National Geographic : 1897 Mar
88 RECENT EXPLORATIONS IN EQUATORIAL AFRICA The native processes of rubber-gathering are crude and waste ful in the extreme. If intelligent and economical methods were adopted, there would be far greater yields than formerly, and the west African rubber would command a higher price. Unless better methods of extracting rubber are introduced, it is safe to predict that under the increasing demand for rubber one of the most thriving industries of Sierra Leone will be ruined by the extinction of the plant. At present, for the purpose of extract ing a few pounds of rubber, large trees are totally destroyed. The forests in the Kuniki and Koranko districts are quite ac cessible, it being about seven days' march to Makali, where the woods are entered. Water carriage for light canoes is possible down the Rokel river from Benkia, two marches from Makali. These forests, however, are small compared to those on the Anglo-Liberian frontier along the Morro and Mano rivers, which extend nearly a thousand miles. The exploitation of these forests has been impracticable for the last twenty years, owing to border raids, but under present conditions of peacefulness it is now possible to open up these forests, which abound in rubber and elephants, and the southern portions of which are within two days' journey of Sulina. A protectorate will shortly be proclaimed over the British sphere of influence in the interior, and under the proposed ar rangement of five districts, each to be under a competent com missioner, it is hoped there will be a rapid development of the interior, especially in the way of opening up communications and fostering trade. RECENT EXPLORATIONS IN EQUATORIAL AFRICA* Africa is fast losing its title of the Dark Continent, and if explorations continue at their recent rate for a few years longer it will be as well known as other parts of the globe. Three young men recently crossed it from east to west, following, in the main, the route taken by Stanley, and correcting a few of the slight mistakes made by that explorer, as the * In studying the geography of the Dark Continent it should be borne in mind that owing to the interchangeability of the letters r, 1, and d in many of the African dia lects and to the fact that explorers of various nationalities have applied to the names of the different tribes and geographic features of the regions they have visited the orthographic forms peculiar to their own languages, the geographic nomenclature, even of such portions of the interior as are now mapned in more or less detail, is far from being definitely established. In some cases the variation in spelling is so great as almost to preclude identification, and not even in the case of names of European origin is there that uniformity of orthography which is so much to be desired. J. H.