Night soon falls in the tropics, and the camp presented a lively sight with the many camp fires and the constant chattering of the natives, who were revelling in abundance of meat, and lumps of fat cut from the inside of the elephant.
About 8 p.m. the hyaenas began to howl, and by midnight the noise was deafening. The small fire I had made in front of my tent soon went out, but the elephant enclosure was bright with many fires ; so the hyŠnas paraded within a few paces of the tent, and I could not sleep, as their shrieks and howls, intermingled with melancholy, disappointed groans, were continued all night.
People who have not heard a number of hyaenas collected round meat have no idea what wreird noises they can make, and these are always intensified when the animals cannot get at what they are longing for.
Next day I sent most of the meat off to Dua's village, not very far away, and in the afternoon I packed up my kit and went off to camp in that village, as I wished to try for a second elephant in the vicinity.
I also sent off some men with meat to my camp on the Bua River, and told my cook, Yakobo, to bring a lot of women back to help carry more of the meat.
Then I went off to try to find a small herd of buffalo I had seen on the morning of the 18th, and which I had left alone, as I was looking for elephant spoor at the time.
The buffaloes had evidently been frightened by the shots fired at the elephant, and it is possible that the smell of the dead animal had reached them, as such a perceptible smell may doubtless be carried by a strong wind for many miles.
While looking for the buffaloes, or their fresh spoor, I saw a large herd of sable antelopes, headed by a fine horned bull, and I spent some time watching him feeding. As I had still hopes of finding the buffaloes, I did not attempt to shoot him, so I left them undisturbed to go on with their grazing. However, I might as well have had a shot, for, after tramping about all the morning, I failed to find the buffaloes or their fresh tracks.
While coming back to the tent I saw a warthog boar and fired at him, and he ran hard for about fifty yards and fell on his side. He was an old fellow with very thick tushes, which, however, had been worn very short.
Warthogs are very prolific animals, and they would need to be so to hold their own, as they are not only much hunted by the natives, but lions and leopards must kill great numbers of them. I must admit I like shooting at them, as they present a fine target for a white front sight, and I am always on the look-out for a good pair of teeth, as I think they are nice trophies.
Central Africa is a network of native footpaths, and it is impossible, in most parts of the country, to go for many miles without striking a path. Many other paths branch off, and, if the traveller is being followed by carriers, it is usual to mark the path that should not be taken by making a line or more across it, or by putting over it some freshly broken small branches, leaves, or grass. In this way it is possible for the natives to follow people in front, and it is seldom that they take the wrong path. In very wild country sometimes the track is invisible, and it is then followed by watching the trees and bushes for "blaze" marks ; and, should these be old and partly obliterated, it is sometimes no easy matter to get along quickly, as frequent stops will require to be made for careful examination. Occasionally, the grass is tied in knots, but these marks soon go in the annual grass fires which sweep through the country every year.
The time for burning the grass varies in different localities, and it depends on the duration of the rains. The usual time for it is July, August, and September, and it is a grand sight, especially at night, to see a great fire sweeping along with a strong wind.
Many small mammals, reptiles, and insects are killed in these conflagrations, and the natives' main reason for burning the grass is to get the small field rats and mice that are killed, as I have mentioned before.
In parts of the country that are dry the trees and bushes get scorched and burnt, and this keeps them small and stunted. A dead tree, or a dead branch on a sound tree, will sometimes get alight and smoulder for months, and elephants often burn themselves by rubbing on them.
Great numbers of young antelopes and other animals must also be killed, especially those which have just been born and are helpless. I have heard of young elephants being killed, also, and animals like land tortoises and snakes must be killed in thousands.
Returning to the subject of native paths, it will be noticed how these twist and curve, and yet, on the whole, keep a good direction from point to point.
A native will never worry about removing an obstruction such as a small boulder or fallen tree, and he will invariably go round it. In the dry season, when many of the smaller rivers and streams are dry, short cuts are made by walking down the sandy beds, and this is hard work, as the sand is often more than ankle deep and very hot. However, it is softer and cooler than the hard, stony ground, and the natives like to get to such places, which afford easy going for a time.
Near the Luangwa River, in North-Eastern Rhodesia, I have often seen the ground so hard and hot that it caused pain to touch it with the hand, and the sand was often so heated that a handful could not be retained for long. Rifle-barrels, tin boxes, and, indeed, all metal objects were untouchable at times, and I have seen the oil oozing out of my rifle-stocks with the intense heat.
A native path is always preferable to a broad road, as it is more shady, and, being curved, it is not so monotonous to walk along.
For the man who rides a bicycle, the broad, hoed road will be best, but, personally, I would much rather walk along a twisting native path than on the European road.