A good locality for elephants—A large race of elephants—Stretching skins of game—The spoor of three elephants found—One a very large one— Good tracking—Damage done by elephants—Easily killed with small bores—The largest bags of elephants in a day—The use of anthills to. spy from—An elephant lost through the carelessness of a native—Lose a shot at moving elephants—Mistake of firing uncertain shots—Excitement of elephant shooting—Hot weather—Try a different direction— The spoor of a good tusker found—Follow him and find him in a bad bit of country—Hit him, and he runs and falls dead—A good tusk— Old wounds in elephant—Actions of an elephant shot in the lungs— Elephants die hard—Measurement of the cavity of an elephant's brain —Size of elephant's feet—Position of elephant's heart—Good quality ivory found in Nyasaland and adjacent countries—Bad smell of dead elephants after lying in the sun—Noise made by opening elephant's stomach—Natives cut themselves—a lively night with hyaenas—Weird noises made by hyaenas—i sight a small herd of buffalo and see a herd of sable antelopes—Central Africa a network of paths—"Closing" paths—Usual time of year for grass burning—Destruction caused by grass fires—Hot ground—Shoot a kudu bull—Carry off elephant meat —Another trip—Two sable antelopes shot—Wound a bull and lose it— Elephant scared—Meet a white man and his wife—Two eland bulls shot—Fat got from elands—Natives- dirty butchers—Noting position of vital organs in game — Change camp and see spoor of lion and buffalo — Young eland killed by lion — Extreme heat at end of dry season—Go after hippo—Shoot one—Time taken by hippo to rise when shot—Four hippos shot in Zambesi River—Crocodiles in the Bua River—Go after game and find it wild—A tropical storm—Damage done to native crops by elephants, hippos, and other game—The appetite of elephants — Elands and pigs destructive — " Garden " elephants dangerous animals — Poachers of game — Boers great destroyers of animal life—Reserves for game—Connection of game and sleeping sickness—Impossibility of exterminating game in Central Africa.
On September 16, 1912, after having engaged a few carriers, I started off for Maponda's village, and Kamwendo, the good elephant spoorer, arranged to meet me there on the evening of the same day. Some years before, in 1904, I had shot a fine 50-pounder near the same village, and Maponda (a woman chief) and her people remembered the fine feeds of meat, so were very glad to see me come along again. The vicinity of her village is in one of the best elephant localities in Nyasaland, and I suppose over twenty large bulls have been shot there by Europeans at different times. I know that many skulls can be seen ; that is to say, if one happens to pass where they are. The elephants in this district are a lanky, tall type of animal, and the one I shot in 1904 must have reached 11ft. or slightly more, and the natives told me he was the tallest elephant they had ever seen. He fell dead in a kneeling position against a small tree, so I could not get his shoulder measurement. Mr T. A. Barns (who shot the large elephant now in the South Kensington Museum) has killed several in that locality measuring close on 11ft., and the height of the elephant mentioned, in the Natural History Museum, is stated to have taped 11ft. 4m. when shot. An elephant or giraffe skin, or, indeed, the skin of any large beast, can be stretched a considerable amount when being set up in a wet condition, and it would be an easy matter for a taxidermist to mount a 12ft. elephant out of an 11ft. skin.
If a lion's skin is immersed in water for a day or two it could be made to stretch quite a foot, although the width measurement would likely decrease somewhat if the length were increased. Thus, unless the hunter is a principled man, he could add on several inches to the height of a trophy without the most expert naturalist or taxidermist being able to detect it, as skins intended for natural history specimens are not pegged out, and they shrink considerably in drying. I have no doubt that there are several specimens in different museums which represent taller animals than they were when alive. I believe it is possible to stretch a game head by soaking it for a long time and then hanging heavy weights to the tips of the horns. Of course, no self-respecting sportsman or taxidermist would do this, but a few trophy dealers in South Africa would likely be quite willing to take the trouble if it enhanced the value of a head and brought them a pound or so extra.
I was up before dawn on the morning of the 17th, and Kamwendo took me to some maize-fields where the elephants often came at night to eat the dried-up stalks. All game are fond of maize and millet stalks, and they come a long distance to feed on them, as well as invading the growing crops, unless the natives sit up on stands with a drum or old tin, which they beat at times all through the night.
We were very lucky, as we found the spoor of three elephants, one a fine, big fellow, judging from the size of his footprints.
Again, I was much interested in noticing Kamwendo's fine tracking, for he instinctively seemed to know where the elephants would leave the garden, and he took me to the bush, where we cut the spoor at once.
Following a large bull elephant is the most exciting sport there is in the world, for one has so many opportunities of seeing what such a beast is capable of. Trees that seem unbreakable are sometimes broken and splintered, and one marvels at such power, and perhaps a new hand might feel a shiver go down his backbone when imagining the grip of such a trunk being placed on his neck, or thinking what would happen to his body if the mighty foot was suddenly placed upon it.
Yet, with all his immense strength, the elephant is a wonderfully easy animal to kill, if one can only hit him properly. Even a .256 Mannlicher will kill an elephant most efficiently when in the hands of a good, cool shot.