Nairobi the higher plains and hills are reached, where white men can safely settle, and their stock and certain crops do well. When Nairobi is reached, a fine agricultural as well as pastoral country is found, and on beyond for at least another 100 miles, past the Rift Valley, always famous as a native pastoral country, to the edge of the Uganda basin. West of Nairobi the elevation rises to 7000 and 8000 feet, dropping to below 4000 feet in the Uganda basin. From above 4000 feet to 8000 feet is the white man's tableland, and the anticipated cradle of a healthy British race. Uganda basin again, a cotton-growing district of great promise, is the planter's but not the settler's country.

Then there is the question of the game preserves, where no big game, not even lions, are allowed to be shot, and within whose hallowed precincts no armed sportsman can encroach. There are two large game reserves in British East Africa. First, an area roughly bounded on the north by the railway from about 100 miles from Mombasa to within a mile or two of Nairobi. This reserve runs south nearly, in some places quite, to the German border. Another large reserve is in the north-west of the Colony, running down to Uganda. In addition to these absolutely protected reserves, there are, as I have said, strict game regulations, limiting the number and kinds of game that may be shot anywhere, and enforcing licence fees. A 50l. licence is at once required from any visitor for the right to kill anything beyond one or two of the commoner kinds of game. Settlers pay a much lower fee. Lions and leopards may be shot without a licence outside game reserves. Some species of game are absolutely protected everywhere, such as the cows of elephant, buffalo, roan, and eland. Bull eland and one or two other varieties are absolutely protected in certain districts. Giraffe and bull elephant require an extra-expensive licence.

We now come to the relation of the big game and the settler. As the railway emerges from the bush country and rises, over 4000 feet, towards the Nairobi highlands, there are settlers along it, in the hills north of the line, and not far from the game reserve which, as I have said, runs south of the railway line. Game exist in the hills near the settlers and overflow from the reserve, hartebeeste (kongoni), zebra, gazelle, etc., almost in thousands. Lions follow them. Then at least two different kinds of calamity may happen to the settler. Either the lions stampede zebra and hartebeeste at night, who break down and destroy the settler's fencing, if he has any, in their mad rush to escape their natural foe; or the lions, having come after the game, take to raiding the settlers' oxen and ostriches at night. Lions are particularly fond of beef (of their own killing), and also of ostrich-meat. A recent case was quoted to me in which a settler lost sixty out of seventy or eighty ostriches

in one night, taken by lions. These birds are worth over 101. apiece, and the seriousness of such a loss is self-evident. There are also instances in other parts of the Colony of how settlers have suffered from game depredation. Hippo, for example, are strictly. preserved in Nakuru Lake, west of Nairobi. A single hippo, with his huge bulk and mowing-machine mouth can and has eaten or destroyed a fair-sized mealie-patch near this lake in one night. North-west of Nakuru I heard of similar depredations by wild ostriches. Many other instances could doubtless be ascertained, and quoted, of a similar nature.

I have said enough to indicate some of the difficulties of the situation in reference to settlers and game. So far as I was able to ascertain, no one is prepared to go quite so far as to say that the time is not far distant when either game or settlers must go. The settlers must fully appreciate the financial and commercial advantages to the Colony derived from its game, though the sporting side does not appeal to them. Living in a country where game is so plentiful, they are altogether blasé on the subject of sport, to most of them it is even an effort and a bore to go out occasionally and kill for meat. But some steps appear to be necessary for the further protection of the property of settlers against game depredation.


In reference to the settlers in the Mua hills north of the railway line and the southern game reserve, to whom reference has already been made, an interesting and practical suggestion has been tentatively put forward by the Game Warden at Nairobi, with whom I had a conversation on the subject. The suggestion was this that a game-proof fence should be erected north of and alongside the railway line for about sixty or seventy miles, beginning some few miles east from Nairobi. The Game Warden was confident that such a fence, absolutely game-proof (I fully accept his statement on this point, though a game-proof fence is not easy to design and construct), could be erected for the sum of 75001. The effect of this fence would be to prevent game from overflowing from the game reserve over the railway line towards settlers' land on the north. This barrier being erected, the game immediately north of the line could be either exterminated or so reduced in numbers as to become harmless to settlers. To attempt to exterminate or reduce without erecting the barrier in question would obviously be too large and drastic a business, so much so, in fact, as to be in all probability futile. For it would mean the attempted extermination or wholesale reduction of all the game in the southern reserve. Without the fence the game would continue to overflow north. With the fence, plus free-killing of game north of it, the settlers of that district would be more or less adequately protected against game depredation, and the value of

their settled lands would be greatly enhanced, while the general supply of game would remain practically uninjured, so far as the game reserve and its neighbourhood east and west were concerned.

It is not pretended that the suggestion of this particular fence is comprehensive or that it would settle all the difficulties of the Colony on this subject of game v. settlers. But it deals, at all events, with the particular district in a white man's country whence special complaints have come, and where special game depredation has occurred.

The point as to where the 75001., estimated first cost of the fence, is to come from naturally arises. I have it on high colonial authority that, if half of this sum, say 3500l., were privately found, the colonial authorities would guarantee the completion and upkeep of the fence from colonial resources, such as game-licence revenue, for example. This always subject to the sanction of Downing Street, which, I presume, has yet to be obtained.

I believe in the proposal. It has emanated from a capable and experienced source-namely, the Game Warden of Nairobi, who thoroughly understands the subject. I further hazard the assertion that the colonial authorities would fulfil their part of the undertaking to the satisfaction of all concerned, if allowed a free hand in the matter within the limits and subject to the condition mentioned. I offer no opinion as to the probability of the official mind of Downing Street sanctioning the proposal.

As regards the 3500l. which it was suggested should be found from private outside sources. Here is a case where the help of the Fauna Society (of which I am a member) might very appropriately be invoked. Assuming that the big-game plains and jungles of British East Africa are a playground for the idle sporting rich,' to say nothing of their interest for the traveller and the naturalist; and that the Fauna Society, who exist simply for the purpose of judicious game preservation within the Empire, are desirous both of preserving British East African game, and also, incidentally, of squaring the settler, and so making things pleasant all round, what more fitting than that they should head and start the 35001. subscription? As a humble member of that Society, I am all in favour of their doing this, and am prepared with my modest quota, subject to the conditions mentioned above. There are numerous millionaires, British, American, and others, who have gone biggame hunting to Nairobi, regardless of cost, and may want to do so again. It seems to me that they might most equitably and appropriately be appealed to for subscriptions to a game-fence which will help to preserve game for them on the one hand, and conciliate the settler, who otherwise suffers for their pleasure (it might be put this way), on the other. In other words, the proposed private subscription need not necessarily be limited to members

of the Fauna Society, though fittingly it might be started under their auspices. Its object should appeal to all who are either biggame hunters or interested in the wonderful wild animal life of Africa. Also, its amount need not necessarily be limited to 35001. The larger the private subscription, the more likely is the proposal to take practical shape.

Dealing now more generally with the question of big game v. settlers, I am inclined to think that there is an unnecessary amount of the ordinary big game of East Africa, such as zebra and kongoni, in our newest Colony. From a sporting point of view, their protection is in fact overdone. Gazelle of sorts, and even wildebeeste to a lesser extent, are also almost ridiculously numerous. As I have remarked elsewhere, the number of these more ordinary big game takes away from the pleasure and sporting merits of their pursuit. The evidence of this is that all residents whom I met were in fact satiated and blasé on the subject of big-game hunting, and seldom indulged in it except to procure meat occasionally. These remarks, however, do not apply to the hunting of elephant, buffalo, or lion. The hunting of the former animal in particular will never lose its attraction, if only on account of the value of its ivory. But it is the common game that, lion-driven, break fences. They also help to feed and maintain the lion. Occasionally they may do some crop-stealing on their own account.

Again, so far as my own observation and information goes, the common game are so numerous that their natural increase must exceed the numbers annually shot by sportsmen and settlers combined. This is only an assertion, incapable of proof except by results and observations over a series of years. But, in my own mind, and from what I myself saw, I feel confident that this is the case; and, if this is so, the numbers of common game are steadily increasing, not diminishing, and the problem of game v. settlers is also proportionately intensified as time goes on. In fact, the day must sooner or later arrive, if it has not already dawned, when the question of how far and by what methods the common game, particularly zebra and kongoni, should in the interests of the settler be reduced will become an urgent one.

The practical difficulty has always been to avoid extremes in these matters. I am old enough to remember the Far West of North America when game, particularly buffalo, were abundant, and where some of my happiest hunting-days were spent. Then came the advent of the hide-hunter, with rifles of precision, and in a few years the buffalo were exterminated, and the wapiti, deer, and antelope very seriously reduced. I doubt if Uncle Sam has ever forgiven himself for permitting the total extermination of the buffalo. So if zebra and kongoni are pronounced to be vermin, and their material reduction decided on, what security is there for

moderation in the process, or that their doom is not decreed? Once start a ball of this kind rolling in a large new country of mixed nationality, and it may be difficult to stop. There is only one practical method of materially reducing the game, and that is to permit the free export of hides. It would then become a paying commercial business to kill them, and the process would be widespread and rapid. Possibly rarer and more valuable game would be involved in the destruction.

Again, the indirect effect and results of any such action lightly permitted and without proper safeguards, or even with them, are a little difficult to forecast. At present British East Africa is known to be a good game-country, adequately protected. If professional hide-hunters appear on the scene, might they not frighten away the licence-paying genuine big-game hunters who are now a source of substantial revenue to the Colony? Under such circumstances it might be difficult to convince these sportsmen that their fears were exaggerated.

I have, perhaps, said enough to indicate some of the difficulties of the position; also that these difficulties are real and may become pressing in the near future, and that they have a direct bearing on the material progress and prosperity of our newest Colony. That the problem of game v. settler is soluble, and will be more or less satisfactorily solved by the authorities of the Colony as time goes on, I have no manner of doubt. But, in my humble judgment, the question should be left to the men on the spot without interference or dictation from the authorities at home.

This leads me to a wider question and a larger view, namely, the relations of white men and black in British East Africa; in other words, to a brief consideration of the native problem, of the political and social relations of the invading, ruling white race, and the indigenous, conquered, subservient black.

Here I have a prefatory remark to make. I venture to make one claim for all men who have visited our Colonies and seen things as they really are, and have had intercourse with their own countrymen on the spot who live and move and have their being, and have invested their substance, in the new country of their adoption. That one thing is that we who have seen with our own eyes these great new countries in a new continent thousands of miles from the older civilisation realise, as no stay-at-home citizen can possibly realise, the enormous, the almost insuperable difficulty of getting the said stay-at-home citizen to see things colonial as they really are, as we who have been there see them; above all, to see them as their own countrymen who have made their home there, and are the essence and the backbone of Greater Britain beyond the seas, see them. The simple comprehensive lesson is that stay-at-home officials and public alike require to trust their

« VorigeDoorgaan »