Friday, February 29, 2008

Hunting Giraffes


No Danger Attends This Sport Except From the Animal's Heels

A good giraffe skin is worth from $10 to $20 in South Africa and much more in Europe. On their hunting trips 10 or 15 years ago it was a common matter for one hunter to kill 40 or 50 of these graceful animals in one day. The reason for this is that the giraffe is the most innocent of animals and easily hunted. They are absolutely defenseless, and there is hardly a case on record where a wounded giraffe turned upon the hunter. It is true, they bare great powers of speed, and they can dodge rapidly from tree to tree in the woods, but they offer such a fair mark that these tactics hardly ever save them.

Not until it is unusually frightened does the giraffe make its best speed, and when it is often too late, for the hunter is upon it. There is really no element of danger connected with this sport, and that makes it less exciting and attractive to a true sportsman. Under certain circumstances it is possible to be injured with the powerful legs of the giraffe, which are capable of kicking a blow that would kill a lion. The latter beast, for this reason, takes good care to attack the giraffe at unexpected moments.

It takes a good horse to run down a giraffe, and if the least advantage is permitted the wild creature the race is lost. Its peculiar gait is very ungraceful and deceptive, but it covers the ground with remarkable facility. In the open veldt the hunters have always the best of the race, but the giraffe, when surprised, makes instantly for the forest, where tough vines and intermingling branches make travel difficult for the hunter. The bushes and thorns tear and lacerate the skin of the horses, but the tough skin of the giraffe is barely scratched. The creature will tear a path through the toughest and thickest jungle and never suffer in the least.

This skin, or hide, of the animal is its chief article of value. No wonder that the bullets often fail to penetrate this skin, for it is from three-quarters to an inch thick and as tough as it is thick. This skin when cured and tanned makes excellent leather for certain purposes. The Boers make riding whips and sandals out of the skins they do not send to Europe. The bones of the giraffe have also a commercial value. The leg bones are solid instead of hollow, and in Europe they are in great demand for manufacturing buttons and other bone articles. The tendons of the giraffe are so strong that they will sustain an enormous dead weight, which gives to them pecuniary value. — Scientific American.

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