Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/273

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THE 'MAN-BEAST' OF KAN-SU.

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they come above ground. They are remarkably tenacious of life, and will escape to their burrows even though mortally wounded;[1] nothing but killing them outright will secure them for the hunter. They begin to lie dormant in the second week in October, and like the European marmot a great many will congregate in one burrow.

And now a few words about another of the mammalia of Kan-su, viz. the bear.

Before arriving in Kan-su we heard from the Mongols of some extraordinary animal which ranged through this province, and was known to the inhabitants under the name of kung-guressu, i.e. 'man-beast.' We were told that it had a flat face like that of a human being, and that it often walked on two legs, that its body was covered with a thick black fur, and its feet armed with enormous claws; that its strength was terrible, and that not only were hunters afraid of attacking it, but that the inhabitants removed their habitations from those parts of the country which it visited.

These accounts were corroborated by the Tangutans in Kan-su, who one and all declared that an animal answering to the above description inhabited their mountains, but that it was rare. When we questioned them if it were not a bear they shook their heads, and assured us it was not, adding that they knew well enough what a bear was like.

  1. Dr. Hooker mentions the extraordinary tenacity of life of the Tibetan marmot (Hooker's Himalayan Journals, i. 93), and gives an engraving of one of them. — M.