Katni, 24 March 1893

The natives were expecting a tiger with full certainty as they had bound many bulls at a very suitable spot. When it was reported at 9 o’clock that a tiger had killed, the hauda an hunting elephants soon departed. We followed an hour later. Despite the head start, we soon caught up with the mahauts who did not seemed pressed for time as we found them and their elephants bathing in the river. Now it was time to wait until a number of elephants were sent out into the jungle in which they hoped to confirm the tiger.

Strangely, the people dislike being observed in the activity of confirming and encircling. We were thus waiting for some time in the shadow of tall shala trees until finally the head shikari signalled us to move. After only a few hundred steps we met a number of mahauts who stood around helplessly and told us that they were looking for the tiger but could not find it near the killed animal. Still during this explanation, we heard someone shout „bagh, bagh“ in the vicinity and suddenly the whole forest was alive. Out of all directions elephants approached with their guides who had been on the lookout. We too rushed as fast as our elephants were able to the spot where the shout of „bagh“ had rung out, while the drivers tried eagerly to form the seeming disorder into a circle.

My elephant advanced in giant steps across the thick tree jungle. I was fully occupied with protecting myself against the many branches hitting the hauda when I heard great cries on the left and just thereafter I could see in the distance a chital and almost in its footsteps, a strong panther cross in full flight. Its size made me first assume the panther to be a tiger and fired, despite the great distance, after having found the time to shout „Rok!“ to my mahaut. I believed to have missed as the panther continued to flee without being touched. Fortunately it ran in time against the just forming circle where the shouts of the elephant drivers made it reverse direction.

The panther soon emerged from under a tree where it had hidden in a cat like manner and advanced towards me. When I fired at the most suitable moment to fire two shots, my rifle didn’t go off as my hunter had in the heat of the moment forgotten to reload after I had earlier fired twice on the panther. I quickly forgot my anger about this incident as the panther turned again and passed me for the second time in flight where I shot it. The natives justly wait for some time after the kill of a big predator before they approach it. The wounded panther too rose again even though he had seemed dead, roared again when we came close so that I had to kill it with another shot.

The death of this panther made the people very happy as they claimed that this remarkably big male had caused much damage to the neighboring herds and had been known as a terrible enemy. The panther had an especially beautiful golden yellow spotted skin and seemed really to have been an old, very quarrelsome fellow as its whole body was covered in bite marks and the right fang had been shot away probably by a native with a shotgun as only the root of the teeth remained. Under the skin were numerous broken porcupine pricks.  Porcupines are said to be the panther’s favorite food, but it is obtained not without a fight as the proofs from this bagged animal showed.

The shikaris wanted to attempt another sweep to find the tiger as they claimed that the panther could not have killed the animal in the morning. A tiger must have done it as the bull had been dragged for 400 paces which a panther is not able to do. The line was formed and a forest jungle crossed. Some streams as well as various rather bad crossings were forded, no sight of a tiger, however.

Thus a general shooting was commanded. Directed by the resident we turned straight south, crossed a river and even the border, hunted for a while in British India and returned with a turn back into Nepalese territory. We did not meet new species but bagged numerous wild boars and peacocks as well as all kinds of huntable animals. We also killed multiple specimens of the beautiful small Indian civet.

At a distance of 8 km from the camp after sunset the line was dissolved and a very funny race of all 150 elephants to the camp was arranged by the natives. The animals moved at an astonishing speed, driven most fervently by their mahauts. We amused ourselves splendidly in this strange race despite our being mercilessly flung around in our haudas. I was quite proud that my big elephant was one of the first to reach the goal. He had, though, two native jockeys who, one on the right, the other on the left, continuously beat the thick skin of the elephant with a wooden cudgel to incite the elephant to run at top speed.

Returning to the camp we learned that during our absence a funeral had taken place in which the body of a coolie who had died the day before was burned.

Links

  • Location: Katni, Nepal
  • ANNO – on 24.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Archduke Karl Ludwig was presented the concept of „Old Vienna“ for the world exhibition in Chicago by the exhibition committee. He in turn has promised that Franz Ferdinand would pay a visit during his stay in Chicago.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Faust“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet „Ein Tanzmärchen“.

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