Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/504

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
496
HOW THE CHASE IS CONDUCTED.

a strain consequently comes upon them, relax, so as to allow the harpoon to slip out of the socket, though, of course, it still remains attached to the shaft. To the other extremity of the handle is fixed the harpoon-line, F, which is strong, and of considerable length, and to the end of this a "float" or "buoy," G.

Lake Ngami-p496.png

HIPPOPOTAMUS HARPOON.

From the weight of the shaft the harpoon is seldom or never hurled at the hippopotamus, but is held by the harpooner, who drives it either vertically or obliquely into the body of the animal.

Sometimes the chase is conducted with canoes alone; at others in connection with a "reed-raft," similarly constructed to that recently described. We will suppose the latter plan is adopted. At the appointed time the men assemble at the rendezvous, and after every thing has been duly arranged, and the canoes needed for the prosecution of the hunt drawn up on the raft, the latter is pushed from the shore, and afterward abandoned entirely to the stream, which propels the unwieldy mass gently and noiselessly forward.

Hippopotami are not found in all parts of the river, but only in certain localities. On approaching their favorite haunts, the natives keep a very sharp look-out for the animals, whose presence is often known by their snorts and grunts, while splashing and blowing in the water, or (should there be no interruption to the view) by the ripple on the surface, long before they are actually seen.

As soon as the position of the hippopotami is ascertained, one or more of the most skillful and intrepid of the hunters stand prepared with the harpoons, while the rest make ready