WAYS AND MEANS. WHAT TO TAKE AND WHAT NOT TO TAKE, INFORMATION FOR THOSE THAT WISH, INTEND OR HOPE TO HUNT IN THE AFRICAN HIGHLANDS
When one returns to America after some time in the African game country, he is assailed by many questions from others who wish, intend, or hope to make a similar trip. Almost without variation the questioner will ask about the cost, about the danger from fever and sickness, about snakes and insects, about the tempers of the tribes one encounters, and then, if he be a specialist, he will ask about the rifles and the camp equipment. As these familiar and oft repeated inquiries have been made by friends who had read my African letters, I must assume that the features of an African hunting trip, about which people are most curious, were very imperfectly answered in the preceding chapters. Hence, this supplementary chapter, dealing briefly with the ways and means of such a trip, is added for the enlightenment of such readers as may be planning a journey into those fascinating regions of Africa where I have so recently been.
As to the cost of a trip of three or more months in the field I should say that about one thousand dollars a month would amply cover the total expenses from New York back to New York. This amount would include passage money, guns, ammunition, landing charges, commissions, camera expenses on a reasonable scale, tents, customs?in fact all the incidental items which are not customarily included in the estimate given by the Nairobi outfitters. These firms, chief of which are the Newland, Tarlton and Company, Limited, which directed Colonel Roosevelt's safari, and the Boma Trading Company, which directed the Duke of Connaught's hunt, agree to outfit a party at a cost of about five-hundred dollars a month for each white man. For this amount they furnish everything except your ammunition, clothes, medicines, camera supplies, export and import duties, mounting of trophies, passage money to and from Africa, and such items. To particularize, they agree to supply for this amount, a complete outfit of tents, foods, porters, camp attendants, gunbearers, horses, mules or ox teams, as may be required, and a native head-man or overseer.
One who wished to do so could telegraph ahead to have one of the Nairobi outfitting firms prepare a one, two or three months' hunt, or safari, and then, with only a suit-case he could arrive, with the certainty that everything would be in readiness. There would be no worry or concern about any feature of that part of the work. He would be relieved of the anxiety of preparation, and it is hardly likely that he would ever regret having taken this course. The dealings of our safari with Messrs. Newland and Tarlton were most satisfactory in all respects and the charges they made were entirely reasonable. To the one who desires to make this trip in this, the simplest way, there is the need of giving only one suggestion: Let him write to one of the outfitting firms, stating the length of time that he can spend in the field, the class of game that he chiefly wishes to get, the number of white men in his party, and the season of the year that he plans to be in Africa. The outfitters will then answer, giving all the particulars of cost and equipment. This is the course that I should recommend for the average hunter who has had no previous experience in Africa. It will save him the trouble of making an endless amount of preparation, much of which will be useless because of his ignorance of conditions in that field of sport.
In the case of our own safari, we bought our guns, tents, ammunition, foods and entire equipment in London and had it shipped to Nairobi. This equipment contemplated a trip of six months in the field, and included sixty-five "chop boxes" of sixty pounds each, containing foods. These chop boxes were of wood, with lids and locks, twenty of which were tin lined for use in packing specimens later in the trip, and all marked with bands of various colors to identify their contents. The boxes contained the following supplies:
The foregoing lot of supplies were ordered through Newland, Tarlton and Company's agent at 166 Piccadilly, London, and were ready when we reached London.
Medicines and Surgical Equipment
It is well to provide a good store of medicines and some instruments, even though, as in our case, we had little occasion to use any of it. One of the Burroughs and Wellcome medicine cases "for East Africa" is compact and well selected. In addition there should be plenty of zinc oxide adhesive plaster, some bandages and some hypodermic syringes for use in case of wounds which might lead to blood poisoning. In our first experience with lions we always went prepared for wounds of this sort, but later we took no precautions whatever and fortunately had no occasion for heroic measures. At the same time, it is far wiser always to be prepared.
We were also well supplied with tick medicines, but in spite of the fact that we encountered millions of ticks, they gave us no concern and no tick preventatives were used. Quinine and calomel are essentials and may be bought in Nairobi.
It is important that each hunter include in his battery one heavy double-barreled cordite rifle for use at close quarters where a shocking impact is desirable. Each of our party had a .475 Jeffery, which we found to be entirely satisfactory, and which served us as well as though we had used the more expensive Holland and Holland's .450. I do not presume to know much about the relative merits of rifles, but after an experience of four and a half months with the Jeffery's .475, I feel justified in saying that this type would meet all requirements reliably. These rifles cost thirty-five guineas each.
Mr. Akeley and I each had a nine millimeter Mannlicher, which we found to be unsatisfactory, either through fault of our own or of the rifle. We had a feeling that the weight of the ball was too great for the charge of powder. Others may favor it, but I should not include it in my battery if I were to go again. This type costs twelve guineas.
Mr. Stephenson used a .318 Mauser, which he found most satisfactory. We also had three .256 Mannlichers, which in my experience is a type for which too much praise can not be given. It is also a twelve guinea rifle.
In mentioning these three rifles of foreign make, I do not wish to imply that they are superior to our own American guns. Colonel Roosevelt used a Winchester .405 and a Springfield, both of which he considered most desirable. I think if I were to go again I should take a .405 as my second gun, heavy enough for all purposes except the close-quarter work where the big cordite double-barrels are necessary.
The matter of a battery is one which each sportsman should determine for himself. There are many good types and a man is naturally inclined to favor those with which he is familiar.
We also carried shot guns, one ten-gauge which, with buck shot, makes a formidable weapon for stopping charges of soft-skinned animals at close range; and two twenty-gauge Parkers for bird shooting.
In addition, we included revolvers, none of which we fired or needed at any time in Africa. Perhaps a heavy six-shooter might some time be a valuable reserve, but our experience leads me to think that it would generally repose quietly in camp at all times.
In the way of ammunition for a six-months' shoot, we took for each cordite rifle, 200 full mantle, 200 soft nose and 100 split cartridges. For the 9 millimeter, we took for each rifle 450 solids, 500 splits and 500 soft-nosed bullets, and practically the same for the .256 Mannlichers. We found that we had far more ammunition than we required, especially the solids for the smaller rifles, but it is better to have too much than to have the fear of running short. One should not forget that he is likely to shoot more than in his wildest dreams he supposed possible and the meanest feeling on a hunt is to have constantly to economize cartridges.
None of us used telescope sights but by many sportsmen they are considered highly desirable in African shooting where often the range is great and the light confusing.
Personal EquipmentWhen we stopped in New York on our way to Africa, we talked with Mr. Bayard Dominick, who had just returned from such a trip as we had in mind, and from him secured a list of articles which he found to be sufficient and equal to all needs. We used this list to guide us and except in minor details, assembled a similar equipment:
Articles for personal use, however, may be determined by the wishes and experiences of the individual.
We each had good Zeiss glasses, which are essential, and later, in Nairobi, were able to obtain a satisfactory replenishment of hunting clothes and shoes.
Everybody who goes shooting will want at least one camera if only for the purpose of having his picture taken with his first lion, if he is successful in getting one. Mr. Akeley made special preparations for taking fine photographs, and for this reason carried a complete outfit, even to a dark-room equipment for developing negatives and moving picture films in the field. He carried a naturalist's graflex, a small hand camera and a moving-picture machine. Mr. Stephenson had a 3A Kodak, I had the same and also a Verascope stereoscopic camera. We used films and plates and found no deterioration in them even after several months in the field. Films and camera supplies may be purchased in Nairobi; and also the developing and printing may be done most satisfactorily in the town.
Fevers and Sickness
It is my belief that the dangers of this sort are magnified in the imaginations of those who contemplate a trip to East Africa. Very little of the hunting is done in jungles?in fact there are few jungles except on the slopes of the mountains and along the course of streams. Our safari went into the Athi Plains, along the Athi River down the Tana River, up on Mount Kenia and later on the Guas Ngishu Plateau, along the Nzoia River, and up Mount Elgon. Coming out of this district, we passed through the Rift Valley and part of our safari went up to Lake Hannington. So, from personal experience, I can speak with knowledge of only these sections. Along the Tana we were in fever country, the altitude being only about thirty-five hundred feet. And yet only two of our party had touches of fever, so light that they readily yielded to quinine. This was tick country, and we had been led to believe that we should be fearfully pestered with these insects. But there was almost no annoyance from them, due, perhaps, to a good deal of care in keeping them out of our clothes. There were many mosquitoes in this section, but effective mosquito nets over our cots protected us from them.
On Mount Kenia, the high Guas Ngishu Plateau and Mount Elgon, the thought of sickness was entirely absent. These districts were found to be salubrious and free from ticks and mosquitoes.
Before going to Africa, I must admit that the thought of serpents occasioned much anxiety. I didn't like the idea of tramping around through grass and reeds where poisonous snakes might be found. And yet, after a few days in the field, I never seriously thought of snakes as a possible, or rather probable, source of danger. In four and a half months, in all kinds of country, much of the time on foot, I saw only six live snakes. They were all small and only two, a puff adder and a little viper, were known to be venomous. Our porters, with bare feet and legs, penetrated all kinds of snaky-looking spots and yet not one was bitten. In fact, I have never heard of any one being bitten by snakes in East Africa, and for this reason I can not avoid the conclusion that the fear of snakes need not be seriously considered as an element of danger in the country.
So many hunting parties have gone over the game fields that the natives are familiar with white men and are not at all likely to be hostile or troublesome. Our safari at one time went into a district where we were warned to expect trouble, but there was none and I think there never need be any if the white men are considerate and fair. If a district is known to be particularly troublesome, the government authorities would not permit a hunting party to go into it, so for that reason the hunters need apprehend no dangers from that source.
Game is found in varying degrees of abundance in most parts of the East African highlands. Within two hours of Nairobi the sportsman may find twelve or fifteen species, while within the space of four weeks a lucky hunter might secure elephant, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo, eland and hippopotamus. It is hardly likely that he would, but it is quite within the range of possibilities. It all depends upon luck. The hunter is allowed under his two hundred and fifty dollar license, about one hundred and ninety-five animals, comprising thirty-five species, and not including lion, leopard, wart-hog and hyena. There is no restriction on the number of these last-named species that one is allowed to shoot, but there is on the number that he gets the opportunity of shooting.
The success of an expedition should not be measured by the number of trophies, but rather by the quality of them. For example, the new license allows twenty zebras, but no one would want to kill more than two unless as food for the porters. The same is true of many other species, and a temperate sportsman should have no desire to kill more than a couple of each species, say sixty or eighty head in all, unless, of course, he is making collections for museums or for other scientific purposes.
The gunbearers are usually fairly good skinners and if carefully watched and directed can treat the heads and skins so that they may be safely got in to Nairobi. Here they should be overhauled carefully and packed in brine for shipment out of the country. The agents in Nairobi should be consulted about these details and will give competent instructions covering this phase of the work.
These are of necessity under frequent revision, but the latest available information allows the holder of a fifty-pound license, which lasts for one year from date of issue, to kill or capture the following:
Buffalo (Bull), 2; Rhinoceros, 2; Hippopotamus, 2; Eland, 1; Zebra (Grevey's), 2; Zebra, (Common), 20; Oryx callotis, 2; Oryx beisa, 4; Waterbuck (of each species), 2; Sable antelope (male), 1; Roan antelope (male), 1; Greater Kudu (male), 1; Lesser Kudu, 4; Topi, 2; Topi (in Jubaland, Tanaland and Loita Plains), 8; Coke's Hartebeest, 20; Neumann's Hartebeest, 2; Jackson's Hartebeest, 4; Hunter's Antelope, 6; Thomas' Kob, 4; Bongo, 2; Impalla, 4; Sitatunga, 2; Wildebeest, 3; Grant's Gazelle (Typica, Notata Bright's, Robertsi), each, 3; Gerenuk, 4; Duiker (Harvey's, Isaac's, and Blue), each, 10; Dik-dik (Kirk's, Guenther's, Hinde's, Cavendish's), each, 10; Oribi (Abyssinian, Haggard's, Kenia), each, 10; Suni (Nesotragus Moschatus), 10; Klipspringer, 10; Reedbuck (Ward's, Chanler's), each, 10; Gazelle (Thompson's, Peter's, Soemmering's), each, 10; Bushbuck (Common, Haywood's), each, 10; Colobi Monkeys, of each species, 6; Marabou, 4; Egret, of each species, 4.
[Footnote A: Can not be killed in certain districts.]
These can be taken out for ten pounds each and entitle the holder to kill or capture:
Elephant with tusks over thirty pounds, each, 1; Bull Giraffe in certain districts, 1.
A second elephant is allowed on payment of a further fee of twenty pounds, this fee being returnable in the event of the elephant not being obtained.
Lions and leopards are classed as vermin, and consequently no license to kill them is required.
The Season for Shooting
"Practically any time of the year will do for shooting in British East Africa, but the season of the 'big rains' from the end of January to the end of April, is not one to choose willingly from the point of view of comfort. There is also a short spell of rainy weather about October and November which, however, is not looked upon as an obstacle to a safari, and we may say that from May to February constitutes the shooting season."
The foregoing is quoted from a pamphlet on East Africa game shooting. In our own experience the weather between September and February was perfectly delightful and I judge, from reading accounts of Colonel Roosevelt's trip, that his operations between April and December were never seriously hampered by bad weather. From the experiences of these two safaris, one might reasonably conclude that any time is good except February, March and April, the season of the "big rains."
On the Athi Plains in September, we found the heat in the middle of the day to be very ardent, to say the least. But with the exception of fewer than a dozen days in all, we never were obliged to consider this phase of the hunting experience as an objectionable feature. We found the cold of the high altitudes to be severe in the evenings and in contrast to it, the warm days were most welcome. Along the coast, of course, the heat is intense, but all of the shooting is done at altitudes exceeding thirty-five hundred feet and one merely pauses at the coast town long enough to catch his train. In September even Mombasa was delightful, but in January it was very hot.
In conclusion, I might say that all one needs for an African hunting trip is sufficient time, sufficient money, and a fair degree of health. Also the services of a reliable outfitting firm which will furnish enlightenment upon all subjects not specifically included in the foregoing chapter of advice and information.
With the exception of the photographs, all of which are here reproduced for the first time, a great part of this material appeared originally in The Chicago Tribune, and is now published in book form by the courtesy of that paper.
CHAPTER ONE | CHAPTER TWO | CHAPTER THREE | CHAPTER FOUR | CHAPTER FIVE | CHAPTER SIX | CHAPTER SEVEN | CHAPTER EIGHT | CHAPTER NINE| CHAPTER TEN | CHAPTER ELEVEN | CHAPTER TWELVE | CHAPTER THIRTEEN | CHAPTER FOURTEEN | CHAPTER FIFTEEN | CHAPTER SIXTEEN | CHAPTER SEVENTEEN | CHAPTER EIGHTEEN | CHAPTER NINETEEN | CHAPTER TWENTY | CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE | CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
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