fitters in Nairobi advertises that people in employing
them " save trouble and expense." Once I tried this firm,
being in a great hurry to get off to the jungle, but found
that, although I saved some " trouble," the " expense "
was much larger than if I had arranged for everything

Of course, the hunter going into the country for the
first time without some knowledge of the Ki-Swahili lan-
guage, and with little time at his disposal, but plenty of
" cash on hand," does best in letting some firm fit him out
with everything, making the agreement that the firm in
question shall supply everything at the lowest local retail
cost, and then charge five per cent commission on the total
expenditure. Another, but more expensive, way of doing
the same thing is to agree on a certain fixed sum per month
for so many men, horses, or mules, as the case may be, in-
cluding all expenses, but the reader may be absolutely sure
that the " certain fixed sum " in this case is so " fixed "
that the safari outfitters, at all events, profit largely

To give the intending sportsman an idea of what an
ordinary, average safari in British East Africa may cost
him per month, I shall here give a few extracts from my



own carefully kept accounts during three different expe-
ditions into the interior. A single sportsman needs, to be
perfectly comfortable and for a three- or four-months'
shooting trip, about forty men in all, although he may get
along with less. This will cost him about as follows:

Online LibraryOliver Howard] [WolfeBack log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club → online text (page 2 of 26)