Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/377

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
369
THE SPOTTED HYÆNA—HOW MUTILATED?

Europeans. An English traveler, Moyle, crossed the desert in safety, and arrived at Ghanzé in 1852, on a trading and hunting expedition. From this place he was guided by Bushmen to Great Namaqua-land, whence he retraced his steps home. The year after this he again crossed the desert, though under unfavorable circumstances, having, with the exception of two horses, lost all his beasts of burden, as also his servants, some of whom died from want.

Almost the first animal I saw at this place was a gigantic "tiger-wolf," or spotted hyæna, which, to my surprise, instead of seeking safety in flight, remained stationary, grinning in the most ghastly manner. Having approached within twenty paces, I perceived, to my horror, that his fore paws, and the skin and flesh of his front legs, had been gnawed away, and that he could scarcely move from the spot. To shorten the sufferings of the poor beast, I seized my opportunity and knocked him on the head with a stone, and, catching him by the tail, drove my hunting knife deep into his side; but I had to repeat the operation more than once before I could put an end to his existence. I am at a loss how to account for his mangled condition. It certainly could not have been from age, for his teeth were good. Could it be possible that, from want of food, he had become too weak for further exertions, and that, as a last resource, he had attacked his own body? or was he an example of that extraordinary species of cruelty said to be practiced by the lion on the hyæna when the latter has the insolence to interfere with the monarch's prey?[1]

Fortune once again favored us; for, in the course of the few days we remained at Ghanzé, several rhinoceroses were shot, affording an abundance of provisions. These animals were very numerous, but rather shy. One night I counted

  1. It is asserted by more than one experienced hunter, that when the hyæna proves troublesome, the lion has been known to bite off all its feet, and, thus mutilated, leave the poor animal to its fate!