Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/292

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tentots, as also Hill-Damaras, busy collecting the locusts, which was done in a very simple and ingenious manner. Having gathered together large quantities of dry fuel, fires were lighted directly in their path, and as the insects passed over the flames, their wings were scorched, and they fell helplessly to the ground.

They are also collected by cart-loads at night when they have retired to rest; but this plan is occasionally attended with danger. "It has happened that in gathering them people have been bitten by venomous reptiles. On one occasion a woman had been traveling several miles with a large bundle of locusts on her head, when a serpent, which had been put into the sack with them, found its way out. The woman, supposing it to be a thong dangling about her shoulders, laid hold of it with her hand, and feeling that it was alive, instantly precipitated the bundle to the ground and fled."

The locusts, after being partially roasted, are eaten fresh, or they are dried in the hot ashes, and then stored away for future emergences. The natives reduce them also to powder or meal by means of two stones or a wooden mortar, which powder, when mixed with water, produces a kind of soup or stir-about. I have tasted locusts prepared in various ways, but I can not say that I have found them very palatable. But they must contain a vast deal of nourishment, since the poor people thrive wonderfully on them.

Birds of almost every description, more especially storks and kites, are seen devouring them greedily.

The great enemy of the locust, however, is the locust-bird, or the "spring-haan vogel," as it is termed by the colonists. This is described as a species of thrush, about the size of a swallow, and is a constant attendant on the insect. It is even said to build its nest and rear its young in the midst of locusts, which, moreover, occasionally prey on each other; for when a locust becomes maimed or crippled, its companions instantly pounce upon and devour it.