Life Histories of African Game Animals

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    Life Histories of African Game Animals - Volume 1
    by Theodore Roosevelt & Edmund Heller

    New York, Charles Scribner's Sons

    Book Digitized by Google
    From 1914

    The life-histories of African game mammals offer an almost virgin field for investigation and study. The present treatise is a faithful account of what we have ourselves observed; it sets forth much of what is now known; but its real value must lie in its being treated primarily as a suggestion of what is still open for discovery in this vast field of animal psychology and adjustment to environment. The discovery of new species and races based upon the study of preserved specimens of game animals, has already progressed very far; but the more attractive field which includes the habits of the game remains yet to a great extent unexplored. This field is peculiarly open for investigation to big-game hunters, and to all other men who go far afield and obtain first-hand knowledge of the conditions under which the game animals live. The closet naturalist, with his technical knowledge of the structure of animals, can be trusted to perform the work of classification to a mathematical degree of precision; but we cannot obtain from him a trustworthy account of the behavior of animals in their natural environment, or learn from him the value to the animals of the various structures or characteristics which he has shown them to possess. Much knowledge regarding the habits of game is acquired by the successful sportsman. Yet it is often infinitesimal in quantity compared to what may be acquired if the outdoors observer will direct his investigations along the broad lines covering the life-history of the species with which he comes in contact. To carry out such investigations successfully it would be necessary to spend many hours and days, perhaps even weeks and months, observing certain individuals or family groups of game. This is quite beyond the limits of time alloted the average sportsman. Nevertheless much can be learned by the collected evidence from many fragmentary observations, providing only these are accurate. A great mass of accurate fragmentary observations will often spell far more progress in investigations of this kind than the observations of a few trained individuals over an extended period of time. The specimens of game animals most familiar to the writers are those secured by the Smithsonian African expedition under the direction of Colonel Roosevelt, which are now preserved in the National Museum at Washington. This collection consists of some six hundred specimens of big-game mammals from British East Africa and the upper Nile regions, comprising more than seventy species or races, nearly all of which are represented by series of various ages and sexes. Besides this collection, Edmund Heller has examined at the National Museum the Paul J. Rainey collection from British East Africa consisting of some four hundred specimens of big game, the Abbott collection from Kilimanjaro, the Carl Akeley collection from British East Africa in the Field Museum, the Tjader collection in the American Museum of Natural History, the British Museum collections, the Powell-Cotton collection from northern Uganda and Mount Elgon, the Berlin Museum collection, the Congo Museum collection at Brussels, the Paris Museum of Natural History collection, and a considerable number of smaller collections of game animals.

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