Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/387

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379
GREGARIOUS HABITS—DOMESTICATION.

suit of an elephant, a black rhinoceros suddenly appeared among them, charging madly both beasts and men, several of whom had narrow escapes from being gored by the animal.

The rhinoceros will also fight his own species. One night, when at the "skärm," I saw four huge beasts engage each other at the same time, and so furious was the strife, and their gruntings so horrible, that it caused the greatest consternation among my party, who were encamped some little way off. I succeeded after a while in killing two of them, one of which was actually unfit for food, being quite rotten from wounds received on previous occasions, and, probably, under similar circumstances.

The rhinoceros, though it can not strictly be called a gregarious animal, and though most commonly met with singly or in pairs, would seem to be of a somewhat social disposition. Indeed, as many as a dozen have been seen pasturing and browsing together.

The rhinoceros is nocturnal in his habits. At the approach of dusk he commences his rambles, and, if not disturbed, generally visits the pool at an early hour of the evening; afterward he not unfrequently wanders over a great extent of country. Soon after sunrise he seeks repose and shelter against the heat under some friendly mimosa, or the projecting ledge of a rock, where he spends the day in sleep, either stretched at full length or in a standing position. Thus seen from a distance, he may easily be mistaken for the fragment of a rock.

The Asiatic species is frequently kept in confinement, but, though generally tractable, his morose and savage nature makes him rather dangerous. The least provocation often puts him into a tempest of passion, when he will not hesitate to destroy his best friend. In his rage he will jump about, and leap to a great height, driving his head furiously, and with incredible swiftness, against the partitions of his place