Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/276

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

out to cheek the insurgents and protect the people who were still on their farms.

The fruits, in acquisition to geographical knowledge, of Mr. Selous's adventures and explorations are to be found, mingled with much about sporting and exciting incident, in his books: A Hunter's Wanderings in South Africa, already mentioned; Travel and Adventure in Southeast Africa (1893); Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (1896); and in lectures to the Geographical Society and periodical contributions concerning Mashonaland.

These books abound in observations on natural history, often constituting real contributions of new facts or new demonstrations to the science, usually occurring incidentally in the narrative of adventure, but sometimes given in more formal shape. The author avows that his conclusions respecting animals are drawn from personal experience of the beasts, and are not influenced in any way by the stories of old hunters, Dutch or native. Among these notices are original observations on the giraffe and its habits, notes on buffaloes and their disposition, and remarks on variations in the types of South African lions. Of this animal, while some authors would make three species, the author believes there is only one. "As out of fifty male lion skins," he says, "scarcely two will be found exactly alike in the color and length of the mane, I think it would be as reasonable to suppose there are twenty species as three." So in Notes upon South African Rhinoceroses, a paper read before the Zoölogical Society of London in June, 1881, and reprinted in this volume, Mr. Selous gives his reasons for affirming that there are only two species of rhinoceros in South or in all Africa—the square-mouthed or white Rhinoceros simus and the prehensile-lipped or black Rhinoceros bicornis—while the supposed Rhinoceros keitloa, or blue rhinoceros of the Boers, is merely a variety of the bicornis, the distinction between the two being based only on differences in the relative length of the horns. Another paper from the Proceedings of the Zoölogical Society, reprinted here, is Notes on the South Central African Antelopes, embodying again only the results of the author's own observations. In this paper twenty-two species are described by their scientific, native, Dutch, and English names, and their characteristics, habits, appearance, and distinctions are indicated.

In the preface to his Travel and Adventure in Southeast Africa Mr. Selous tells how he had determined, in 1881, upon visiting the ostrich farm of his friend Frank Mandy, to settle down in Africa for a quiet life. Then he went home and spent a few months in England. Visiting the Natural History Department of the British Museum, he was shown by Dr. Gunther and his associate how old