LION HUNTING DOGS
Harold Trollope even used an English pointer!
““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.)