The following animals described :
Hyaena (two varieties).
Wild Dog. Jackal (two varieties).
Otter (two varieties).
Antbear, or Aard-Vark.
Native names given for many other animals not strictly speaking classed! as game. Also names for some of the birds, snakes, etc, are also given.
Chinyanja - Mkango.
Chingoni - Ngwenyama.
Approximate weight, ♂
Good average skin, ♂
9ft. 3in., unstretched.
There is no African animal that has inspired writers on sport in that continent, or the interest of those who have never seen Africa, to the same extent as the lion ; but in his natural state he does not present the hairy and dignified' appearance that he does when looking through the bars of a cage with sleepy-looking brown eyes.
Wild lions, especially in very hot regions, do not often have good manes, and Mr. F. C. Selous has quite conclusively proved that the profuse growth of hair seen in lions in the zoological gardens and menageries in Europe is the result of the cold climate; and possibly regular feeding may have something to do with it.
Long ago, in the higher parts of Southern Africa, lions grew large manes with long hair under the forelegs and along the belly, and to-day lions exist on the higher plateaux of British East Africa with much better manes than those inhabiting the warmer lower country. Some people with good experience aver that lions lose their manes through inhabiting thick thorn bush, as they get the hair matted and tangled with blood when feeding, and it is then caught by thorns and pulled out. I have seen lion hair hanging to a thorn bush when a maneater that had killed a woman had gone off with some of the flesh, and lain under this bush eating it. He left a little hair behind, but this is no proof that thorns would make a lion lose all its mane, as it would keep growing.
Lions originally came from cold and temperate zones, and all animals inhabiting cold countries are hairier than those which live in the more tropical parts of the earth, so there is little doubt that a cold climate is responsible for the profusion of a lion's mane.
Large lions have been killed weighing over 5001b. but few will be shot weighing more than 4oolb. It depends greatly whether a lion is weighed before or after a good meal, as I think he can easily stow away quite 701b. weight of meat when famished with hunger, and lions are usually rather hungry, often going without food for several days. Then they will eat anything that is eatable, and they are not averse to having a dessert of masuko plums, when these are ripe and fallen on the ground.
Lions are most dangerous on dark, rainy nights, for in the rains most of the antelopes scatter all over the country, as water is plentiful everywhere. They do most of their killing in the hot and dry season by lying in wait at the isolated water holes, and at favourite drinking places on rivers. They do most of their hunting by scent and hearing ; and, regarding this fact, the colouration of animals is no help to them in escaping, and they have to depend on their own hearing, scent, and speed for safety. This is where the closet naturalist falls into the trap with regard to so-called protective colouration of animals preyed on by others; and, although many more able men than myself have written on this subject, I intend to give a few lines on it before completing this volume. Further, I do not wish to write much on lions as compared to Mr. F. C. Selous and Mr. F. Vaughan-Kirby, my experience of them having been very small indeed, as I have had very bad luck in findings them. Considering the immense amount of wild country I have walked over, I have come to the conclusion that lions are rather scarce in Nyasaland and North-Eastern Rhodesia, except in certain parts, and as a rule it is pure chance coming on them.
The proper way to measure a lion or leopard skin is to stretch the animal out as straight as possible and put a peg in at the nose and another at the end of the tail, and measure the space between them. This should be done when the animal is freshly killed, as it will stiffen up soon. To measure a skin that has been flayed from the animal is no true index, as it is an easy matter to stretch it about a foot, particularly if it has been soaked in water for twelve hours.
Lions kill by biting, and use their claws for gripping their prey, and a charging lion comes along low, like a big dog ; so it offers a better target than a leopard, which bounds. They often break into cattle, sheep, and goat kraals, and do this by forcing a space between the poles near the ground, for they will seldom jump into such an enclosure. If they are disturbed, however, they have no hesitation in jumping through the interstices of the poles where they are usually wider apart, about 10ft. or 12ft. from the ground, and in doing this they will go right through big thorn branches. Lions realise that their existence largely depends on the soundness of their pads, so they are usually careful about interfering with thorns, except when they are famished with hunger, when they become heedless of anything.
They kill numbers of native pigs, and have little difficulty in breaking into the flimsy enclosures that natives often keep them in.
The lion's great feature, excluding his name, is his roar, and it is certainly a wild sound when heard on a dark rainy night. I have only heard lions roar close once, and and by close I mean within 100 yards ; and that was during a night in the rains on the Luangwa River in North-Eastern Rhodesia, and it was raining hard at the time.