Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/81

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73
AN UNEXPECTED RIDE.

is that I felt the beast move under me, when, as may be supposed, I speedily jumped to the ground again, and made off. Though my apprehensions in this instance were groundless, the following anecdote, related to me by the natives, will show that there is considerable danger in too quickly approaching an apparently dead rhinoceros:[1]

Some Namaquas had shot one of these animals as it was rising from its sleep. One of the party, imagining the beast to be dead, straightway went up to it and (with like object as myself) acted precisely as I had done. The beast, however, had only been stunned, and, as soon as he felt the cold steel enter his body, he started to his feet and made off at full speed. This action was so instantaneous as to prevent the man from dismounting, and the other Namaquas were paralyzed with fear. Fortunately, however, after the beast had run forty or fifty paces, he suddenly stopped short and looked round. The favorable opportunity was not lost; for one of the party, more courageous than the rest, instantly fired, and, as good luck would have it, brought the animal to the ground, with his terror-stricken rider still clinging to his back.

On rejoining our party, Stewardson was not a little surprised at our success, and mortified at his own want of perseverance. The flesh of the rhinoceros was poor but not unpalatable, and we remained a day at Annis to cut up and dry part of it as provision for the journey. We also carried away a goodly supply of the beast's hide for the purpose of converting it into "shamboks."[2]

  1. Most animals, when shot or otherwise killed, fall on their sides; but the rhinoceros is often an exception to this rule: at least such is my experience. In nine cases out of ten, of all those I have killed during my wanderings in Africa—and they amount to upward of one hundred—I found them on their knees, with the fore parts of their ponderous heads resting on the ground.
  2. The "shambok" (a Dutch term) consists of a strip of the stoutest part of the hide of the rhinoceros or the hippopotamus. After being stretched on the ground, and when it has acquired a certain