Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/141

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133
VISIT FROM A LEOPARD.

driven into the ground, will answer the purpose equally well. To these trees or posts, as the case may be, the gun is firmly lashed in a horizontal position, and with the muzzle pointing slightly upward. A piece of wood about six inches in length—the lever, in short—is tied to the side of the gun-stock in such a manner as to move slightly forward and backward. A short piece of string connects the trigger with the lower part of the lever. To the upper extremity of the latter is attached a longer piece of cord, to the outer end of which, after it has been passed through one of the empty ramrod tubes, is tied a lump of flesh, which is pushed over the muzzle of the gun.

These matters being arranged, a sort of fence, consisting of thorny bushes, is made around the spot, only one small, narrow opening being left, and that right in front of the muzzle of the gun. A "drag," consisting of tainted flesh or other offal, is then trailed from different points of the surrounding country directly up to the "toils."

When the hyaena seizes the bait—which she can only do by gaping across the muzzle of the weapon—and pulls at it, the gun at once explodes, and the chances are a hundred to one that the brains of the animal are scattered far and wide.

During our stay at Schmelen's Hope we not unfrequently received visits from leopards, by the Dutch erroneously called "tigers," under which denomination the panther is also included; but I do not believe that tigers, at least of the species common to the East Indies, exist on the African continent. The Damaras, however, assert that the real tiger is found in the country, and they once pointed out to Mr. Rath the tracks of an animal which he declared to me were very different from any he had ever before seen in Africa, and which the natives assured him were those of the animal in question.

One night I was suddenly awoke by a furious barking of our dogs, accompanied by cries of distress. Suspecting that