Schlagwort-Archiv: hunting

Kajeli to Amboina, 30 June 1893

For today’s drive our steam boat had departed already at 4 o’clock in the morning and at first anchored next to the land tongue of Lissaletta at 6 o’clock. For a moment a blue sky looked down upon us but soon the firmament was overshadowed and a tropical rain poured down. In comparison with this the famous Salzburg rods of rain („Schnürlregen“) is but a drizzle.

On the spot where we landed, close to some fishermen’s huts, the „outstanding“ guides of the hunt of the day before and a group of drivers with dogs were waiting for us.  We climbed up on a hill where the usual large discussion took place. After its conclusion the drivers first moved out and then the shooters in different directions.

To my great astonishment, the number of shooters had greatly increased as some undefined individuals armed with adventurous guns joined us who were said to act as defenders in the hunt when I asked about their purpose. Despite the fact that we had keenly expressed with words, gestures, pleas and orders not to release the dogs and to keep quiet on the way to the hunt, we heard their ongoing shouts and cries in the forest and soon the dogs too started to bark and drove a deer calf close to us but I did unfortunately miss it.

The terrain had a very different character than that of yesterday’s hunt. I might say it looked Australian as in the tall grass there rose individual trees, now and then there were steep ledges that suddenly dropped down to the sea. Then there were again denser wood areas with a liana-like undergrowth.

A one-hour march took us to our positions whose line formed a semi-circle where we had hardly taken up positions when the shouts of the drivers were heard who were tasked to drive game towards us. I took up position on the outermost spot on the right wing. Below me was the defense with the numerous „wild“ shooters. For a long time nothing was visible while above my position many shots were fired. Finally I saw in short intervals some wild boars move at a large distance through the tall grass below my position, but one could see those animals only for moments. I tried my luck with a few shots and also hit one strong two-year-old animal that was found dead during the next drive. A single piece killed by me turned out to have been already wounded by another shooter.

After the end of the tedious drive it became clear that nearly all shots had been fired by native shooters who in fact had a good field of fire but truly without any results, having fired much grain at game, among it also a good deer. The defense below my position had also joined in the hunt but only managed, gesticulating wildly, to drive in a live deer calf which the dogs had stopped in front of the shooters.

The Dutch seemed, if I may conclude from my experiences on Java and now here, not very apt in hunting and the organization of a hunt. At least there was a complete mess during the three drives that were undertaken. We may have been positioned but mostly in the wrong places or only after the drivers had already moved past. Nobody was directing the whole, each native wanted only to shoot himself and the drivers walked instead of through the thicket, shouting loudly, one after the other alongside the shore. To this confusion the flood-like rain may have also contributed.

I regreted the failure due to the mentioned ills all the more as in the overgrown ledges there seemed to be plenty of game according to the tracks. Not a single babirussa was caught.

As we could see that the drivers had grown weary about the hunt and there was no order, we turned our attention to the world of the numerous birds present and bagged a sizeable number of large grey and yellow pigeons as well as multiple parrots. I was so happy to catch three predators in a short time by accident, namely a mighty white-breasted sea eagle (Haliaetus leucogaster) with a white body, striped tail and pigeon-grey wings that had landed on a high branch. Then an osprey (Pandion leucocephalus), very similar to the European one, and a falcon (Falco moluccensis), which resembled our kestrel but was more intensively colored. The latter two had been flying over me during the drives.

The rain continued to grow stronger. Finally the soaked cartridges could no longer be inserted into the rifle barrels and thus the retreat call was sounded and we returned on board to drive back directly to Amboina.

We had hardly left the bay of Kajeli when we were received by the high sea waves in the Strait of Manipa that threw our small steam boat around so violently that one after another left the company on deck and disappeared into the cabin only to emerge when wer arrived back in Amboina with an important delay. Totally battered and shaken we returned on board of „Elisabeth“. Staying there, however, was not particularly agreeable as coal was still being loaded on board and everything was wet from the pouring rain.

Links

  • Location: Amboina
  • ANNO – on 30.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Fesseln“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Kajeli, 29 June 1893

An eight-hour night drive brought us to the East coast of the island of Buru where we anchored in the bay of Kajeli next to the town of the same name.

To our surprise there was no rain today but beautiful sunshine in whose radiance the bay of Kajeli presented a very charming picture. In the distance we could see a mighty mountain whose peak was almost completely enveloped in clouds and which the natives call a „holy mountain“ as its top has never been touched by a European foot. The Eastern promonitory of Kajeli were two cone-shaped mountains called „mother and daughter“ while the mountain descends to the coast at a soft slope.

Kajeli itself lies in a swampy plain criss-crossed by small streams and is covered with mangrove trees. The plain extends to the land tongue of Lissaletta that limits our view on the right.

The post master and the commander of the fort Defentie appeared on board to arrange the program for the next two days with the resident according to which Kajeli would be first visited and then birds would be hunted. This met my special applause as Buru, like all Maluku islands, was known for its richness and diversity of its bird world. For the second day a hunt for deer, wild boars (Sus celebensis) and hairy babirusa (Babirussa alfurus) was planned. The strange babirussa is found outside its mainland of Celebes only on Soela, Mangoeli and Buru and is a very strange and rare animal with two pairs of tusks grown together above the snout. Understandably I desired to kill such an animal.

After the end of the discussion we drove on land and had to be carried in decorated chairs by coolies over the water to a triumphal arch as the boats could not land due to the muddy shore. The dignitaries of Kajeli received us festively.

The post master, the highest ranking government official on Buru, is not only in charge of the district of Kajeli but also a large part of the island that is divided in areas ruled by rajas. As post masters usually are appointed native just like in Dobo and also the commander of the small, semi-decayed fort and the mayor of Kajeli were pure-blood Malays.

Among the crowd I especially noticed two Alfures who had come from Ceram with trading goods. They looked stronger and better built than their Malayan relatives. Characteristic was their ferocity with which they provocatively glanced around. In contrast to the Amboinese, they were only wearing a loincloth made out of palm bast on which the Alfures use to mark the number of heads they have captured by colored rings. It is well known that the Alfures even today go on manhunts in Ceram armed with very sharp kris and spears made out of ironwood. Thanks to the courtesy of Baron van Hoevell I came into possession of many characteristic Alfurian ornaments and weapons.

As I thought that the morning hours were especially suitable for hunting birds I shifted the visit of the town Kajeli to a later time and asked the post master and the controller of Amboina who were in charge of the expedition on Buru to point out the best hunting grounds to me. After prolonged discussion which included the consultation of the best hunting expert of Kajeli — by the way, a suspicious looking individual wearing a worn black coat and a black hat  — it was recommended to us to drive to a land tongue as there would be parrots of five different species.

The time required for the drive to that land tongue was estimated at two hours. But instead of choosing the steamers, surely the fastest and most practical means of transports, the organizers of the excursion had opted to use sailing praus. Due to the complete lack of wind the sails could not be used so that the praus had to be moved by oars. Further delay was caused by the quickly increasing heat which soon tired the oarsmen.

Despite all this we finally reached our destination after a protracted drive and thought that now the hunt would soon start — but here too there were all kinds of discussions necessary. Finally the hunting expert took charge and advanced about 400 paces along the coast until we reached a point where at a shallow spot there were large tree trunks in the sea. Here there were some seagulls, sandpipers and plovers but at such large a distance that it was impossible to take a shot at them. Only Clam who had waded closer managed to bring back a harmless tern as the only catch.

Soon the people explained to us that the hunt was over now and that we could return to Kajeli, as there were no parrots here and also it made no sense to wait for pelicans which the hunting expert had believed to find here. Entering into the mangrove forest would be impossible too due to the swamp. Rather angry that we had thus lost a morning we had to spend the next two hours being rowed back to Kajeli in the midday heat but we landed outside of it as we decided to go hunting on our own in the woods surrounding the settlement.

Here everything looked dead and quiet at first. In the muggy heat no bird wanted to move and only gorgeous butterflies of all sizes and colors were fluttering around. The forest was not contiguous and closed but alternating with open areas of coarse grass called „kusu-kusu“. In the wooden areas in this terrain stood palm trees namely the fibrous sago palm (Pigafetta filaris), ficus  and eucalyptus trees in whose shadow I waited for some time until bird voices were to be heard again. Even though I hunted until the evening, our catch was not very rich: I bagged only two parrots of different species, one in green, the other in red (Tanygnathus megalorhynchus and Eos rubra), as well as a specimen of a gorgeous white, actually light-yellow fruit pigeon (Myristicivora melanura), finally a mysterious flier (Macropteryx [Dendrochelidon] mystacea) with long white hairs under the bills and some smaller birds. My gentlemen only caught two pigeons and a large grey fruit pigeon with metallic green wings (Carpophaga perspieillata) and a small green and yellow colored Pompadour green pigeon (Osmotreron aromatica) with a grey head.

In the hunting terrain I could examine a strange example of the manner in which the natives here build paths. I had asked my guide to bring us back to Kajeli by the shortest route as the sun was already low on the horizon. This proved to be a well traveled straight „linea recta“ path but which crossed a small river twenty-four times which we had to wade across every time for want of bridges. But this did not trouble me much as my stay in the tropical region had acquainted me with wading streams, rivers and swamps on a daily basis, in rain or not, and becoming soaked.

The short time left before the approach of darkness I used to visit Kajeli and the house of the post master. The settlement offered little that was notable with the exception of the semi-decayed fort whose low walls, it is said, are built upon the foundations dating from the Portuguese rule. The post master gave me in his house the skulls of two fully grown babirussas as a present and brought out three living cuscus that looked comically with their large goggle eyes. I immediately had them sent on board. Cuscus (Phalanger) are strange marsupials from the Austro-Malayan region and are divided into five species.

The evening was spent on board where again a case of sickness had to be noted as Hodek had become a victim of the fever.

Links

  • Location: Amboina
  • ANNO – on 29.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Dorf und Stadt“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Dobo, 26 June 1893

The fat post master had proposed to undertake today an excursion to the island of Wassir, North of Wammar, as there would be, according to him, large numbers of big game and wild boars so that we should certainly achieve good results.

The post master’s message about the hunting opportunities on Wassir was confirmed by the captain of the English pearl fishing schooner. He had just come on board of „Elisabeth“ during the post master’s report to buy salt junk as the schooner had not possessed any tins for weeks as the Dutch were not willing to sell him any under any condition. This „war of tins“ had its origin in the ongoing jealousy between the Dutch and the British about the rights to fish for pearls in the waters of New Guinea and especially its Western coast.

But,  aside from all the testimonials about the Wassir’s richness in game, the weather had to play along too — this key regulator of all human activity. The outlook for our expedition was not promising: Black clouds covered the sky and it poured down incessantly as if heaven had opened up all its sluices, when we pushed off from the ship at 6 o’clock. The rain became heavier and heavier so that we could from time to time barely perceive the islands of Wokam and Udjir which we passed at a distance of a few kilometers in a Northern direction.

My companions on this „grey journey“ were the post master who was wearing a dandy-like dress today, my gentlemen and from the staff Gratzl as well as Bourguignon.

Thanks to the speed of the barge our drive took only two hours and this time, landing was easy as the deep access channel reached up to the shore. Here there lay five praus whose passengers, inhabitants of the island of Wassir, would serve as our guides and drivers. The majority of them had Malay looks, the rest however were real Aruans who look similar to the Papuans but can still be distinguished from them: Their facial features were less pleasingly formed and have, if I am permitted to say, a more wild impression than the Papuans. The hair of the Papuans stands in bushels while the Aruans were their hair long and not brushed upwards into a crown. It hangs limply down in the manner of a mane or knotted into a bunch. As far as ornaments are concerned, there is little to be seen on these savages. Instead they carried beautiful weapons namely spears with iron points that had been originally traded and kris-like knives whose shafts are ornamented with tin or silver. Clothing is naturally limited to a loincloth.

I did not feel keen to involve myself into the ethnological problems of such a tiny group that still differed amongst itself and even scientists had found no consensus about the race of the Aruans. The main reason for this is the fact that the Aruans look to us as a mixed people which had received in earlier times even Portuguese blood but that did not have a positive effect on the race.

Despite the constant rain we decided to undertake a hunt as the game had been so colorfully described to us. Wassir showed a very different character than Wokam as everywhere there also were coraline lime between the rich humous layer but the swamps and swampy lower areas were completely missing. The vegetation was similar to that on Wokam but not as luxurious and dense. I hunted under the guidance of a Malay and followed by our fat post master who had to trot furiously today, three hours cross-country all over the island without ever seeing a single piece of game. Instead there was once a small dog that ran with us and barked next to me but as it turned out without reason for which he was ungently pushed with a spear by an angry Malay. I found some tracks and later the tooth of a boar — but that was all.

When we, tired from the long walk, met the other shooters at noon on the coast, they reported that with the exception of Clam who had seen three pieces of game flee nobody had seen anything that could be hunted. Bourguignon was not present and only arrived one and a half hours later as his guide had missed the direction and had led him for a long time in circles in the native manner we knew all too well.

In the mean time we had found cover from the constant pouring rain under an overhanging rock and on an open fire which we had ignited to prepare breakfast we dried our clothes as well as we could — an effort that had to be futile as our clothes were within minutes completely wet minutes after we departed to undertake another drive the natives had advised us to do.

The natives expected much from the newly beginning drive as they explained that they would drive across one half of the island and thus drive the game towards our positions. What we could not shoot from the positions, would be caught by the sea and captured by the crews of the praus. I could only laugh about the idea that the game would run into the sea while there was enough space left to flee into the other half of the island but the natives assured me repeatedly that often they had caught game in this manner successfully . Thus I let the matter run its course.

After a long consultation and never-ending shouting we were positioned in the forest and the drive started which was naturally set up so well that the drivers who constantly made a hellish noise finally re-appeared on two convenient clearings in a long line one after another.

I had again seen nothing this time, except for two brushturkeys,  but next to me three shots were fired with which Clam had killed a very timid six antler points deer. Thus there was at least some gain and as a benefit game meat to improve the cooking on board. The deer was a specimen of the species we had met on Java (Rusa hippelaphus). Apart from this, there did not have been other game in the drive and also no animal had taken to the sea as I had predicted.

During the return drive the sky luckily cleared up a bit. After the rain had completely stopped, we loaded quite nice a collection of bird bodies and other objects that the post master had given me as a present on board of „Elisabeth“ and then immediately steamed away towards Amboina.

In Dobo the fever epidemic reached its high point up to now — the report listed 153 sick people!

Links

  • Location: Dobo, Aru Islands
  • ANNO – on 26.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Grille“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Hunting camp at Vei Maori to Varivari island, 20 June 1893

We moved out already at dawn and at first all together up to a native village about 3 km distant where the guides for the individual gentlemen were to be picked up. The temperature was agreeable as strong dew had fallen during the night and  in all branches one could hear the cries of the cockatoos and parrots. Arriving towards 7 o’clock in the village, the Papuans at first expressed their astonishment about our early arrival but were soon ready to guide us. Strangely the Papuans are no friends of the early morning hours even if one wakes them and urges them to start working before 8 o’clock.

As the better hunting grounds were on the other shore according to the guides we had to cross the stormy river that was quite deep here. There was no boat available so that we were forced to walk in the manner of the natives on a submerged tree trunk that lay perpendicular to the river. This was not really an easy task as the trunk was very smooth as it was worn down by the steady exposure to running water. But fortunately the crossing succeeded without accident. By the way, we had to prove our talents as an equilibrist that day a few times more, as all streams here many of which of considerable depth can only be crossed on smooth tree trunks.

On the opposite shore we split again in parties and took different directions with the intention to meet again back at the camp by 11 o’clock in the morning. Bedford walked with me but the governor, apparently not truly convinced about his familiarity with the local terrain, sent two local natives along.

Bedford and the Papuans wanted to shoot a new kind of bird of paradise with twelve feathers. Five times we came close to such a bird and also heard its call. But each time when we were sneaking up, one of the gentlemen fired a shot close by which made the very timid and prudent birds flee. The local guides made the grave mistake to guide us all too close together so that one shooter interfered with the next. In return I found another tree full of Raggiana birds of paradise and shot two young males and one female.

Numerous hornbils were flying in the sky and at any moment I could hear heavy wings fluttering but it was impossible to shoot one. My next results were another parrot and a splendid common paradise kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea) with its two long white tail feathers that are shaped like a lyre.

The guides had as usual not estimated the time correctly and explained to me after 11 o’clock was already past that we would have to walk for quite some distance to reach the camp. The governor, profiting from the experience of the adventure the day before, had signal shots fired but I arrived at the camp without any further difficulties with a small delay and by and by the other members returned too, each with interesting game. Wurmbrand had two of the rare black cockatoo (Microglossus aterrimus) and a pigeon of a new species, Clam a bee martin and a splendid glittering so called rifle bird (Ptilorhis magnifica), Prónay with two Raggiana birds of paradise and Bourguignon also with one bee martin and a female.

After I had said good-bye to the governor and the other gentlemen from Moresby who wanted to stay in the camp until the afternoon, we marched to the barrier  and embarked into the barge and boats there again.  We steered downstream with the intention to reach Redscar Bay as fast as possible as I still wanted to hunt on Varivari island where in the evening thousands of white pigeons with black wing tips, a speciality of New Guinea, depart from the mainland.

But unfortunately we had not taken the tides into account which were highly noticeable upstream causing a difference in the water level of 1,5 m; when we arrived at the ominous tree trunks, we were forced to anchor and patiently wait for the water to rise. In the mean time we prepared a frugal midday meal in our boats.

Towards 3 o’clock the water had finally risen so high that our barge could get over the trunks having gather sufficient speed and now was in open navigable water. We drove at full speed but unfortunately one machine valve broke when we left the river so that our speed was considerably diminished. Additionally there were rather tall waves and the circumstance of having to still cover six miles of open sea to arrive at Varivar island.

When we arrived at „Elisabeth“  moored close to Varivari island, it was almost 7 o’clock and already dark. That’s why we definitively passed on the pigeon hunt.

On board of „Elisabeth“, that had anchored the day before 40 sea miles Northwest of the mouth of the Vanapa in the Hall Sound, East of Yule Island, and spent the night there, I found an extraordinarily varied and interesting ethnographic collection that the kind patres of the mission on Yule Harbour had sent me. The commander as well as the officers were enchanted by the very obliging welcome they received there and reported that the patres were delighted to host European guests with which they could spend a few hours.

After the barge and the boats had been lifted and all our trophies from the river expedition loaded on board, we hoisted the anchor at 8 o’clock in the evening and set course for Thursday Island leaving New Guinea behind through the gulf of Papua and the strait of Torres.

The impression New Guinea made upon us was very favorable and we owe the island many stimulating experiences. Even though it was only a fleeting glimpse we nevertheless gained some insight into the life and activities of the natives and have seen their positive side. Me as a friend of nature, collector and hunter, the coastal strip and what I have seen of the interior had offered me various things: The view of strange terrain and exotic vegetation as well as dense jungle and two shore landscapes as well as ethnographic and zoological catches and not in the least exciting hunts of the representatives of Guinea’s bird world. All of this without greater dangers than thorns, ants, mosquitoes and those small pinpricks that will not completely spare any of us earthlings in any location.

Links

  • Location: near Vari Vari island, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 20.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Richter von Belamea“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Port Moresby to the hunting camp at Vei Maori, 19 June 1893

We again used the Basilisk Passage to leave the harbor of Port Moresby to reach the open sea at the same time as ,the governor’s yacht „Merrie England“ who would join our party. Then „Elisabeth“ steamed about 10 to 15 miles off the coast in a North-western direction always  keep out of the way of small islands and coral reefs, past Caution Bay until Redscar Bay came into view. The small islands are the favorite resting places of numerous pigeons. During the night giant tortoises visit the sandy beaches too to lay their eggs , while the dugong (Halicore dugong), also called sea cow, a herbivorous mammal  similar to the dolphin is to be frequently found in the shallow water overgrown with seaweed (Sargassum). Unfortunately we lacked the time to pay these interesting islands a visit. The entrance into Redscar Bay is quite difficult as there are reefs there that had not been mapped but are only incidentally known to the pilots themselves. Opposite the mouth of the Vanapa river „Elisabeth“ anchored at half past 11 o’clock.

As the governor had in the meantime already set out in his steam barge with a number of native guides, our expedition was also set up and made ready for that steam barge drawing two dinghies in tow. In the barge which was loaded with coal for two days we sat together with Bedford as river pilot and Bourguignon as convoy commander who also steered the barge himself. In the dinghies were our servants, Hodek with two assistants and a cadet with eight sailors. Here too were loaded the photographic apparatus, the provisions and the ammunition. Soon after we had set off from „Elisabeth“, the ship hoisted its anchor and disappeared from view taking course on Yule Harbour.

We first passed a barrier at the mouth of the river and then drove upstream the Vanapa river into the Vei Maori river, past the large Papuan settlement Manumanu hidden under tall trees out of which our guide had been recruited.

Understandably we were highly interested in navigating on an almost unknown waterway. Dense forests covered the shores whose edges preferably featured low palm trees that grow so close to the river that their broad leaves hang into the water. The journey offered new picturesque views at any moment. Soon on the right, soon on the right bays became visible that cut deep into the land and were sprinkled with tiny islands on which high above the water level rise proud nipa palm and ironwood trees. The background of this river picture was provided by the high Owen Stanley range in a dull blue color.

The turns in the river became ever sharper and more twisted so that the barge which was also towing two boats had a rather difficult trip. To evade the numerous mud and sand banks that almost reached the open air the middle of the river had again and again to be left and steered from one shore to the other. The river’s width decreased quickly and was finally hardly more than 20 m. Here the vegetation became even more luxurious, the shore trees hanging even more frequently into the river so that we glided forward in a densely overgrown under a leafy balcony.

Suddenly there was a heavy blow — we were stuck against a submerged tree trunk. The largest obstacle for navigation here are such mighty perpendicular trunks hidden in the opaque water. Formally turned into stone, this hard wood forcefully resisted the attempts to grab it with hooks and move it out of the way. We had the machine of the barge run at full speed in reverse but in vain, as the vehicle started to move a bit a thick branch blocked the screw. As multiple persons who had jumped into the water were unable to move the barge and also our rocking the boat proved futile, I decided to leave the barge to its fate as it was already 3 o’clock and thus quite late and row a boat in order to start the afternoon hunt. Thus said and done. But we had not advanced far when we encountered a new obstacle, a perfect river barrier made out of interlocked tree trunks which stopped all further progress. Here lay also the small barge and the boats of the governor which had also been stopped by the barrier. As our camp was still a sea mile further upstream and the governor had already departed there with his people, we were left without good council as the guards on the boat, some Papuans, also couldn’t give any advice. They grilled fishes in total calmness. Finally Bedford resolved the confusion by proposing to lead me on a hunt while my companions would try to reach the camp on foot. As soon as they would reach it, they could send people out to get the provisions and the baggage and transport them to the camp.

Just as I had developed this plan, the steam barge arrived which had managed to break free again and anchored downstream from the wooden barrier. Balancing over a tree trunk I went to the other shore and entered into the dense jungle to use as much time as possible for hunting, accompanied only by Bedford and Janaczek. The jungle was almost of the same type as the one at the Laroki. The only difference was in the almost impenetrable thickets here that consisted of trees and bushes armed with thorns and barbs through which we could only slowly advance thanks to the machetes which slashed a path for us.

In this forest my first catch was again a large hornbill and this time it was a female that I shot down from a ficus tree. It differed from the male only by the coloring of its neck feathers which are rust brown in case of the male and a dark black for the female. Continuing we suddenly heard the voices of multiple large red Raggiana birds of paradise and soon we had reached at the tree in whose top there was great activity. Everywhere there was swarming an fluttering. In between one could hear the loud cries of the birds. First we could see only females and young birds that chased one another from branch to branch until Bedford suddenly pointed upwards and I discovered a splendid male with a large bushy ornamental tail feather that was glittering in the sun and jumping around a female and was courting it by comic turns and twists. A lucky shot bagged me a beautiful catch. We had by accident found one of the famous dance trees of the birds of paradise. These animals namely select certain very tall trees where they congregate in the afternoon hours to perform their dances which they do with great crying and fluttering. Without pause the birds rush from branch to branch until the females all congregated and the males then produce a real dance spreading wings and ornamental feathers like blackcocks by jumping nearly in step into the air, turn and act like crazy.

The shot I fired did not disturb the birds much in their lust for dancing. The sound stopped for a moment,, some males flew to neighboring trees, the others hid a bit deeper in the dark leaves. But only a few minutes later they all returned and the noise resumed. The picture of the dancing birds of paradise is very attractive especially if the sun is shining on their colored feathers and illuminates their flashy colors. Most frequently to be seen are the young birds, still unornamented males and the females while the old males are more timid. Still I bagged during an hour four of the most beautiful specimens and shot another four that however flew away wounded and disappeared into the dense jungle. These eight males had always returned to dance again in short intervals to the top of the tree where they had hidden. The height of the tree is enormous and the birds of paradise so hard that only the toughest parts of grain makes them fal while otherwise they will fly away despite being hit.

Finally there were no longer any small old males to be seen and and we thus sneaked forward as Bedford had heard the voice of birds of paradise of another species out of the noise created by cockatoo and parrots. But unfortunately these birds of paradise rested on a tree surrounded by an almost impenetrable thicket of thorns so that we crept along only extremely slowly despite our knives. Arriving at the tree I saw to my great anger the birds take off without me having a chance to have discovered them earlier.

In the hunting fever Bedford ignored that the sun had set so that I had to remind him that it was high time to return to the camp. I noticed that he seemed to not know which direction to take and I asked him again and again in which direction the camp lay. He always replied that he did know it exactly. It was getting darker and darker, the thickets become more and more difficult to penetrate so that we stumbled over fallen tree trunks or lianas we could not see at any moments and had our skin pierced by thorns. Night had come and we could not see anything and now Bedford confessed what I had known all along that we were lost as he did not know the path and did not know where we were.  They weren’t exactly the most kind words I said to him. But all swearing and moaning was futile and we had at least try to inform the camp that we had lost our bearing. To this purpose we fired our rifles in fixed intervals. As there was still no reply after about 25 shots I resigned myself to my fate and was just looking out to find a semi-dry space on the humid ground in order to spend the night in the company with all the vermin that was crawling around when Bedford implored me to undertake a final attempt.

I was in fact actually against it as those lost in the woods at night tend to walk in circles but I relented and thus we crept forward slashing with the knives in this labyrinth of branches and lianas and creating a tunnel. while protecting the eyes with the hands against thorns. In this manner we advanced barely twenty paces in half an hour and had to stop exhausted and wounded by thorns.

Another war council with Bedford was suddenly interrupted by a rifle volley whose barely perceptible noise came from afar to us — in any case a sign of the people in the camp. I immediately answered. By and by we perceived the signal shots more clearly, after half an hour we also heard the shouts of the search party and finally the sound of axes with which our saviors cut their way to us. Finally stood the governor in front of me leading a native corps armed with axes and lanterns and expressed his joy to have found me. I was understandably not unhappy about not having to spend the night in the wilderness and moved to the governor’s camp which was around 2 km distant. On the way I met other members of the expedition who had also joined in on the search for me.

The camp at the river had been built around the small hut of a Samoan who had settled here many years ago to trade with the natives. The hut actually only consisted of a covered platform to which our hammocks were tightened using the surrounding palm trees.  Provisions and supplies had been successfully brought up in a boat of the governor as some of the trunks of the wooden barrier had been successfully moved out of the way. Our boats, however, could not get past the barrier and had to stay and anchor below it. After the small adventure I had participated in the evening meal and sleep were outstanding only myriads of mosquitoes swarmed around us which were so mean that we were bitten all over the body. Some of the gentlemen were unable to close their eyes all night.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 19.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Sohn der Wildnis“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Hunting camp at Laroki, 17 June 1893

Already at 5 o’clock came the wake-up call. Our sleep had been quite disturbed by countless ants that were partly tiny partly, like the red ants that dropped on us the day before on our ride under the trees, of considerable size whose mean bites plague and enrage the hikers on New Guinea day and night. One of the gentlemen even found a large scorpion in his hammock. Not a very friendly surprise!

The time of departure for the hunt had been set so early as the morning was the best time to hunt birds. it was beginning to dawn when we jumped out of our hammocks to cook tea and make the necessary preparations for the hunt. As each of us wanted to say out during the whole day and thus fully use the short time we could spend in New Guinea.

An original scene in the morning was the female baggage carriers bathing without any timidity in the river laughing all the time and chatting naked as Eve. This dance of nymphs naturally offered the opportunity to compare the variety of skin colors of the natives. The nuances of complexion ranged from dark-brown to light-brown with a predominance of coffee-brown or golden bronze with a tint of olive which is so characteristic for the Polynesian blood. What all had in common were the extremely beautiful dark eyes and their good nature, even friendliness of their physiognomy.

We set out in five marching groups that split on the other bank of the Laroki to the shouts of „Hunter’s Luck“ and disappeared in multiple directions into the darkness of the jungle.

I first turned towards the North shore with Bedford, my servant on board Biaggio as well as some natives and then followed the stream in a Western direction. Loud bird songs from hundreds of beaks were heard which I considered a good omen for a successful day.

One has no experience how difficult it is to discover birds in the impenetrable tangle of tree tops, branches, twigs, lianas and parasite plants of such a jungle. Especially as they most of the times sit in the highest spot on giant trees which one can see from the ground only through some gaps. Only a keen and at the same time trained eye can finally spot the birds. Sometimes this is achievable only after a long patient wait. If the bird flies away, all was in vain. Bedford and the savages showed an astonishing aptitude in spotting the birds, given that they are permanent inhabitants of the forest and each native wanted to be the first so that all ran around and made more noise than necessary.

We had big trouble to constrain this overzealousness. Finally I ordered my servant to keep the natives all close to him and follow us in a group at a distance of 100 paces while I with Bedford and one Papuan cautiously wanted to sneak forward. But as soon as the voice of a bird was heard, the whole group stood close behind us until Bedford managed to drive them definitively back with the help of strong curses in Papuan language. That the birds fled during those discussions or kept quiet and thus could no longer be detected was self-evident.

What I wanted to bag today first of all was one of the splendid king bird of paradise (Cincinnurus regius). We did find, following the voice a tree on which was such a bird too. But unfortunately, there wasn’t a male among them so that I shot only a female which had a plain color and had the characteristic skyblue legs.

In multiple places in the forest I saw giant nest of the brushturkey. This strange bird scratches leaves, twigs, earth lying on the ground, that is all the debris in the forest, together into a big pile of 6 to 8 m length and 2 to 3 m height in which it lays its eggs to hatch them assisted by the warmth of the earth or the heat from decomposition of the amassed vegetation. The effort the comparably small turkey has to spend to collect such great quantities of materials for its wall nest can be measured that around the hill-like nest the ground is picked clean for hundreds of paces. My savages dug into one of these nests but unfortunately did not find any eggs.

Out of a dense bush three Papuan frogmouths (Podargus papuensis) in front of me of which I bagged one. Really close to there I shot a forest bittern (Zonerodius heliosylus) that hid itself sitting on a twig of the tree.

Often I heard sounds in the forest that reminded me of the call of the mountain hen and which ended in loud cries. I also noticed the strong flapping of the wings of an apparently very large bird. Bedford explained that this was the hornbill that was incredibly timid and it would be difficult to bag a specimen. In vain we tried to sneak up to where the sounds were coming from. Every time even before we could see them they flew away with big cries warning all their comrades so that the forest was full of warning cries.  I had given up hope to achieve a favorable result when I discovered two rare beautiful scarlet and citron colored pigeons (Ptilopus iozonus) which I bagged. The shots seemed to cause such a disturbance among the hornbills that I heard their wings fluttering everywhere until one of them flew by accident just over me on a tall tree top so that I managed to shot it down. It was a Rytidoceros (Buceros) plicatus, an old male and a splendid specimen characterized by its giant beak, the red-brown neck, the metallic glittering black feathers and the snow-white tail. The age of the bird was estimated as seven years by examining the ridges on the beak, as the natives calculate that it grows another year on its beak every year. The savage who brought me the animal performed a very comical dance of joy by constantly kicking out his legs in an eccentric manner. As soon as he had calmed down again I sent him back directly to the camp in order that the bird was placed as quickly as possible into the hands of the taxidermist.

Gradually we had entered more mountainous terrain where the scenery changed. The forest was more open, tall grass covered the ground and the stony places and rocks were surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Here I shot a wallaby and a beautiful falcon (Accipiter cirrhocephalus).

It was shortly before noon when the heat became very muggy and the bird world had become very quiet and Bedford proposed to rest. We camped with the Papuans between the rocks in the shadow of some trees, ate our tins and tried afterwards to sleep a bit what however was unfortunately made impossible by the countless vexing ants.

Thus I entered into an „English“ conversation with Bedford in which I learned that this hunting ground chosen by the governor was an unsuitable one and that the best hunting opportunity was actually in a territory about 40 kilometers out of Moresby in the valley of the Vei Maori River where the governor used to go hunting too. But, added Bedford, he still hoped to find some birds of paradise to shoot in a valley nearby in the afternoon.

The Papuans spent their break in a much more agreeable manner for them: They smoked tobacco which they had begged off from me, grilled the freshly shot wallaby and ate this strange roast with pleasure.

Despite the strong heat we started again already at 2 o’clock and climbed up a steep mountain ledge which was as tiring as it was difficult as we could not follow a set path but had to climb what we encountered over blocks of rocks and clefts covered with grass without knowing where to put one’s foot and slipping at any moment. Short of breath  and bathed in sweat we arrived on the hill where we let ourselves fall into the grass to recover some of our breath and regain some of our strength.  As now it was necessary to climb down on the other side of the mountain ledge what was even more difficult at the beginning. The descent continued very slowly as we advanced only gradually. Halfway down even the natives ran out of force one after another and sat down and did not want to continue marching. Only the insistent admonitions of Bedford as well as the circumstance that we had the strikers march in front of us and thus drove them forward made them move.

Slashed and flayed we arrived finally in the small densely overgrown valley in which Bedford hoped to find birds of paradise. In profusion, however, just at that moment a heavy rain started pouring down so that all hopes for a catch were dashed. As soon as it starts raining, all the birds of paradise hide themselves in the densest mountain tops, concerned about their feathers, press themselves against the trunk and thus absolutely can not be seen.  I still climbed up the hill on the other side of the valley and saw a female bird of paradise but a male was not to be seen.

As Bedford now declared that it was futile to continue the search for birds of paradise and we had to cover an important distance to return to the camp, we changed our path in that direction.

The valley was so densely overgrown that we could only enter it by advancing in the stream running through the valley floor. At its shore the natives eagerly rushed into the stream to quench their thirst but found not much refreshment in the warm water.

Continuing to wade in this stream, we noticed right at the start that our shoes were filling with fine sand which hurt me especially as the walking had blistered my feet. Where the deep areas of the stream prevented wading we had to go around the stream and squeeze ourselves between the trees at the shore or climb over the fallen trunks. Finally we arrived at the Northern end of the valley where I had hunted in the morning and where we now were returning home, that is to the camp which I reached late in the evening fully soaked and very tired. Such a ten hour expedition in the tropical jungle in such a muggy atmosphere is much more exhausting than a march double its length in our latitudes.

The other hunting group arrived earlier than I and every gentleman had brought something interesting, thus Clam a splendid bird of paradise and three crowned pigeons, Wurmbrand two  blue bitterns (Ardeiralla flavicollis), a snow-white kite with light-brown wings (Haliastur girrenera) and two strange crake-like birds called comb-crested jacana (Parra gallinacea), Prónay finally a cockatoo, a pink pigeon etc.

According to the original plan the next day would be spent hunting at the shore of the Laroki too but the information given by Bedford made me ask the governor to organize an expedition to the famous hunting grounds at the shore of Vei Maori. To lessen the concerns of the governor regarding the limited time for this plan I declared to prolong my stay on New Guinea by two days. This prolongation decided the matter.  Sir William accepted the hunting expedition to Vei Maori under the condition that he would have enough time to prepare so that we unanimously agreed to return to Port Moresby the next morning.

This evening sleep came easy despite ants and scorpions as even the natives were exhausted from the activities of the day so that they forgot to sing and dance and the camp was completely quiet at an early hour.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 17.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Jungfrau von Orleans“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Port Moresby to the hunting camp at Laroki, 16 June 1893

According to the appointment we should depart at 7 o’clock in the morning on the expedition to the Laroki river but only set out when a certain signal, hoisting a red flag on Government House, indicated that everything was ready. Finally at 9 o’clock the red flag appeared and we went on lan where the governor and four of his officials who had the intention to participate in the expedition awaited me.

The number of officials the governor had were only a few persons and the body of his military land army consists in an armed police force of 70 men and is currently composed mostly out of natives from Fiji as well as the Solomon islands.The commander of this force was the  Commandant of Armed Constabulary. The policemen are said to be bold, skillful people who set out to restore order if a native tribe within British New Guinea has committed some misdeed. If the natives murder a white man, the guilty are executed and in fact hanged as the natives consider being shot less ignominious. The murder of natives is usually not handled as strictly and punished with hard labor for which the criminals are deported to a nearby island.

For the march to the Laroki, horses were provided for me and the gentlemen who wanted to participate in the expedition while our people had to march on foot. The baggage, the supplies and the munition was carried by natives but in no way by men who would never deign to such servile actions but instead by young girls who carried the heavy loads with admirable endurance. The use of about thirty girls as carriers our caravan naturally looked particularly strange.

The guide for this difficult route to the Laroki river was a mixed blood of a Samoan and an Englishwoman called George Bedford who was notable by his strong stocky build. He spends the largest part of his life,  a true ranger, hunting and collecting for researchers in the jungles of the island only to now and then go and talk to Port Moresby and to sell the bird bodies caught on his journeys to the merchant resident in the colony.

The horses we were riding roam freely iin the bush when they are not needed and had only been caught during the morning with a lasso; they are all descendants of Australian horses which the gold diggers once brought to the coast.

The day was hot and muggy. We crossed over many first bare limestone hills that ascend up to the top of Port Moresby and reached after having completed a steep descent the valley on the opposite side of the mountain range. There we saw banana and yams plantations surrounded by strong fences whose poles were fixed in regular intervals and connected one to the next by fibers of a vine called „sei“.

The valley we were now entering in a Northern direction reminded me in terms of the plants and its vegetation to the plateau of New South Wales. Here as there the ground was covered by individual tufts of tall grass of up to 2 m high. Between these grass islands was a terrain similar to a savannah in which rose now and then evergreen eucalyptus trees. Irregularly arranged ranges of hills of various sizes and forms delimited the grass land.

On the Northern horizon the contours of the Owen Stanley mountains appeared in a delicate blue tint whose peaks of Mount Victoria reached up to 4002 m. Its majestic top had been climbed for the first time by a European on 11 June 1889, namely governor Macigregor.

The climb caused the greatest of difficulties and the whole tour took 64 days. Macgregor and his party had set out on 22 April 1889 at one of the estuaries of the Vanapa river and continued their drive upriver for six days. There they camped while they ordered to bring carriers and supplies from Port Moresby and continued on 17 May on foot. Storms, swamps, gorges, craggy hills and obstacles of all kind hindered the advance of the expedition that had to cut its path step by step, ax in hand, through the jungle until the had climbed to the top on 11 June which Macgregor named Mount Victoria. The return trip lasted from 13 to 25 June and the arduous journey was made more complicated by the fact that Macgregor was not very good walker.

A great appetite for exploration seems to be one of the qualities of Macgregor who is an outstanding explorer of geographic worlds as he spends the largest part of his time on explorations and inspection tours into the interior in the areas he is assigned where he shows as much endurance as courage. Many still unexplored area and numerous native villages he set foot in as the first white man and was naturally from time to time forced to make use of the destructive power of modern firearms when the savages ambushed him or fought against him.

On expedition that Macgregor always likes to mention with a certain pride was the one up the Fly River. It arises in the center of New Guineas and flows in a huge delta in the gulf of Papua and has been discovered in 1845 by Captain Blackwood. Later L. M. d’Albertis as well as the missionary MacFarlane drove in the steam boat „Ellengowan“ 800 km upriver. Macgregor now managed to drive a further 168 km on the mighty river meandering in countless bends beyond the endpoint of d’Alberti’s journey up to the border of British New Guinea driving into German territory for which purpose he first used the steam boat „Merrie England“ and a whaling boat.

The report of Macgregor’s research exploration made me truly want to also enter into virgin territories, to drive on rivers that had never been sounded nor mapped, to see areas that no European had set a foot in, to bring back home valuable and plentiful catches as a collector and hunter.

Thus in thoughts I rode through the monotonous country under the burning heat of the sun. For three hours we saw nothing but grasses and rubber trees where animals were scarce. Now and then, while we rode under eucalyptus trees, red ants dropped down on us and plagued us mightily. Next to a swamp enclosed by trees, cockatoos and large parrots took to the sky with great cries while no other living beings could be discovered in that area.

In the area of the Laroki river the vegetation was finally luxurious and varied. Mighty trees such as the native olive tree (Notelaea ligustrina), Casuarinae, mangroves and Ficus replaced the tiring sight of the monotonous grasses and eucalyptus trees, and soon we entered into the shadow of a beautiful jungle that follows the river on both sides like we having arrived at the South shore of th Laroki. Between the high trunks appeared all kinds of ferns, winding rotang palms (Calamus Rotang), orchids, mistletoes and other parasite plants.

The Laroki arises in the East of Port Moresby beyond the Astrolabe range at the Western foot of the Richardson mountain range, takes at the beginning a Western direction and then after absorbing Goldie River turns Northward and finally flows into Redscar Bay. At the place where we reached the river it had an important depth at a width of about 30 m, but it still continued to be 60 m wide and more; it is said to shelter as all the waters of this area numerous crocodiles but we did not see any of them.

We stopped at an open space at the shore under mighty trees to await the arrival of the caravan following us which included knowledgeable local guides who were to lead us into the jungle at the North shore.

After one and a half hours the caravan arrived, completely exhausted from the journey they traveled during the hottest hours of the day and required a lengthy pause to recover while we hastily ate a meal made out of the tins in order to cross the river in the company of our guide and devote the time to hunting. In the mean time those staying back set up the camp at the rest stop.

From the North shore of the Laroki we ventured out in multiple directions into the jungle and namely I set out in a North-western direction accompanied by the mixed blood Bedford and a Papuan. During our slow advance I had to admire again and again the splendor and festive silence of the jungle filled with giant trees.

The goal I wanted to accomplish was to bag as large as possible number of specimens of the bird species so diverse on New Guinea whereas I mainly targeted birds of paradise, the large hornbill, Papuan crowned pigeons  (Goura albertisi) and brushturkeys. But as I did neither speak English nor Papuan, I had some difficulties communicating with my companions which I tried to solve with sign language.

The first catch was a beautifully colored parrot that did not look taller than a wren sitting in the top of a mighty tree. Soon afterwards my guide stopped and pointed at a spot in the undergrowth where 80 paces away I discovered a large chicken-like bird and killed it. To my joy it was a female brushturkey (Talegallus cuvieri).

Only by using all energy I managed to advance in the dense jungle. Almost constantly I had to wiggle my way like a snake through the tangle of twines and climbing plants that connected the mighty trunks and the branches that were hanging down and dropping from the twigs and was felting the bushes and covering the ground. Thorns and leaf edges with barbs, thick, trunks laying criss-cross and being covered with twines as well as fallen trees multiplied the obstacles step by step. Despite the shadow provided by the dense leafy tops of the jungle, I was covered in sweat. I was a bit surprised not to find mosquitoes close to the river and at least I was spared that plague.

Suddenly I heard loud bird cries and it took possession of me when Bedford announced that it was the call of the birds of paradise. Just as tigers in India, the most valuable catch of the hunter in the South Sea are birds of paradise! It is a very timid bird and as it is usually frightened by the most quiet noise and disappears only caught with lime-twigs or slings and only rarely by shot. The difficulty of hunting birds of paradise, the colorful splendor of their feathers and especially the tail feather of the male have made these inhabitants of the air the topic of legends and fairy tales — all this will be sufficient to explain my desire to catch this prey.

With extreme caution we sneaked close to the trees where we had heard the call and nearly became blind by watching for them until we realized that only females were sitting up there. The unornamented hens were no desirable target for me. In contrast to humans, in the animal kingdom it is usually the male that is favored by beauty so that in the birds of paradise only the male has the splendid feathers while the female is completely inconspicuous.

As no male was following the tender calls of the females I had to relinquish my position after some time without success. On a small clearing covered with grass two wallabies suddenly jumped up at my feet. I bagged one, while Bedford killed the other.

My next catch were two very large fruit pigeons (Carpophaga pinon) and a specimen of a new kind of black, yellow and white colored oriole (Eulabes dumonti) that sat on a eucalyptus tree. A nankeen night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), that I shot when it flew over my head, made me sense the presence of water and in fact I soon came to a pond covered with cane brake in which was all kind of water fowl. The ducks seemed to have forgotten their usual timidity here or did not notice the presence of humans. As they returned again and again to the pond even after I had fired quite a few shots. Thus I managed to bag two whistling ducks one of which was a species I did not know before (Dendrocygna arcuata and guttata). Of such ducks I saw a whole flock of around 30 pieces sit close to me on a large Ficus; also divers and coots were present here. Furthermore I shot a splendid crake but could not bag the bird as the Papuan accompanying me was unwilling at any price to recover the crake out of the swampy water.

I was much astonished to find suddenly cattle in this secluded area. It gawked at me for some time and then timidly fled. They answered my question about this with the explanation that these were cattle from a herd formerly held at Port Moresby that had been banned into the wilderness as it had caused too much damage in the gardens of the natives. The cattle was now living in a semi-wild way. Whenever a piece is required it is shot from the herd.

At the edge of the small pond stood two snow-white egrets to which I was just sneaking up when a fleeing wallaby made them fly up into the air with hoarse cries. In spite of the darkness that had set in I noticed a sitting obscure white bird: I fired and in front of me lay a splendid duck (Tadorna radjah) with snow-white body, head and beak and metallic dark-brown wings.

In the mean time it had become completely dark so that it was time to return to the camp. Surrounded by whizzing fireflies we passed the river and found my gentlemen already in the camp who had also brought some catches.

The camp at the Laroki set up under giant trees offered a truly picturesque view. It was a real hunter’s or gold digger’s camp without any comfortable sleeping or kitchen tents such as those I had been offered everywhere on my expeditions in India. Each of us had a hammock fixed to the trees above which was hanged a 2 m oil cloth to protect against the rain while below our hand baggage and the rifles were stored. The cooking was done on the open fire and the evening meal consisting of risotto and the content of some tins was simple enough. It tasted much better after the hard work of the day than the fine cookery of Bussatto. Next to us around the large fire the Papuan guide and the female baggage carriers had set up their camp and from time to time they sang in a monotonous voice. Furthermore there stood the tied horses. At our feet the river was rushing and through the dense leafy tops the golden stars and the silver moon were glittering.

I lay for a long time, wrapped in a blanket at the shore of the river and while I looked at the glittering night-time sky, the sparkling camp fires and the ghost-like shadows moving over the trunks and bushes of the jungle, deep memories out of my childhood came up. Yes, thus I had dreamed about the camp life of Cooper’s heroes in the endless forests of North America in „The Last of the Mohicans“ . . .

When I finally went to frequent my hammock, the natives began to dance in the distance and to sing. Their singing and their individual shouts of joy  reminded me of the songs and shouts with which in our Alps the young men greet their „girls“ and made me remember many beautiful memories about home that lulled me to sleep in which dreamed about an images about a scenery far from Laroki and New Guinea.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 16.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Grille“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Owa raha to Ugi, 8 June 1893

When we were hoisting the anchor early in the morning to leave Owa raha, heavy rain was falling again. The departure, especially turning the ship in the very narrow harbor with its many coral reefs was just as difficult as during the entrance. Fortunately the weather improved when we drove in a North-western direction alongside the coast of San Cristoval so that we had a clear view on that densely overgrown island with its mountains rising up to1250 m. Rounding Cape Kibeck or Mahua we saw on starboard the group of islands called the Three Sisters, whose largest island is Malan paina and soon after, the island of Ugi, our destination today. Numerous dolphins and some sea birds enlivened the calm sea which was given the beautiful day of an intensively blue color.

Selwyn Bay on the Western coast of Ugi where we anchored is actually only one rather open mooring area in a beautiful scenic surrounding. We had to move really close to the surrounding coral banks at the shore which drops so suddenly that the bay adds depth quickly and the sounding amounts to 32 fathoms at the sea ladder when the anchor is resting at 20 fathoms.

On Ugi lives an Englishman with one assistant who are here protecting a small coal depot which was just been restocked by a sailing schooner. Furthermore there were on Ugi only a few native settlements snugly hidden between the trees. The natives were part of the same tribe as those on Owa raha.

Rushing on land quickly with a boat I sought the two Europeans. These coal guards who might justly be called lonely people led me into the interior of their hut made out of wooden planks in which only the number of weapons seemed remarkable. They are thus equipped to withstand any attacks of the natives.

Hodek photographed a group of savages who curiously stood around the station and then we entered into the interior of the island with a native man as a guide who the two Englishmen considered to be a fairly trustworthy companion.

The vegetation we saw was no less gorgeous than the one on Owa raha which had enchanted us so much. But we noticed in favor of Ugi’s scenic attractions a large number of small streams that rush flowing crystal-clear and splashing between the splendid trees to the coast. Along the shore of the streams stood marvellously beautiful places in the shadow of the giant trees filled with countless colorful butterflies.

The bird world too was represented in the most lovely manner even though one of the two station guards assured us when we asked him closely about the presence of game and especially birds on the island that on Ugi there was but one kind of large pigeons but no parrots etc.

I had barely taken 100 steps into the forest, when the first shot bagged me a splendid totally red parrot (Eos cardinalis) and I then just thereafter shot a beautifully colored pigeon (Ptilopus eugeniae) with a snow-white head, crimson breast, yellow belly and green and purple wings. Directly afterward a larger bird took off from a tall Dracaena which I bagged. It was a male specimen of an eclectus parrot (Eclectus pectoralis). It is green with blue-ending wings. Below the wings are light red feathers, the beak is orange-yellow. The size of the parrot is comparable to a strong domestic pigeon. The female is totally differently colored, namely scarlet but sky-blue in the neck, the belly and wings. During the hunt I shot also a scarlet myzomela (Mysomela pulcherrima), a totally coffee-brown pigeon having the shape of a  turtle dove and two large fruit doves (Carpophaga pistrinaria), as well as a pair of the splendid yellow-bibbed lory (Lorius chlorocercus) whose feathers consist of all colors of the rainbow and are certainly to be counted among the most beautiful parrots. The birds were difficult to see in the dense leaves of the giant jungle trees even though one could always hear them.

Thus I might have walked for about an hour admiring the tropical wonders of the forest and flowers and looking out from time to time for a colorful bird when I came to a clear stream in which I took an agreeable cool bath given the intensive heat and waded across and found myself unexpectedly in the middle of a village called Ete-Ete and met here a larger number of the gentlemen of my staff who were in the midst of intensive bartering with the natives. By and by also arrived my gentlemen each of which had made interesting catches, namely in parrots. The officers informed us that at their arrival all inhabitants had fled, especially the women and hid themselves in the forest and only after quite some time re-emerged to more brave who could not identify threatening behaviors and brought after long discussions spears and other objects for trading. The value of minted coins seemed to be known to the people. While the looked at tobacco products, textiles or pearls with indifference, they offered everything what they owned for a coin, namely for an American dollar that were considered especially valuable. Only the necklaces made out of shells or dog teeth, they would not trade for any amount. Thus we bought weapons and fishing equipment among them a strangely formed wooden harpoon with six prongs as well as combs etc.

As intermediaries for the exchange served, besides one of the station guards who had accompanied the gentlemen of the staff as interpreter, two strange fellows named Rora and Belingi, the chiefs of the village’s two tribes. Rora’s extremely off-putting exterior was in no way embellished by the emblem of his dignity, an old sky-blue felt hat of enormous size that was missing its top and formed at the same time his only piece of clothing. The cylindrical monster is said to have been once the property of a slain and then eaten missionary. The right hand of Rora was in a bag as he had been wounded while fishing. Belingi, the co-regent, seemed to be of a high age and to have participated in many hard fight as the chief’s body was covered with deep scars. We could clearly see a spot on his breast where a heavy spear must have entered and been thrust sideways through his body.

Even these two old fellows showed themselves fearful and wary as the large number of white men, the shooting and hunting close to the village had shocked them quite a bit. Finally we managed to get the two to part with two of those large wooden cooking vessels inlaid with mother of pearl which the islanders used in large feasts. They are made out of hollowed out trunks and are 1 m long vats that are more or less richly decorated on the exterior wall. Even with time the chiefs were willing to call the women and girls and have them photographed by Hodek, arranged in a picturesque group, but only under the condition that no white man with the exception of the photographer looked at the ladies. Therefore we had to step behind a hut while Hodek took the picture and could only later browse in the village. Here some of the ladies with large décolletés nevertheless presented themselves in front of our eyes. As soon as we had seen the beauties of Ete-Ete, we had wished they would have stayed hidden.

The huts of Ete-Ete resembled in form and ornamentation quite closely those on Owa raha, but the holy places on Ugi were more poorly equipped. Dolphin coffins were missing, the carvings were meager and the fetishes less ornamented. Instead we found war canoes in Ete-Ete but it was impossible to buy one of these or a fetish as neither money nor good words helped even though I finally offered multiple sovereigns for those interesting objects the islanders considered holy.

The inhabitants of Ete-Ete resembled also those of Owa raha, but suffered in part from a nasty rash of blisters that was unpleasant to notice on the individual bodies. As far as decorative objects were concerned we found only small differences: Thus the necklaces were richer but most bracelets made out of white stone that is of European origin.

Worth a mention is a burial place which holds the remains of nobles and consists of a small hut covered with palm leaves on whose dais skulls are spread out for bleaching. Close by, partially hidden, fragments of human bones were laying around which left no doubt that we were looking at the sad remains from disgusting feasts.

Continuing my way through the forest I bagged a few birds but had to walk to the coast after a short time as we all had to be back at sunset. The excursion ended with us walking slowly back along the beach and almost wading in the sea to Ete-Ete and boarded the waiting boats which took us back to the ship.

Links

  • Location: Ugi, Solomon islands
  • ANNO – on 08.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse reports in many columns about Franz Ferdinand’s stay on Java back in April.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Numea, 2 June 1893

Today a deer hunt was to be organized. Everybody assured me that the territory was rich in game and thus the hunt promised excellent results. Even though I always am somewhat sceptic about such tales and promises in foreign countries, I was still full of hope to catch at least one specimen of the deer species introduced and acclimatized here. At dawn we set off from the board and met the adjutant of the governor at the landing as well as one of the highest civil servants who formerly had been resident in Tonkin and been assigned by the governor as his representative.

M. Picquie himself could not participate in the hunt as he had slipped and dislocated a leg while playing „catch“ with the young ladies during a garden party he had organized. Apparently the cause of his injury seemed to the governor not dignified enough to tell me and had instead communicated that he had fallen off a horse during a business trip and thus injured himself.

The company of the former resident of Tonkin by the way was very welcome as he could tell me during the drive many strange things about this country which had become important for the European Oriental politics and where he had lived for many years. We only had to cover 21 km but spent three hours as the horses were notable for their special slowness and the road went up and down the mountain.

The weather was agreeable, the temperature pleasantly fresh. We were now already in June, that is close to the coolest period in this part of hemisphere in which — in July and August — the average temperature drops from the annual average of 22 to 23° C during the day by 5 to 7° C, while it drops in cool nights down to about + 9° C.

The region we were driving through has a mostly monotonous character in scenery as the road goes almost always through the monotonous looking Niauli forests. Still there are changing and interesting impressions. Close to a saddle of a mountain which we had to cross there was an oasis amidst the Niauli forest with splendid almost tropical vegetation. We passed numerous settlements with large vegetable gardens and furthermore also hotels or more precisely road-side inns with proud names such as „Au rendez-vous des chasseurs“, „Hotel beau site“ etc. that offer the Libérés the prized opportunity to waste their small savings on drink.

The orange tree is growing splendidly here. Unfortunately, the golden fruits are fouling on the trees as it is not profitable to harvest them due to the impossibility of exporting oranges.

During the drive we saw few birds which was all the more remarkable as 45 species of birds were natives only of New Caledonia. I managed to observe only a small predator, then a kingfisher as well as a Myna and a few singing birds. Poorer still the country seemed to be as far as mammals were concerned. Apart from deer there seems to be only a species of fruit-eating  bat, large megabats (Pteropididae). This lack of large animals and the periodically recurring need for more substantial food than fish, megabats, rats, worms and snails is used by ethnographers to explain the native predilection for human meat suppressed not long ago.

The last part of the journey turned out to be very difficult as a large water pipeline was under construction for Numea and the iron pipes was just then being transported there.

Next to a small settlement we were expected by two gentlemen who led us on foot through a wide valley to the hunting ground. Here I had the first chance of seeing a large number of Kanaks who had been called out of the interior of the island to serve as drivers — beautifully built muscular men of a dark coffee-brown color with dense fully curly hair of a true Papuan character which they wore combed upwards. Their faces are not beautiful and raw, but show a certain intelligence in their expression. Clothing is limited to small waist belts. In contrast the Kanaks are all the more equipped with all kinds of ornaments which they carry as necklaces and bracelets made out of shells and footrings made by twisting megabat hair. As weapons they carry long lances with very original points as well as clubs made out of heavy ironwood that is found on the island.

The endurance of the natives at swimming and their skill in fishing are reportedly excellent. My informants claimed to have personally observed how these islanders had swum out two to three miles out into the sea and there threw out a fishing rod while „treading water“, then keep their catch under their arm and continue to fish until they had caught a sufficient number of fishes to return to land. The Kanaks are said to be highly proficient in guiding canoes and using them for fishing, a method much preferred to the just described fishing rod technique. It might well be possible that my informants had seen more than actually happened and that the fishermen stood on reefs and cliffs — not visible to the observer — below sea level and so on a firm setting could go after catching fish.

In total there are about 40.000 natives on New Caledonia whose race however is on the way to extinction as the numerous endemic and many newly introduced illnesses as well as the numeric gender imbalance causes their number to decrease year by year. The killing of new born girls is said to be widely practised. Women are also treated everywhere much worse and have to perform all the hard work. In earlier times, the population was reduced by the continued feuds between the different tribes where the prisoners and the killed were always eaten. Today the natives are more peaceful but withdraw from contact with the whites.

The civil servant in charge of the natives had set out with the drivers and posted us for the hunt at the foot of a hill covered only with grass behind which was a densely forested mountain slope. The islanders with their dogs were tasked to drive through these woods to force the deer to cross over the hills. This battle plan did not please me in the slightest and in fact neither were the drivers as well as almost all the natives that had before taken part in our hunting. They walked without order or plan during the drive, took up position on small hills or at the edge of gorges where they started shouting for extended periods while only a few drivers with dogs actually entered into the woods. The dogs still barked a few times but the hunt took another direction turned away from our position what was to be expected right from the start as the game in New Caledonia too shows no preference to cross into an open valley. All the more so as there was much noise behind us caused by the construction of the water pipeline.

Thus I sat there for a full three hours when suddenly but at great distance a spike was fleeing in front of me. I shot it, apparently a hit to the lungs but the deer stood up again and draw itself forward for a few steps to collapse in the high grass. As soon as one of the drivers had seen this, they all ran in the true sense of the word like wild men with great shouting to the deer that naturally again stood up and fled into the very dense wood pursued by the wild men and the dogs where one could hear their sounds for some time until the deer disappeared forever. From a true follow-up search one could naturally not speak and also a heartfelt request directed to the wild men to find the wounded animal in their own manner and kill it was in vain.

Thus the first drive was a complete failure even though the game was said to be plentiful which had been assured at the start of the hunt that the game was more like a plague on the land by their quantity in the woods and the fields. As usual in such cases the hunting masters were certain that the failure of the hunt would have been successful at an earlier hour or if executed as a chase — an insight that came too late. As I would have put up no resistance to start the hunt earlier, I would even have started our journey after midnight if necessary.

Unfortunately a straight continuation of the hunt was impossible as the governor who had followed us was awaiting us in a settler’s house close by for an opulent breakfast which consumed a full two hours as the majordomo and liveried servants presented a never-ending series of dishes and wines. As well meant this feast had been I still considered it a waste of time — sitting on pins and needles — and would have preferred to use the time for hunting or  collecting beetles and butterflies, with one word more purposeful as I had only a few days to visit the interesting island in the midst of the South Sea which I would never see again in my lifetime. I had not come to spend hours eating at a table! After the end of the breakfast I hoped to be released  —  but not at all. A Hiob’s message arrived that the dogs of the drivers had been lost and the hunt could only be continued after the dogs had been caught again. With the exception of my gentlemen all participants of the hunt seemed to e relieved and continued to eat until they finally managed to recall the dogs to duty late in the afternoon.

Finally a new drive started from a hill that was densely covered in ferns. The local islanders may be really honorable people and have all kinds of good qualities but driving and hunting they completely fail to understand. The dogs soon barked and one could see soon thereafter some great game run through the bushes. Unfortunately the unlucky drivers had noticed the deer too and now all ran in the direction of the game with cries. The deer naturally broke in the opposite direction which made the drivers happy and shouting and gesticulating in front of my position  perform some kind of war dance.

As I lacked the possibility to express my opinion with some native strong or swear words I slung my rifle on my back in my helpless anger and turned away from this „wild, daring hunt“ to the wagon where I received the message from the fast following hunting master that just now four deer had crossed at the position I just had vacated. I did not doubt the truth of the appearance of the deer which might also only have shown up to restore the honor of the hunting master but did not change my direction to return to the position and started calmly my homeward journey.

This partly compensated for the failed hunt. Driving between the high mountains surrounding the valley, we enjoyed the vivid color effects produced by the rays of the setting sun on the mountain slopes; The Niauli trees glittered in a blueish color next to the clefts and bare areas which glittered metallic and were glowing red due to the rich iron content in its rocks.

At a late hour we were back on board of „Elisabeth“ which its commander followed by my gentlemen and a number of officers soon after left to attend a dinner given by the officers of the French armored ship „Thetis“ on its board while I stayed home.

Links

  • Location: Numea, New Caledonia
  • ANNO – on  02.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Badgery Station, 25 May 1893

As the early morning hours promise as much success as the evening ones for the platypus hunt as the animals leave their lair also in the morning emerging out of the water to eat, I asked our hunting master to let me have another go at trying my luck in hunting platypus. At 6 o’clock sharp I was ready. Unfortunately, I took nearly one valuable hour until our horses had been caught in the meadow. Even though we covered the considerable distance to a suitable spot riding hard we only arrived at the river at an advanced hour. At least the situation was eased by the dense fog over the river area.

During this ride I learned about a method unknown to me of curing devious horses. The brave fox I was foundering but still had to gallop in order to transport me in time to the hunting ground.Rittes. When the malady understandably did not get better Mr. Badgery had me switch horses with him, so that the slim fox had to carry Mr. Badgery with all his weight which must have been twice that of mine at full gallop over rough and smooth. Incredible but still true — after half an hour the animal was cured!

The location where we were to hunt for platypus was similar to the one the day before in a steeply descending gorge shaded by trees, in the valley bed a stream was flowing calmly. Mr. Badgery remained behind with the horses while I and the hunter descended to the shore of the stream. Hardly arrived I already saw a platypus emerge and swim away in the water. A happy shot killed the animal on the spot but now it was hard to know what to do as the animal was floating downriver in the deep water and nobody was eager to swim in the ice-cold water of the river in the cool morning. Finally my practical Australian had a good idea to solve the problem by throwing rocks in the water behind the platypus. The waves thus triggered pushed the platypus towards the shore. This procedure took quite some time but finally resulted in us bagging the animal which was found to be an old male. A few hundred meters downriver I saw another platypus but I only could see the animal dive and was unable to fire a shot.

Now the hunter explained that there was another good spot about 2 km further away but we had to hurry to reach it in time. We quickly jumped into the saddle and rode along the valley ridge on a rather bad stony path which would have been only suitable for goats but which the horses followed with strange skill. We climbed down the slope to the river and soon I could see a platypus emerge and swim in circles according to the visible black back on the opposite shore, still out of range. The hunter also announced with signs that he had spotted a second animal further downriver. I decided to wait behind the tree cover until one of the animals was close to this shore which would have happened soon if not fate in the form of Mr. Badgery had intervened. He could no longer contain his curiosity and had advanced with the horse to the ledge where he could survey the water and unfortunately also discovered the two platypus. In the best intention he called without interruption to point out the presence of the two animals. The hunter who was with me could not abstain to shout back despite my pleading gestures not to respond so that a loud long distance conversation developed which naturally made the timid animals quickly disappear from sight. Even though they are at a lower level of development, they hear and view extremely good so that the most distant suspicion of a danger perceived by their senses made them dive and return to their lair from which they would only emerge again in the evening.

In a not very rosy mood I climbed up the slope and sacrificed a blameless rock wallaby that crossed my path to my bad mood and could criticize Mr. Badgery’s ardor — due to my limited knowledge of the English language — only by repeating in an accusing voice „not well, not well“. Mr. Badgery replied to my words in the beginning only with a stoic smile. Then he tried to give me a longer explanation. As he was repeatedly saying the word „breakfast“ and pointed in the direction of the farm, I had to conclude that his curiosity was based on a very prosaic motive, namely a huge hunger, and that he wanted to now allay it why a continuation of the hunt was no longer possible. I made a timid attempt to repeatedly and pleadingly say „platypus“  accompanied by gestures. „Piatypus“ being the English word for „Schnabeltier“ and pointing down to the river. My hunting master remained adamant, mounted his horse, waved at me to follow him and rode towards his breakfast. On the way back I had quite some hunter’s luck and bagged two bears and a  buzzard.

After Mr. Badgery had revitalised himself with a hearty breakfast we ventured out for a rock wallaby hunt as the sun had in the mean time conquered the fog. In the same location where we had achieved favorable results the day before. Already during the first drive an astonishing number of wallabies fled but this time were evading my position and escaped on the side where Wurmbrand and Clam stood, so that one bagged 18, the other 19 pieces. As the day before a few pieces had escaped on my left, the hunting master tried to stop that this time by positioning some people to defend the critical spot. But they had failed to understand their mission and defended not up from my position but in front of my position so that the game almost always retreated before I was able to shoot. Thus my result was only six rock wallabies. A second drive ended without any result while an improvised drive at a valley crossing delivered ten wallabies for me within only a few minutes even though the drive had begun before I had taken up my position.

Now we said good-bye to the beautiful rock valley where we have spent many a good hour yesterday and today and rushed past the farm to a distant hill where we tried to do a last hunt prior to our departure. Unfortunately the attempt failed as the game escaped on the flanks so that only Wurmbrand and Prónay bagged a  wallaby each while I made do with a hare.

This was the end of a eminently successful and interesting hunting expedition in New South Wales. We had to rush back to Sydney where social engagements awaited as an afternoon party was to be hosted by me and the gentlemen of the staff on board of „Elisabeth“ to which invitations had been sent out even before my departure to Arthur’s Leigh Badgery station.

In order to prevent any loss of time due to the wagons getting stuck, they had already crossed Wollondilly River earlier and we thus found the vehicles already in good order on the other shore when we crossed it on horseback. Here we said good-bye to the kind farmers and the hunting companions and started our return journey to Moss Vale. Our mounting the wagon was greeted with three „Hurrahs“. After a drive of four and a half hours we arrived in Moss Vale.

As the train would only depart at 2 o’clock in the morning to Sydney, we arranged quickly an improvised night hunt. We found a hunter who owned three well trained dogs that could track possums and quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus), chase them up the tree and then bark.

At the spot outside the village where the hunter was already waiting for us with the dogs, they started their chase on the command of „Go on“ only to bark loudly only a few minutes later. I rushed there and saw the dogs barking and jumping at an eucalyptus tree. The moon was favorable so that my first shot already gained me a quoll that I had discovered on a branch after some search. It is also part of the predator marsupials and resembles in build our marten. Its body is slight and elongated. The neck rather long, the head is elongated and the point of the muzzle is of a fleshy red color. The tail is long and uniformly bushy. The toes at the rear legs are armed with strong pointed claws. The fur is on the back a livid brown speckled with white spots, the belly is white. A bit smaller than a possum, Dasyurus viverrinus has a body length of 40 cm and its tail length is about 30 cm. In its way of life this marsupial resembles completely that of a possum. It spends the day in holes and ventures out during the night to feed checking in also in the chicken coops and there murdering everything without mercy.

Urged on by their owner the dogs rushed on and soon afterwards barking was heard again. But this time there was a novelty, namely a possum of a still unknown possum called ring tailed possum. Hunting with the three dogs was a great joy as they found new tracks quickly and pursued it until they had found and stopped the game. Only then did they start barking and waited for the hunters to arrive and kill the piece. The brave pack also retrieved a quoll who probably had not run up the tree quickly enough. The hunter’s son, about ten years old, distinguished himself by his excellent eyes. He was always the first to spot the game among the branches and pointed it out to me triumphantly. When a shot was fired, the boy quickly ran forward to protect the kill from the dogs. Until midnight we had bagged six quolls and six possums — certainly a rare result achieved under original circumstances at night in moonshine.

When we approached the home of the hunter during our march across the woods, the dogs suddenly disappeared and all whistling and calls were in vain. Their owner assumed that they had returned home to rest as they were tired from the long hunt. We followed their example and returned to Moss Vale.

Links

  • Location: Moss Vale, Australia
  • ANNO – on  25.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Faust“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing “Der Freischütz”.