Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/225

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touching the ground, his bushy tail and jet black colour, render him a magnificent specimen of the brute creation! On the other hand, the gracefulness of the argali, his great curving horns, snowy breast, and proud bearing, entitled him to rank among the noblest of creatures in these deserts. In the early morning the argalis graze on the mountains, or in the valleys, but no sooner is the sun up than they seek some spot for repose, sequestered, yet commanding a view all round. Here they scrape a convenient resting place for themselves in the clay, and lie down for several hours. When a flock is reposing in this way, the rams station themselves a little to one side and keep watch; a herd consisting entirely of rams lies close together, their heads turned outwards in different directions. Indeed they are ever vigilant and wary, and the hunter who would approach them must note the direction of the wind and stalk them very carefully. Even with the utmost caution a great deal will still depend on the accuracy of his aim and the trueness of his rifle; for under the most favourable circumstances he cannot expect to get within 200 paces. In all our shooting excursions in Tibet we only killed eight argalis, of which three were full-grown rams.

The Mongols told us that the breeding season was late in the autumn. When we arrived in Tibet in the beginning of December it was over, and the rams were behaving peaceably, but while it lasts they have furious fights, traces of which may be seen in the numbers of broken horns strewn about in all direc-