Considering their moderate weight, their strength is marvellous, and twice I have known them remove a slab of hippo hide which was a good load for two strong men to carry on a pole, and which presumably weighed quite i6olb., and on both occasions they dragged the skin for some distance and then gnawed it. It must have been a tough and stodgy meal, although not so sharp or hard as a load of chipped bones. The hyaena enters largely into native superstitions, doubtless through their quiet, sneaking habits and strange cries.
Chinyanja - Mbulu.
Chingoni - Mesengyanga, sometimes Mbulu.
Approximate weight, ♂ ...... 80lb.
It is possible that there may be more than one variety of the wild or hunting dog in Central Africa, as a certain amount of difference can be noticed in their markings in different districts. I have only shot about ten wild dogs, but I have seen them on several occasions when after game, without firing at them.
Those I shot in Central Angoniland seemed to have more white on their bodies than two I shot near the Luangwa River in North-Eastern Rhodesia, and were also slightly larger.
Their colour is a mixture of blotched markings of black, yellow, and white, and they are often mangy and dirty. The bitches bring forth their young in deserted antbear holes, and they must leave them behind when hunting, as I never saw young animals running with a pack. They are sporting animals, but they do great damage to the game, as they are always at it, for it must take a lot of meat to feed a pack of fifty or sixty of them.
They range the country until they disturb an antelope and then hunt by scent, following quickly and steadily until they wind their prey, when it is easy to kill it, except in the case of sable or roan antelopes, when I fancy the dogs get killed at times, as both these antelopes are plucky and well armed with their long, curved horns. I once saw a large pack hunting a bull waterbuck, and the chase cannot have lasted long, as the waterbuck was showing signs of being done and was not far in front. He was likely doomed unless he crossed water, which would be the only thing to stop the dogs, as they would lose the scent of the spoor. An old native once pointed out a small detached hill to me, where he said a pack of wild dogs had killed a lion, long ago ; and after killing him they ate him. I expect this is true, but that the lion was an old animal pretty near a natural end with old age and hunger, and that it had neither the strength to run far or put up a good fight for its life.
I asked the native if it was a lion or lioness, and whether it was old, and he said that when the people saw the animals fighting they were afraid to go near, and that the dogs soon ate up the meat and skin.
Some authors give wild dogs a bad character, and say they are dangerous, although I never saw them make an attempt to attack human beings, even when wounded. The natives, however, say they are dangerous, and I believe they imagine so for the reason that when wild dogs are seen they never seem in a great hurry to bolt, and will often trot a few yards and look at the disturber, and give vent to a clacking sound.
One I wounded badly near the Luangwa River allowed me to go up and push it with my foot, and it only cringed and turned over, so I put it out of pain quickly with another bullet. The habits of the African wild dog must be very like the wolves of Eastern Europe and America, and as they get most of their food by running it down, I think they are worthy of being classed above vermin, for at least their methods are u sporting."
(i) Side-striped (Cam's adustus).
(2) Black-backed (Cam's mesomelas).
Chinyanja - Nkandwe.
Chingoni - Kandwe.
Approximate weight, ♂ ......... 331b.
Although these animals are fairly plentiful, they are not very often seen unless one is out very early in the morning, or late in the evening when darkness is near. Then a jackal may now and then be disturbed in a patch of grass, or seen leaving such a place where he has spent the day resting and sleeping. They are fond of walking on native paths, and I have shot a few I have met in this way. Their sharp cries will be heard at night, although not so often as in India, where the jackal (of a different variety) is much more plentiful than I have ever seen it in Central Africa. In the cold season their skins are very pretty, as they are more thickly haired at that time than in the rainy months. In South Africa various tribes make nice karosses (fur rugs) with jackal and other skins ; but I have never seen the natives of Central Africa make rugs of any skins, although they make bags and ornaments of wild cat and other small skins.
Jackals eat locusts when they are about and they doubtless eat lizards, snails, mice, rats, etc. ; in fact anything they can catch and kill that is eatable. They eat berries and fruits, also, and when big game is killed they visit the remains after the lions and hyaenas have left, and they probably follow both these animals to pick up the leavings. I think the black-backed variety is commoner than the side-striped; the latter being slightly the larger of the two.
(i) The large, clawless (Lutra capensis).
(2) The small, with claws (Lutra maculicollis).
Chingoni - Ntimi.
The former (1) is clawless and both varieties feed on fish, crabs, and insects. The latter (2) can be distinguished by spots on the neck skin and from its smaller size.
Their skins are pretty and soft, and great numbers have been exported by traders who used to buy a good skin from the natives near Lake Bangweolo for a yard of calico, value 3d., though I fancy the natives know their value better now and ask and receive more.