We set a trap for a leopard on a hill behind the Nam-ting River camp and on the second afternoon it contained a splendid polecat. This animal is a member of the family Mustelidae which includes mink, otter, weasels, skunks, and ferrets, and with its brown body, deep yellow throat, and long tail is really very handsome. Polecats inhabit the Northern Hemisphere and are closely allied to the ferret which so often is domesticated and used in hunting rats and rabbits. We found them to be abundant in the low valleys along the Burma border and often saw them during the day running across a jungle path or on the lower branches of a tree. The polecat is a blood-thirsty little beast and kills everything that comes in its way for the pure love of killing, even when its appetite has been satisfied.
On the third morning we found two civets in the traps. The cook told me that some animal had stolen a chicken from one of his boxes during the night and we set a trap only a few yards from our tent on a trail leading into the grass. The civet was evidently the thief for the cook boxes were not bothered again.
Inspecting the traps every morning and evening was a delightful part of our camp life. It was like opening a Christmas package as we walked up the trails, for each one held interesting possibilities and the mammals of the region were so varied that surprises were always in store for us. Besides civets and polecats, we caught mongooses, palm civets, and other carnivores. The small traps yielded a new Hylomys, several new rats, and an interesting shrew.
We saw a few huge squirrels (Ratufa gigantea) and shot one. It was thirty-six inches long, coal black above and yellow below. The animals were very shy and as they climbed about in the highest trees they were by no means easy to see or shoot. They represent an interesting group confined to India, Siam, the Malay Peninsula, the islands of the Dutch East Indies, and Borneo.
Our most exciting sport at the Nam-ting camp was hunting monkeys. Every morning we heard querulous notes which sounded much like the squealing of very young puppies and which were followed by long, siren wails; when the shrill notes had reached their highest pitch they would sink into low mellow tones exceedingly musical.
The calls usually started shortly after daylight and continued until about nine o’clock, or later if the day was dark or rainy. They would be answered from different parts of the jungle and often sounded from half a dozen places simultaneously. The natives assured us that the cries were made by hod-zu (monkeys) and several times we started in pursuit, but they always ceased long before we had found a way through the jungle to the spot from which they came. At last we succeeded in locating the animals.