Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/233

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STEPPE-FOX.

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these wolves; the gun was lying a little distance off with one barrel exploded, the trigger having evidently struck against a rock as they hauled it along; the cartridges were completely gone. Yet with all his impudence this wolf is so wary that he will never allow a man to come near him during the day, and recourse must be had to artifice to kill him; for such is his tenacity of life, that unless shot through a vital part he will escape. We lost a great deal of time in trying to secure one of their skins, and at last I succeeded in killing one by lying in ambush behind the carcase of a kulan.

We tried watching at night by the side of a slain yak, but although we wounded several, they always managed to get away. In Northern Tibet, had we possessed strychnine or traps, we might have killed any number of them.

Their breeding season is January, when they are never more than ten or fifteen in a pack. They utter a short sharp bark like a dog.

The fox is rare in Northern Tibet, but the closely-allied steppe-fox (Canis Corsac), called by the Mongols kiarsa, is more common.

This sagacious animal is distributed over the whole of Mongolia, Kan-su, Koko-nor, and Tsaidam, but is most numerous on the plains round Koko-nor, where it finds an abundance of marmots, — its chief food.

Owing to its excessive wariness I was unable to study its habits. On seeing a man a long way off, it