Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/171

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163
WELLS—VEGETATION—GAME.

ing with hippopotami. In seasons when rains are plentiful, these troughs or gulleys fill, and, no doubt, retain the water from one rainy period to another, which enables the animals to travel at their ease to Omanbondè. Indeed, by similar omurambas they have found their way even as far south as Schmelen's Hope. According to Jonker Afrikaner's account, a hippopotamus had taken up its abode at this place, but was at last killed by a sudden inundation of the Swakop. The carcass was washed up at the mouth of the Tjobis, where he saw its remains.

On a first look at Damara-land, an inexperienced person would "as soon expect," as Mr. Galton says, "a hippopotamus to have traveled across the great Sahara as from Omanbondè to Tjobis." The fact, however, is, that this country, after heavy rains, differs as much from its normal state as a sea-beach when dry and when at spring-tide.

Little or no rain had fallen this year at Omanbondè, and, consequently, it presented a very dreary and uninteresting appearance. In its bed, however, we discovered several wells, which, together with numerous remains of Damara villages, clearly indicated that the so-called lake was, at times, largely resorted to by the natives.

The vegetation remained precisely as hitherto, but the thorn coppices were, if possible, thicker and more harassing. The monotony of the scene was somewhat relieved by clumps of very fine kameel thorn-trees.

Game was rather scarce, yet I managed to bag a few red bucks (pallahs) and koodoos. Tracks of giraffes, rhinoceroses, and elephants were by no means uncommon, but I never had the good fortune to fall in with any of these animals.

Furious battles are said to take place occasionally between the two last-named; and though, of course, strength in the elephant is infinitely superior to the rhinoceros, the latter, on account of his swiftness and sudden movements, is by no