Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/269

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261
OSTRICH HUNTING.

after a short but spirited chase, have brought the ostrich to a dead stand-still. A blow on the head with a stick or a "shambok" is then sufficient to dispatch it. On similar occasions, however, horses have been known to drop down dead from over-exertion.

When an ostrich finds himself observed, he will often make for some given point, more especially if he be hemmed in near a plain. He is so fully aware that safety is only to be found in the open country, that he always endeavors to gain it. Should the sportsman understand his business, he may easily cut him off; but it requires a keen eye and a practiced hand to bring the bird down; for on emergencies like these, its speed, as before said, is truly wonderful.

The Arabs of North Africa are also accustomed to pursue the ostrich on horseback; but, instead of trying to overtake the bird at once, it is steadily followed, even for days, without putting it to its speed, until it becomes gradually exhausted, when it falls an easy prey to the persevering hunter.[1]

In parts of Southern Africa the ostrich is run down even on foot. I myself have seen the Bushmen accomplish this exploit on the shores of Lake Ngami. They usually surround a whole troop, and with shouts and yells chase the terrified birds into the water, where they are, of course, speedily killed. "We more than once," says Harris, "fell in with a large party of Corannas engaged in an attempt to tire out an ostrich on foot, a feat which they are said sometimes to achieve, knocking him off his legs by squaling with a club of rhinoceros horn fashioned like a hockey stick."

The Bushman, however, frequently has recourse to a much

  1. " When slain, the throat is opened, and a ligature being passed below the incision, several of the hunters raise the bird by the head and feet, and shake and drag him about until they obtain from the aperture nearly twenty pounds of a substance of mingled blood and fat, of the consistence of coagulated oil, which, under the denomination of manteque, is employed in the preparation of dishes and the cure of various maladies."—Harris's Wild Sports.