Page:EB1911 - Volume 14.djvu/186

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
174
HYERES
Fig. 1.—The Striped Hyena (Hyaena striata).

The striped hyena (Hyaena striata) is the most widely distributed species, being found throughout India, Persia, Asia Minor, and North and East Africa, the East African form constituting a distinct race, H. striata schillingsi; while there are also several distinct Asiatic races. The species resembles a wolf in size, and is greyish-brown In colour, marked with indistinct longitudinal stripes of a darker hue, while the legs are transversely striped. The hairs on the body are long, especially on the ridge of the neck and back, where they form a distinct mane, which is continued along the tail. Nocturnal in habits, it prefers by day the gloom of caves and ruins, or of the burrows which it occasionally forms, and issues forth at sunset, when it commences its unearthly howling. When the animal is excited, the howl changes into what has been compared to demoniac laughter, whence the name of "laughing-hyena." These creatures feed chiefly on carrion, and thus perform useful service by devouring remains which might otherwise pollute the air. Even human dead are not safe from their attacks, their powerful claws enabling them to gain access to newly interred bodies in cemeteries. Occasionally (writes Dr W. T. Blanford) sheep or goats, and more often dogs, are carried off, and the latter, at all events, are often taken alive to the animal's den. This species appears to be solitary in habits, and it is rare to meet with more than two together. The cowardice of this hyena is proverbial; despite its powerful teeth, it rarely attempts to defend itself. A very different animal is the spotted hyena, Hyaena (Crocuta) crocuta, which has the sectorial teeth of a more cat-like type, and is marked by dark-brown spots on a yellowish ground, while the mane is much less distinct. At the Cape it was formerly common, and occasionally committed great havoc among the cattle, while it did not hesitate to enter the Kaffir dwellings at night and carry off children sleeping by their mothers. By persistent trapping and shooting, its numbers have now been considerably reduced, with the result, however, of making it exceedingly wary, so that it is not readily caught in any trap with which it has had an opportunity of becoming acquainted. Its range extends from Abyssinia to the Cape. The Abyssinian form has been regarded as a distinct species, under the name of H. liontiewi, but this, like various more southern forms, is but regarded as a local race. The brown hyena (H. brunnea) is South African, ranging to Angola on the west and Kilimanjaro on the east. In size it resembles the striped hyena, but differs in appearance, owing to the fringe of long hair covering the neck and fore part of the back. The general hue is ashy-brown, with the hair lighter on the neck (forming a collar), chest and belly; while the legs are banded with dark brown. This species is not often seen, as it remains concealed during the day. Those frequenting the coast feed on dead fish, crabs and an occasional stranded whale, though they are also a danger to the sheep and cattle kraal. Strand-wolf is the local name at the Cape.

Fig. 2.—The Spotted Hyena (Hyaena crocuta).

Although hyenas are now confined to the warmer regions of the Old World, fossil remains show that they had a more northerly range during Tertiary times; the European cave-hyena being a form of the spotted species, known as H. crocuta spelaea. Fossil hyenas occur in the Lower Pliocene of Greece, China, India, &c.; while remains indistinguishable from those of the striped species have been found in the Upper Pliocene of England and Italy.


HYÈRES, a town in the department of the Var in S.E. France, 11 m. by rail E. of Toulon. In 1906 the population of the commune was 17,790, of the town 10,464; the population of the former was more than doubled in the last decade of the 19th century. Hyères is celebrated (as is also its fashionable suburb, Costebelle, nearer the seashore) as a winter health resort. The town proper is situated about. 2½ m. from the seashore, and on the southwestern slope of a steep hill (669 ft., belonging to the Maurettes chain, 961 ft.), which is one of the westernmost spurs of the thickly wooded Montagnes des Maures. It is sheltered from the north-east and east winds, but is exposed to the cold north-west wind or mistral. Towards the south and south-east a fertile plain, once famous for its orange groves, but now mainly covered by vineyards and farms, stretches to the sea, while to the southwest, across a narrow valley, rises a cluster of low hills, on which is the suburb of Costebelle. The older portion of the town is still surrounded, on the north and east, by its ancient, though dilapidated medieval walls, and is a labyrinth of steep and dirty streets. The more modern quarter which has grown up at the southern foot of the hill has handsome broad boulevards and villas, many of them with beautiful gardens, filled with semi-tropical plants. Among the objects of interest in the old town are: the house (Rue Rabaton, 7) where J. B. Massillon (1663-1742), the famous pulpit orator, was born; the parish church of St Louis, built originally in the 13th century by the Cordelier or Franciscan friars, but completely restored in the earlier part of the 19th century; and the site of the old château, on the summit of the hill, now occupied by a villa. The plain between the new town and the sea is occupied by large nurseries, an excellent jardin d'acclimatation, and many market gardens, which supply Paris and London with early fruits and vegetables, especially artichokes, as well as with roses in winter. There are extensive salt beds (salines) both on the peninsula of Giens, S. of the town, and also E. of the town. To the east of the Giens peninsula is the fine natural harbour of Hyères, as well as three thinly populated islands (the Stoechades of the ancients), Porquerolles, Port Cros and Le Levant, which are grouped together under the common name of Îles d'Hyères.

The town of Hyères seems to have been founded in the 10th century, as a place of defence against pirates, and takes its name from the aires (hierbo in the Provençal dialect), or threshing-floors for corn, which then occupied its site. It passed from the possession of the viscounts of Marseilles to Charles of Anjou, count of Provence, and brother of St Louis (the latter landed here in 1254, on his return from Egypt). The château was