Schlagwort-Archiv: Siriska

Siriska, 25 February 1893

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

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

Siriska, 24 February 1893

After the first night without rain, there was hope that a tiger will be confirmed with certainty. The business of confirmation is very well understood by the local shikaris; they sit day and night on mountain tops, ridges and other high points where they have a good overview on all spots tigers love to stay, enjoy and namely  the places where buffalo calves are roped to attract tigers. If a tiger kills a calf, it usually rests there for some time after it has cut a piece. If it is staying in a location surrounded by observers, a valley gorge or a jungle, this is swiftly reported to the camp which soon becomes very active in quick final preparations for the hunt and the departure of the elephant caravan for the location of the hunt. After the reception of such messages we usually send our hunters out with the elephants and follow up on horseback even though riding the badly trained and fidgety Indian horses is no pleasure.

Today events took place just as described above. Towards 9 o’clock in the morning the report came that two tigers had killed in a thickly covered valley and had been confirmed. The chief professional hunter rode ahead on his elephant with the shikaris and the drivers to prepare the hunt. We followed an hour later, first crossed the plain and rode then in a narrow thickly covered valley for about 3 km until we came to a spot where the mighty hunter was expecting us with the welcome news that the tigers were still there and in fact close to the spot where they had killed a buffalo calf at dawn. The horses were now switched with hunting elephants. I took my position on the favorite animal of the deceased maharaja who used to always hunt with this animal.

The head shikari now ordered me to advance alone and arrive on the spot where the tiger had killed the buffalo or they must be nearby. In the case of failing to meet them, a drive would be made. My mahaut was advised to calmly advance in order not to attract the attention of the tigers prematurely. I prepared myself in the hauda as well as I could and placed two loaded Springer rifles beside me with the intention to send the first greeting to the tiger with my old 500 rifle which had served me well at home on bagging more than a thousand pieces of game. Janaczek and the shikari who had confirmed the tiger sat behind me. Thus I advanced perched on my intelligent elephant, noiseless if possible, evading trees and branches across the bottom of the valley while the shikaris followed on the ridges of the hill to observe the movement of the tigers. High yellow grass alternate with trees and thorny bushes and any moment I believed to see the head of a tiger appear somewhere.

Soon we arrived at the killing ground where the torn calf was laying fought over by vultures and jackals. But no trace of the tiger. I continued for some time and wanted to go back on the advice of the shikari when an observant shikari on the ridge shouted „Bagh, Bagh“ (tiger) to me. In the same moment I saw the tiger in full flight coming from the ridge through the bushes to the valley but also disappearing into the thick jungle. I was on the verge of giving up hope but I ordered the mahaut to pursue the tiger in the direction it took as fast as we could. Fortunately  Colonel Fraser, an experienced tiger hunter who stood further back in the valley, had observed the maneuver of the tiger and shot a few meters in front of it to force it to turn around. The attempt succeeded. The tiger turned and came in full flight through the bushes up to 60 paces from me. I just had enough time to shout »Teiro« (halt) to the mahaut, the shot rang out — and tumbling like a hare the mighty animal lies in front of me.

My joy about my first tiger whom I killed I can not describe. Only a hunter is able to measure the feeling I had in that moment. My hunters had to shout a hearty „Juchezer“ whereas all the gentlemen approached to congratulate me.

But there was no time to inspect the tiger more closely. After only a few minutes, observers posted on the upper ridges and the drivers closing off the valley shouted that another tiger was in the valley and we should set up position near a gorge at the edge. I did not consider it probable that a second tiger would be around after all the shots and the noise and especially considering the width of the gorge of only 200 paces. The drivers had advanced to the edge of the gorge with much shouting. But later the situation became clear. The drivers were right. A second tiger was in the most wooden part of the gorge and was now trying to escape but was blocked by the line of drivers so that it turned back into the jungle.

After the commotion had subsided a little, we advanced in line on our elephants towards that gorge, a task that was not simple as some among us, me included, had trouble in climbing a steep rocky ridge. Here I had again the opportunity to observe the skill and power of my elephant that pushed  and broke off a tree with a diameter of 30 to 40 cm out of the way with the pressure of its head.

On the steeply inclined ridge at the edge of the cone shaped gorge we positioned ourselves in a semi-circle in the following order: at the top stood Clam, followed by Stockinger, me, Wurmbrand, Prónay and Kinsky, at the bottom of the valley the head shikari joined the defensive line with a couple of elephants; on the opposite side of the ridge Colonel Fraser and Fairholme had taken up position. This post had actually been intended for me but my mahaut had in his excitement led me to the ridge on the left.

The drivers advanced carefully, step by step, rolling stones down into the valley. After a few minutes of excited expectation, my hunter tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at the bottom of the valley where I could see a capital tiger advance slowly across a small clearing towards the position of Fraser and Fairholme — a gorgeous view like a big cat, constrained from all sides, sneaking cautiously, hardly touching the branches of the bushes, seeking a way out. For a long time I had not experienced the feeling of hunting fever. In this moment it caught me so hard as when I was a boy becoming a disciple of St. Hubertus and undertook my first attempts at the noble art of hunting.

Fairholme fired at the tiger but missed so that it returned into the jungle to escape by the way of the bottom of the valley where it was however driven back by the skillful defence of the chief professional hunter to hide itself in the thickest of bushes. I watched these movements with great excitement and impatiently could hardly await the moment until Colonel Fraser gave the signal to advance against the tiger. When this finally happened I pushed my mahaut to move quickly and climbed down the ridge on my elephant where I was joined by Kinsky and Prónay Thus we entered into a true labyrinth of trees and bushes. I had hardly advanced 50 paces when I saw a yellow spot amidst two bamboo shafts which I could identify as a tiger as I inspected it a bit closer. The tiger returned my glance. Quickly I give the mahaut the sign to halt but the tiger notices it and turns away. I fire and see the tiger stumble after the shot and hear it loudly fall over a small ridge about 30 paces distant from my elephant. In the thick jungle I lose sight of the animal but soon find it again as it was about to attack my elephant. But the tiger can only perform a single jump then its force is spent and it collapses. At the same time, Wurmbrand works his way through the trees and branches from another side and fires a shot into the tiger’s ear. The huge animal lies in front of us without moving.

As the hunters, shikaris and drivers had assembled in the mean time, the wild gorge around the dead tiger turned into one of the most vivid scenes I have witnessed. Above the tiger, 500 drivers who all wanted to have a close look, next to the tiger cheerful shikaris who had come to salute an old acquaintance that had cost them many sleepless  with shouts, cries and ongoing bows in front of me. All elephants around the tiger in a semicircle some of them blowing their trunks and snorting in wild excitement. In the midst of this chaos, throning high up in his hauda, the head shikari who congratulated me and — like Jupiter tonans — shouted and loudly gave orders.

This day with two tigers as prize of not even a half an hour is the most beautiful hunting memory of my life and I offer warm thanks to Saint Hubertus for such a successful hunt.

The two tigers were strong fully grown specimen with extremely beautiful and faultless skin and five years old according to the estimate of the chief professional hunter. Hodek had taken along his photographic apparatus and conserved the trio for eternity on the spot, namely, the tiger, »Tisza« and me. With a bottle of champaign the catch of the tiger was celebrated and the caravan returned to camp cheerfully. In the front, the two tigers bound on elephants, then we partly on horses partly on elephants, behind us the corps of shikaris and drivers. After the arrival in the camp the whole neighborhood, old and young, turned out to admire the tiger. Then they were handed over into the hands of Hodek who prepared them the same evening for my collection. The female tiger had four young ones the size of a rat inside of her.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 24.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy „Der Erbförster“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Verdi’s „Troubadour“.

Siriska, 23 February 1893

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

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

Alwar to Siriska, 20 February 1893

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links

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