Schlagwort-Archiv: Kalawewa

Kalawewa, 11 January 1893

We had asked the governor by telegraph to prolong the trip by one day because I wanted to try my luck in hunting an elephant again, despite my quite shattered confidence about the successful completion of that venture.

Already at half past 4 o’clock, with the moon and the stars still up on the sky, we departed in the boat. All nature seemed asleep and not a breath of air was noticeable, until finally a beam of light in the east announced the approaching day. By and by one could listed to the voices of the adult birds. Ducks flew from here to there and everywhere one could hear the hoarse cries of the herons and cormorants. When it had become a bit more light, we started examining the shore and soon noticed that the whole elephant herd had left its usual jungle spot and had moved across part of the pond. Kinsky who had at first intended to stalk an elephant separated from the herd, joined us and we were then wading for a good hour through arms and pools of water, swamps and thickets. The activity of wading was a rather refreshing bath in the water given the increasing heat of the air.

The landscape of this part of the hunting area was a wonderful spectacle due to its rich swamp vegetation which consisted of numerous open spaces of open water covered in water lilies and huge erect trees standing in between them. On these trees sat the most beautiful great white herons and in particular, a specimen of a Lesser Adjutant (Leptopilus javanicus) I had not observed before with metallic green wings, a white breast and reddish legs. Amazed, all those birds were watching our wading caravan.

Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus, source: Photo by Greg Hume/Wikicommons)

Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus, source: Photo by Greg Hume/Wikicommons)

The elephant tracks were easy to distinguish in the wet earth. The herd must include a rather tall elephant as the guides explained because of the large number of torn twigs.

In the shadow of a huge tree we rested and developed a new campaign plan as the elephants had retreated into a relatively small jungle area after having waded across the pond. This area, bordered by the pond and the road was nearly triangular in size. As long as the elephants had not yet crossed the road, we would win the game. Quickly we advanced but noticed after a few steps in the red sand of the road that the elephants had crossed over the road from the safe jungle which made us feel sad because a pursuit now became unthinkable. Just as we were freely expressing our anger, a shikari approached with a joyful face and reported that the elephants had recrossed the road into the jungle a bit farther than our resting place. They were still there as one could clearly hear them breaking branches. Already at the beginning of today’s hunt, learning from the experience of the previous days, I had requested to keep my hunting party small. Thus, Kinsky and Pirie remained near the road crossings, while I and Mr Murray and my favorite shikari, an old man with a flowing beard and a jovial friendly face, entered into the jungle.

We advanced about five hundred paces when I heard the elephants and saw a large elephant shortly after in a small clearing. He stood calmly and browsed now and then on the bushes. A glorious view. My hunter’s heart was beating faster in view of this giant reminding me of anti-diluvian animals. I sneaked up as close as possible, aimed at the ear and pressed the trigger, and saw the elephant go down with the shot. The shot caused a lot of activity in the jungle, from all sides one could hear elephants turn and run – it was a terrible noise as, we later learned, about thirty elephants fled in all directions. I was still standing on the spot I had fired the first shot when I saw, six paces in front of me, a huge single elephant with long tusks break out of the thicket into the small clearing at full speed. My second barrel was still loaded and so I fired at the spot between eye and ear. A trumpet-like sound was the response and the apparently heavily wounded giant careened off, breaking whole trunks in two and fled in the opposite direction. The remaining animals of the herd were unaware of the shooter’s location and ran around like crazy in the dense jungle. Moment by moment, I saw either the legs or the tusk or the head of an elephant appear between the bushes. Unfortunately my companions were so excited and lost their heads so that they failed to hand me my reserve rifles. Instead they kept up a well-nourished rapid fire but without targets and goals which only made the elephants even more timid and even increased the risk of shooting each other. Standing in the midst of the hail of bullets I shouted out to the wild shooters to cease fire but without effect. In the mean time, I had reloaded my rifle and jumped into the clearing where I had heard a loud noise. In the thick undergrowth I vaguely saw many animals  flee by quickly, chose one large animal glancing through one small gap and shot it down in full flight.

A strong feeling of hunter’s satisfaction was swelling in my breast as I stood before my second elephant, a strong cow dying there. I returned to my first elephant and checked that we had killed an extraordinarily strong male that even had tusks – a great rarity among elephants on Ceylon. My old shikari was giddy with pleasure and expressed his admiration in Sinhalese and even patted me.

dead elephant (p. 74)

Dead elephant (p. 74)

Now shots rang out on the street both in the direction of Pirie as well as from that of Kinsky. Soon Pirie returned in a highly excited mood and congratulated me vividly when I shouted out at considerable distance that I had bagged two elephants and told me that he had bagged also a strong elephant and wounded a second one. I had to show him my two specimen on the spot and personally cut off the two tails that serve as trophies in the whole of India and upon the particular request of the Sinhalese to mount upon my two elephants to mark the moment of possession.

Everyone was laughing, crying and gesticulating and jumped around the elephants so that my request to go after the third strongly bleeding elephant went unheard.

Finally I returned to the road as it was hopeless trying to command the people where I found Kinsky who advanced towards me proudly because he had also bagged a fleeing elephant. The elephants, thirty in numbers, had noticed Kinsky on his hunting position and had turned but he had smartly run in advance of their path and shot down from a rock. Apparently all local elephants made timid by the previous two days of hunting had retreated to this small part of the jungle on the other side of the pond. Wurmbrand and Clam who hunted in that territory had thus only saw the fresh tracks leading into said jungle and went back as soon as they became aware that is was following the same tracks far in advance. Clam then pursued a family of monkeys of which he bagged two after much running and shooting.

Surrounded by the shikaris still shouting with joy I returned to the bungalow to fetch Hodek and returned after a quick breakfast into the jungle where Hodek and a photographer from Kandy took pictures. Hodek then cut up the elephant into pieces. With great trouble the heads, the legs as well as the large pieces of the inch-thick hide were separated. The cutting off of the legs with large axes resembled the cutting of strong trees.

Hundreds of curious Sinhalese who had assembled with their wives and kids in two from the surrounding villages observed the entertainment in a large circle.

As sufficient time remained I decided to undertake a trip on the pond to bag some water fowl. In a small boat, Pirie, I and my hunter rowed out into the northern part of the pond we had not yet entered. The sun was already close to the horizon and shone picturesquely upon the barren giant trees and their convoluted almost snakelike branches and their roots glittering in the water. Right at the moment of departure I bagged a few cormorants, as well as a black-white kingfisher, more precisely a pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis). I then did not continue to shoot at swamp fowl as I discovered up in the air a circling majestic white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaetos leucogaster). After some time of searching for it, I found its eyrie on a tall tree occupied by the female that apparently guarded the young. I sent up two shots which hit the animal but did not kill it so that he soared away only to return after a few minutes, but flying at much higher altitude. As a second shot proved unsuccessful, I decided to check again an hour later.

I then managed to discover two eyries also occupied by white-bellied sea eagles but these owners were more timid than the female eagle of the first eyrie. Even though I had sent away the boat and waited out of the water on an erect trunk, the eagles did not return but chipped without much motion far away.

Two tall monkeys that performed huge jumps from tree to tree I shot with bullets without bagging them because one was caught in the tree branches while the other sank immediately in the water.

An hour passed, I returned to the first eyrie and bagged with a wide shot the beautiful old eagle. That was not all. Saint Hubertus was very gracious on that day! We had only rowed for about a few hundred paces when we discovered a strong wild male buffalo (Bos bubalus) sunning himself at the edge of the pond. The distance was considerable, we approached it with quiet rowing strokes in a diagonal direction. When the buffalo finally took notice of us, he didn’t flee in no way but on the contrary even advanced a few steps and glanced at us challengingly, angrily. In this moment, the mighty bull presented a magnificent view: He soon raised, soon lowered his strong head with long horns. Then he dug into the morass and stomped the ground, sending water and mud through the air a meter wide. The lights were glowing, the flanks of the bull were trembling, without interruption his tail was whipping his shaggy body. Our presence seemed to infuriate the animal greatly as it thrashed the earth more and more violently bristling with his blood-shot nostrils.

Even though Pirie assured me that my small 450 rifle would have little effect I still tried a shot with a hundred groves up, trusting in the quality of my favorite rifle. The buffalo was hit and ran away. While he was fleeing, I shot a second time. After about fifty paces, he stood there quietly and glanced back angrily, a moment I used to send another bullet after it. Well hit, he disappeared back into the jungle.

We disembarked and found a few steps away the bloody tracks but we couldn’t continue the hunt because oft he approaching darkness.

When we returned to the bungalow it was already night. We were talking valiantly during the dinner we truly deserved and all participants were very merry. After the dinner we experienced the spectacle of one of the strange devil dances which the superstitious Sinhalese perform to banish evil spirits. They also perform symbolic dances which illustrate the fight with the evil spirits. Dressed in the most diverse costumes with gems made out of silver and shells, about twenty men in alteration performed various grotesque and ferocious dances that reminded me sometimes of a Csardas, sometimes they only consisted of convulsive clownesque jumps and body contortions while the dancers sang or uttered hoarse cries. Longish, barrel-like drums were beat in time by the dancers themselves or by persons close by and completed the musical arrangement of the strange ballet. The local elderly and the chiefs had attended the performance in rich dress and sat beside us. An hour later, fireworks were burned, then this interesting and wild feast was over.

At an advanced hour in the middle of the wilderness far from civilized settlement and inhabited only by Sinhalese, full of elephants, buffaloes and crocodiles I was suddenly reminded about institutions of the civilized world. Two reporters had followed me here to interview me! An interview in a bungalow late at night after many tiring days of hunting seemed a bit much to me and thus the two dedicated professional victims of journalism had to depart without completing their mission and find their own bivouac miles away.


  • Location: Kalawewa, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 11.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse informs that Empress Elisabeth (namesake of the SMS Elisabeth) has arrived in Malaga after a visit to Granada (where it had been falsely reported that she had been in danger of bandits). The Empress will continue to Cadiz, Lisbon and Madeira. In Paris, eight intractable amblers were arrested by the police on the Place de la Concorde as well five anarchists carrying guns and daggers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is offering Donizetti’s opera „Lucrezia Borgia“; the k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Dorf und Stadt“, again a replacement due to the indisposition of a Mr Sonnenthal. Is this due to Vienna’s especially ghastly winter weather of 1893 or were the actors and singers of the 19th century much more fragile creatures than today?

Kalawewa, 10 January 1893

The shikaris had reported yesterday evening that the wounded elephant had been spotted. They saw him in the midst of a herd, crying loudly so that he will die in the coming days. The other elephants are in another part of the jungle but also close to the pond. At 5 o’clock, I was ready but a hard rain kept us back so that we only entered the jungle at 6 o’clock. This time only Mr Pirie and the shikaris kept me company. Shortly after disembarking I saw three new species namely a hare (Lepus nigricollis), somewhat smaller and shorter ears than the ones at home, as well as a peacock and the majestic timid Ceylon junglefowl (Gallus lafayetti).

We were soon on the tracks of the elephants and stalked them in the jungle until after a short while I heard the monsters browsing branches and saw in thick bushes the legs and trunks of multiple elephants. I intended to approach them from a supposedly good direction but was unfortunately prevented by my companions who cautioned me to wait. The consequence was that the elephants escaped with great turmoil as soon as the wind changed and before I could fire a shot.

Now it also started raining very heavily so that we were truly soaked and like “wet poodles”. My companions assured me that we would soon close in again on our fugitives but this event only happened after seven hours of searching and stalking.

At first we followed the tracks but then decided that it was easier in the heavy rain to send out two shikaris to find the elephants again, encircle and confirm their location. We used the waiting time for breakfast. During the search for an apt breakfast location we met an exceedingly rare and interesting animal, a very colossal specimen of a lizard (Varanus salvator) that reminded me about the fairy tale of the wyrm (Tatzelwurm). The reptile was laying about 2 m off the path, blinking at us with its tiny eyes and didn’t move even though we were talking loudly and argued how to kill it because I didn’t want to shoot due to the elephants. Finally we cut down a young tree, Pirie approached the lizard like Saint George the dragon and hit the worm on the head. The animal thrashed its long spiked tail wildly and stirred up the earth. Multiple hits caused the animal’s skull to crack and it soon lay dying on its back. We then crippled it and opened its breast with a deep incision.

Varanus Salvator (source: Jerzy Strzelecki/Wikicommons)

Varanus Salvator (source: Jerzy Strzelecki/Wikicommons)

It was a giant animal: No less than 2 m long and 0.5 m of circumference and 20 cm high, it resembled a crocodile for which I had first taken it to be one. The skin was enormously thick and we could pierce it only with a sharp hunting knife. It consisted of hard scales, the back was black with yellow rings and points, the underside totally yellow, the legs were turned to the outside like those of a dachshund and had long claws. We left the strange animal on the ground, marked the place and moved to a small clearing to breakfast there while a swarm of hornbills flew over our heads.

My prudent John had brought fresh clothes assuming correctly that I would be completely soaked from the rain. As the sun was currently again shining in a friendly manner I quickly changed my dress. As soon as I had completed the change, it started to pour again and within minutes I was drenched again to my skin. But one quickly grows accustomed to such things and I even excellently slept on the ground for two hours.

In the mean time, the shikaris who had been sent out had returned with two messages. The first one was very good: It confirmed the location of the elephants. The second, however, was less so: our monster, the wyrm (Tatzelwurm) had fled and was nowhere to be found. The second message was so unbelievable that Pirie instantly ran to the spot to confirm there that indeed the reptile had disappeared. Only a small blood track led from the spot where we had cracked the worm to some steps away in the grass. I was inconsolable about having lost such a highly interesting curiosity for my collection. I could not understand how that wyrm had escaped with a broken skull and a cracked spine. Instead of attributing it to the unbroken force to live I assumed a more plausible reason, as without doubt the very living superstition of the natives knew of good uses for such a captured worm.

Still the lost reptile did not make me forget the elephants that had been sighted again. They were exceedingly disquiet and moved without interruption from here to there so that we achieved to stalk one only with great effort. I came really close and could have gotten even closer if I hadn’t noticed the elephant to show signs of discomposure as my companions again overzealously had sneaked up on me and had been apparently noticed by the elephant. It was high time. I aimed for a spot at the root of the trunk and shot. At the same moment, four more shots rang out beside me – Pirie and the black shikari had fired the reserve rifles. It is a bad habit to sneak up on the point man in the thickest jungle with a loaded gun which causes even the most calm hunter to become nervous and turn safe stalking into a difficult action.

The dense smoke caused by the five shots of in total 40 grams of powder obscured my view for quite some time and only after the air had become clear again I noticed the sad truth – the elephant had disappeared. Due to the heavy rain there was no question of continuing the stalking. Such a tropical rain can only be compared to our hardest cloudburst in our land.

A truly miserable day today. Somebody must have uttered a hunter’s curse upon me. Annoyed, freezing and completely wet I marched nearly 7 km to my boat which brought me back across the pond to my bungalow. Here I was fortified with punch and various grogs which Mr. Jevers had given me against fever.


  • Location: Kalawewa, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 10.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse informs that soldiers have been ordered into the streets of Paris to protect the parliament from the mob. The police will cut all access to the Place de la Concorde and multiple regiments have been placed on alert. The first page also carries a devastating critique of the opera „Die Rantzau“, which was to be repeated in the Operntheater the same day. Switzerland informs that it has lifted all the cholera epidemic-induced import restrictions.
  • Dillinger’s Reisezeitung (issue no. 2, 10. Januar 1893, p.3) carries a short report about Franz Ferdinand’s stay in Ceylon together with an etching of Colombo: „Currently, the ram cruiser SMS Elisabeth is swaying in Colombo harbor, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este is staying, fêted by the local British colonial administration within the city walls whose picture we are showing in the current issue.“ Then follows a short account more or less identical to the one published in the diary with a rather nasty deviation: Dillinger’s description of the population is much more racist: „Colombo’s population of 112.000 persons is divided into numerous tribes, races and mixed races. Besides the Europeans there are: Sinhalese, Parses, Jews, Muslims, Malays, Tamils, Kaffirs, as well as degenerate descendants of the Portuguese and mixed-bloods of English and Dutch with local women. All these are divided again by creed: the Sinhalese are Buddhists, the Tamils Brahmins and the mixed-bloods usually Catholics. A large number of Protestant creeds, especially Weysleyians, are present, even the Salvation Army has adherents and missionaries.“
Colombo Harbor, Ceylon (Dillingers Illustrierte Reisezeitung, no. 2, 10. Januar 1893, p.3)

Colombo Harbor, Ceylon (source: Dillingers Illustrierte Reisezeitung, no. 2, 10. Januar 1893, p.3)

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is repeating the opera „Die Rantzau“; the k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater offers a comedy „Der Unterstaatssekretär“ by Adolf Milbrandt as replacement for the the third part of Grillparzer’s trilogy „Das goldene Vließ – Medea“ because of the indisposition of a Mr Kraftel.

Kalawewa, 9 January 1893

This day was dedicated to ornithology. We started in the morning to disperse us in all directions in order to bag as many different bird species for my collection as possible.

I patrolled along the dams and bagged specimen of different cuckoos among them Zanclostomus viridirostris plus two species of bee-eaters (Merops philippinus and viridis), a majestic, intensively colored yellow black oriole (Oriolus melanocephalus), a charming red-breasted minvet (Pericrocotus peregrinus), a grass-greene Jerdon’s Leafbird (Chloropsis jerdoni), a starling species (Acridotheres melanosternus), bulbuls (Molpastes haemorrhous), zebra finches (Uroloncha punctata and striata), a marvelous blue sunbird (Arachnechthra lotenia), a tiny spotted dove (Turtur suratensis), a beautiful brown-white Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) as well as an interesting darter (Plotus melanogaster).

Blue-winged Leafbird (C. cochinchinensis). Photo by J.M.Garg/Wikicommons

Blue-winged Leafbird (C. cochinchinensis). Photo by J.M.Garg/sWikicommons

In a dense group of trees in the pond I saw to my great pleasure for the first time a group of monkeys which moved with phenomenal speed from branch to branch and executed huge jumps through the air to reach the next tree. A shot fired at great distance served only to disperse the group from view.

From the dams I drove to various smaller ponds which were full of game. I could identify snakebirds, large and small silver and purple herons, water rails, kingfishers, Indian masked lapwings and multiple darters. I also observed the beautiful lesser whistling duck (Dendrocygna javanica). Everywhere there were semi-feral buffaloes in the water which dispersed and fled as soon as a shot was fired. In one small pond, as soon as I approached, hundreds of common snipes soared up into the air.

Wurmbrand and I waded for a long time during which I managed to bag a 2 m long snake. Towards noon we were resting under a shady tree and soon all members of the hunting party assembled there, all with interesting catches.

After a reviving two-hour rest a native informed us that he knew about a pond close by with crocodiles. The Sinhalese, however, seemed to be related to some of our Alpine folks in terms of estimating distances and time as at a rapid march we had to walk more than 6 km and cross two fords to get there. We were compensated with the sight of two large crocodiles that were sunning themselves at the edge of the pond which we had finally reached. I tried to sneak up on them but the timid animals slid into the water and disappeared for good.

How forceful crocodiles are is demonstrated by a fight that happened recently between one of these animals and a grown buffalo close to Kalawewa and had ended with a victory of the crocodile which had dragged its enemy – biting into its head – under water.

Various natives brought us opened coconuts whose milk I tried but contrary to expectations found very bland and sweet.

I then killed some darters, a beautiful black drongo (Dicrurus ater) and finally returned to our bungalow where I soon slipped under my mosquito net.


  • Location: Kalawewa, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 09.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse informs that the Emperor had a family dinner yesterday evening with Archduke Ludwig Victor. Vienna is still suffering from the icy cold: Minus 8° C. Trains are having difficulties to reach their destinations and the passengers have great trouble entering and exiting the train due to the large masses of snow on the platforms. The Viennese singers, 7000 throats strong and organized in 150 clubs, have constituted themselves as the Wiener Sängerhausverein.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is playing Weber’s „Freischütz“ as a replacement for „Don Juan“ due to the indisposition of a Ms. Schläger; the k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater offers the first part of Grillparzer’s trilogy „Das goldene Vließ“.

Kalawewa, 8 January 1893

In great excitement, the preparations for the elephant hunt were undertaken, the various rifles tested and also an elephant skull sawn in two to show the spot that kills an elephant without fail and the projects for a successful hunt were extensively studied.

I had just tried a shot with the eight-bore-rifle and having returned to the bungalow, stood on the veranda with the gentlemen when one of the English gentlemen handled one of the large caliber guns without care. The gun went off amidst us. The projectile plunged through the ceiling so that one could see through the light from the blue sky. We fortunately escaped with only a rain of small brick pieces.

Finally after long discussions, we were ready to go and our expedition consisting of Captain Pirie who assumed the lead in our elephant hunt, multiple native hunters called shikaris, departed in a boat across the pond. Mr. Murray, Wurmbrand and Kinsky followed at a certain distance as spectators.

The sun was burning hot on the surface of the lake on whose edge trees sat snakebirds, large and small cormorants, various herons as well as beautiful kingfishers. They let our boat approach them closely without interference. After we had crossed the pond, we debarked out into the jungle and soon found the mighty tracks of the elephants. The animals had sought the watering hole during the night and had then returned into the boundless thicket. Two shikaris, an old guy and a younger man, were sent out and soon returned with the message that the elephants were in the thickest jungle but one could seek them out there. With a prayer to Saint Hubertus we entered the jungle, first the shikaris then I, Pirie and at the end another shikari who carried a spare rifle.

Someone who has never entered such an elephant jungle will be unable to understand the thickness of thorns as well as the difficulty of moving in it as one can advance only in a crouching position or on all fours. I might compare such a jungle with our thickest areas in the Danube wetlands with the notable difference that in the tropical heat, the mosquitoes and the terrible thorns made the situation much harder. At any moment thorns and bushes held back the cap or dress, with bloody hands and face, with torn clothes, scratched and excited one emerged finally into the open space again.

Assiduously we crawled on until half an hour later we heard a tiny cracking of twigs made by eating elephants. Although I am normally not prone to hunting fever, I must admit that I was gripped by it when listening out for the elephants and stalking them.

Like Red Indians we sneaked forward in a row towards where we had heard noises when suddenly a shikari crouched and gestured toward a bush. I could not see anything clearly but only heard the loud noise which I first assumed was made by the grinding of the elephant teeth but later learned that it was made by the flapping of the elephant ears. The wind was not from a favourable direction and thus we had to stalk them from another direction as these colossal animals neither possess good eyes nor good hearing but are excellent in catching a scent. We approached to about 25 yards from the elephants. I saw through the thick bushes only a huge mass laying on the ground which looked like a termite mound or a haystack but could not, despite all efforts,  for the longest time not distinguish the form of an elephant.

Finally, there was some commotion among the bulky animals so that I could see a huge black elephant with his back towards me whose legs were pushed to all sides. From time to time its trunk aptly caught a few leaves while its ears fought against the mosquitoes. In a similar posture was an even bigger elephant, apparently a happy mother as at her feet a kid was sleeping while in the background a half grown elephant was standing. An image of the truest peace of these quiet beasts in the deepest jungle.

I hoped to sneak closer upon them but it seems the wind had already changed as the black elephant stood up, turned in our direction and then fled into the thicket. All his companions then also stood up and tried to escape. Although all hunters had told me only to shoot at a distance of 6 to 8 m and only to target the place between the eye and the ear or the grove above the trunk, I decided to try my luck with a shot at the middle of the head of one of the animals. After the smoke had cleared, we went to the location and found blood tracks but unfortunately no elephant. We unsuccessfully pursued the tracks for some time. Captain Pirie believed that the distance of 20 m had been to great and the bullet was unlikely to have pierced the inch-thick elephant hide. In a pretty bad mood I worked my way back out of the jungle to the gentlemen who had stayed behind.

It is astonishing how little noise an animal the size of an elephant is making. Even a whole herd of these colossal animals in the thicket sneaks about like foxes and only very close by does one hear the snapping noise of breaking branches.

Finally at 4 o’clock in the afternoon we traced some elephants again which was confirmed by two of our shikaris who had been sent out earlier.

Again I started sneaking up but unfortunately I let myself be diverted from the one I originally intended. Thus I approached up to 10 m of a unworried browsing elephant standing in thick bushes together with a comrade but unfortunately from the backside of the elephant so I couldn’t shoot. At that moment, one of the shikaris must have stepped on a twig as the elephant became uneasy, turned and tried to escape. Now I could see his head and fired into the light – with a dull crash the monster fell. Quickly two further shots rang out by my companions so that due to the thick smoke on the ground I could distinguish nothing. Suddenly did out of the smoke and above our own heads appear an elephant’s head. The elephant charged towards us and seemed to have identified us as targets. Quickly we jump to the side while, stomping on trees and bushes, the large herd runs by – for all of us, a very exciting and thrilling moment. As Pirie assured me healthy elephants rarely pursue humans as this was the case here. If we had not retreated into the bushes, the elephant would have crushed us as the distance between the angry animal and us was less than two meters.

While this scene was taking place, the elephant that had stumbled rose again and escaped. Following the copious blood tracks Pirie and I pursued it for more than an hour paying no attention to the branches and thorns until we had to stop due to our exhaustion from the hunt and because it started getting dark and we feared of forcing the very sick elephant to disappear entirely.

Returning tot he bungalow not exactly with the sunniest disposition I bagged some sandpipers, red-wattled lapwings (Lobivanellus indicus) and kingfishers close by that had ventured out along the pond. The evening saw us reunited for supper where everybody told his day’s events as best as he could. The other gentlemen had hunted various small game in the vicinity and brought back monkeys, striped squirrels and various birds home, giving Hodek plenty of work to do.


  • Location: Kalawewa, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 08.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse uses the slow news day to comment about the construction project going on at the Hofburg in Vienna and give an update about the Bosnia.
  • The Wiener Salonblatt which had promised to publish a weekly update about Franz Ferdinand’s journey fails to do so in its second number of the year. Its pages are filled with aristocratic wedding announcements and reports instead.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is playing Shakespeare’s „Romeo und Julie“ (today usually translated as „Romeo und Julia“, they are Italian not French); the k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater offers Emilia Galotti in the afternoon and the comedy „Die Biedermänner“ in the evening.