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The Great Hunters

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Big Game Elephant Hunting Escapes by William Charles Baldwin | One of The Great Hunters

Four years later, on his third hunting trip into the Zulu country, he was better prepared for the sudden attacks of the buffalo. But an old bull elephant almost got the better of him in dense bush country some distance from the residence of Moselekatse, The Matabele chief.

Hunting on foot once in the Entumeni Bush(9), I had a very narrow escape from an old bull elephant which I had wounded. He gave chase, and I took up the hill; the ground was very wet and slippery heaps of dead leaves, no heels to my veldt shoes(10), which were made of blesbuck skin, and, from being thoroughly saturated with wet, had stretched to nearly double the original size; consequently I went, as they say, two steps backwards to one forewards, was constantly down, and quite exhausted in the strenuous efforts I made to get on. Seeing no disposition, on my pursuers part, to give up the chase, I changed my tactics, got above a tree, on which I leaned a couple of seconds to recover my wind partly a very critical moment, as the brute was not more than four of his own lengths from me jumped then some ten yards at right angles, and turned down the hill at full speed, the monster screaming and trumpeting in full career after me at a tremendous pace. He must have been over me in a few strides more, when I sprang to the right, and down he went in his mad career, crashing and carrying all before him, utterly unable to stop if he had wished, as the hill was very steep, and he was under full sail: a tremendous relief to my mind, as it was my last resort. I did not hazard another encounter, but mentally resolved, for the future, to try another country, where I could have the all - powerful assistance of a good horse in emergencies of the like kind, and have carried out the resolution then and there made ever since.

Notes

Gibson. A hunting companion on the 1852 expedition. Gibson and Baldwin were the only two of a party of nine white hunters who survived the adventure. The others died of Malaria.

The Crocodiles. The African or Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). A large reptile found in virtually all the rivers and lakes with which the hunters of this period came into contact.

Tugela. The Tugela River rises on Mont aux Sources in the Drakensberg and flows for 320 km, to enter the Indian Ocean north of Durban. At this time the Northern boundary of Natal Colony.

Three Hartebeests. (Bubalis cama or Bubalis Lichtenstein). An antelope reaching up to 1,22 metres at the shoulders. Extremely fats runner.

 An eland bull. (Taurotragus oryx). Large antelope. Bulls reach 1,83 metres at the withers and carry corkscrew shaped horns attaining 0,91 metres in length.

Buffalo bull. (Syncerus caffer). The bull is powerfully built, standing about 1,52 metres at the shoulder. The horns extend sideways and downwards from a bony boss on the head.

The Pongola. The river rises in Swaziland and forms the Northern border of Zululand. Joins the Mapula River which enters the Indian Ocean at Delagoa Bay.

My companion. Possibly the Zulu Mahoutcha, a splendid fellow, formerly in Elephant Whites service.

The Entumeni Bush. This is recounted on Baldwins 1857 expidition to the Transvaal Republic, the Marico country etc.

Veldt shoes. Velskoen or soft hide shoes were originally made by the Hottentots and readily adopted by the first colonists.