Nothing in fact can exceed the terror which this formidable animal inspires in those countries which are liable to his devastations. More restricted, however, in this respect than the Lion, he is entirely unknown in Africa, and is rarely, if ever, to be met with in Asia on this side the Indus. In the south of China, and in the larger Asiatic Islands, such as Sumatra and Java, he is unhappily but too common; but it is said, we know not with what degree of truth, that in the last mentioned locality he is less ferocious than in the Peninsula of Hindostan. This is truly the cradle of his existence and the seat of his empire, in which he disputes dominion even with the Lion himself, who is comparatively rare in the Indian jungles, and with whom the Tiger has been sometimes known to join in deadly and successful struggle for the mastery. Endowed with a degree of force, which the Lion and the Elephant alone can equal, he carries off a buffalo in his tremendous jaws, almost without relaxing from his usual speed. With a single stroke of his claws he rips open the body of the largest animals; and is said to suck their blood with insatiable avidity. Of the correctness of this latter statement, at least in its full extent, there is however strong reason to doubt. The Tiger does not, according to the most credible accounts, exhibit this propensity to drinking the blood of his victims in any greater degree than the rest of his carnivorous and blood-thirsty companions. In this, as in other instances, fear has drawn largely on credulity, and the simple and sufficiently disgusting fact has been amplified and exaggerated with all the refinements upon horror which the terrified imagination could suggest.
The striped Hy?na has for its ground colour a uniform brownish gray, which is somewhat darker above than beneath. On the sides of the body it is marked by several irregular distant transverse blackish stripes or bands, which are more distinct on the lower part. Towards the shoulders and haunches these stripes become oblique, and they are continued in regular transverse lines on the outside of the legs. The front of the neck is completely black, as are also the muzzle and the outsides of the ears; the latter being broad, moderately long, and nearly destitute of hairs, especially on the inside. The hair of the body is long, particularly on the back of the neck and on the spine, where it forms a full and thick mane, which may be said to be continued even upon the tail, the latter organ being furnished with strong tufted hairs of considerable length. The mane and the tail are both marked with blackish spots or stripes variously and irregularly placed. Much variety is indeed to be met with as well in the ground colour of the whole body as in the disposition of the markings, which are extremely different in different individuals.
Plyctolophus sulphureus. Vieill.
But even in the East, where the qualities of the Chetah appear to be best appreciated, and his faculties to be turned to most account, it would seem that he is not employed in hunting by all classes of the people indiscriminately; but, on the contrary, that he is reserved for the especial amusement and gratification of the nobles and princes of the land, rather than used for purposes of real and general advantage. In this respect, and indeed in many others, as will be seen by the following brief account of the mode in which the chase with the Hunting Leopard is conducted, it bears a close resemblance to the ancient sport of hawking, so prevalent throughout Europe in the days of feudal tyranny, but scarcely practised at the present day except by the more splendid slaves of Asiatic despotism. The animal or animals, for occasionally several of them are employed at the same time, are carried to the field in low chariots, on which they are kept chained and hooded, in order to deprive them of the power and temptation to anticipate the word of command by leaping forth before the appointed time. When they are thus brought within view of a herd of antelopes, which generally consists of five or six females and a male, they are unchained and their hoods are removed, their keepers directing their attention to the prey, which, as they do not hunt by smell, it is necessary that they should have constantly in sight. When this is done, the wily animal does not at once start forwards towards the object of his pursuit, but, seemingly aware that he would have no chance of overtaking an antelope in the fleetness of the race, in which the latter is beyond measure his superior, winds cautiously along the ground, concealing himself as much as possible from sight, and, when he has in this covert manner nearly reached the unsuspecting herd, breaks forth upon them unawares, and after five or six tremendous bounds, which he executes with almost incredible velocity, darts at once upon his terrified victim, strangles him in an instant, and takes his fill of blood. In the meanwhile the keeper quietly approaches the scene of slaughter, caresses the successful animal, and throws to him pieces of meat to amuse him and keep him quiet while he blinds him with the hood and replaces him upon the chariot, to which he is again attached by his chain. But if, as is not unfrequently the case, the herd should have taken the alarm, and the Chetah should prove unsuccessful in his attack, he never attempts to pursue them, but returns to his master with a mortified and dejected air, to be again let slip at a fresh quarry whenever a fit opportunity occurs.下载
Two male individuals of this breed are now exhibiting at the Tower: the one whose portrait illustrates the present article, and who, although scarcely more than two years and a half old, already rivals his adult Asiatic neighbour in size and majesty, while he exceeds him in grace and agility; and a second, of about ten months old, apparently belonging to the pale variety, and who is just beginning to exhibit the first faint outline of the mane. The former of these is remarkably beautiful and docile: he became an inmate of the Tower in May, 1827; and was, during his voyage from the Cape, being then very young, so tame and domesticated as to be allowed to run about the deck like a dog.
From the strongly marked group, to the illustration of various species of which the foregoing pages have been dedicated, we pass by a natural and easy transition to an animal, which, although closely resembling them in its zoological characters, and in the cowardly ferocity of its disposition, bears nevertheless a stronger affinity to the dogs, with which it was associated by Linn?us. From each of these groups it is, however, readily distinguished by several obvious and essential characters, of sufficient importance to sanction its separation as a genus, now universally adopted among naturalists.
The Asiatic Elephant was until very lately considered as forming one species with the African, the clear and obvious distinctions which exist between them never having been noticed until pointed out by M. Cuvier, notwithstanding that both have been familiarly known for more than two thousand years to the nations of Europe, the former having formed an important part of the armament with which Porus withstood the conquering arms of Alexander, and having been subsequently introduced even into Italy by Pyrrhus; and the latter, as we may fairly presume, furnishing those individuals which were employed in the warlike array of the Carthaginians. The Asiatic animal appears when fully grown to attain a larger size than the African, the females commonly measuring from seven to eight, and the males from eight to ten feet in height, and sometimes weighing six or seven thousand pounds. His head is more oblong, and his forehead presents in the centre a deep concavity between two lateral and rounded elevations; that of the African being round and convex in all its parts. The teeth of the former are composed of transverse vertical lamin? of equal breadth, while those of the latter form rhomboidal or lozenge-shaped divisions. The ears of the Asiatic are also smaller and descend no lower than his neck, and he exhibits four distinct toes on his hind feet: the African on the contrary is furnished with ears of much greater size, descending to his legs, and no more than three toes are visible on his posterior extremities. These differences are so striking and important, and indeed, so far as regards the form of the head and the structure of the teeth, so essential, that it is impossible not to adopt the division which has been founded upon them, and to consider the natives of the two continents as originally and specifically distinct.