NO. 400. DIPUS LAGOPUS. The Yarkand Jerboa.
HABITAT.—Koshtak, south of Yarkand; Yarkand; and Yangihissar.—Blanford.
DESCRIPTION.—"Colour above light sandy brown, slightly washed with dusky, below pure white; a white band across the outside of the thigh; tail pale brown above, whitish below, with a tuft of longer hair, altogether about 2-1/2 inches long; at the end the terminal portion pure white, the proximal portion black or dark-brown on the upper part and sides, but brown or white beneath the tail. The fur is very soft and rather long, 0.6 to 0.8 inch in the middle of the back; on the upper parts it is ashy grey at the base and for the greater parts of its length, pale sandy brown near the end; the extreme tip dusky brown; on the lower parts it is white throughout; ears about half the length of the head, oval, naked inside, thinly clothed with short brown hair outside; face sandy; the hairs grey at the base; sides of head whitish; whiskers as usual very long, exceeding three inches; the uppermost brown; the longest white, except at the base; the lower entirely white; the long hairs beneath the hind feet all white, as are the feet throughout."—Blanford, 'Sc. Res. of Sec. Yarkand Mission,' pp. 58,59.
"Hind feet with five digits, of which the first and fifth do not reach the ground; tail cylindrical, tufted; skull with the occipital region less broad, and the auditory bullae smaller; infra-orbital opening with no separate canal for the nerve; incisors plain. One very small premolar present above only."—Alston.
NO. 401. ALACTAGA INDICA.
NATIVE NAME.—Khanee, Afghan.
HABITAT.—Afghanistan; Eastern Persia.
DESCRIPTION.—Fawn colour above; the hair with black tips and ashy grey at the base; under-parts white; upper parts of thigh white; a black spot behind and inside the thigh just below the white; remainder of the outside and lower part of the inside of the thighs brown; a white line running down the front, and extending over the upper portion of the tarsi and feet; proximal portion of tarsus brown at the sides. (See 'Blanford's Eastern Persia,' vol. ii. p. 77.) The tail is brown with a white tip; ears thinly clad with brown hairs; head brown above, whitish around the eyes; whiskers black.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3-1/2 inches; tail, 7 inches.
This animal is unfortunately named, as it is not Indian at all; equally unfortunate, as Mr. Blanford has shown, is Blyth's name Bactrianus, for it does not inhabit that tract, so the original title stands. Hutton, in his 'Rough Notes on the Zoology of Candahar' ('J. A. S. B.' xv. p. 137), writes of it as follows: "This beautiful little animal is abundant over all the stony plains throughout the country, burrowing deeply, and when unearthed bounding away with most surprising agility after the manner of the kangaroo-rat. It is easily tamed, and lives happily enough in confinement if furnished with plenty of room to leap about. It sleeps all day, and so soundly that it may be taken from its cage and examined without awaking it; or at most it will half open one eye in a drowsy manner for an instant, and immediately close it again in sleep. It retires to its burrows about the end of October, and remains dormant till the following April, when it throws off its lethargy and again comes forth." There is a good engraving of this animal in Cassel's new Natural History.
* * * * *
We have now closed our account of the Myomorpha or Mouse-like Rodents, and will proceed to the next Section, HYSTRICOMORPHA, or Porcupine-like Rodents.
SECTION III.—HYSTRICOMORPHA. PORCUPINE-LIKE RODENTS.
This section contains six families, viz.:—
Octodontidae = 3 sub-families, 18 genera. Hystricidae = 2 sub-families, 5 genera. Chinchillidae = 5 genera, of which two are fossil. Dasyproctidae = 2 genera. Dionymidae = 1 genus. Caviidae = 3 genera.
Of these we have to deal with but one, the second family, Hystricidae, the rest belonging to Africa in part, but the majority to the American continent, chiefly South America.
I give the general characteristics of the section as laid down by Mr. Alston:—
"One premolar above and below (except in Ctenodactylus); grinding teeth rooted or rootless, not tuberculate; frontals with no distinct post-orbital processes (except in Chaetomys); infra-orbital opening large, sub-triangular, or oval; zygomatic arch proportionately stout; molar not advancing far forward, (except in Ctenodactylinae and Chinchillidae) and not supported below by a continuation of the maxillary zygomatic process; incisive foramina small; foramina in the base of skull proportionally large; an inter-pterygoid fissure; mandible with its angular portion springing from the outer side of the bony covering of the lower incisor, triangular, usually pointed behind; coronoid process small, and condyle low; clavicles perfect or imperfect; fibula persistent as a distinct bone throughout life; upper lip rarely cleft; muffle clad with fine hairs; nostrils pointed above, sigmoid or linear; ears usually emarginate behind; tail hairy, sub-naked, or scaly."—'P. Z. S.,' 1876, p. 90.
As I have said before, we have only to do with the Hystricidae or Porcupines, but many of the others are familiar by name. Of the Octodontidae the best known is the coypu of the Andes, one of the largest of the rodents, and the ground-rat or ground-pig of western and southern Africa. The chinchilla, which is the typical form of the third family, is known to all, especially ladies, from its delicate soft fur. The agouti of South America is the representative of the Dasyproctidae. The family Dinomyidae consists of one animal only, Dinomys Branickii; the only known example of which was obtained in Peru on the Montana de Vitoc. It was found walking about in a yard at daybreak, and showed so little fear of man that it suffered itself to be killed by the stroke of a sword. It is a pity no one was sensible enough to try and take it alive. As yet nothing is known of its habits. Of the last family, Caviidae, the cavy and the capybara are well known to travellers in South America, and the common guinea pig is familiar to us all.
FAMILY HYSTRICIDAE—THE PORCUPINES.
In this family the hairs of the body are more or less converted into spines or quills; the form of the skull is peculiar, being ovate, often greatly inflated with air cavities in the bones; the facial portion is broad and short; the malar portion of the zygomatic arch has no inferior angular process as in the Octodontidae; the occipital plane or hinder-surface is perpendicular, with a median ridge; the incisor teeth are large and powerful; the molars with external and internal folds, four in each jaw. The form is robust; limbs sub-equal; fore-feet with four toes, and a small wart-like thumb; hind-feet with four and five toes; tail long in some, short in others. There are two sub-families—Sphingurinae and Hystricinae. With the genera of the first we have nothing to do. They include the prehensile-tailed porcupines of South America, Sphingurus prehensilis, S. villosus, and S. Mexicanus, all arboreal forms, and the Canada porcupine (Erythizon dorsatus) which is covered with woolly hairs and spines intermixed. The true porcupines, sub-family Hystricinae, consist of two genera, both of which are represented in India—Atherura and Hystrix.
SUB-FAMILY HYSTRICINAE—THE TRUE PORCUPINES.
Grinding teeth semi-rooted; skull rather more elongate; infra-orbital foramen of great size; clavicles imperfect, attached to the sternum, and not to the scapula; upper lip furrowed; tail not prehensile; soles of feet smooth. The female has six mammae. In these points they differ from the American arboreal porcupines (Sphingurus), the skull of which is very short, the tail prehensile, the soles of the feet tuberculated, and the female has only four mammae.
The two genera, Atherura and Hystrix, which compose this sub-family, are distinguished by long tail and flattened spines (Atherura); and short tail and round spines (Hystrix).
GENUS ATHERURA—THE LONG-TAILED PORCUPINE.
Nasal part of skull moderate; upper molars with one internal and three or four external folds, the latter soon separated as enamel loops; the lower teeth similar but reversed; the spines are flattened and channelled; the tail long and scaly, with a tuft of bristles at the end.
NO. 402. ATHERURA FASCICULATA. The Brush-tailed Porcupine.
HABITAT.—Assam, Khasia hills, Tipperah hills, Burmah, Siam, and the Malayan peninsula.
DESCRIPTION.—"The general tint of the animal is yellowish-brown, freckled with dusky brown, especially on the back; the spines, taken separately, are brown white at the root, and become gradually darker to the point; the points of the spines on the back are very dark, being of a blackish-brown colour. The long and stout bristles, which are mixed with the spines on the back, are similarly coloured" (Waterhouse, 'Mammalia,' vol. ii. p. 472). The spines are flat on the under-surface and concave on the upper, sharply pointed and broadest near the root. Mixed with the spines on the back are long bristles, very stout, projecting some three inches beyond the spines, which are only about an inch in length; below these is a scanty undergrowth of pale coloured hairs; the tail is somewhat less than half the length of the head and body, scaly, and at the end furnished with a large tuft of flattened bristles from three to four inches long, of a dirty white colour, with sometimes dusky tips; the ears are semi-ovate; whiskers long and stout, and of a brown colour; muzzle hairy; feet short, five toes, but the thumb very small, with a short rounded nail.
SIZE.—Head and body, 18 inches; tail, exclusive of tuft, 7-1/2 inches.
Specimens of this animal were sent home to the Zoological Gardens, from Cherrapoonjee in the Khasia hills, by Dr. Jerdon. This species is almost the same as the African form (A. Africana). They are about the same in size and form and in general appearance. This last is found in such plenty, according to Bennett, in the Island of Fernando Po as to afford a staple article of food to the inhabitants. Blyth was of opinion that the Indian animal is much paler and more freckled than the African.
GENUS HYSTRIX—THE PORCUPINE.
"Spines cylindrical; tail short, covered with spines and slender-stalked open quills; nasal cavity usually very large; air sinuses of frontals greatly developed; teeth as in Atherura. The hind-feet with five toes; claws very stout."
The hinder part of the body is covered by a great number of sharp spines, ringed black and white, mostly tipped with white; the spines are hollow or filled with a spongy tissue, but extremely tough and resistant, with points as sharp as a needle. The animal is able to erect these by a contraction of the skin, but the old idea that they could be projected or shot out at an assailant is erroneous. They easily drop out, which may have given an idea of discharge. The porcupine attacks by backing up against an opponent or thrusting at him by a sidelong motion. I kept one some years ago, and had ample opportunity of studying his mode of defence. When a dog or any other foe comes to close quarters, the porcupine wheels round and rapidly charges back. They also have a side-way jerk which is effective.
NO. 403. HYSTRIX LEUCURA. The White-tailed Indian Porcupine (Jerdon's No. 204).
NATIVE NAMES.—Kanta-sahi, Sayi, Sayal, Sarsel, Hindi; Sajru, Bengali; Chotia-dumsee, Nepali; Saori, Gujrati; Salendra and Sayal, Mahrathi; Yed, Canarese; Ho-igu, Gondi; Phyoo, Burmese; Heetava, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—All over India (except perhaps Lower Bengal), Burmah and Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Blackish-brown; muzzle clad with short, stiff, bristly hairs; whiskers long and black, and a few white spines on the face; spines on the throat short, grooved, some with white setaceous points forming a half-collar; crest of head and neck formed of long black bristles, with here and there one with a long white tip; the spines of the sides are short, flattish, grooved or striated, mostly with white points; the large quills of the back are either entirely black or ringed at the base and middle with white, a few with white tips; the longer and thinner quills on the back and sides have long white terminations; many of these again, particularly the longest, have a basal and one or two central white rings; the short quills on the mesial line of the lumbar region are nearly all white, and the longer striated quills of this region are mostly white; quills of the tail white or yellowish, a few black ones at the root; pedunculated quills are long, broad, and much flattened in old animals.
SIZE.—Head and body, 32 inches; tail, 8 inches.
The description given in his 'Prodromus Faunae Zeylanicae' by Dr. Kellaart, who was a most careful observer, has been of great assistance to me in the above, as it was also, I fancy, to Jerdon, and his subsequent remarks are worthy of consideration. "The identification of species from single characters," he observes, "is at all times difficult and unsatisfactory in the genus Hystrix, particularly so as regard the conformation of the skull." And again: "The number of molars varies also in different specimens. In two adults obtained at Trincomalee there were only three molars on each side of the jaw, four being the dental formula of the genus Hystrix."
I think such aberrations ought to warn us from trying to make too many genera out of these animals. Dr. Gray, whose particular forte—or shall I say weakness?—was minute subdivision, classed (in 1847) the Indian porcupines in three sub-families, Hystrix, Acanthion, and Atherura; and Acanthion he some years after (1866, see 'P. Z. S.' p. 308) divided again into three groups, OEdocephalus, Acanthochaerus and Acanthion. The difference in the skull of Hystrix and Acanthion lies in the intermaxillaries and the grinders, as follows:—
Hystrix—Inter-max. broad, truncated, wide behind as before; grinders oblong, longer than broad, one fold on the inner, and three or four on the outer side.
Acanthion—Inter-max. triangular, tapering behind; grinders sub-cylindrical, not longer than broad, one fold on the inner, two or three on the outer side.
According to Waterhouse the European porcupine (Hystrix cristata of Linnaeus) is the Acanthion Cuvieri of Gray; and Gray, who afterwards modified his views of 1847 in 1866, wrote of it: "I am not aware of any external characters by which this species can be distinguished from the Hystrix cristata, though the skull is so different." Gray in another place writes that: "Though the skulls of H. leucurus preserve a very distinct character, yet they vary so much amongst themselves as to show that skulls afford no better character for the distinction of species than any other single character, such as colour, but can only be depended on when taken in connection with the rest of the organisation." In these circumstances I think it will be better not to attempt any further subdivision of the Indian porcupines in the present work beyond the two already given, viz. Hystrix and Atherura. There is a great similarity between the Indian H. leucura and the European H. cristata. According to Waterhouse the quills in the lumbar region, which are white in the Indian, are dusky in the European, which last has long white points to the bristles of the crest, whereas in the Indian one some only of the points are white, and the rest quite brown.
The Indian porcupine lives in burrows, in banks, hill sides, on the bunds of tanks, and in the sides of rivers and nullahs. It is nocturnal in its habits, and in the vicinity of cultivation does much damage to such garden stuff as consists of tubers or roots. In the jungle its food consists chiefly of roots, especially of some kinds of wild yam (Dioscorea). I have found porcupines in the densest bamboo jungles of the central provinces, where their food was doubtless young bamboo shoots and various kind of roots.
The porcupine all the world over is known to be good eating, and is in many countries esteemed a delicacy. The flesh is white and tender, and is much prized by most people in those places where it abounds. Brigadier-General McMaster, in his 'Notes on Jerdon,' in speaking of the only instance where he found a porcupine on the move after daylight, says: "Just at dawn a porcupine appeared, and, as I suppose his house was somewhere between us, trotted and fed, grunting hog-like, about the little valley at our feet until long after the sun was well up, and until I, despairing of other game, and bearing in mind his delicious flesh (for that of a porcupine is the most delicate I know of), shot him. Well may the flesh be tender and of delicate flavour, for, as many gardeners know to their cost, porcupines are most scrupulously dainty and epicurean as to their diet. A pine-apple is left by them until the very night before it is fit to be cut. Peas, potatoes, onions, &c., are not touched until the owner has made up his mind that they were just ready for the table." The Gonds in Seonee were always on the lookout for a porcupine. I described in my book on that district the digging out of one.
"The entrance of the animal's abode was a hole in a bank at which the dogs were yelping and scratching; but the bipeds had gone more scientifically to work by countermining from above, sinking shafts downwards at various points, till at last they reached his inner chamber, when he scuttled out, and, charging backwards at the dogs with all his spines erected, he soon sent them flying, howling most piteously; but a Gondee axe hurled at his head soon put an end to his career, for a porcupine's skull is particularly tender."
The female produces from two to four young, which are born with their eyes open. Their bodies are covered with short soft spines, which, however, speedily harden. It is said that the young do not remain long with their mother, but I cannot speak to this from personal experience. I have had young ones, but not those born in captivity.
NO. 404. HYSTRIX BENGALENSIS. The Bengal Porcupine (Jerdon's No. 205).
NATIVE NAME.—Sajaru or Sajru, Bengali.
DESCRIPTION.—"Smaller than the last; crest small and thin; the bristles blackish; body spines much flattened and strongly grooved, terminating in a slight seta Or bristle; slender flexible quills much fewer than in leucura, white, with a narrow black band about the centre; the thick quills basally white, the rest black, mostly with a white tip; a distinct white demi-collar; spines of lumbar region white, as are those of tail and rattle; muzzle less hirsute than in leucura."
SIZE.—Head and body, 28 inches; tail, 8 inches.
There is occasionally a variety to be found of this species with orange-coloured quills, or rather the orange hue is assumed at times. Jerdon mentions the fact that Sclater describes his H. Malabarica as having certain orange-coloured quills in place of white, and also that Blyth considered the two species identical. He also states that Mr. Day procured specimens of the orange porcupine from the Ghats of Cochin and Travancore, and that they were considered more delicate eating by the native sportsmen, who aver that they can distinguish the two kinds by the smell from their burrows; but he was not apparently aware at the time that a specimen of H. Malabarica with orange quills in the Zoological Gardens in London moulted, and the red quills were replaced by the ordinary black and white ones of the common Indian kind. Dr. Sclater afterwards (see 'P. Z. S.' 1871, p. 234) came to the conclusion that H. Malabarica was synonymous with H. leucura.
NO. 405. HYSTRIX (ACANTHION) LONGICAUDA. The Crestless Porcupine (Jerdon's No. 206).
NATIVE NAMES.—Anchotia-sahi or Anchotia-dumsi in Nepal; Sathung, Lepcha; O'—e of the Limbus (Hodgson). (N.B.—The ch must not be pronounced as k, but as ch in church.) Anchotia means crestless, the crested porcupine being called Chotia-dumsi.
HABITAT.—Nepal and Sikim, and on through Burmah to the Malayan peninsula, where it was first discovered.
DESCRIPTION.—Distinguished from the other species "by its inferior size, total absence of crest on its head, neck, and shoulders, by its longer tail, by the white collar of the neck being evanescent; and lastly by the inferior size and smaller quantity of the spines or quills."—Hodgson.
It is covered with black spinous bristles from two to three inches long, shortest on the head and limbs. The large quills of the back and croup are from seven to twelve inches long, mostly with one central black ring.
SIZE.—Head and body, 24 inches; tail, 4, or with the quills, 5-1/2 inches.
This is Hodgson's H. alophus, which is, I think, a more appropriate name than the one given, for its tail is not so very long in proportion. Hodgson says of it: "They breed in spring, and usually produce two young about the time the crops ripen. They are monogamous, the pair dwelling together in burrows of their own formation. Their flesh is delicious, like pork, but much more delicate flavoured, and they are easily tamed so as to breed in confinement. All tribes and classes, even high-caste Hindoos, eat them, and it is deemed lucky to keep one or two alive in stables, where they are encouraged to breed. Royal stables are seldom without at least one of them."
This animal was described by Gray as Acanthion Hodgsonii, the lesser Indian porcupine. Waterhouse, in writing of Hystrix (Acanthion) Javanica, says: "The habits of the animal, as recorded by Muller, do not differ from those of H. Hodgsonii"; and Blyth, as mentioned by Jerdon, was of opinion that the two species were one and the same. The Acanthochaerus Grotei, described and figured by Dr. Gray in 1866 ('P. Z. S.' p. 306), is the same as this species. It is to be found at Darjeeling amongst the tea plantations, between 4000 and 5000 feet elevation.
NO. 406. HYSTRIX YUNNANENSIS.
HABITAT.—Burmah, in the Kakhyen hills, at elevations of from 2000 to 4500 feet.
DESCRIPTION.—after Dr. Anderson, who first discovered and named this species: "Dark brown on the head, neck, shoulders, and sides passing into a deep black on the extremities, a very narrow white line passing backwards from behind the angle of the mouth to the shoulder; under surface brownish; the spiny hairs of the anterior part of the trunk flattened, grooved or ungrooved. The crest begins behind the occiput and terminates before the shoulders; the hairs are long, slender and backwardly curved, the generality of them being about 4-1/2 inches long, while the longer hairs measure about six inches.
"They are all paler than the surrounding hairs, and the individual hairs are either broadly tipped with yellowish-white, or they have a broad sub-apical band of that colour. The short, broad, spiny hairs, lying a short way in front of the quills, are yellow at their bases, the remaining portion being deep brown, whereas those more quill-like spiny hairs, immediately before the quills, have both ends yellow tipped.
"The quills are wholly yellow, with the exception of a dark brown, almost black band of variable breadth and position. It is very broad in the shorter quills, and is nearer the free end of the quill than its base, whereas in the long slender quills it is reduced to a narrow mesial band. The stout strong quills rarely exceed six inches in length, whilst the slender quills are one foot long. Posteriorly above the tail and at its sides many of the short quills are pure white. The modified quills on the tail, with dilated barb-like free ends are not numerous, and are also white. There are three kinds of rattle quills, the most numerous measure 0.65 inch in the length of the dilated hollow part, having a maximum breadth of 0.21 inch, whilst there are a few short cups 0.38 inch in length, with a breadth of 0.17 inch, and besides these a very few more elongated and narrow cylinders occur."—'Anat. and Zool. Res.,' p. 332.
SUB-ORDER DUPLICIDENTATA—DOUBLE-TOOTHED RODENTS.
These rodents are distinguished by the presence of two small additional incisors behind the upper large ones. At birth there are four such rudimentary incisors, but the outer two are shed, and disappear at a very early age; the remaining two are immediately behind the large middle pair, and their use is doubtful; but, as Dallas remarks, "their presence is however of interest, as indicating the direction in which an alliance with other forms of mammalia more abundantly supplied with teeth is to be sought."
Another distinctive characteristic of this sub-order is the formation of the bony palate, which is narrowed to a mere bridge between the alveolar borders, or portions of the upper jaw in which the grinding teeth are inserted.
The following synopsis of the sub-order is given by Mr. Alston:—
"Incisors 4/2; at birth 6/2; the outer upper incisor soon lost; the next pair very small, placed directly behind the large middle pair; their enamel continuous round the tooth, but much thinner behind; skull with the optic foramina confluent, with no true alisphenoid canal; incisive foramina usually confluent; bony palate reduced to a bridge between the alveolar borders; fibula anchylosed to tibia below, and articulating with the calcaneum; testes permanently external; no vescicular glands. Two families."—'P. Z. S.' 1876, p. 97.
There are only two families each of one existing genus—LEPORIDAE, genus Lepus, the Hare; and LAGOMYIDAE, genus Lagomys, the Pika, or Mouse-Hare, as Jerdon calls it. There are three fossil genera in the first family, viz. Palaeolagus, a fossil hare found in the Miocene of Dacota and Colorado, Panolax from the Pliocene marls of Santa Fe, and Praotherium from Pennsylvanian bone-caves. A fossil Lagomys, genus Titanomys, is found in the Post-Pliocene deposits in various parts of Europe, chiefly in the south.
FAMILY LEPORIDAE—THE HARES.
"Three premolars above and two below; molars rootless, with transverse enamel folds dividing them into lobes; skull compressed; frontals with large wing-shaped post-orbital processes; facial portion of maxillaries minutely reticulated; basisphenoid with a median perforation, and separated by a fissure from the vomer; coronoid process represented by a thin ridge of bone; clavicles imperfect; ears and hind-limbs elongated, tail short, bushy, recurved."—Alston.
Hares are found all over the world except in Australasia. The Rabbit is much more localised; in India we have none, unless the Hispid Hare, the black rabbit of Dacca sportsmen, is a true rabbit; it is said to burrow, but whether it is gregarious I know not. Another point would also decide the question, viz. are the young born with eyes open or shut? The hare pairs at about a year old, and has several broods a year of from two to five; the young are born covered with hair and their eyes open, whereas young rabbits are born blind and naked. The hare lives in the open, and its lair or "form" is merely a slight depression in some secluded spot. It has been noticed that the hare always returns to its form, no matter to what distance it may have wandered or have been driven.
NO. 407. LEPUS RUFICAUDATUS. The Common Indian Red-tailed Hare (Jerdon's No. 207).
NATIVE NAMES.—Khargosh, Kharra, Hindi; Sasru, Bengali; Mullol, Gondi.
DESCRIPTION.—"General hue rufescent, mixed with blackish on the back and head; ears brownish anteriorly, white at the base, and the tip brown; neck, breast, flanks and limbs more or less dark sandy rufescent, unmottled; nape pale sandy rufescent; tail rufous above, white beneath; upper lip small; eye-mark, chin, throat, and lower parts pure white."—Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body, 20 inches; tail, with hair, 4 inches; ear externally about 5 inches; maximum weight, about 5 lbs.
The Indian hare is generally found in open bush country, often on the banks of rivers, at least as far as my experience goes in the Central Provinces. Jerdon says, and McMaster corroborates his statement, that this species, as well as the next, take readily to earth when pursued, and seem to be well acquainted with all the fox-holes in their neighbourhood, and McMaster adds that they seem to be well aware which holes have foxes or not, and never go into a tenanted one.
The Indian hare is by no means so good for the table as the European one, being dry and tasteless, and hardly worth cooking.
NO. 408. LEPUS NIGRICOLLIS. The Black-naped Hare (Jerdon's No. 208).
NATIVE NAMES.—Khargosh, Hindi; Malla, Canarese; Sassa, Mahrathi; Musal, Tamil; Kundali, Telegu; Haba, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—Southern India and Ceylon; stated to be found also in Sind and the Punjab.
DESCRIPTION.—"Upper part rufescent yellow, mottled with black; single hairs annulated yellow and black; chin, abdomen, and inside of hind-limbs downy white; a black velvety spot on the occiput and upper part of neck extending to near the shoulders; the spot under the neck is in some specimens of a bright yellow colour; ears long, greyish-brown, internally with white fringes, at the apical part dusky, posteriorly black at the base; feet yellowish; tail above grizzled with black and yellow, beneath white."—Kellaart.
SIZE.—Head and body, 19 inches; tail, 2-1/2 inches; ears, 4-3/4 inches.
A friend of Brigadier-General McMaster's, writing to him, says: "The black-naped hare of the Neilgherries, which appears to be the same as that of the plains, only larger from the effect of climate, often, when chased by dogs, runs into holes and hollow trees. I have found some of the Neilgherry hares to be nearly, if not quite, equal to the English hares in flavour. I think a great deal depends upon keeping and cooking."
NO. 409. LEPUS PEGUENSIS. The Pegu Hare.
NATIVE NAME.—Yung, Arakanese.
DESCRIPTION.—Very like L. ruficaudatus, but with the tail black above; the colour of the upper parts is separated more distinctly from the pure white of the under parts.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 20 inches.
NO. 410. LEPUS HYPSIBIUS. The Mountain Hare.
DESCRIPTION.—Colour rufous brown, more or less mixed with black on the back, dusky ashy on the rump; lower parts white with a slight rufescent tinge, fur long, woolly, rather curly, and thick; head brown, whitish round the eyes; whiskers partly black, partly white; outside surface of ears brown in front, whitish behind, the brown hairs having short black tips; the extreme tip of ears black; tail white; throughout limbs chiefly white, a brownish band running down the anterior portion of the fore-legs.
SIZE.—Of skin about 24 inches. (See Blanford's 'Second Yarkand Mission,' p. 60; also plate iii.)
NO. 411. LEPUS PALLIPES. The Pale-footed Hare.
NATIVE NAMES.—Togh, Toshkhen, Yarkandi, i.e. Mountain Hare.
DESCRIPTION.—"Fur long, dense and soft, of a pale ochre colour, but on the back of the animal pencilled with black; haunches greyish; under-parts white, chest of a delicate yellow rufous tint; the front of the fore-legs and the fore-feet nearly of the same hue; tarsus almost white, but somewhat suffused with rufous in front; tail white, excepting along the middle portion of the upper surface, where it is grey."—Waterhouse's 'Mammalia,' vol. ii. p. 62.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 18 inches; tail, with hair about 5 inches.
This hare was first described by Hodgson ('J. A. S. B.,' vol. xi.), who also gave a plate; but there is a full description with an excellent plate in Blanford's 'Scientific Results of the Second Yarkand Mission.'
NO. 412. LEPUS TIBETANUS. The Thibet Hare.
HABITAT.—Little Thibet; Ladakh.
DESCRIPTION.—Ears longer than the head, margined with yellow white internally, externally, with the apex, edged with black and with a narrow edging of black extending about half-way down the hinder margin. The general colour seems to vary, as is the case with most of the mountain hares. According to Waterhouse it is "palish-ashy grey; the back mottled with dusky and yellowish-white; the back of neck pale rufous brown." Two specimens, described by Blanford, are "general colour rufous brown (very dark brownish tawny)," and another, "above dusky brown, with an ashy tinge on the rump." Waterhouse's specimens may have been in the winter dress; the under-parts are white; legs longish and white; tail white, with the upper surface sooty or grey-black. The excellent plate in the Yarkand Report is nearer to Waterhouse's verbal portraiture, being of a mottled ashy grey.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 18 inches; tail, with hair, 4-1/2 inches.
NO. 413. LEPUS YARKANDENSIS. The Yarkand Hare.
NATIVE NAME.—Toshkhan, Yarkandi.
HABITAT.—The plains of Yarkand and Kashghar.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour sandy, more or less mixed with dusky; pale isabelline on the sides; no grey on rump; tail dark brown above; ears without black tip; lower parts white; fur soft and long; fore-legs very pale, brown in front; hind-legs still paler, brown outside.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 17 inches; tail, 4 inches.
Mr. Blanford remarks that "one striking peculiarity of this very pale coloured hare is the absence of any black patches, and of all grey coloration throughout." The specimens were all shot in winter too. (See Blanford's 'Scientific Results, Second Yarkand Mission,' p. 65, and plate iv., fig. 1.)
NO. 414. LEPUS PAMIRENSIS. The Pamir Hare.
HABITAT.—Lake Sirikal, Pamir.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale sandy brown; almost isabelline on back and sides; rump greyish-white; tail black above; face and anterior portion of the ears concolorous with back; terminal portion of ears black outside at the edge; breast light rufous; lower parts white; fur fine, close and soft; fore-legs in front, and hind-legs outside, with a light brownish tinge.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 17 inches; tail, 4 inches.
The hare is described and named by Mr. W. T. Blanford, and from his full description I have abridged the above short notice. It is also well figured in the 'Yarkand Report,' plate v., fig. 1.
NO. 415. LEPUS STOLICZKANUS. Stoliczka's Hare.
HABITAT.—Kashghar, Altum Artush district, north-east of Kashghar.
DESCRIPTION.—"General colour light sandy brown, much mixed with black on the back; the rump very little paler; tail rather long, black above; face and anterior portion of ears the same colour as the back; terminal portion of ears black outside; nape and breast light rufous; lower parts white. The skull differs much from that of L. Yarkandensis and L. Pamirensis, the nasals being much more abruptly truncated behind than in either, and the parietal region or sinciput flatter" (Blanford's 'Scientific Results, Second Yarkand Mission,' p. 69, and plate v. fig. 2, skull plate, Va. fig. 2).
SIZE.—Head and body, about 17 inches; tail, with hair, 5 inches.
This hare was obtained by Dr. Stoliczka, and was first described and named by Mr. W. T. Blanford ('J. A. S. B.' vol. xiv. 1875, part ii. p. 110).
NO. 416. LEPUS CRASPEDOTIS. The Large-eared Hare.
DESCRIPTION.—Colour brown above, white below; the fur of the back is very pale French grey at the base, then black, and the tip is pale brown, almost isabelline; the black rings are wanting on the nape, hind neck and breast, which, like the fore-legs and hinder part of the tarsi are pale rufous brown; ears externally mouse brown, blackish-brown on the posterior portion near the tip, the anterior edges white, with rather longer hairs, except near the tip, where the hair is short and black; the posterior margins inside pale isabelline, the pale edge becoming broader near the tip; tail black above, white on the sides and below; whiskers black near the base, white except in the shorter ones throughout the greater part of their length; a pale line from the nose, including the eye, continued back nearly to the ear (Blanford's 'Eastern Persia,' vol. ii. p. 81, with plate).
SIZE.—Head and body, 15 inches; tail, with hair, 4.5 inches; ear, 6 inches; breadth of ear laid flat, 3.25 inches.
This is a new species, described and named by Mr. W. T. Blanford.
NO. 417. LEPUS HISPIDUS. The Hispid Hare.
HABITAT.—The Terai and low forests at the base of the Himalayas.
DESCRIPTION.—"General colour dark or iron grey, with an embrowned ruddy tinge, and the limbs shaded outside, like the body, with black, instead of being unmixed rufous" (Hodgson). The inner fur is soft, downy, and of an ash colour, the outer longer, hispid, harsh and bristly. Some of the hairs ringed black and brown, others are pure black and long, the latter more numerous; ears short and broad.
SIZE.—Head and body, 19-1/2 inches; tail, with hair, 2-1/8 inches; ears, 2-3/4 inches.
This animal seems to be a link between the hares and the rabbits. Like the latter, it burrows, and has more equal limbs; but, according to Hodgson, it is not gregarious, but lives in pairs. It would greatly help in the identification of its position if some one would procure the young or a gravid female, and see whether the young are born blind and naked as in the rabbits, or open-eyed and clad with fur as in the hares. Jerdon says it is common at Dacca, and is reported to be found also in the Rajmehal hills, and that its flesh is stated to be white, like that of the rabbit.
FAMILY LAGOMYIDAE—THE PIKAS, OR MOUSE-HARES.
One or two premolars above and below; grinding teeth as in Leporidae; skull depressed; the frontals are contracted, without the wing-like processes of the hares; a single perforation in the facial surface of the maxillaries; a curious prolongation of the posterior angle of the malar into a process extending almost to the ear tube, or auditory meatus; the basisphenoid is not perforated and separated from the vomer as in Lepus; the coronoid process is in the form of a tubercle; the clavicles are complete; ears short; limbs nearly equal; no tail.
Animals of small size and robust form; short-eared and tailless; two premolars above and below.
NO. 418. LAGOMYS ROYLEI. Royle's Pika (Jerdon's No. 210).
NATIVE NAME.—Rang-runt, or Rang-duni, in Kunawur.—Jerdon.
HABITAT.—The Himalayan range, from Kashmir to Sikim.
DESCRIPTION.—Rabbit grey or brown, with a yellowish-grey tinge, more or less rufous on the head, neck, shoulder and sides of body; a hairy brown muzzle, with pale under-lip; long whiskers, some white, the posterior ones dark; under-parts white; fur soft and fine. The upper lip is lobed as in the hare; ears elliptical, with rounded tops.
SIZE.—From 6 to 8 inches.
The first specimen was sent to England by Dr. Royle, in whose honour Mr. Ogilby named it. It was obtained not far from Simla. It lives in rocky ground or amongst loose stones in burrows, and is the tailless rat described by Turner in his 'Journey to Thibet,' which had perforated the banks of a lake by its holes.
NO. 419. LAGOMYS CURZONIAE. Curzon's Pika.
HABITAT.—The higher ranges of the Himalayas, from 14,000 to 19,000 feet. It has been found northerly in Ladakh, and easterly in Sikim.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale buff above, tinged with rufous, the sides being more rufescent; head, as far back as the ears, decidedly rufescent; ears large and oval; sides of head and nose dirty fulvous white; under-parts white, with a faint yellow tinge; limbs and soles of feet white; whiskers, some black, some white; fur long, fine and silky.
SIZE.—About 7 inches to 8 inches.
NO. 420. LAGOMYS LADACENSIS. The Ladak Pika.
NATIVE NAMES.—Zabra, Karin, or Phisekarin, Ladakhi.
HABITAT.—High plateaux of Ladakh.
DESCRIPTION.—"General hue of the upper body pale buff, fulvous, with a very slight rufous tint, and tipped with dark brown; below whitish with translucent dusky blue."—Stoliczka, quoted by Blanford.
SIZE.—From 7 inches to 9 inches.
It is as yet doubtful whether this is not identical with the last. Mr. Blanford has separated it, and Dr. Gunther, agreeing with him, named this species L. Ladacensis; but the skull characteristics of L. Curzoniae have not as yet been compared with this, and the separation has been made on external characters only.
NO. 421. LAGOMYS AURITUS. The Large-eared Pika.
HABITAT.—Lukong, on the Pankong lake.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour above smoky or wood brown; the head, shoulders and rump rather paler and more rufous; lower parts whitish, with the dark basal portion of the hair showing through; fur very soft, moderately long; ears large, round, clothed rather thinly inside near the margin with whitish-brown hairs, and outside with much longer hairs of the same colour; whiskers fine and long, the upper dark brown, the lower white; feet whitish. (See Blanford's 'Sc. Res. Second Yarkand Mission,' p. 75, plate vi. fig. 2.)
SIZE.—About 8 inches.
NO. 422. LAGOMYS MACROTIS.
This seems to be a doubtful species; it may probably prove to be the same as the last, the skulls being similar. Mr. Blanford remarks: "I am strongly disposed to suspect, indeed, that L. auritus is the summer L. macrotis, the winter garb of the same species; but there are one or two differences which require explanation. The feet appear larger in L. macrotis, and the pads of the toes are black, whilst in L. auritus they are pale coloured. In the former the long hair of the forehead is lead black at the base, in the latter, pale grey; the feet and lower parts generally are white in L. macrotis, buffy white in L. auritus, but this may be seasonable."
NO. 423. LAGOMYS GRISEUS. The Grey Pika.
HABITAT.—Yarkand, Kuenlun range, south of Sunju pass.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour dull grey (almost Chinchilla colour), with a slight rufescent tinge on the face and back; lower parts white; fur very soft, about 0.9 inch long in the middle of the back; glossy leaden black at the base and for about two-thirds of its length, very pale ashy grey towards the end; the extreme tips of many hairs dark brown, and on the back the tips of all the hairs are brownish; the sides are almost pure light ashy; rump still paler; feet white; hair on the face long, light brown on the forehead, greyer on the nose, pure grey on the sides of the head. A few of the upper whiskers black, the rest white; ears large round with rather thin white hairs inside, very short hairs close to the margin, white outside, black inside, outer surface covered with whitish hairs, which become long near the base of the ear. (See Blanford's 'Scientific Results, Second Yarkand Mission,' p. 77, and plate vii. fig. 1.)
SIZE.-About 7 inches.
NO. 424. LAGOMYS RUFESCENS. The Red Pika.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale sandy red, darker on the top of the head, the shoulders and fore part of back; two large patches behind the ears; the feet and the under-parts are pale buff yellow; ears moderately large, subovate and well clad, rusty yellow, paler on the under part; whiskers very long, brown, a few brownish white; toe-pads blackish.
SIZE.-About 8 inches.
This species has been found in the rocky hills of Cabul. Lagomys Hodgsonii, from Lahoul, Ladakh and Kulu, is considered to be the same as the above, and L. Nipalensis, described by Waterhouse, as synonymous with L. Roylei.
* * * * *
Under the systems of older naturalists the thick-skinned animals were lumped together under the order UNGULATA, or hoofed animals, subdivided by Cuvier into Pachydermata, or thick-skinned non-ruminants, and Ruminantia, or ruminating animals; but neither the elephant nor the coney can be called hoofed animals, and in other respects they so entirely differ from the rest that recent systematists have separated them into three distinct orders—Proboscidea, Hyracoidea and Ungulata, which classification I here adopt.
It seems a strange jump from the order which contains the smallest mammal, the little harvest mouse, to that which contains the gigantic elephant—a step from the ridiculous to the sublime; yet there are points of affinity between the little mouse and the giant tusker to which I will allude further on, and which bring together these two unequal links in the great chain of nature. The order Proboscidea, or animals whose noses are prolonged into a flexible trunk, consists of one genus containing two living species only—the Indian and African Elephants. To this in the fossil world are added two more genera—the Mastodon and Dinotherium.
The elephant is one of the oldest known of animals. Frequent mention is made in the Scriptures and ancient writings of the use of ivory. In the First Book of Kings and the Second of Chronicles, it is mentioned how Solomon's ships brought every three years from Tarshish gold and silver and ivory (or elephants' teeth) apes and peacocks. In the Apocrypha the animal itself, and its use in war, is mentioned; in the old Sanscrit writings it frequently appears. Aristotle and Pliny were firm believers in the superstition which prevailed, even to more recent times, that it had no joints.
"The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy; His legs are for necessity, not flexure"—
says Shakespeare. Even down to the last century did this notion prevail, so little did people know of this animal. The supposition that he slept leaning against a tree is to be traced in Thomson's 'Seasons'—
"Or where the Ganges rolls his sacred waves Leans the huge elephant."
Again, Montgomery says—
"Beneath the palm which he was wont to make His prop in slumber."
At a very early period elephants were used in war, not only by the Indian but the African nations. In the first Punic war (B.C. 264-241) they were used considerably by the Carthaginians, and in the second Punic war Hannibal carried thirty-seven of them across the Alps. In the wars of the Moghuls they were used extensively. The domestication of the African elephant has now entirely ceased; there is however no reason why this noble animal should not be made as useful as its Indian brother; it is a bigger animal, and as tractable, judging from the specimens in menageries. It was trained in the time of the Romans for performances in the arena, and swelled the pomp of military triumphs, when, as Macaulay, I think, in his 'Lays of Ancient Rome,' says, the people wondered at—
"The monstrous beast that had A serpent for a hand."
It seems a cruel shame, when one comes to think of it, that thousands of these noble animals should perish annually by all sorts of ignoble means—pitfalls, hamstringing, poisoned arrows, and a few here and there shot with more or less daring by adventurous sportsmen, only for the sake of their magnificent tusks.
Few people think, as they leisurely cut open the pages of a new book or play with their ivory-handled dessert-knives after dinner, of the life that has once been the lot of that inanimate substance, so beautiful in its texture, so prized from time immemorial; still less do they think, for the majority do not know, of the enormous loss of life entailed in purveying this luxury for the market. An elephant is a long-lived beast; it is difficult to say what is the extent of its individual existence; at fifty years it is in its prime, and its reproduction is in ratio slower than animals of shorter life, yet what countless herds must there be in Central Africa when we consider that the annual requirements of Sheffield alone are reported to be upwards of 46,000 tusks, which represent 23,000 elephants a year for the commerce of one single city! The African elephant must be decreasing, even as it has been extirpated in the north of that continent, where it abounded in the time of the Carthaginians, and the time may come when ivory shall be counted as one of the precious things of the past. Even now the price is going up, and is nearly double what it was a year ago. Now enhanced price means either greater demand or deficient supply, and it is probably to this last we must look for an answer to the question. True it is that if we want ivory animals must be killed to get it, for the notion that some people have gained from obsolete works on natural history, to the effect that elephants shed their tusks, is an erroneous one. It is generally supposed that elephants do not shed their tusks at all, not even milk-teeth, but that they grow ab initio, as do the incisors of rodents, from a persistent pulp, and continue growing through life. Mr. G. P. Sanderson, the author of 'Thirteen Years among the Wild Beasts,' whom I have to thank for much and valuable information about the habits of these animals, assured me, when I spoke to him about the popular idea of there being milk-tusks, that he had watched elephants from their birth, and had never known them to shed their tusks, nor had his mahouts ever found a shed tusk; but Mr. Tegetmeier has pointed out that there are skulls in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, showing both the milk and permanent tusks, the latter pushing forward the former, which are absorbed to a great extent, and leave nothing but a little blackened stump, the size of one's finger. This was brought to my notice by a correspondent of The Asian, "Smooth-bore," and I have lately had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tegetmeier, and speaking to him on the subject. There is apparently no limit to the growth of tusks, so that under favourable circumstances they might attain enormous dimensions, owing to the age of the animal, and absence of the attrition which keeps the incisors of rodents down. As in the case of rodents, malformations of whose incisors I have alluded to some time back, the tusks of elephants assume various freaks. I have heard of their overlapping and crossing the trunk in a manner to impede the free use of that organ. The tusks of fossil elephants are in many cases gigantic. There is a head in the Indian Museum, of which the tusks outside the socket measure 9-3/4 feet, and are of very curious formation. The two run parallel some distance, and then diverge, which would lead one to suppose that the animal inhabited open country, for such a formation would be extremely uncomfortable in thick forest. That tusks of such magnitude are not found nowadays is probably due to the fact that the elephant has more enemies, the most formidable of all being man, which prevent his reaching the great age of those of the fossil periods. It may be said, by those who disbelieve in the extermination of this animal, that, as elephants have provided ivory for several thousand years, they will go on doing so; but I would remind them that in olden days ivory was an article in limited demand, being used chiefly by kings and great nobles; it is only of late years that it has increased more than a hundredfold. Our forefathers used buck-horn handled knives, and they were without the thousand-and-one little articles of luxury which are now made of ivory; even the requirements of the ancient world drove the elephant away from the coasts, where Solomon, and later still the Romans, got their ivory; and now the girdle round the remaining herds in Central Africa is being narrowed day by day. Mr. Sanderson is of opinion that it is not decreasing in India under the present restrictions, but there is no doubt the reckless slaughter of them in Ceylon has greatly diminished their numbers. Sir Emerson Tennent states that the Government reward was claimed for 3,500 destroyed in part of the northern provinces alone in three years prior to 1848, and between 1851 and 1856, 2000 were killed in the southern provinces.
GENUS ELEPHAS—THE ELEPHANT.
In the writings of older naturalists this animal, so singular in its construction, will be found grouped with the horse, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, tapir, coney, and pig, under the name of pachydermata, the seventh order of Cuvier, but these are now more appropriately divided, as I have said before, into three different orders—Proboscidea, the elephants; Hyracoidea, the conies; and the rest come under Ungulata. Apparently singular as is the elephant in its anatomy, it bears traces of affinity to both Rodentia and Ungulata. The composition of its massive tusks or incisors, and also of its grinders, resembles that of the Rodents. The tusks grow from a persistent pulp, which forms new ivory coated with enamel, but the grinders are composed of a number of transverse perpendicular plates, or vertical laminae of dentine, enveloped with enamel, cemented together by layers of a substance called cortical. The enamel, by its superior hardness, is less liable to attrition, and, standing above the rest, causes an uneven grinding surface. Each of these plates is joined at the base of the tooth, and on the grinding surface the pattern formed by them distinguishes at once the Indian from the African elephant. In the former, the transverse ridges are in narrow, undulating loops, but in the African they form decided lozenges. These teeth, when worn out, are succeeded by others pushing forward from behind, and not forced up vertically, as in the case of ordinary deciduous teeth, so that it occasionally happens that the elephant has sometimes one and sometimes two grinders on each side, according to age. In the wild state sand and grit, entangled in the roots of plants, help in the work of attrition, and, according to Professor W. Boyd Dawkins, the tame animal, getting cleaner food, and not having such wear and tear of teeth, gets a deformity by the piling over of the plates of which the grinder is composed. An instance of this has come under my notice. An elephant belonging to my brother-in-law, Colonel W. B. Thomson, then Deputy Commissioner of Seonee, suffered from an aggravated type of this malformation. He was relieved by an ingenious mahout, who managed to saw off the projecting portion of the tooth, which now forms a paper-weight. In my account of Seonee I have given a detailed description of the mode in which the operation was effected.
The skull of the elephant possesses many striking features quite different from any other animal. The brain in bulk does not greatly exceed that of a man, therefore the rest of the enormous head is formed of cellular bone, affording a large space for the attachment of the powerful muscles of the trunk, and at the same time combining lightness with strength. This cellular bone grows with the animal, and is in great measure absent at birth. In the young elephant the brain nearly fills the head, and the brain-case increases but little in size during growth, but the cellular portion progresses rapidly with the growth of the animal, and is piled up over the frontals for a considerable height, giving the appearance of a bold forehead, the brain remaining in a small space at the base of the skull, close to its articulation with the neck. According to Professor Flower, the cranial cavity is elongated and depressed, more so in the African than the Indian elephant. The tentorial plane is nearly vertical, so that the cerebellar fossa is altogether behind the cerebral fossa, or, in plainer terms, the division between the big brain (cerebrum) and the little one (cerebellum) is vertical, the two brains lying on a level plane fore and aft instead of overlapping. The brain itself is highly convoluted. The nasal aperture, or olfactory fossa, is very large, and is placed a little below the brain-case. Few people who are intimate with but the external form of the elephant would suppose that the bump just above the root of the trunk, at which the hunter takes aim for the "front shot," is really the seat of the organ of smell, the channels of which run down the trunk to the orifice at the end. The maxillo-turbinals, or twisted bony laminae within the nasal aperture, which are to be found in most mammals, are but rudimentary in the elephant—the elongated proboscis, according to Professor Flower, probably supplying their place in warming the inspired air. The premaxillary and maxillary bones are largely developed, and contain the socket of the enormous tusks. The narial aperture is thus pushed up, and is short, with an upward direction, as in the Cetacea and Sirenia, with whom the Proboscidea have certain affinities.
There are no lower incisors (except in a fossil species), and only two of the molar teeth are to be seen on each side of the jaw at a time, which are pushed out and replaced by others which grow from behind. During the life-time of the animal, twenty-four of these teeth are produced, six in each side of the upper and lower jaws.
The elephant has seven cervical vertebrae, the atlas much resembling the human form; of the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae the number is 23, of which 19 or 20 bear ribs; the caudal vertebrae are 31, of a simple character, without chevron bones.
The pelvis is peculiar in some points, such as the form of the ileum and the arrangement of its surfaces, resembling the human pelvis.
The limbs in the skeleton of the elephant are disposed in a manner differing from most other mammalia. The humerus is remarkable for the great development of the supinator ridge. "The ulna and radius are quite distinct and permanently crossed; the upper end of the latter is small, while the ulna not only contributes the principal part of the articular surface for the humerus, but has its lower end actually larger than that of the radius—a condition almost unique among mammals" (Prof. Flower).
On looking at the skeleton of the elephant, one of the first things that strikes the student of comparative anatomy is the perpendicular column of the limbs; in all other animals the bones composing these supports are set at certain angles, by which a direct shock in the action of galloping and leaping is avoided. Take the skeleton of a horse, and you will observe that the scapula and humerus are set almost at right angles to each other. It is so in most other animals, but in the elephant, which requires great solidity and columnar strength, it not being given to bounding about, and having enormous bulk to be supported, the scapula, humerus, ulna and radius are all almost in a perpendicular line. Owing to this rigid formation, the elephant cannot spring. No greater hoax was ever perpetrated on the public than that in one of our illustrated papers, which gave a picture of an elephant hurdle-race. Mr. Sanderson, in his most interesting book, says: "He is physically incapable of making the smallest spring, either in vertical height or horizontal distance. Thus a trench seven feet wide is impassable to an elephant, though the step of a large one in full stride is about six and a half feet."
The hind-limbs are also peculiarly formed, and bear some resemblance to the arrangement of the human bones, and in these the same perpendicular disposition is to be observed; the pelvis is set nearly vertically to the vertebral column, and the femur and tibia are in an almost direct line. The fibula, or small bone of the leg, which is subject to great variation amongst animals (it being merely rudimentary in the horse, for instance), is distinct in the elephant, and is considerably enlarged at the lower end. The tarsal bones are short, and the digits have the usual number of phalanges, the ungual or nail-bearing ones being small and rounded.
I have thus briefly summarised the osteology of the elephant, as I think the salient points on which I have touched would interest the general reader; but, in now proceeding to the internal anatomy, I shall restrict myself still more, referring only to certain matters affecting externally visible peculiarities. The trunk of the elephant differs somewhat from other nasal prolongations, such as the snouts of certain insectivora, which are simply development of the nasal cartilages. The nasal cartilages in the Proboscidea serve merely as valves to the entrance of the bony nares, the trunk itself being only a pipe or duct leading to them, composed of powerful muscular and membranous tissue and consisting of two tubes, separated by a septum. The muscles in front (levatores proboscidis), starting from the frontal bone, run along a semicircular line, arching upwards above the nasal bones and between the orbits. They are met at the sides by the lateral longitudinal muscles, which blend, and their fibres run the whole length of the proboscis down to the extremity. The depressing muscles (depressores proboscidis), or posterior longitudinals, arise from the anterior surface and lower border of the premaxillaries, and form "two layers of oblique fasciculi along the posterior surface of the proboscis; the fibres of the superficial set are directed downwards and outwards from the middle line. They do not reach the extremity of the trunk, but disappear by curving over the sides a little above the end of the organ. The fibres of the deeper set take the reverse direction, and are attached to a distinct tendinous raphe along the posterior median line" ('Anat. Ind. Elep.,' Miall and Greenwood). These muscles form the outer sheath of other muscles, which radiate from the nasal canals outwards, and which consist of numerous distinct fasciculi. Then there are a set of transverse muscles in two parts—one narrow, forming the septum or partition between the nasal passages, and the other broader between the narrow part and the posterior longitudinal muscles.
When we consider the bulk of these well-knit muscles we can no longer wonder at the power of which this organ is capable, although, according to Mr. Sanderson, its capabilities are much exaggerated; and he explodes various popular delusions concerning it. He doubts the possibility of the animal picking up a needle, the common old story which I also disbelieve, having often seen the difficulty with which a coin is picked up, or rather scraped up; but he quite scouts the idea of an elephant being able to lift a heavy weight with his trunk, giving an instance recorded of one of these creatures lifting with his trunk the axle of a field-piece as the wheel was about to pass over a fallen gunner, which he declares to be a physical impossibility. Certainly the story has many elements of improbability about it, and his comments on it are caustic and amusing: par exemple, when he asks: "How did the elephant know that a wheel going over the man would not be agreeable to him?" That is the weak point in the story—but, however intelligent the animal might be, Mr. Sanderson says it is physically impossible.
Another thing that strikes every one is the noiseless tread of this huge beast. To describe the mechanism of the foot of the elephant concisely and simply I am going to give a few extracts from the observations of Professor W. Boyd Dawkins and Messrs. Oakley, Miall, and Greenwood: "It stands on the ends of its five toes, each of which is terminated by comparatively small hoofs, and the heel-bone is a little distance from the ground. Beneath comes the wonderful cushion composed, of membranes, fat, nerves, and blood-vessels, besides muscles, which constitutes the sole of the foot" (W. B. D. and H. O.). "Of the foot as a whole—and this remark apples to both fore and hind extremities—the separate mobility of the parts is greater than would be suspected from an external inspection, and much greater than in most Ungulates. The palmar and plantar soles, though thick and tough, are not rigid boxes like hoofs, but may be made to bend even by human fingers. The large development of muscles acting upon the carpus and tarsus, and the separate existence of flexors and extensors of individual digits, is further proof that the elephant's foot is far from being a solid unalterable mass. There are, as has been pointed out, tendinous or ligamentous attachments which restrain the independent action of some of these muscles, but anatomical examinations would lead us to suppose that the living animal could at all events accurately direct any part of the circumference of the foot by itself to the ground. The metacarpal and metatarsal bones form a considerable angle with the surface of the sole, while the digits, when supporting the weight of the body, are nearly horizontal" (M. and G.). This formation would naturally give elasticity to the foot, and, with the soft cushion spoken of by Professor Dawkins, would account for the noiselessness of the elephant's tread. On one occasion a friend and myself marched our elephant up to a sleeping tiger without disturbing the latter's slumbers.
It is a curious fact that twice round an elephant's foot is his height; it may be an inch one way or the other, but still sufficiently near to take as an estimate.
Now we come to a third peculiarity in this interesting animal, and that is the power of withdrawing water or a similar fluid from apparently the stomach by the insertion of its trunk into the mouth, which it sprinkles over its body when heated. The operation and the modus operandi are familiar to all who have made much use of elephants, but the internal economy by which the water is supplied is as yet a mystery to be solved, although various anatomists have given the subject serious attention. It is generally supposed that the receptacle for the liquid is the stomach, from the quantity that is ejected. An elephant distressed by a long march in the heat of the sun withdraws several quarts of water, but that it is water, and not a secretion produced by salivatory glands, is not I think sufficiently evident. In talking over the matter with Mr. Sanderson, he informed me that an elephant that has drunk a short time before taking an arduous march has a more plentiful supply of liquid at his disposal. Therefore we might conclude that it is water which is regurgitated, and in such quantity as to preclude the idea of its being stored anywhere but in the stomach; but the question is, how it is so stored there without assimulating with the food in the process of digestion. Sir Emerson Tennent, in his popular and well-known, but in some respects incorrect, account of the elephant, has adopted the theory that the cardiac end of the stomach is the receptacle for the water; and he figures a section of it showing a number of transverse circular folds; and he accepts the conclusion arrived at by Camper and Sir Everard Home that this portion can be shut off as a water chamber by the action of the fold nearest to the oesophagus; but these folds are too shallow to serve as water-cells, and it has not been demonstrated that the broadest fold near the oesophagus can be contracted to such an extent as to form a complete diaphragm bisecting the stomach. Messrs. Miall and Greenwood say: "The stomach is smooth, externally elongate, and nearly straight. The cardiac end is much prolonged and tapering. A number of transverse, nearly circular, folds project inwards from the cardiac wall; they almost disappear when the stomach is greatly distended, and are at all times too shallow to serve as water-cells, though they have been figured and described as such."
That the stomach is the reservoir is, I think, open to doubt; but there is no other possible receptacle as yet discovered, though I shall allude to a supposed one presently, which would hold a moderate supply of water, and further research in this direction is desirable. Most of the dissections hitherto made have been of young and immature specimens. Dr. Watson's investigations have thrown some light on the way in which the water is withdrawn, which differs from Dr. Harrison's conclusions, which are quoted by Sir Emerson Tennent. Dr. Watson says regarding this power of withdrawal: "It is evident that were the throat of this animal similar to that of other mammals, this could not be accomplished, as the insertion of a body, such as the trunk, so far into the pharynx as to enable the constrictor muscles of that organ to grasp it, would at once give rise to a paroxysm of coughing; or, were the trunk merely inserted into the mouth, it would be requisite that this cavity be kept constantly filled with water, at the same time that the lips closely encircled the inserted trunk. The formation of the mouth of the elephant, however, is such as to prevent the trunk ever being grasped by the lips so as effectually to stop the entrance of air into the cavity, and thus at once, if I may so express it, the pump action of the trunk is completely paralysed. We find, therefore, that it is to some modification of the throat that we must look for an explanation of the function in question." He then goes on to explain minutely the anatomical details of the apparatus of the throat, which I will endeavour to sketch as simply, though clearly, as I can. The superior aperture of the pharynx is extremely narrow, so much so as to admit, with difficulty, the passage of a closed fist; but immediately behind this the pharynx dilates into a large pouch capable of containing a certain quantity of fluid—according to Dr. Watson a considerable quantity; but this is open to question. Professor Miall states that in the young specimen examined by him and Mr. Greenwood, a pint was the capacity of the pouch. However, according to Dr. Watson, it is capable of distention to a certain extent. The pouch is prolonged forward beneath the root of the tongue, which forms the anterior boundary, whilst the posterior wall is completed by depression of the soft palate; when the latter is elevated the pouch communicates freely with the oesophagus. I omit Dr. Watson's minute description of the anatomy of this part in detail, which the reader who cares to study the matter more deeply can find in his 'Contributions to the Anatomy of the Indian Elephant,' 'Journal of Anatomy and Physiology,' 1871-74, but proceed to quote some of his deductions from the observations made: "An elephant can," he says, "as the quotations sufficiently prove, withdraw water from his stomach in two ways—first, it may be regurgitated directly into the nasal passages by the action of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, the soft palate being at the same time depressed, so as to prevent the passage of water into the mouth. Having in this manner filled the large nasal passages communicating with the trunk, the water contained in them is then forced through the trunk by means of a powerful expiration; or, in the second place, the water may be withdrawn from the cavity of the mouth by means of the trunk inserted into it."
The second deduction is, I think, the more probable one. Before an elephant spirts water over his body, he invariably puts his trunk into his mouth for the liquid, whatever it may be. Messrs. Miall and Greenwood are also against the former supposition, viz. that the fluid is regurgitated into the nasal passages. They say: "We are disposed to question the normal passage of water along this highly-sensitive tract. Examination of the parts discovers no valve or other provision for preventing water, flowing from behind forward, from gaining free entrance into the olfactory recesses." Mr. Sanderson, in discussing the habits of elephants with me, informed me that, from his observations, he was sure that an elephant, in drawing up water, did not fill more than fifteen to eighteen inches of his trunk at a time, which confirms the opinion of the two last-mentioned authors. Now we go on with Dr. Watson's second deduction:—
"It is manifestly impossible that the water can be contained within the cavity of the mouth itself, as I have already shown that the lips in the elephant are so formed as effectually to prevent this. The water regurgitated is, however, by means of the elevation of the soft palate, forced into the pharyngeal pouch. The superior aperture of this pouch being much narrower than the diameter of the pouch itself, and being completely surrounded by the muscular fibres of the stylo-glossus on each side, and the root of the tongue in front, which is prolonged backwards so as to form a free sharp margin, we have thus, as it were, a narrow aperture surrounded by a sphincter muscle, into which the trunk being inserted, and grasped above its dilated extremity by the sphincter arrangement just referred to, air is thus effectually excluded; and, the nasal passages being then exhausted by the act of inspiration, water is lodged within these passages, to be used as the animal thinks fit, either by throwing it over his body, or again returning it into his mouth."
This is doubtless a correct conclusion. The question still remaining open is, What is the fluid—water or a secretion? If water, where is it stowed in sufficient quantity? The testimony of several eminent anatomists appears to be against stomach complications such as before suggested. Dr. Anderson has told me that he had the opportunity of examining the stomachs of two very large elephants, which were perfectly simple, of enormous size; and he was astonished at the extent of mucous surface. If water were drawn from such a stomach, it would be more or less tainted with half-digested food, besides which, when drunk, it would be rapidly absorbed by the mucous surfaces. I think therefore that we may assume that these yield back a very fluid secretion, which is regurgitated, as before suggested, into the pharyngeal pouch, to be withdrawn as required. Sir Emerson Tennent figures, on the authority of Dr. Harrison, a portion of the trachea and oesophagus, connected by a muscle which he supposes "might raise the cardiac orifice of the stomach, and so aid this organ to regurgitate a portion of its contents into the oesophagus," but neither Dr. Watson nor Messrs. Miall and Greenwood have found any trace of this muscle.
* * * * *
Before proceeding to a detailed account of the Indian elephant, I will cursorily sketch the difference between it and its African brother.
The African elephant is of larger size as a rule, with enormously developed ears, which quite overlap his withers. The forehead recedes, and the trunk is more coarsely ringed; the tusks are larger, some almost reaching the size of those mentioned above in the fossil head at the museum. An old friend of mine, well known to all the civilised—and a great portion of the uncivilised—world, Sir Samuel Baker, had, and may still have, in his possession a tusk measuring ten feet nine inches. This of course includes the portion within the socket, whereas my measurement of the fossil is from the socket to tip.
The lamination of the molar teeth also is very distinct in the two species, as I have before stated—the African being in acute lozenges, the Indian in wavy undulations.
Another point of divergence is, that the African elephant has only three nails on the hind feet, whereas the Asiatic has four.
NO. 425. ELEPHAS INDICUS. The Indian or Asiatic Elephant (Jerdon's No. 211).
NATIVE NAMES.—Hasti or Gaja, Sanscrit; Gaj, Bengali; Hati, Hindi; Ani in Southern India, i.e. in Tamil, Telegu, Canarese, and Malabari; Feel, Persian; Allia, Singhalese; Gadjah, Malayan; Shanh, Burmese.
HABITAT.—India, in most of the large forests at the foot of the Himalayas from Dehra Doon down to the Bhotan Terai; in the Garo hills, Assam; in some parts of Central and Southern India; in Ceylon and in Burmah, from thence extending further to Siam, Sumatra and Borneo.
DESCRIPTION.—Head oblong, with concave forehead; small ears as compared with the African animal; small eyes, lighter colour, and four instead of three nails on the hind foot; the laminations of the molar teeth in wavy undulations instead of sharp lozenges, as in the African, the tusks also being much smaller in the female, instead of almost equal in both sexes.
SIZE.—The maximum height appears to be about 11 feet, in fact the only authentic measurement we have at present is 10 feet 7 inches.
"The huge elephant, wisest of brutes,"
has had a good deal of the romance about it taken away by modern observers. The staid appearance of the animal, with the intellectual aspect contributed by the enormous cranial development, combined with its undoubted docility and aptitude for comprehending signs, have led to exaggerated ideas of its intelligence, which probably does not exceed that of the horse, and is far inferior to that of the dog. But from time immemorial it has been surrounded by a halo of romance and exaggeration. Mr. Sanderson says, however, that the natives of India never speak of it as an intelligent animal, "and it does not figure in their ancient literature for its wisdom, as do the fox, the crow, and the monkey;" but he overlooks the fact that the Hindu god of wisdom, Gunesh, is always depicted with the body of a man, but the head of an elephant. However this is apparently an oversight, for both in his book and lecture he alludes to Gunesh. The rest of his remarks are so good, and show so much practical knowledge, that I shall take the liberty of quoting in extenso from a lecture delivered by him at Simla last year, a printed copy of which he kindly sent me, and also from his interesting book, 'Thirteen Years amongst the Wild Beasts.'
He says: "One of the strongest features in the domesticated elephant's character is its obedience. It may also be readily taught, as it has a large share of the ordinary cultivable intelligence common in a greater or less degree to all animals. But its reasoning faculties are undoubtedly far below those of the dog, and possibly of other animals; and in matters beyond the range of its daily experience it evinces no special discernment. Whilst quick at comprehending anything sought to be taught to it, the elephant is decidedly wanting in originality."
I think one as often sees instances of decided stupidity on the part of elephants as of sagacity, but I think the amount of intelligence varies in individuals. I have known cases where elephants have tried to get their mahouts off their backs—two cases in my own district—in the one the elephant tried shaking and then lying down, both of which proved ineffectual; in the other it tried tearing off the rafters of a hut and throwing them over its back, and finally rubbing against low branches of trees, which proved successful. The second elephant, I think, showed the greatest amount of original thought; but there is no doubt the sagacity of the animal has been greatly overrated. I quote again from Mr. Sanderson, whose remarks are greatly to the point:—
"What an improbable story is that of the elephant and the tailor, wherein the animal, on being pricked with a needle instead of being fed with sweetmeats as usual, is represented as having deliberately gone to a pond, filled its trunk with dirty water, and returned and squirted it over the tailor and his work! This story accredits the elephant with appreciating the fact that throwing dirty water over his work would be the peculiar manner in which to annoy a tailor. How has he acquired the knowledge of the incongruity of the two things, dirty water and clean linen? He delights in water himself, and would therefore be unlikely to imagine it objectionable to another. If the elephant were possessed of the amount of discernment with which he is commonly credited, is it reasonable to suppose that he would continue to labour for man instead of turning into the nearest jungle? The elephant displays less intelligence in its natural state than most wild animals. Whole herds are driven into ill-concealed inclosures which no other forest creatures could be got to enter; and single ones are caught by being bound to trees by men under cover of a couple of tame elephants, the wild one being ignorant of what is going on until he finds himself secured. Escaped elephants are re-taken without trouble; even experience does not bring them wisdom. Though possessed of a proboscis which is capable of guarding it against such dangers, the wild elephant readily falls into pits dug in its path, whilst its fellows flee in terror, making no effort to assist the fallen one, as they might easily do by kicking in the earth around the pit. It commonly happens that a young elephant falls into a pit, in which case the mother will remain until the hunters come, without doing anything to assist her offspring—not even feeding it by throwing in a few branches.
"When a half-trained elephant of recent capture happens to get loose, and the approach of its keeper on foot might cause it to move off, or perhaps even to run away altogether, the mahout calls to his elephant from a distance to kneel, and he then approaches and mounts it. The instinct of obedience is herein shown to be stronger than the animal's intelligence. When a herd of wild elephants is secured within a stockade, or kheddah, the mahouts ride trained elephants amongst the wild ones without fear, though any one of the wild ones might, by a movement of its trunk, dislodge the man. This they never do."
On the other hand we do hear of wonderful cases of reasoning on the part of these creatures. I have never seen anything very extraordinary myself; but I had one elephant which almost invariably attempted to get loose at night, and often succeeded, if we were encamped in the vicinity of sugar-cane cultivation—nothing else tempted her; and many a rupee have I had to pay for the damage done. This elephant knew me perfectly after an absence of eighteen months, trumpeted when she saw me, and purred as I came up and stroked her trunk. I then gave her the old sign, and in a moment she lifted me by the trunk on to her head. I never mounted her any other way, and, as I used to slip off by a side rope, the constant kneeling down and getting up was avoided.
Sir Emerson Tennent says: "When free in its native woods the elephant evinces rather simplicity than sagacity, and its intelligence seldom exhibits itself in cunning;" yet in the next page he goes on to relate a story told to him of a wild elephant when captured falling down, and feigning to be dead so successfully that all the fastenings were taken off; "while this was being done he and a gentleman by whom he was accompanied leaned against the body to rest. They had scarcely taken their departure and proceeded a few yards when, to their astonishment, the elephant arose with the utmost alacrity, and fled towards the jungles screaming at the top of its voice, its cries being audible long after it had disappeared in the shades of the forest." If this be correct it shows a considerable amount of cunning.
Both Mr. Sanderson and Sir Emerson Tennent agree on the subject of the rarity of the remains of dead elephants. I have never been in real elephant country; the tracks of such as I have come across have been merely single wanderers from the Bilaspore herds, or probably elephants escaped from captivity. Forsyth once came upon the bones of a small herd of five that had been driven over a precipice from the summit of a hill, on which there was a Hindoo shrine, by the drums and music of a religious procession.
The following taken from Mr. Sanderson's lecture is interesting as regards the constitution of the herds: "Herds of elephants usually consist of from thirty to fifty individuals, but much larger numbers, even upwards of a hundred, are by no means uncommon. A herd is always led by a female, never by a male. In localities where fodder is scarce a large herd usually divides into parties of from ten to twenty. These remain at some little distance from each other, but all take part in any common movement, such as a march into another tract of forest. These separate parties are family groups, consisting of old elephants with their children and grandchildren. It thus happens that, though the gregarious instincts of elephants prompt them to form large gatherings, if circumstances necessitate it a herd breaks up under several leaders. Cases frequently occur when they are being hunted; each party will then take measures for its individual safety. It cannot be said that a large herd has any supreme leader. Tuskers never interest themselves in the movement of their herds; they wander much alone, either to visit cultivation, where the females, encumbered with young ones, hesitate to follow, or from a love of solitude. Single elephants found wandering in the forests are usually young males—animals debarred from much intimate association with the herds by stronger rivals; but they usually keep within a few miles of their companions. These wandering tuskers are only biding their time until they are able to meet all comers in a herd. The necessity for the females regulating the movements of a herd is evident, as they must accommodate the length and time of their marches, and the localities in which they rest and feed at different hours, to the requirements of their young ones."
It is a curious fact that most of the male elephants in Ceylon are what are called mucknas in India, that is, tuskless males—not one in a hundred, according to Sir Emerson Tennent, being found with tusks; nearly all, however, are provided with tushes. These, he says, he has observed them "to use in loosening earth, stripping off bark, and snapping asunder small branches and climbing plants, and hence tushes are seldom seen without a groove worn into them near their extremities." Sir Samuel Baker says that the African elephant uses his tusks in ploughing up ground in search of edible roots, and that whole acres may be seen thus ploughed, but I have never seen any use to which the Indian elephant puts his tusks in feeding. I have often watched mine peeling the bark off succulent branches, and the trunk and foot were alone used. Mr. Sanderson, in his 'Thirteen Years,' remarks: "Tusks are not used to assist the elephant in procuring food;" but he says they are formidable weapons of offence in the tusker, the biggest of whom lords it over his inferiors.
The elephant usually brings forth, after a period of gestation of from eighteen to twenty-two months, a single calf, though twins are occasionally born. Mr. Sanderson says: "Elephant calves usually stand exactly thirty-six inches at the shoulder when born, and weigh about 200 lbs. They live entirely upon milk for five or six months, when they begin to eat tender grass. Their chief support, however, is still milk for some months. I have known three cases of elephants having two calves at a birth. It cannot be said that the female elephant evinces any special attachment to her offspring, whilst the belief that all the females of a herd show affection for each other's calves is certainly erroneous. During the catching of elephants many cases occur in which young ones, after losing their mothers by death or separation, are refused assistance by the other females, and are buffeted about as outcasts. I have only known one instance of a very gentle, motherly elephant in captivity, allowing a motherless calf to suck along with her own young one. When a calf is born the mother and the herd usually remain in that place for two days. The calf is then capable of marching. Even at this tender age calves are no encumbrance to the herd's movement; the youngest climb hills and cross rivers, assisted by their dams. In swimming, very young calves are supported by their mothers' trunks, and are held in front of them. When they are a few months old they scramble on to their mother's shoulders, and hold on with their fore-legs, or they swim alone. Though a few calves are born at other seasons, the largest number make their appearance about September, October, and November."
Until I read the above I, from my limited experience, had come to the conclusion that elephant mothers are very fussy and jealous of other females. (See Appendix C, p. 527.)
I have only once seen an elephant born in captivity, and that was in 1859, when I was in charge of the Sasseram Levy on the Grand Trunk road. Not far from the lines of my men was an elephant camp; they were mostly Burmese animals, and many of them died; but one little fellow made his appearance one fine morning, and was an object of great interest to us all. On one occasion, some years after, I went out after a tiger on a female elephant which had a very young calf. I repented it after a while, for I lost my tiger and my temper, and very nearly my life. Those who have read 'Seonee,' may remember the ludicrous scene in which I made the doctor figure as the hero. An elephant is full grown at twenty-five, though not in his prime till some years after. Forty years is what mahouts, I think, consider age, but the best elephants live up to one hundred years or even more.
[Footnote 29: See note in Appendix C on this subject.]
A propos of my remarks, in the introductory portion of this paper on Proboscidea, regarding the probable gradual extinction of the African elephant, the following reassuring paragraphs from the lecture I have so extensively quoted will prove interesting and satisfactory. Mr. Sanderson has previously alluded to the common belief, strengthened by actual facts in Ceylon, that the elephant was gradually being exterminated in India; but this is not the case, especially since the laws for their protection have come into force: "The elephant-catching records of the past fifty years attest the fact that there is no diminution in the numbers now obtainable in Bengal, whilst in Southern India elephants have become so numerous of late years that they are annually appearing where they had never been heard of before."
He then instances the Billigarungun hills, an isolated range of three hundred square miles on the borders of Mysore, where wild elephants first made their appearance about eighty years ago, the country having relapsed from cultivation into a wilderness owing to the decimation of the inhabitants by three successive visitations of small-pox. He adds: "The strict preservation of wild elephants seems only advantageous or desirable in conjunction with corresponding measures for keeping their numbers within bounds by capture. It is to be presumed that elephants are preserved with a view to their utilisation. With its jungles filled with elephants, the anomalous state of things by which Government, when obliged to go into the market, finds them barely procurable, and then only at prices double those of twenty, and quadruple those of forty years ago, will I trust be considered worthy of inquiry. Whilst it is necessary to maintain stringent restrictions on the wasteful and cruel native modes of hunting, it will I believe be found advantageous to allow lessees every facility for hunting under conditions that shall insure humane management of their captives. I believe that the price of elephants might be reduced one-half in a year or two by such measures. The most ordinary elephant cannot be bought at present for less than Rs. 2,000. Unless something be done, it is certain that the rifle will have to be called into requisition to protect the ryots of tracts bordering upon elephant jungles. To give an idea of the numbers of wild elephants in some parts of India, I may say that during the past three years 503 elephants have been captured by the Dacca kheddah establishment, in a tract of country forty miles long by twenty broad, in the Garo hills, whilst not less than one thousand more were met with during the hunting operations. Of course these elephants do not confine themselves to that tract alone, but wander into other parts of the hills. There are immense tracts of country in India similarly well stocked with wild elephants.
"I am sure it will be regarded as a matter for hearty congratulation by all who are interested in so fine and harmless an animal as is the elephant that there is no danger of its becoming extinct in India. Though small portions of its haunts have been cleared for tea or coffee cultivation, the present forest area of this country will probably never be practically reduced, for reasons connected with the timber supply and climate of the country; and as long as its haunts remain the elephant must flourish under due regulations for its protection."
Elephants are caught in various ways. The pitfall is now prohibited, so also is the Assam plan of inclosing a herd in a salt lick. Noosing and driving into a kheddah or inclosure are now the only legitimate means of capture. The process is too long for description here, but I may conclude this article, which owes so much to Mr. Sanderson's careful observations, with the following interesting account of the mode in which the newly-caught elephant is taught to obey:—
"New elephants are trained as follows: they are first tied between two trees, and are rubbed down by a number of men with long bamboos, to an accompaniment of the most extravagant eulogies of the animal, sung and shouted at it at the top of their voices. The animal of course lashes out furiously at first; but in a few days it ceases to act on the offensive, or, as the native say, 'shurum lugta hai'—'it becomes ashamed of itself,' and it then stands with its trunk curled, shrinking from the men. Ropes are now tied round its body, and it is mounted at its picket for several days. It is then taken out for exercise, secured between two tame elephants. The ropes still remain round its body to enable the mahout to hold on should the elephant try to shake him off. A man precedes it with a spear to teach it to halt when ordered to do so; whilst, as the tame elephants wheel to the right or left, the mahout presses its neck with his knees, and taps it on the head with a small stick, to train it to turn in the required direction. To teach an elephant to kneel it is taken into water about five feet deep when the sun is hot, and, upon being pricked on the back with a pointed stick it soon lies down, partly to avoid the pain, partly from inclination for a bath. By taking it into shallower water daily, it is soon taught to kneel even on land.
"Elephants are taught to pick up anything from the ground by a rope, with a piece of wood attached, being dangled over their foreheads, near to the ground. The wood strikes against their trunk and fore-feet, and to avoid the discomfort the elephant soon takes it in its trunk, and carries it. It eventually learns to do this without a rope being attached to the object."
Sir Emerson Tennent's account of the practice in Ceylon is similar.
As regards the size of elephants few people agree. The controversy is as strong on this point as on the maximum size of tigers. I quite believe few elephants attain to or exceed ten feet, still there are one or two recorded instances, the most trustworthy of which is Mr. Sanderson's measurement of the Sirmoor Rajah's elephant, which is 10 ft. 7-1/2 in. at the shoulder—a truly enormous animal. I have heard of a tusker at Hyderabad that is over eleven feet, but we must hold this open to doubt till an accurate measurement, for which I have applied, is received. Elephants should be measured like a horse, with a standard and cross bar, and not by means of a piece of string over the rounded muscles of the shoulder. Kellaart, usually a most accurate observer, mentions in his 'Prodromus Faunae Zeylanicae' his having measured a Ceylon elephant nearly twelve feet high, but does not say how it was done. Sir Joseph Fayrer has a photograph of an enormous elephant belonging to the late Sir Jung Bahadur, a perfect mountain of flesh.
* * * * *
We in India have nothing to do with the next order, HYRACOIDEA or Conies, which are small animals, somewhat resembling short-eared rabbits, but which from their dentition and skeleton are allied to the rhinoceros and tapir. The Syrian coney is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, and was one of the animals prohibited for food to the Jews, "because he cheweth the cud and divideth not the hoof." The chewing of the cud was a mistake, for the coney does not do so, but it has a way of moving its jaws which might lead to the idea that it ruminates. In other parts of Scripture the habits of the animal are more accurately depicted—"The rocks are a refuge for the conies;" and again: "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." Solomon says in the Proverbs: "There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise." These are the ants, for they prepare their meat in summer, as we see here in India the stores laid up by the large black ant (Atta providens); the conies for the reason above given; the locusts, which have no king, yet go forth by bands; and the spider, which maketh her home in kings' palaces.
These are animals which possess hoofs; and are divided into two sub-orders—those that have an odd number of toes on the hind-foot, such as the horse, tapir, and rhinoceros, being termed the PERISSODACTYLA; and the others, with an even number of toes, such as the pig, sheep, ox, deer, &c., the ARTIODACTYLA; both words being taken from the Greek perissos and artios, uneven or overmuch, and even; and daktulos, a finger or toe. We begin with the uneven-toed group.
This consists of three living and two extinct families—the living ones being horses, tapirs, and rhinoceroses, and the extinct the Paleotheridae and the Macrauchenidae. I quote from Professor Boyd Dawkins and Mr. H. W. Oakley the following brief yet clear description of the characteristics of this sub-order:—
"In all the animals belonging to the group the number of dorso-lumbar vertebrae is not fewer than twenty-two; the third or middle digit of each foot is symmetrical; the femur or thigh-bone has a third trochanter, or knob of bone, on the outer side; and the two facets on the front of the astragalus or ankle-bone are very unequal. When the head is provided with horns they are skin deep only, without a core of bone, and they are always placed in the middle line of the skull, as in the rhinoceros.