Seventeen trips through Somáliland A record of exploration & big game shooting, 1885 to 1893
SEVENTEEN TRIPS THROUGH SOMÁLILAND
A RECORD OF EXPLORATION & BIG GAME
SHOOTING, 1885 to 1893
BEING THE NARRATIVE OF SEVERAL JOURNEYS IN THE HINTERLAND OF THE
SOMÁLI COAST PROTECTORATE, DATING FROM THE BEGINNING
OF ITS ADMINISTRATION BY GREAT BRITAIN
UNTIL THE PRESENT TIME
WITH DESCRIPTIVE NOTES ON THE WILD FAUNA OF THE COUNTRY,
CAPTAIN H. G. C. SWAYNE, R.E.
FELLOW OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY
CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS
ROWLAND WARD AND CO., LIMITED
‘THE JUNGLE,’ 166 PICCADILLY
All rights reserved
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
BRAVE AND INTELLIGENT
Somáliland, the new British Protectorate, is in somerespects one of the most interesting regions of the AfricanContinent. In the present daily life of its natives wehave represented to us something of the wanderingpatriarchal existence of Biblical times. The countrycontains ruins which probably date back to a period ofvery ancient civilisation. It is, moreover, the thresholdto the mysterious nomad Gálla tribes who inhabit the landbetween the Gulf of Aden and the Great African Lakes.Somáliland is the home of most varieties of African largegame, and affords one of the best and most accessibleof hunting-grounds to be found at the present time.
In the intervening years, between 1884 and 1893,professional duties necessitated my undertaking severaljourneys in Somáliland, with the object of exploration.In the intervals between these journeys I devoted myperiods of leave to hunting in that country. Duringa period of nine years I undertook seventeen separatejourneys to the interior, and so became familiar with thechief elements of interest to be found there. At theoutset of my travels my age was twenty-five. I enjoyedabsolute freedom of movement, and at this period hadfull control of a small escort of Indian cavalry. The[x]sense of responsibility, and the prospect of exploringnew country, filled me with delight and awakened myfaculties. When I first entered the interior of Somáliland,in 1885, it was practically an untraversed country;and hitherto, though unjustly so, it had always borne thereputation of being the desert home of bigoted andferocious savages.
My principal object in writing this book is to presentphases of life in nomadic North-East Africa, and tosupply detailed information of a nature that might proveuseful to travellers and sportsmen who wish to visit thatcountry. As my brother and I have always beenpioneering, the men who have followed in our footstepshave naturally had better opportunities for sport thanwe had, and I only give such of my more successfulsporting experiences as will assist me in my main objectof giving a general portrait of the country.
With reference to the following pages of my book, Iwould say that I merely present a collection of facts. Towrite a continuous narrative of my movements, in amanner to hold the interest of the reader throughout,requires a special literary gift such as I do not possess.The careful notes of all that came within the observationand experience of my brother and myself, during ourten thousand miles of wanderings with camel caravans,are here collected and presented in their most simpleform. Most of the illustrations are direct reproductionsof my own drawings, representing incidents I have seen,for the artistic merit of which I must beg my readers’indulgence.
My thanks are due to Brigadier-General J. Jopp,[xi]C.B., A.D.C., British Resident at Aden; and to Lieut.-ColonelE. V. Stace, C.B., Political Agent and Consulfor the Somáli Coast; and to many officers of the AdenPolitical Staff under whom I have been employed, orwith whom I have been associated, for many kindnessesand hospitalities extended to me in Aden and the SomáliCoast ports; and to my brother, Captain E. J. E. Swayne,16th Bengal Infantry, for the use of his journals andsketches, for all his valuable and indefatigable assistance,to say nothing of his saving my life in a plucky andskilful manner under circumstances the difficulty ofwhich only sportsmen can fully appreciate. My bestthanks are also due to Prince Boris Czetwertynski andMr. Seton Karr for having given me permission toreproduce some of their beautiful and artistic photographs;to Captain H. M. Abud, Assistant Resident atAden, for many hospitalities, and for his kindness inhaving supplied me with the historical notes given in thefirst chapter.
I am also greatly indebted to Lieut.-General E. F.Chapman, C.B., Director of Military Intelligence, and toLieut.-Colonel J. K. Trotter, and other officers of theIntelligence Staff, for having permitted me to use andto copy a reduction of my routes, which was made undertheir direction; and also to Mr. W. Knight for the excellentmanner in which he has designed and drawn themaps which accompany this book. My third chapteris rewritten from articles which have already beenpublished in the Field in 1887, and I have to thank theEditor of that paper for his courtesy in having allowedme to make use of them here.
I have to thankfully acknowledge the kindness of Dr.P. L. Sclater, Secretary of the London Zoological Society,for having permitted me to rewrite and amplify, in mysupplementary chapter, two papers upon Antelopes whichwere written by me for that Society and published in itsProceedings.
Finally, I would express my gratitude to Mr. RowlandWard, who has devoted so much valuable time and experienceto the production of my book.
|CHAPTER I |
|Division of classes in Somáliland—The trading caravans from Ogádén and Harar—Habits of the nomad tribes—The Somáli brokers—The outcaste races and their characteristics—The settlements of the mullahs—The Somáli, his character—Religion—Costume and weapons—Condition of women—Marriage laws—Industries of women—Blood money—Feuds—Native councils—Respect for the English—Somáli vanity—The dibáltig ceremony—Influence of religion—Influence of civilisation—Religious observances—Superstitions—Carelessness—The origin of the Somáli race—Tracing descent for twenty-two generations—Arab descent—Tribal customs—Plurality of wives—Adoption of prefix Ba to name of children—Somáli nomenclature—Nicknames—Tribal divisions—“Brothers of the shield”—Ruins, cairns, and graves—Frontier raids between the Gállas and the Somális—Boldness of southern tribes—The Golbánti Gállas-The Wa-pokómo negroes of the Tana—Origin of the Gállas—The Esa tribe—The Gadabursi tribe—Evidences of former highly-organised races in Somáliland—Interesting remains—Old Gálla ruins—Curious legend to account for cairns—The robbers’ cover—Baneful influence of feuds||1-28|
|CHAPTER II |
THE NOMADIC LIFE
|Varieties of camel—Somáli camel willing and gentle—Method of loading camels—On the march—Weight of loads—Marching hours—Scourges, gadflies, ticks, and leeches—Firing camels—Sore back—Camel food—Grazing customs—Breeding habits of Somáli camels—The milk-supply of she-camels—Description of Somáli ponies—Fodder—Ticks—Donkeys—Their usefulness in Somáliland—Cattle—Cow’s milk—Ghee—Hides exported to America—Sheep and goats—Powers of subsisting without water—Camel meat and mutton the favourite meal of Somális—The annual movements of trading caravans governed by seasons—Duration [xiv]of seasons—Great heat—Movements of the nomad tribes—Caravan marauders—Tribal fights—Gangs of highway robbers—Methods of the raiders—English scheme of protection popular—Trade greatly injured through insecurity of routes—A peculiarity of the Somáli guide—Mysterious strangers—Remarkable faculties of adaptability in the Somáli—Baneful effect of civilisation||29-44|
|CHAPTER III |
BIG GAME SHOOTING, 1887
|Start from Berbera—The first koodoo—First herd of elephants seen; elephant bagged with a single shot—Fresh start with another caravan—Waller’s gazelle bagged—Mandeira; delightful headquarters—The Issutugan river—Herd of elephants found—Elephant hunt at Jalélo, and death of a large bull—Our night camp—Camp at Sobát—Elephants heard trumpeting at night—Interesting scene; a herd of sixty elephants—Two elephants bagged—Camp at Hembeweina; lions round camp—A herd of elephants in the Jalélo reeds—Long and unsuccessful hunt—Tusks stolen by a caravan—Lions roaring round the Hembeweina camp at night—Visit of Shiré Shirmáki and thirty horsemen—Interesting scene—A row in camp—News of a solitary bull at Eil Danan—Exciting hunt; horsemen manœuvring a vicious elephant, and death of the bull—Return to Berbera||45-76|
|CHAPTER IV |
|Early trips to the coast—Disturbed state of Bulhár—Stopping a fight—Two skirmishes—First exploring trips—Hostility of the natives—An unlucky trip—Start with my brother to explore the Habr Toljaala and Dolbahanta countries on duty—Camp on Gólis Range—Theodolite station at 6800 feet—Enter the waterless plains—Advance to the Tug Dér—News of raiders ahead, and of Col. A. Paget’s party—Dolbahanta horsemen—Advance to the Nogal Valley—Constantly annoyed by the Dolbahanta—Prehistoric tank and buildings at Badwein—Advance to Gosaweina—More horsemen—Insecure border, and scene of a raid—Explore Bur Dab Range—Robbers’ caves—Exploration of my brother on Wagar Mountain—Lovely scenery—Return to Berbera—Start on a second expedition to the Jibril Abokr country—The top of Gán Libah—A new hartebeest—Death of a leopard—Hargeisa—Natives clamouring for British protection against Abyssinia—Bold behaviour of a leopard—Advance to the Marar Prairie—Camp at Ujawáji—Extraordinary scene on the prairie—Quantities of game—Gadabursi raid—Jibril Abokr welcome of the English—A shooting trip on the plains—News of three lions—Vedettes posted over lions—Advance to the attack—Savage charge; unconscious and in the clutches of a lioness—My brother’s account of the accident—His own narrow escape, and death of a fine lion—Civility of the Jibril Abokr—Abyssinian news—Return to the coast—Recovery|