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Emperor of Germany, Fredericus Ænobarbus, received one from the Sultan of Babylon. Lorenzo de Medicis was also presented with a live camelopard by the Bey of Tunis; and in our own times they have been received by the kings both of France and England from the (late) Dey of Algiers.
Africa is the country of antelopes. These creatures are the most lively, graceful, and beautifully proportioned of the brute creation. Wherever known, they have attracted the attention and admiration of mankind from the earliest ages; and the beauty of their dark and lustrous eyes affords a frequent theme to the poetical imaginings of the eastern poets. Their names are of frequent occurrence in the most ancient of the eastern mythologies, and their figures occur among the oldest of the astronomical symbols. Naturalists are more or less acquainted with about fifty species, the greater proportion of which are peculiar to the African continent.
The blue antelope (Antilope leucophaea), formerly met with in the Cape colony, is now so rare in South Africa, that no specimen has been killed there since the year 1799. Its history and manners are little known. The roan antelope (A. equina) is a very large animal, measuring nearly eight feet in length. It was found by Mr Burchell among the mountainous plains in the vicinity of Lattakoo. The Caffrarian oryx (A. oryx) is an animal equally remarkable for the vigour as the beauty of its form. It inhabits elevated forests, and the rocky regions of Southern Africa, and is exceedingly fierce during the rutting season, especially when wounded.
A friend of Major Smith's having fired at one of these antelopes, it immediately turned upon his dogs, and transfixed one of them upon the spot. They afford the best venison of any of the species found in the south of Africa. The small white buffalo mentioned by Captain Lyon as occurring in the Great Desert south of Tunis, was no doubt a species of oryx. Another animal of very showy aspect belonging to this tribe is the addax, recently transmitted from Nubia by M. Rüppell. They reside in pairs on the barren deserts, and, extending over the whole Sahara, are found as far west as Senegal. The white-faced antelope (A. pygarga) is inferior in size to the stag of Europe. According to Major Smith, this species does not seem to be known in Central Africa. It is found in the regions which border the colony of the Cape, and is called blessbock by the Dutch. In manners it resembles the gnu, and lives in small families of seven or eight.
The springer antelope (A. euchon) is named springbock by the Dutch. It inhabits the plains of Southern and Central Africa, and assembles in vast flocks during its migratory movements. "These migrations, which are said to take place in their most numerous form only at the intervals of several years, appear to come from the north-east, and in masses of many thousands, devouring, like locusts, every green herb. The lion has been seen to migrate, and walk in the midst of the compressed phalanx, with only as much space between him and his victims as the fears of those immediately around could procure by pressing outwards. The foremost of these vast columns are fat, and the rear exceed
ingly lean while the direction continues one way; but, with the change of the monsoon, when they return towards the north, the rear become the leaders, fattening in their turn, and leaving the others to starve, and to be devoured by the numerous enemies who follow their march. At all times when impelled by fear, either of the hunter or the beast of prey darting among the flock, but principally when the herds are assembled in countless multitudes, so that an alarm cannot spread rapidly and open the means of flight, they are pressed against each other, and their anxiety to escape impels them to bound up in the air, showing, at the same time, the white spot on the croup dilated by the effort, and closing again in their descent, and producing that beautiful effect from which they have obtained the name of Springer and Showy-bock.”—Griffith's Animal Kingdom, vol. iv. p. 209.
The kevel (A. kevella) is nearly allied to the dorcas, but does not appear to occur to the north of the Atlas, with the exception, perhaps, of the western coast of Morocco. In Central Africa, across the banks of the Congo, and southwards as far as the country of the Caffres, it forms numerous flocks. The pallah (A. melampus) is a beautiful species mentioned by Lichtenstein. It is described as a model of elegance and vigour, and is a native of Caffraria, especially the Boshuana country. It never appears to the south of the Koorges Valley. The klipspringer (A. oreotragus) was formerly very abundant near the Cape, but is now rare, except in the interior of the country. They dwell among rocky precipices, and spring from cliff to cliff with surprising
strength and agility. The steenbock (A. rupestris) likewise dwells among the rocks. It is found near Algoa Bay, but is now rare in the Cape colony. The vlackti steenbock (A. rufescens) is among the most beautiful of the smaller antelopes of Africa. The name of vlackti is bestowed upon it, in consequence of its inhabiting the plains or open country. The bush-antelope (A. silvicultrix) is found at Sierra Leone, where it is called the bush-goat. It usually quits its cover in search of food about sunrise. The four-tufted antelope (A. quadriscopa) is a native of Senegal. The duicker bock (A. mergens) is a timid species, fearful of thunder and other unaccustomed sounds. It inhabits bushes, and rises every now and then upon its hind legs for the sake of surveying its vicinity. It then stoops down and darts under cover, from which custom it has no doubt obtained the name of duicker, or the stooper. The guevei (A. pygmæa) consists of two well-marked varieties, if two distinct species have not been confounded under a single name. At present we shall allude only to the smaller, which is remarkable for its diminutive size. A female in Bullock's Museum scarcely exceeded the general dimensions of a Norway rat, and the legs were no thicker than a goose's quill. The gueveis are brought from the coast of Guinea, and are sometimes observed to occur in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope.
One of the largest of the African antelopes is the bubale (A. bubalis of Pallas), equal in size to a stag. It congregates in troops, among which frequent and sometimes fatal combats take place. This species was well known to the ancients, and is re
presented among the hieroglyphical figures of the temples of Upper Egypt. It inhabits Barbary and the Great Desert of Northern Africa.
We may here mention the gnu, as an animal classed by Sparrman and others among the antelopes. It assembles in large herds among the southern, and probably the central deserts of Africa. It is not now found nearer the Cape than the great Karroo district. Of this animal there appears to be more species than one.
The next group which demands our notice is the bovine tribe, including all the larger kinds of horned cattle. Of these, the only species peculiar to Africa is the Bos caffer, or Cape buffalo, the qu'araho of the Hottentots, a fierce and vindictive animal of great strength. This species is characterised by the dark rufous colour of its horns, which spread horizontally over the summit of the head, with their beams bent down laterally, and the points turned up. They are from eight to ten inches broad at the base, and divided only by a slight groove, extremely ponderous, cellular near the root, and five feet long, measured from tip to tip along the curves. The hide is black and almost naked, especially in old animals. This buffalo lives in herds, or small families, in the brushwood and open forests of Caffraria. According to Sparrman, he is not content with simply killing the person whom he attacks, but he stands over him for some time in order to trample him with his hoofs and heels, at the same time crushing him with his knees, and tearing to pieces and mangling his whole body, and finally stripping off the skin