Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/382

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"white," on the other hand, is of a comparatively mild disposition, and, unless in defense of its young, or when hotly pursued, or wounded, will rarely attack a man.

The body of the rhinoceros is long and thick; its belly is large, and hangs near the ground; its legs are short, round, and very strong; and its hoofs are divided into three parts, each pointing forward. The head, which is remarkably formed, is large; the ears are long and erect; its eyes small and sunk. The horns, which are composed of a mass of fine longitudinal threads or laminæ, forming a beautifully hard and solid substance, are not affixed to the skull, but merely attached to the skin, resting, however, in some degree, on a bony protuberance above the nostrils. It is believed by many that, when the animal is at rest, the horns are soft and pliable, but that, when on the move, they at once become hard and solid. Moreover, that it can, at will, turn the posterior horn, the other horn meanwhile remaining firm and erect; but there can scarcely be sufficient foundation for such notions.

In size the African rhinoceros—the white species, at least—is only exceeded by the elephant. A full-grown male (R. simus) measures from the snout to the extremity of the tail (which is about two feet) between fourteen and sixteen feet, with a circumference of ten or twelve. To judge from these data, and the general bulkiness of the body, it can not weigh less than from four to five thousand pounds. In our "bush-cuisine" we reckoned one of these animals equal to three good-sized oxen.

The general appearance of the African rhinoceros is not unlike that of an immense hog shorn of his hair, or, rather, bristles, for, with the exception of a tuft at the extremity of the ears and the tail, it has no hair whatever; and, as if in mockery of its giant form, its eyes are ludicrously small—so small, indeed, that at a short distance they are imperceptible. Altogether, what with its huge body, misshapen head,