Page:EB1911 - Volume 19.djvu/269

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
254
Natal

principally the yellow wood (Podocarpus), sneeze wood (Pteroxylon utile), stink wood (Oreodaphne bullata), black ironwood (Olea laurifolia), white ironwood (Vepris lanceolata), and umtomboti (Exoecaria africana); all are very useful woods, and the yellow wood, sneezewood, stink wood and ironwood when polished have grain and colour equal to maple, walnut and ebony. The “rooibesje,” red pear and milkwood trees are used for boatbuilding. The Australian Eucalyptus and Casuarina in great variety, and many other imported trees, including syringas, wattles, acacias, willows, pines, cypress, cork and oak all thrive when properly planted and protected from grass fires. The black wattle has been extensively planted and flourishes at elevations of from 1000 to 3000 ft. Its bark forms a valuable article of commerce.

Flowers which bloom in the early spring are abundant, especially on the edges of forests. Among those found throughout the country are the Dierama pendula, the orchid and the “everlasting.” As a rule flowers common to all zones are on the coast smaller and with paler colours than they are in the midlands. Aloes are common; in part of the midland zone they form when in bloom with abundance of orange and scarlet flowers a most picturesque sight. Of Cycadaceae the Stangeria paradoxa is peculiar to Natal. There is but one cactus indigenous to Natal; it is found hanging from perpendicular rocks in the midlands. There are, however, several species of euphorbia of the miscalled cacti. Climbing plants with gorgeous flowers are common, and there are numerous species of Compositae and about a hundred cinchonaceous plants. Bulbous plants are also very numerous. The most common are the Natal lily with pink and white ribbed bells, the fire-lily, with flame-coloured blossoms, ixias, gladiolas, the Ifafa lily, with fuchsia-like clusters, and the arum lily. A conspicuous veld plant is the orange and crimson leonotis, growing 6 ft. high. Geraniums are somewhat scarce. Fern life is abundant; 126 species are indigenous, two being tree-ferns. One of these, Cyathea dregei, found in moist places and open land, has a stem 20 ft. high; the Stem of the other, Hemitelia capensis, sometimes reaches 30 ft. The ferns are most common in the midland zone and in the heavy timber forests. Sixty different species have been identified in one valley not more than 1 m. long and about 100 yds. in breadth. Among fruit trees, besides the wild fruits already mentioned, are the pineapple, mango, papua, guava, grenadilla, rose apple, custard apple, soursop, loquat, naartje, shaddock and citrous fruits.

Fauna. — The larger animals which abounded in Natal in the first half of the 19th century have been exterminated or driven out of the country. This fate has overtaken the elephant, giraffe, the buffalo, quagga, gnu, blesbok, gemsbok and ostrich. If the Vryheid district be excluded, the lion and rhinoceros may be added to this list; and the Vryheid district belongs geographically to Zululand. Hippopotami are still found in the Umgeni river and Crocodiles in several of the coast streams. Leopards and panthers are found in thickly wooded kloofs. Hyenas, jackals, wild pig, polecats and wild dogs (Canis pictus) of different species are still found in or about bush jungles and forest clumps; elands (Antilope oreas) are preserved on some estates, and there are at least ten distinct species of antelope (hartebeest, bushbok, duiker, rietbok, rhebok, rovibok, blauwbok, &c.). In the Vryheid district the kudu, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, reedbuck, impala, steinbok and klipspringer are also found. Several of these species are now preserved. Ant-eaters (Orycteropus capensis), porcupines, weasels, squirrels, rock rabbits, hares and cane rats are common in different localities. Baboons (Cynocephalus porcarius) and monkeys of different kinds frequent the mountains and rocky kloofs and bush and timber lands. The birds of Natal[1] are of many species; some have beautiful plumage, but none of them, with the exception of the canary, are to be considered as songsters Among the larger birds are cranes, herons, the ibis, storks, eagles, vultures, falcons, hawks, kites, owls, the secretary birds, pelicans, flamingoes, wild duck and geese, gulls, and of game birds, the paauw, koraan, pheasant, partridge, guinea fowl and quail. The other birds include parrots, toucans, gaudily coloured cuckoos, lories, swallows, shrikes, sun-birds, kingfishers, Weavers, finches, wild pigeons and crows. The otter is found in some of the rivers, which are also frequented, near their mouths, by turtles. These last are also found in the coast lagoons and sometimes are of great size. Iguanas, 4 and 5 ft. long, are found on the wooded banks of the rivers; small lizards and chameleons are common, and there are several varieties of tortoise.

Of snakes there are about forty distinct species or varieties. The most dreaded by the natives are called “imamba,” of which there are at least eight different kinds; these snakes elevate and throw themselves forward, and have been known to pursue a horseman. One sort of imamba, named by the natives “indhlondhlo,” is crested, and its body is of a bright flame colour. The sluggish puff-adder (Clotho arietans) is common and very dangerous. A hooded snake (Naja haemachates), the imfezi of the natives, is dangerous, and spits or ejects its poison; besides this there are a few other varieties of the cobra species. The largest of the serpent tribe, however, is the python (Hortulia natalensis), called inhlwati by the natives; its usual haunts are by streams amongst rocky boulders and in jungles, and instances are recorded of its strangling and crushing adult natives. It is common in the coast districts, and is sometimes 20 ft. long. Insects abound in great numbers, the most troublesome and destructive being the tick (Ixodes natalensis), which infests the pasturage, and the white ant (Termes mordax). Occasionally vast armies of locusts or caterpillars advance over large tracts of country, devouring all vegetation in their line of march. The fish moth, a steel-grey slimy active fish-shaped insect, is found in every house and is very destructive. Fish of excellent quality and in great quantities abound on the coast. They include shad, rock cod, mackerel, mullet, bream and soles; sharks, stingrays, cuttlefish and the octopus are also common in the waters off the coast of Natal. Prawns, crayfish and oysters are also obtainable, and turtle (Chelonia mydas) are frequently captured. Freshwater scale-fish are mostly full of bones, but fine eels and barbel are plentiful in the rivers. Trout have been introduced into some of the higher reaches of the rivers.

Inhabitants. — At the census of 1904 the population of the province, including Zululand, was 1,108,754.[2] Of this total 8.8%, or 97,109, were Europeans, 9%, or 100,918, Asiatics and the rest natives of South Africa, mainly of Zulu-Kaffir stock. Of the 824,063 natives, 203,373 lived in Zululand. The white and Asiatic population nearly doubled in the thirteen years since the previous census, allowance being made for the Utrecht and Vryheid districts, which in 1891 formed part of the Transvaal. Of the total population 985,167 live in rural areas, the average density for the whole country being 31.34 per sq. m. The white population is divided into 56,758 males and 40,351 females. Of the white inhabitants the great majority are British. Some 12,500 are of Dutch extraction; these live chiefly in the districts of Utrecht and Vryheid. There are also about 4500 Natalians of German extraction, settled mainly in the New Hanover and Umzimkulu districts. The Asiatics at the 1904 census were divided into 63,497 males and 37,421 females. They include a few high caste Indians, Arabs and Chinese, but the great majority are Indian coolies. The Asiatics are mainly congregated in the coast districts between the Umzimkulu and Tugela rivers. In this region (which includes Durban) the Asiatic population was 61,854. In none of the inland districts did the Asiatic inhabitants number 2000. The coolies are employed chiefly on the sugar, coffee, cotton and other plantations, a small proportion being employed in the coal-mines.

The native inhabitants of Natal proper were almost exterminated by the Zulus in the early years of the 19th century. Before that period the natives of what is now Natal proper were estimated to number about 100,000. In 1838 when the Zulu power was first checked the natives had been reduced to about 10,000. The stoppage of inter tribal wars by the British, aided by a great influx of refugees from Zululand, led to a rapid increase of the population. With the exception of a few Bushmen, who cling to the slopes of the Drakensberg, all the natives are of Bantu stock. Before the Zulu devastations the natives belonged to the Ama-Xosa branch of the Kaffirs and are said to have been divided into ninety-four different tribes; to-day all the tribes have a large admixture of Zulu blood (see Kaffirs, Zululand and Bantu Languages). The Natal natives have preserved their tribal organization to a considerable extent. Nearly 50% live in special reserves or locations, the area set apart for native occupation being about 4000 sq. m. exclusive of Zululand. Most of the remainder are employed on or live upon farms owned by whites, paying annual rents of from £1 to £5 or more. There were, however, in 1904, 69,746 male natives and 10,232 female natives in domestic service. Of the tribes who were in Natal before the Zulu invasion about 1812, the two largest are the Abatembu (who are in five main divisions and number about 30,000) and the Amakwabe (seven divisions and about 20,000 people). Other large tribes are the Amanyuswa (ten divisions — 38,000 people), the Amakunu (three divisions — 26,000 people), and the Amabomvu (five divisions — 25,000 people). The three last tribes are among those which sought refuge in Natal from Zulu persecution, before the establishment of British rule in 1843. The number of half-castes is remarkably small, at the census of 1904 the number of “mixed and others,” which

  1. See R. B. and J. D. Woodward, Natal Birds (Maritzburg, 1899).
  2. The following is the official estimate of the population on the 31st of December 1908: Europeans 91,443 natives, 998,264 (including 7386 “mixed and others”), Asiatics 116,679; total 1,206,386.