Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/498

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erable distance from water, for which it instantly makes when disturbed.

The hippopotamus is an herbaceous animal. Its chief food, in the selection of which it appears rather nice, consists of grass, young reeds, and bulbous succulent roots.

When the hippopotamus is located near cultivated districts, it is very destructive to plantations of rice and grain. Mr. Melly, in his description of the Blue and White Nile, informs us that the inhabitants of a certain island found themselves so plagued by these animals that they were obliged to apply for troops to drive them away, which was responded to by a hundred soldiers being dispatched in pursuit of the marauders. Mr. Burckhardt, again, in his travels in Nubia, tells us that in Dongola, the "barnick" (the Arabic name for hippopotamus) is a dreadful torment on account of its voracity, and the want of means on the part of the natives to destroy it. During the day it remains in the water, but comes on shore at night, destroying as much by the treading of its enormous feet as by its voracity.

The ravages of the hippopotamus would appear to be an old grievance, for Sir Gardner Wilkinson, when speaking of the ancient Egyptians, says: "Though not so hostile to man as the voracious crocodile, it was looked upon as an enemy, which they willingly destroyed, since the ravages it committed at night in the fields occasioned heavy losses to the farmer."

Naturalists and others represent the hippopotamus as of a mild and inoffensive disposition. It may be so in regions where it is unacquainted with man; from the numerous unprovoked attacks made by these animals on voyagers, and the very great dread entertained of them by the Bayeye, who, so to say, live among them, I am inclined to believe they are not quite such harmless animals as we are given to understand. In ascending the Teoge, I saw comparatively little of them, and used almost to ridicule the natives on account