Rhino flesh is often full of maggots, and the beasts themselves are usually covered with plastered mud, as, like pigs, they delight to wallow in muddy holes. Elephants have the same liking for mud holes in very hot weather, and I have seen a deep hole filled with mud and water which was just like a huge bath. I once followed a bull elephant that had just had such a bath, and he left mud on the trees as he passed, and it was possible to get a good idea of his height by these marks.
Rhino will often be found near elephants, so I suppose they leave each other alone ; although they never intermix as antelopes of different species often do. The natives do not interfere much with rhino, and old iron bullets are not so often found in their bodies as they are in those of elephants and hippos.
Very few of the two latter animals will be shot without such projectiles being found, especially if they are old.
It is a good plan to get pretty close to rhino (as it is with elephants) so as to get in a good first shot, which is always the most important one.
Rhino and elephant when wounded badly do not stop quickly, as do antelopes, and they have the habit of walking on until they drop, so as long as the beast is in sight keep on shooting carefully, if it has already been hit.
Chinyanja - Mvuu.
Chingoni - Mvu.
Approximate weight, ♂ ......
Good average tusk, ♂ .........
This animal is often described in old sporting books as the " sea cow," but I never saw the least resemblance to a cow in a hippo. Some years ago his ivory was much used by dentists for making false teeth, but since other compositions have been introduced it is no longer used for this purpose. In South Africa hippo hide is in great demand for making whips, although it is not so strong as rhino hide. However, hippos are much more easily found than rhinos, and many of them have been slaughtered in the rivers and lakes near civilisation. While going from Tete to Chinde some years ago, in a houseboat, I saw about 150 of these animals, and shot several for my men ; and on other occasions I have seen plenty of them in the Zambesi, Luangwa, and Shire Rivers. In Central Angoniland there are plenty of hippos in the Bua River, and in other small rivers, and in Lake Nyasa they are abundant; so with all the persecution they have suffered they may still be considered plentiful. They are usually found in small herds of from three to a dozen individuals, although in the Zambesi River I have seen a herd consisting of over forty animals. The old bulls, like the males of other large animals, often wander off by themselves and lead a solitary existence, and sometimes such beasts, if wounded, will have no hesitation in attacking and upsetting a native canoe. I have shot a good many hippo from boats (not steamers) and from the banks of rivers, and I have only seen one that wished to resent its injury. However, a big European made boat is a different affair to a small, flimsy dug-out canoe, and if people made a practice of shooting out of these frail vessels they would doubtless meet with more accidents than they do. I think it is a great shame to shoot at hippos from a river steamer in motion, or, indeed, from any craft that is moving, as good shooting in such circumstances is quite impossible. A hippo's brain is very small, certainly not more than 6in. in diameter; so it can be imagined that it presents a small and difficult mark for the best of shots.
Yet some men who have hardly ever fired a rifle before think nothing of pumping bullets into hippos from the deck of a fast travelling steamer. The bullets may hit at times, so the hippo goes off with a painful wound, and retaliates on the first native canoe that appears, as mentioned before, possibly drowning the owner, or at any rate causing him the loss of his canoe and contents, which cannot often be recovered, as hippos nearly always frequent deep water in the daytime. The grunting of hippos is a common sound when camped near a lonely river or lake ; they seem to do most of their wandering in the dark hours, and in the daytime lie asleep in thick patches of papyrus or reeds, and sometimes, where they have not been much shot at, will come into open deep pools during the day. The most deadly shot for a hippo is at the back of the head slightly below a line between the base of the ears, but when they are disturbed they will not often present this chance, and the usual shot will be a quarter one between the ear and eye or right up the nostrils. Once I killed four hippos in the Zambesi River with four shots, and every bullet hit the eye ranging back to the brain, and the hippos died and sank at once.
In very hot weather, and if the hippo is fat, the animal may rise to the surface within an hour; but if the water is cold and the hippo is a thin beast it may remain under water for quite six hours. It is simply a matter of buoyancy, caused by the formation of gas in the bowels and stomach; and a fat beast produces more than a thin beast, and consequently rises sooner.
The old bulls are darker coloured than the younger animals. It is a very difficult matter to get a glimpse of the teeth when the hippo is in the water, unless he is obliging enough to throw open his jaws. If very wary and shy, they will show little more than their nose above water, and sink quickly. A big bull is a very heavy animal and must weigh about three tons. The skin of their backs is a good inch and a half thick, and very heavy.
When the skin is cut for whips it should be divided into widths of about 2in., then slit at each end so that it may be hung to a tree or platform. Stones are then tied at the other end to stretch it well. If it gets hard before this can be done it can be softened by putting it in water for three or four days.
Chinyanja - Njati.
Chingoni - Mboo.