Wildlife Classics: Wildebeest

by JH Patterson

I saw a herd of wildebeeste, and with much care managed to get within three hundred yards of them. I singled out the biggest head and waiting for a favourable moment, fired at him, dropping him at once. I ran up to the fallen beast, which appeared to be dying, and told Mahina to drive the hunting knife right through his heart so as to put him quickly out of all pain. As Mahina was not doing this as skilfully or as quickly as I thought it might be done, and seemed unable to pierce the tough hide, I handed him my rifle and took the knife in order to do it myself. Just as I raised the knife to strike, I was startled by the wildebeeste suddenly jumping to his feet. For a moment he stood looking at me in a dazed and tottery kind of way, and then to my amazement he turned and made off. At first he moved with such a shaky and uncertain gait that I felt confident that he could only go a few yards before dropping; so, as I did not wish to disturb the other game around us by firing a second shot, I thought it best just to wait. To my utter astonishment, however, after he had staggered for about sixty yards he seemed to revive suddenly, broke into his ordinary gallop and quickly rejoined the herd. From that time I lost all trace of him, though I followed up for four or five miles.

My friend Rawson about this time had an experience very similar to mine, but attended with more serious results. He had knocked his wildebeeste over in much the same way, and thought it was dead; and as he was very keen on obtaining photographs of game, he took his stand-camera from the Indian who carried it and proceeded to focus it on the animal's head. When he was just about to take the picture, he was thunderstruck to see the wildebeeste jump up and come charging down upon him. He sprang quickly aside, and in an instant up went the camera into the air, followed the next moment by the unfortunate Indian, the wildebeeste having stuck its horn right through the man's thigh and tossed him over its back. Fortunately the brute fell dead after this final effort, leaving Rawson grateful for his escape.



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