The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Raccoon
Story Of The Cobego
Story Of The Gazelle
Story Of The Chameleon
Story Of The Fossa
Story Of The Walrus
Story Of The Mole
Story Of The Pangolin
Story Of The Opossum
Story Of The Caffre Cat
Read More Articles About: The Story Of Wild Animals
Story Of The Gazelle
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The gazelle is regarded as the embodiment of grace and beauty, and is celebrated in song and story. It is usually of a sandy color and has a white streak on the side of the face from the base of the horn nearly to the nose, thus cutting off a dark triangular patch in the middle of the forehead, while the streak itself is bordered by a dark line. The horns, which are generally present in both sexes, are recurved and completely ringed throughout the greater part of their length. Most of the gazelles do not exceed thirty inches in height, although the mohr reaches thirty-six inches. There are about twenty-one living species.
The gazelle so famous in Oriental poetry inhabits Arabia and Syria. Its eyes are very large, dark and lustrous, so, that the Oriental poets love to compare the eyes of a woman to those of a gazelle, just as Homer constantly applied the epithet ox-eyed to the more majestic goddesses, such as Juno and Minerva. It is easily tamed when young, and is frequently seen domesticated in the court yards of houses in Syria. Its swiftness is so great that even a greyhound cannot overtake it, and the hunters are forced to, make use of hawks, which are trained to, strike at the head of the gazelle, and thus con-fuse it and retard its speed, so as to permit the dogs to 'come up. The color of ,this pretty little animal is a dark yellowish brown, fading into white on the under parts.
One of the most important members of the gazelle family is the South African springbok. The springbok derives its name from its habit of suddenly leaping in the air; and is remarkable both for the vast numbers in which it formerly occurred, and for its periodical migrations. I was once a spectator of the remarkable scene produced by one of these migrations. For about two hours before dawn I had been lying awake in my wagon, listening to the grunting of the buck within two hundred yards of me; imagining that some large herd of springboks was feeding beside my camp, but, rising when it was light and looking about me, I beheld the ground to the northward of my camp actually covered with a dense living mass of sprinkboks, marching slowly and steadily along. They extended from an opening in a long range of hills on the west, through which they continued pouring like the flood of some great river, to a ridge about a mile to the northeast, over which they disappeared the breadth they covered might have been somewhere about half a mile. I stood upon the fore-chest of my wagon for nearly two hours, lost in astonishment at the novel and wonderful scene before me, and had some difficulty in convincing myself that it was a reality which I beheld, and not the mild and exaggerated picture of a hunter's dream.
The goa or Thibetan gazelle is distinguished by the white disc around the tail, the long winter-coat, short ears and tail, the greatly curved horns and the uniform color of the face. The height of the animal is twenty-four inches; and the largest recorded horns measure fifteen and three-quarter inches in length; the number of rings varying from twenty to thirty. This gazelle inhabits the Thibetan plateau at elevations of from thirteen thousand to eighteen thousand feet, and goes in small parties of from two or three to a dozen. It is less shy than other species.
Another of the true gazelles is characterized by the white of the rump extending forward in an angle into the fawn-color of the haunches; both sexes having horns, which are frequently longer than in the other groups; the animals themselves being also relatively large.
Its swiftness is such that it can but seldom be taken with dogs ; but it does not leap in the air like the dorcas. This gazelle keeps much to waste ground, especially where that is broken up by ravines, but it is seldom seen on alluvial plains, and it haunts cultivation less than the [Indian] antelope. I have freguently found it among scattered bushes or thin tree-jungle, and it may be met with on undulating ground even on the top of hills; it is commonly found amongst sandhills, and is nowhere so abundant as in parts of the Indian desert. It lives on grass and the leaves of bushes, and, I believe, never drinks, for it is common in tracts where there is no water except from deep wells.
A peculiar gazelle, known as the gerenuk, or Waller's gazelle, inhabits Eastern Africa, and is remarkable for the great length of its neck, which has been likened to a miniature giraffe.
The gerenuk is found all over the Somali country in small families, never in large herds, and generally in scattered bush, ravines and rocky ground. I have never seen it in the cedar-forests, nor in the treeless plains. Gerenuk are not necessarily found near water; in fact, generally in stony ground with a sprinkling of thorn-jungle. Its gait is peculiar. When first seen, a buck gerenuk will generally be standing motionless, head well up, looking at the intruder, and trusting to its invisibility. Then the head dives under the bushes, and the animal goes off at a long, crouching trot, stopping now and again behind some bush to gaze. The trot is awkward-looking, and very like that of a camel; the gerenuk seldom gallops, and its pace is never very fast. In the whole shape of the head and neck, and in the slender lower jaw, there is a marked resemblance between the gerenuk and the dibatag. It subsists more by browsing than by grazing, and it may not unfrequently be observed standing up on its hind-legs, with outstretched neck, and its fore-feet resting against the trunk of a tree, in order to pluck the foliage.
The goitred gazelle is rather a heavy animal, found in Eastern Siberia, Chinese Mongolia and Western Thibet. It also inhabits Persia, and a favorite sport of Persian noblemen is to hunt it with the chita, or trained hunting leopard.
A beautiful species of gazelle is the Dorcas, found in Egypt and Barbary, where it lives in large troops upon the borders of the cultivated country, and also in the deserts. When pursued it flies to some distance, then stops to gaze a moment at the hunters, and again renews its flight. The flock, when attacked collectively, disperse in all directions, but soon unite, and when brought to bay defend themselves with courage and obstinacy, uniting in a close circle, with the females and fawns in the center, and presenting their horns at all points to their enemies; yet, notwithstanding their courage, they are the common prey of the lion and panther, and are hunted with great per-severance by the Arabs and Bedouins of the desert. When taken young they are easily domesticated, and soon become familiar. This animal is frequently - cut upon the monuments of Egypt and Nubia.
Referring again to the beautiful Arabian gazelle, or as it is properly called, ariel gazelle, it may be said that it is still hunted by the Arabs for its flesh, which is excellent, as it was by the ancient Egyptians.
On the eastern frontier of Syria are several places allotted to the hunting of this animal, or rather for its entrapment or destruction. An open space on the plain, about one mile and a half square, is enclosed on three sides by a wall of loose stones too high for the gazelle to leap over. Gaps are left in different parts of the wall, and at each gap a deep ditch is sunk on the outside.
The inclosure is situated near some rivulet or spring to which the gazelles resort in summer. When the sport is to begin, many peasants assemble and watch till they see a herd of gazelles advancing from a distance toward the inclosure, into, which they drive them. The gazelles, frightened by the shouts of the people and the discharge of the fire-arms, endeavor to, leap over the wall. but can only effect this at the gaps, where they fall into the ditch outside, and are easily taken, sometimes by hundreds. The chief of the herd always leaps first, and the others follow him one by one. The gazelles thus captured are immediately killed, and their flesh sold to the Arabs and neighboring Fellahs. Of the skin a kind of parchment is made, and used to cover the small drum with which the Syrians accompany some musical instruments or the voice.
Referring again to the trek of the Springboks : The migration is called a trek bokken. So great is the number of animals in these migrations that those which happen to get into the rear of the troop are lean and half-starved before the migration is concluded, from the advanced ranks cropping the scanty pastures almost bare, and thus leaving those behind nearly destitute of food; but when the journey is concluded, and the troop begins to retrace its steps northward,, those which formed the van during the advance are necessarily in the rear returning, soon lose their plump condition, and are in their turn subjected to want and starvation. During these migrations the herds are closely followed by lions, panthers, hyenas and wild dogs, which hang upon their flanks and destroy great numbers of them. There is perhaps no spectacle in nature more inspiring than a flock of these beautiful gazelles enlivening the dreary brown karroos of South Africa with their graceful motions; now leaping perpendicularly upward to the height of six or seven feet, displaying at the same time the snowy-white marks on their croups, and anon flying over the desert with the speed of a whirlwind.