Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/777

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Capture of a Herd of Elephants.—A correspondent of Land and Water tells of the capture, in the Mysore district, India, of a herd of elephants, numbering forty-nine head. An irrigating canal winds through a dense jungle, at some points approaching a small river, at others stretching away from it into the jungle. In one place a bend of the canal forms, with the river, an inclosure in the shape of a horseshoe, containing about fifteen acres of wooded ground. To this place elephants resort during the monsoon, crossing the canal at three or four points where the banks have become trodden down by constant use. In order to trap the entire herd, two lines of chains were stretched across the river at the ends of the horseshoe, and a trench was dug on the river-bank to cut off escape on that side. The elephants having crossed into the inclosure, the fords were barricaded with cocoa-nut trees, the canal deepened at those places, and two deep trenches cut from the canal to the river. Fires were kept up at night on the banks of the canal Meanwhile a deep, circular trench was dug, inclosing about an acre of ground, and two parallel trenches were also dug, leading from the horseshoe to this small inclosure. Drop-gates were made to prevent the animals leaving this keddah when once they had entered it.

A large force of men were now directed to drive the herd into the keddah. The first attempt failed, the elephants stampeding back into the horseshoe after a few of them had entered the inclosure. A second effort was crowned with success. First came a female with her calf; then seven other females, and after a while on came the entire herd with a rush, males, females, and calves, of all sizes, "like a herd of rather large pigs, jostling and pushing one another through the gateway." When the last was in, down went the gate, and they were all secured. The catching of the elephants one by one was the work of several days. "The men ride in among them on tame beasts, and put ropes round their legs and necks, after which the tame elephants drag them out in spite of all resistance, and they are chained one by one to trees to be trained at leisure. They do not mind the tame elephants mixing with them at all, even with men on their backs, but they object strongly to the men on the ground, who have to put on the ropes. The clever way in which the tame elephants help is wonderful: they move close up to the wild ones, and understand how to put their legs so as to shield the men from all kicks; they take hold of the wild ones' legs and trunks with their own trunks, and are invaluable."

Habits of the Cotton-Worm.—According to Mr. Aug. R. Grote, the cotton-worm dies out every year, with its food-plant, and its next appearance is always the result of immigration. He has observed that the appearance of the worm in the cotton-fields is always heralded by flights of the moth. The worm is always heard of to the south-ward at first, and never to the northward of any given locality in the cotton-belt. Mr. Grote never could discover any traces of the insect in any stage during the months preceding the appearance of the first brood heralded by the moth, and after the cotton was above the ground. Hence he concludes that while the cotton-plant is not indigenous to the Southern States (where it becomes an annual) the cotton-worm moth may be esteemed not a denizen but a visitant, brought by various causes to breed in a strange region, and that it naturally dies out in the cotton-belt, unable to suit itself as yet to the altered economy of its food-plant and to contend with the changes of our seasons. Possibly in the southern portions of Texas, or in the Floridian peninsula, the cotton-worm may be able to sustain itself during the entire year. Its true home, however, appears to be the West Indies, Mexico, and Brazil, where the cotton-plant is perennial.

Coal in California.—Dr. J. C. Cooper, formerly connected with the State Geological Survey of California, made some interesting remarks at a late meeting of the California Academy of Sciences on the subject of California coal. The frequent reports in the newspapers of discoveries of valuable coal deposits in different parts of the State he characterized as misleading,