Puslapio vaizdai

have betrayed my presence. ment. I was firing almost He was an exceptionally cun- vertically down, and my bullet ning and cautious animal, which must have struck the creature I had been after for weeks, in the fleshy part of the side, and apparently after waiting doing but little damage, though for some time in the shelter a copious blood-spoor was left, of a small bush, he turned which, after daylight, I folback into the jungle. I sat lowed for 300 yards back to up patiently expectant until the river through the luxuriant ten o'clock, when I gave up vegetation of a maze of islands. my vigil as a bad job, and There is one point I would went to sleep. I was awakened like to make quite clear. I in the early hours of the morn- have just mentioned that when ing by the sound of a large approaching, this crocodile body approaching through the made a sound like a large body undergrowth from the direc- being dragged through the tion of the river. I could not cover. Previously I have said imagine what was the cause of that on dry land the crocodile the noise, as I had never before waddles along with his body heard anything like it. The off the ground, when only a movement was slow and hesi- slight dragging sound might tating, almost as if some heavy be produced by his tail, which body was being dragged along does fall behind him. By this the ground. But I had not I meant more or less level long to wait in my perplexity.ground, free from thick cover. A narrow crescent moon sent Among the broken land and out a few faint rays, which thick scrub of these islands, just showed up the carcase his only possible means of probelow me, and then the bushes gression was to drag himself in front of me parted, and a along on his belly. These crocogreat shining object, elongated diles attain an enormous length and diamond-shaped, slid down when old, and often live to a the bank above the “kill," great age. I believe specimens and I realised that a huge have been secured as much as

mugger" had winded the thirty feet in length, and I very offensive carcase, and had know that very large ones could come along to enjoy a hearty always be obtained in the Sunmeal. With a loud snap of darbans. They are essentially his mighty jaws he seized a creatures of the rivers and shoulder, and began to tug at lakes of the plains, and do not it with might and main. This ascend the streams to any great was too much for me, as the height, though there is a cerstench of the putrid meat be- tain mountain in Nyasaland low the tree became too over- some thousand feet high which powering for description when has a lake in the centre of its well shaken, and I hastened to crater, and this lake is just put an end to the entertain- alive with crocodiles. No one VOL. CCXV.-NO. MCCCII.

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knows how they got there : matter which variety it may the only theory I have ever be, the safest shot is at the heard is that the lake may have neck, and if that portion of a subterranean channel or pas- the body is accurately struck sage which connects it with in the right place, there is no rivers or lakes elsewhere. possibility of the great brute

While on service in Palestine getting away. A high-velocity from 1918 to 1920, I made bullet striking this amphibious many investigations in regard monster in the neck will most to the Palestine crocodile, which certainly damage the spine and used to inhabit a few of the paralyse the brute—if not killed small streams which flow into outright-long enough to enthe Mediterranean. This sub- able a boat to get to and ject has led to much con- safely secure him. This paratroversy, as there

still lysing effect will prevent all several people who believe the muscular action which althe species is

is not extinct, most certainly follows when a though I never came across crocodile has been hit elseany satisfactory evidence to where, and which usually enshow that any had either been tails the loss of one's trophy, seen, killed, or handled for even though mortally hit. several decades. Claims, of shot in the head with a solid course, there were many, but bullet will undoubtedly kill I am afraid that all must be him, but as it often lacks the relegated to the long list of paralysing effect of a spine travellers' tales. I am, how- shot, there will probably be ever, absolutely in accord with a frantic flick of the powerful those whose investigations have tail, which will be sufficient to led them to believe that these propel the brute into the water crocodiles were never indige- and lose him for ever. In the nous to the country, but were fast-flowing rivers patronised originally imported from Egypt. by the fish-eater, once a mort

This concludes my experi- ally wounded one has regained ences with the “mugger," while the water, it is quite hopeless the pursuit of the Gharial or to expect to see him again. Fish-eating Crocodile, though Another shot which has a paraproviding excellent and strenu- lysing effect is at the tail, but ous sport, does not furnish such it is not nearly so successful, a diversity of incidents as does nor do I recommend it; for, his carnivorous cousin under unlike the neck shot, there is similar circumstances. Usually not a well-defined target at the account of one such ex- which one can take aim. The pedition should suffice to give shorter the range, naturally a good idea of what is likely to the more successful one is likely occur. I should mention before to be, and I rarely fired at proceeding further, that in ranges of more than 150 yards. shooting at a crocodile, no In a boat floating quietly down-stream, one could often sible after being shot, and sendapproach very close to these ing the skins packed in salt to monsters when they were lying the North-West Tanneries at out on the sand - banks in Cawnpore. With this procedmid-stream. There is much ure I have never had a skin against the sportsman, as he go bad before or during the rarely gets a very steady shot; tanning process; even though but it is astonishing how quickly on one occasion a skin was one gets into the way of mak- sent all the way from the ing accurate allowance for the jungles of the Central Provinces movement of the boat, and in the hottest part of the dry how often one's shots meet with season, and when the nearest complete success. I have fre- railway station was seventy quently known body shots just miles away from my camp. behind the shoulder to be suc- If the Gharial is hunted cessful ; but this was probably much he soon becomes exceeddue to the fact that the spine ingly wary, which makes his was touched, and so paralysing pursuit an arduous pastime. the brute, which prevented him One can make a trip of several making that final exasperating days or just spend a day on dive into the water. When a a particular river where they Gharial is wounded slightly are plentiful. One can go and re-enters the water, if cover up-stream and float back; or is available within reasonable one can go down-stream and range of the bank on which he land at some other spot, and was originally lying, it will be then return by land to the advisable to hide and wait for place from which one started. him to come out on to the The main point to bear in bank again. He is almost cer- mind is the fact that up-stream tain to do so, as the little fish work means towing, and the -off whose bigger relatives he only chance of getting a shot usually feeds—swarm round and at a Gharial is by locating commence nibbling at the raw one some way ahead, and stalkflesh in the wound. This ing him from the bank of the eventually irritates the crocodile river if the cover is suitable. so much that usually he finds By this method I have secured it quite impossible to remain quite a number, especially when in the water for long, and he they are too shy to allow boats has to emerge once more on to approach within range for to the dry land to escape

from a reasonable shot. It is when the attentions of his tiny tor- floating down-stream that most mentors.

of the shooting is done, and This type provides a most when likely targets are certain excellent skin for tanning. I to present themselves. I do have always achieved splen- not fancy this variety attains did results by skinning these a much greater length than scaly monsters as soon as pos- 15 or 16 feet; at any rate, I

have never seen any larger miniature rifle is the best specimens, though I have seen weapon for this form of sport, at least a hundred killed. The and it is extraordinary what majority of them come out of large specimens can be bagged the water when the sun is hot with a low velocity 22 bullet, and well up in the sky, and if hit in the right place the lie and bask on the mud or neck. Native taxidermists often sand-banks situated either at stuff and set up whole these the sides or in the centre of the curious little creatures, which stream, though most of them make interesting and handsome keep to the banks far out in the trophies to hang on the walls water, probably for safety. At of a bungalow. the same time, I have frequent- I have also heard the Gharial ly seen fine large specimens on utter a hoarse grunting noise the banks and out of the water when wounded. Only sweepers shortly after the chill grey and the members of certain dawn !

low - class gipsy tribes will I was often astonished by the skin them, and I well repluckor possibly was it fool- member the sweeper of a cerhardiness ?-displayed by the tain padre in Ferozepur, who boatmen on the Indus at Dera not only undertook to skin any Ismail Khan. I have fre- crocodiles brought to the comquently seen them leave the pound where he lived, but also boat and get into the shallow prepared the skins of even the water on a partially submerged very largest for setting up. bank in order to fix a rope The day of reckoning arrived, on to a half-paralysed Gharial however, when the padre very which had regained his native nearly had to evacuate his element after being hit in the bungalow on account of the wrong place, and which had stench emanating from several been located in the water from large and putrid skins which the boat with the aid of a long were eventually discovered in pole. On such occasions the the vicinity of the servants' wounded brute will quite natur- quarters. . The sweeper was ally snap at anybody or any- bundled out there and then, thing that comes near him. together with all his offensive When he is lying disabled out protégés. on a bank, it is easy enough There used to be a most to avoid his jaws, but it is a enthusiastic little shikari, one very different matter when he Moogloo by name, who accomis lying submerged in a few panied sportsmen from feet of water.

Kaisar-i-Hind Bridge over the I have also had great fun River Sutlej at Ferozepur. shooting at the tiny Gharials, Though a child in years, he from 2 to 4 feet in length, was a regular prince amongst which are usually extremely crocodile shikaris. He had eyes plentiful in such rivers. A like a hawk, and his word was law. It was almost pathetic ties are generally few and far to see his disappointed expres- between. sion when a miss had been In both varieties the teeth made, which I am sure upset are more or less hollow, which him far more than it did the shows that they are used for sportsman responsible for the seizing their prey and not for calamity! I wonder what has biting it up. The "mugger,” happened to him, and whether whose teeth are placed rather he still proves a cheerful and unevenly around his jaws, has willing companion when in pur- teeth about the size and shape suit of the “ Fish-eater,” now of 577 bullets, and tears his that he has grown up.

victims apart, swallowing each It is very paying to secure portion whole. The Gharial a large number of skins and has a long narrow snout 18 sell them to the North-West inches to 2 feet in length, Tanneries ; but speed in getting thickly supplied with sharp the skins to the factory is brittle teeth both on top and essential, and when shooting below like a dog's canines, for on the great rivers where the seizing its finny prey, which Gharial abounds, railway facili- is then swallowed.

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