Part 4 out of 5
a mile of the tent. We at length discovered the herd upon the summit of
a steep rocky hill. There were no trees in this part, and we carefully
ascended the hill, stepping from rock to rock and occasionally
concealing ourselves in the high grass, till we at length stood at the
very feet of the elephants, two of whom were standing upon a large
platform of rock, about seven feet above us. They were so high above us
that I was obliged to aim about four inches down the trunk, so that the
ball should reach the brain in an upward direction; this shot proved
successful, and killed him. V., who had not taken this precaution,
missed; and the whole herd of eight elephants started off in full
The rocks were so steep that it occupied some time in climbing over the
top of the hill; upon reaching which, we saw the elephants going off at
great speed, with a start of about two hundred paces. The ground was
perfectly open, covered by small loose rocks free from grass, and the
chase commenced in good earnest. With the elephants in view the whole
time, and going at a great pace, a mile was run without the possibility
of firing a shot. By this time we had arrived at an undulating country
covered with small rocks, and grass about four feet high, which made the
pace dreadfully fatiguing; still we dared not slacken the speed for an
instant lest the elephants should distance us. This was the time for
rifles to tell, although their weight (15 lbs.) was rather trying in so
long and fast a run. I was within eighty paces of the herd, and I could
not decrease the distance by a single yard. I halted and took a shot at
the ear of a large elephant in the middle of the herd. The shot so
stunned him that, instead of going on straight, he kept turning round
and round as though running after his tail; this threw the herd into
confusion, and some ran to the right and others to the left, across some
steep hollows. Running up to my wounded elephant, I extinguished him
with my remaining barrel; and getting a spare rifle from Wallace, who
was the only gun-bearer who had kept up, I floored another elephant, who
was ascending the opposite side of a hollow about forty yards off: this
fellow took two shots, and accordingly I was left unloaded. V. had made
good play with the rifles as the herd was crossing the hollow, and he
had killed three, making six bagged in all. The remaining two elephants
reached a thick jungle and escaped.
We returned to the tent, and after a bath we sat down with a glorious
appetite to breakfast, having bagged six elephants before seven o'clock
In the afternoon we went to the cave and sent out trackers. We were very
hard up for provisions in this place: there were no deer in the
neighbourhood, and we lived upon squirrels and parrots, both of which
are excellent eating, but not very substantial fare.
The whole of this part of the country was one dark mass of high lemon
grass, which, not having been burnt, was a tangled mixture of yellow
stalks and sharp blades, that completely destroyed the pleasure of
In this unfavourable ground we found a herd of ten elephants, and after
waiting for some time in the hope of their feeding into a better
country, we lost all patience and resolved to go in at them and do the
best we could. It was late in the afternoon, and the herd, who were well
aware of our position, had all closed up in a dense body, and with their
trunks thrown up they were trumpeting and screaming as though to
challenge us to the attack.
Pushing our way through the high grass, we got within six paces of the
elephants before they attempted to turn, and the heavy battery opened
upon them in fine style. Levelling the grass in their path, they rushed
through it in a headlong retreat, V. keeping on one flank, while I took
the other; and a race commenced, which continued for about half a mile
at full speed, the greater part of this distance being up hill. None of
these elephants proved restive; and on arriving at thick jungle two only
entered out of the ten that had composed the herd; the remaining eight
lay here and there along the line of the hunt.
Out of four herds and three rogues fired at we had bagged thirty-one
elephants in a few days' shooting. My mishap on the first day had much
destroyed the pleasure of the sport, as the exercise was too much for my
wounded leg, which did not recover from the feeling of numbness for some
Excitement of Elephant-shooting--An Unexpected Visitor--A Long Run with
a Buck--Hard Work Rewarded--A Glorious Bay--End of a Hard Day's
Work--Bee-hunters--Disasters of Elk-hunting--Bran Wounded--'Old Smut's'
Buck--Boar at Hackgalla--Death of `Old Smut'--Scenery from the Perewelle
Mountains--Diabolical Death of 'Merriman'--Scene of the Murder.
In describing so many incidents in elephant-shooting it is difficult to
convey a just idea of the true grandeur of the sport: it reads too easy.
A certain number are killed out of a herd after an animated chase, and
the description of the hunt details the amount of slaughter, but cannot
possibly explain the peculiar excitement which attends elephant-shooting
beyond all other sports. The size of the animal is so disproportionate
to that of the hunter that the effect of a large herd of these monsters
flying before a single man would be almost ridiculous could the chase be
witnessed by some casual observer who was proof against the excitement
of the sport. The effect of a really good elephant shot in the pursuit
of a herd over open country is very fine. With such weapons as the
double-barrelled No. 10 rifles a shot is seldom wasted; and during the
chase, an elephant drops from the herd at every puff of smoke. It is a
curious sight, and one of the grandest in the world, to see a fine rogue
elephant knocked over in full charge. His onset appears so irresistible,
and the majesty of his form so overwhelming, that I have frequently
almost mistrusted the power of man over such a beast; but one shot well
placed, with a heavy charge of powder behind the ball, reduces him in an
instant to a mere heap of flesh.
One of the most disgusting sights is a dead elephant four or five days
after the fatal shot. In a tropical climate, where decomposition
proceeds with such wonderful rapidity, the effect of the sun upon such a
mass can be readily understood. The gas generated in the inside distends
the carcass to an enormous size, until it at length bursts and becomes
in a few hours afterwards one living heap of maggots. Three weeks after
an elephant is killed, nothing remains but his bones and a small heap of
dried cases, from which the flies have emerged when the time arrived for
them to change from the form of maggots. The sight of the largest of the
animal creation being thus reduced from life to nothingness within so
short a space of time is an instance of the perishable tenure of
mortality which cannot fail to strike the most unthinking. The majesty,
the power, and the sagacity of the enormous beast are scattered in the
myriads of flies which have fed upon him.
It is a delightful change after a sporting trip of a few weeks in the
hot climates to return again to the cool and even temperature of Newera
Ellia. The tent is a pleasant dwelling when no other can be obtained,
but the comfort of a good house is never so much appreciated as on the
return from the jungle.
One great pleasure in the hunting at Newera Ellia is the ease with which
it is obtained. In fact, the sport lies at the very door. This may be
said to be literally true and not a facon de parler, as I once killed an
elk that jumped through a window. It was a singular incident. The hounds
found three elk at the same time on the mountain at the back of the
hotel at Newera Ellia. The pack divided: several hounds were lost for
two days, having taken their elk to an impossible country, and the rest
of the pack concentrated upon a doe, with the exception of old Smut, who
had another elk all to himself. This elk, which was a large doe, he
brought down from the top of the mountain to the back of the hotel, just
as we had killed the other, which the pack had brought to the same
place. A great number of persons were standing in the hotel yard to view
the sport, when old Smut and his game appeared, rushing in full fly
through the crowd. The elk was so bothered and headed that she went
through the back door of the hotel at full gallop, and Smut, with his
characteristic sagacity, immediately bolted round to the front of the
house, naturally concluding that if she went in at the back door she
must come out at the front. He was perfectly right; the old dog stood on
the lawn before the hotel, watching the house with great eagerness. In
the meantime the elk was galloping from room to room in the hotel,
chased by a crowd of people, until she at length took refuge in a lady's
bedroom, from which there was no exit, as the window was closed. The
crash of glass may be imagined as an animal as large as a pony leaped
through it; but old Smut was ready for her, and after a chase of a few
yards he pulled her down. This is the only instance that I have ever
known of an elk entering a building, although it is a common occurrence
with hunted deer in England. An elk found on the top of Pedro talla
Galla, which rises from the plain of Newera Ellia, will generally run
straight down the mountain, and, unless headed, he will frequently come
to bay in the river close to the hotel, which is situated at the foot of
the mountain. This, however, is not a rule without an exception, as the
elk on some occasions takes a totally different direction, and gives a
hard day's work. It was on July 27, 1852, that I had a run of this kind.
It was six A.M. when my youngest brother and I started from the foot of
Pedro to ascend the mountain. The path is three miles long, through
jungle the whole way to the summit. There were fresh tracks of elk near
the top of the mountain; the dew lay heavily upon the leaves, and the
scent was evidently strong, as Merriman and Ploughboy, the two leading
hounds, dashed off upon it, followed by the whole pack. In a few minutes
we heard them in full cry about a quarter of a mile from us, going
straight down the hill. Giving them a good holloa, we started off down
the path at a round pace, and in less than a quarter of an hour we were
at the foot of the mountain on the plain. Here we found a number of
people who had headed the elk (a fine buck) just as he was breaking
cover, and he had turned back, taking off to some other line of country
at a great pace, as we could not hear even a whimper. This was enough to
make a saint swear, and, blessing heartily the fellows who had headed
him, we turned back and retraced our steps up the mountain to listen for
the cry of the pack among the numerous ravines which furrow the sides.
It was of no use; we could hear nothing but the mocking chirp of birds
and the roaring of the mountain torrents. Not a sign of elk or dogs. The
greyhounds were away with the pack, and knowing that the dogs would
never leave him till dark, we determined not to give them up. No less
than three times in the course of the day did we reascend the mountain
to listen for them in vain. We went up to the top of the Newera Ellia
Pass, in the hope of hearing them in that direction, but with the same
want of success. Miles of ground were gone over to no purpose. Scaling
the steep sides of the mountains at the back of the barracks, we
listened among the deep hollows on the other side, but again we were
disappointed; the sound of the torrents was all that we could hear.
Descending again to the plain, we procured some breakfast at a friend's
house, and we started for the Matturatta Plains. These plains are about
three or four miles from the barracks; and I had a faint hope that the
buck might have crossed over the mountain, and descended into this part
of the country to a river which flows through the patinas. We now
mounted our horses, having been on foot all the morning. It was three
o'clock P.M., and, with little hope of finding the dogs, we rode along
the path towards the Matturatta Plains.
We had just entered the forest, when we met a young hound returning
along the path with a wound from a buck's horn in the shoulder. There
was now no doubt of the direction, and we galloped along the path
towards the plains as hard as we could go. About half way to the plains,
to my joy I saw an immense buck's track in the path going in the same
direction; the toes were spread wide apart, showing the pace at which he
had been going; and there were dogs' tracks following him, all as fresh
as could be. This was a gladdening sight after a hard day's work, and we
gave a random cheer to encourage any dogs that might be within hearing,
rattling our horses over the ground at their best speed.
At last the plains were reached. We pulled up our panting steeds, and
strained every nerve to hear the cry of the hounds. The snorting of the
horses prevented our hearing any distant sound, and I gave a holloa and
listened for some answering voice from a dog. Instead of a sound, Bran
and Lucifer suddenly appeared. This was conclusive evidence that the
pack was somewhere in this direction, and we rode out into the plain and
again listened. Hark to old Smut! there was his deep voice echoing from
the opposite hills. Yoick to him, Bran! forward to him, Lucifer! and
away the greyhounds dashed towards the spot from which the sound
proceeded. The plain forms a wide valley, with a river winding through
the centre, and we galloped over the patinas after the greyhounds in
full speed. There was no mistaking the bay. I could now distinguish
Merriman's fine voice in addition to that of old Smut, and a general
chorus of other tongues joined in, till the woods rang again. The horses
knew the sport, and away they went, but suddenly over went old Jack,
belly-deep in a bog, and sent me flying over his head. There is nothing
like companionship in an accident, and Momus accordingly pitched upon
his nose in the same bog, my brother describing a fine spread-eagle as
he sprawled in the soft ground, We were close to the bay; the horses
extricated themselves directly, and again mounting we rode hard to the
The buck was at bay in the river, and the exhausted dogs were yelling at
him from the bank. The instant that we arrived and cheered them on, old
Smut came from the pack towards us with an expression of perfect
delight; he gave himself two or three rolls on the grass, and then went
to the fight like a lion. The buck, however, suddenly astonished the
whole pack by jumping out of the river, and, charging right through
them, he started over the plain towards the jungle, with the hounds
after him. He had refreshed himself by standing for so long in the cold
stream, while the dogs, on the contrary, were nearly worn out. He
reached the jungle with the whole pack at his heels; but after doubling
backward and forward in the forest for about five minutes, we heard the
crash in the bushes as he once more rushed towards the plain, and he
broke cover in fine style, with the three greyhounds, Bran, Lucifer and
Lena, at his haunches. In another instant he was seized, but he fell
with such a shock that it threw the greyhounds from their hold, and
recovering himself with wonderful quickness, he went down the slope
towards the river at a tremendous pace. The greyhounds overtook him just
as he gained the steep bank of the river, and they all rolled over in a
confused crowd into the deep water.
The next moment the buck was seen swimming proudly down the river, with
the pack following him down the stream in full cry. Presently he gained
his footing, and, disdaining farther flight, he turned bravely upon the
He was a splendid fellow; his nostrils were distended, his mane was
bristled up, and his eyes flashed, as, rearing to his full height, he
plunged forward and struck the leading dogs under the water. Not a dog
could touch him; one by one they were beaten down and half-drowned
beneath the water. Old Smut was to the front as usual: down the old dog
was beaten, but he reappeared behind the elk's shoulder, and the next
moment he was hanging on his ear. The poor old dog had lost so many of
his teeth in these encounters that he could not keep his hold, and the
buck gave a tremendous spring forward, shaking off the old dog and
charging through the pack, sinking nearly half of them for a few moments
beneath the water. He had too much pluck to fly farther, and, after
wading shoulder-deep against the stream for a few yards, he turned
majestically round, and, facing the baying pack, he seemed determined to
do or die. I never saw a finer animal; there was a proud look of
defiance in his aspect that gave him a most noble appearance; but at
that time he had little pity bestowed upon him.
There he stood ready to meet the first dog. Old Smut had been thrown to
the rear as the buck turned, and Lena came beautifully to the front,
leading the whole pack. There was a shallow sandbank in the river where
the bitch could get a footing, and she dashed across it to the attack.
The buck met her in her-advance by a sudden charge, which knocked her
over and over, but at the same instant Valiant, who is a fine, powerful
dog, made a clever spring forward and pinned the buck by the ear. There
was no shaking him off, and he was immediately backed up by Ploughboy,
who caught the other ear most cleverly. There the two dogs hung like
ear-rings as the buck, rearing up, swung them to and fro, but could not
break their hold. In another moment the greyhounds were upon him-the
whole pack covered him; his beautiful form was seen alternately rearing
from the water with the dogs hanging upon him in all directions, then
struggling in a confused mass nearly beneath the surface of the stream.
He was a brave fellow, and had fought nobly, but there was no hope for
him, and we put an end to the fight with the hunting-knife.
It was past four o'clock P.M., and he had been found at seven A.M., but
the conclusion fully repaid us for the day's work. The actual distance
run by the buck was not above eight miles, but we had gone about twenty
during the day, the greater portion of which was over most fatiguing
On an open country an elk would never be caught without greyhounds until
he had run fifteen or twenty miles. The dense jungles fatigue him as he
ploughs his way through them, and thus forms a path for the dogs behind
him. How he can move in some of these jungles is an enigma; a horse
would break his legs, and, in fact, could not stir in places through
which an elk passes in full gallop.
The principal underwood in the mountain districts of Ceylon is the
'nillho.' This is a perfectly straight stem, from twelve to twenty feet
in length, and about an inch and a half in diameter, having no branches
except a few small arms at the top, which are covered with large leaves.
This plant, in proportion to its size, grows as close as corn in a
field, and forms a dense jungle most difficult to penetrate. When the
jungles are in this state, the elk is at a disadvantage, as the immense
exertion required to break his way through this mass soon fatigues him,
and forces him to come to bay.
Every seven years this 'nillho' blossoms. The jungles are then neither
more nor less than vast bouquets of bright purple and white flowers; the
perfume is delicious, and swarms of bees migrate from other countries to
make their harvest of honey. The quantity collected is extraordinary.
The bee-hunters start from the low country, and spend weeks in the
jungle in collecting the honey and wax. When looking over an immense
tract of forest from some elevated point, the thin blue lines of smoke
may be seen rising in many directions, marking the sites of the
bee-hunters fires. Their method of taking the honey is simple enough.
The bees' nests hang from the boughs of the trees, and a man ascends
with a torch of green leaves, which creates a dense smoke. He approaches
the nest and smokes off the swarm, which, on quitting the exterior of
the comb, exposes a beautiful circular mass of honey and wax, generally
about eighteen inches in diameter and six inches thick. The bee-hunter
being provided with vessels formed from the rind of the gourd attached
to ropes, now cuts up the comb and fills his chatties, lowering them
down to his companions below.
When the blossom of the nillho fades, the seed forms; this is a sweet
little kernel, with the flavour of a nut. The bees now leave the
country, and the jungles suddenly swarm, as though by magic, with
pigeons, jungle-fowl, and rats. At length the seed is shed and the
The jungles then have a curious appearance. The underwood being dead,
the forest-trees rise from a mass of dry sticks like thin hop-poles. The
roots of these plants very soon decay, and a few weeks of high wind,
howling through the forest, levels the whole mass, leaving the trees
standing free from underwood. The appearance of the ground can now be
imagined-a perfect chaos of dead sticks and poles, piled one on the
other, in every direction, to a depth of between two and three feet. It
can only be compared to a mass of hurdles being laid in a heap. The
young nillho grows rapidly through this, concealing the mass of dead
sticks beneath, and forms a tangled barrier which checks both dogs and
man. With tough gaiters to guard the shins, we break through by main
force and weight, and the dogs scramble sometimes over, sometimes under
the surface. At this period the elk are in great numbers, as they feed
with great avidity upon the succulent young nillho. The dogs are now at
a disadvantage. While they are scrambling with difficulty through this
mass of half-rotten sticks, the elk bounds over it with ease, leaving no
path behind him, as he clears it by leaps, and does not exhaust himself
by bursting through it. He now constantly escapes, and leaves the pack
miles behind; the best hounds follow him, but with such a start he leads
them into the unknown depths of the jungles, over high mountains and
across deep ravines, from which the lost dogs frequently never return.
There can be no question that it is a bad country for hunting at all
times, as the mass of forest is so disproportionate to the patinas; but,
on the other hand, were the forests of smaller size there would be less
game. Elk-hunting is, on the whole, fine sport. There are many
disappointments constantly occurring, but these must happen in all
sports. The only important drawback to the pleasure of elk-hunting is
the constant loss of the dogs. The best are always sure to go. What with
deaths by boars, leopards, elk, and stray hounds, the pack is with
difficulty maintained. Puppies are constantly lost in the commencement
of their training by straying too far into the jungle, and sometimes by
reckless valour. I lost a fine young greyhound, Lancer, own brother to
Lucifer, in this way. It was his first day with the pack.
We found a buck who came to bay in a deep rocky torrent, where the dogs
had no chance with him, and he amused himself by striking them under
water at his pleasure. He at length took his stand among some large
rocks, between which the torrent rushed with great rapidity previous to
its descent over a fall of sixty feet.
In this impregnable position young Lancer chose to distinguish himself,
and with a beautiful spring he flew straight at the buck's head; but the
elk met him with a tremendous blow with the fore feet, which broke his
back, and the unfortunate Lancer was killed in his first essay and swept
over the waterfall. This buck was at bay for two hours before he was
A veteran seizer is generally seamed with innumerable scars. Poor old
Bran, who, being a thoroughbred greyhound, is too fine in the skin for
such rough hunting, has been sewn up in so many places that he is a
complete specimen of needlework. If any dog is hurt in a fight with elk
or boar, it is sure to be old Bran. He has now a scar from a wound that
was seven inches in length, which he received from a buck whose horns
are hanging over my door.
I had started with the pack at daybreak, and I was riding down the
Badulla road, about a mile from the kennel, when the whole pack suddenly
took up a scent off the road, and dashed into the jungle in full cry.
The road was enclosed by forest on either side. The pack had evidently
divided upon two elk, as they were running in different directions.
Starting off down the pass, I soon reached the steep patinas, and I
heard the pack coming down through the jungle which crowns the hills on
the left of the road. There was a crush in the underwood, and the next
moment a fine buck broke cover and went away along the hillside.
Merriman and Tiptoe were the two leading dogs, and they were not fifty
yards behind him. Old smut came tearing along after them, and I gave
Bran a holloa and slipped him immediately. It was a beautiful sight to
see Bran fly along the patina: across the swampy bottom, taking the
broad stream in one bound, and skimming up the hill, he was on the
buck's path in a few minutes, pulling up to him at every stride. He
passed the few dogs that were in chase like lightning, and in a few more
bounds he was at the buck's side. With a dexterous blow, however, the
buck struck him with his fore foot, and sent him rolling down the hill
with a frightful gash in his side. The buck immediately descended the
hillside, and came to bay in a deep pool in the river. Regardless of his
wound, old Bran followed him; Smut and the other dogs joined, and there
was a fine bay, the buck fighting like a hero. The dogs could not touch
him, as he was particularly active with his antlers.
I jumped into the water and gave them a cheer, on which the buck
answered immediately by charging at me. I met him with the point of my
hunting-knife in the nose, which stopped him, and in the same moment old
Smut was hanging on his ear, having pinned him the instant that I had
occupied his attention. Bran had the other ear just as I had given him
the fatal thrust. In a few seconds the struggle was over. Bran's wound
was four inches wide and seven inches long.
My brother had a pretty run with the doe with the other half of the
pack, and we returned home by eight A.M., having killed two elk.
Daybreak is the proper time to be upon the ground for elk-hunting. At
this hour they have only just retired to the jungle after their night's
wandering on the patinas, and the hounds take up a fresh scent, and save
the huntsman the trouble of entering the jungle. At a later hour the elk
have retired so far into the jungle that much time is lost in finding
them, and they are not so likely to break cover as when they are just on
the edge of the forest. I had overslept myself one morning when I ought
to have been particularly early, as we intended to hunt at the
Matturatta Plains, a distance of six miles. The scent was bad, and the
sun was excessively hot; the dogs were tired and languid. It was two
o'clock P.M., and we had not found, and we were returning through the
forest homewards, having made up our minds for a blank day.
Suddenly I thought I heard a deep voice at a great distance; it might
have been fancy, but I listened again. I counted the dogs, and old Smut
was missing. There was no mistaking his voice when at bay, and I now
heard him distinctly in the distance. Running towards the sound through
fine open forests, we soon arrived on the Matturatta Plains. The whole
pack now heard the old dog distinctly, and they rushed to the sound
across the patinas. There was Smut, sure enough, with a fine buck at bay
in the river, which he had found and brought to bay single-handed.
The instant that the pack joined him, the buck broke his bay, and,
leaping up the bank, he gave a beautiful run over the patinas, with the
whole pack after him, and Bran a hundred paces in advance of the other
dogs, pulling up to him with murderous intent. Just as I thought that
Bran would have him, a sudden kick threw the dog over, but he quickly
recovered himself, and again came to the front, and this time he seized
the buck by the ear, but, this giving way, he lost his hold and again
was kicked over. This had checked the elk's speed for some seconds, and
the other dogs were fast closing up, seeing which, the buck immediately
altered his course for the river, and took to water in a deep pool. Down
came old Smut after him, and in a few moments there was a beautiful
chorus, as the whole pack had him at bay.
The river went through a deep gorge, and I was obliged to sit down and
slide for about thirty yards, checking a too rapid descent by holding on
to the rank grass. On arriving at the river, I could at first see
nothing for the high grass and bushes which grew upon the bank, but the
din of the bay was just below me. Sliding through the tangled underwood,
I dropped into deep water, and found myself swimming about with the buck
and dogs around me. Smut and Bran had him by the ears, and a thrust with
the knife finished him.
However great the excitement may be during the actual hunting, there is
a degree of monotony in the recital of so many scenes of the same
character that may be fatiguing: I shall therefore close the description
of these mountain sports with the death of the old hero Smut, and the
loss of the best hound, Merriman, both of whom have left a blank in the
pack not easily filled.
On October 16, 1852, I started with a very short pack. Lucifer was left
in the kennel lame; Lena was at home with her pups; and several other
dogs were sick. Smut and Bran were the only two seizers out that day,
and, being short-handed, I determined to hunt in the more green country
at the foot of Hackgalla mountain.
My brother and I entered the jungle with the dogs, and before we had
proceeded a hundred yards we heard a fierce bay, every dog having
joined. The bay was not a quarter of a mile distant, and we were puzzled
as to the character of the game: whatever it was, it had stood to bay
without a run. Returning to the patina, in which position we could
distinctly assure ourselves of the direction, we heard the bay broken,
and a slow run commenced. The next instant Bran came hobbling out of the
jungle covered with blood, which streamed from a frightful gash in his
hind-quarters. There was no more doubt remaining as to the game at bay;
I it was an enormous boar.
Bran was completely HORS DE COMBAT; and Smut, having lost nearly all his
teeth, was of no use singlehanded with such an enemy. We had no seizers
to depend upon, and the boar again stood to bay in a thick jungle.
I happened to have a rifle with me that morning, as I had noticed fresh
elephant-tracks in the neighbourhood a few days previous, and hoping to
be able to shoot the boar, we entered the jungle and approached the
scene of the bay.
When within twenty paces of the spot I heard his fierce grunting as he
charged right and left into the baying pack.* (*It was impossible to
call the hounds off their game; therefore the only chance lay in the
boar being seized, when I could have immediately rushed in with the
knife. It was thus necessary to cheer the pack to the attack, although a
cruel alternative.) In vain I cheered them on. I heard no signs of his
being seized, but the fierce barking of old Smut, mingled with the
savage grunts of the boar, and the occasional cry of a wounded dog,
explained the hopeless nature of the contest. Again I cheered them on,
and suddenly Smut came up to me from the fight, which was now not ten
paces distant, but perfectly concealed in thick bamboo underwood. The
old dog was covered with blood, his back was bristled up, and his deep
growl betokened his hopeless rage. Poor old dog! he had his death-wound.
He seemed cut nearly in half; a wound fourteen inches in length from the
lower part of the belly passed up his flank, completely severing the
muscle of the hind leg, and extending up to the spine. His hind leg had
the appearance of being nearly off, and he dragged it after him in its
powerless state, and, with a fierce bark, he rushed upon three legs once
more to the fight. Advancing to within six feet of the boar, I could not
even see him, both he and the dogs were so perfectly concealed by the
thick underwood. Suddenly the boar charged. I jumped upon a small rock
and hoped for a shot, but although he came within three feet of the
rifle, I could neither see him nor could he see me. Had it not been for
the fear of killing the dogs, I would have fired where the bushes were
moving, but as it was I could do nothing. A rifle was useless in such
jungle. At length the boar broke his bay, but again resumed it in a
similar secure position. There was no possibility of assisting the dogs,
and he was cutting up the pack in detail. If Lucifer and Lena had been
there we could have killed him, but without seizers we were helpless in
This lasted for an hour, at the expiration of which we managed to call
the dogs off. Old Smut had stuck to him to the last, in spite of his
disabled state. The old dog, perfectly exhausted, crawled out of the
jungle : he had received several additional wounds, including a severe
gash in his throat. He fell from exhaustion, and we made a litter with
two poles and a horsecloth to carry him home. Bran, Merriman, and
Ploughboy were all severely wounded. We were thoroughly beaten. It was
the first time that we had ever been beaten off, and I trust it may be
the last. We returned home with our vanquished and bleeding pack--Smut
borne in his litter by four men--and we arrived at the kennel a
melancholy procession. The pack was disabled for weeks, as the two
leading hounds, Merriman and Ploughboy, were severely injured.
Poor old Smut lingered for a few days and died. Thus closed his glorious
career of sport, and he left a fame behind him which will never be
forgotten. His son, who is now twelve months old, is the facsimile of
his sire, and often recalls the recollection of the old dog. I hope he
may turn out as good.* (*Killed four months afterwards by a buck elk.)
Misfortunes never come alone. A few weeks after Smut's death, Lizzie, an
excellent bitch, was killed by a leopard, who wounded Merriman in the
throat, but he being a powerful dog, beat him off and escaped. Merriman
had not long recovered from his wound, when he came to a lamentable and
On December 24, 1852, we found a buck in the jungles by the Badulla
road. The dead nillho so retarded the pack that the elk got a long start
of the dogs; and stealing down a stream he broke cover, crossed the
Badulla road, ascended the opposite hills, and took to the jungle before
a single hound appeared upon the patina. At length Merriman came
bounding along upon his track, full a hundred yards in advance of the
pack. In a few minutes every dog had disappeared in the opposite jungle
on the elk's path.
This was a part of the country where we invariably lost the dogs, as
they took away across a vast jungle country towards a large and rapid
river situated among stupendous precipices. I had often endeavoured to
find the dogs in this part, but to no purpose; this day, however, I was
determined to follow them if possible. I made a circuit of about twenty
miles down into the low countries, and again ascending through
precipitous jungles, I returned home in the evening, having only
recovered two dogs, which I found on the other side of the range of
mountains, over which the buck had passed. No pen can describe the
beauty of the scenery in this part of the country, but it is the most
frightful locality for hunting that can be imagined. The high lands
suddenly cease; a splendid panoramic view of the low country extends for
thirty miles before the eye; but to descend to this, precipices of
immense depth must be passed; and from a deep gorge in the mountain, the
large river, after a succession of falls, leaps in one vast plunge of
three hundred feet into the abyss below. This is a stupendous cataract,
about a mile below the foot of which is the village of Perewelle. I
passed close to the village, and, having ascended the steep sides of the
mountain, I spent hours in searching for the pack, but the roaring of
the river and the din of the waterfalls would have drowned the cry of a
hundred hounds. Once, and only once, when halfway up the side of the
mountain, I thought I heard the deep bay of a hound in the river below;
then I heard the shout of a native; but the sound was not repeated, and
I thought it might proceed from the villagers driving their buffaloes. I
passed on my arduous path, little thinking of the tragic fate which at
that moment attended poor Merriman.
The next day all the dogs found their way home to the kennel, with the
exception of Merriman. I was rather anxious at his absence, as he knew
the whole country so thoroughly that he should have been one of the
first dogs to return. I was convinced that the buck had been at bay in
the large river, as I had seen his tracks in several places on the
banks, with dog tracks in company; this, added to the fact of the two
stray dogs being found in the vicinity, convinced me that they had
brought the elk to bay in the river, in which I imagined he had beaten
the dogs off. Two or three days passed away without Merriman's return;
and, knowing him to be the leading hound of the pack, I made up my mind
that he had been washed down a waterfall and killed.
About a week after this had happened, a native came up from the low
country with the intelligence that the dogs had brought the buck to bay
in the river close to the village of Perewelle, and that the inhabitants
had killed the elk and driven the dogs away. The remaining portion of
this man's story filled me with rage and horror. Merriman would not
leave the body of the elk: the natives thought that the dog might be
discovered in their village, which would lead to the detection of the
theft of the elk; they, therefore, tied this beautiful hound to a tree,
knocked his brains out with a hatchet, and threw his body into the
river. This dog was a favourite with everyone who knew the pack. The
very instant that I heard the intelligence, I took a good stick, and, in
company with my brother, three friends, and my informant, we started to
revenge Merriman. Perewelle is twelve miles from my house across
country: it was six P.M. when we started, and we arrived at a village
within two miles of this nest of villains at half-past eight. Here we
got further information, and a man who volunteered to point out three
men who were the principal actors in murdering the dog. We slept at this
village, and, rising at four o'clock on the following morning, we
marched towards Perewelle to surprise the village and capture the
It was bright moonlight, and we arrived at the village just at break of
day. The house was pointed out in which the fellows lived; we
immediately surrounded it, and upon entering we seized the offenders.
Upon searching the house we found a quantity of dried venison, a spear
and an axe, covered with blood, with which they had destroyed the
Taking a fine gutta-percha whip, I flogged the culprits soundly; and we
forced them to lead the way and point out the very spot of the elk's
death. They would not confess the dog's murder, although it was proved
It was a frightful spot, about two hundred paces below the foot of the
great fall. The river, swollen by the late rain, boiled, and strove with
the opposite rocks, lashing itself into foam, and roaring down countless
cataracts, which, though well worthy of the name, sank into
insignificance before the mighty fall which fed them. High above our
heads reared the rocky precipice of a thousand feet in height, the
grassy mountains capped with forest, and I could distinguish the very
spot from which I had heard the shouts of men on the day of Merriman's
death. Had I only known what was taking place below, I might perhaps
have been in time to save the dog.
We found the blood and remains of the offal of the buck, but we, of
course, saw no remains of the dog, as the power of the torrent must soon
have dashed him to atoms against the rocks.
Thus ended poor Merriman: a better hound never lived. Unfortunately,
Ceylon laws are often administered by persons who have never received a
legal education, and the natives escaped without further punishment than
the thrashing they had received. Of this, however, they had a full dose,
which was a sweet sauce to their venison which they little anticipated.
The few descriptions that I have given of elk-hunting should introduce a
stranger thoroughly to the sport. No one, however, can enjoy it with as
much interest as the owner of the hounds; he knows the character of
every dog in the pack--every voice is familiar to his ear; he cheers
them to the attack; he caresses them for their courage; they depend upon
him for assistance in the struggle, and they mutually succour each
other. This renders the dog a more cherished companion than he is
considered in England, where his qualities are not of so important a
nature; and it makes the loss of a good hound more deeply felt by his
Having thus described the general character of Ceylon sports in all
branches, I shall conclude by a detailed journal of one trip of a few
weeks in the low country, which will at once explain the whole minutiae
of the shooting in the island. This journal is taken from a small diary
which has frequently accompanied me on these excursions, containing
little memoranda which, by many, might be considered tedious. The daily
account of the various incidents of a trip will, at all events, give a
faithful picture of the jungle sports.
A JUNGLE TRIP.
ON November 16, 1851 I started from Kandy, accompanied by my brother,
Lieutenant V. Baker,* (*Now Colonel Valentine Baler, late 10th Hussars.)
then of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment. Having sent on our horses from Newera
Ellia some days previous, as far as Matille, sixteen miles from Kandy,
we drove there early in the morning, and breakfasted with F. Layard,
Esq., who was then assistant government agent. It had rained without
ceasing during twenty-four hours, and hoping that the weather might
change, we waited at Matille till two o'clock P.M. The rain still poured
in torrents, and giving up all ideas of fine weather, we started.
The horses were brought round, and old Jack knew as well as I did that
he was starting for a trip, as the tether rope was wound round his neck,
and the horse-cloth was under his saddle. The old horse was sleek and in
fine condition for a journey, and, without further loss of time, we
started for Dambool, a distance of thirty-one miles. Not wishing to be
benighted, we cantered the whole way, and completed the distance in
three hours and a half, as we arrived at Dambool at half-past five P.M.
I had started off Wallace and all the coolies from Newera Ellia about a
week beforehand; and, having instructed him to leave a small box with a
change of clothes at the Dambool rest-house, I now felt the benefit of
the arrangement. The horsekeepers could not possibly arrive that night.
We therefore cleaned and fed our own horses, and littered them down with
a good bed of paddy straw; and, that being completed, we turned our
attention to curry and rice.
The next morning at break of day we fed the horses. Old Jack was as
fresh as a daisy. The morning was delightfully cloudy, but free from
rain; and we cantered on to Innamalow, five miles from Dambool. Here we
procured a guide to Minneria; and turning off from the main road into a
narrow jungle path, we rode for twenty miles through dense jungle.
Passing the rock of Sigiri, which was formerly used as a fort by the
ancient inhabitants of the country, we gradually entered better jungle,
and at length we emerged upon the beautiful plains of Minneria. I had
ordered Wallace to pitch the encampment in the exact spot which I had
frequently occupied some years ago. I therefore knew the rendezvous, and
directed my course accordingly.
What a change had taken place! A continuous drought had reduced the lake
from its original size of twenty-two miles in circumference to a mere
pool of about four miles in circuit; this was all that remained of the
noble sheet of water around which I had formerly enjoyed so much sport.
From the rich bed of the dry lake sprang a fine silky grass of about two
feet in height, forming a level plain of velvet green far as the eye
could reach. The turf was firm and elastic; the four o'clock sun had
laid aside the fiercest of his rays, and threw a gentle glow over the
scene, which reminded me of an English midsummer evening. There is so
little ground in Ceylon upon which a horse can gallop without the risks
of holes, bogs, and rocks that we could not resist a canter upon such
fine turf; and although the horses had made a long journey already, they
seemed to enjoy a more rapid pace when they felt the inviting sward
beneath their feet. Although every inch of this country had been
familiar to me, I felt some difficulty in finding the way to the
appointed spot, the scene was so changed by the disappearance of the
There were fresh elephants' tracks in many parts of the plain, and I was
just anticipating good sport for the next day, when we suddenly heard an
elephant trumpet in the open forest, which we were skirting. The next
instant I saw eight elephants among the large trees which bordered the
forest. For the moment I thought it was a herd, but I almost immediately
noticed the constrained and unnatural positions in which they were
standing. They were all tied to different trees by the legs, and upon
approaching the spot, we found an encampment of Arabs and Moormen who
had been noosing elephants for sale. We at once saw that the country was
disturbed, as these people had been employed in catching elephants for
After a ride of seven or eight miles along the plain, I discovered a
thin blue line of smoke rising from the edge of a distant forest, and
shortly after, I could distinguish forms moving on the plain in the same
direction. Cantering towards the spot, we found our coolies and
encampment. The tents were pitched under some noble trees, which
effectually excluded every ray of sun. It was the exact spot upon which
I had been accustomed to encamp some years ago. The servants had
received orders when they started from Kandy, to have dinner prepared at
five o'clock on the 17th of November; it was accordingly ready on our
Minneria was the appointed rendezvous from which this trip was to
commence. Our party was to consist of the Honourable E. Stuart Wortley,*
(* The present Lord Wharncliffe.)E. Palliser, Esq., Lieutenant V. Baker,
S.W. Baker. My brother had unfortunately only fourteen days' leave from
his regiment, and he and I had accordingly hurried on a day in advance
of our party, they having still some preparations to complete in Kandy,
and not being quite so well horsed for a quick journey.
Nothing could be more comfortable than our arrangements. Our followers
and establishment consisted of four personal servants, an excellent
cook, four horse-keepers, fifty coolies, and Wallace; in all, sixty
people. The coolies were all picked men, who gave not the slightest
trouble during the whole trip. We had two tents, one of which contained
four beds and a general dressing-table; the other, which was my
umbrella-shaped tent, was arranged as the diningroom, with table and
chairs. With complete dinner and breakfast services for four persons,
and abundance of table linen, we had everything that could be wished
for. Although I can rough it if necessary, I do not pretend to prefer
discomfort from choice. A little method and a trifling extra cost will
make the jungle trip anything but uncomfortable. There was nothing
wanting in our supplies. We had sherry, madeira, brandy and curacoa,
biscuits, tea, sugar, coffee, hams, tongues, sauces, pickles, mustard,
sardines en huile, tins of soups and preserved meats and vegetables,
currant jelly for venison, maccaroni, vermicelli, flour, and a variety
of other things that add to the comfort of the jungle, including last,
but not least, a double supply of soap and candles. No one knows the
misery should either of these fail--dirt and darkness is the necessary
There was a large stock of talipots* (*Large leaves from the talipot
tree.) to form tents for the people and coverings for the horses in case
of rain; in fact, there never was a trip more happily planned or more
comfortably arranged, and there was certainly never such a battery
assembled in Ceylon as we now mustered. Such guns deserve to be
Wortley . . 1 single barrel rifle . 3-ounce
" . . 1 double " rifle . No. 12.
" . . 2 double " guns . No. 12.
Palliser . . 1 single " rifle . No. 8 (my old 2-ounce)
" . . 1 double " rifle . No. 12.
" . . 2 double " guns . No. 12.
V. Baker . 3 double " " . No. 14.
" . . 1 double " " . No. 12.
" . . 1 single " rifle . No. 14.
S. W. Baker . 1 single " rifle . 4-ounce.
" . . 3 double " rifles No. 10.
" . . 1 double " gun . No. 16.
These guns were all by the first makers, and we took possession of our
hunting country with the confidence of a good bag, provided that game
But how changed was this country since I had visited it in former years,
not only in appearance but in the quantity of game!
On these plains, where in times past I had so often counted immense
herds of wild buffaloes, not one was now to be seen. The deer were
scared and in small herds, not exceeding seven or ten, proving how they
had been thinned out by shooting. In fact, Minneria had become within
the last four years a focus for most sportsmen, and the consequence was,
that the country was spoiled; not by the individual shooting of
visitors, but by the stupid practice of giving the natives large
quantities of powder and ball as a present at the conclusion of a trip.
They, of course, being thus supplied with ammunition, shot the deer and
buffaloes without intermission, and drove them from the country by
I saw immediately that we could not expect much sport in this disturbed
part of the country, and we determined to waste no more time in this
spot than would be necessary in procuring the elephant trackers from
Doolana. We planned our campaign that evening at dinner.
Nov. 18.--At daybreak I started Wallace off to Doolana to bring my old
acquaintance the Rhatamahatmeya and the Moormen trackers. I felt
confident that I could prevail upon him to accompany us to the limits of
his district; this was all-important to our chance of sport, as without
him we could procure no assistance from the natives.
After breakfast we mounted our horses and rode to Cowdelle, eight miles,
as I expected to find elephants in this open but secluded part of the
country. There were very fresh tracks of a herd; and as we expected
Wortley and Palliser on the following day, we would not disturb the
country, but returned to Minneria and passed the afternoon in shooting
snipe and crocodiles. The latter were in incredible numbers, as the
whole population of this usually extensive lake was now condensed in the
comparatively small extent of water before us. The fish of course were
equally numerous, and we had an unlimited supply of 'lola' of three to
four pounds weight at a penny each. Our gang of coolies feasted upon
them in immense quantities, and kept a native fully employed in catching
them. Our cook exerted his powers in producing some piquante dishes with
these fish. Stewed with melted butter (ghee), with anchovy sauce,
madeira, sliced onion and green chillies, this was a dish worthy of
'Soyer,' but they were excellent in all shapes, even if plain boiled or
Nov. 19.--At about four P.M. I scanned the plain with my telescope, in
expectation of the arrival of our companions, whom I discovered in the
distance, and as they approached within hearing, we greeted them with a
shout of welcome to show the direction of our encampment. We were a
merry party that evening at dinner, and we determined to visit Cowdelle,
and track up the herd that we had discovered, directly that the Moormen
trackers should arrive from Doolana.
The worst of this country was the swarm of mosquitoes which fed upon us
at night; it was impossible to sleep with the least degree of comfort,
and we always hailed the arrival of morning with delight.
Nov. 20.-At dawn this morning, before daylight could be called
complete, Palliser had happened to look out from the tent, and to his
surprise he saw a rogue elephant just retreating to the jungle, at about
two hundred yards distance. We loaded the guns and went after him in as
short a time as possible, but he was too quick for us, and he had
retreated to thick jungle before we were out. Wortley and I then
strolled along the edge of the jungle, hoping to find him again in some
of the numerous nooks which the plain formed by running up the forest.
We had walked quietly along for about half a mile, when we crossed an
abrupt rocky promontory, which stretched from the jungle into the lake
like a ruined pier. On the other side, the lake formed a small bay,
shaded by the forest, which was separated from the water's edge by a
gentle slope of turf about fifty yards in width. This bay was a
sheltered spot, and as we crossed the rocky promontory, the noise that
we made over the loose stones in turning the corner, disturbed a herd of
six deer, five of whom dashed into the jungle; the sixth stopped for a
moment at the edge of the forest to take a parting look at us. He was
the buck of the herd, and carried a noble pair of antlers; he was about
a hundred and twenty yards from us, and I took a quick shot at him with
one of the No. 10 rifles. The brushwood closed over him as he bounded
into the jungle, but an ominous crack sounded back from the ball, which
made me think he was hit. At this moment Palliser and V. Baker came
running up, thinking that we had found the elephant.
The buck was standing upon some snow-white quartz rocks when I fired,
and upon an examination of the spot frothy patches of blood showed that
he was struck through the lungs. Men are bloodthirsty animals, for
nothing can exceed the pleasure, after making a long shot, of finding
the blood-track on the spot when the animal is gone. We soon tracked him
up, and found him lying dead in the jungle within twenty yards of the
spot. This buck was the first head of game we had bagged, with the
exception of a young elk that I had shot on horseback during the ride
from Dambool. We had plenty of snipe, and, what with fish, wildfowl, and
venison, our breakfast began to assume an inviting character. After
breakfast we shot a few couple of snipe upon the plain, and in the
evening we formed two parties--Palliser and V. Baker, and Wortley and
myself--and taking different directions, we scoured the country,
agreeing to meet at the tent at dusk.
W. and I saw nothing beyond the fresh tracks of game which evidently
came out only at night. We wandered about till evening, and then
returned towards the tent. On the way I tried a long shot at a heron
with a rifle; he was standing at about a hundred and fifty yards from
us, and by great good luck I killed him.
On arrival at the tent we found P. and V. B., who had returned. They had
been more fortunate in their line of country, having found two rogue
elephants--one in thick jungle, which V. B. fired at and missed; and
shortly after this shot they found another rogue on the plain not far
from the tent. The sun was nearly setting, and shone well in the
elephant's eyes; thus they were able to creep pretty close to him
without being observed, and P. killed him by a good shot with a rifle,
at about twenty-five yards. In my opinion this was the same elephant
that had been seen near the tent early in the morning.
Wallace, with the Rhatamahatmeya and the trackers, had arrived, and we
resolved to start for Cowdelle at daybreak on the following morning.
Nov. 21.--Having made our preparations over night for an early start,
we were off at daybreak, carrying with us the cook with his utensils,
and the canteen containing everything that could be required for
breakfast. We were thus prepared for a long day's work, should it be
After a ride of about eight miles along a sandy path, bordered by dense
jungle, we arrived at the open but marshy ground upon which we had seen
the tracks of the herd a few days previous. Fresh elephant tracks had
accompanied us the whole way along our path, and a herd was evidently
somewhere in the vicinity, as the path was obstructed in many places by
the branches of trees upon which they had been feeding during the night.
The sandy ground was likewise printed with innumerable tracks of elk,
deer, hogs and leopards. We halted under some wide-spreading trees,
beneath which, a clear stream of water rippled over a bed of white
pebbles, with banks of fine green sward. In this spot were unmistakable
tracks of elephants, where they had been recently drinking. The country
was park-like, but surrounded upon its borders with thick jungles;
clumps of thorny bushes were scattered here and there, and an abundance
of good grass land water ensured a large quantity of game. The elephants
were evidently not far off, and of course were well secured in the
Wortley had never yet seen a wild elephant, and a dense jungle is by no
means a desirable place for an introduction to this kind of game. It is
a rule of mine never to follow elephants in such ground, where they
generally have it all their own way; but, as there are exceptions to all
rules, we determined to find them, after having taken so much trouble in
making our arrangements.
We unsaddled, and ordered breakfast to be ready for our return beneath
one of the most shady trees; having loaded, we started off upon the
tracks. As I had expected, they led to a thick thorny jungle, and slowly
and cautiously we followed the leading tracker. The jungle became worse
and worse as we advanced, and had it not been for the path which the
elephants had formed, we could not have moved an inch. The leaves of the
bushes were wet with dew, and we were obliged to cover up all the
gun-locks to prevent any of them missing fire. We crept for about a
quarter of a mile upon this track, when the sudden snapping of a branch
a hundred paces in advance plainly showed that we were up with the game.
This is the exciting moment in elephant-shooting, and every breath is
held for a second intimation of the exact position of the herd. A deep,
guttural sound, like the rolling of very distant thunder, is heard,
accompanied by the rustling and cracking of the branches as they rub
their tough sides against the trees. Our advance had been so stealthy
that they were perfectly undisturbed. Silently and carefully we crept
up, and in a few minutes I distinguished two immense heads exactly
facing us at about ten paces distant. Three more indistinct forms loomed
in the thick bushes just behind the leaders.
A quiet whisper to Wortley to take a cool shot at the left-hand
elephant, in the exact centre of the forehead, and down went the two
leaders! Wortley's and mine; quickly we ran into the herd, before they
knew what had happened, and down went another to V Baker's shot. The
smoke hung in such thick volumes that we could hardly see two yards
before us, when straight into the cloud of smoke an elephant rushed
towards us. V. Baker fired, but missed; and my left-hand barrel
extinguished him. Running through the smoke with a spare rifle I killed
the last elephant. They were all bagged--five elephants within thirty
seconds from the first shot fired. Wortley had commenced well, having
killed his first elephant with one shot.
We found breakfast ready on our return to the horses, and having
disturbed this part of the country by the heavy volley at the herd, we
returned to Minneria.
I was convinced that we could expect no sport in this neighbourhood; we
therefore held a consultation as to our line of country.
Some years ago I had entered the north of the Veddah country from this
point, and I now proposed that we should start upon a trip of discovery,
and endeavour to penetrate from the north to the south of the Veddah
country into the 'Park.' No person had ever shot over this route, and
the wildness of the idea only increased the pleasure of the trip. We had
not the least idea of the distance, but we knew the direction by a
There was but one objection to the plan, and this hinged upon the
shortness of V. Baker's leave. He had only ten days unexpired, and it
seemed rash, with so short a term, to plunge into an unknown country;
however, he was determined to push on, as he trusted in the powers of an
extraordinary pony that would do any distance on a push. This
determination, however destroyed a portion of the trip, as we were
obliged to pass quickly through a lovely sporting country, to arrive at
a civilised, or rather an acknowledged, line of road by which he could
return to Kandy. Had we, on the contrary, travelled easily through this
country, we should have killed an extraordinary amount of game.
We agreed that our route should be this. We were to enter the Veddah
country at the north and strike down to the south. I knew a bridle-path
from Badulla to Batticaloa, which cut through the Veddah country from
west to east; therefore we should meet it at right angles. From this
point V. Baker was to bid adieu, and turn to the west and reach Badulla;
from thence to Newera Ellia and to his regiment in Kandy. We were to
continue our direction southward, which I knew would eventually bring us
to the 'Park.'
Nov. 22.--We moved our encampment, accompanied by the headman and his
followers; and after a ride of fourteen miles we arrived at the country
of Hengiriwatdowane, a park-like spot of about twelve square miles, at
which place we were led to expect great sport. The appearance of the
ground was all that we could wish; numerous patches of jungle and single
trees were dotted upon the surface of fine turf.
In the afternoon, after a cooling shower, we all separated, and started
with our respective gun-bearers in different directions, with the
understanding that no one was to fire a shot at any game but elephants.
We were to meet in the evening and describe the different parts of the
country, so that we should know how to proceed on the following day.
I came upon herds of deer in several places, but I of course did not
fire, although they were within a certain shot. I saw no elephants.
Everyone saw plenty of deer, but V. Baker was the one lucky individual
in meeting with elephants. He came upon a fine herd, but they winded him
and escaped. There was evidently plenty of game, but V. B. having fired
at the elephants, we knew that this part of the country was disturbed;
we therefore had no hesitation in discharging all the guns and having
them well cleaned for the next morning, when we proposed to move the
tent a couple of miles farther off.
NOV. 23.--A most unfortunate day, proving the disadvantage of being
ignorant of the ground. Although I knew the whole country by one route,
from Minneria to the north of the Veddah country, we had now diverged
from that route to visit this particular spot, which I had never before
shot over. We passed on through beautiful open country interspersed with
clumps of jungle, but without one large tree that would shade the tent.
A single-roofed tent exposed to the sun is perfectly unbearable, and we
continued to push on in the hope of finding a tree of sufficient size to
Some miles were passed; fresh tracks of elephants and all kinds of game
were very numerous, and the country was perfection for shooting.
At length the open plains became more contracted, and the patches of
jungle larger and more frequent. By degrees the open ground ceased
altogether, and we found ourselves in a narrow path of deep mud passing
through impenetrable thorny jungle. Nevertheless our guide insisted upon
pushing on to a place which he compared to that which we had
unfortunately left behind us. Instead of going two miles, as we had
originally intended, we had already ridden sixteen at the least, and
still the headman persisted in pushing on. No coolies were up; the tents
and baggage were far behind; we had nothing to eat; we had left the fine
open country, which was full of game, miles behind us, and we were in a
close jungle country, where a rifle was not worth a bodkin. It was too
annoying. I voted for turning back to the lovely hunting-ground that we
had deserted; but after a long consultation, we came to the conclusion
that every day was of such importance to V. Baker that we could not
afford to retrace a single step.
Thus all this beautiful country, abounding with every kind of game, was
actually passed over without firing a single shot.
I killed a few couple of snipe in a neighbouring swamp to pass the time
until the coolies arrived with the baggage; they were not up until four
o'clock P.M., therefore the whole day was wasted, and we were obliged to
Nov. 24--This being Sunday, the guns were at rest. The whole of this
country was dense chenar jungle; we therefore pushed on, and, after a
ride of fourteen miles, we arrived at the Rhatamahatmeya's residence at
Doolana. He insisted upon our taking breakfast with him, and he
accordingly commenced his preparations. Borrowing one of our
hunting-knives, two of his men gave chase to a kid and cut its head off.
Half an hour afterwards we were eating it in various forms, all of which
We had thus travelled over forty-four miles of country from Minneria
without killing a single head of game. Had we remained a week in the
district through which we had passed so rapidly, we must have had most
excellent sport. All this was the effect of being hurried for time.
In the neighbourhood of Doolana I had killed many elephants some years
ago, and I have no doubt we could have had good sport at this time; but
V. Baker's leave was so fast expiring, and the natives' accounts of the
distance through the Veddah country were so vague, that we had no choice
except to push straight through as fast as we could travel, until we
should arrive on the Batticaloa path.
We took leave of our friend the Rhatamahatmeya; he had provided us with
good trackers, who were to accompany us through the Veddah country to
the 'Park'; but I now began to have my doubts as to their knowledge of
the ground. However, we started, and after skirting the Doolana tank for
some distance, we rode five miles through fine forest, and then arrived
on the banks of the Mahawelle river. The stream teas at this time very
rapid, and was a quarter of a mile in width, rolling along between its
steep banks through a forest of magnificent trees. Some hours were
consumed in transporting the coolies and baggage across the river, as
the canoe belonging to the village of Monampitya, on the opposite bank,
would only hold four coolies and their loads at one voyage.
We swam the horses across, and attending carefully to the safety of the
cook before any other individual, we breakfasted on the opposite bank,
while the coolies were crossing the river.
After breakfast, a grave question arose, viz., which way were we to go?
The trackers that the headman had given us, now confessed that they did
not know an inch of the Veddah country, into which we had arrived by
crossing the river, and they refused to go a step farther. Here, was a
'regular fix!' as the Americans would express it.
The village of Monampitya consists of about six small huts; and we now
found that there was no other village within forty miles in the
direction that we wished to steer. Not a soul could we obtain as a
guide--no offer of reward would induce a man to start, as they declared
that no one knew the country, and that the distance was so great that
the people would be starved, as they could get nothing to eat. We looked
hopelessly at the country before us. We had a compass, certainly, which
might be useful enough on a desert or a prairie, but in a jungle country
it was of little value.
Just as we were in the greatest despair, and we were gazing wistfully in
the direction which the needle pointed out as the position of the
'Park,' now separated from us by an untravelled district of an unknown
distance, we saw two figures with bows and arrows coming from the
jungle. One of these creatures bolted back again into the bushes the
moment he perceived us; the other one had a fish in his hand, of about
four pounds weight, which he had shot with his bow and arrow; while he
was hesitating whether he should run or stand still, we caught him.
Of all the ugly little devils I ever saw, he was superlative. He
squinted terribly; his hair was greyish and matted with filth; he was
certainly not more than four feet and a half high, and he carried a bow
two feet longer than himself. He could speak no language but his own,
which throughout the Veddah country is much the same, intermixed with so
many words resembling Cingalese that a native can generally understand
their meaning. By proper management, and some little presents of rice
and tobacco, we got the animal into a good humour, and we gathered the
following in formation.
He knew nothing of any place except the northern portion of the Veddah
country. This was his world; but his knowledge of it was extremely
limited, as he could not undertake to guide us farther than Oomanoo, a
Veddah village, which he described as three days' journey from where we
then stood. We made him point out the direction in which it lay. This he
did, after looking for some moments at the sun; and, upon comparing the
position with the compass, we were glad to see it at south-south-east,
being pretty close to the course that we wished to steer. From Oomanoo,
he said, we could procure another Veddah to guide us still farther; but
he himself knew nothing more.
Now this was all satisfactory enough so far, but I had been completely
wrong in my idea of the distance from Doolana to the 'Park.' We now
heard of three days' journey to Oomanoo, which was certainly some where
in the very centre of the Veddah country; and our quaint little guide
had never even heard of the Batticaloa road. There was no doubt,
therefore, that it was a long way from Oomanoo, which village might be
any distance from us, as a Veddah's description of a day's journey might
vary from ten to thirty miles.
I certainly looked forward to a short allowance of food both for
ourselves and coolies. We had been hurrying through the country at such
a rate that we had killed no deer; we had, therefore, been living upon
our tins of preserved provisions, of which we had now only four
At the village of Monampitya there was no rice procurable, as the
natives lived entirely upon korrakan* (*A small seed, which they make
into hard, uneatable cakes.), at which our coolies turned up their noses
when I advised them to lay in a stock before starting.
There was no time to be lost, and we determined to push on as fast as
the coolies could follow, as they had only two days' provisions; we had
precisely the same, and those could not be days of feasting. We were, in
fact, like sailors going to sea with a ship only half-victualled; and,
as we followed our little guide, and lost sight of the village behind
us, I foresaw that our stomachs would suffer unless game was plentiful
on the path.
We passed through beautiful open country for about eight miles, during
which we saw several herds of deer; but we could not get a shot. At
length we pitched the tent, at four o'clock P.M., at the foot of
'Gunner's Coin,' a solitary rocky mountain of about two thousand feet in
height, which rises precipitously from the level country. We then
divided into two parties--W. and P., and V. B. and I. We strolled off
with our guns in different directions.
The country was perfectly level, being a succession of glades of fine
low grass divided into a thousand natural paddocks by belts of jungle.
We were afraid to stroll more than a mile from the tent, lest we should
lose our way; and we took a good survey of the most prominent points of
the mountain, that we might know our direction by their position.
After an hour's walk, and just as the sun was setting, a sudden crash in
a jungle a few yards from us brought the rifles upon full cock. The next
moment out came an elephant's head, and I knocked him over by a front
shot. He had held his head in such a peculiar position that a ball could
not reach the brain, and he immediately re covered himself, and,
wheeling suddenly round, he retreated into the jungle, through which we
could not follow.
We continued to stroll on from glade to glade, expecting to find him;
and, in about a quarter of an hour, we heard the trumpet of an elephant.
Fully convinced that this was the wounded animal, we pushed on towards
the spot; but, on turning a corner of the jungle, we came suddenly upon
a herd of seven of the largest elephants that I ever saw together; they
must have been all bulls. Unfortunately, they had our wind, and, being
close to the edge of a thick thorny jungle, they disappeared like magic.
We gave chase for a short distance, but were soon stopped by the thorns.
We had no chance with them.
It was now dusk, and we therefore hastened towards the tent, seeing
three herds of deer and one of hogs on our way; but it was too dark to
get a shot. The deer were barking in every direction, and the country
was evidently alive with game.
On arrival at the tent, we found that W. and P. had met with no better
luck than ourselves. Two of. our tins of provisions were consumed at
dinner, leaving us only two remaining. Not a moment was to be lost in
pushing forward; and we determined upon a long march on the following
Nov. 25.--Sunrise saw us in the saddles. The coolies, with the tents and
baggage, kept close up with the horses, being afraid to lag behind, as
there was not a semblance of a path, and we depended entirely upon our
small guide, who appeared to have an intimate knowledge of the whole
country. The little Veddah trotted along through the winding glades; and
we travelled for about five miles without a word being spoken by one of
the party, as we were in hopes of coming upon deer. Unfortunately, we
were travelling down wind; we accordingly did not see a single head of
game, as they of course winded us long before we came in view.
We had ridden about eight miles, when we suddenly came upon the fresh
tracks of elephants, and, immediately dismounting, we began to track up.
The ground being very dry, and the grass short and parched, the tracks
were very indistinct, and it was tedious work. We had followed for about
half a mile through alternate glades and belts of jungle, when we
suddenly spied a Veddah hiding behind a tree about sixty yards from us.
The moment that he saw he was discovered, he set off at full speed, but
two of our coolies, who acted as gunbearers, started after him. These
fellows were splendid runners, and, after a fine course, they ran him
down; but when caught, instead of expressing any fear, he seemed to
think it a good joke. He was a rather short but stout-built fellow, and
he was immediately recognised by our little guide, as one of the best
hunters among the Northern Veddahs. He soon understood our object; and,
putting down his bow and arrows and a little pipkin of sour curd (his
sole provision on his hunting trip), he started at once upon the track.
Without any exception he was the best tracker I have ever seen: although
the ground was as hard as a stone, and the footprints constantly
invisible, he went like a hound upon a scent, at a pace that kept us in
an occasional jog-trot. After half an hour's tracking, and doubling
backward and forward in thick jungle, we came up with three elephants.
V. B. killed one, and I killed another at the same moment. V. B. also
fired at the third; but, instead of falling, he rushed towards us, and I
killed him with my remaining barrel, Palliser joining in the shot. They
were all killed in about three seconds. The remaining portion of the
herd were at a distance, and we heard them crashing through the thick
jungle. We followed them for about a mile, but they had evidently gone
off to some other country. The jungle was very thick, and we had a long
journey to accomplish; we therefore returned to the horses and rode on,
our party being now increased by the Veddah tracker.
After having ridden about twenty miles, the last tight of which had been
through alternate forest and jungle, we arrived at a small plain of rich
grass of about a hundred acres: this was surrounded by forest.
Unfortunately, the nights were not moonlight, or we could have killed a
deer, as they came out in immense herds just at dusk. We luckily bagged
a good supply of snipe, upon which we dined, and we reserved our tins.
of meat for some more urgent occasion.
Nov. 26.--All vestiges of open country had long ceased. We now rode for
seventeen miles through magnificent forest, containing the most
stupendous banian trees that I have ever beheld. The ebony trees were
also very numerous, and grew to an immense size. This forest was
perfectly open. There was not a sign of either underwood or grass
beneath the trees, and no track was discernible beyond the notches in
the trees made at some former time by the Veddah's axe. In one part of
this forest a rocky mountain appeared at some period to have burst into
fragments; and for the distance of about a mile it formed the apparent
ruins of a city of giants. Rocks as large as churches lay piled one upon
the other. forming long dark alleys and caves that would have housed
some hundreds of men.
The effect was perfectly fairylike, as the faint silver light of the
sun, mellowed by the screen of tree tops, half-lighted up ,these silent
caves. The giant stems of the trees sprang like tall columns from the
foundations of the rocks that shadowed them with their dense foliage.
Two or three families of 'Cyclops' would not have been out of place in
this spot; they were just the class of people that one would expect to
Late in the afternoon we arrived at the long-talked-of village of
Oomanoo, about eighteen miles from our last encampment. It was a
squalid, miserable place, of course, and nothing was obtainable. Our
coolies had not tasted food since the preceding evening; but, by good
luck, we met a travelling Moorman, who had just arrived at the village
with a little rice to exchange with the Veddahs for dried venison. As
the villagers did not happen to have any meat to barter, we purchased
all the rice at an exorbitant price; but it was only sufficient for half
a meal for each servant and coolie, when equally divided.
Fortunately, we killed four snipe and two doves these were added to our
last two tins of provisions, which were 'hotch potch,' and stewed
altogether. This made a good dinner. We had now nothing left but our
biscuits and groceries. All our hams and preserved meats were gone, and
we only had one meal on that day.
Nov. 27.--Our horses had eaten nothing but grass for many days; this,
however, was excellent, and old Jack looked fat, and was as hardy as
ever. We now discharged our Veddah guides, and took on others from
Oomanoo. These men told us that we were only four miles from the
Batticaloa road, and with great glee we started at break of day,
determined to breakfast on arrival at the road.
The old adage of 'Many a slip `twixt the cup and the lip' was here fully
exemplified. Four miles! We rode twenty-five miles without drawing the
rein once! and at length we then did reach the road; that is to say, a
narrow track of grass, which is the track to Batticaloa for which we had
been steering during our journey. A native but in this wilderness
rendered the place worthy of a name; it is therefore known upon the
Government maps as 'Pyeley.'
From this place we were directed on to 'Curhellulai,' a village
represented to us as a small London, abounding with every luxury. We
obtained a guide and started, as they assured us it was only two miles
After riding three miles through a country of open glades and thick
jungle, the same guide who had at first told us it was two miles from
'Pyeley,' now said it was only 'three miles farther on.' We knew these
fellows' ideas of distance too well to proceed any farther. We had
quitted the Batticaloa track, and we immediately dismounted, unsaddled,
and turned the horses loose upon the grass.
Having had only one meal the day before, and no breakfast this morning,
we looked forward with impatience to the arrival of the coolies,
although I confess I did not expect them, as they were too weak from
want of food to travel far. They had only half a meal the day before,
and nothing at all the day before that.
We had halted in a grassy glade surrounded by thick jungle. There were
numerous fresh tracks of deer and elk, but the animals themselves would
As evening approached, we collected a quantity of dead timber and
lighted a good fire, before which we piled the rifles, three and three,
about ten feet apart. Across these we laid a pole, and then piled
branches from the ground to the pole in a horizontal position. This made
a shed to protect us from the dew, and, with our saddles for pillows, we
all lay down together and slept soundly till morning.
Nov. 28.--We woke hungry, and accordingly tightened our belts by two or
three holes. V. Baker had to be in Kandy by the evening of the 30th, and
he was now determined to push on. His pony had thrown all his shoes, and
had eaten nothing but grass for many days.
I knew our position well, as I had been lost near this spot about two
years ago. We were fifty-three miles from Badulla. Nevertheless, V. B.
started off, and arrived in Badulla that evening. On the same pony he
pushed on to Newera Ellia, thirty-six miles, the next day; and then
taking a fresh horse, he rode into Kandy, forty-seven miles, arriving in
good time on the evening of the 30th November.
Having parted with V. B., we saddled and mounted, and, following our
guide through a forest-path, we arrived at Curhellulai after a ride of
four miles. Nothing could exceed the wretchedness of this place, from
which we had been led to expect so much. We could not even procure a
grain of rice from the few small huts which composed the village. The
headman, who himself looked half-starved, made some cakes of korrakan;
but as they appeared to be composed of two parts of sand, one of dirt
and one of grain, I preferred a prolonged abstinence to such filth. The
abject poverty of the whole of this country is beyond description.
Our coolies arrived at eight A.M., faint and tired; they no longer
turned up their noses at korrakan, as they did at Monampitya, but they
filled themselves almost to bursting.
I started off V. B.'s coolies after him, also eight men whose loads had
been consumed, and, with a diminished party, we started for Bibille,
which the natives assured us was only nineteen miles from this spot. For
once they were about correct in their ideas of distance. The beautiful
'Park' country commenced about four miles from Curhellulai, and, after a
lovely ride through this scenery for sixteen miles, we arrived at the
luxurious and pretty village of Bibille, which had so often been my
We had ridden a hundred and forty miles from Minneria, through a country
abounding with game of all kinds, sixty miles of which had never been
shot over, and yet the whole bag in this lovely country consisted of
only three elephants. So much for hurrying through our ground. If we had
remained for a week at the foot of the Gunner's Coin we could have
obtained supplies of all kinds from Doolana, and we should have enjoyed
excellent sport through the whole country. Our total bag was now
wretchedly small, considering the quantity of ground that we had passed
over. We had killed nine elephants and two deer. V. Baker had a
miserable time of it, having only killed two elephants when he was
obliged to return. The trip might, in fact, be said to commence from
This is a very pretty, civilized village, in the midst of a wild
country. It is the residence of a Rhatamahatmeya, and he and his family
were well known to me. They were perfectly astonished when they heard by
which route we had arrived, and upon hearing of our forty-eight hours of
fasting, they lost no time in preparing dinner. We were now in a land of
plenty, and we shortly fell to at a glorious dinner of fowls in various
shapes, curries, good coffee, rice cakes. plantains, and sweet potatoes.
After our recent abstinence and poor fare, it seemed a perfect banquet.
Nov. 29.--The coolies did not arrive till early this morning; they were
soon hard at work at curry and rice, and, after a few hours of rest, we
packed up and started for a spot in the 'Park' (upon which I had often
encamped) about ten miles from Bibille.
The horses had enjoyed their paddy as much as we had relished our change
of diet, and the coolies were perfectly refreshed. I sent orders to
Kotoboya (about twenty miles from Bibille) for several bullock-loads of
paddy and rice to meet us at an appointed spot, and with a good supply
of fowls and rice, &c., for the present, we arrived at our place of
encampment at three P.M., after a delightful ride.
The grass was beautifully green; a few large trees shaded the tents,
which were pitched near a stream, and the undulations of the ground,
interspersed with clumps of trees and ornamented by rocky mountains,
formed a most lovely scene. We sent a messenger to Nielgalla for Banda,
and another to Dimbooldene for old Medima and the trackers, with orders
to meet us at our present encampment. We then took our rifles and
strolled out to get a deer. We shortly found a herd, and Wortley got a
shot at about sixty yards, and killed a doe. We could have killed other
deer shortly afterwards, but we did not wish to disturb the country by
firing unnecessary shots, as we had observed fresh tracks of elephants.
We carried the deer to the tent, and rejoiced our coolies with the sight
of venison; the doe was soon divided among them, one haunch only being
reserved for our own use.
Nov. 30.--This, being Sunday, was a day of rest for man and beast after
our recent wanderings, and we patiently awaited the arrival of Banda and
the trackers. The guns were all in beautiful order, and stood arranged
against a temporary rack, in readiness for the anticipated sport on the
Banda and the trackers arrived in the afternoon. His accounts were very
favourable as to the number of elephants, and we soon laid down a plan
for beating the 'Park' in a systematic manner.
Upon this arrangement the duration of sport in this country materially
depends. If the shooting is conducted thoughtlessly here and there,
without reference to the localities, the whole 'Park' becomes alarmed at
once, and the elephants quit the open country and retire to the dense
I proposed that we should commence shooting at our present encampment,
then beat towards the Cave, shoot over that country towards Pattapalaar,
from thence to cross the river and make a circuit of the whole of that
portion of the 'Park,' and finish off in the environs of Nielgalla.
Banda approved of this plan, as we should then be driving the borders of
the `Park,' instead of commencing in the centre.
Dec. 1.--The scouts were sent out at daybreak. At two o'clock P.M. they
returned: they had found elephants, but they were four miles from the
tent, and two men had been left to watch them.
Upon questioning them as to their position, we discovered that they were
in total ignorance of the number in the herd, as they had merely heard
them roaring in the distance. They could not approach nearer, as a
notoriously vicious rogue elephant was consorting with the herd. This
elephant was well known to the natives from a peculiarity in having only
one tusk, which was about eighteen inches long.
In November and December elephant-shooting requires more than ordinary
caution at the 'Park,' as the rogue elephants, who are always bulls, are
in the habit of attending upon the herds. The danger lies in their
cunning. They are seldom seen in the herd itself, but they are generally
within a few hundred paces; and just as the guns may have been
discharged at the herd, the rogue will, perhaps, appear in full charge
from his ambush. This is exquisitely dangerous, and is the manner in
which I was caught near this spot in 1850.
Banda was very anxious that this rogue should be killed before we
attacked the herd, and he begged me to give him a shoulder-shot with the
four-ounce rifle, while Wortley and Palliser were to fire at his head! A
shot through the shoulder with the heavy rifle would be certain death,
although he might not drop immediately; but the object of the natives
was simply to get him killed, on account of his mischievous habits.
We therefore agreed to make our first attack upon the rogue: if we
should kill him on the spot, so much the better; if not, we knew that a
four-ounce ball through his lungs would kill him eventually, and, at all
events, he would not be in a humour to interrupt our pursuit of the
herd, which we were to push for the moment we had put the rogue out of
These arrangements being made, we started. After a ride of about four
miles through beautiful country, we saw a man in the distance, who was
beckoning to us. This was one of the watchers, who pointed to a jungle
into which the elephant had that moment entered. From the extreme
caution of the trackers, I could see that this rogue was worthy of his
The jungle into which he had entered was a long but narrow belt, about a
hundred yards in width; it was tolerably good, but still it was so close
that we could not see more than six paces in advance. I fully expected
that he was lying in wait for us, and would charge when least expected.
We therefore cautiously entered the jungle, and, sending Banda on in
advance, with instructions to retreat upon the guns if charged, we
followed him at about twenty paces distance.
Banda immediately untied his long hair, which fell to his hips, and
divesting himself of all clothing except a cloth round his loins, he
crept on in advance as stealthily as a cat. So noiselessly did he move
that we presently saw him gliding back to us without a sound. He
whispered that he had found the elephant, who was standing on the
patina, a few yards beyond the jungle. We immediately advanced, and upon
emerging from the jungle we saw him within thirty paces on our right,
standing with his broadside exposed. Crack went the four-ounce through
his shoulder, and the three-ounce and No. 8, with a similar good
intention, into his head. Nevertheless he did not fall, but started off
at a great pace, though stumbling nearly on his knees, his head and tail
both hanging down, his trunk hanging listlessly upon the ground; and his
ears, instead of being cocked, were pressed tightly back against his
neck. He did not look much like a rogue at that moment, with upwards of
half a pound of lead in his carcass. Still we could not get another shot
at him before he reached a jungle about seventy paces distant; and here
we stopped to load before we followed him, thinking that he was in dense
chenar. This was a great mistake, for, on following him a minute later,
we found the jungle was perfectly open, being merely a fringe of forest
on the banks of a broad river; in crossing this we must have killed him
had we not stopped to load.
On the sandy bed of this river we found the fresh tracks of several
elephants, who had evidently, only just retreated, being disturbed by
the shots fired; these were a portion of the herd; and the old rogue
having got his quietus, we pushed on as fast as we could upon the tracks
through fine open forest.
For about an hour we pressed on through forests, plains, rivers, and
thick jungles alternately, till at length upon arriving on some rising
ground, we heard the trumpet of an elephant.
It was fine country, but overgrown with lemon grass ten feet high.
Clumps of trees were scattered here and there among numerous small
dells. Exactly opposite lay several large masses of rock, shaded by a
few trees, and on our left lay a small hollow of high lemon grass,
bordered by jungle.
In this hollow we counted seven elephants: their heads and backs were
just discernible above the grass, as we looked over them from some
rising ground at about seventy yards distance. Three more elephants were
among the rocks, browsing upon the long grass.
We now heard unmistakable sounds of a large number of elephants in the
jungle below us, from which the seven elephants in the hollow had only
just emerged, and we quietly waited for the appearance of the whole
herd, this being their usual feeding-time.
One by one they majestically stalked from the jungle. We were
speculating on the probable number of this large herd, when one of them
suddenly winded us, and, with magical quickness, they all wheeled round
and rushed back into the jungle.
Calling upon my little troop of gun-bearers to keep close up, away we
dashed after them at full speed; down the steep hollow and through the
high lemon grass, now trampled into lanes by the retreating elephants.
In one instant the jungle seemed alive; there were upwards of fifty
elephants in the herd. The trumpets rang through the forest, the young
trees and underwood crashed in all directions with an overpowering
noise, as this mighty herd, bearing everything before it, crashed in one
united troop through the jungle.
At the extreme end of the grassy hollow there was a snug corner formed
by an angle in the jungle. A glade of fine short turf stretched for a
small distance into the forest, and, as the herd seemed to be bearing
down in this direction, Wortley and I posted off as hard as we could go,
hoping to intercept them if they crossed the glade. We arrived there in
a few moments, and taking our position on this fine level sward, about
ten paces from the forest, we awaited the apparently irresistible storm
that was bursting exactly upon us.
No pen, nor tongue can describe the magnificence of the scene; the
tremendous roaring of the herd, mingled with the shrill screams of other
elephants; the bursting stems of the broken trees; the rushing sound of
the leafy branches as though a tempest were howling through them--all
this concentrating with great rapidity upon the very spot upon which we
This was an exciting moment, especially to nerves unaccustomed to the
The whole edge of the forest was faced with a dense network of creepers;
from the highest tree-tops to the ground they formed a leafy screen like
a green curtain, which clothed the forest as ivy covers the walls of a
house. Behind this opaque mass the great actors in the scene were at
work, and the whole body would evidently in a few seconds burst through
this leafy veil and be right upon us.
On they came, the forest trembling with the onset. The leafy curtain
burst into tatters; the jungle ropes and snaky stems, tearing the
branches from the treetops, were in a few moments heaped in a tangled
and confused ruin. One dense mass of elephants' heads, in full career,
presented themselves through the shattered barrier of creepers.
Running towards them with a loud holloa, they were suddenly checked by
our unexpected apparition, but the confused mass of elephants made the
shooting very difficult. Two elephants rushed out to cross the little
nook within four yards of me, and I killed both by a right and left
shot. Wallace immediately pushed a spare rifle into my hand, just as a
large elephant, meaning mischief, came straight towards me, with ears
cocked, from the now staggered body of the herd. I killed her with the
front shot, both barrels having gone off at once, the heavy charge of
powder in the right-hand barrel having started the trigger of the left
barrel by the concussion. Round wheeled the herd, leaving their three
leaders dead; and now the race began.
It was a splendid forest, and the elephants rushed off at about ten
miles an hour, in such a compact troop that their sterns formed a living
barrier, and not a head could be seen. At length, after a burst of about
two hundred yards, the deep and dry bed of a torrent formed a trench
about ten feet in width.
Not hesitating at this obstacle, down went the herd without missing a
step; the banks crumbled and half-filled the trench as the leaders
scrambled across, and the main body rushed after them at an
I killed a large elephant in the act of crossing; he rolled into the
trench, but struggling to rise, I gave him the other barrel in the nape
of the neck, which, breaking his spine, extinguished him. He made a
noble bridge, and, jumping upon his carcass, we cleared the ravine, and
again the chase continued, although the herd had now gained about thirty
Upon a fine meadow of grass, about four feet high, the herd now rushed
along in a compact mass extending in a broad line of massive
hind-quarters over a surface of half an acre. This space formed a
complete street in their wake, as they levelled everything before them;
and the high grass stood up on either side like a wail.
Along this level road we ran at full speed, and by great exertions
managed to keep within twenty yards of the game. Full a quarter of a
mile was passed at this pace without a shot being fired. At length one
elephant turned and faced about exactly in front of me. My three
double-barrelled rifles were now all empty, and I was carrying the
little No. 16 gun. I killed him with the right-hand barrel, but I lost
ground by stopping to fire.
A jungle lay about two hundred yards in front of the herd, and they
increased their speed to arrive at this place of refuge.
Giving the little gun, with one barrel still loaded, to Wallace, I took
the four-ounce rifle in exchange, as I knew I could not close up with
the herd before they reached the jungle, and a long shot would be my
last chance. With this heavy gun (21 lbs.) I had hard work to keep my
distance, which was about forty yards from the herd.
Palliser and Wortley were before me, and within twenty yards of the
elephants. They neared the jungle; I therefore ran off to my left as
fast as I could go, so as to ensure a side-shot. I was just in time to
command their flank as the herd reached the jungle. A narrow river, with
steep banks of twenty feet in height, bordered the edge, and I got a
shot at a large elephant just as he arrived upon the brink of the chasm.
He was fifty paces off, but I hit him in the temple with the four-ounce,
and rolled him down the precipitous bank into the river. Here he lay
groaning; so, taking the little gun, with one barrel still loaded, I
extinguished him from the top of the bank.
Oh, for half-a-dozen loaded guns! I was now unloaded, and the fun began
in real earnest. The herd pushed for a particular passage down the steep
bank. It was like a rush at the door of the Opera; they jostled each
other in a confused melee, and crossed the river with the greatest
difficulty. By some bad luck Palliser and Wortley only killed one as the
herd was crossing the river, but they immediately disappeared in
pursuit, as the elephants, having effected their passage, retreated in
thick jungle on the other side.
I was obliged to halt to load, which I did as quickly as possible. While
I was ramming the balls down, I heard several shots fired in quick
succession, and when loaded, I ran on with my gun-bearers towards the
It was bad, thorny jungle, interspersed with numerous small glades of
Upon arriving in one of these glades, about a quarter of a mile beyond
the river, I saw a crowd of gun-bearers standing around some person
lying upon the ground. Neither Palliser nor Wortley were to be seen, and
for an instant a chill ran through me, as I felt convinced that some
accident had happened. 'Where are masters?' I shouted to the crowd of
men, and the next moment I was quite relieved by seeing only a coolie
lying on the ground. On examining the man I found he was more frightened
than hurt, although he was cut in several places and much bruised.
Upon giving a shout, Palliser and Wortley returned to the spot. They now
explained the mystery. They were running on the fresh tracks in this
glade, no elephants being then in sight, when they suddenly heard a rush
in the jungle, and in another instant two elephants charged out upon
them. Wortley and Palliser both fired, but without effect--the
gun-bearers bolted,--an elephant knocked one man over, and tried to
butt him against the ground; but two more shots from both Palliser and
Wortley turned him; they were immediately obliged to run in their turn,
as the other elephant charged, and just grazed Palliser with his trunk
behind. Fortunately, they doubled short round, instead of continuing a
straight course, and the elephants turned into the jungle. They followed
them for some little distance, but the jungles were so bad that there
was no chance, and they had returned when I had shouted.
The man who was hurt was obliged to be supported home. Two of the guns
were lost, which the gun-bearers in their fright had thrown away. After
a long search we found them lying in the high bushes.
We now returned along the line of hunt to cut off the elephants' tails.
I had fired at six, all of which were bagged; these we accordingly found
in their various positions. One of them was a very large female, with
her udder full of milk. Being very thirsty, both Wortley and I took a
long pull at this, to the evident disgust of the natives. It was very
good, being exactly like cow's milk. This was the elephant that I had
killed doubly by the left-hand barrel exploding by accident, and the two
balls were only a few inches apart in the forehead.
There had been very bad luck with this herd; the only dead elephant, in
addition to these six, was that which Wortley and Palliser had both
fired at in the river, and another which Palliser had knocked down in
the high grass when we had just commenced the attack--at which time he
had separated from us to cut off the three elephants that we had just
seen among the rocks.
On arrival at the spot where the elephants had first burst from the
jungle, a heavy shower came down, and the locks of the guns were
immediately covered each with a large leaf, and then tied up securely
with a handkerchief. A large banian tree afforded us an imaginary
shelter, but we were drenched to the skin in a few seconds. In the
meantime, Palliser walked through the high lemon grass to look for his
On arriving at the spot, instead of finding a dead elephant, he found
him standing up, and only just recovered from the stunning effect of his
The elephant charged him immediately; and Palliser, having the lock of
his gun tied up, was perfectly defenceless, and he was obliged to run as
hard as his long legs would carry him.
`Look out! look out! an elephant's coming! Look out!'
This we heard shouted as we were standing beneath the tree, and the next
moment we saw Palliser's tall form of six feet four come flying through
the high grass. Luckily the elephant lost him, and turned off in some
other direction. If he had continued the chase, he would have made a
fine diversion, as the locks were so tightly tied up that we could not
have got a gun ready for some time. In a few minutes the shower cleared
off, and on examining the place where the elephant had fallen, we found
a large pool of clotted blood
We now rode homeward, but we had not gone a quarter of a mile before we
heard an elephant roaring loudly in a jungle close to as. Thinking that
it was the wounded brute who had just hunted Palliser, we immediately
dismounted and approached the spot. The roaring continued until we were
close to it, and we then saw a young elephant standing in the bed of a
river, and he it was who was making all the noise, having been separated
from the herd in the late melee. Wortley shot him, this making eight
When within a mile of the tent, as we were riding along a path through a
thick thorny jungle, an immense rogue elephant stalked across our road.
I fired the four-ounce through his shoulder, to the great satisfaction
of Banda and the natives, although we never had a chance of proving what
the effect had been, as he was soon lost in the thick jungle. A short
time after this we reached the tent, having had the perfection of sport
in elephant-shooting, although luck had been against us in making a
Dec. 2.--The scouts having been sent out at daybreak, returned early,
having found another herd of elephants. On our way to the spot, Palliser
fired at a rogue, but without effect.
On arrival at the jungle in which the elephants were reported to be, we
heard from the watchers that a rogue was located in the same jungle, in
attendance upon the herd. This was now a regular thing to expect, and
compelled us to be exceedingly cautious.
Just as we were stalking through the jungle on the track of the herd, we
came upon the rogue himself. Wortley fired at him, but without effect,
and unfortunately the shot frightened the herd, which was not a quarter
of a mile distant, and the elephants retreated to a large tract of thick
jungle country, where pursuit was impracticable. Our party was too large
for shooting 'rogues' with any degree of success. These brutes, being
always on the alert, require the most careful stalking. There is only
one way to kill them with any certainty. Two persons, at most, to
attack; each person to be accompanied by only one gunbearer, who should
carry two spare guns. One good tracker should lead this party of five
people in single file. With great caution and silence, being well to
leeward of the elephants, he can thus generally be approached till
within twelve paces, and he is then killed by one shot before he knows
that danger is near. What with our gun-bearers, trackers, watchers and
ourselves, we were a party of sixteen persons; it was therefore
impossible to get near a rogue unperceived.
On the way to the tent I got a shot at a deer at full gallop on 'old
Jack.' It was a doe, who bounded over the plain at a speed that soon
out-distanced my horse, and I took a flying shot from the saddle with
one of my No. 10 rifles. I did not get the deer, although she was badly
wounded, as we followed the blood-tracks for some distance through thick
jungle without success.
This was altogether a blank day; and having thoroughly disturbed this
part of the 'Park,' we determined to up stick and move our quarters on
the following day towards the 'Cave,' according to the plan that we had
agreed upon for beating the country.
Dec. 3.--With the cook and the canteen in company we started at break of
day, leaving the servants to pack up and bring the coolies and tents
after us. By this arrangement we were sure of our breakfast wherever we
went, and we were free from the noise of our followers, whose scent
alone was enough to alarm miles of country down wind. We had our guns
all loaded, and carried by our respective gun-bearers close to the
horses, and, with Banda, old Medima, and a couple of trackers, we were
ready for anything.
We had ridden about six miles when we suddenly came upon fresh
elephant-tracks in a grassy hollow, surrounded by low rocky hills. We
immediately sent the men off upon the tracks, while we waited upon a
high plateau of rock for their return. They came back in about a quarter
of an hour, having found the elephants within half a mile.
They were in high lemon grass, and upon arrival at the spot we could
distinguish nothing, as the grass rose some feet above our heads. It was
like shooting in the dark, and we ascended some rising ground to improve
our position. Upon arrival on this spot we looked over an undulating sea
of this grass, interspersed with rocky hills and small patches of
forest. Across a valley we now distinguished the herd, much scattered,
going off in all directions. They had winded us, and left us but a poor
chance of catching them in such ground. Of course we lost no time in
giving chase. The sun was intensely hot--not a breath of air was
stirring, and the heat in the close, parched grass was overpowering.
With the length of start that the elephants had got, we were obliged to
follow at our best pace, which, over such tangled ground, was very
fatiguing; fortunately, however, the elephants had not yet seen us, and
they had accordingly halted now and then, instead of going straight off.
There were only four elephants together, and, by a great chance we came
up with them just as they were entering a jungle. I got a shot at the
last elephant and killed him, but the others put on more steam, and all
separated, fairly beating us, as we were almost used up by the heat.
This was very bad luck, and we returned in despair of finding the
scattered herd. We had proceeded some distance through the high grass,
having just descended a steep, rocky hill, when we suddenly observed two
elephants approaching along the side of the very hill that we had just
left. Had we remained in the centre of the hill, we should have met them
as they advanced. One was a large female, and the other was most
probably her calf, being little more than half-grown.
It was a beautiful sight to see the caution with which they advanced,
and we lay down to watch them without being seen. They were about 200
yards from us, and, as they slowly advanced along the steep hillside,
they occasionally halted, and, with their trunks thrown up in the air,
they endeavoured, but in vain, to discover the enemy that had so
recently disturbed them. We had the wind all right, and we now crept
softly up the hill, so as to meet them at right angles. The hillside was
a mass of large rocks overgrown and concealed by the high lemon grass,
and it was difficult to move without making a noise, or falling into the
cavities between the rocks.
I happened to be at the head of our line, and, long before I expected
the arrival of the elephants, I heard a rustling in the grass, and the
next moment I saw the large female passing exactly opposite me, within
five or six paces. I was on half-cock at the time, as the ground was
dangerous to pass over with a gun on full cock, but I was just quick
enough to knock her over before the high grass should conceal her at
another step. She fell in a small chasm, nearly upsetting the young
elephant, who was close behind her. Wortley killed him, while I took the
last kick out of the old one by another shot, as she was still moving.
We had thus only killed three elephants out of the herd, and, without
seeing more, we returned to the horses.
On finding them, we proceeded on our road towards the `Cave,' but had
not ridden above two miles farther when we again came upon fresh tracks
of elephants. Sending on our trackers like hounds upon their path, we
sat down and breakfasted under a tree. We had hardly finished the last
cup of coffee when the trackers returned, having found another herd.
They were not more than half a mile distant, and they were reported to
be in open forest. on the banks of a deep and broad river.
Our party was altogether too large for elephant shooting, as we never
could get close up to them without being discovered. .As usual, they
winded us before we got near them, but by quick running we overtook them
just as they arrived on the banks of the river and took to water.
Wortley knocked over one fellow just as he thought he was safe in
running along the bottom of a deep gully; I floored his companion at the
same moment, thus choking up the gully, and six elephants closely packed
together forded the deep stream. The tops of their backs and heads were
alone above water. I fired the four-ounce into the nape of one
elephant's neck as the herd crossed, and he immediately turned over and
lay foundered in the middle of the river, which was sixty or seventy
In the mean time Palliser and Wortley kept up a regular volley, but no
effects could be observed until the herd reached and began to ascend the
steep bank on the opposite side. I had reloaded the four-ounce, and the
heavy battery now began to open a concert with the general volley, as
the herd scrambled up the precipitous bank. Several elephants fell, but
recovered themselves and disappeared. At length the volley ceased, and
two were seen, one dead on the top of the bank, and the other still
struggling in the shallow water at the foot. Once more a general battery
opened; and he was extinguished. Five were killed; and if noise and
smoke add to the fun, there was certainly plenty of it. Wortley and my
man Wallace now swam across the river and cut off the elephants' tails.
We returned to the horses, and moved to the 'Cave,' meeting with no
farther incidents that day.
Dec. 4--We saw nothing but deer the whole of the day, and they were so
wild that we could not get a shot. It was therefore a blank.
Dec. 5--We started early, and for five miles we tracked a large herd
of elephants through fine open country, until we were at length stopped
by impenetrable jungle of immense extent, forming the confines of the
'Park' on this side. We therefore reluctantly left the tracks, and
directed our course towards Pattapalaar, about twelve miles distant.
We had passed over a lovely country, and were within a mile of our
proposed resting-place, when Banda, who happened to be a hundred yards
in advance, came quickly back, saying that he saw a rogue elephant
feeding on the patina not far from us. Wortley had gone in another
direction with old Medima a few minutes previous to look for a deer; and
Palliser and I resolved to stalk him carefully. We therefore left all
the people behind, except two gun-bearers, each of whom carried one of
my double-barrelled rifles. I carried my four-ounce, and Palliser took
It was most difficult ground for stalking, being entirely open, on a
spot which had been high lemon grass but recently burnt, the long reeds
in many places still remaining.
We could not get nearer than fifty yards in such ground, and I
accordingly tried a shot at his temple with the four-ounce. The long
unburnt stalks of the lemon grass waving to and fro before the sights of
my rifle so bothered me that I missed the fatal spot, and fired about
two inches too high. Stumbling only for a moment from the blow, he
rushed down hill towards a jungle, but at the same instant Palliser made
a capital shot with the long two-ounce and knocked him over. I never saw
an elephant fall with such a crash: they generally sink gently down; but
this fellow was going at such speed down hill that he fairly pitched
upon his head.
We arrived at our resting-place, and having erected the tents, we gave
them up to Banda and the servants, while we took possession of a large
'amblam', or open building, massively built by the late Major Rodgers,
which is about twenty-five feet square. This we arranged in a most
comfortable manner, and here we determined to remain for some days,
while we beat the whole country thoroughly.
Dec. 6.-We started at our usual early hour with Banda and the
trackers, and after a walk of about a mile, we found fresh tracks and
followed up. Crossing a small river upon the track, we entered a fine
open forest, through which the herd had only just passed, and upon
following them for about a quarter of a mile, we came to a barrier of
dense chenar jungle, into which the elephants had retreated.
There was a rogue with this herd, and we were rather doubtful of his
position. We stood in the open forest, within a few feet of the thick
jungle, to the edge of which the elephants were so close that we could
hear their deep breathing; and by stooping down we could distinguish the
tips of their trunks and feet, although the animals themselves were
invisible. We waited about half an hour in the hope that some of the
elephants might again enter the open forest; at length two, neither of
whom were above five feet high, came out and faced us. My dress of
elastic green tights had become so browned by constant washing and