to Xiamen & Fujian
lived in Fujian for 50 years. Of this unusual missioanry family's many
exploits, the most unusual was tiger hunting. The father came to be known
as the "Great Tiger Hunter."
Tennessee that lived in Fujian for 50 years. Of this unusual missioanry family's many exploits, the most unusual was tiger hunting. The father came to be known as the "Great Tiger Hunter."
back in the Caldwell's day, hundreds of people died from tiger attacks.
In fact, one of my friend's lost an aunt to a tiger not far from Xiamen--in
the 1960s! And in Amoy Magic, I recount the tale of a British girl on
Gulangyu who found a tiger in her back yard in the 1920s. But the China
Review in the 1890s noted that tigers did serve one good purpose. Everyone
was so thoroughly terrified of them that burglars and thieves did not
dare roam around too much at night.
but back in the Caldwell's day, hundreds of people died from tiger attacks. In fact, one of my friend's lost an aunt to a tiger not far from Xiamen--in the 1960s! And in Amoy Magic, I recount the tale of a British girl on Gulangyu who found a tiger in her back yard in the 1920s. But the China Review in the 1890s noted that tigers did serve one good purpose. Everyone was so thoroughly terrified of them that burglars and thieves did not dare roam around too much at night.
I include the 3rd Chapter of China Coast Family--"Our
Friend the Tiger."
Below I include the 3rd Chapter of China Coast Family--"Our Friend the Tiger."
visit Fujian's tiger reserve on Meihua Mountain, in West Virginia. They
had 6 tigers last I visited--up from two the first time (feeding them
Tiger Viagra, I think). Amoy Magic Guide
to Xiamen and Fujian
And visit Fujian's tiger reserve on Meihua Mountain, in West Virginia. They had 6 tigers last I visited--up from two the first time (feeding them Tiger Viagra, I think). Amoy Magic Guide to Xiamen and Fujian
THESE lines of Blake had greater significance for our family than for
any lover of poetry. Tigers came early into our lives and stayed there.
The wisdom of my Grandfather, and, added to that, Bishop Bashford's realization
that hunting could rightly be a pan of a missionary's life, brought fame
to Father as a mighty hunter, a man who dared to face the China tiger
in his lair. All the little Caldwells basked in reflected glory.
Hunting in Amoy
Hunting in Amoy
the crowning sport with which the name of Amoy
is associated is the pursuit of that king of the jungle, the wily tiger.
Tigers abound more or less all along the coast of China, and
native trappers declare that they are more abundant in ‘Kwang Tung’
province than in Fokien.
Amoy tigers are village prowlers, and man-eaters.
There is no game of any sort: goats, pigs and cows are carefully pounded
at night, so that probably village dogs comprise 5/6ths of the necessary
support for the tigers of this province. Their hunting ground being so
much among the haunts of men, tigers, after dusk at any rate, have lost
all instinctive dread of man, and the sounds and odours of humanity, and
will stroll up a village street soon after bed-time, and break open a
door in search of pig, or dog. It is by no means an uncommon occurrence
for a tiger to take a man out of his bed, and in the hot weather many
lives are lost by sleeping in the doorway, and under the eaves.
tigris melitensis) An extremely rare breed of tiger that only lives in
the Fujian Province Fujian and has only been sighted on a few occasions.
It is said to have bluish fur with dark gray stripes.American Methodist
missionary Harry R. Caldwell described a clear sighting of a tiger colored
in deep shades of blue and maltese (bluish-gray) while in China. Caldwell
was an experienced tiger spotter and hunter; during his time in China,
he shot literally scores of the big cats. In September of 1910, Caldwell
was watching a goat in the Fujian Province. A tiger was pointed out, but
at first glance Caldwell believed it to be a man dressed in blue crouching
in some brush. Caldwell described his second glance, "...I saw the
huge head of the tiger above the blue which had appeared to me to be the
clothes of a man. What I had been looking at was the chest and belly of
the animal." He raised his gun to fire, but two small children were
in the way. During the time it took for him to alter position, the Maltese
Tiger vanished. Caldwell described the tiger as having a maltese base
color which changed to deep blue on the undersides. The stripes appeared
to be similar to those on a Bengal Tiger. He named the tiger "Bluebeard".
Though he never caught the cat, villagers confirmed the presence of 'black
devils' roaming the area.
very occasional sightings have been claimed of bluish-toned tigers, particularly
in the Fujian Province. There was one report from the son of a US Army
soldier who served in Korea during the Korean War. His father is certain
he sighted a blue tiger in the mountains there, near what is now the Demilitarized
Zone. In support of the blue tiger theory, maltese-colored cats certainly
do exist. The most common is a domestic breed, but blue bobcats and lynxes
have also been recorded and there is a little-known genetic combination
which results in blue tonings. On top of this, for a very long time experts
considered the black tiger mythical. Several pelts have proven otherwise.
Something we can probably conclude is that Maltese tigers were of the
South Chinese subspecies. Fujian Province is the area most famed for the
blue colouring and that was once a stronghold for this tiger. But few,
if any, of these tigers exist in the wild now and the number of blue sightings
is out of proportion to the tiny population (perhaps 30 cats) which may
remain. Admittedly, inbreeding produces some odd colour combinations,
but this usually tends towards melanism; blue is not known to be a side
VI HUNTING THE "GREAT INVISIBLE"
from "CAMPS AND TRAILS IN CHINA-A NARRATIVE OF EXPLORATION, ADVENTURE,
AND SPORT IN LITTLE-KNOWN CHINA" BY ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS, M.A. AND
YVETTE BORUP ANDREWS, 1918
For many years before Mr. Caldwell went to Yen-ping he had been stationed at the city of Futsing, about thirty miles from Foochow. Much of his work consisted of itinerant trips during which he visited the various mission stations under his charge. He almost invariably went on foot from place to place and carried with him a butterfly net and a rifle, so that to so keen a naturalist each day's walk was full of interest.
The country was infested with man-eating tigers, and very often the villagers implored him to rid their neighborhood of some one of the yellow raiders which had been killing their children, pigs, or cattle. During ten years he had killed seven tigers in the Futsing region. He often said that his gun had been just as effective in carrying Christianity to the natives as had his evangelistic work. Although Mr. Caldwell has been especially fortunate and has killed his tigers without ever really hunting them, nevertheless it is a most uncertain sport as we were destined to learn. The tiger is the "Great Invisible"--he is everywhere and nowhere, here today and gone tomorrow. A sportsman in China may get his shot the first day out or he may hunt for weeks without ever seeing a tiger even though they are all about him; and it is this very uncertainty that makes the game all the more fascinating.
part of Fukien Province about Futsing includes
mountains of considerable height, many of which are planted with rice
and support a surprising number of Chinese who are grouped in closely
connected villages. While the cultivated valleys afford no cover for tiger
and the mountain slopes themselves are usually more or less denuded of
forest, yet the deep and narrow ravines, choked with sword grass and thorny
bramble, offer an impenetrable retreat in which an animal can sleep during
the day without fear of being disturbed. It is possible for a man to make
his way through these lairs only by means of the paths and tunnels which
have been opened by the tigers themselves.
Mr. Caldwell's usual method of hunting was to lead a goat with one or two kids to an open place where they could be fastened just outside the edge of the lair, and then to conceal himself a few feet away. The bleating of the goats would usually bring the tiger into the open where there would be an opportunity for a shot in the late afternoon.
Mr. Caldwell's first experience in hunting tigers was with a shotgun at the village of Lung-tao. His burden-bearers had not arrived with the basket containing his rifle, and as it was already late in the afternoon, he suggested to Da-Da, the Chinese boy who was his constant companion, that they make a preliminary inspection of the lair even though they carried only shotguns loaded with lead slugs about the size of buckshot.
tethered a goat just outside the edge of the lair and the tiger responded
to its bleating almost immediately. Caldwell did not see the animal until
it came into the open about fifty yards away and remained in plain view
for almost half an hour. The tiger seemed to suspect danger and crouched
on the terrace, now and then putting his right foot forward a short distance
and drawing it slowly back again. He had approached along a small trail,
but before he could reach the goat it was necessary to cross an open space
a few yards in width, and to do this the animal flattened himself like
a huge striped serpent. His head was extended so that the throat and chin
were touching the ground, and there was absolutely no motion of the body
other than the hips and shoulders as the beast slid along at an amazingly
rapid rate. But at the instant the cat gained the nearest cover it made
three flying leaps and landed at the foot of the terrace upon which the
goat was tied.
"Just then he saw me," said Mr. Caldwell, "and slowly pushed his great black-barred face over the edge of the grass not fifteen feet away.
"I fired point-blank at his head and neck. He leaped into the air with the blood spurting over the grass, and fell into a heap, but gathered himself and slid down over the terraces. As he went I fired a second load of slugs into his hip. He turned about, slowly climbed the hill parallel with us, and stood looking back at me, his face streaming with blood.
"I was fumbling in my coat trying to find other shells, but before I could reload the gun he walked unsteadily into the lair and lay down. It was already too dark to follow and the next morning a bloody trail showed where he had gone upward into the grass. Later, in the same afternoon, he was found dead by some Chinese more than three miles away."
During his many experiences with the Futsing tigers Mr. Caldwell has learned much about their habits and peculiarities, and some of his observations are given in the following pages.
"The tiger is by instinct a coward when confronted by his greatest enemy--man. Bold and daring as he may be when circumstances are in his favor, he will hurriedly abandon a fresh kill at the first cry of a shepherd boy attending a flock on the mountain-side and will always weigh conditions before making an attack. If things do not exactly suit him nothing will tempt him to charge into the open upon what may appear to be an isolated and defenseless goat.
"An experience I had in April, 1910, will illustrate this point. I led a goat into a ravine where a tiger which had been working havoc among the herds of the farmers was said to live. This animal only a few days previous to my hunt had attacked a herd of cows and killed three of them, but on this occasion the beast must have suspected danger and was exceedingly cautious. He advanced under cover along a trail until within one hundred feet of the goat and there stopped to make a survey of the surroundings. Peering into the valley, he saw two men at a distance of five hundred yards or more cutting grass and, after watching intently for a time, the great cat turned and bounded away into the bushes.
"On another occasion this tiger awaited an opportunity to attack a cow which a farmer was using in plowing his field. The man had unhitched his cow and squatted down in the rice paddy to eat his mid-day meal, when the tiger suddenly rushed from cover and killed the animal only a few yards behind the peasant. This shows how daring a tiger may be when he is able to strike from the rear, and when circumstances seem to favor an attack. I have known tigers to rush at a dog or hog standing inside a Chinese house where there was the usual confusion of such a dwelling, and in almost every instance the victim was killed, although it was not always carried away.Back to top
"There is probably no creature in the wilds which shows such a combination of daring strategy and slinking cowardice as the tiger. Often courage fails him after he has secured his victim, and he releases it to dash off into the nearest wood.
"I knew of two Chinese who were deer hunting on a mountain-side when a large tiger was routed from his bed. The beast made a rushing attack on the man standing nearest to the path of his retreat, and seizing him by the leg dragged him into the ravine below. Luckily the man succeeded in grasping a small tree whereupon the tiger released his hold, leaving his victim lying upon the ground almost paralyzed with pain and fear.
"A group of men were gathering fuel on the hills near Futsing when a tiger which had been sleeping in the high grass was disturbed. The enraged beast turned upon the peasants, killing two of them instantly and striking another a ripping blow with his paw which sent him lifeless to the terrace below. The beast did not attempt to drag either of its victims into the bush or to attack the other persons near by.
"The strength and vitality of a full grown tiger are amazing. I had occasion to spend the night a short time ago in a place where a tiger had performed some remarkable feats. Just at dusk one of these marauders visited the village and discovered a cow and her six-months-old calf in a pen which had been excavated in the side of a hill and adjoined a house. There was no possible way to enter the enclosure except by a door opening from the main part of the dwelling or to descend from above. The tiger jumped from the roof upon the neck of the heifer, killing it instantly, and the inmates of the house opened the door just in time to see the animal throw the calf out bodily and leap after it himself. I measured the embankment and found that the exact height was twelve and a half feet.
"The same tiger one noon on a foggy day attacked a hog, just back of the village and carried it into the hills. The villagers pursued the beast and overtook it within half a mile. When the hog, which dressed weighed more than two hundred pounds, was found, it had no marks or bruises upon it other than the deep fang wounds in the neck. This is another instance where courage failed a tiger after he had made off with his kill to a safe distance. The Chinese declare that when carrying such a load a tiger never attempts to drag its prey, but throws it across its back and races off at top speed.
finest trophy taken from Fukien Province
in years I shot in May, 1910. Two days previous to my hunt this tiger
had killed and eaten a sixteen-year-old boy. I happened to be in the locality
and decided to make an attempt to dispose of the troublesome beast. Obtaining
a mother goat with two small kids, I led them into a ravine near where
the boy had been killed. The goat was tied to a tree a short distance
from the lair, and the kids were concealed in the tall grass well in toward
the place where the tiger would probably be. I selected a suitable spot
and kneeled down behind a bank of ferns and grass. The fact that one may
be stalked by the very beast which one is hunting adds to the excitement
and keeps one's nerves on edge. I expected that the tiger would approach
stealthily as long as he could not see the goat, as the usual plan of
attack, so far as my observation goes, is to creep up under cover as far
as possible before rushing into the open. In any case the tiger would
be within twenty yards of me before it could be seen.
"I had implicit confidence in the killing power of the gun in my hand, and at the crack of the rifle the huge brute settled forward with hardly a quiver not ten feet from the kids upon which he was about to spring. A second shot was not necessary but was fired as a matter of precaution as the tiger had fallen behind rank grass, and the bullet passed through the shoulder blade lodging in the spine. The beast measured more than nine feet and weighed almost four hundred pounds.
"Upon hearing the shots the villagers swarmed into the ravine, each eager not so much to see their slain tormentor as to gather up the blood. But little attention was paid to the tiger until every available drop was sopped up with rags torn from their clothing, whilst men and children even pulled up the blood-soaked grass. I learned that the blood of a tiger is used for two purposes. A bit of blood-stained cloth is tied about the neck of a child as a preventive against either measles or smallpox, and tiger flesh is eaten for the same purpose. It is also said that if a handkerchief stained with tiger blood is waved in front of an attacking dog the animal will slink away cowed and terrified.
"From the Chinese point of view the skin is not the most valuable part of a tiger. Almost always before a hunt is made, or a trap is built, the villagers burn incense before the temple god, and an agreement is made to the effect that if the enterprise be successful the skin of the beast taken becomes the property of the gods. Thus it happens that in many of the temples handsome tiger-skin robes may be found spread in the chair occupied by the noted 'Duai Uong,' or the god of the land. When a hunt is successful, the flesh and bones are considered of greatest value, and it often happens that a number of cows are killed and their flesh mixed with that of the tiger to be sold at the exorbitant price cheerfully paid for tiger meat. The bones are boiled for a number of days until a gelatine-like product results, and this is believed to be exceptionally efficacious medicine.
the danger of still-hunting a tiger in the tangle of its lair, one cannot
but feel richly rewarded for the risk when one begins to sum up one's
observations. The most interesting result of investigating an oft-frequented
lair is concerning the animal's food. That a tiger always devours its
prey upon the spot where it is taken or in the adjacent bush is an erroneous
idea. This is often true when the kill is too heavy to be carried for
a long distance, but it is by no means universally so. Not long ago the
remains of a young boy were found in a grave adjacent to a tiger's lair
a few miles from Futsing city. No child had been reported missing in the
immediate neighborhood and everything indicated that the boy had been
brought alive to this spot from a considerable distance. The sides of
the grave were besmeared with the blood of the unfortunate victim, indicating
that the tiger had tortured it just as a cat plays with a mouse as long
as it remains alive.
"In addition to the larger animals, tigers feed upon reptiles and frogs which they find among the rice fields. On the night of April 22, 1914, a party of frog catchers were returning from a hunt when the man carrying the load of frogs was attacked by a tiger and killed. The animal made no attempt to drag the man away and it would appear that it was attracted by the croaking of the frogs."
"One often finds trees 'marked' by tigers beside some trail or path in, or adjacent to, a lair. Catlike, the tiger measures its full length upon a tree, standing in a convenient place, and with its powerful claws rips deeply through the bark. This sign is doubly interesting to the sportsman as it not only indicates the presence of a tiger in the immediate vicinity but serves to give an accurate idea as to the size of the beast. The trails leading into a lair often are marked in a different way. In doing this the animal rakes away the grass with a forepaw and gathers it into a pile, but claw prints never appear."
After one has traveled in a Chinese sampan for several days the prospect of a river journey is not very alluring but we had a most agreeable surprise when we sailed out of Foochow in a chartered house boat to hunt the "blue tiger" at Futsing. In fact, we had all the luxury of a private yacht, for our boat contained a large central cabin with a table and chairs and two staterooms and was manned by a captain and crew of six men--all for $1.50 per day!
In the evening we talked of the blue tiger for a long time before we spread our beds on the roof of the boat and went to sleep under the stars. We left the boat shortly after daylight at Daing-nei for the six-mile walk to Lung-tao. To my great surprise the coolies were considerably distressed at the lightness of our loads. In this region they are paid by weight and some of the bearers carry almost incredible burdens. As an example, one of our men came into camp swinging a 125-pound trunk on each end of his pole, laughing and chatting as gayly as though he had not been carrying 250 pounds for six miles under a broiling sun.
Mr. Caldwell's Chinese hunter, Da-Da, lived at Lung-tao and we found his house to be one of several built on the outskirts of a beautiful grove of gum and banyan trees. Although it was exceptionally clean for a Chinese dwelling, we pitched our tents a short distance away. At first we were somewhat doubtful about sleeping outside, but after one night indoors we decided that any risk was preferable to spending another hour in the stifling heat of the house.
It was probable that a tiger would be so suspicious of the white tents that it would not attack us, but nevertheless during the first nights we were rather wakeful and more than once at some strange night sound seized our rifles and flashed the electric lamp into the darkness.
Tigers often come into this village. Only a few hundred yards from our camp site, in 1911, a tiger had rushed into the house of one of the peasants and attempted to steal a child that had fallen asleep at its play under the family table. All was quiet in the house when suddenly the animal dashed through the open door. The Chinese declare that the gods protected the infant, for the beast missed his prey and seizing the leg of the table against which the baby's head was resting, bolted through the door dragging the table into the courtyard.
was the work of the famous "blue tiger" which we had come to
hunt and which had on two occasions been seen by Mr. Caldwell. The first
time he heard of this strange beast was in the spring of 1910. The animal
was reported as having been seen at various places within an area of a
few miles almost simultaneously and so mysterious were its movements that
the Chinese declared it was a spirit of the devil. After several unsuccessful
hunts Mr. Caldwell finally saw the tiger at close range but as he was
armed with only a shotgun it would have been useless to shoot.
His second view of the beast was a few weeks later and in the same place. I will give the story in his own words:
"I selected a spot upon a hill-top and cleared away the grass and ferns with a jack-knife for a place to tie the goat. I concealed myself in the bushes ten feet away to await the attack, but the unexpected happened and the tiger approached from the rear.
"When I first saw the beast he was moving stealthily along a little trail just across a shallow ravine. I supposed, of course, that he was trying to locate the goat which was bleating loudly, but to my horror I saw that he was creeping upon two boys who had entered the ravine to cut grass. The huge brute moved along lizard-fashion for a few yards and then cautiously lifted his head above the grass. He was within easy springing distance when I raised my rifle, but instantly I realized that if I wounded the animal the boys would certainly meet a horrible death.
"Tigers are usually afraid of the human voice so instead of firing I stepped from the bushes, yelling and waving my arms. The huge cat, crouched for a spring, drew back, wavered uncertainly for a moment, and then slowly slipped away into the grass. The boys were saved but I had lost the opportunity I had sought for over a year.
"However, I had again seen the animal about which so many strange tales had been told. The markings of the beast are strikingly beautiful. The ground color is of a delicate shade of maltese, changing into light gray-blue on the underparts. The stripes are well defined and like those of the ordinary yellow tiger."
Before I left New York Mr. Caldwell had written me repeatedly urging me to stop at Futsing on the way to Yün-nan to try with him for the blue tiger which was still in the neighborhood. I was decidedly skeptical as to its being a distinct species, but nevertheless it was a most interesting animal and would certainly be well worth getting.
I believed then, and my opinion has since been strengthened, that it is a partially melanistic phase of the ordinary yellow tiger. Black leopards are common in India and the Malay Peninsula and as only a single individual of the blue tiger has been reported the evidence hardly warrants the assumption that it represents a distinct species.
We hunted the animal for five weeks. The brute ranged in the vicinity of two or three villages about seven miles apart, but was seen most frequently near Lung-tao. He was as elusive as a will o' the wisp, killing a dog or goat in one village and by the time we had hurried across the mountains appearing in another spot a few miles away, leaving a trail of terrified natives who flocked to our camp to recount his depredations. He was in truth the "Great Invisible" and it seemed impossible that we should not get him sooner or later, but we never did.
Once we missed him by a hair's breadth through sheer bad luck, and it was only by exercising almost superhuman restraint that we prevented ourselves from doing bodily harm to the three Chinese who ruined our hunt. Every evening for a week we had faithfully taken a goat into the "Long Ravine," for the blue tiger had been seen several times near this lair. On the eighth afternoon we were in the "blind" at three o'clock as usual. We had tied a goat to a tree nearby and her two kids were but a few feet away.
The grass-filled lair lay shimmering in the breathless heat, silent save for the echoes of the bleating goats. Crouched behind the screen of branches, for three long hours we sat in the patchwork shade,--motionless, dripping with perspiration, hardly breathing,--and watched the shadows steal slowly down the narrow ravine.
The shadows had passed over us and just reached a lone palm tree on the opposite hillside. By that I knew it was six o'clock and in half an hour another day of disappointment would be ended. Suddenly at the left and just below us there came the faintest crunching sound as a loose stone shifted under a heavy weight; then a rustling in the grass. Instantly the captive goat gave a shrill bleat of terror and tugged frantically at the rope which held it to the tree.
At the first sound Harry had breathed in my ear "Get ready, he's coming." I was half kneeling with my heavy .405 Winchester pushed forward and the hammer up. The blood drummed in my ears and my neck muscles ached with the strain but I thanked Heaven that my hands were steady.
Caldwell sat like a graven image, the stock of his little 22 caliber high power Savage nestling against his cheek. Our eyes met for an instant and I knew in that glance that the blue tiger would never make another charge, for if I missed him, Harry wouldn't. For ten minutes we waited and my heart lost a beat when twenty feet away the grass began to move again--but rapidly and up the ravine.
I saw Harry watching the lair with a puzzled look which changed to one of disgust as a chorus of yells sounded across the ravine and three Chinese wood cutters appeared on the opposite slope. They were taking a short cut home, shouting to drive away the tigers--and they had succeeded only too well, for the blue tiger had slipped back to the heart of the lair from whence he had come.
He had been nearly ours and again we had lost him! I felt so badly that I could not even swear and it wasn't the fact that Harry was a missionary which kept me from it, either. Caldwell exclaimed just once, for his disappointment was even more bitter than mine; he had been hunting this same tiger off and on for six years.
It was useless for us to wait longer that evening and we pushed our way through the sword grass to the entrance of the tunnel down which the tiger had come. There in the soft earth were the great footprints where he had crouched at the entrance to take a cautious survey before charging into the open.
As we looked, Harry suddenly turned to me and said: "Roy, let's go into the lair. There is just one chance in a thousand that we may get a shot." Now I must admit that I was not very enthusiastic about that little excursion, but in we went, crawling on our hands and knees up the narrow passage. Every few feet we passed side branches from the main tunnel in any one of which the tiger might easily have been lying in wait and could have killed us as we passed. It was a foolhardy thing to do and I am free to admit that I was scared. It was not long before Harry twisted about and said: "Roy, I haven't lost any tigers in here; let's get out." And out we came faster than we went in.
Again, the tiger pushed open the door of a house at daybreak just as the members of the family were getting up, stole a dog from the "heaven's well," dragged it to a hillside and partly devoured it. We were in camp only a mile away and our Chinese hunters found the carcass on a narrow ledge in the sword grass high up on the mountain side. The spot was an impossible one to watch and we set a huge grizzly bear trap which had been carried with us from New York.
It seemed out of the question for any animal to return to the carcass of the dog without getting caught and yet the tiger did it. With his hind quarters on the upper terrace he dropped down, stretched his long neck across the trap, seized the dog which had been wired to a tree and pulled it away. It was evident that he was quite unconscious of the trap for his fore feet had actually been placed upon one of the jaws only two inches from the pan which would have sprung it.
One afternoon we responded to a call from Bui-tao, a village seven miles beyond Lung-tao, where the blue tiger had been seen that day. The natives assured us that the animal continually crossed a hill, thickly clothed with pines and sword grass just above the village and even though it was late when we arrived Harry thought it wise to set the trap that night.
It was pitch dark before we reached the ridge carrying the trap, two lanterns, an electric flash-lamp and a wretched little dog for bait. We had been engaged for about fifteen minutes making a pen for the dog, and Caldwell and I were on our knees over the trap when suddenly a low rumbling growl came from the grass not twenty feet away. We jumped to our feet just as it sounded again, this time ending in a snarl. The tiger had arrived a few moments too early and we were in the rather uncomfortable position of having to return to the village by way of a narrow trail through the jungle. With our rifles ready and the electric lamp cutting a brilliant path in the darkness we walked slowly toward the edge of the sword grass hoping to see the flash of the tiger's eyes, but the beast backed off beyond the range of the light into an impenetrable tangle where we could not follow. Apparently he was frightened by the lantern, for we did not hear him again.
After nearly a month of disappointments such as these Mr. Heller joined us at Bui-tao with Mr. Kellogg. Caldwell thought it advisable to shift camp to the Ling-suik monastery, about twelve miles away, where he had once spent a summer with his family and had killed several tigers. This was within the blue tiger's range and, moreover, had the advantage of offering a better general collecting ground than Bui-tao; thus with Heller to look after the small mammals we could begin to make our time count for something if we did not get the tiger.
Ling-suik is a beautiful temple, or rather series of temples, built into a hillside at the end of a long narrow valley which swells out like a great bowl between bamboo clothed mountains, two thousand feet in height. On his former visit Mr. Caldwell had made friends with the head priest and we were allowed to establish ourselves upon the broad porch of the third and highest building. It was an ideal place for a collecting camp and would have been delightful except for the terrible heat which was rendered doubly disagreeable by the almost continual rain.
priests who shuffled about the temples were a hard lot. Most of them were
fugitives from justice and certainly looked the part, for a more disreputable,
diseased and generally undesirable body of men I have never seen.
A little later when the upturned gables and twisted dolphins on the roof had begun to take definite shape in the gray light of the new day, the gong boomed out again, doors creaked, and from their cell-like rooms shuffled the priests to yawn and stretch themselves before the early service. The droning chorus of hoarse voices, swelling in a meaningless half-wild chant, harmonized strangely with the romantic surroundings of the temple and become our daily matin and evensong.
At the first gong we slipped from beneath our mosquito nets and dressed to be ready for the bats which fluttered into the building to hide themselves beneath the tiles and rafters. When daylight had fully come we scattered to the four winds of heaven to inspect traps, hunt barking deer, or collect birds, but gathered again at nine o'clock for breakfast and to deposit our spoil. Caldwell and I always spent the afternoon at the blue tiger's lair but the animal had suddenly shifted his operations back to Lung-tao and did not appear at Ling-suik while we were there.
Our work in Fukien taught us much that may be of help to other naturalists who contemplate a visit to this province. We satisfied ourselves that summer collecting is impracticable, for the heat is so intense and the vegetation so heavy that only meager results can be obtained for the efforts expended. Continual tramping over the mountains in the blazing sun necessarily must have its effect upon the strongest constitution, and even a man like Mr. Caldwell, who has become thoroughly acclimated, is not immune.
Both Caldwell and I lost from fifteen to twenty pounds in weight during the time we hunted the blue tiger and each of us had serious trouble from abscesses. I have never worked in a more trying climate--even that of Borneo and the Dutch East Indies where I collected in 1909-10, was much less debilitating than Fukien in the summer. The average temperature was about 95 degrees in the shade, but the humidity was so high that one felt as though one were wrapped in a wet blanket and even during a six weeks' rainless period the air was saturated with moisture from the sea-winds.
winter the weather is raw and damp, but collecting then would be vastly
easier than in summer, not only on account of climatic conditions, but
because much of the vegetation disappears and there is an opportunity
for "still hunting."
While our work in the province was done during an unfavorable season and in only two localities, yet enough was seen of the general conditions to make it certain that a thorough zoölogical study of the region would require considerable time and hard work and that the results, so far as a large collection of mammals is concerned, would not be highly satisfactory. Work in the western part of the province among the Bohea Hills undoubtedly would be more profitable, but even there it would be hardly worth while for an expedition with limited time and money.
Bird life is on a much better footing, but the ornithology of Fukien already has received considerable attention through the collections of Swinhoe, La Touche, Styan, Ricketts, Caldwell and others, and probably not a great number of species remain to be described.
Much work could still be done upon the herpetology of the region, however, and I believe that this branch of zoölogy would be well worth investigation for reptiles and batrachians are fairly abundant and the natives would rather assist than retard one's efforts.
The language of Fukien is a greater annoyance than in any other of the Chinese coast provinces. The Foochow dialect (which is one of the most difficult to learn) is spoken only within fifty or one hundred miles of the city. At Yen-ping Mr. Caldwell, who speaks "Foochow" perfectly, could not understand a word of the "southern mandarin" which is the language of that region, and near Futsing, where a colony of natives from Amoy have settled, the dialect is unintelligible to one who knows only "Foochow."
Travel in Fukien is an unceasing trial, for transport is entirely by coolies who carry from eighty to one hundred pounds. The men are paid by distance or weight; therefore, when coolies finally have been obtained there is the inevitable wrangling over loads so that from one to two hours are consumed before the party can start.
But the worst of it is that one can never be certain when one's entire outfit will arrive at its new destination. Some men walk much faster than others, some will delay a long time for tea, or may give out altogether if the day be hot, with the result that the last load will arrive perhaps five or six hours after the first one.
horses are not to be had, if one does not walk the only alternative is
to be carried in a mountain chair, which is an uncomfortable, trapeze-like
affair and only to be found along the main highways. On the whole, transport
by man-power in China is so uncertain and expensive that for a large expedition
it forms a grave obstacle to successful work, if time and funds be limited.
It was hard to leave Fukien without the blue tiger but we had hunted him unsuccessfully for five weeks and there was other and more important work awaiting us in Yün-nan. It required thirty porters to transport our baggage from the Ling-suik monastery to Daing-nei, twenty-one miles away, where two houseboats were to meet us, and by ten o'clock in the evening we were lying off Pagoda Anchorage awaiting the flood tide to take us to Foochow. We made our beds on the deck house and in the morning opened our eyes to find the boat tied to the wharf at the Custom House on the Bund, and ourselves in full view of all Foochow had it been awake at that hour.
The week of packing and repacking that followed was made easy for us by Claude Kellogg, who acted as our ministering angel. I think there must be a special Providence that watches over wandering naturalists and directs them to such men as Kellogg, for without divine aid they could never be found. When we last saw him, he stood on the stone steps of the water front waving his hat as we slipped away on the tide, to board the S.S. Haitan for Hongkong.
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Last Updated: May 2007 Back to Top