The Lion Hunter
The Lion Hunter
by Roualeyn George Gordon-Cumming (1820-1866)
Outing Publishing Company
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It was in the second quarter of the nineteenth century that British sportsmen began to make those long and arduous journeys after noble game that ever since have been the aspiration of riflemen throughout the world. At that period, in both hemispheres, the herbivorae swarmed over the plains in countless thousands, and beasts of prey had not yet learned to fear the flash of firearms.
South Africa especially was a paradise for hunters. The late William Cotton Oswell has given a vivid picture of the multitudes of wild animals that enjoyed undisturbed seclusion in South Africa when he and Gordon-Cumming hunted there, some several years ago.
"On the plains between the Orange and Molopo Rivers, springbucks were met with in vast herds. For an hour's march with the wagons - say two miles and a quarter - I once saw them thicker than I ever saw sheep; they were to be counted only by tens of thousands. When we reached the Molopo seven different kinds of animals were within view - some, especially the quaggas and the buffaloes, in large herds - springbucks, hartebeests, etc., filling in the picture; together there could not have been fewer than three thousand. Fifteen miles beyond the Molopo to the north, in the well wooded and watered valley of the Ba-Katla, rhinoceros and giraffe were abundant. Indeed it was so full of game of all kinds that it put me in mind of the children's picture of Adam naming the beasts in the garden of Eden - more animals than bushes. Eight or ten days from Lake Kamadon I came upon a herd of at least four hundred elephants standing drowsily in the shade of detached clumps of mimosa trees. As far as the eye could reach in a fairly open country there was nothing but elephants. I do not mean in serried masses, but in small groups. I may put the abundance of game in some way intelligibly if I say that in most parts, with horses, one gun could easily have kept eight hundred men - six hundred we tried - fattened and supplied with a store sufficient to last for months."
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