Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/405

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
397
OTHER ANIMALS DREAD THE ELEPHANT.

neck; its body heaved and quivered for a moment, and the next instant the poor animal was dead. It had received several deep gashes about the flanks and chest, caused by the claws and teeth of its fierce assailants. The strong and tough muscles of the neck were also bitten through.

All thought of pursuing the wounded lion was now out of the question. The natives remained gorging on the carcass of the camelopard until it was devoured. A day or two afterward, however, I had the good fortune to fall in with my royal antagonist, and finished him without much difficulty.

At Kobis and the neighborhood I enjoyed shooting to perfection.[1] But I had many hair-breadth escapes from elephants and rhinoceroses.

  1. The cut on the next page represents one of those numerous and exciting scenes that I have witnessed at night, at the water, when lying in ambush for game. There is one fact—a fact that has hitherto escaped the attention of the African sportsman—connected with this illustration that makes it particularly interesting, and which induced me to designate it "The Approach of Elephants." The animals are just appearing above the distant hill. If the spring or pool, as the case may be, be of small extent, all the animals present will invariably retire from the water as soon as they are aware of the presence of the elephants, of whom they appear to have an instinctive dread, and will remain at a respectful distance until the giants have quenched their thirst. Thus, long before I have seen, or even heard the elephants, I have been warned of their approach by the symptoms of uneasiness displayed by such animals as happened to be drinking at the time. The giraffe, for instance, begins to sway his long neck to and fro; the zebra utters subdued, plaintive cries; the gnoo glides away with a noiseless step; and even the ponderous and quarrelsome black rhinoceros, when he has time for reflection, will pull up short in his walk to listen; then, turning round, he listens again, and, if he feel satisfied that his suspicions are correct, he invariably makes off, usually giving vent to his fear or ire by one of his vicious and peculiar snorts. Once, it is true, I saw a rhinoceros drinking together with a herd of seven male elephants; but then he was of the white species, and, besides, I do not believe that either party knew of each other's proximity.