Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/284

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natives for the capture of wild animals. The gemsbok, it is true, is found in the most dreary and desolate districts far distant from water:

"A region of drought, where no river glides,
Nor rippling brook with osier'd sides—
With no reedy pool, nor mossy fountain,
Nor shady tree, nor cloud-capp'd mountain."

Nevertheless (more especially at early morn), it occasionally frequents the banks of periodical rivers, flanked or bordered by broken ground or hills; and it is to such localities, when pursued, that it flies for refuge.

Though the gemsbok has rarely, if ever, been known to attack man, it is quite capable of defending itself. With its formidable horns it can strike an object (that is, inflict wounds) in front as well as behind, which, from their pointing backward, was hardly to be expected. When driven to bay by dogs, it has been seen to place its head between its legs (the tips of its horns, in the while, almost resting on the ground), and to rip open, or toss into the air, such of its assailants as have had the boldness to confront it. In this manner Hans told me he lost, at different times, the best dogs in his pack.

In open ground, the gemsbok, it is said, will stand on the defensive even against the lion himself. Hans, indeed, knew an instance where a lion and a gemsbok were found lying dead in each other's grasp, the latter having, with his horns, transfixed his assailant! The carcasses of the two were discovered before decomposition had taken place. The lion seems to have a great dread of the horns of the gemsbok; for, by all accounts, he rarely ventures to attack except by stealth.

The horns of this animal are used by the natives for a variety of purposes. When polished, they form strong and handsome walking-sticks. The flesh, which is well tasted, is highly prized.