Siriska, 25 February 1893

Still during the dinner the day before, towards 8 o’clock in the evening, it had suddenly begun to thunder and flash.  Soon, a terrible storm sent lots of rain through the clouds.  The rain continued all through the night and caused much damage to our beautiful camp. True torrents ran through our tents, some of which collapsed. Morning turned our camp into a fecal sea. A large cat that had come from the village had made its home on my bed as if it wanted to gain height during the deluge. As often as I sent the cat back to the wet element, it jumped back on the bed. When I woke up in the morning, two more cats fled from my tent. They had eaten a meal of wild pigeon on my clothes proved by the many feathers left behind.

Towards 8 o’clock in the morning the rain stopped but unfortunately any expectations of catching tigers was gone as the bad weather meant that they had not killed. As a replacement the chief professional hunter proposed hunting sambar deer; but I expected little from such a hunt as the head shikari was an opponent of the chase and only seemed to organize it pro forma to spend the remaining time.

Before the departure we chased a captive porcupine during which the dogs showed incredible courage in catching the porcupine within minutes despite its spikes penetrating the head and mouth of the attackers. It was an incredibly funny moment when the fleeing porcupine raced between the standing elephants waiting for the departure. The elephants in their terror ran off in all directions and created a hell of a spectacle, tooting and blowing the trumpet so that it was only with difficulty that order was restored.

We undertook multiple hunts at an apparently good elevation; except without any result at all as the head shikari showed no interest an the drivers were slow and careless. When I started to sing and yodel in my hauda to pass the time during the third attempt,  „Tisza“ rushed to me with indignation, vehemently swore at me in Hindustani and declared categorically that the hunt was finished. The result of this hunt was a jackal — which I had seen.

During the hunt we came across the ruins of a small hunting lodge which was owned by the deceased maharaja who used to hunt tigers from here out of this strange but comfortable position. As often as the maharaja took up residency in the hunting lodge during light moonlight nights, a buffalo calf was bound in a ditch close to the windows of the building to attract tigers. In the mean time, until he was awakened to the news that the tiger was here, the Nimrod slept soundly in his bed and fired, still in his „night gown“, with great imperturbability at the tiger out of his window only to continue his sleep after a few minutes of interruption.

During my last hunt, returning to the camp on an indirect route, I succeeded in killing with two shots at long distance — over 300 paces — two chinkara gazelles, a male and a female, very delicate, gracious animals. Gazelles of a similar species I had already seen in Syria but not yet hunted. Furthermore I shot an extremely strong jackal and multiple chickens. Some of the gentlemen also brought home various game, among other things a specimen of a chestnut-bellied sand grouse (Pterocles exustus).

Fortunately the sky had completely cleared up during the day so that we had a wonderful evening with a gorgeous illumination of the surrounding hills. The landscape swam in the silvery moonshine and finally the long expected mail from 13th January with good news from beloved home — all is well that ends well — arrived which had followed in our tracks across half the world.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 25.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy „Die Maler“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Gounod’s „Romeo und Julie“.

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