Stories of the Gorilla Country - Paul du Chaillu

Another Gorilla Story.




Every thing went on smoothly among the good Commi. When I absented myself they took great care of my property. They seemed proud of their honesty; and, though it was a wild country, and they were a wild people, I felt very safe among them.

Now and then I left Washington to go and live entirely in the woods, and hunt, sometimes for gorillas, at other times for wild boars or buffaloes, or something else.

I was also very fond of hunting the mboyo, a very shy animal of the wolf kind, with long yellowish hair and straight ears. They are very cunning; and now and then you can see them in the grass, engaged in hunting for themselves. I have often watched these animals surrounding and chasing game. They run very well together in a drove; and as their policy is to run round and round, they soon bewilder, tire out, and capture any animal of moderate endurance. As they run round, gradually their circle grows smaller and smaller; and of course, the smaller it becomes, the more bewildered becomes their prey.

Often I have seen them prying about alone in search of prey. How roguish they look! and I could only shoot them at very long distances. I never was able to get near one of them.

At times I went into the country where gorillas were plentiful, and had a good deal of fun and plenty of excitement. This country was not far from the village of a chief called Makaga Oune-jiou. This chief was affected with leprosy. He had already lost all the fingers of his left hand, and two fingers of his right hand, besides the big toe of his left foot. But Makaga, was very kind to me, and was much beloved by his people. His village was small, but was a very dear little village to him. It was surrounded by fields of sugar-cane, plantain-trees, and little fields of ground-nuts; and now and then the gorillas came and helped themselves to the good things these people had planted. This made them very wroth, and they were always glad to have me come and spend a few days among them.

Early in the morning I could sometimes hear the gorillas, who then came quite near the village. Here I found that I need not make long journeys in order to reach the hunting-ground. But they are difficult of approach; the slightest noise alarms them and sends them off. It is only once in a while that you can surprise an old male, and then he will fight you.

While staying with Makaga Oune-jiou I captured a second young gorilla, and we had an exciting time, I assure you, before we got him.

We were walking along in silence, when I heard a cry, and presently I saw not far from me, in the midst of a dense foliage, a female gorilla, with a tiny baby gorilla hanging to her breast. The mother was stroking the little one, and looking fondly down at it; and the scene was so pretty and touching that I withheld my fire and considered (like a soft-hearted fellow) whether I had not better leave them in peace. Before I could make up my mind, however, my hunter fired and killed the mother, who fell dead without a struggle.

The mother fell, but the baby clung to her, and, with piteous cries, endeavored to attract her attention. I came up, and when it saw me it hid its poor little head in its mother's breast. It could neither walk nor bite, it was such a tiny little baby gorilla. We could easily manage it; and I carried it, while the men bore the mother on a pole.

When we got to the village another scene ensued. The men put the body down, and I set the little fellow near. As soon as he saw his mother he crawled to her, and threw himself on her breast. He did not find his accustomed nourishment, and perceived that something was the matter with his mother. He crawled over her body, smelt at it, and gave utterance from time to time to a plaintive cry, "hoo, hoo, hoo," which touched my heart.

I could get no milk for this poor little fellow. He could not eat, and consequently he died on the third day after he was caught.