Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/317

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

their horns. Some African tribes take much pains in forming them of a certain shape. This is effected either by sawing off the tips, splitting them, bending them forcibly when yet tender, and so forth.

The Damara cow is of slender proportions and very wild. Before she can be milked, it is always needful to lash her head to a tree, in like manner as the Laplanders treat their reindeer, or to tie her hind legs together. The best cow rarely gives more than two or three pints of milk daily, and, should her calf die or be taken from her, she absolutely refuses to give any at all, in which case it is necessary to resort to artificial means. One plan is to stuff a calf-skin with hay or grass, and afterward to place it on the ground for the cow to slobber over. Sometimes the adoption of the latter expedient gives rise to ludicrous scenes; for the cow, when tenderly caressing her supposed offspring, has all at once got scent of the hay or grass, when, thrusting her snout into the skin, she has greedily devoured its contents!

The Damaras, as well as other nations, take great delight in having whole droves of cattle of the same color. The Namaquas have a perfect mania for a uniform team. Bright brown is the favorite color; and I myself have always found beasts of this hue to be the strongest and most generally serviceable. Dark brown oxen with a yellowish streak along the back—by the Dutch designated "geel-bak"—are also usually stout and enduring. Yellow, and more especially white, oxen are considered weak, and unable to bear much fatigue or hardship.

The Damaras, as with almost every other people of Southern Africa, value their cattle next to their women, and take a pride in possessing animals that look high bred. The ox, in fact, forms the chief theme of the songs of the Damaras. They, moreover, rarely or never make use of a handsome animal as a beast of burden, but employ quiet, ugly bulls for such purposes. These have a buffalo look about them, and their horns, moreover, rarely attain to any size.