Schlagwort-Archiv: hunting

Siriska, 23 February 1893

Thick fog covered the whole valley when I stepped out of my tent. The rain had stopped but it was still dripping from the trees and everything swam in water. There was no chance of hunting a tiger as the fog in the morning prevented a potential confirmation of the tiger.

Towards 11 o’clock the fog finally began to sink, the top of the mountains became visible, the sky was smiling blue and the sun was glittering friendly so that the head shikari could organize a hunt with falcons and caracals which turned out not as well as intended. The falcons turned out to be clumsy and untrained as they didn’t want to catch many of the fling chicken. The caracals, meanwhile, ignored the hares and after a few leaps returned to their masters.

In the mean time, sambars and nilgais had been confirmed which the chief professional hunter asked me to hunt. To his great astonishment I offered the first ones to Wurmbrand, the latter ones to Kinsky who  had lain in bed with fever while we shot the frowned upon nilgais in Bhartpur. Kinsky bagged one nilgai after an extended hunt and wounded a second one while  Wurmbrand returned, unfortunately, without completing the task.

Together with the other gentlemen I undertook a large hunt of the whole valley in which we searched even the tiniest of ground elevation, all jungles and ridges and bagged in four hours 80 chicken and sand grouses. Prónay and I shot too a white-footed fox each (Vulpes leucopus); also a jackal became my prize under unusual circumstances. We heard loud barking and howling of jackals and saw while we were marching across a hill eight jackals in the valley which followed a rancid fay while creating a hell of concert, hunting and biting one another so that at any moment, some of them stumbled over the others. I called our line of drivers to halt and sneaked up on them as good as I could in a plain without cover. I only managed to come to within 400 paces.

Clam and Prónay noticed this, the latter one ran on foot in front of the jackals while Clam on a pony drove them towards me. The main pride changed direction unfortunately and escaped out of sight. Two jackals however appeared in plain flight followed by Clam 100 paces away from my position behind a boulder where I had taken cover with difficulty so that I managed to kill one jackal with a bullet.

We were still fully occupied with the hunt when a shikari reported that tigers had been sighted in the next mountains. Naturally all firing ceased in time. We galloped to the camp where our physician Dr. Bem experienced a tragic-comical event. He too had mounted a horse proudly. But this valiant deed ended soon thereafter with a touch of the earth. His horse had been mean enough to throw him into a thick hedge of cacti so that he returned to the tent covered in thorns. He sank down on the bed, a pitiful spectacle, lamenting a thorn had pierced his lung and a long illness which would put him into bed for a long time, Even death could catch him here far from home in the wilderness where no fair hand would close his breaking eye.

Deeply moved from those dark images and groaning the poor lay there. We were full of compassion but also smiling against our will as the sighs and laments escaped  the body in a true Bohemian-German accent. Finally one of the English colleagues extracted over twenty thorns out of the body of the brave rider who now, free and comforted, gasped with relief and did not want to have anything to do with illness and sickness but was in a good mood again soon. According to the principle that those that suffered the damage were bound to earn the mockery, his story was the main topic of the evening.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 23.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy „Der Unterstaatssekretär“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents once more „Die Rantzau“.

Siriska, 22 February 1893

Already during the evening yesterday the sky had become clouded and during the night it started raining heavily. The area around the tents was heavily soaked but the tents fortunately resisted fine. A bad prospect for the hunt as the tiger will hunt during such weather but will move whereas he will rest near its victim in warm sunny weather and can be tracked by the shikaris with near absolute certainty. In the morning the intensity of the rain lessened. I decided after a long council with the head shikari and on his advice, given that it was pointless to go after the tiger, to hunt sambar deer and later seek game as well as jackals.

Soon we left camp and moved towards the closest hills on horseback. There a shikari confirmed the presence of a sambar deer. All gentlemen remained behind. I alone with the shikari and Janaczek climbed a very steep ridge on whose ledge the shikari pointed out a supposedly strong sambar deer on the next ridge. Despite all efforts during quite some time, I was not able to see it as it stood Immovable watching us. Its brown yellow colors blended perfectly with the surrounding dry grass. Finally I saw the deer. The shikari wanted me to shoot at once but I believed the distance  — at 400 paces — too large for a safe shot. As it was impossible to get closer due to the valley between us, I gave in tot the shikari’s pressure and shot from this ridge to the other. To my great satisfaction, I scored a chest hit on the deer that fled and disappeared on the other side of the ridge. With great effort I climbed down the ledge over stones and through thorny thickets, up the other ridge and found blood marks at the location. Following the tracks I saw the wounded deer move through the thick greenery and shot once again but missed in the heat of the moment.

The gentlemen and the native hunters left behind in the valley had seen the wounded deer flee after the shot and now everyone was going after the wounded animal with shouts and in great turmoil. The chief professional hunter shouted with stentorian voice down from his elephant. The shikaris wanted to pursue it in the English method until I finally succeeded after much pleading and shouting to communicate to the people that all natives should be formed into a line by my personal hunter. After I and the gentlemen had taken up position in the ridge, the natives were to start walking at a signal. Truly, the wounded deer appeared after a few minutes and perished from three shots of mine and Wurmbrand’s. It was a very strong specimen, apparently a very rowdy fellow as he was scarred on the legs, on the back as well as completely cut ears. I lamented that the animal was not suitable for taxidermy. Its cuspids were beautiful.

During our hunt, the gentlemen in the valley had spent their time with children’s games such as „blind man’s buff“, „“duck, duck, goose“  etc. to the great pleasure of the chief professional hunter who couldn’t stop laughing and jumped around on his elephant. If it hadn’t been incompatible with his dignity, he would have gladly joined in.

Before a new hunt could be started, a shikari reported again that another sambar deer had been confirmed nearby. „Tisza“ then „ordered“ me and the gentlemen to take up position on the surrounding ridge top. I was gasping as I was climbing down the steep hill as fast as I could and, arrived at the bottom of a valley, had to shoot again out of an even more unfavorable position than the first time when I saw the deer. When I had fired and the mighty animal went down with much noise, followed by an avalanche of ibexes, the whole corps of shikaris approached me with loud congratulations and with funny expressions of joy.  With a satisfied smile, the chief professional hunter received me and commanded to resume the march with was made on the elephants.

On a steep stony path the caravan moved over a saddle into a long winding valley covered in high dry grass and thick thorns. During the descent over a particularly bad spot, a rocky ledge, the elephant’s sat down on their rear, then jumped down with the forelegs supported by the trunk and then drew along their rear end.

The shikaris of the advance party reported that there were unfortunately no sambar deer in the valley, so we decided to set up a hunt at an especially thick jungle ridge. This action met the fierce resistance of Harnarain who preferred to eat breakfast rather than hunt and wanted to deploy his trackers again to seek sambar deer. We could not overrule this and had to comply. After a long break when we couldn’t tolerate it any longer, we argued with the chief who finally granted us permission to undertake the hunt in the jungle.

We quickly spread out, Wurmbrand stayed at the edge of the jungle, Clam and I intended to climb to the top of the ridge to cover the upper escape route and have a good overview of the confusing jungle area. Prónay, Stockinger and Fairholme were tasked in following the trackers. The climbing of the hill was easier to say than to actually do. It was so steep and covered with smooth stone plates and rocks that we could only advance on all fours as quadrupeds. I took up position in a small gorge which I considered suitable for an escape route. After some time, the drive started but was so badly executed that not a single piece of game appeared as the drivers were evading all thicker parts of the jungle. The use of my small collection of Hindu strong language I had already learnt proved without effect as the chief displayed no more interest in  hunting that day and only appeared again with a calm demeanor and an impish smile after the fruitless drive of the hunt had ended. As long as we had enough daylight, we hunted in the plain and bagged numerous chicken and sand grouses. Wurmbrand had hunter’s luck and bagged a gazelle.

The gentlemen who did stay behind in camp, among them Kinsky, had hunted pigs and jackals in the afternoon and captured a young boar. Even Dr. von Lorenz did ride along, paying for this terrible flippancy with two unplanned contacts with Mother Earth.

The evening was devoted to writing letters as the post was to be sent off the day after. Unfortunately, it started raining violently again and continued to do so through the night. The weather is punishing us with all its caprices. Just now when we are to hunt a tiger, we have to live through a second deluge!

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 22.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Schiller’s „Jungfrau von Orleans“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Gounod’s „Margarethe (Faust)“.

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“.

Alwar to Siriska, 20 February 1893

For seven days we were to occupy a tent camp  40 km away from Alwar at Sariska — a territory known for its presence of tigers that has already been visited by the Duke of Connaught. The tent camp has been constructed by the government of Alwar to hunt tigers. In the morning it was beautiful and we woke up early to depart soon. But the time of departure was delayed for quite some time. First it was said that we should partly drive partly ride directly to the camp and hunt some chickens on the way until the baggage had time to arrive first at the destination. Soon, however, the message arrived that a tiger had been sighted close to the path so that the hunt could start immediately.

The consequence of these shifting plans was hopeless confusion, an awful turmoil as it seems to occur at nearly every hunting expedition in India. Here a hunter might not immediately find the necessary rifle. There ammunition was missing. Yonder, there were not enough wagons. A gentleman shouted in want of his baggage. Another one sought his photographic apparatus. Finally, we were all ready and the convoy to the camp was underway first in a carriage drawn by a four-horse team, while the hunters and the baggage followed in two-wheeled carts drawn by zebu oxen. The mounted lifeguard and a whole army of camels followed us in a trot, seemingly without any other purpose than to create clouds of dust.

The area we were crossing at speed offered new and welcome sights as we had spent so much time in plains. The narrow valley is enclosed by steep stony hills whose sparse vegetation — crippled trees and thorny impenetrable bushes — is remarkable. The landscape reminds me of Palestine and Syria. But the mountains in those countries are even more bare as those in Alwar. In many villages the whole population stood at the road and men and women sang in one voice some sort of choral which did not sound as unpleasant as the hitherto heard Indian singing.

We stopped at a charming spot, apparently to await news about the reported tiger, in reality to eat breakfast. The ruins of an old temple were visible in the shadow of huge trees, a dark-green harrier was a pleasure to see, steep ridges rise on the right and left. The stop was also a meeting place for all hunting elephants — 14 in numbers — which were beautifully equipped with their mahauts and haudas as well as all horses and baggage camels.

As  we were told to expect news about the tiger only in two hours‘ time, we undertook a hunt of our own into the fields nearby, extended to a small conical hill rising out of the valley and a steep rocky ridge. In the beginning all went well, when we came to the mountain ridge the climb became tough as rocky slates and blocks alternated with thorny bushes. Here too as in Darjeeling I hat to lament the lack of shoes with nailed soles. The number of peacocks was almost incredible. They walked around our feet and flew over our heads but we were unfortunately not allowed to shot one of these peacocks as these are considered holy birds, an idea we hunters did not think of as a unaccommodating idea of the Hindus.

Instead we bagged a number of the smaller long-eared hares as well as Indian partridges common quails, parrots of a species new to us  (Palaeornis cyanocephala), a charming honeysucker (Arachnechthra asiatica) and multiple beautifully colored southern green pigeons (Crocopus chlorigaster). Unfortunately I had with me a rifle I hadn’t used before so that I missed to hit, at a long distance, a  caracal (Felis caracal) which escaped at the edge of a rock and a giant crocodile that had sunned itself at the edge of a temple.Both animals had been splendid specimen and would have graced my collection of catches!

Soon the message arrived at the rest stop that the tiger’s location was uncertain and we should continue on to the camp. Some gentlemen rode, I however drove in an ancient coach with high arched springs. The four horse team was led by two old Hindus with white beards sitting on them and who wore a mixtum compositum of English and Indian uniforms. The valley became ever narrower, the area more romantic. We crossed many now dry river beds in which during the rainy season wild floods are roaring. Soon the kicks and swings from the antediluvian coach proved to be too strong. I then mounted an Arabian mare and covered the distance which still separated us from the camp at high speed.

If the camp at Tandur has already been spectacular, it was surpassed by far by the extent and the luxury of the camp at Siriska where we were catered for everything in a luxurious manner. In green surroundings, a true canvas city has arisen ranging wide and in meticulous order! 46 tents are for me alone and my entourage as well as the gentlemen and civil servants of the hunting party. Another 41 tents are intended for the servants and the cooks. A long path between the tents in whose midst stood my standard on an artificial hill, decorated with flowers, separates the snow-white tents of the gentlemen. The dining tent with a large salon next to it makes up the rear. Behind the dining tent rises another artificial hill, shaded by a large ficus tree and surrounded by facilities, greens, flower beds,  water fountains and basins with goldfish. The edge of the beds is covered with stripes of mosaics out of small colored stones that form bands with sayings and hunting scenes. I had besides my daytime tent also a salon with golden blankets and furniture at my disposition. Each of the gentlemen had his own tent with all desirable comforts — not forgetting to mention the bath cabins. If only the number of tigers whih we will bag is proportional to the splendor used here!

The camp extends itself in the middle of a large friendly valley basin surrounded by rocky hills. Next to the main camp are a number of other camps which each have a large number of animals and men and offer the observer many types and scenes. There is firstly the camp of the hunting elephants, their mahauts and guardians where after a day of work the large animals are fed and then cleaned for which they lay down, brushed and washed. Next to this camp is that of the drivers and camels as well as that of the mounted lifeguard and their horses. The latter ones are lashed together in four rows and are covered with warm blankets against the whims of the weather. The end is made up by the wagon park with numerous baggage wagons and the zebu oxen that draw them.

The number of the hunters, the drivers, the spear and baggage carriers, the elephant guides and guardians, the supervisors for the setup of the tents and all the people necessary for the various services and installations led to a notable total number of 1793 men. 25 elephants, 148 horses and 39 dogs were ready for the hunt. The train of the camp was 84 partly four- partly two-wheeled wagons and carts strong. In the camp are stood no fewer than 25 stalls in which artisans did their job and merchants offered goods of all kind. A troop commanded by a native officer of 40 cavalrymen is charged with the signal and postal services. A detachment of 72 infantrymen is in charge of security.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 20.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. No new cholera cases in Hungary.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Der Störefried“ instead of „Verbot und Befehl“ due to the indisposition of Ms Schratt a.k.a. Emperor Franz Joseph’s mistress, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Donizetti’s opera „Die Regimentstochter“.

Agra to Bhartpur, 15 February 1893

The hunt and especially the hunting grounds of the day before had been so pleasant that we decided to undertake the same trip to Bhartpur again and depart to Delhi in the evening instead of the morning. At half past seven o’clock our special train was ready. I asked the railway director to stop at the pond where we had seen so numerous waterfowl the day before. The proposition proved difficult to execute due to the trains driving in the opposite direction. In the end the severe director allowed us a stop of five minutes.

When we reached the spot we jumped out of the carriages and fired into the swarms of the birds taking off. A black-necked stork and three ducks were the result of the first salvo. We were just been given the signal to depart again when the conductor ran back some distance on the railway tracks and returned with a splendid southern white pelican (Pelecanus roseus) which he had seen fall. It is probable that the salvo on the stork had hit the pelican flying behind it accidentally as nobody had directly aimed at it.

In full drive I shot from the platform of my compartment a black-necked stork in flight and a fishing „metal stork“ as we christened the  Asian openbill stork  due to its shimmering back plumage. The locomotive driver had seen the two birds fall and stopped the train so that we could retrieve the birds. Now the conductors had caught fire for the hunt. When we saw a herd of nilgais, the train stopped in an instant and Wurmbrand killed a cow which was transferred to the baggage wagon.

Having just started moving the train was stopped again just after a few hundred meters, the conductors came and pointed out a her of nilgai bulls that grazed in the thick jungle. The gentlemen quickly descended with their rifles while I watched as a spectator as I had already shot three nilgais the day before. Clam shot one bull, Wurmbrand wounded another which he retrieved after a long search. Prónay missed a bull in flight. Now the hunting drive was awakened in me who had wanted to remain a spectator. Clam amicably lent me his rifle and I pursued the herd running and with luck managed to kill a strong bull. So we had in a short time put three nilgai bulls and one cow on the roof.

The train, driven by the conductors with the hunting bug, soon advanced, soon drove back in the direction of the hunters so that we could quickly stow the bagged game and embark again. I have hunted on foot, on horse, in wagons an in boats but a hunt from railway carriage I have participated in for the first time and can only attest to its success — highly recommended.

We arrived one hour late in Bhartpur where the surprised maharaja received us again not without a sinister glance through the windows of my carriage where the birds have been hanged for drying. Fortunately, he did not suspect anything about the poached nilgais.

After breakfast with the charming Colonel Martelli I developed the battle plan and decided to undertake a large hunt with my gentlemen through the whole jungle where I had hunted the day before and seen numerous nilgais and jackals. The latter however were unfortunately not to be found as they had fled after yesterday’s shooting. Instead I shot just at the beginning three small Indian hares (Lepus ruficaudatus), plus with a ball, a gorgeous sarus crane with a purple red head.

Countless holy peacocks and pigeons, as well numerous nilgais and black-bucks were visible which did not stop within firing distance. As the game was much too jumpy, I asked Colonel Martelli to let us hunt in the jungle surrounding the ponds and which had only been passed by the driving elephants yesterday. To reach it faster we mounted the elephants and crossed one of the ponds. We could observe how securely the smart thick-skins walk even in deep water. They probe the ground cautiously while walking slowly before they set their mighty feet down. They were continuously playing with their trunks, taking in water, blowing it out and eating many water plants. I used this ride to practice shooting for the hunt in Nepal; due to the continually moving body of the elephant, at the beginning, an untrained shot is highly uncertain out of the hauda as I had already witnessed in Tandur. The first attempt missed a large number of ducks and cormorants. The next ball did no better as I missed a nilgai after we had just entered the jungle.  Only a black-necked stork, this gorgeous bird of the local swamps, I could bag. Everywhere the sound of the rifles rang out happily. When we met again on a small clearing, Saint Hubertus had favored Clam most with a charming Indian gazelle a so called Chinkara (Gazella bennetti) and two jackals.

As riding elephants and missing shots was not too my liking, I formed with my gentlemen on foot and stepped, not without damage to skin and clothes, into the thick thorny bushes where we had rich pickings. Prónay and I bagged each a nilgai bull; furthermore some jackals, partridges,  quails and hares. As usual in such thick bushes the line of shooters had become disorganized so that it took some time until we all met again at the rendez-vous to enter the carriage merrily about the successful hunt and drive to Bhartpur.

Out of one or two of the „accidental“ kills of nilgais the total rose to nine. I hope that the maharaja should he ever hear about our sacrilege that he will forgive us dedicated disciples of Diana and not punish others who are guiltless for these acts. At the farewell from Bhartpur, the maharaja  was very friendly, gave me his portrait as well as a fly whisk made out of an ivory strip and had again salutes fired to the pleasure of all. If he had already known about the nilgais, the separation would not have been as heartfelt!

When we returned to Agra, we engaged in all sorts of trading — a true bazaar had developed in our palace — we said good-bye to Kinsky who had to stay behind for the present due to his fever and drove towards 9 o’clock in the evening again to the Taj. As the weather had been playing jokes on us during the first visit and also today, the moon was not shining, I did not want to leave Agra without having seen this gorgeous building at least in artificial light. The latter one was made by Bengal candles. These were held by hundreds of natives which were posted on the roofs of the two lateral mosques in the garden and looked like Nero’s living torches. The effect of the lighting was almost magical. Voiceless I admired the quiet splendor and pomp of this gorgeous picture. In a blinding white light lay the jewel of oriental architecture in front of us, darkly rose the contours of the trees as well as the cedar groves around. All around there was a deep silence of the night. To me it was as if the breath of centuries past was touching my senses, that it demonstrated its greatness by such a master work. We entered one of the mosques and had the Bengal candles first be extinguished and then lighted again so that we saw the Taj through the gate of the mosque as if in a frame. The Bengal flames were shining mildly like moonshine above the proud building which seemed to be woven out of light and stood magically there — an enchanting view. Sunken in this pleasure we stood for a long, long time until flame after flame went out and the enchanting image disappeared into the dark night.

Shortly afterwards the journey continued on the lines of the East Indian Railway by the way of Tundia and Aligarh to Delhi.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 15.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. By telegram, it is announced that the ship Fasana that Franz Ferdinand had met in the Indian Ocean has safely reached Pola, the home base of the k.u.k fleet, completing its journey around the world in 17,5 months. A famine has hit parts of Russia.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Lessing’s “Nathan der Weise“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Wagner’s „Lohengrin“.

Agra to Bhartpur, 14 February 1893

For today, a hunt for water fowl was arranged by the English resident Colonel Martelli in the territory of the Maharaja of Bhartpur. I hoped to shoot one or two nilgais  „by mishap“ as their killing was taboo in the territory of the Maharajas due to their supposed similarity to the holy cows and could only be accepted, I was told, if it happened „accidentally“.

Even the railway trip of around one and a half hours from Agra west to Bhartpur offers  varied images that made the hunt more desirable and raised expectations about the day’s events. At a small pond we were passing by we could see pelicans, three types of storks among them the mighty black-necked stork (Xenorhynchus asiaticus), beautiful sarus cranes, geese. ducks and numerous other water fowl. Into the jungle fled a flock of nilgais, „blue bulls“ (Portax pictus), which I see here for the first time: They are large animals in the form between  elk, deer and cow. The head is small, with curved black horns, the neck is strong with a long beard, the shoulders and the croup like the elk’s; the legs are strong and sinewy;  the bulls are gray and on the extremities black; the cows and calves are fawn brown. Furthermore there were wild boars visible along the tracks.

In Bhartpur Station I was received by Maharaja Sri Bridshindra Seiwaj Jeswant Jangh Balladur, a small very gloomy and gruff looking ruler who shouted out every word wrathfully. He is said to be in no way a kind and good ruler and given his advanced age not very discriminating in the choice of his entertainments. He rules a nominally independent state, but as other princes under British dominion he has a resident at his side who helps carrying the burden of government. The prince of Bhartpur is a descendant of a Jat named Churaman, who fought against Aurengzeb and created the splendor of that dynasty which occupied Agra from Bhartpur in the years 1760 to1765. Since 1826, however, they had to give up independent politics and accept the British supremacy. The populous families of the Jats are, like many tribes in Rajput in the land between the two rivers Ganges and Yumana, Indo-Scythians, that is of Aryan-Central-Asiatic origin and are almost all devoted to Islam.

Escorted by a mounted lifeguard, we drove in a luxurious carriage through the city which is enclosed like a fortress by a very strong wall with towers and a water ditch. Bastions and mighty well fortified gates increase the power to resist of the fortress city.

The English managed to conquer Bhartpur only after hard fights and using all means of the European art of war. The siege of these fortifications of the Jat prince Ranjit Sindhia by the British forces under the conqueror of Hindustan, General Lake, during the years 1805 and 1806, ended with the capture of the fortress protected by its water works and defended very bravely only after Lake, who for a long time did not have the necessary siege train and equipment for a real siege, started full siege operations and concentrated the whole Bengal army there. In the year 1826 too, Bhartpur put up determined resistance against the British besieging forces until the commander of the English troops, Lord Combermere, succeeded after a six week siege to create a breach in a part of the bastions and take the fortress by storm.

The city had a population of around 60.000 inhabitants. In the streets stood a large packed crowd who acclaimed us with big shouts. Striking was a group of monkeys that ranged around on the roof of the houses. When we reached the palace of the resident, Colonel Martelli, the maharaja presented me to his two sons with a few words murmured into his sparse beard, one a somewhat spent youth of nineteen and the other a handsome intelligent looking boy of five years.

After the maharaja had retired, the parties split as Wurmbrand and I went hunting black-bucks and the forbidden nilgais, while the other gentlemen went after the waterfowl. In a large ceremonial carriage with a green silver-embroidered coach box blanket that are sometimes used at Corpus Christi processions or on special court feasts at home I drove through the jungle laughing mightily about the new mode of hunting wagon I was using. But as probably all that was moving in the whole area had fled on sight of my carriage I left it soon and advanced, seeking my chance, into the jungle. The development of pomp and circumstance, the use of ceremonial carriages and escorts to a hunt are probably well intended and are a testament to their good intentions but bare of any practical sense for the hunt as any game will shy away from travelling princes as quickly as from other mortals. The prince just wants to be relieved of the role of the celebrated guest to enjoy some hunting according to the rules of that art.

The first what I saw in the thin jungle were some hares and a fox. At the edge of a small swampy pond covered with a huge number of water fowl a herd of very timid black-bucks were grazing. I only managed to wound one strong bull at a large distance. On the opposite edge of the pond I suddenly saw a goat in full flight out of the jungle and following it a panther-like animal that I could not determine at such a large distance.

Continuing my approach I saw on the left in the jungle at a distance of 100 m the legs and the rear of a nilgai — I fired and the piece was hit well so we found a blood mark and in 200 m distance from the location of the shot we bagged the dying animal, a capital bull, my first nilgai. I celebrated together with Colonel Martelli. The old story that forbidden fruit taste all the better! Quickly we sent the bagged piece secretly to the station in order that the maharaja would not be informed of this and our bull reach Agra safely.

Then we went across a pond into a thicker jungle rich in game where I met multiple herds of black-bucks but managed to kill but one strong male in full flight. Everywhere in the dry grass jackals and peacocks were rushing around while thousands of pigeons flew over me. In the far distance I saw some single nilgais without being able to take a shot. A too audacious jackal perished from a bullet of mine.

Now came the main part of any hunting trip in India in which the different parties reunited for a luncheon. Used from my hunting trips at home to lay down on mother earth’s soil and eat something cold, I can not accustom myself to the English practice of a lavishly hospitable hunting breakfast. With my feeling of a hunter’s heart and the poetry of the jungle and the ranger life it is not possible to combine it with an opulent luxurious meal. To accept tiredness, hunger and thirst are also part of the steeling joys of hunting. In the midst of the jungle crossed by lianas, they have erected a dining tent of huge dimensions — surrounded by nilgais jackals, tigers, panthers and other beasts. Next to it is a kitchen tent for the preparation of warm dishes and finally another tent in which the hunters can prepare their dress and even switch into a tuxedo. The enforcement of formal dress in this jungle i did not comply with, under the threat of creating a scene. I excuse myself but I can’t do otherwise, the hunting dress is stronger than the tuxedo. in the dining tent a table has been set up as if for a wedding feast — silver fixtures, flower-filled vases, silver cutlery, printed menus. Ten courses are arranged and wines from all countries, namely champaign, flow freely. Thus a hunter’s frugal snack mixed with a drink out of a flask is turned into a  fête champetre, to a successful end of a country-side trip undertaken only with ladies. Thus we breakfasted during some hours only to return to the hunt heavy and dull. The announced hunt for waterfowl turned out to be quite interesting and original.

Three large ponds separated only by narrow low dams extended to create an important water and swamp area, truly swarming in game in the real sense of the word. The ponds are enclosed by thick water rich jungles which provide cover for nilgais, gazelles, jackals and all kinds of water fowl. Before the first shots were fired one could see cranes, all kinds of storks and egrets, geese, ducks, cormorants, coots, grebes,  snipes and water striders while in the air eagles, vultures and harriers of all kinds were circling. A sea eagle caught a fish from me out of the water.

We took up position behind umbrellas on one of the narrow dams. On a given sign, the drive through the can brake and the pond started towards us. As drivers, they used seven large elephants that waded willingly on their own into the deep water and scared up the game. After the first shots real clouds of waterfowl rose up into the air which were eagerly taken under fire by the line of shooters. Never before have I seen such masses of waterfowl in one and the same spot. Unfortunately the rare and timid creatures, especially the cranes, storks and herons, fled quickly so that I bagged only two snow-white  great egrets (Ardea alba, in winter plumage). For a long time I could observe with the eye the swarms of cranes and storks at an immense height. Without interruption flew single specimen as well as full flights of geese and ducks above our heads so that we soon had bagged over 100 pieces. If the flights returned to one of the three ponds, one of the elephants advanced at a slow place to scare the fowl up once more. Both Wurmbrand an I shot rare geese; but the incapable retrieving coolies could not find the shot animals. Furthermore I bagged many ducks, mostly maillards (Anas boscas), then gadwalls (Anas strepera), shovelers and northern pintails (Anas acuta), as well as cormorants and five bald coots.

The other gentlemen had also killed many ducks mostly of species common in Europe. Only Captain Fairholme shot a rare spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha).  The latter was very lucky in his hunting as seven otters came swimming towards him, only a few feet away, of which he shot one. To our question why he had not shot the others too he answered: „What should I have done with all the others?“ One cannot eat otters and the English kill in India strangely only carnivores as well as edible game while other animals normally are not hunted even though they might be interesting.

After two hours the hunt came to an end but we tried a combined tracking through the thorny bushes as a final attempt. I killed a fleeing exceptionally strong nilgai bull and wounded a black-buck  which we couldn’t, however, find due to the limited time for a search. During the return drive I shot a nilgai cow in the jungle from the dam.

The hora legalis for the return to Agra had been long past and the special train had been waiting for two hours when I arrived at the station together with the Maharaja who had joined me in the city. The somber ruler asked vividly about the results of the hunt but he was not informed about the frowned upon nilgais except one shot „due to a mistake“. A tiny hint of the resident that the nilgais were damaging the crops seemed to pass unnoticed by the prince. At the departure of the train, 21 salutes were fired and after one and a half hours, we were back in Agra where we found to our disappointment that Kinsky was still sick.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 14.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse is informing its readers about Franz Ferdinand’s stay in Bombay and the excursion to Tandur. Is this the report of the two reporters who did not get an interview?
Franz Ferdinand's stay in Bombay and Tandur, as reported in Die Neue Presse 14 February 1893, p.4.

Franz Ferdinand’s stay in Bombay and Tandur, as reported in Die Neue Presse 14 February 1893, p.4.

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Bürgerlich und romantischl“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing once again „Die Rantzau“.

Agra, 13 February 1893

The morning was again rather harsh, cold and rainy, very different from what one expects from „Indian weather“ so that we were clad in thick clothes and overcoats and still were cold in our cage palace.

We intended to go to Fatehpur Sikri and took along our rifles as the distance was 36 km, a decision we did not regret. The drive itself offered few attractions;  the road led through a monotonous flat land, now and then we drove through a poor native village and otherwise only saw a tree here and there in the fields so that we started counting the number of mile indicators to track the progress to our destination.

The fauna compensated the monotony of the landscape. Immediately after we had left the city, I shot a couple of large vultures (Gyps indicus and Gyps bengalensis) out of the carriage, also one of the often seen Egyptian vultures and some pariah kites. Shortly thereafter, still within the sights of the city, I bagged an eagle which I shot close to its nest; we identified it as an Aquila mogilnik, a so called Russian eagle. Also from its nest built on an avenue tree I shot a specimen of another eagle species, namely an Asian Tawny Eagle (Aquila vindhiana). Also two  honey buzzards (Pernis ptilonorhyncha), similar to our wasp buzzard, made their way into the rucksack. At a puddle on a tree sat two painted storks (Tantalus leueocephalus), which I took down with a lucky coup double. They were very beautiful large specimen with remarkbly pink red feathers on their wings. During the remainder of the journey I bagged common coucals (Centropus rufipennis), one Sirkeer Malkoha (Taccocua sirkee) and two white-eyed buzzards (Butastur teesa).

We finally reached Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s palace city, having followed the road that leads straight in a south-western direction. The foundation of the city in the year is explained in the following legend: Wandering in thoughts from Agra to the sandstone hill on which now stands the palace city, Akbar met there the fakir Selim Chisti, a sage and pious beggar who noticed the sad mood of the Mughal which was incomprehensible to the otherworldly hermit and looked for a reason why the mighty ruler was so sad. Akbar lamented that even though he was a mighty prince his reign was bound to disappear after his death. All the sons borne by his wife died soon thereafter in the child bed. „Build“, said the prophetizing fakir, „your palace on this holy hill sanctified by my prayers and make it your domicile. Nine moons after your entry through the gates of the new palace, you will have a heir whom heaven has promised long life, force and power. Your son will succeed you on the throne of the Grand Mughals.“  The prophecy came true. In the new palace of  Fatehpur Sikri was born Jehangir, Akbar’s heir.

With the exception of the parts of the palace city maintained by the British government, Fatehpur Sikri  is a ruin out of which rise walls, pillars, parts of halls and rooms and other decaying buildings — on the spot where Shah Babur had defeated the princes of Rajputana in open battle in the year 1527. As a sign of commemoration of the former size and beauty of the palace city it is enclosed by a high, crenellated wall of over 11 km in length, completely surrounding the hill of Fatehpur Sikri.

The main reason for the rapid decline and decay of Akbar’s palace city, a giant endeavor said to have employed thousands of men during many years — in contradiction of the legend which speaks of a fast construction of Fatehpur Sikris, is said to be that Akbar’s son did suddenly find the water and the air unpleasant and left the palace behind to the destructive powers of wind and weather. Fortunately under the Indian sky the decay of the buildings isn’t happening so fast that we couldn’t still see parts of Fatehpur Sikri in good condition.

Like other princely residences in India, there is true profligacy  in space and precious construction material. First entering Diwan-i-Am, we viewed the grand platforms and terraces enclosed by pillar halls that once had been the location of festive processions and shining receptions.  Near Diwan-i-Am is a platform that is said to have served for the Pachisi game. There are many mosques, ceremonial halls and living quarters of all kind which are constructed out of Fatehpur Sikri’s local red sandstone.

The most beautiful examples of how the artisans have used and decorated sandstone in the palace city is the House of the Turkish Queen (Stambuli Begum). Here there is no wall, no pillar, no space where there aren’t the finest of ornaments chiseled in. Not far away is the House of the Christian woman (Bibi Mariam Zumani); today without decoration, it once was called Sonahra Makan, that is the „golden house“ as it was painted and gilded inside and outside. Between the two houses of the women stands Chab Ghar, Akbar’s House of Dreams which has in its upper floor the simple sleeping chamber of the Grand Mughals.

North of Miriam’s house stands Panch Mahal,  storied terraces rising , original pillars, ornamented colonnades and the Diwan-i-Khas of Akbar. On the giant capital on the high splendidly chiseled pillar and ornamented with pilasters that rises in the middle of the hall is said to be the place of Akbar’s throne. This pillar is connected by a small stone stair to four sitting places in the four corners of the hall where the four viziers of Akbar would have taken their seats when Akbar spoke from his throne on his pillar. I could not resist imagining the comical situation of Akbar up on the small stair in the middle of the hall balancing on his pillar while the four viziers are cowering in their corner seats. As ridiculous as this appeared I could not forget that in this hall the well-being and woe of whole peoples was decided, that here many decisions were taken whose influence continues to be relevant today.

Most remarkable is furthermore a long covered corridor which leads from the female quarters to a rather distant gate from which the women of the Mughals could view the land of their lord and master, when he went out into the plain before the palace to hunt. Perhaps this activity would be artificially adapted to have more prey and be more interesting by overeager courtiers in similar manner to the Mughal’s fishing in Fort Agra …

A small snack we took in the former study of the Mughals and a short rest made us ready for new visits to the sights of the palace city. I would here raise the problem among the knowledgeable of aesthetics in relationship to the human physiology that nothing makes one as hungry and tired as a detailed visit of a large number of art objects.

Especially beautiful is Birbal’s palace — a Hindu minister of Akbar — a small two-storey building that has been so decorated inside and outside that it is either the smallest of all palaces or the biggest of all jewel chests according to Victor Hugo.

Much bigger but not less ornamented is the palace of the princess Jodh Bai in the middle of the palace city. She was a wife of Akbar and the mother of Jehangir. Without having to describe all the remaining monuments in and around the walls from the heyday of the Mughals, I still must mention the Dargah, the „holy square“ which contains the tomb of Sheik Selim Chisthi as well its mosque.

The Dargah, a rectangle, is enclosed by arched halls in whose midst is a pool. On the Northern end of the rectangle stands the tomb of Salim Chishti, the fakir whose prophecy has caused Akbar to build the palace city. While almost all buildings in the palace city are made out of red sandstone, the tomb is gleaming, a true miniature of the Taj of Agra, in blinding white marble so that I had to admire the beauty of the chasing, the splendid work of the cut marble lattices of the mausoleum. The lattices carry colored bands and colorful clothes given by pilgrims asking for children at the tomb of Selim Chisthi.

On the Western side of Dargah, it connects with the about 23 m high mosque. For the wealth of its ornamentation and its tasteful execution of the curved and interlaced ornaments of this mosque speaks the fact that I found a painter standing within who was copying these unique spatial decorations for a work which the British government will publish about the pearls of the Indian art.

When I left the mosque, an old muezzin, eager for baksheesh, gave an incomprehensible strange speech, shouted and gesticulated.

South of Dargah rises the famous 43 m tall victory gate of Buland Darwazab on a hill accessible by an open stair. A remarkably large number of wasp nests prevented our ascent to the battlements of the gate which is said to offer a great view.

At the foot of the gate, outside of the wall, is a walled basin close to the ruined baths to which every foreigner is led to assist productions which consist in natives jumping fearlessly and not without danger from the rim top to dive into the basin filled with water. Two days before our arrival, one of the natives was killed by performing a similar dive jump.

The surroundings of the mosque offered me ornithological catches. In the ruin field, I bagged a Laggar falcon (Falco jugger) and a rare Indian grey hornbill (Ocyceros birostris). The number of striped squirrels was astonishing. They scampered around on the stones and the trees.

The return drive was much more pleasant than the journey there as the weather had improved a bit and the sun peeked friendly from behind the clouds. On the return trip I shot, besides some vultures, a metallic gleaming stork with a white neck (Ciconia leucocephala) which resembles our black stork very much, as well as two marabous, one of which was an old male with snow-white breast and long fuzzy feathers.

In the palace at Agra I was expected by the archbishop Monsignore van den Bosch, with two of his priests, who paid me a visit. Belgian-born he has been working in India for a long time.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 13.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Emperor has given 10.000 francs for the relief of the victims of the earthquake on Zakynthos.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Verbot und Befehl“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing a comical opera „Gute Nacht Herr Pantalon“.

Darjeeling, 7 February 1893

The first look at dawn was towards the mountains or at least in that direction in which the mountains would be visible. Unfortunately we only saw fog, nothing but fog. In a sad mood I spent a few hours with the diary while the gentlemen of my entourage went to the bazaar to buy some things for me. Among others, they returned from their trip a scraggy true Tibetan mountain dog which I had had shipped home at once: a charming animal, with long hair, black, tanned, sized like a shepherd dog, with smart eyes and a black mouth — a special mark of the breed.

Hides of diverse animals especially that of a beautiful red panda (Ailurus fulgens) which I had seen in the bazaar, made me ask the commissioner to organize a hunt. He explained that all the good places are too far away but that here was a wood nearby where we could try our luck and hunt birds. Though this didn’t sound promising, we nevertheless made ready to go and rode in the densest fog on a small mountain track about 350 m down until we reached a steep mountain hillside covered in the most luxurious vegetation. We left our horses behind and entered the jungle maze in multiple parties. I regretted not having taken my nailed mountain shoes from Goisern. Between the trees, ferns and lianas there were so many steep and smooth inclines that I was in touch with mother earth at any one moment. Such mishaps did not diminish my pleasure to track through unknown and unaccustomed terrain which offered new views with every step. Especially the giant sometimes impenetrable ferns caught the eye. Our ornithological catch proved to abundant, letting us hint at the richness of the Ornis in this area in other seasons of the year.

Having Returned to the hotel towards evening, I was standing in the dining room negotiating the acquisition of interesting objects from Inner Tibet when Kinsky rushed in with the news that the mountains were visible. With a jump I was on the terrace and enjoyed the view for a few moments, a view on the mountains which will be carved into my memory for all my life. As if the spirits had had mercy with the human soul who had ventured from so far away to be at the feet of such unapproachable natural giants to appreciate them in all their splendor — the dense fog suddenly departed at high altitude and laid bare the heights in full splendor of the setting sun, „the five white brothers“, Kangchenjunga before us. In shy awe only dares the eye look at the full view at this majestic image,  locking in on it fully enchanted. A wall of fog as if grown out of the valleys lies just up to the throning peaks which emerge out of the clouds. A settled chapter of the history of the earth, the mountains, the constant in the change, look in Olympic calm on the growth, bloom and decay of peoples — these ephemeral beings in the aeons of existence. Little was granted to my view; but even the little is of such splendor that I could imagine the total greatness of the full picture which was denied to me. A feeling of human helplessness overcame me in view of nature at such a grand scale — even the most hard-headed person has to bow their head in humility and lift it again enthusiastically in view of what had been given to me.

Only one drop of bitterness in the goblet of joy  — that my beloved at home, far away from me, can not participate in this splendid spectacle, in the deepest emotions it awakens. There is truth in the plain saying; Shared joy, double the joy!

The mountain spirits seemed to regret to have experienced a human feeling and to have presented the virgin mountains on which never a human’s step was heard to the eye of mortals  — the fog rises, become denser and denser, the rosy tinted peaks fade away, their contours melt away and finally the magic image has disappeared.

Links

  • Location: Darjeeling, India
  • ANNO – on 07.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Emperor has visited the new building of the top-notch polyclinic in Vienna’s 9th district in Mariannengasse. His guide was the physician and writer Arthur Schnitzler.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater is performing Meyerbeer’s opera “Die Hugenotten”.

Tandur, 23 January 1893

Even though the council of the experienced hunters had decided to leave camp early to have time for multiple hunts, it was already 10 o’clock, due to fatal propensity for unpunctuality and time waste of the local Europeans and also the natives, when we finally did move. The time to departure was shortened by a sport new to me — an improvised falcon hunt. Some Hindus from Hyderabad had brought along trained falcons and a captured heron which they set free in the camp. As soon as the heron had reached a certain distance, they removed a falcon’s cap and swiftly the falcon flew towards the escaping heron, ascended up into the sky and then descended like a flash upon the heron striking it with its claws to the ground. Then it struck the heron’s back with its claws and beak and started to gorge. Two more falcons were launched into the air. They expertly caught a dead crow thrown up in the air.

But more important matters were awaiting us. Again we were promised much: the tiger must have certainly killed, they must certainly be between two of the tracking groups as their roars had been heard.

We rode on the same path as the day before until we reached the large tamarind where we again held a meeting for consultation. Every one of us was selected to mount on an elephant. It was the first time I sat in a hâuda. A peculiar, strange feeling to hover above the ground in a tub-like container on the back of a giant animal. With every step of the elephant it moved back and forth like in a ship. Even the mounting is difficult but not without comic effects: The elephant kneels down. One steps up over the rear legs on the inclined back and then hoists oneself into the hâuda. The elephant then stands up again, first with the front legs, then follow the short rear legs, so that the hâuda is almost horizontal but it is recommended to hold on tight to avoid being swept out.

The elephant is led by the Mahawat who sits on the animal’s head and indicates both speed and direction with a sharp hook (Gadschbag) , pricking the skin now right now left. The animal and its guide are living together in harmony despite the often un gentle treatment of the animal. The Mahawat talks without interruption with the smart animal and it fulfills with all the guide’s wishes, in sitting down on command, lifting one foot in the air to let the Mahawat mount the elephant, to raise the trunk and lower it, and it does whatever the guide demands. If the elephant turns naughty which happens from time to time, it is kicked sharply in the trunk which is answered by a trumpet-like cry. When the elephant come to a stream, they drink with their trunks or they pump it into their mouth so that if the heat is harsh and the flies to vexing, they can take some of the water from the mouth with the trunk and spray it over their body. Some Mahawat let their animals lay down and take a bath like this. Against flies, the elephants are very sensitive despite their thick skin: They chase them away with a large twig which they tear from a tree. One should not assume an elephant will stand still even for a minute. It will chase away flies that harry it or eat grass or leaves or swivel the trunk in the air — with one word, the hauda is permanently moving what makes it extraordinarily difficult to shoot safely from it.

At a small pond, the shikaris showed me a large tiger track that were said to be at least two days old. On a hill covered with bushes, we were placed in line at a distance of around 100 m each: first Stockinger and Prónay, then Wurmbrand, Clam, me, at the right flank Kinsky.

In front of our positions, there were natives sitting on tall trees reaching out of the bushes whose task it was to indicate the presence of a tiger with a large red cloth and point in the direction it was moving,

Due to our bad calculations, we had to wait in our positions for one and a half hours before the tracking started, which was not appreciated given the heat and the constantly shifting elephants. Finally the signal was given to start the hunt: Four drumbeats.  Soon we could hear the infernal cries of the trackers around 1000 m away, together with shots fired into the air, trumpet blasts, drumbeats and the screed of ratchets. With utmost attention we were waiting for the tiger to appear out of the jungle at any moment now. What did not appear, was a tiger. Instead we saw the trackers come closer — they were about 300 of them, constantly moving and exceedingly cautious, usually one behind the other standing in the most convenient spots, as these people obviously have great respect about tigers and are unwilling to advance before they have thrown a stone into the next bush so that even a small distance of a few 100 meters took a relatively long time for them to cover.

The natives of this region did not make a good impression on me as they seemed to be not very courageous, unreliable, not skillful and rather careless. If one wants to explain something to them or give them an order, it takes a long time as all shout and cry amongst themselves and then do the opposite of what they were requested to do.

As soon as the trackers appeared, they had a long tale to tell: The tiger had been in the jungle, one man had seen it but the tiger managed to escape – a tale I thought was fiction. But we were at our wit’s end. We wanted to continue the hunt but our hunting director explained to us that he had first to discuss this with the shikaris, then send them out again. Besides, the trackers would require a pause which I found astonishing as they had started but one hour ago. Finally another lunch helped to gloss over the local misbehavior. Having lost further precious time in this unnecessary procedure, we continued the hunt at half past four o’clock to chase after a very certain track, at least they said so.

We rode on the elephants into a pleasant valley surrounded by steep rocky sides when one shikari came running, gesticulating wildly. He reported that he had heard the tiger roar nearby. At the same time, he showed the calf allegedly killed just now but whose decomposition proved the shikari an instant liar. It looked like it had died at least six days ago and had nearly completely up to the bones been eaten by vultures . On a tree nearby, twenty or more large vultures cared little about our presence and continued to sit there quietly watching us.

As the elephants could not stand on the large rocks, we climbed up on mighty trees on whose upper branches were laid poles to construct a most airy place which offered the opportunity to sit down as well provide a bit of cover by the leaves on the branches. We were set up in a half-circle of shooters and waited for the action to begin. The tracking completely looked like the first one, only it took even longer as the trackers displayed utmost respect towards the ravine where it was said that the calf had been killed. They shot into the ravine for not less than an hour and made all kinds of noice before they dared to enter it. The sun had set a long time ago, the moon and the stars were up on the sky when the trackers finally reached our position.

Shortly before that a large owl had flown straight out of the rock cliff to my tree. With a bullet I shot the bird which, placing itself a bit above my head, had looked at me astonished with its large yellow eyes. Soon thereafter, a mongoose ran past my tree but I failed to shot the timid animal.

It was soon getting dark so that we on our elephants had to return to the camp. From there a number of Hindus with torches were marching towards us. The failure of the hunt had a bit diminished our good mood so that Clam excited everyone to laughter when he took one of the torches and improvised some kind of Arabian fantasy together with Prónay.

I can not explain why this hunting expedition, despite extensive and expensive preparations, ended without success. I believe, however, not to be completely wrong if I suspect the reason for the failure lay mostly in the dullness and unreliability of the natives as well as the leadership of the expedition was assigned not only according to hunting skills but personal relations what might easily happen given the size and complications of this expedition.

Tomorrow we will have to leave camp and dismantle it. I had no proud feeling about having neither seen nor shot the long-awaited tiger. Still I had some sentiment of satisfaction, as the romantic stay in a tent city, the life in open air, had presented a rich contrast between civilization and wilderness and offered the opportunity to get accustomed to the natives in a casual manner. Thus, the three day expedition in the hunting camp of Tandur was in total a very interesting episode.

Unfortunately two of our company were sick: Kinsky as well one marine who we had taken along from the „Elisabeth“, both were heavily stricken by fever,

Links

  • Location: near Tandur, India
  • ANNO – on 23.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers, The press is already filled with news about the upcoming wedding of Franz Ferdinand’s sister. The king of Württemberg and his wife already arrived yesterday in Vienna for this occasion and were received by the Emperor and the Viennese high society.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is performing a drama „Frau Susanne“, while the k.u.k Hof-Operntheater is repeating the performance of the ballet „Excelsior“.

Tandur, 22 January 1893

The English and native hunters did only want to leave camp at 11 o’clock explaining that the tigers are slower and easier to hunt at that hour. I did not agree with this late departure but followed the local customs. So we sent out our trackers and rifles with a number of elephants as an advance and followed half an hour later on the Nizam’s horses.

These horses are strangely broken in, or in our understanding, really broken for use. On their haunches, these horses are used to be constantly assisted by the rider to make bella figura, so that they prance around without interruption and rear up, which is barely tolerable for longer periods of time.

The tiger hunting area are low hilly ridges with bushes, with small ravines and valleys which remind me in character and view of the hills near Sopron.

Already in Bombay we received at least three telegrams a day which informed us that the tiger has killed at a certain place and that therefore success was nearly a certainty. Thus we were very hopeful and rode with joyful anticipation, We had hardly ridden a few miles and were close to the hunting spot when various shikaris came running and, vividly gesticulating, informed our hunting master Mr. Stevens. When I asked him he told me that the chances were not as high as originally expected, as the report about the killed calf was erroneous. It had torn itself away and was still alive and kicking.

Soon afterwards, natives arrived with whom the shikaris went into long consultation with the result that there was nothing to do today as the tiger had not killed anything and the best option was to return to camp. Bitterly disappointed by this message we breakfasted for comfort under a large tamarind and returned to camp by the same way we came under the certain expectation to find the tracked tiger.

As the clock only announced two o’clock, I with my gentlemen rode across the land to add something to my ornithological collection and enrich the kitchen table. In the cultivated fields where we expected to certainly meet some chicken or jackals we strangely found no game, in contrast the shores of the many small ponds and wet rice paddies were rich in common snipes and sandpipers so that we could hand our cook quite a number of animals.

Prior to our departure, I had had laid out a skinned sheep as bait near the native huts around our camp, so that I could, after our return to camp, kill within minutes 13 scavenger vultures (Neophron ginginianus) and 2 pariah kites (Milvus govinda).

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  • Location: near Tandur, India
  • ANNO – on 22.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers, Empress Elisabeth is currently sightseeing in Sevilla. The readers are informed that the Empress ate some pastry in the Café Suizo, famous for its chocolate. Given the extremely harsh dietary regimen of the Empress, that information must have been noteworthy.
  • The Wiener Salonblatt carries a short report about Franz Ferdinand in India. Noteworthy is how Franz Ferdinand’s account completely ignores the presence of the black sheep, archduke Leopold Ferdinand who was finally recalled to be off Franz Ferdinand’s back.
The Archdukes Franz Ferdinand and Leopold Ferdinand are received by the dignitaries of Bombay.

The Archdukes Franz Ferdinand and Leopold Ferdinand are received by the dignitaries of Bombay. (Wiener Salonblatt, 22 January 1893, no. 4, p. 4)

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is performing a tragedy by Grillparzer in the afternoon, „Sappho“, and a comedy in the evening „Der Störefried“, while the k.u.k Hof-Operntheater repeats once again its ballet combo in the afternoon and in the evening, it is time for Gounod’s opera „Margarethe (Faust)“.