Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/112

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previously traversed. In the course of the day we crossed the dry beds of several large, sandy, and periodical streams, which were all tributaries to the Swakop. The country near these streams was thickly studded with splendid forests of the gigantic and park-like acacia, known to the Dutch as the "kameel-doorn," or giraffe thorn (acacia giraffæ). This tree derives its name from its constituting the favorite and principal food of the beautiful camelopard. On account of its immense size and peculiar growth, having the foliage disposed from the top downward in umbrella-shaped masses, it is a great ornament to the country; but, strange to say, it is invariably found only in arid districts.

The "kameel-doorn" is evidently of very slow growth, and requires, probably, many hundred years to arrive at maturity. The grain is therefore very close; and the wood is so heavy that, after being dried for years, it will sink when thrown into the water. Our northern oak can in no wise be compared with it as regards hardness and solidity. The grain is, however, rather short, and the wood consequently brittle. Notwithstanding this defect, it is very strong, and is extensively used for building purposes and implements of husbandry. It is, moreover, almost the only wood strong enough for the axle-trees of wagons. Tools of the best materials, however, are indispensable in working it. I have seen many a well-tempered axe and adze blunted and spoiled when brought in contact with it. The outer part of the tree is of a whitish color, but the heart is reddish-brown, not unlike mahogany, and capable of a high polish.

It is in the branches of this acacia, mentioned by several South African travelers, that the social grossbeak (loxia socia) chiefly constructs its interesting and singular nest.

Through the stupidity and mismanagement of our guide, who apparently knew but little of the road, we missed a watering-place where we were to have halted, and, in consequence, suffered extremely from thirst. Mr. Schöneberg,