Hunting and Trapping Stories; a Book for Boys/Gorilla Hunting

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Paul Du Challiau the great traveller and naturalist, who died in the year of 1903, was the first white man to discover the existence of the Gorilla. While he was exploring in the Gaboon Country, on the West Coast of Africa, the natives told him of a mighty ape, and of its great strength and height. He could see for himself that they held it in the greatest dread. At first he could hardly credit their stories but he was soon convinced when the natives took him into the forests and showed him the creature alive.

Later Du Challiau returned to Europe and gave the great men of science an account of this strange animal. He was laughed at, treated with scorn and called a liar. If you examine history carefully you will find that this has been the fate of every man who has made a new discovery, or visited some unexplored land. After a while, when the facts were proved, the scientific world did not apologize and admit that it had been mistaken, but simply ignored its first blunder. However Du Challiau was not to be put off so easily, and he forthwith returned to the Gaboon Country, and succeeded in killing a few gorillas and returned to Europe with the skins, and a huge skeleton. Now the majority of the museums throughout the land have stuffed specimens of this great ape which you may see any day.

Gorilla hunting, looked at from any side, is a dangerous business, and doubly so if an attempt is made to catch a specimen alive. A story is told of a hunter who managed to kill a gorilla and this is what he says.

He took a number of natives as escorts and guides, and travelled many miles into the forest. Now one of the first things that struck the traveller was that in this country animal life was exceedingly scarce, and this was curious because the Gaboon Country is situated in one of the hottest parts of Africa where every place teems with life. It is supposed the gorilla will not let anything live near it, for even birds that live in the tree tops are silent and hard to find.

It was not long before the gorilla was discovered. The great ape was heard roaring as it crashed through the undergrowth and soon it appeared walking on its feet like a chimpanzee. The nearest man to it was a brave native hunter, who stood at one side in case of a frontal attack. The white hunter had been told to reserve his fire until the brute came quite close, for a bullet at a long distance would not have any deadly effect.

The gorilla was sly and came slowly forward as though it did not see an enemy at its side, but it suddenly swung round and charged the native, who tripped over a root, and the next instant the ape was upon him. The gorilla seized its victim by the neck and shook him only once, and then let the dead body fall. This seemed to rouse its rage for it advanced on the rest of the party roaring and beating its chest. When only a few yards from its enemies it rose to its full height, its devilish gray eyes darting glances of hatred. The hunter fired and the bullet passed into the shoulder, and at the same instant the ape charged. Two more carefully aimed shots

were put in without seeming to have any effect at all except that of rousing the brute to still greater fury.

The hunter was now thoroughly frightened, for he realized that unless a vital spot was hurt they would probably all be killed. The gorilla soon recognised the white man as its chief enemy and charged him. The brute came so close that it gripped the rifle barrel and twisted it in its hands as though it were made of lead pipe. The hunter backed away and seizing another rifle from a trusty native who was close at hand, sent a ball crashing through the ape's skull. It gave one roar and tumbled head foremost on its face. The body twitched for several minutes: and not one of the natives would go near until they could be sure that it was really dead. They got a long pole and turned the body over and over to make sure. The height of that gorilla was just a little short of seven feet!

One of the greatest dangers in gorilla hunting is that sometimes the ape is so silent that it does not give any warning before it attacks.

A hunting party was stalking along Indian file in the forest, and paused for a few moments for breath. It was then noticed that one native, who had been in the extreme rear of the line, was missing. Before the others could search for him they heard a rustling in the leaves, and the poor man's body fell to the ground. The gorilla, in this case, was a female and had a baby with her. She had watched the party approach and had let them all pass beneath her but the last one. This man she had seized so swiftly and quietly that he had not even time to cry out, and none of his companions were aware that he had vanished.

After a stubbon fight this gorilla was killed, and the baby was carried off in triumph. On the way to England the tiny gorilla grew fond of a bull terrier and the two became great chums, playing together for hours in the cage. The poor beast did not live long in the damp English climate, and died of consumption, although every possible care was taken to preserve its life. To this day, though everything is though of in the way of having the houses steamed heated and the foundations built on dry ground, but few zoological collections can boast of possessing a live gorilla.

All hunters and explorers who have met the gorilla in its native land agree on one point, and that is that the stuffed specimen gives no idea of the apparent height, or looks of the brute when alive in its own forests. It would be hard to picture a more fiendish looking creature. Its eyes are shifty and cruel, while its cheek bones and eye brows are large and lowering. Its teeth stick out, giving it a most ferocious look. When alive it appears to be much larger than it really is. Its great breadth of chest and length of limb seems to shrink up when it is dead. The color of its fur is black but if you look closely you will see a slight slate-grayish tint running through it.

The West African natives declare that the gorilla is easily a match for the lion and that whenever the two come together the lion always gets out of the way as quickly as possible. Furthermore they declare that even the elephant will not face the gorilla willingly.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1929.

This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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