Mr. Radclyffe Dugmore, in his interesting book " Camera Adventures in the African Wilds," makes some rather derogatory remarks about the man with the rifle, and there can be no doubt that he and his comrade, as well as Mr. Kearton and his brother, all took great risks in photographing lions and rhinos ; more especially the latter, as in certain parts of British East Africa these animals are known to charge without provocation. Perhaps getting to within twenty yards of a crusty rhino might, however, be sufficient excuse for it to charge, and so we can hardly blame the animal for acting on the defensive.
Men who take telephotographs do not need to get much closer than a man who is trying to kill with a rifle. When a lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino, or leopard is wounded and followed into dense grass or bush, I am certain the risk is infinitely greater than it is to try to photograph any of those animals which are unwounded, and I am sure that all practical hunters will agree with me. I do not for a moment wish to detract from the dangers undergone by big-game photographers, for it needs much courage to go close to dangerous game with a camera; but I contend that the danger is really less than it would be if the game had been wounded and was being fol'owed with a rifle.
A famous surgeon who visited British East Africa wrote some derogatory remarks about lion shooting. Following lions on horseback with a pack of dogs may not be very dangerous, or following them with a crowd of natives and four or five guns may also lack much danger; but to follow a wounded lion, buffalo, elephant, or rhino into dense covert by oneself accompanied by only a second gunbearer is very dangerous. The graves of many good sportsmen all over Africa prove it, and so does the record of those who have had the bad luck to get mauled.
Field, April 20, 1912. __ D. D. L.
Sir,—As one who, like Mr. Lyell, has had long experience of hunting great game in most parts of the African continent, I heartily endorse his remarks as to the nonsense that is talked about the danger incurred in geting these photographs. I also agree with him that getting close-range photos of rhino, particularly in East Africa, involves more risk than any other animal. With a telephoto camera it is not necessary to get anything like so close to the really dangerous animals as a really good man does when hunting alone. A telephoto lens will give excellent results of elephants at 100 yards ; but the old hand affer elephants gets vastly closer than this before taking his shot, ditto with rhino. I have shot rhino in various parts of Africa, and never found them particularly dangerous till I went to East Africa, for the first and only time, twelve years ago. As regards lions, in broad daylight the danger is practically nil until the animal has been wounded, or at least shot at. It is true that with a vast crowd of beaters and the backing of several reliable guns the danger is but small; while the dog method, about which we have heard so much lately in connection with a holocaust by an American hunter, which included a few good lions, but many of a tender age, is almost devoid of danger, and, far from being a new thing, was on one occasion utilised by that good sportsman Mr. Butter with great success. The large number of fatal accidents, though in many cases due to the inexperience and want of steadiness of the sufferers, shows how true it is that the genuine sportsman, who hunts single handed and on foot, runs the very greatest risk when following up wounded animals into more or less dense covert. Mannlicher.
Field, April 27, 1912.
Then to conclude this chapter I will give other articles from the same newspaper about the length of African crocodiles.
I sent a query to the Field of March 12, 1910, asking if anyone could say whether an African crocodile had been killed measuring over 22ft., and here are the replies by the best authorities on the subject, and a further letter I wrote on the same subject:
In reply to his question on this subject I may refer Mr. D. Lyell to the late Dr. John Anderson's "Reptiles of Egypt," in which (pp. n-12) the statements made by travellers or other observers regarding the length of Crocodilus niloticus, the common crocodile of Africa, are quoted and discussed. Although there have been reports of crocodiles 50ft. long, Dr. Anderson concludes that there is no record of the actual measurements of any Nile crocodile over 17ft., and that the greater size attributed to other ' specimens has been all guesswork. The limit of growth, however, is quite unknown.—G. A. Boulenger.
- In reference to Mr. Lyell's query in last week's Field it may be mentioned that it is very difficult to obtain trustworthy information with regard to the maximum dimension of crocodiles of any kind, and that this is especially so in the case of the African Crocodilus niloticus. Those who shoot them seldom take the trouble to measure such as are brought to land. That Indian crocodiles commonly attain a length of from 15ft. to 20ft. is well known, and there is little, if any, doubt that they sometimes grow to a much greater size. It is stated, for instance, in Gunther's " Reptiles of British India," that both C. porosus and C. palustris sometimes grow to 30ft., and there is in the British Museum a skull of the first-named species killed in Bengal in 1840, which was stated by the donor to have belonged to a reptile measuring 33ft. in length. On the other hand, there does not appear to be any record of the African crocodile attaining anything approaching such dimensions. The largest specimen of this species in the British Museum, at the date when the Catalogue of Chelonians and Crocodiles was published, measured just under 15ft. (4½ metres) in length; and Dr. Voeltzkow, who made a special study of these reptiles in Madagascar a few years ago, states that the largest specimen he measured was 13ft. long. Again, writing of Egyptian crocodiles, Dr. J. Anderson, in his " Reptiles of Egypt," states that there is no authentic record of any specimen exceeding 17ft. in length. Mr. Selous, on page 291 of his " Hunter's Wanderings," refers to a 13ft. crocodile as a large one. So far as I can discover there appears to be no record of an African crocodile 22ft. in length.—R. L. Field, March 19, 1910.