Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/227

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ITS HABITS.

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selects those parts of the desert where rivers and springs abound.

It is found in small herds from five to twenty, or forty head, rarely collecting in large troops of several hundred, and this only where the pasturage is good and plentiful. Though a few of the old bucks, usually accompanying every herd, are more cautious and experienced, the orongos generally are not wary in their habits. In their flight the males follow the herd as though to prevent straggling; whilst with the dzerens and kara-sultas this order is reversed. When in motion, either leisurely or at full speed, the orongo holds its horns erect, which adds greatly to its appearance. When trotting — its usual pace — the legs move so quickly that at a distance they are invisible, and dogs or wolves are soon left behind.

We arrived in Tibet during the breeding season of these animals, which begins late in November and lasts a month. At this time the full-grown males[1] are in a most excited state, taking little food and soon losing the fat which they had gained during summer. The buck soon forms his harem of ten to twenty wives, and these he jealously guards lest any of them should fall into the power of a rival. No sooner does he see an adversary approaching than he, the lawful lord of the herd, rushes to the encounter with head lowered, uttering short deep bleats. The combat is fierce, and the long sharp

  1. The young bucks, with small horns, and in colour exactly resembling the does, appear not to take part in this internecine warfare, but hold themselves aloof in separate herds with the does, during the rutting season.