Professer Von Borgengruft travels the world and sends back emails telling of his adventures in the wild. Enjoy and learn with these jungle tales!Gorilla From GabonIn the midst of tropical vegetation, the Simiae, or Monkey and Ape tribes, lead a free forest life, for which they might be well envied. The green canopy of the woods protects them at every season from the burning rays of a vertical sun, flowers of the most delicate fragrance embalm the air they breathe, and an endless supply of fruit and nuts never allows them to know want, for should the stores near at hand be exhausted, an easy migration to some other district soon restores them to abundance.
With an agility far surpassing that with which the sailor ascends the rigging, and climbs even to the giddy top of the highest mast, they leap from bush- rope to bush-rope, and from bough to bough, mocking the tiger-cat and the boa, which are unable to follow them in their rapid evolutions.
Formed to live on trees, and not upon the ground, they are as excellent climbers as they are bad pedestrians. Both their fore and hind feet are shaped as hands, generally with four fingers and a thumb, so that they can sieze or grasp a bough with all alike.
The Chimpanzee attains a height of about five feet, but seems much smaller from his stooping attitude. He inhabits the dense forests on the west coast of africa, particularly near the river ogooué in Gabonese Republic.
One of the finest specimens ever displayed in captivity was kept in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, where the mild climate, agreeable diet (he drank a pint of Bordeaux daily), and lively society of the French, maintained him in wonderful health and spirits.
However, putting the Chimpanzees aside for the moment; the encounter yesterday with an adult GORILLA; is another story altogether!!
Our Safari was merrily trekking along the jungle path, enjoying the exotic sights, sounds and smells of the dense African rain forest, when, to our surprise, the underbrush suddenly swayed rapidly just ahead, and presently before us stood an immense Male Gorilla!
He had gone through the jungle on his all-fours, but when he saw our party he erected himself, and looked us boldly in the face. He stood about a dozen yards from us, and was a sight I think I shall never forget.
Nearly six feet high with immense body, huge chest, and great muscular arms, with fiercely glaring, large, deep-grey eyes, and a hellish expression of face, which seemed to me like some nightmare vision; thus stood before us the King of the African forest.
He was not afraid of us. He stood there and beat his breast with his huge fists, till it resounded like an immense bass-drum, which is their mode of offering defiance, meantime giving vent to roar after roar.
The roar of the Gorilla is the most singular and awful noise heard in these African woods. It begins with a sharp bark like an angry dog, then glides into a deep bass roll, which literally and closely resembles the roll of distant thunder along the sky.
His eyes began to flash deeper fire as we stood motionless on the defensive, and the crest of short hair which stands on his forehead began to twitch rapidly up and down, while his powerful fangs were shown as he again sent forth a thunderous roar.
For reasons known only to the Gorilla and the Almighty, he suddenly turned around and hastily departed back into the jungle growth, leaving us rather shaken and extremely grateful for the mercies of Providence.
Lion From GabonDuring the daytime the lion seldom attacks man, and sometimes even when meeting a traveler he is said to pass by him unnoticed; but when the shades of evening descend, his mood undergoes a change. After sunset it is dangerous to venture out of camp, for the lion lies in wait.
It is then, that dramatic scenes of absorbing interest not infrequently take place.
One such event, which I am about to relate, took place last night, after we had retired to our respective tents for a well deserved sleep. The frightful experience with the male Gorilla earlier in the day had left most of us rather edgy and sleep doesn't come easy in this humid tropical climate, at the best of times.
After an hour or so, of tossing and turning, I decided to take a little walk around the camp to calm my nerves and overcome this dreadful insomnia.
The pleasant sound of rushing water coming from the mountain spring, a few hundred feet from the camp, made me realise that I was indeed very thirsty for a draught of that cool sparkling water. I looked carefully around the peaceful moonlit scene and listened intently for any strange sounds before venturing cautiously towards the brook.
Having assured myself that 'all was well', and kneeling beside the stream, I began to drink the sweet cold water with cupped hands. A small herd of Wildebeasts were also watering a little further downstream......an idyllic African scene, to be sure!
However, my enjoyment was cut short in an instant, when I spied out of the corner of my eye an ominous sight......Less than twenty yards from me, crouched in the low shrubbery and ready to spring, was a huge lion.
Terrified at the unexpected sight of such a beast, that seemed to have it's eyes fixed on me, I instantly took to my heels. In doing so, I had the presence of mind enough to run through the herd of Wildebeasts, concluding that if the lion should pursue, he would take up with the first beast that presented itself.
In this, however, I was mistaken. The lion broke through the herd, making directly after yours truly, who after turning around and perceiving that the monster had singled him out, breathless and half dead with fear, scrambled up one of the nearby trees. At the same moment the lion made a spring , but missing his aim, fell upon the ground.
In surly silence he walked around the tree, casting at times a dreadful look towards your poor old Professor, who screened himself from his sight behind the branches. Having remained silent and motionless for a length of time, I ventured to peep, hoping that the lion had taken his departure, when to my great terror and astonishment, my eyes met those of the animal, which flashed fire at me.
In short, the lion laid himself down at the foot of the tree, and did not remove from the place for twenty-four hours. At the end of this time, becoming parched with thirst, he went back to the spring in order to drink.
With trepidation, I ventured to descend, and scampered off back to camp as fast as my feet would carry me.
My hands are still shaking as I type these words on my trusty laptop computer.
After so many Safaris into the heart of darkest Africa, this old trekker should have known better, than to leave camp after nightfall.
And, it is a well known fact, that if a traveler encounters a lion by daylight, he turns tail and sneaks out of sight like a scared greyhound. All the talk about his majestic roar is sheer twaddle. It takes a keen ear to distinguish the voice of the lion from that of the silly Ostrich.
When the lion grows old, he leads a miserable life. Unable to master the larger game, he prowls about the villages in hopes to pick up a stray goat. When the natives hear one prowling about the villages, they say: "His teeth are worn out; he will soon kill men", and thereupon turn out and put an end to him.
This is the only foundation for the common belief that when the lion has once tasted human flesh he will eat nothing else. When an aged lion lives far from human habitation so that he cannot get goats or children, he is often reduced to such straits as to be obliged to make his meals of mice and such small prey.
Upon the whole, in the dark, or at all hours when breeding, the lion is an ugly enough customer; but if a man will stay home by night, and not go out of his way to attack him, he runs less risk in Africa of being devoured by a lion, than he does in New York City of being run over by a skateboard.....