LION HUNT­ING DOGS

Harold Trol­lope even used an English pointer!

Man Magnum - - CONTENTS - Peter Hor­wood

““THIS GO­ING AF­TER lions with­out dogs is look­ing for trou­ble.”

Wh o bet­ter to know this than gam­eranger Harold Trol­lope who, in 1924, was ap­pointed by Colonel James Steven­son-hamil­ton, war­den of the Sabi Na­ture Reserve, which would later be ex­panded to form the Kruger Na­tional Park. Trol­lope’s task was to cull an ex­plod­ing lion pop­u­la­tion that was dec­i­mat­ing other game species in the reserve. Ma­raud­ing prides were also caus­ing havoc on lo­cal farms and at nearby na­tive kraals. Com­plaints were the or­der of the day.

It is said that while sta­tioned at Male­lane dur­ing his 3-year ten­ure, Trol­lope shot hun­dreds of lions with his .303 Lee Speed 10-shot bolt-ac­tion sport­ing ri­fle. He and his Shangaan rangers had many near-death ex­pe­ri­ences. His horse, bred by Harold’s brother Wes­ley from the fa­mous salted horses owned by Percy Great­head, lived up to its name, Roem, which is Afrikaans for ‘glory’ or ‘fame’. His other horse, Rubel, was al­most as brave and steady as Roem when fac­ing car­ni­vores in the bush.

When it came to dogs for hunt­ing, Harold was a great ad­mirer of the boer­hond, de­vel­oped by the early Dutch set­tlers from dogs orig­i­nally used by the Khoi Khoi tribes at the Cape, and which had a ridge of re­versed hair grow­ing on their backs. This line of ex­cel­lent hunt­ing and guard-dogs mostly died-out in South Africa, but fol­lowed the path of the Bo­ers as they trekked north­wards, even­tu­ally to de­velop into what is now known as the Rhode­sian ridge­back, also known as ‘lion dogs’.

HAROLD LIKED TO keep a pack of twelve hunt­ing dogs, and usu­ally had three or four ac­com­pany him when track­ing lions on horse­back. When the dogs brought the lion to bay, Harold quickly dis­mounted and, with his horse stand­ing quite still be­side him, he’d shoot the lion. He never fired from the sad­dle in case the horse took fright at the shot or at the lion’s re­ac­tion – he needed to be ready and able to de­liver a quick fol­low-up shot.

Jackson was a dog of enor­mous strength, with hard feet that en­abled him to fol­low his quarry for kilo­me­tre af­ter kilo­me­tre over hot and stony ground. He was the only dog Harold ever had that could pull down and hold a wounded leop­ard and get the bet­ter of it. He did this twice, once sin­gle­handed, and again when as­sisted by two other in­ex­pe­ri­enced young dogs. In 1929, by which time he was older, slower and par­tially deaf, but, true to his na­ture, still very coura­geous, Jackson was killed dur­ing a lion hunt in the Kruger Na­tional Park.

An­other of Harold’s dogs which stood out from the rest was a cross boer­hond-airdale ter­rier named Jones. On one oc­ca­sion, Jones, to­gether with a dog named Bubi and one other pack mem­ber were in­volved in an epic bat­tle with a huge wounded lioness which they had at bay in a patch of boul­ders. The lioness killed Bubi and the other dog, and griev­ously in­jured Jones. Nev­er­the­less, af­ter Harold had shot dead the lioness, the plucky Jones crawled up to the car­cass and bit it on the back leg. Jones’s hindquar­ters ap­peared to be com­pletely paral­ysed; one ear on a strip of neck skin was hang­ing be­neath his throat, the bro­ken bone of his hind leg was pro­trud­ing and one tes­ti­cle was laid bare.

Harold did every­thing he could to save Jones: he set the bone of his leg, sup­ported by a splint made from a marula branch shaped like the leg; he care­fully washed his nu­mer­ous wounds, stretched back into po­si­tion the skin of his many gashes and stitched them up – all with­out a whim

Jackson was the only dog Harold ever had that could pull down and hold a wounded leop­ard and get the bet­ter of it. He did this twice

Il­lus­tra­tion taken from Mem­o­ries of a Game Ranger by Harry Wol­huter.

Harold Trol­lope on Roem, Nom­bolo Md­luli the se­nior na­tive ranger, who was later to save Harold’s life when Harold was charged by a wounded lioness from close range, Rubel, and two of Harold’s lion hunt­ing dogs. (Harold Trol­lope Mu­seum, Amakhala Game Reserve.)

RIGHT: Harold with Jackson his fa­mous lion hunt­ing boer­hond. (Harold Trol­lope Mu­seum, Amakhala Game Reserve.) BE­LOW: Hunt­ing dogs with dead lion. (Harold Trol­lope Mu­seum, Amakhala Game Reserve.)

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