Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/49

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27
STOCKING A MENAGERIE

or four weeks old. They are then like young puppies, easily managed, and soon know their keepers. Leopards, tigers and all animals of that kind we get in the same way and at about the same age.

"Baby elephants are hard to capture, and the hunt is very dangerous. The old ones seem to know instinctively when we are after their young, and their rage is something terrible. The trumpeting of the parents can be heard a long distance, and quickly alarms the whole herd. The rifle is comparatively useless, and trying to approach them is particularly hazardous; yet it has to be done.

"First, we try to distract the attention of the female from her young. Then a native creeps cautiously in from behind and with one cut of a heavy broad-bladed knife severs the tendons of her hind legs. She is then disabled and falls to the ground. We promptly kill her, secure the ivory and capture the little one. Of course we sometimes have a native or two killed in this kind of a hunt; but they don't cost much—only five to six dollars apiece. The sheiks are paid in advance, and do not care whether the poor huntsmen get out of the chase alive or not. We like to capture the baby elephants when they are about one year old.