The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Beaver
Story Of The Lion
Story Of The Elk
Story Of The Tiger.
Story Of The Mountain- Lion
Story Of The Camel
Story Of The Jaguar
Story Of The Buffalo.
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Story Of The Lion
( Originally Published Early 1900's )[an error occurred while processing this directive]
"As bold as a lion" is the phrase most commonly used to express the highest order of courage, for by general consent the people of all countries have bestowed upon the lion the title of "King of Beasts." Certainly no other animal is so noble and majestic in appearance. Its massive head, upon which, in the case of the male animal, there is usually a long, thick mane, the King's Crown, as it were, its stout, thick legs and huge paws, together with the graceful formation of its body and sweeping tail, make it the most imposing and splendid looking animal known to natural history.
Of late years one authority has disputed the lion's title of "King of Beasts." Mr. F. C. Selous, the famous hunter, says that the lion does not carry its head as high as it should, and that it is lacking in many traits that we usually ascribe to a noble animal. Livingstone, the great explorer, declares that the lion is more correctly described as cowardly and mean than brave and noble, yet I know many instances where the lion has shown itself to be the most courageous of animals.
In common with the other large cats of the Old World, the lion has the pupil of the eye circular; but it is at once distinguished from all the other members of the family by the long hair growing on the head, neck, and shoulders of the males to form the flowing mane. This mane varies in size and color in different individuals, but, contrary to, what has often been stated, is seen on Indian as well as on African lions. Frequently the long hair of the mane is continued as a fringe down the middle line of the belly. Another distinctive characteristic of the male lion is the brush of long hair at the tip of the tail. In the middle of this brush of hair, at the very extremity of the tail, is a small horny appendage surrounded by a tuft. Much speculation has been indulged in as to the use of this so-called "thorn" in the lion's tail. One old story says that it is employed to rouse the animal to fury when the tail is lashed against the flanks.
The hair on the remainder of the body of the male lion, and on both the head and body in the female, is short and close. In the adults of both sexes the color of the body-hair is the well-known yellowish-brown, or tawny, but the tint varies in different individuals. The long hair of the male's mane may vary from tawny to a blackish-brown. Young lion-cubs are marked with transverse dark stripes running down the sides of the body, and likewise by a single stripe of similar tint along the middle of the back. The mane of the male does not make its appearance till the animal is about three years of age, and continues to grow until the age of about six years. The full length of a lion's life does not appear known, but it has been ascertained that they will live to thirty, and it is said even till forty years.
For a long period it was considered that the Indian lion differed from its African relative by the total absence of the mane in the male, which was regarded as indicating a distinct species. Owing to the differences in the length and color of the manes of African lions from different districts, it was likewise held-that there were two or more species in Africa. It, however, has been definitely settled that such variations are not constant, and that there is but a single species. Although it may be that some adult specimens of the Indian lion are maneless, yet well-maned examples have been killed, while those which were stated to prove the existence of a maneless race are now known to have been not full grown.
With regard to the variations of the African lion, the Dutch hunters maintain the existence of from three to four distinct species.
For my part, I cannot see that there is any reason for supposing that more than one species exists, and as out of fifty male lion skins scarcely two, will be found exactly alike in the color and length of the mane, I think it would be as reasonable to suppose that there are twenty species as three. The fact is that between the animal with hardly a vestige of a mane, and the far handsomer but much less common beast, with a long flowing black mane, every possible intermediate variety may be found. On one occasion I shot two old male lions, which I found lying together under the same bush, both of which agreed as near as possible in size, but while the one was full-maned, with a very dark-colored fur, the other was very yellow and had but little mane. Shortly after, with a brother sportsman, I again met with a dark, full-maned lion in company with a nearly maneless light-colored one. Of still more importance was the killing of a lioness with three cubs, of which two
were males and one a female. Of the two male cubs, the one, owing to the dark color of the tips of the hair, was almost black, while the other was reddish-yellow. The skin-of the female cub was also of a light color. Now I firmly believe that the two male cubs would have grown up, the one into a dark-skinned, black-maned lion, the other into a yellow lion, with but little mane; and further than this, I believe that the two pairs of males I have mentioned above were cubs of the same litters, and had been hunting in couples since their cubhood.
It seems quite probable that the lions of one district may differ to a certain extent in some respects from those of another. Thus it seems pretty well ascertained that the lions from the Cape and Algeria have larger and finer manes than those from other districts. Gordon Cumming states that the manes and coats of lions inhabiting open, treeless districts, like the great Kalahari desert of South Africa, are fuller and handsomer than in those inhabiting forest districts.
The relative sizes of the Indian and African lion are : Indian from 8 to 9 feet, African from io to 11 feet; females are about one foot shorter than the males. Weight, from 400 to 600 pounds.
The present range of the lion includes the whole continent of Africa, from Cape Colony to Abyssinia and Algeria, although in many of the more civilized districts the animal is now greatly reduced in numbers, or even completely exterminated. In Asia it is found through Mesopotamia and South Persia to the northwestern districts of India, being nearly extinct in the latter country. Formerly the lion had a much larger range, extending westward into Syria and Arabia, and ranging over a considerable portion of Southeastern Europe, such as Roumania and Greece. Bones and teeth found in the caverns of Western Europe prove that lions once roamed over Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the British Isles. The ancient lions of Western Europe were exterminated, probably, by the cold of the glacial period ; but the destruction of those infesting Eastern Europe and parts of Western Asia during the historic epoch was probably effected, at least to a considerable extent, by human agency.
In South Africa lions are now scarce in the districts to the southward of the Orange River, but are locally abundant in the regions farther north, such as Mashonaland. The lion is now quite unknown in Asia to the northward of India. The Arabs say it is found in Arabia; but of this we have at least no evidence. Occasionally it crosses the Euphrates, and a few years ago a lion's carcass was brought into Damascus. Between the Lower Tigris and Euphrates they still abound. Mr. Layard saw them frequently, and during his excavations in the neighborhood of Babylon, found fresh traces of their footsteps almost daily among the ruins. It extends also far higher up, to the jungle of the Khabour, or Chebar, on the upper Tigris, above Mosul and Nineveh (the ancient Chebar), where Layard mentions an Arab being attacked by one, and escaping with the loss of his mare.
Lions, which are very numerous in the reedy swamps bordering the Tigris and Euphrates, are found also in the plains of Susiana, the modern Khuzistan, and extend into the mountain country south of Shiraz. There is no accurate information of their northern limits, but Captain Pierson, who spent many years in the country between Tehran and Baghdad, says that he never heard of lions in the oak forest west of Karmanshah. It is the acorns of this same oak forest which feed the wild pigs whose presence tempts the lion into, the mountains of Fars. The little valley of Dashtiarjan, thirty-five miles west of Shiraz, is notorious for the number of lions found in its vicinity. Part of the valley is occupied by a fresh-water lake, on the edges of which are extensive beds of reeds ; the surrounding hills, which rise four thousand feet above the valley, itself six thousand five hundred feet above the sea, are covered with oak forest, or with pretty thick brushwood of hawthorn, wild pear, and other bushes, and contain very extensive vineyards. Dashtiarjan is thus a perfect paradise for swine, and they increase and multiply accordingly, so that the lions have plenty to eat, varying the monotony of constant pork with an occasional ibex, or with a calf from the herds which graze in the valley.
Like most of the larger cats, lions are essentially nocturnal in their habits, and they are thus frequently only met with by chance in districts where, from the abundance of their tracks and .from their nocturnal roarings, they are known to be plentiful. During the daytime they are accustomed to lie asleep in thick beds of reeds, where such are to be found, or in drier districts, among thickets and bushes.
The most likely places in the bush country in which to find lions, as far as my experience goes, are the rekabee thorns, the dense evergreens which line the rivers, and, during summer, the reeds on the margin of lagoons or streams, while in the open flats any patch of reeds or tall grass suffices to conceal them. The best chances for killing them are obtained in the first-mentioned spots, as you often come across them asleep when you are stealing about after game. From these and similar haunts, the lion issues forth at sundown to commence his nightly prowls; dark and stormy nights being those on which he is most active, while he is more cautious during bright moonlight nights, especially as regards his visits to the drinking-places.
Unlike most of his congeners, the lion is not a climber, and this general inability to ascend trees h: s saved the lives of many sportsmen and travelers, although not unfrecuently at the cost of a long and thirsty waiting.
From observing both lions and tigers in their native haunts I am of opinion that the former are bolder than the latter, while they are certainly far more noisy. The first peculiarity that struck me in the African lions was their noisiness. I have constantly been for months together in countries in India abounding in tigers without hearing their cry. Indeed, it is by no means a common sound in any Indian forest. Leopards, I should say, are much more frequently heard than tigers. The cry of the two animals, commonly known as roaring, though it is utterly different from the harsh growl of anger to which the term might most appropriately be applied, is very similar, and consists of several deep notes uttered rather quickly one after the other, and repeated at longer and shorter intervals.
Very different impressions appear to be produced on different persons by the lion's roar, some listeners appearing to regard it as a rather commonplace and by no means awe-inspiring sound, while others, and we believe the majority, speak of it in far different terms. Such differences of impression must, it is obvious, be largely due to personal disposition.
Perhaps the lowest estimation of the lion's roar is that of Livingstone. He writes that "it is calculated to inspire fear when heard in a pitchy dark night amidst the tremendous peals of an African thunderstorm, and the vivid flashes of lightning which leave on the eye the impression of stone-blindness, while the rain pouring down extinguishes the fire, and there is neither the protection of a tree nor a chance that your gun will go off. But when any one is snug in a house or a wagon, the roar of the lion inspires no awe.
A European cannot distinguish between the note of a lion and that of an ostrich. In general the voice of the former seems to come deeper from the chest; but to this day I can only pronounce with certainty from which of the two it proceeds, by knowing that the ostrich roars by day and the lion by night. The natives assert that they can detect a difference at the beginning of the sound."
A recent writer, who is fully impressed with the grandeur of the lion's roar, is by no means disposed to admit the justness of its comparison to the voice of the ostrich. He observes that when a lion is "roaring loudly in concert with others at a short distance off, the sound is grand and awe-inspiring in the extreme; in fact, I have never heard anything of a similar nature that can compare with it, for it is no exaggeration to say that the ground actually trembles with the volume of sound. I say this unhesitatingly, for all that many people would have us believe to the contrary, maintaining that there is nothing in it, and endeavoring to compare it to the 'booming' of the cock ostrich. At a great distance, and therefore, when heard indistinctly, the low, sullen roaring of a single lion has certainly much resemblance to the sound emitted by the ostrich during the pairing season ; but persuade either the lion or the ostrich to come nearer, and one might then as well try to compare the rumbling of cart wheels over a wooden bridge with the incessant roll of thunder among mountains. But a lion makes other sounds far more disconcerting because usually only heard at close quarters than that to which it gives vent when, in company with others, it has killed a head of game, or is retiring to its lair, full fed. There is the constant low growling of the lion crouching in cover, uncertain whether to fight or to fly, as, with flattened ears and nervously twitching tail, he studies the situation, hoping by his attitude to warn off the disturber of his solitude. There is the angry snarl of the lion disturbed at his meals, when his appetite is not yet satisfied, and when one has come upon him so suddenly as to give him no time to clear off; and, worse than all, the short, coughing grunts which often accompany a charge, and which startle the intruder in his domains as he bounds away. All these sounds are by no. means. musical, and, whether heard by day or by night, are well calculated to try the nerves." Similar testimony as to the impressiveness of the lion's roar is given by Gordon Cumming, who describes it as consisting at certain times of five or six repetitions of a low, deep moaning, ending off with a faint and scarcely audible sigh, while at others it takes the form of loud, deep-toned, solemn roars, quickly repeated, and increasing in intensity till the third or fourth, after which it gradually dies away in a succession of low muffled growlings, like the roll of distant thunder. Then, again, the veteran hunter Sir Samuel Baker gives his impressions in the following words : "There is nothing so beautiful or enjoyable to my ears as the roar of a lion on a still night, when everything is calm, and no sound disturbs the solitude except the awe-inspiring notes, like the rumble of distant thunder, as they die away into the deepest bass. The first few notes somewhat resemble the bellow of a bull; these are repeated in slow succession four or five times, after which the voice is sunk into a lower key, and a number of quick short roars are at length followed by rapid coughing notes, so deep and powerful that they seem to vibrate through the earth."
This vibrating and reverberating sound alluded to in the last sentence is intensified by the habit ,lions often have of putting their mouths close to the ground while roaring; Livingstone mentioning an instance where a lion stood for hours roaring near his camp, and making the sound reverberate in this manner.
The intensity and grandeur of the sound must, however, be largely increased when, as is not unfrequently the case, a party of lions are heard roaring in concert ; and the din reaches its height when two or three troops of lions approach a watering-place at the same time. On such occasions every member of each troop sounds a bold roar of defiance at the opposite parties ; and when one roars all roar together, and each seems to vie with his comrades in the intensity and power of his voice.
As a rule, lions commence to roar with the falling shades of evening, and continue with longer or shorter intervals throughout the night; but in secluded and undisturbed districts he has frequently heard the roaring sustained as late as 9 or io o'clock in the morning on bright and sunny days. During cloudy and rainy weather they will however roar, although in a lower tone, throughout the day.
Although in some districts lions are commonly met either alone, or in pairs of males and females, this does not seem to be generally the case in the - interior of South Africa, where it is more usual to meet with four or five lions consorting together, while parties of from ten to twelve are by no means rare. Such a party of twelve would, in the experience of the same observer, probably comprise about two adult males, three or four full-grown lionesses, and half a dozen large cubs, which, except for their somewhat slighter build, might easily be mistaken for mature females. On one occasion we came across a party consisting of a lion, three full-grown lionesses, and three small cubs; and if each of these females had possessed a pair of large cubs, such an assemblage would have been rightly termed a party of ten lions. It was probably such a party, although comprising more adult males, that Lord Randolph Churchill encountered during his recent journey in Mashonaland, when in company with his hunter Lee. "We were riding along," writes his lordship, "through a small open glade covered with high grass, Lee a few yards ahead of me, when I suddenly saw him turn round, cry out something to me, and point with his finger ahead. I looked, and saw lolloping along through and over the grass, about forty yards off, a yellow animal about as big as a small bullock. It flashed across me that it was a lion the last thing in the world that I was thinking of. I was going to dismount and take aim, for I was not frightened at the idea of firing at a retreating lion, but Lee called out in succession five or six times, 'Look, look !' at the same time pointing with his finger in different directions in front. I saw, to my astonishment, and rather to my dismay, that the glade appeared to, be alive with lions. There they were, trooping and trotting along ahead of us like a lot of enormous dogs great yellow objects, offering such a sight as I had never dreamed of. Lee turned to me and said, 'What will you do?' I said, 'I suppose we must go after them,' thinking all the time that I was making a very foolish answer. This I am the more convinced of now, for Lee told me afterward that many old hunters in South Africa will turn away from such a troop of lions as we had before us. We trotted on after them a short distance to where the grass was more open, the lions trotting along ahead of us in the most composed and leisurely fashion, very different from the galloping off of a surprised and startled antelope."
Lord Randolph Churchill himself counted no less than seven lions, while his hunter believed that there were several more in the party.
When a male lion has selected a female partner the union very generally lasts for the greater portion or the entire lives of the pair. From the evidence of specimens kept in captivity it is known that from two to six cubs may be produced at a birth, at least in the captive condition. It is stated, however, that in India wild lionesses do not produce more than two or three cubs at a birth.. When caught young, lions are easily tamed, and the whole disposition of the animal in captivity is much more gentle than is that of the tiger.
In Persia the staple food of the lion is the wild pigs that frequent the oak forests to feed on acorns. In India, the lion usually feeds on deer, antelope, wild pigs, cattle, horses, donkeys and camels. In Africa, they prey upon antelopes, zebras, quaggas, buffaloes and giraffes.
Were a zebra, a fat rhinoceros and a fat buffalo to be killed and left out it is probable that they would be eaten in the order I have named. Soft succulent fat is what the lion probably considers most toothsome, and zebras supply this in a higher degree than any other animal, save the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus, neither of which it is able to kill; but on the other hand, the zebra confines itself to the open, as far as possible, never approaches within springing distance of a thicket, and rarely, unless when going to water, gives the lion a chance. Buffaloes, on the other hand, are nearly always in and close to cover, presenting continual opportunities for a successful stalk; and though the danger in attacking them is much greater, as is proved by the no means rare instances of lions being maimed, and even killed in such contests, yet for the above reason they form their chief food.
It must not, however, be supposed that lions by any means restrict them-selves to the flesh of animals which have fallen to their own attacks. In addition to eating the flesh of animals recently killed by hunters, lions will also prey upon carcasses in an advanced state of decomposition. When elephants have been shot, lions will prey upon the carcasses as they lie festering in the rays of a tropical sun, returning night after night to' the feast, until no more meat is left. This occurs in parts of the country abounding in game, where it would give a party of lions but little trouble or exertion to catch a zebra, buffalo, or antelope, and procure themselves a meal of fresh meat. In the same way, no matter how plentiful game may be, lions will almost invariably feast upon any dead animal left by the hunter, from a buffalo to a steinbuck, that they may happen to come across.
Near villages, when lions grow too old to be able to take game for them-selves, they will take to killing goats; while women or children who happen to come in their way at night also become victims. On the other hand, when far away from human habitations, such decrepit lions catch mice and other small rodents, and will even at times eat grass, although this may be taken medicinally.
That such lions, which have become too feeble to prey upon game, would naturally develop into "man-eaters" if they were permitted to live, appears highly probable. The absence of man-eating lions in parts of Africa is due to the superior boldness of the African natives over those of India for even among the least martial tribes of South Africa, if two or three people are killed by a lion, the population of the surrounding country is roused, and, a party being formed, the lion is usually surrounded and stabbed to death with assegais ; while among such warlike stribes as the Matabele, if a lion only kills an ox, or even a goat, its fate is usually sealed, or even if not killed, it gets such a scare that it is glad to quit the district. Such a thing as a man-eater, or even an habitual cattle-slayer, would never be tolerated for an instant.
My shooting experiences in eastern South Africa, in the districts of Zulu-land, Tongaland, and Swaziland, show that man-eating lions are to be met with in some regions. I became an accessory to the death of two such man-eaters, one of which had well-nigh depopulated a district, having killed between thirty and forty individuals; while the second, although dwelling in an uninhabited country full of game, had become notorious for its attacks upon the camps of the hunters. The former, indeed, appeared tobe an animal in the full enjoyment of bodily strength, as it is said to have habitually leaped over the high fences which surround the Zulu villages.
With regard to the method in which lions kill and carry off the larger animals upon which they prey, it may be observed, in the first place, that there is some doubt whether death is effected by dislocating the neck of the victim, as is always done by tigers. In a cow killed by a lion in Abyssinia the verderbe of the neck were not dislocated; and I saw a lioness hold a camel for several minutes without attempting to break its neck. I have seen a horse, a young elephant and two antelopes killed by a bite in the throat ; while I have also known instances of horses and zebras being killed by. a bite on the back of the neck behind the head. Buffaloes are sometimes killed by a dislocation of the neck, which is effected by the lion springing onto their shoulders, and then seizing their noses with one paw, giving the neck a sudden wrench.
It was formerly a prevalent notion that lions were in the habit of carrying off the carcasses of large animals, like oxen and buffaloes, by throwing them over their back and walking bodily away with them. All recent observers are, however, agreed that this is by no means a correct statement, and that their invariable practice is to transport such carcasses by dragging them along the ground. A South African lion would be quite incapable of lifting a buffalo from the ground, much less of leaping over a fence with it, as the lion of North Africa has been alleged to do. In referring to an instance of this nature when a North African lion was reported to have leaped over the thorn fence which formed a protection to a camp, and, after seizing a full-grown ox, bounded back with its victim, Sir Samuel Baker writes as follows : "In the confusion of a night attack the scare is stupendous, and no person would be able to declare that he actually saw the lion jump the fence with the bullock in its grip. It might appear to, do this, but the ox would struggle violently, and in this struggle it would most probably burst through the fence, and subsequently be dragged away by the lion. * * * It is quite a mistake to suppose that a lion can carry a full-grown ox; it will partially lift the fore, quarter, and drag the carcass along the ground."
It is stated that the usual pace of a lion when undisturbed is a walk, but even then, from the length of his stride, he gets over the ground quicker than appears to be the case. When going more rapidly I have never seen a lion bound, but they come along at a clumsy gallop, somewhat after the manner of a dog, getting over the ground very quickly.
In regard to the ferocity or otherwise of the lion's disposition, very conflicting statements will be found in the writings of different observers. Thus, whereas Livingstone states that nothing would lead him to attribute to the lion either the ferocious or noble character ascribed to it by others, Sir Samuel Baker is disposed to take a rather opposite view, observing that, although he does not consider the lion to be either so formidable or so ferocious as the tiger, yet there is no reason for despising an animal which has been respected from the most remote antiquity.
All writers appear, however, to be agreed that, as a general rule (although there are exceptions), a lion will not go out of his way to make an unprovoked attack upon human beings, and that, in point of fact, he will rather shun a. conflict when possible. "There is nearly always," writes Mr. Drummond, "some explanation of its behavior when it acts otherwise; either the hunter has approached so near before being discovered that the animal is afraid to turn tail, and, urged by its very fears, makes a charge; or it may be half-famished, and having got hold of some prey, either of your killing or its own, will not quit it without a contest; or, if a lioness with cubs, will fight in defense of their supposed danger." Sir Samuel Baker's testimony is of a very similar character, when he mentions that the expert swordsmen of Central Africa have no dread of the lion when undisturbed by sportsmen, although they hold him in the highest respect when he becomes the object of chase. Again, in another passage, the same writer mentions that among the Hamran Arabs of the Sudan the lions, although numerous, are never regarded as dangerous.
That lions, especially when hungry, will, however, on occasion attack human beings, on foot or when mounted, there is abundant evidence. A hunter engaged in stalking a rhinosceros, on looking back was horrified to find that he himself was I being stalked by a lion. There was but one time in my career when a lion, driven by hunger, attacked me personally; but I believe that there are some lions which will always make unprovoked attacks. This view is supported by an account of an attack made upon three natives in Eastern Africa. The three natives in question were passing along the edge of a certain lagoon, when, without further warning than a slight rustle, a lion sprang upon the foremost, crushing him to the ground. His terrified comrades, throwing away the chance of shooting the brute while it was still upon its first victim and its eyes probably closed, rushed to the nearest trees for safety, but, once there, feeling ashamed of their cowardly desertion of an old companion, they descended, and walking forward together were just on the point of firing, when, with a- roar that almost deprived them of the power to run, the lion charged, caught the hindmost, and after shaking him for a second or two, gave chase to the other, who, however, had profited by the time to remove himself, by a bare foot or so, out of reach of the spring the enraged animal gave as it saw that one had so far escaped. It then returned to its last victim, not yet dead, took him up in its mouth, dropped him, tossed him from paw to paw as a cat does a mouse, and at last, as if wearied by so much unaccustomed gentleness, it allowed its savage nature to gain the mastery, and with one crunch of its powerful jaw put him out of his pain." The sole survivor of this tragedy, after having been besieged for hours in a tree, during which he had a hairbreadth escape when descending to reach his gun, finally had the satisfaction of putting a bullet through the ribs of the lion.
Lion-hunting, under any circumstances, must of necessity be a dangerous pursuit; but it may be followed to a certain extent with comparative immunity from harm by those who have the necessary nerve and coolness, coupled with sufficient knowledge of the habits of the animals. I consider the lion a far more dangerous animal to encounter than any other creature in South Africa. It is true, indeed, that a much greater number of casualties occur from buffalo-shooting than in lion-hunting, but for every lion that has of late years been "bagged" in the interior of South Africa, at least fifty buffaloes have been laid low. As a general rule the danger is reduced to a minimum when hunting with dogs, as the lion's attention is generally concentrated on his canine foes; but even then it sometimes happens that he will dash straight through them to attack the hunter. A mounted hunter, except when the movements of his horse are impeded by thick forest or by yielding sand, can generally escape when pursued, as the pace of the average lion is not sufficient to enable him to overtake the average horse. If, however, on foot, and without dogs, though there is little danger in attacking lions in the first instance, yet to follow up a wounded one is very ticklish work, especially in long grass or thick cover, for there is probably no animal of its size in the world that can conceal itself behind so slight a screen, or rush upon its pursuer with such lightning-like rapidity.
It should always be recollected, before meddling with lions, that if you do come to close quarters with them, death is the probable result. There are cases within my own knowledge where, single-handed and armed only with a spear, a native has succeeded in killing one that has sprung upon him, without receiving in return anything but trifling injuries; but these are only exceptions that prove the rule that when they strike they kill. * * * It is a grand sight to see one charge a native regiment sent out after it, as they sometimes are, springing over the heads of the first line right into the center, flying about, knocking men down with every blow, until, a complete sieve of assegai wounds, it dies fighting.
The lion tries to avoid man until wounded, and it is only in exceptional cases of there being young ones to guard, or from astonishment at seeing the hunter soi close to them, that they charge when being tracked. They charge with the same coughing roar that a tiger does, and come at great speed close to the ground, not bounding in the air as they are represented in pictures. Their ears are pressed close to the head, giving them the comical appearance of being without ears. So large an animal coming at full speed against you of course knocks you off your legs. The claws and teeth entering the flesh do not hurt so much as you would think. The only really painful part of the business is the squeeze given by the jaws on the bone. I felt none of the dreamy stupor Livingstone describes, but, on the contrary, felt as usual. I adopted the course of lying quite still, which, I believe, is the best thing one can do, as you are quite helpless with a heavy animal on you, and they are inclined to make grabs at everything that moves, and the fewer bites you can get off with the better.
Twice in my life I have escaped death by the ruse of feigning death when in the power of a lion, but I know of no other situation in which a man can be placed which requires as much nerve and control of the muscles. Imagine a great brute nosing and sniffing every part of your body from your head to feet; imagine feeling its hot breath or the saliva from its dripping jaws upon your face, while you know that to stir or give any sign of life means instant death, and you will have some idea how a hunter feels when at the mercy of the king of beasts.