It is pitiful to see a beast like a lion confined in a small cage, and gone in the loins with the want of proper exercise and freedom ; and such an act on man's part is infinitely more cruel than shooting game in the country it frequents. Some people may dissent from this view, and yet there are plenty of men who would prefer a quick death to solitary confinement for the term of their natural lives.
A weak-backed lion or a scraggy rhino, as seen in a zoo, is surely not a better guide as to the shape of the animals than well-stuffed specimens in a museum.
If people at home wish to know what a certain animal looks like, they have museums in all the large cities, which are open to inspection ; but for a gaping crowd to go to gaze at some decrepit animal behind iron bars is nothing more nor less than a civilised kind of refined cruelty, and I hope the day is not far distant when all zoological gardens and parks will have to be abandoned by an Act of Parliament. Doubtless there are many who will not agree with the last sentence, but I let it stand, for I know that many sportsmen consider the imprisonment of wild creatures a species of slow torture, and a pandering to the noxious taste of crowds of the lower population of European countries. I have seldom met an intelligent and humane-minded man who did not deplore the shutting up of wild animal life in cages, and, when we consider the roving instincts of man alone, we can have some slight idea of the misery of such animals' lives, accustomed, as they are, to an unlimited freedom in their own countries.
The young which happen to be born in confinement doubtless also feel the constraint to some extent, for one cannot expect that the longing for liberty will leave such creatures in one or two generations.
Only a few species breed freely when in confinement, and the young are generally weak and feeble compared to pure wild stock of the same species which are born in their natural haunts. But enough of this subject for the present, for the writings of a single individual will never have an effect in the discontinuance of such refined cruelty by people who ought to know better. In its wild state game known as dangerous very seldom harms man unless it is interfered with or wounded, and certainly no man can object to any wounded beast trying to avenge its injuries on the person who inflicted them, and there would be little interest in big-game shooting if there were no chance of a " scrap" with an animal occasionally. There is really nothing very difficult in shooting harmless game ; although the discomforts and hard work this may entail may be as great as the work necessary to find a lion or buffalo.
With regard to hard work, elephant hunting comes under a separate category, as no sport in the world will take more out of a man ; especially if it be undertaken in October or November, just before the rains, when the heat of the sun is sometimes terrific ; or right in the middle of the rainy season, when the coarse grass is from 10ft. to 20ft. in height, and usually soaking wet and full of creepers and stinging plants.
There are many opportunities of exercising one's ingenuity when living in the wilds, as stores full of different necessaries are not found round the first corner as they are in large cities and towns at home.
The tent should be pitched under a big leafy tree ; though care should be taken to inspect the branches to see if any are rotten and likely to fall if a gale springs up I remember once I was camped under a large tree and omitted this inspection, and a gale came on in the middle of the night, bringing down a large branch. Luckily for me it only touched a tent rope, giving the tent a bad shake, but if it had been a few feet nearer, I would not be writing this at the present moment, as it weighed a ton or more.
Some trees grow large gourd-like oblong pods, about i8in. or more long, and I once saw one land on a native's head and knock him insensible. When he recovered he said that an enemy had tried to kill him by making the vegetable growth strike his skull, which, to say the least, was amusing.
The three essentials for a camp are the presence of shade, water, and fuel ; and these are all abundant in Central Africa. If water cannot be found above ground it can often be got by digging in the bed of a sandy river-course. The presence of puku, impala, waterbuck, and reedbuck usually denote that water is somewhere near.
If a man gets lost in the bush by himself, and cannot find a path, the best thing he can do is to first try to find water, and then he should make a smoky fire on the highest spot near, and wait until his friends appear. Here I presume that he is careful not to leave camp without a box of matches, a rifle and cartridges, and a knife ; which are real necessities in a wild country. With water and some meat he could live for a long time, taking care to keep a large fire going by day and night. Green leaves put on the bright fire would produce lots of smoke, and so would some green grass. He could break down branches to make a rough skerm round at the back, and with plenty of dry fuel and his rifle he would be safe from lions. If he had not many cartridges it would be a mistake to fire many shots, as a call for help ; these should be kept and economised as much as possible. A compass is of little use unless one knows the direction travelled before his bearings were lost. The prevailing wind is a help, and if this is unknown, the angle of the trees and the bark will denote it. Rivers, too, if their direction is known, are an aid, but they usually twist more than appears on the maps of this country. Perhaps the best advice is to keep cool, which, of course, is easier said than done, and not to indulge in aimless wandering after one knows that the direction is lost.