Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/495

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487
BEHEMOTH.

frequent occurrence—the raft immediately swung round and thus disengaged itself; but when we came in contact with trees overhanging the river, we were more inconvenienced; for, before we could get clear of them, ourselves and baggage were at times nearly swept into the water. In this manner, nevertheless, and without serious accident, we accomplished about one hundred and fifty miles in nine days, entirely by the force of the current, which rarely exceeded two miles an hour.

While descending the Teoge we met several parties of natives in pursuit of the hippopotamus; the men were embarked on rafts similarly constructed as our own. But, before describing the manner in which the chase is conducted by these people, it may be proper to say a few words regarding the natural history of the above animal.

"Behold now behemoth which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox: his bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron; he lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow: the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river; he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes; his nose pierceth through snares."

The above grand and figurative language of the book of Job seems particularly applicable to the hippopotamus, whom most people believe to be identical with the behemoth of the sacred writer. Indeed, in his "Systema Naturæ," Linnæus ends his description of the hippopotamus with calling it the "Behemot Jobi."

The hippopotamus is generally distributed in the large rivers and lakes of Africa, from the confines of the Cape Colony to about the 22d or 23d degree of north latitude. It is found in none of the African rivers that fall into the Mediterranean except the Nile, and in that part of it only which runs through Upper Egypt, or in the fens and lakes of Ethi-