Page images
PDF
EPUB

EXPLORATIONS AND ADVENTURES

IN

EQUATORIAL AFRICA;

WITII

ACCOUNTS OF THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE PEOPLE, AND OF THE CHASE

OF THE GORILLA, THE CROCODILE, LEOPARD, ELEPHANT,

HIPPOPOTAMUS, AND OTHER ANIMALS.

BY

PAUL B. DU CHAILLU,

OOR. MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN ETINOLOGICAL SOCIETY; OF THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND
STATISTICAL SOCIETY OF NEW YORK; AND OF TIIE BOSTON SOCIETY

OF NATURAL HISTORY.

With Numerous Illustrations.

NEW YORK:
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,

FRANKLIN SQUARE.

1861.
irq 3 4

AF RP. W. EQ. D856€ 2
a ob. strict
Trec doc. 9, 1919.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred

and sixty-one, by

HARPER & BROTHERS, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.

PREFACE.

The singular region of Equatorial Africa, which it was my fortune to be the first to explore, and of whose people and strange animal and vegetable productions I have given some account in the following pages, is remarkable chiefly for its fauna, which is, in many respects, not only extraordinary, but peculiar. In this comparatively narrow, belt is found that monstrous and ferocious ape, the gorilla. Here, too, and here only, is the home of the very remarkable nest-building ape, the Troglodytes calvus, the nshiego mbouve of the natives; of the hitherto unknown kooloo-kamba, another ape no less remarkable than the T. calvus, and of the chimpanzee. North, south, and east of this region, the lion lords it in the forests and the desert: only in this tract he is not found. Here, too, I discovered no less than twenty new species of quadrupeds, and upward of sixty new species of birds, many as strange as others were beautiful.

Thus it will be seen that this region formed a peculiarly rich field for an ardent naturalist. Game is not found in such plenty as on the vast plains of Southern Africa; there is less butchering; but, if the larder is not so well supplied, the half-starved explorer experiences many happy days, when the discovery of a hitherto unknown animal rewards him for all his toils, dangers, and sufferings.

Not only has the fauna of this region, for its limits, a very unusual number of species peculiar to itself, but even some of those animals which it has in common with the regions to the north and south seemed to me varieties. Thus I am almost certain

PREFACE.

that the elephant of this region is a variety distinct in several particulars from his South African brother.

Doubtless the peculiar formation of the country causes this ex. ceptional condition. Instead of the vast thinly-wooded and arid or sparsely-watered plains of Northern, Eastern, and Southern Africa, the explorer finds here a region very mountainous, and so densely wooded that the whole country may be described as an impenetrable jungle, through which man pushes on only by hewing his way with the axe. These forests, which have been resting probably for ages in their gloomy solitude, seem unfavorable even to the rapid increase of the beasts who are its only denizens. There are no real herds of game; nor have the people of this region yet attained that primitive step in the upward march of civilization, the possession of beasts of burden. Neither horses nor cattle are known here: man is the only beast of burden.

The river system of this region seems to me extremely well adapted for the prosecution of commercial enterprise. Until I explored them, the rivers known to Europeans and Americans as the Nazareth, Mexias, and Fernand Vaz, were supposed to be three distinct streams; but the reader will perceive, by reference to my map, that they are connected with each other. The Mexias and Nazareth are only outlets of the Ogobay River, which also throws a portion of its waters into the Fernand Vaz, chiefly through the Npoulounay. Thus these three rivers are, in fact, mouths of the Ogobay; and they form, with the intervening lowlands (which are evidently alluvial deposits), an extensive and very complicated net-work of creeks, swamps, and dense forests, which I propose to call the delta of the Ogobay. This delta is bounded on the north by the Nazareth, which enters the sea in lat. 0° 41' S. and long. 9° 3' E., and on the south by the Fernand Vaz, which falls into the sea in lat. 1° 17' S., and long. 5° 58' E. The mouth of the Mexias lies between, in lat. 0° 56' S., and long. 8° 47' E.

I have not given in the narrative any account of my exploration of this labyrinth, because it was extremely barren of incidents

[blocks in formation]

interesting to the reader. It was a most tedious undertaking, and resulted only in the knowledge that this large tract is entirely uninhabited; that in the rainy season, when the rivers and their divergent creeks are swollen, the whole country is overflowed; and that the land is covered with immense forests of palm, there being found none of the customary mangrove swamps. Land and water are tenanted only by wild beasts, venomous reptiles, and intolerable swarms of musquitoes.

The entrance of the Fernand Vaz, which is one of the keys to this region, is rendered intricate by shifting sand-bars and a very crooked channel, which, however, carries from fifteen to twenty feet of water at all times. It, as well as the Mexias, throws a tremendous quantity of fresh water into the ocean during the rainy season. So vast is this supply, and so rapid the current, that, though the mouths of these streams are but half a mile wide, the body of fresh water launched from each, during the rains, forces its separate way through the ocean for at least four or five miles before it becomes absorbed; and I have seen days when the tide had no effect at all upon the vast column of water pushing seaward.

Above Monwé for about thirty miles, the Fernand Vaz, which here takes the name of Rembo, flows through a country so flat that in the rainy season its banks are overflowed for many miles, and in parts scarce a foot of dry land is in sight. Farther up, the country becomes billy, and the upper parts of the Rembo and Ovenga rivers flow between steep banks, and through a decidedly mountainous region. But even here the magnificent mountains are divided by plains or broad valleys, which are overflowed during the season of rains. On the return of the dry season, these overflows leave great quantities of decayed or decaying matter, which, though enriching the ground, also cause fevers. But the interior fevers are not so frequent nor so dangerous as those caused by the mixed salt and fresh water vegetation of the seashore; and when this region becomes settled, the mountains will afford a convenient sanitarium for white men.

Leaving the Fernand Vaz, which, though partly fed by the Ogo

« PreviousContinue »