Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/248

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

gratory birds, such as the swallow, the cuckoo, and others, had again made their appearance.

The animals, which during the dry season are compelled to gather round the springs and other permanent waters, were enabled, by the late rains, to scatter themselves over a large extent of country, and were now difficult to find. There can be little doubt that the instinctive power of animals—domesticated as well as wild—is capable of catching the scent of humid winds and green herbage at a very great distance. Thus I have often seen oxen turn their heads toward the quarter where distant lightning indicated that rain had fallen, and sniff with evident pleasure the breeze produced by colder air. Mr. Moffat, the missionary, mentions an instance where a great number of cattle were entirely lost, solely, as he supposes, from this cause.

"Many years previous to my sojourn in Namaqua-land," says the reverend gentleman, "Afrikaner thus lost the greater part of his cattle. One evening a strong wind commenced blowing from the north; it smelt of green grass, as the natives expressed it. The cattle, not being in folds, started off after dark. The circumstance being unprecedented, it was supposed they had merely wandered out to the common, where they were accustomed to graze; but it was found, after much search, that some thousands of cattle had directed their course to the north. A few were recovered, but the majority escaped to the Damara country, after having been pursued hundreds of miles."

For my own part, I have frequently passed through localities abounding with game, and, repassing them in a short time, I have found them deserted without any apparent cause; as I proceeded, however, I have discovered them in quite different quarters, and ascertained that the attraction has been the young grass, which was either produced by the moisture of the atmosphere, or from the natives having fired the old grass. The rapidity with which parched and sun-burnt pas-