National Geographic : 1908 Mar
VOL. XIX, No. 3 WASHINGTON MARCH, 1908 SATONAIL A JOURNEY THROUGH THE EASTERN PORTION OF THE CONGO STATE* BY MAJOR P. H. G. POWELL-COTTON MY principal quest in my recent journey to the Congo State was the northern white rhino, known only by a single specimen, shot by its dis coverer, Major Gibbons, and eventually sent to America. My search for the ani mal, and for a couple of elephants stand ing as near 12 feet in height as possible, occupied five and a half months. During this time I made the Congo stations along. the Nile my headquarters for short expe ditions westward into the plain. All these posts are malarious and swarm with mosquitoes-Kiro, the most pic turesque of them all, being literally in fested. In fact, the Enclave generally must rank among the most unhealthy dis tricts of Central Africa; in one year the death-rate among the Europeans rose to over 20 per cent. On my arrival at Lado, the chief sta tion on the White Nile, in the latter part of December, and throughout the first fortnight of January (the dry season), the heat was intense, the thermometer standing as high as 104° in my tent at 2 p. m. Once away from the Nile, the scarcity of water proved a great diffi ,culty. Stagnant pools in the river beds, fouled by man and beast, and these only at rare intervals, formed the sole supply. In the rainy season so much of the coun try lies under water that traveling is almost impossible. Owing to the flatness of the thorn-dotted plain, Lado Hill forms a conspicuous landmark for many miles. This district is peopled by the Bari, a peculiar feature of whose huts is the floor, sunk 18 inches below the sur face of the ground-a method of con struction which appears particularly curious in view of the heavy rainy season. As my caravan moved farther south ward I was struck by the numerous ruins of villages and almost continuous stretches of what had once been culti vated ground. It was evident that at no very distant date, probably before the dervish raids had devastated the coun try, it must have supported a considerable population. Much of the ground had been terraced and cleared of stones. The village sites were marked by numerous circles, some 6 yards in diameter, formed of wide, thin stones set upright and standing some 18 inches to 2 feet above the surface. The top of each of these stones was nicked to receive the end of a * An address to the Royal Geographical Society, and published in this Magazine through the courtesy of the GeographicalJournal (London).