THE OX TRIBE.
THE OX TRIBE;
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF
BULLS, BISONS, AND BUFFALOES.
ALL THE KNOWN SPECIES
AND THE MORE REMARKABLE VARIETIES
THE GENUS BOS.
BY GEORGE VASEY.
ILLUSTRATED BY 72 ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD, BY THE AUTHOR.
LONDON: PUBLISHED BY G. BIGGS, 421, STRAND. 1851.
C. AND J. ADLARD, PRINTERS, BARTHOLOMEW CLOSE.
* * * * * TO
WILLIAM YARRELL, Esq., F.L.S., F.Z.S.,
WHOSE SCIENTIFIC WORKS ON ZOOLOGY
PLACE HIM IN THE FIRST RANK OF NATURALISTS;
WHOSE UNOSTENTATIOUS KINDNESS IN CONSULTING THE FEELINGS
AND ADVANCING THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS
IS RARELY EQUALLED,
This Volume is inscribed,
BY HIS SINCERE FRIEND AND ADMIRER,
The primary object of the present work, is to give as correct and comprehensive a view of the animals composing the Ox Tribe, as the present state of our knowledge will admit, accompanied by authentic figures of all the known species and the more remarkable varieties.
Although this genus (comprising all those Ruminants called Buffaloes, Bisons, and Oxen generally,) is as distinct and well characterised as any other genus in the animal kingdom, yet the facts which are at present known respecting the various species which compose it, are not sufficiently numerous to enable the naturalist to divide them into sub-genera. This is abundantly proved by the unsuccessful result of those attempts which have already been made to arrange them into minor groups. Nor can we wonder at this want of success, when we consider that even many of the species usually regarded as distinct are by no means clearly defined.
The second object, therefore, of this treatise, is (by bringing into juxta-position all the most important facts concerning the various individual specimens which have been described, and by adding several other facts of importance which have not hitherto been noticed,) to enable the naturalist to define, more correctly than has yet been done, the peculiarities of each species.
A third object is to direct the attention of travellers more particularly to this subject; in order that, by their exertions, our information upon this class of animals may be rendered more complete.
A new and important feature in the present Monograph, is the introduction of a Table of the Number of Vertebrae, carefully constructed from an examination of the actual skeletons, by which will be seen at a glance the principal osteological differences of species which have hitherto been confounded with each other. A Table of the Periods of Gestation is likewise added, which presents some equally interesting results.
Several of the descriptions have been verified by a reference to the living animals, seven specimens of which are at present (1847) in the Gardens of the Zoological Society, Regent's Park. The several Museums in the Metropolis have likewise been consulted with advantage.
I am indebted to Judge FURNAM, of the United States, for some original information respecting the American Bison; and also to the late Mr. COLE, who was forty years park-keeper at Chillingham, for answers to several questions which I proposed to him on the subject of the Chillingham Cattle.
I beg to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. CATLIN for kindly allowing me, not only to make extracts, but also to copy some of the outlines from his 'Letters and Notes on the North American Indians,' a work which I do not hesitate to pronounce one of the most curious and interesting which the present century has produced,—whether we regard the graphic merits of its literary or pictorial department.
To Professor OWEN and the Officers of the Royal College of Surgeons, to the Officers of the Zoological Society, and to the Officers of the Zoological Department of the British Museum, my sincere thanks are due for the kindness and promptness with which every information has been given, and every facility afforded to my inquiries and investigations.
With respect to the engraved figures, I have striven to produce correct delineations of form and texture, rather than to make pretty pictures by sacrificing truth and nature for the sake of ideal beauty and artistic effect.
I cannot conclude this Preface without expressing my thanks to Messrs. ADLARD for the first-rate style in which this volume has been printed; particularly for the successful manner in which the impressions of the engravings have been produced, superior, in general, to India-proof impressions.
King Street, Camden Town; May, 1851.
In addition to the critical remarks on the writings of others, on this subject, which the reader will find in the following pages, I have further to observe that, although Pennant and Buffon have held a very high character, for many years, as scientific naturalists, the portion of their works which treats of the Genus Bos, appears to have been the result of the most careless and superficial observation. With the exception of the facts and observations furnished by such men as Daubenton and Pallas, Buffon's works are little more than flimsy speculations. As to Pennant's history of the Ox Tribe, it is calculated rather to bewilder than to inform; it is, in fact, an incoherent mass of dubious statements, huddled together in a most inextricable confusion: as a piece of Natural History it is absolutely worse than nothing.
Goldsmith, Bewick, and Bingley, three of our most popular writers on Natural History, appear to have done little more than compile from Pennant and Buffon, and consequently are but little deserving of credit. These strictures apply exclusively to such portions of their works as relate to the Ox Tribe.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
American Bison 21
Domestic Gayal 68
Jungly Gau 71
Italian Buffalo 76
Manilla Buffalo 81
Condore Buffalo 84
Cape Buffalo 86
Musk Ox 115
Galla Ox 120
Zebu, or Brahmin Bull 125
Backeley Ox 133
African Bull 137
Chillingham Cattle 140
Kyloe, or Highland Ox 150
Table of the Number of Vertebrae 152
Table of the Periods of Gestation 153
Note on the Skeleton of the American Bison 154
Free Martin 155
Short-nosed Ox 159
On the utility of the Ox Tribe to Mankind 160
Account of Alpine Cowherds —Notice of Ranz des Vaches 164
Table of Habitat 168
—— Mode of Life 169
Indefinite Definitions of Col. H. Smith 170
Mr. Swainson's Transcendental Attempt at Classification 176
On Species and Variety 181
Banteng (Bos Bantiger) 185
British Domestic Cattle 186
Influence of Colour in Breeding ib.
Influence of Male in Breeding 187
Generative Precocity ib.
Mr. Youatt's Philosophy of Rabies 190
LIST OF ENGRAVINGS.
(The Engravings not otherwise acknowledged are from original Drawings.)
1. Frontispiece.—The Sangu, or Abyssinian Ox i
2. Stomach of Manilla Buffalo 4
3. Gastro-duct (Oesophagean Canal), after Flourens 6
4. Stomach of a young Calf 12
5. Stomach of a full-grown Cow 13
6. Skull of Domestic Ox 17
7. Skeleton of Domestic Ox 20
8. American Bison 21
9. Young Female Bison 23
10. Wounded Bison 24
11. Indian shooting a Bison 29
12. Bison surrounded by Wolves 32
13. Bison Calf, after Cuvier 33
14. Skin Canoes of the Mandan Indians 36
15. Head of young Male Bison 39
16. Aurochs, or European Bison 40
17. Yak, from Asiatic Transactions 45
18. Yak, from Oriental Annual 49
19. Gyall (Bos Frontalis) 51
20. Head of Gyall 53
21. Gayal, from Asiatic Transactions 58
22. Head of Asseel Gayal 67
23. Domestic Gayal 68
24. Skull of Domestic Gayal 69
25. Occipital View of the same Skull ib.
26. Head of Domestic Gayal ib.
27. Jungly Gau, after Cuvier 71
28. Syrian Ox, anon. 74
29. Italian Buffalo—Brandt and Ratzeburg 76
30. Herefordshire Cow, after Howitt 80
31. Manilla Buffalo 81
32. Outlines of Buffaloes Backs 82
33. Head of Manilla Buffalo 83
34. Pulo Condore Buffalo 84
35. Short-horned Bull, after Howitt 85
36. Cape Buffalo 86
37. Young Cape Buffalo, after Col. Smith 90
38. Head of Cape Buffalo 94
39. Pegasse, from a Drawing in the Berlin Library 95
40. Horns of Cape Buffalo 96
41. Gaur, from Specimen in British Museum 97
42. Horns of Gaur, Edin. Phil. Trans. 103
43. Head of Gaur 104
44. Arnee, from Shaw's Zoology 105
45. Horns of Young Arnee, from 'The Bee' 107
46. Horns of Arnee, from Mus. Coll. Surg. 108
47. Horns of Arnee, from British Museum ib.
48. Arnee from Indian Painting 111
49. Zamouse, or Bush Cow 112
50. Head of Zamouse 114
51. Musk Ox 115
52. Foot of Musk Ox, Griff., Cuv. 117
53. Head of Musk Ox 119
54. Horns of Galla Ox, Mus. Coll. Surg. 123
55. Horns of Hungarian Ox, Brit. Mus. 124
56. Brahmin Bull, Harvey, Zool. Gar. 125
57. Zebu (var. beta), after Cuvier 128
58. Zebus (var. gamma) and Car, anon. 129
59. Zebu (var. delta), anon. 132
60. African Bull, Harvey 137
61. Eyes of African Bull, Harvey 139
62. Lateral Hoofs of African Bull, Harvey ib.
63. Dewlap of African Bull, Harvey 139
64. Chillingham Bull 140
65. Heads of Chillingham Cattle 148
66. Kyloe, or Highland Ox, Howitt 150
67. Free Martin, Hunter's Animal Economy 156
Skull of Domestic Ox, (repetition of fig. 6) 158
68. Skull of Short-nosed Ox of the Pampas 159
69. Outlines of Manilla Buffalo 174
70. Hungarian Ox, from British Museum 175
71. Banteng, from a Specimen in Brit. Mus. 185
72. Alderney Cow, after Howitt 189
Ruminantia is the term used by naturalists to designate those mammiferous quadrupeds which chew the cud; or, in other words, which swallow their food, in the first instance, with a very slight mastication, and afterwards regurgitate it, in order that it may undergo a second and more complete mastication: this second operation is called ruminating, or chewing the cud. The order of animals which possess this peculiarity, is divided into nine groups or genera, namely:—
CAMELS. LLAMAS. MUSKS. DEER. GIRAFFES. ANTELOPES. GOATS. SHEEP. OXEN.
The last named forms the subject of the following pages, and is called, in zoological language, the Genus Bos, in popular language, the OX TRIBE.
One of the most interesting occupations which the wide field of Zoology offers to the naturalist, is the investigation of those remarkable adaptations of organs to functions, and of these again to the necessities and well-being of the entire animal. Nor does it in the least diminish our interest in the investigation of individual adaptations, or our admiration on becoming acquainted with them, that we know, a priori, this universal truth, that all the constituents of every organised body, be that organisation what it may, are invariably adapted, in the most perfect manner, to each other, and to the whole.
It is by a knowledge of this exact harmony in the animal economy, that the comparative anatomist can determine, with almost unerring precision, the genus, or even species of an animal, by an examination of any important part of its organisation, as the teeth, stomach, bones, or extremities. In some cases, a single bone, or even the fragment of a bone, is sufficient to convey an idea of the entire animal to which it belonged.
In illustration of this:—if the viscera of an animal are so organised as only to be fitted for the digestion of recent flesh, we find that the jaws are so contracted as to fit them for devouring prey; the claws for seizing and tearing it to pieces; the teeth for cutting and dividing its flesh; the entire system of the limbs, or organs of motion, for pursuing and overtaking it; and the organs of sense for discovering it at a distance. Moreover, the brain of the animal is also endowed with instincts sufficient for concealing itself, and for laying plans to catch its necessary prey.
Again, we are well aware that all hoofed animals must necessarily be herbivorous, or vegetable feeders, because they are possessed of no means of seizing prey. It is also evident, having no other use for their fore-legs than to support their bodies, that they have no occasion for a shoulder so vigorously organised as that of carnivorous animals; owing to which they have no clavicles, and their shoulder-blades are proportionally narrow. Having also no occasion to turn their forearms, their radius is joined by ossification to the ulna, or is at least articulated by gynglymus with the humerus. Their food being entirely herbaceous, requires teeth with flat surfaces, on purpose to bruise the seeds and plants on which they feed. For this purpose, also, these surfaces require to be unequal, and are, consequently, composed of alternate perpendicular layers of enamel and softer bone. Teeth of this structure necessarily require horizontal motions to enable them to triturate, or grind down the herbaceous food; and accordingly the condyles of the jaw could not be formed into such confined joints as in the carnivorous animals, but must have a flattened form, correspondent to sockets in the temporal bones. The depressions, also, of the temporal bones, having smaller muscles to contain, are narrower and not so deep; and so on, throughout the whole organisation.
The digestive system of the ruminantia is more complicated in structure than that of any other class of animals; and, owing to this complexity, and the consequent difficulty of investigating it, its nature and functions have been less perfectly understood.
The stomach of the Manilla Buffalo, which will serve as an example of all the other species, is divided into four cavities or ventricles, which are usually (but improperly) considered as four distinct stomachs.
The following figure represents the form, relative size, and position of these four cavities when detached from the animal, and fully inflated.
The interior of those cavities present some remarkable differences in point of structure, which, in the present work, can only be alluded to in a very general manner. For a particular account of the internal anatomy of these complicated organs, the reader is referred to the interesting work on 'Cattle,' by W. Youatt.
The paunch is lined with a thick membrane, presenting numerous prominent and hard papillae. The inner surface of the second cavity is very artificially divided into angular cells, giving it somewhat the appearance of honeycomb, whence its name "honeycomb-bag." The lining membrane of the third cavity forms numerous deep folds, lying upon each other like the leaves of a book, and beset with small hard tubercles. These folds vary in breadth in a regular alternate order, a narrow fold being placed between each of the broader ones. The fourth cavity is lined with a velvety mucous membrane disposed in longitudinal folds. It is this part of the stomach that furnishes the gastric juice, and, consequently, it is in this cavity that the proper digestion of the food takes place; it is here, also, that the milk taken by the calf is coagulated. The reed or fourth cavity of the calf's stomach retains its power of coagulating milk even after it has been taken from the animal. We have a familiar instance of its operation in the formation of curds and whey.
The first and second cavities (a and b) are placed parallel (or on a level) with each other; and the oesophagus (e) opens, almost equally, into them both. On each side of the termination of the oesophagus there is a muscular ridge projecting, so that the two together form a sort of groove or channel, which opens almost equally into the second and third cavities (b and c).
[As there has not been, as far as I am aware, any appropriate name given to this very remarkable part of the stomach of ruminants, I here take the liberty of suggesting the term Gastro-duct, by which epithet this muscular channel will be designated in the following pages.]
All these parts, namely, the oesophagus, the gastro-duct, and the first three cavities, not only communicate with each other, but they communicate by one common point, and that point is the gastro-duct. At the extremity of the third cavity, opposite to that at which the gastro-duct enters it, is an aperture which communicates immediately with the fourth cavity (d).
Such is a very brief description of the complicated stomach of the Ox Tribe. In what manner the food passes through this curious arrangement of cavities is a problem which has engaged the attention of naturalists from a very early period. A host of great men might be cited who have failed to solve it. The French physiologist, M. Flourens, by his recent experiments, has done more than any or all of his predecessors to give clearness and precision to this intricate subject.
The following is an abstract of the most important of his experiments:—
A sheep having been fed on fresh trefoil, was killed and opened immediately,—that is, before the process of rumination had commenced. He (M. Flourens) found the greatest part of this herb (easily recognised by its leaves, which were still almost entire,) in the paunch; but he also found a certain portion (une partie notable) of those leaves (in the same unmasticated state) in the honeycomb. In the other two cavities, (the many-plies and the reed,) there was absolutely none.
M. Flourens repeated this experiment a great many times, with herbs of various kinds, and the result was constantly the same: from which it appears, that herbaceous food, on its first deglutition, enters into the honeycomb, as well as into the paunch; the proportion, however, being considerably greater into the paunch than into the honeycomb. It appears equally certain that, in the first swallowing, this kind of food only enters into the first two cavities, and never passes into the many-plies or the reed.
Having ascertained this fact with respect to herbs, he instituted a similar series of experiments, in which the animals were fed upon various kinds of grain,—rye, barley, wheat, oats, &c. The animals were killed and examined, as in the former experiments, immediately after being fed. He found the greater part of the grain unmasticated (tout entier) in the paunch; but, as in the case of the herbs, he also found a certain portion, in the same unmasticated state, in the honeycomb. Neither the many-plies nor the reed contained a single grain. He repeated these experiments many times, and always with the same result.
He then tried the effect of carrots cut into pieces, from half an inch to an inch in length; and in order that the animals might not chew them, he passed them into the pharynx by means of a tube. In one of these sheep he found all the morsels in the paunch; but, in the other two, some of the morsels were in the honeycomb, and some in the paunch. In all the three cases, there was none either in the many-plies or in the reed.
He then proceeded to ascertain the effect of substances previously comminuted. He caused a certain quantity of carrots to be reduced to a kind of mash, with which he fed two sheep, and opened them immediately afterwards. He found the greatest part of this mash in the paunch and in the honeycomb; but he likewise found a certain portion in the many-plies and in the reed.
His next experiments were made upon plain fluids. It is the opinion of the generality of authors on this subject that fluids pass immediately and entirely, along the gastro-duct, into the third and fourth cavities. But, according to the experiments of M. Flourens, this is not the case. He found, by making artificial openings (anus artificiel) in the stomachs of various sheep, that, as the animals drank, the fluid came directly out at the opening, in whatever cavity it might have been made.
It is clear, then, that fluids pass, in part, into the first and second cavities, and, in part, into the third and fourth; and they pass as directly into the former as into the latter.
The following is the result of some experiments which M. Flourens made respecting the formation of the pellets.
In the first place, after the animal has swallowed a certain quantity of food the first time, successive pellets are formed of this food, which remount singly to the mouth; secondly, there is a particular apparatus, which forms these pellets; and, thirdly, this apparatus consists of the two closed apertures (ouvertures fermees) of the many-plies, and of the oesophagus. Thus, the first two cavities, in contracting, push the aliments which they contain between the edges of the gastro-duct; and the gastro-duct, contracting in its turn, draws together the two openings of the many-plies and oesophagus; and these two openings, closed at this moment of their action, seize a portion of the food, detach it, and form it into a pellet.
The chief utility of rumination, as applicable to all the animals in which it takes place, and the final purpose of this wonderfully-complicated function in the animal economy, are still imperfectly known; what has been already suggested on these points is quite unsatisfactory. Perrault and others supposed that it contributed to the security of those animals, which are at once voracious and timid, by showing the necessity of their remaining long employed in chewing in an open pasture; but the Indian buffalo ruminates, although it does not fly even from the lion; and the wild goat dwells in Alpine countries, which are inaccessible to beasts of prey.
Whatever may be our ignorance of the cause or the object of rumination, it is certain that the nature of the food has a considerable influence in increasing or diminishing the necessity for the performance of that function. Thus, dry food requires to be entirely subjected to a second mastication, before it can pass into the many-plies and reed; whilst a great portion of that which is moist and succulent passes readily into those cavities, on its first descent into the stomach.
It has already been shown by the illustration, (p. 4,) that the paunch is the largest of the four cavities; but this is not the case with the stomach of the young calf, which, while it continues to suck, does not ruminate; in this case the reed, which is the true digestive cavity, is actually larger than the other three taken together.
When the calf begins to feed upon solid food, then it begins to ruminate; and as the quantity of solid food is increased, so does the size of the paunch increase, until it attains its full dimensions. In this latter case, the paunch has become considerably larger than the other three cavities taken together.
A curious modification of an organ to adjust itself to the altered condition of the animal is beautifully shown in the instance now under consideration, the nature of which will be easily understood by a reference to the following diagrams, giving the exact relative proportions of the different cavities of the stomach to each other in the young calf and in the full-grown cow.
[I am informed by Professor Symonds, of the Royal Veterinary College, that the two following sketches should be placed in the page so as to be viewed with the oesophagus to the right, and the pylorus to the left, instead of being, as they now are, at the top and the bottom; but as the present object is only to show the relative sizes of the different cavities, the error is not of much consequence.]
The letters refer to the same parts in each figure: a, the paunch; b, the honeycomb bag; c, the many-plies; d, the reed.
[These engravings, illustrative of the comparative sizes of the different stomachal cavities, are copied from original drawings taken from preparations of the stomachs which I made expressly for this purpose.]
In all herbivorous animals, and especially those of the ruminating kind, the alimentary canal is of an enormous length; measuring in a full grown ox, as much as sixty yards. The paunch, in such an animal, will hold from fifteen to eighteen gallons.
Blumenbach observes, that the process of rumination supposes a power of voluntary motion in the oesophagus; and, indeed, the influence of the will throughout the whole process is incontestible. It is not confined to any particular time, since the animal can delay it according to circumstances, even when the paunch is quite full. It has been expressly stated of some men, who have had the power of ruminating, that it was quite voluntary with them. Blumenbach knew four men who ruminated their food, and they assured him they had a real enjoyment in doing it: two of them had the power of doing or abstaining from it at their pleasure.
A case of human rumination occurred some years ago at Bristol, the particulars of which are minutely recorded in the 'Philosophical Transactions.' It seemed, in this instance, to have been hereditary, as the father of the individual was subject to the same habit. The young man usually began to chew his food over again, within a quarter of an hour after eating. His ruminating after a full meal generally lasted about an hour and a half; nor could he sleep until this task was completed. The victuals, upon its return, tasted even more pleasantly than at first; and seemed as if it had been beaten up in a mortar. If he ate a variety of things, that which he ate first, came up again first; and if this return was interrupted for any length of time, it produced sickness and disorder; nor was he ever well till it returned. These singular cases are caused, no doubt, by some abnormal structure of the interior of the stomach. No account has yet been given of the dissection of an individual so constituted.
When cattle are at rest, or not employed in grazing or chewing the cud, they are observed frequently to lick themselves. By this means they raise up the hair of their coats, and often swallow it in considerable quantities. The hair thus swallowed gradually accumulates in the stomach, where it is formed into smooth round balls, which, in time, become invested with a hardish brown crust, composed, apparently, of inspissated mucilage, that, by continual friction from the coats of the stomach, becomes hard and glossy. It is generally in the paunch that these hair-balls are found. They vary in weight from a few ounces to six or seven pounds. Mr. Walton, author of an 'Account of the Peruvian Sheep,' makes mention of one that he had in his possession which weighed eight pounds and a quarter. This hair-ball had been taken from a cow that fed on the Pampas of Buenos Ayres. It was of a flat circular shape, and measured two feet eleven inches and a half in circumference; two feet eight inches round the flat part; nine inches diameter also in the flat part; eleven inches diameter in the cross part; and, on immersing it in water, it displaced upwards of eight quarts, which made its bulk correspond to 462 cubic inches. The digestive functions are sometimes seriously impaired by these concretions; a loss of appetite ensues, and general debility.
In the Museum of Daniel Crosthwaite, there is a very extraordinary ball of hair, taken from a fatted calf only seven weeks old. The ball of hair, when taken out of the animal's stomach, and full of moisture, weighed eleven ounces. The calf was fatted by Daniel Thwaite, of Dale Head Hall, within six miles of Keswick; and slaughtered by John Fisher, butcher, Keswick. The calf was a particularly healthy animal.
Before closing this brief sketch of the digestive apparatus of the ox, it may not be uninteresting to quote some of the quaint speculations of Nathaniel Grew on this subject, from his 'Comparative Anatomy of Stomachs and Guts.'
He says: "The voluntary motion of the stomach is that only which accompanies rumination. That it is truly voluntary, is clear, from the command that ruminating animals have of that action. For this purpose it is, that the muscules of their venters are so thick and strong; and have several duplicatures, as the bases of those muscules, whereupon the stress of their motion lies. By means whereof they are able with ease to rowl and tumble any part of the meat from one cell of the same venter to another; or from one venter to another; or from thence into the gullet, whensoever they are minded to do it; so that the ejectment of the meat, in rumination, is a voluntary eructation.
"The pointed knots, like little papillae, in the stomachs of ruminating beasts, are also of great use, namely, for the tasting of the meat. The inner membrane of the first three venters is fibrous (like the gustatory papillae of the tongue) and not glandulous; the fourth only being glandulous, as in a man. Of the fibres of this membrane, and the nervous, are composed those pointed knots, which are, both in substance and shape, altogether like to those upon the tongue. Whence I doubt not, but that the said three ventricles, as they have a power of voluntary motion, so, likewise, that they are the seat of taste, and as truly the organs of that sense, as is the tongue itself."
The mouth of animals of the Ox Tribe contains, when full, thirty-two teeth. Six molars in each jaw, above, below, and on either side; and eight incisors in the lower jaw. In the upper jaw there are no incisors; but instead thereof a fibrous and elastic pad, or cushion, which covers the convex extremity of the anterior maxillary bone, and which is well worthy of observation.
The final cause of this pad (which stands in the place of upper incisor teeth) and the part it plays in the procuring of food, is thus described by Youatt. "The grass is collected and rolled together by means of the long and moveable tongue; it is firmly held between the lower cutting teeth and the pad, the cartilaginous upper lip assisting in this; and then by a sudden nodding motion of the head, the little roll of herbage is either torn or cut off, or partly both torn and cut.
"The intention of this singular method of gathering the food, it is somewhat difficult satisfactorily to explain. It is peculiar to ruminants, who have one large stomach, in which the food is kept as a kind of reservoir until it is ready for the action of the other stomachs. While it is kept there it is in a state of maceration; it is exposed to the united influence of moisture and warmth, and the consequence of this is, that a species of decomposition sometimes commences, and a vast deal of gas is extricated.
"That this should not take place in the natural process of retention and maceration, nature possibly established this mechanism for the first gathering of the food. It is impossible that half of that which is thus procured can be fairly cut through; part will be torn, and no little portion will be torn up by the roots. If cattle are observed while they are grazing, it will be seen that many a root mingles with the blades of grass; and these roots have sometimes no inconsiderable quantity of earth about them. The beast, however, seems not to regard this; he eats on, dirt and all, until his paunch is filled.
"It was designed that this earth should be gathered and swallowed; it was the meaning of this mechanism. A portion of absorbent earth is found in every soil, sufficient not only to prevent the evil that would result from occasional decomposition, by neutralizing the acid principle as rapidly as it is evolved; but, perhaps, by its presence, preventing that decomposition from taking place. Hence the eagerness with which stall-fed cattle, who have not the opportunity of plucking up the roots of grass, evince for mould. It is seldom that a cow will pass a newly-raised mole hill without nuzzling into it, and devouring a considerable portion of it. This is particularly the case where there is any degree of indigestion."
The general disposition of animals of this class, when unmolested, is inoffensive and retiring; but when excited and irritated, they are fierce and courageous, and extremely dangerous to encounter. It is a remarkable circumstance in their history, that they are generally provoked to attack at the sight of red, or any very bright and glaring colour.
a. Cervical vertebrae. b. Dorsal vertebrae. c. Lumbar vertebrae. d. Sacrum. e. Caudal vertebrae, or coccygeal bones. f. Ribs. g. Costal cartilages. h. Scapula. i. Humerus, k. Radius. l. Ulna m. Carpus, or knee. n. Large metacarpal, or cannon. pp. Sesamoid bones. qq. Phalanges. r. Pelvis. s. Femur. t. Patella. u. Tibia. v. Rudimentum fibulae. w. Hock and tarsals. x. Large metatarsal. y. Small metatarsal.
1. Inferior maxilla (lower jaw). 2. Superior maxilla (upper jaw). 3. Anterior maxilla 4. Nasal bone. 5. Frontal. 6. Parietal. 7. Occipital.
Skeleton of Domestic Ox, from a specimen in the Royal College of Surgeons.]
THE OX TRIBE
Is distinguished from other Genera of Ruminantia by possessing hollow persistent horns, growing on a bony core; the tail long, terminated by a tuft of hair; and four inguinal mammae.
THE AMERICAN BISON.
The head of this animal is enormously large; larger, in fact, in proportion to the size of its body, than that of any other species of the Ox Tribe. This huge head is supported by very powerful muscles, attached to the projecting spinous processes of the dorsal vertebrae; and these muscles, together with a quantity of fat, constitute the hump on the shoulders. The horns are short, tapering, round, and very distant from each other, as are also the eyes, which are small and dark. The head, neck, shoulders, and fore-legs, to the knee-joints, are covered with long woolly hair, which likewise forms a beard under the mouth. The rest of the body is clothed only by short, close hair, which becomes rather woolly in the depth of winter. The colour is of a deep brown, nearly black on the head, and lighter about the neck and shoulders. The legs are firm and muscular; the tail is short, with a tuft at the end.
The female is, in every respect, much smaller than the male; her horns are more slender, and the hair on her neck and shoulders is not so thick or long, nor the colour so dark. She brings forth in the spring, and rarely more than one. The calves continue to be suckled nearly twelve months, and follow the cows for a much longer period. It is said that the cows are not unfrequently followed by the calves of two, or even three, breeding seasons.
These animals, both male and female, are timid and shy, notwithstanding their fierce appearance; unless they are wounded, or during the breeding season, when it is dangerous to approach. Their mode of attack is to throw down, by pushing, as they run with their head; then to crush, by trampling their enemy under their fore-feet, which, surmounted as they are, by their tremendous head and shoulder, form most effectual weapons of destruction.
The following account, by Dr. Richardson, affords an instance of the danger to be apprehended from these powerful animals, when wounded, and not disabled: "Mr. Finnan M'Donald, one of the Hudson's Bay Company's clerks was descending the Saskatchewan in a boat; and one evening, having pitched his tent for the night, he went out in the dusk to look for game. It had become nearly dark when he fired at a Bison bull, which was galloping over an eminence; and as he was hastening forward to see if this shot had taken effect, the wounded beast made a rush at him. He had the presence of mind to seize the animal by the long hair on the forehead, as it struck him on the side with its horn, and being a remarkably tall and powerful man, a struggle ensued, which continued until his wrist was severely sprained, and his arm was rendered powerless; he then fell, and after receiving two or three blows, became senseless. Shortly afterwards he was found by his companions, lying bathed in his blood, being gored in several places, and the Bison was couched beside him, apparently waiting to renew the attack, had he shown any signs of life. Mr. M'Donald recovered from the immediate effects of the injuries, but he died a few months afterwards. Many instances might be mentioned of the tenaciousness with which this animal pursues its revenge; and I have been told of a hunter being detained for many hours in a tree, by an old bull, which had taken its post below, to watch him."
The capture of the Bison is effected in various ways, chiefly with the rifle, and on foot. Their sense of smelling, however, is so acute, that they are extremely difficult of approach, scenting their enemy from afar, and retiring with the greatest precipitation. Care, therefore, must be taken to go against the wind, in which case they may be approached very near, being almost blinded by the long hair hanging over their foreheads. The hunters generally aim at the shoulder, which, if effectually hit, causes them to drop at once; otherwise they are infuriated, and become dangerous antagonists, as was proved in the result of Mr. M'Donald's adventure.
When flying before their pursuers, it would be in vain for the foremost to halt, or attempt to obstruct the progress of the main body, as the throng in the rear, still rushing onwards, the leaders must advance, although destruction await the movement. The Indians take advantage of this circumstance to destroy great quantities of this favorite game; and certainly no method could be resorted to more effectually destructive, nor could a more terrible devastation be produced, than that of forcing a numerous herd of these large animals to leap from the brink of a dreadful precipice upon a rocky and broken surface, a hundred feet below.
When the Indians determine to destroy Bisons in this way, one of their swiftest-footed and most active young men is selected, who is disguised in a Bison skin, having the head, ears, and horns adjusted on his own head, so as to make the deception very complete; and thus accoutred, he stations himself between the Bison herd and some of the precipices, which often extend for several miles along the rivers. The Indians surround the herd as nearly as possible, when, at a given signal, they show themselves, and rush forward with loud yells. The animals being alarmed, and seeing no way open but in the direction of the disguised Indian, run towards him, and he, taking to flight, dashes on to the precipice, where he suddenly secures himself in some previously ascertained crevice. The foremost of the herd arrives at the brink,—there is no possibility of retreat, no chance of escape; the foremost may, for an instant, shrink with terror, but the crowd behind, who are terrified by the approaching hunters, rush forward with increasing impetuosity, and the aggregate force hurls them successively into the gulf, where certain death awaits them.
Sometimes they are taken by the following method:—A great number of men divide and form a vast square; each band then sets fire to the dry grass of the savannah, where the herds are feeding; seeing the fire advance on all sides, they retire in great consternation to the centre of the square; the men then close and kill them without the least hazard.
Great numbers are also taken in pounds, constructed with an embankment of such an elevation as to prevent the return of the Bisons when once they are driven into it. A general slaughter then takes place with rifles or arrows.
The following vivid sketch is from the narrative of John Tanner, who, when about seven or eight years of age, was stolen from his parents by the Indians, and remained with them during a period of thirty years.
"By the end of the second day after we left Pembinah we had not a mouthful to eat, and were beginning to be very hungry. When we laid down in our camp (near Craneberry River) at night, and put our ears close to the ground, we could hear the tramp of the buffaloes, but when we sat up we could hear nothing; and on the following morning nothing could be seen of them; though we could command a very extensive view of the prairie. As we knew they must not be far off in the direction of the sounds we had heard, eight men, of whom I was one, were selected and dispatched to kill some, and bring the meat to a point where it was agreed the party should stop next night. The noise we could still hear next morning, by applying our ears to the ground; and it seemed about as far distant, and in the same direction, as before. We started early, and rode some hours before we could begin to see them; and when we first discovered the margin of the herd, it must have been at least ten miles distant. It was like a black line drawn along the edge of the sky, or a low shore seen across a lake. The distance of the herd from the place where we first heard them could not have been less than twenty miles. But it was now the rutting season, and various parts of the herd were all the time kept in rapid motion by the severe fights of the bulls. To the noise produced by the knocking together of the two divisions of the hoof, when they raised their feet from the ground, and of their incessant tramping, was added the loud and furious roar of the bulls, engaged, as they all were, in their terrific and appalling conflicts. We were conscious that our approach to the herd would not occasion the alarm now, that it would at any other time, and we rode directly towards them. As we came near we killed a wounded bull, which scarcely made an effort to escape from us. He had wounds in his flanks, into which I could put my whole hand. As we knew that the flesh of the bulls was not now good to eat, we did not wish to kill them, though we might easily have shot any number. Dismounting, we put our horses in the care of some of our number, who were willing to stay back for that purpose, and then crept into the herd to try to kill some cows. I had separated from the others, and advancing, got entangled among the bulls. Before I found an opportunity to shoot a cow, the bulls began to fight very near me. In their fury they were totally unconscious of my presence, and came rushing towards me with such violence, that in some alarm for my safety, I took refuge in one of those holes which are so frequent where those animals abound, and which they themselves dig to wallow in. Here I found they were pressing directly upon me, and I was compelled to fire to disperse them, in which I did not succeed until I had killed four of them. By this firing the cows were so frightened, that I perceived I should not be able to kill any in this quarter; so regaining my horse, I rode to a distant part of the herd, where the Indians had succeeded in killing a fat cow. But from this cow, as is usual in similar cases, the herd had all moved off, except one bull, who, when I came up, still kept the Indians at bay. 'You are warriors,' said I, as I rode up, 'going far from your own country, to seek an enemy, but you cannot take his wife from that old bull, who has nothing in his hands.' So saying, I passed them directly towards the bull, then standing something more than two hundred yards distant. He no sooner saw me approach, than he came plunging towards me with such impetuosity, that, knowing the danger to my horse and myself, I turned and fled. The Indians laughed heartily at my repulse, but they did not give over their attempts to get at the cow. By dividing the attention of the bull, and creeping up to him on different sides, they at length shot him down. While we were cutting up the cow, the herd were at no great distance; and an old cow, which the Indians supposed to be the mother of the one we had killed, taking the scent of the blood, came running with great violence towards us. The Indians were alarmed and fled, many of them not having their guns in their hands; but I had carefully reloaded mine, and had it ready for use. Throwing myself down close to the body of the cow, and behind it, I waited till the other came up within a few yards of the carcase, when I fired upon her; she turned, gave one or two jumps, and fell dead. We had now the meat of two fat cows, which was as much as we wanted; accordingly we repaired, without delay, to the appointed place, where we found our party, whose hunger was already somewhat allayed by a deer one of them had killed."
In hunting the Bison, the spear and the arrow are still much in use among the Indians. The following sketch (after Catlin) represents an Indian in the act of shooting a Bison with the arrow:—
In the 'Letters and Notes on the North-American Indians,' by Catlin, there are a great many interesting details of the Bison (or Buffalo, as it is there called).
"Six days of severe travelling have brought us from the Camanchee village to the north bank of the Canadian, where we are snugly encamped on a beautiful plain, and in the midst of countless numbers of buffaloes; and halting a few days to recruit our horses and men, and dry meat to last us the remainder of our journey.
"The plains around this, for many miles, seem actually speckled, in distance and in every direction, with herds of grazing buffaloes; and for several days, the officers and men have been indulged in a general license to gratify their sporting propensities; and a scene of bustle and cruel slaughter it has been, to be sure! From morning till night, the camp has been daily almost deserted. The men have dispersed in little squads, in all directions, and are dealing death to these poor creatures to a most cruel and wanton extent, merely for the pleasure of destroying, generally without stopping to cut out the meat. During yesterday and to day, several hundreds have undoubtedly been killed, and not so much as the flesh of half a dozen used. Such immense swarms of them are spread over this tract of country, and so divided and terrified have they become, finding their enemies in all directions where they run, that the poor beasts seem completely bewildered, running here and there, and, as often as otherwise, come singly advancing to the horsemen, as if to join them for their company, and are easily shot down. In the turmoil and confusion, when their assailants have been pushing them forward, they have galloped through our encampment, jumping over our fires, upsetting pots and kettles, driving horses from their fastenings, and throwing the whole encampment into the greatest consternation and alarm."
Speaking of the attacks made upon them by the Wolves, he says, "When the herd is together the Wolves never attack them, as they instantly gather for combined resistance, which they effectually make. But when the herds are travelling, it often happens that an aged or wounded one lingers at a little distance behind, and when fairly out of sight of the herd, is set upon by the voracious hunters, which often gather to the number of fifty or more, and are sure at last to torture him to death, and use him up at a meal. The Buffalo, however, is a huge and furious animal, and when his retreat is cut off, makes desperate and deadly resistance, contending to the last moment for the right of life, and oftentimes deals death by wholesale to his canine assailants.
"During my travels in these regions, I have several times come across such a gang of these animals surrounding an old or wounded bull, where it would seem, from appearances, that they had been for several days in attendance, and at intervals desperately engaged in the effort to take his life. But a short time since, as one of my hunting companions and myself were returning to our encampment, with our horses loaded with meat, we discovered at a distance a huge bull, encircled with a gang of white wolves. We rode up as near as we could without driving them away; and being within pistol-shot, we had a remarkably good view, where I sat for a few moments and made a sketch in my note-book. After which we rode up, and gave the signal for them to disperse, which they instantly did, withdrawing themselves to the distance of fifty or sixty rods, when we found, to our great surprise, that the animal had made desperate resistance, until his eyes were entirely eaten out of his head; the gristle of his nose was mostly gone; his tongue was half eaten off, and the skin and flesh of his legs torn almost literally into strings. In this tattered and torn condition the poor old veteran stood bracing up in the midst of his devourers, who had ceased hostilities for a few minutes, to enjoy a sort of parley, recovering strength to resume the attack in a few moments again. In this group, some were reclining to gain breath, whilst others were sneaking about, and licking their chaps in anxiety for a renewal of the attack; and others, less lucky, had been crushed to death by the feet or the horns of the bull. I rode nearer to the pitiable object, as he stood bleeding and trembling before me, and said to him,—"Now is your time, old fellow, and you had better be off." Though blind, and nearly destroyed, he straightened up, and, trembling with excitement, dashed off at full speed upon the prairie, in a straight line. We turned our horses, and resumed our march; and when we had advanced a mile or more, we looked back, and again saw the ill-fated animal surrounded by his tormentors, to whose insatiable voracity he unquestionably soon fell a victim."
It has frequently been noticed, that whenever a female Bison, having a calf, is slain, the young one remains by its fallen dam, with signs of strong natural affection, and instinctively follows the inanimate carcase of its parent to the residence of the hunter. In this way many calves are secured.
According to Mr. Catlin's account these young animals are induced to follow any one who merely breathes in their nostrils. "I have often," says he, "in concurrence with a known custom of the country, held my hands over the eyes of the calf, and breathed a few strong breaths into its nostrils; after which I have, with my hunting companions, rode several miles into our encampment, with the little prisoner busily following the heels of my horse the whole way, as closely as its instinct would attach it to the company of its dam.
"This is one of the most extraordinary things that I have met with in the habits of this wild country; and although I had often heard of it, and felt unable exactly to believe it, I am now willing to bear testimony to the fact, from the numerous instances which I have witnessed since I came into the country. During the time that I resided at this post (Teton River) in the spring of the year, on my way up the river, I assisted in bringing in, in the above manner, several of these little prisoners, which sometimes followed for five or six miles close to our horse's heels, and even into the Fur Company's Fort, and into the stable where our horses were led. In this way, before I left for the head waters of the Missouri, I think we had collected about a dozen, which Mr. Laidlaw was successfully raising with the aid of a good milch cow, and which were to be committed to the care of Mr. Chouteau, to be transported, by the return of the steamer, to his extensive plantation in the vicinity of St. Louis."
The uses which are made of the various parts of the Bison are numerous. The hide, which is thick and rather porous, is converted by the Indians into mocassins for the winter; they also make their shields of it. When dressed with the hair on, it is made into clothing by the natives, and most excellent blankets by the European settlers; so valuable, indeed, is it esteemed, that three or four pounds sterling a piece are not unfrequently given for good ones in Canada, where they are used as travelling cloaks. The fleece, which sometimes weighs eight pounds, is spun and wove into cloth. Stockings, gloves, garters, &c., are likewise knit with it, appearing and lasting as well as those made of the best sheep's wool. In England it has been made into remarkably fine cloth.
"There are," says Catlin, "by a fair calculation, more than 300,000 Indians who are now subsisting on the flesh of the buffaloes, and by these animals supplied with, all the luxuries of life which they desire, as they know of none others. The great variety of uses to which they convert the body and other parts of that animal, are almost incredible to the person who has not actually dwelt amongst these people, and closely studied their modes and customs. Every part of their flesh is converted into food, in one shape or other, and on it they entirely subsist. The skins of the animals are worn by the Indians instead of blankets; their skins, when tanned, are used as coverings for their lodges and for their beds; undressed, they are used for constructing canoes, for saddles, for bridles, l'arrets, lasos, and thongs. The horns are shaped into ladles and spoons; the brains are used for dressing the skins; their bones are used for saddle-trees, for war-clubs, and scrapers for graining the robes; and others are broken up for the marrow fat which is contained in them. The sinews are used for strings and backs to their bows, for thread to string their beads and sew their dresses. The feet of the animals are boiled, with their hoofs, for the glue they contain, for fastening their arrow points, and many other uses. The hair from the head and shoulders, which is long, is twisted and braided into halters, and the tail is used for a fly-brush."
Again (vol. ii, p. 138), he says, "I have introduced the skin canoes of the Mandans (of the Upper Missouri), which are made almost round like a tub, by straining a buffalo's skin over a frame of wicker-work, made of willow or other boughs. The woman, in paddling these awkward tubs, stands in the bow, and makes the stroke with the paddle, by reaching it forward in the water, and drawing it to her, by which means she pulls the canoe along with considerable speed. These very curious and rudely-constructed canoes are made in the form of the Welsh coracle; and, if I mistake not, propelled in the same manner, which is a very curious circumstance; inasmuch as they are found in the heart of the great wilderness of America, where all the surrounding tribes construct their canoes in decidedly different forms, and of different materials."
It is generally agreed by travellers, that the flesh of the Bison is little inferior to the beef of our domestic oxen. The tongue is considered a delicacy, and the hump is much esteemed. A kind of potted-beef, called pemmican, is made of the flesh of the Bison, in the following manner:—The flesh is spread on a skin, dried in the sun, and pounded with stones; then all the hair is carefully sifted out of it, and melted fat kneeded into it. This, when properly made and kept dry, will keep good for twelve months. The tallow of the Bison forms an important article of commerce; one fat bull yielding sometimes as much as 150 pounds weight.
Mr. Turner, a gentleman long resident in America, is of opinion, that the Bison is superior even to our domestic cattle for the purposes of husbandry, and has expressed a wish to see this animal domesticated on the English farms. He informs us, that a farmer on the great Kenhawa broke a young Bison to the plough; and having yoked it with a steer, taken from his tame cattle, it performed its work to admiration. But there is another property in which the Bison far surpasses the Ox, and this is his strength. "Judging from the extraordinary size of his bones, and the depth and formation of the chest, (continues this gentleman,) I should not think it unreasonable to assign nearly a double portion of strength to this powerful inhabitant of the forest. Reclaim him, and you gain a capital quadruped, both for the draught and for the plough; his activity peculiarly fits him for the latter, in preference to the ox."
As there are no Game Laws in America, (except in a very few confined instances on the Atlantic border,) the consequence is that the Bison is fast disappearing before the approach of the white settlers. At the commencement of the eighteenth century these wild cattle were found in large numbers all throughout the valley of the Ohio, of the Mississippi, in Western New York, in Virginia, &c. In the beginning of the present century they were still existing in the extreme western or southwestern part of the State of New York. As late as 1812 they were natives of Ohio, and numerous in that State. And now they are not to be seen in their native state in any part of the United States, east of the Mississippi River; nor are they now to be found in any considerable numbers west of that great river, until you have travelled some eighty or a hundred miles into the interior of the country.
There were no Bisons west of the Rocky Mountains, when Lewis and Clarke travelled there in 1805. On their return from the Columbia, or Oregon River, in July of that year, the first Bison they saw was on the day after they commenced their descent of the Rocky Mountains towards the east. On the second day after that, they saw immense herds of them on the banks of the Medicine River. One collection of these animals which they subsequently saw, on the borders of the Missouri River, they estimated as being at least 20,000 in number.
In 1823 it was discovered that the Bisons had crossed the Rocky Mountains, and some were to be seen in the vallies to the west of that range.
East of that range of mountains, these animals migrate from the uplands or mountains to the plains, and from north to south, about the beginning of November; and return from the south to the north, and from the plains to the uplands, soon after the disappearance of the snow in the spring.
The herds of Bisons wander over the country in search of food, usually led by a bull remarkable for strength and fierceness. While feeding, they are often scattered over a great extent of country; but when they move, they form a dense and almost impenetrable column, which, when once in motion, is scarcely to be impeded. Their line of march is seldom interrupted, even by considerable rivers, across which they swim, without fear or hesitation, nearly in the order in which they traverse the plains. The Bisons which frequent the woody parts of the country form smaller herds than those which roam over the plains, but are said to be individually of a greater size.
The rutting takes place the latter part of July and the beginning of August, after which the cows separate from the bulls in distinct herds. They bring forth their young in April: from which it appears that the term of gestation is about nine months.
The pair of American Bisons in the Zoological Gardens produced a calf in 1849; from the observations made in that instance, the period of gestation was calculated at 270 days.
The most important anatomical difference between the American and the European is, that the American has fifteen pairs of ribs, whereas the European has but fourteen.
The following are the dimensions of a large specimen:—
Ft. In. From the nose to the insertion of the tail 8 6 Height at the shoulder 6 0 " at the croup 5 0 Length of the head 2 1
Their weights vary from 1200 to 2000 pounds.
THE AUROCHS, OR EUROPEAN BISON.
In this, as in the American species, the head is very broad, and the forehead arched; but the horns are longer, more curved, and end in a finer point than those of the American Bison. The eyes are large and dark; the hair on the forehead is long and wavy; under the chin and on the breast it forms a sort of beard. In winter, the whole of the neck, hump, and shoulders are covered with a long woolly hair of a dusky brown colour, intermingled with a short soft fur of a fawn colour. The long hair is gradually cast in the summer, to be again renewed as the inclemency of winter comes on. The legs, back, and posterior portions are covered with short, dark brown hair. The tail is of a moderate length, is covered with hair, and terminates in a large tuft.
The females are not so large as the males, neither are they characterised by that abundance of hair on the anterior parts, which is so conspicuous in the bulls.
These animals have never been domesticated, although calves have sometimes been caught, and confined in an enclosed pasture. An instance of this kind is recorded by Mr. Gilibert, who, while in Poland, had the opportunity of observing the character of four young ones thus reared in captivity. They were suckled by a she-goat, obstinately refusing to touch a common cow. This antipathy to the domestic cow, which they manifested so early, maintained its strength as they advanced in years; their anger was sure to be excited at the appearance of any domestic cattle, which, whenever introduced to them, they vigorously expelled from their pasture. They were, however, sufficiently tame to acknowledge the voice of their keeper.
The geographical range of this animal is now comparatively very limited, being confined to the forests of Lithuania, Moldavia, Wallachia, and some of the Caucasian mountain forests; yet there can be no doubt that, at an early period, they roamed at large over a great part of both Europe and Asia.
Although they have never been, strictly speaking, domesticated, yet herds of them are kept in certain localities in the forest of Bialowieza, under the special protection of the Emperor of Russia, and under the immediate superintendence of twelve herdsmen, each herdsman keeping the number allotted to his charge in a particular department of the forest, near some river or stream. The estimated number of the twelve herds is about 800.
They feed on grass and brushwood; also on the leaves and bark of young trees, particularly the willow, poplar, ash, and birch. In autumn they likewise browse on heath, and the lichens which cover the bark of trees. In winter, when the ground is covered with snow, fodder is provided for them.
Their cry is quite peculiar, resembling a groan, or a grunt, more than the lowing of an ox.
They do not attain their full stature until after the sixth year, and live till between thirty and forty.
"The strength of the Zubr," says Dr. Weissenborn, "is enormous; and trees of five or six inches diameter cannot withstand the thrusts of old bulls. It is neither afraid of wolf nor bear, and assails its enemies both with its horns and hoofs. An old Zubr is a match for four wolves; packs of the latter animal, however, sometimes hunt down even old bulls when alone; but a herd of Zubrs has nothing to fear from any rapacious animal.
"Notwithstanding the great bulk of its body, the Zubr can run very swiftly. In galloping, its hoofs are raised above its head, which it carries very low. The animal has, however, but little bottom, and seldom runs farther than one or two English miles. It swims well, and is very fond of bathing.
"The zubr is generally exceedingly shy, and avoids the approach of man. They can only be approached from the leeward, as their smell is extremely acute. But when accidentally and suddenly fallen in with, they will passionately assail the intruder. In such fits of passion the animal thrusts out its tongue repeatedly, lashes its sides with its tail, and the reddened and sparkling eyes project from their sockets, and roll furiously. Such is their innate wildness, that none of them have been completely tamed. When taken young they become, it is true, accustomed to their keepers, but the approach of other persons renders them furious; and even their keepers must be careful always to wear the same sort of dress when going near them. Their great antipathy to the Bos Taurus, which they either avoid or kill, would render their domestication, if it were practicable, but little desirable. The experiments made with a view of obtaining a mixed breed from the Zubr and Bos Taurus have all failed, and are now strictly prohibited."
The rutting season is in August, and continues for about a fortnight; the calves are produced in May; thus, the period of gestation is between nine and ten months. The calves continue to suckle nearly twelve months, and the cows seldom calve oftener than once in three years.
The European Bison differs internally from the common ox in having fourteen pairs of ribs, whereas the common ox has but thirteen. The external differences between the two animals are too obvious to require pointing out.
In 1845, the Emperor of Russia presented to the British Museum a very fine stuffed specimen of this animal, from which the figure at the head of this chapter was taken.
The following are its dimensions:—
Ft. In. Length from the nose to the insertion of the tail 9 10 Height at the withers 5 6 " at the rump 4 11 Length of head 1 8 " of tail 3 0
M. Dimitri de Dolmatoff, Master of the Imperial Forests in the Government of Grodno, in his note of the capture of the Aurochs, (written in 1847,) alludes to the statement (made by every writer who has treated of these animals), that the calves, although taken young, invariably refuse to be suckled by the Domestic Cow. This he contradicts in the most explicit manner, on the testimony of his own experience, having had several instances come under his observation, in which the young calves of the Aurochs were suckled and reared by cows of the common domestic species.
Caesar, in his account of the "Sylva Hercynia"—the Black Forest—thus mentions the Urus, amongst other animals, there found:
"A third kind [of animals] are those called Uri. They are but little less than Elephants in size, and are of the species, colour, and form of a bull. Their strength is very great, and also their speed. They spare neither man nor beast that they see. They cannot be brought to endure the sight of men, nor be tamed, even when taken young. The people who take them in pit-falls, assiduously destroy them; and young men harden themselves in this labour, and exercise themselves in this kind of chase; and those who have killed a great number—the horns being publicly exhibited in evidence of the fact—obtain great honour. The horns, in amplitude, shape, and species, differ much from the horns of our oxen. They are much sought after; and after having been edged with silver at their mouths, they are used for drinking vessels at great feasts." (De Bello Gallico, lib. vi.)
THE YAK, OR SOORA-GOY.
The following interesting and circumstantial account of this curious species of Ox, is from the pen of Lieut. Samuel Turner. (Asiatic Researches, vol. iv.)
"The Yak of Tartary, called Soora-Goy in Hindostan, and which I term the Bushy-tailed Bull of Tibet, is about the height of an English Bull, which he resembles in the figure of the body, head, and legs. I could distinguish between them no essential difference, except only that the Yak is covered all over with a thick coat of long hair. The head is rather short, crowned with two smooth round horns, that, tapering from the setting on, terminate in sharp points, arch inwardly, and near the extremities are a little turned back. The ears are small; the forehead appears prominent, being adorned with much curling hair; the eyes are full and large; the nose smooth and convex; the nostrils small. The neck is short, describing a curvature nearly equal both above and below; the withers high and arched; the rump low. Over the shoulders rises a bunch, which at first sight would seem to be the same kind of exuberance peculiar to the cattle of Hindostan; but in reality it consists in the superior length of the hair only, which, as well as that along the ridge of the back to the setting on of the tail, grows long and erect, but not harsh. The tail is composed of a prodigious quantity of long flowing glossy hair, descending to the hock; and is so extremely well furnished, that not a joint of it is perceptible; but it has much the appearance of a large bunch of hair artificially set on. The shoulders, rump, and upper part of the body are clothed with a sort of thick soft wool, but the inferior parts with straight pendent hair that descends below the knee; and I have seen it so long in some cattle, which were in high health and condition, as to trail along the ground. From the chest, between the fore-legs, issues a large pointed tuft of hair, growing somewhat larger than the rest. The legs are very short. In every other respect, hoofs, &c., he resembles the ordinary Bull. There is a great variety of colours among them, but black and white are the most prevalent. It is not uncommon to see the long hair upon the ridge of the back, the tail, the tuft upon the chest, and the legs below the knee white, when all the rest of the animal is jet black.
"These cattle, though not large boned, from the profuse quantity of hair with which they are provided, appear of great bulk. They have a down heavy look, but are fierce, and discover much impatience at the near approach of strangers. They do not low loud (like the cattle of England) any more than those of Hindostan; but make a low grunting noise, scarcely audible, and that but seldom, when under some impression of uneasiness. These cattle are pastured in the coldest part of Tibet, upon short herbage, peculiar to the tops of mountains and bleak plains. That chain of lofty mountains situated between lat. 27 deg. and 28 deg., which divides Tibet from Bootan, and whose summits are most commonly covered with snow, is their favourite haunt. In this vicinity the Southern glens afford them food and shelter during the severity of the winter; in milder seasons the Northern aspect is more congenial to their nature, and admits a wider range. They are a very valuable property to the tribes of illiterate Tartars, who live in tents, and tend them from place to place, affording their herdsmen a mode of conveyance, a good covering, and subsistence. They are never employed in agriculture, but are extremely useful as beasts of burden; for they are strong, sure-footed, and carry a great weight. Tents and ropes are manufactured of their hair, and I have seen, though amongst the humblest ranks of herdsmen, caps and jackets worn of their skins. Their tails are esteemed throughout the East, as far as luxury or parade have any influence on the manners of the people; and on the continent of India are found, under the denomination of Chowries, in the hands of the meanest grooms, as well as, occasionally, in those of the first ministers of state. Yet the best requital with which the care of their keepers is at length rewarded for selecting them good pastures, is in the abundant quantity of rich milk they give, yielding most excellent butter, which they have a custom of depositing in skins or bladders, and excluding the air; it keeps in this cold climate all the year, so that after some time tending their flocks, when a sufficient stock is accumulated, it remains only to load their cattle, and drive them to a proper market with their own produce, which constitutes, to the utmost verge of Tartary, a most material article of commerce."
The soft fur upon the hump and shoulders is manufactured by the natives of Tibet into a fine but strong cloth; and, if submitted to the test of European skill, might no doubt be made to produce a very superior fabric.
The herdsmen commonly convert the hides into a loose outer garment that covers the whole of their bodies, hanging down to the knees; and it proves a sufficient protection against the lowest temperature of the cold and desolate region which they inhabit. It furnishes at once a cloak by day and a bed by night.
The Yak is not generally fierce, but, if intruded upon by strangers, it sometimes manifests very formidable symptoms of impatience, stamping its feet, whisking its tail aloft, and tossing its head. When excited, it is not easily appeased, and is exceedingly tenacious of injury, always showing great fierceness whenever any one approaches who has chanced to provoke it.
The cow is called Dhe, of which the wandering Tartars possess great numbers, having no means of subsistence but those supplied by their flocks and herds.
A fine male specimen of this Ox was brought to England by Warren Hastings, and several attempts were made to procure a cross between it and the common English Cow, but without success. He invariably refused to associate with ordinary cattle, and exhibited a decided antipathy to them. His portrait was painted, and is now in the Museum of the College of Surgeons, London. The following figure (taken from the 'Oriental Annual') is so much like the portrait of Warren Hastings's Yak, that it might almost be taken for a copy of it.
There is the skin of a Yak in the Zoological Museum, which coincides pretty nearly with the foregoing description. There is also a stuffed specimen of a female in the British Museum.
Like the European Bison, the skeleton of the Yak has fourteen pairs of ribs. Period of gestation not recorded.
THE GYALL, (Bos Frontalis of Lambert;)
THE GAYAL, (Bos Gavaeus of Colebrooke;)
THE JUNGLY GAU, (Bos Sylhetanus of F. Cuvier.)
Of the animals named in the foregoing list, we have had several very interesting accounts; but none of these have been sufficiently precise to enable us to determine the specific character of the animals described.
Are they, as some affirm, merely different names for the same animal; or do they designate animals which are really and truly distinct?
Nothing short of an appeal to structure can satisfactorily settle this or any other disputed point of a similar nature; but, unfortunately for zoology, the opportunities for such appeals are rare, and, when they do occur, are seldom taken advantage of. Let us hope that this hint will not be lost on some of our intelligent countrymen in the East; and that before long we may be favoured with the result of their researches.
In the meantime, and in order to facilitate as much as possible the endeavours of those who may have opportunities for such inquiries, the following epitome is given of the various papers which have already appeared on the subject, but which, in their present scattered form, are of very little general utility.
The earliest descriptive notice we have of the Gyall was that given in a paper read before the Linnean Society, in 1802, by Mr. Lambert, on the occasion of a bull of this species arriving in London from India.
"General colour a blueish-black; the frontal fascia gray; the horns short, thick, and distant at their bases, the tail nearly naked, slender, and with a tuft at the end. The Gyall has no mane; its coat is soft; the edge of the under lip is white, and is fringed with bristling hair. The horns are pale, with their bases included in the frontal fascia."
The animal of which this description is given, appeared to be between two and three years old, very tame, and inoffensive. A drawing was taken of it, which was engraved and published in the Linnean Transactions.
The following are its dimensions:
Ft. In. From tip of nose to end of tail 9 2 " tip of hoof of fore foot to top of the rising of back 4 1-1/2 Girth of largest part of abdomen 5 7 From the tip of the hoof of the hind leg to the highest part of the rump 4 0-1/2 " the tip of forehead to end of nose 1 9 Girth of head over the angle of the jaws 2 11-1/2 Between tips of horns 1 8-1/2 Length of horn, externally 0 8-1/2 Girth of horn at largest part 1 1
In reply to some inquiries respecting this animal which he made of a gentleman, (Mr. Harris,) resident in India, Mr. Lambert received the following:
"DEAR SIR,—I have before me your note, with the drawing, which undoubtedly appears to me to be the figure of the animal I mentioned to have in my possession. Some parts of the drawing seem to be rather too much enlarged, as in the base of the horns, and the rising between the fore shoulders.
"The animal I described to you, and which I have kept and reared these last seven years, and know by the name of the Gyall, is a native of the hills to the north east and east of the Company's province of Chittagong, in Bengal, inhabiting that range of hills which separates it from the country of Arracan.
"The male Gyall is like our Bull in shape and appearance, but I conceive not quite so tall; it is of a blackish-brown colour; the horns short, but thick and strong towards the base, round which, and across the frons, the hair is bushy, and of a dirty white colour; the chest and forehead are broad and thick. He is naturally very bold, and will defend himself against any of the beasts of prey.
"The female differs a little in appearance; her horns are not quite so large, and her make is somewhat more slender. She is very quiet, and is used for all the purposes of the dairy; as also, (I have been informed by the natives,) for tilling the ground, and is more tractable than the Buffalo. The milk which these cows give has a peculiar richness in it, arising, I should conceive, from their always feeding on the young shoots and branches of trees in preference to grass.
"I constantly made it a practice to allow them to range abroad, amongst the hills and jungles at Chittagong, during the day, to browse; a keeper attending to prevent their straying so far as to endanger losing them. They do not thrive so well in any part of Bengal as in the afore-mentioned province, and in the adjoining one, Pipperah, where, I believe, the animal is also to be found. I have heard of a female Gyall breeding with a common Bull. I wish it were in my power to give you more particulars, but I am describing entirely from memory."
In February, 1804, Mr. Lambert again addressed the Linnean Society on the same subject. He says, "Since I presented to the Society the last account of the Bos Frontalis, or Gyall of India, Mr. Fleming, a gentleman who has just returned from that country, has very obligingly communicated to me the following further particulars. This account was transmitted to Mr. Fleming by Mr. Macrae, resident at Chittagong, in a letter, dated March 22, 1802, and was accompanied with a drawing, by which it appears that the animal from which my figure was taken was full grown." (See the figure, p. 51.)
MR. MACRAE'S ACCOUNT.
The Gyall is a species of cow peculiar to the mountains, which form the eastern boundary of the province of Chittagong, where it is found running wild in the woods; and it is also reared as a domestic animal by the Kookies, or Lunclas, the inhabitants of those hills. It delights to live in the deepest jungles, feeding on the tender leaves and shoots of the brushwood; and is never met with on the plains below, except when brought there. Such of them as have been kept by the gentlemen at Chittagong, have always preferred browsing among the thickets on the adjacent hills to feeding on the grass of the plains.
It is of a dull heavy appearance, yet of a form that indicates both strength and activity; and approaches nearly to that of the wild Buffalo. Its head is set on like the Buffalo's, and it carries it much in the same manner, with the nose projecting forward; but in the shape of the head it differs materially from both the Buffalo and the Cow, the head of the Gyall being much shorter from the crown to the nose, but much broader between the horns than that of either. The withers and shoulders of the Gyall rise higher in proportion than those of Buffalo or Cow, and its tail is small and short, seldom falling lower than the bend in the ham. Its colour is in general brown, varying from a light to a deep shade; it has at times a white forehead, and white legs, with a white belly and brush. The hair of the belly is invariably of a lighter colour than that of the back and flanks. The Gyall calf is of a dull red colour, which gradually changes to a brown as it advances in age.
The female Gyall receives the bull at three years of age; her term of gestation is eleven months, when she brings forth, and does not again admit the male until the second year thereafter, thus producing a calf once in three years only. So long an interval between each birth must tend to make the species rare. In the length of time she goes with young, as well as in that between each conception, the Gyall differs from the Buffalo and Cow. The Gyall does not give much milk, but what she yields is nearly as rich as the cream of other milk. The calf sucks its dam for eight or nine months, when it is capable of supporting itself. The Kookies tie up the calf until he is sufficiently strong to do so.
The Gyalls live to the age of from fifteen to twenty. They lose their sight as they grow old, and are subject to a disease of the hoof, which often proves fatal at an early age. When the Kookies consider the disease beyond the hope of cure, he kills the animal and eats the flesh, which constitutes his first article of luxury.
The Kookies have a very simple method of catching the wild Gyalls, which is as follows:—On discovering a herd of wild Gyalls in the jungles, they prepare a number of balls, of the size of a man's head, composed of a particular kind of earth, salt, and cotton. They then drive their tame Gyalls towards the wild ones, when the two herds soon meet, and assimilate into one; the males of the one attaching themselves to the females of the other, and vice versa. The Kookies now scatter their balls over such parts of the jungle as they think the herd most likely to pass, and watch its motions. The Gyalls, on meeting these balls as they pass along, are attracted by their appearance and smell, and begin to lick them with their tongues; and relishing the taste of the salt, and the particular earth composing them, they never quit the place until all the balls are consumed. The Kookies having observed the Gyalls to have once tasted their balls, prepare a sufficient supply of them to answer the intended purpose; and as the Gyalls lick them up, they throw down more; and it is to prevent their being so readily destroyed that the cotton is mixed with the earth and the salt. This process generally goes on for three changes of the moon, or for a month and a half, during which time the tame and the wild Gyalls are always together, licking the decoy balls; and the Kookie, after the first day or two of their being so, makes his appearance, at such a distance as not to alarm the wild ones. By degrees he approaches nearer and nearer, until at length the sight of him has become so familiar that he can advance to stroke his tame Gyalls on the back and neck, without frightening away the wild ones. He next extends his hand to them, and caresses them also, at the same time giving them plenty of his decoy balls to lick. Thus, in the short space of time mentioned, he is able to drive them, along with the tame ones, to his parrah, or village, without the least exertion of force; and so attached do the Gyalls become to the parrah, that when the Kookies migrate from one place to another, they always find it necessary to set fire to the huts they are about to abandon, lest the Gyalls should return to them from the new grounds.
It is worthy of remark that the new and full moon are the periods at which the Kookies in general commence their operations of catching the wild Gyalls, from having observed that at these changes the two sexes are most inclined to associate. The same observation has been made with respect to Elephants.
About four years after the publication of Mr. Macrae's account of the Gyall (namely in 1808,) there appeared, in the Eighth volume of 'Asiatic Researches,' a description of a species of Ox, named Gayal, communicated by H. T. Colebrooke.
He commences by observing, that "the Gayal was mentioned in an early volume of the 'Researches of the Asiatic Society,' (vol. ii, p. 188, 1790,) by its Indian name, which was explained by the phrase "Cattle of the mountains." It had been obscurely noticed (if indeed the same species of Ox be meant) by Knox, in his historical relation of Ceylon (p. 21), and it has been imperfectly described by Captain Turner, in his journey through Bootan, ('Embassy to Tibet,' p. 160).
"Herds of this species of cattle have been long kept by many gentlemen in the eastern districts of Bengal, and also in other parts of this province; but no detailed account of the animal and of its habits has been yet published in India. To remedy this deficiency, Dr. Roxburgh undertook, at my solicitation, to describe the Gayal, from those seen by him in a herd belonging to the Governor-General. Dr. Buchanan has also obligingly communicated his observations on the same cattle; with information obtained from several gentlemen at Tipura, Sylhet, and Chatgaon, relative to the habits of the animal. The original drawing from which the plate has been taken was drawn by a native artist."
This representation does not appear to have been taken from a specimen of the animals here described: it bears a much stronger resemblance to our figure of the Gaur, which was taken from the stuffed specimen in the British Museum (see p. 97), than it does to the Gyall (Bos frontalis of Lambert, see p. 51), or to the Gayal, which died in the Zoological Gardens in 1846, from which our figure was taken, which is given on p. 68.
Dr. Roxburgh, who undertook, at the solicitation of Mr. Colebrooke, to describe the Gayal, appears to have done so by the very simple method of copying Mr. Macrae's description of the Gyall, which appeared in the 'Linnean Transactions,' in 1804, to which he has added, that the dewlap is deep and pendant; and this, according to every other account, is not the fact.
With respect to the account given by Dr. Buchanan, I have thought it best to quote it in full; because (although it repeats several of the characteristics already given,) it appears to flow from the pen of one who really observed what he describes.
He says: "The Gayal generally carries its head with the mouth projecting forward, like that of a Buffalo. The head, at the upper part, is very broad and flat, and is contracted suddenly towards the nose, which is naked, like that of the common cow. From the upper angle of the forehead proceed two thick, short, horizontal processes of bone, which are covered with hair; on these are placed the horns, which are smooth, shorter than the head, and lie nearly in the plane of the forehead. They diverge outward, and turn upward with a gentle curve. At the bases they are very thick, and are slightly compressed, the flat side being toward the front and the tail. The edge next the ear is rather the thinnest, so that a transverse section would be somewhat ovate. Toward their tips the horns are rounded, and end in a sharp point. The eyes resemble those of the common Ox; the ears are much longer, broader, and blunter than those of that animal.
"The neck is very slender near the head, at some distance from which a dewlap commences, but this is not so deep, nor so much undulated as in the Zebu or Indian Ox. The dewlap is covered with strong longish hairs, so as to form a kind of mane on the lower part of the neck; but this is not very conspicuous, especially when the animal is young.
"In place of the hump (which is situated between the shoulders of the Zebu) the Gayal has a sharp ridge, which commences on the hinder part of the neck, slopes gradually up till it comes over the shoulder-joint, then runs horizontally almost a third part of the length of the back, where it terminates with a very sudden slope. The height of this ridge makes the neck appear much depressed, and also adds greatly to the clumsiness of the chest, which, although narrow, is very deep. The sternum is covered by a continuation of the dewlap. The rump, or os sacrum, has a more considerable declivity than that of the European Ox, but less than that of the Zebu.
"The tail is covered with short hair, except near the end, where it has a tuft like that of the common Ox; but in the Gayal the tail descends no lower than the extremity of the tibia.
"The legs, especially the fore ones, are thick and clumsy. The false hoofs are much larger than those of the Zebu. The hinder parts are weaker in proportion than the fore; and, owing to the contraction of the belly, the hinder legs, although in fact the shortest, appear to be the longest.
"The whole body is covered with a thick coat of short hair, which is lengthened out into a mane on the dewlap, and into a pencil-like tuft on the end of the tail. From the summit of the head there diverges, with a whirl, a bunch of rather long coarse hair, which lies flat, is usually lighter-coloured than that which is adjacent, and extends towards the horns and over the forehead. The general colour of the animal is brown, in various shades, which very often approaches to black, but sometimes is rather light. Some parts, especially about the legs and belly, are usually white; but in different individuals these are very differently disposed."
The following is the measurement of a full-grown cow:—
Ft. In. From nose to summit of head 1 6 Between roots of horns 0 10 From horns to shoulder 3 3 From shoulder to insertion of tail 4 3 Height at shoulder 4 9 Height at loins 4 4 Depth of chest 2 9 Circumference of chest 6 7 Circumference at loins 5 10 Length of horns 1 2 Length of ears 0 10
"The different species of the Ox kind may be readily distinguished from the Gayal by the following marks; the European and Indian oxen by the length of their tails, which reach to the false hoofs; the American Ox, by the gibbosity on its back; the Bovis moschatus, Caffer, and pumilus, by having their horns approximated at their bases; the Bos grunniens by it's whole tail being covered with long silky hairs; the Bos bubalus,(at least the Indian buffalo,) by having the whole length of its horns compressed, and by their being longer than the head, and wrinkled—also by its thin coat of hair, by its want of a dewlap, and above all by its manners; the Bos barbatus, by the long beard on its chin.
"The cry of the Gayal has no resemblance to the grunt of the Indian Ox, but a good deal resembles that of the Buffalo. It is a kind of lowing, but shriller, and not near so loud as that of the European Ox. To this, however, the Gayal approaches much nearer than it does to the Buffalo."
Mr. Macrae, who furnished the account in 1804, is again consulted; and from his second account, the following additional particulars have been gleaned. [Now, however, as the reader will observe, the name is Gayal, and not Gyall; although, according to Mr. Macrae's own derivation of the word, it would appear to be more correctly Gyall.]
"The Gayal is found wild in the range of mountains that form the eastern boundary of the provinces of Aracan, Chittagong (Chatgaon), Tipura, and Sylhet.
"The Cucis, or Lunclas, a race of people inhabiting the hills immediately to the eastward of Chatgaon, have herds of the Gayal in a domesticated state. By them he is called Shial, from which, most probably, his name of Gayal [Gyall] is derived; as he is never seen on the plains, except when he is brought there. It appears, however, that he is an animal very little known beyond the limits of his native mountains, except by the inhabitants of the provinces above mentioned.
"His disposition is gentle: even when wild in his native hills, he is not considered to be a dangerous animal; never standing the approach of man, much less bearing his attack.
"To avoid the noon-day heat, he retires to the deepest shade of the forest; preferring the dry acclivity of the hill to repose on, rather than the low swampy ground below; and never, like the Buffalo, wallowing in mud.
"Gayals have been domesticated among the Cucis from time immemorial; and without any variation in their appearance from the wild stock. No difference whatever is observed in the colour of the wild and tame breeds; brown of different shades being the general colour of both.
"The wild Gayal is about the size of the wild Buffalo of India. The tame Gayals among the Cucis, being bred in nearly the same habits of freedom, and on the same food, without ever undergoing any labour, grow to the same size with the wild ones.
"The Cucis makes no use whatever of the milk, but rear the Gayals entirely for the sake of their flesh and skins; they make their shields of the hides of these animals. The flesh of the Gayal is in the highest estimation among the Cucis; so much so, that no solemn festival is ever celebrated without slaughtering one or more Gayals, according to the importance of the occasion.
"The domesticated Gayals are allowed by the Cucis to roam at large during the day, through the forest, in the neighbourhood of the village; but as evening approaches, they all return home of their own accord; the young Gayal being early taught this habit, by being regularly fed every night with salt, of which he is very fond; and from the occasional continuance of this practice, as he grows up, the attachment of the Gayal to his native village becomes so strong, that when the Cucis migrate from it, they are obliged to set fire to the huts which they are about to leave, lest their Gayals should return thither from their new place of residence, before they become equally attached to it, as to the former, through the same means.
"The wild Gayal sometimes steals out from the forest in the night, and feeds in the rice fields bordering on the hills. The Cucis give no grain to their cattle. With us (at Chatgaon) the tame Gayals feed on Calai (phaseolus max); but as our hills abound with shrubs, it has not been remarked what particular kind of grass they prefer.
"The Hindus in this province will not kill the Gabay (or Gayal) which they hold in equal veneration with the cow. But the As'l Gayal, or Seloi, they hunt and kill, as they do the wild Buffalo. The animal here alluded to is another species of Gayal found wild in the hills of Chatgaon. He has never been domesticated, and is in appearance and disposition very different from the common Gayal which has just been described. The natives call him the As'l Gayal, in contra-distinction to the Gabay. The Cucis distinguish him by the name of Seloi; and the Mugs and Burmas by that of P'hanj, and they consider him, next to the tiger, the most dangerous and fiercest animal of their forests."
Mr. Elliot, in writing from Tipura, says,—"I have some Gayals at Munnamutty, and from their mode of feeding I presume that they keep on the skirts of the vallies, to enable them to feed on the sides of the mountain, where they can browse; they will not touch grass, if they can find shrubs.
"While kept at Camerlah, which is situated in a level country, they used to resort to the banks, and eat on the sides; frequently betaking themselves to the water, to avoid the heat of the sun. However, they became sickly and emaciated, and their eyes suffered much; but, on being sent to the hills, they soon recovered, and are now (1808) in a healthy condition. They seem fond of the shade, and are observed in the hot weather to take the turn of the hills, so as to be always sheltered from the sun. They do not wallow in mud, like Buffaloes, but delight in water, and stand in it during the greatest heat of the day, with the front of their heads above the surface.
"Each Cow yields from two and a half to about four sers [from five to eight pounds] of milk, which is rich, sweet, and almost as thick as cream; it is of a high flavour, and makes excellent butter."
We learn from Mr. Dick that the Gayal is called Gaujangali in the Persian language, Gavaya in Sanscrit, and Mat'hana by the mountaineers; but others name the animal Gobay-goru.
The tame Gayals, however long they may have been domesticated, do not at all differ from the wild ones, unless in temper, for the wild ones are fierce and untractable. The colour of both is the same, namely, that of the Antelope, but some are white and others black, none are spotted or piebald. They graze and range like other cattle, and eat rice, mustard, chiches, and any cultivated produce, as also chaff and chopped straw.