Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/151
SOME ARACHNIDS AT HANOVER, CAPE COLONY.
WHEN I left Cape Town for Hanover, my friend, Dr. Purcell, of the South African Museum, the leading South African authority on spiders and their kin, asked me to send him any of these creatures I might capture. The district of Hanover, he said, and indeed, practically, the whole high Karoo plateau, was unexplored arachnologically; there had been no collection from the high plateau, and he was particularly anxious to have one to compare with the arachnid fauna of the lower-lying Great Karoo.
I have devoted special attention to spiders, Solifugæ and scorpions, though, naturally, other things have found their way into the collecting bottles. These have all, from time to time, been sent to Dr. Purcell for classification, and the results have been, on the whole, as surprising as interesting.
If the reader will take a map of the Cape Colony and follow the railway from Cape Town to Bloemfontein, he will find the little station of Hanover Road lying about midway between De Aar and Naauw Poort Junctions. Nine miles across the veld, southwest from Hanover Road, is the little dorp or village of Hanover, which lies at the foot of two ijzer (iron-stone) kopjes, on a great Karoo flat, 4,700 feet above the sea level. A superb fountain gushes out from a covered furrow at the foot of the kopjes, furnishing an abundant supply of water for the houses and the fruit gardens; a great vley runs east and west past the dorp; groups of kopjes dot the mighty veld at intervals, and purple hills and mountains fringe the clean-cut and distant horizon. Hanover is bare and at times very cold in the winter; but, in the summer, when the willow trees along the water furrows that line the streets, and the fruit trees in the gardens about the white houses, are green, the little dorp is, of all small towns I have seen, by far the most beautiful. It lies like a great flower on the brown Karoo not as an excrescence, but as though it were part of the veld. There are old men here who have seen lions in the neighborhood, and younger men who have seen wildebeeste (gnus) career through the streets.
My collecting has been confined practically to the commonage in the immediate neighborhood of the dorp, over which, under martial