National Geographic : 1912 Aug
ELEPHANT HUNTING IN EQUATORIAL AFRICA WITH RIFLE AND CAMERA BY CARL E. AKELEY With Photographs by the Author and Copyrighted by Carl E. Akeley O NE evening in Uganda, when rather discouraged after a day of unsuccessful effort to locate ele phants, we suddenly heard the squeal of an elephant far to the east. The squeal ing and trumpeting increased in fre quency and distinctness until in an hour's time we realized that a large herd was drifting slowly in our direction. By eleven o'clock they had come very close, some within two hundred yards of camp, and on three sides of us. The crashing of trees and the squealing and trumpet ing as the elephants fed, quarreling over choice morsels, resulted in a din such as we had never before heard from ele phants. Our men kept innumerable fires going for fear that the elephants might take a notion to raid the plantain grove in which we were camped, and at daylight I was off for the day's hunt. The herd had drifted down to the forest side, forty minutes from camp ; in fact many of them had entered the forest. For a couple of miles we traveled through a scene of dev astation such as a cyclone leaves in its wake: 8-foot grass trampled flat ex cept for here and there an "island" that had been spared; half of the scattering trees twisted off and stripped of bark, and of all branches and leaves. We approached within a few hundred yards of the forest, where the grass was undisturbed except for trails showing how the elephants at daybreak had trekked through in small bands, single file. When about to cross a little wooded gulley, we thought it wise to stop and look over the situation. From the top of a mass of rocks we discovered a cow feeding only 20 yards away and others all about in the high grass between us and the timber (see page 783). There was clear passage to a rocky elevation Ioo yards to the left, for which we made, and while standing there, 75 feet above the level, I received an im pression of Africa that must remain with me to the last. There was not a breath of wind, and the forest, glistening in the morning sun light, stretched away for miles to the east and to the west and up the slope to the north. Here and there in the high grass that intervened between our perch and the forest edge, 300 yards away, were scattered elephants singly and in groups feeding and loafing along, to be swal lowed by the dark shadows of the dense forest side. SCOUTS IN ACTION From the gulley which I had started to cross a little time before there stalked 25 or 30 of the great beasts, their bodies shining with a fresh coating of mud and water from the pool where they had drunk and bathed. As is usual with big herds, they had broken up into small bands on entering the forest, and now, as the last of them disappeared into the cover of the trees, a fuller appreciation of the surroundings suddenly dawned upon me. From a mile or more in either direction there came a reverberating roar and crash as the great hordes of monsters ploughed their way through the tangles of vegetation, smashing trees as they quarreled, played, and fed, all regardless of forestry regulations. Where the little stream at the bottom of the gulley entered the forest, troops of black and white Colobus monkeys were racing about the trees, swearing at the elephants. From the tree tops deeper in the forest two or three troops of chim panzees yelled and shouted at one another or everything in general, baboons barked, and great hornbills did their best to drown all other noises with their dis cordant rasping chatter.