Siriska, 21 February 1893

The first tiger hunt was on the program. Already at 9 o’clock in the morning, the „head shikari“, the chief professional hunter of Alwar, Harnarain, came to the camp to announce that the tiger had killed and we should be ready to depart towards 11 o’clock. He would personally join the advance party to prepare and instruct the trackers.

Thrown off an elephant once, this dignitary was limping which gave his appearance and comportment an involuntary comical aspect. Remarkable to us was the resemblance of his face with that of the former Hungarian prime minister. Thus we christened him „Tisza„. The head shikari is rather curt with everyone, even with the resident Colonel Fraser, leader of our hunting expedition, gives his orders, swears mightily on occasion but is an important man in hunting matters in the state of Alwar. Thus we as hunters have to be nice to him, especially for the sake of the tiger. I had myself introduced to him most festively. Besides being the chief professional hunter  he is also general inspector of the irrigation systems, forests and gardens. The forests will not bring much acclaim as nothing is happening in terms of reforestation and only thorns and crippled woods are growing wildly even though the area seems in many places ideal for forestry.

At 11 o’clock the large hunt was started with a big shout of „hallo“, a legion of shikaris with rifles and lances joined us who were up on the elephants. In front of a narrow very romantic gorge we made a stop to await the sign of the head shikari who had ridden ahead to the trackers. Here there were the remains of a buffalo calf killed by the tiger. Vultures were circling above the carrion or sat on the trees.

Finally, after a long wait we could see the chief professional hunter appear on his elephant on the opposite side of the valley. Now it was time to take up the hunting position. The ride of nearly three quarters of an hour through the bottom of the valley was very picturesque but tiring as we had to fight against the thorny branches of the trees that struck the haudas at every step so that our hands were bloody. It is astonishing how careful the elephants advance and how skillful they follow narrow and steep tracks which I might as well call „chamois tracks“ very safely. The hauda was shifting up and down but the elephant shows no concern but checks every step with its trunk and its foot and only takes a step on hard ground. If a stone or tree is in the way, it is cleared away with the trunk or pushed out of the way with a push of the body so that a tree breaks off due to the applied pressure of the giant.

We formed a large semi-circle in the bottom of a thickly covered side valley in which the tiger was said to be living. I was on the highest position and had climbed with my elephant up on the right ledge of the valley up to half its height to have a good view over the valley. There I stopped and waited for the things to come.

Some spots were left bare in the thick thorny bushes and I calculated where and how I would shoot if the tiger showed up. The drive started with the usual clamor as the drivers began to move down from the heights. The hunting area to be covered was rather small but out of fear the drivers advanced very slowly, in groups of 30 to 40 one after the other on the best paths without clearing the thickets in which they only threw stones, so that it took two hours. Like in Tandur! By the way, the caution of the drivers proved unnecessary as the tiger only proved his notoriety by its absence.

For the first time we saw here sambar deer or rusas (Cervus unicolor), namely a minor buck of second head,  an old animal with a calf and a hind; they looked similar to our big game but lack the beautiful figure by far and the proud and falls short of the noble posture of our king of the woods, especially as the sambar deer carries its head almost always at a downward angle and the antlers does not go beyond six points despite reaching a length of 1.25 m.

After the failed hunt we came to a small pond surrounded by palm trees and rode on the elephants back to the camp to get pellet guns and undertake a hunt into the nearby hills which netted us a large number of Indian  partridges.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 21.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Krisen“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents „Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor“.

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