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The African Elephant And Its Hunters


The African Elephant And Its Hunters

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This is the fourth book on hunting from the pen of Denis Lyell, a hunter with a long and practical experience of his subject gained in Nyasaland, North Eastern Rhodesia and Portugese East Africa from 1898. It is chatty in its style and is rich in information on elephants and their habits, hints on hunting them, their ivory, and the dangers generally of hunting elephants and other game. This sage advice with its fascinating facts is threaded with anecdote in which many of the authors in this Series, and other renowned hunters, are mentioned.

Among those who feature are Sir Samuel Baker, W. Cotton Oswell, Gordon Cumming, Cornwallis Harris, Baldwin, Stigand, Finaughty, Sutherland and Neumann to which he adds comment and appraisal. Neumann he named as “the greatest elephant hunter who ever lived”.

He discusses hunting weapons and includes a sketch showing the positions of vital shots for an elephant: brain, heart and lungs. There is an account of the cutting up of a carcass by the local inhabitants of the area where the animal was shot. The African names for an elephant in different areas are given.

In a chapter on the old ‘greats’ of elephant hunting he compares the weapons of the early Victorian hunters with the ‘modern’ guns he used.

His inclusion of Messrs Lewis & Peat’s pamphlet Ivory: General Information (revised to April 1923) sheds light on the special uses to which the various types of ivory are put.

Reference to the legendary so-called ‘elephant cemeteries’ recalls Cullen Gouldsbury’s poem ‘The Place Where the Elephants Die’.

All in all a charming book illustrated with photographs by the author.


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