Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/268

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which enables ostrich and camel to inhabit and traverse arid and desert regions, the resemblance is by no means so imaginary as one might at first suppose. Indeed, to many of the nations of the East,[1] as well as to the Romans and the Greeks, the ostrich was known by the name of the camel-bird.

The ostrich is easily domesticated, but is sometimes of a vicious disposition. The Rev. Mr. Hahn, if I remember rightly, told me that some of these birds, which he kept in confinement for a considerable period, became so mischievous that, lest they might injure any of the people on the station, he was obliged to kill them.

Several persons have tried to breed from the tame ostrich; but, to the best of my belief, all attempts have hitherto proved abortive. Eggs, however, have been frequently obtained, but the birds never showed any inclination to sit upon them. At the Regent's Park Gardens, moreover, repeated trials have been made to hatch the eggs by artificial means, but without success.

The expedients resorted to in South Africa to capture the ostrich are various. Not unfrequently it is ridden down by men on horseback. Several hunters take different sides of a large plain, thus hemming the bird in, and chasing it backward and forward until its strength is exhausted.

The ostrich is also at times ridden down by a single horseman. Under ordinary circumstances, fleet as the horse may be, this would be impossible. Toward the approach of the rainy season, however, when the days are intolerably hot and oppressive, the giant bird may be seen standing motionless on the plain, with wings spread and beak wide open; and at such times the capture may be accomplished. Indeed, cases have come under my notice where Namaquas,

  1. Among the people of Persia and Arabia the vulgar belief is said to exist "that the shutur-moorg (the camel-bird) is produced by the union of a camel with a bird!"