Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa.

The river of Sierra Leone abounds in fish, and the spermaceti whale has been occasionally found, the shark, the porpoise, eels, mackarel, mullet, snappers, yellow tails, cavillos, tenpounders, &c. with the mannittee, a singular mass of shapeless flesh, having much the taste of beef, which the natives greatly esteem, and consider the highest offering they can make.

Oysters are found in great abundance, attached to the interwoven twigs and branches of the mangrove tree, to which they closely cling; and of the zoophytes, there is the common sponge to be found upon the sandy beaches, on the Boolum shore, and would, no doubt, bring a high price in England.

The domestic animals of the adjoining countries are, cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, ducks, turkeys, and fowls, very inferior, however, to those in Europe.  The beasts of prey are, lions, leopards, hyaenas, wild hogs in abundance, squirrels, monkies, antelopes, &c. with the civet and zibeth cats, and a most extraordinary animal, which is found in the mountains of Sierra Leone and the adjacent countries, a species of the ourang outang, called by the natives, japanzee, or chimpanzee, but approaching nearer to the anatomy of the human frame than the former animal.  Some of them, when full grown, are nearly 5 feet, and are covered with black hair, long on the back, but thin and short upon the belly and breast; the face is quite bare, and the hands and feet resemble those of man; its countenance is remarkably grave, similar to that of an old black man, but its ears are straight; it will imitate a human being in walking, sleeping, eating, and drinking, and is certainly a most singular production of nature.  Surgeon Burrowes, whom I have before mentioned, had a perfect skeleton of this animal, which, he assured me, differed in nothing from the human, but in the spine, it being curved.  This skeleton, I believe, now forms a part of the collection of Surgeon-General Keate.

There are, of amphibious animals, green turtles, hawk’s bills, and loggerheads, which grow to a great size, some of them weighing several hundred pounds, land turtles, fresh water turtles, alligators, extremely voracious, and from 12 to 15 feet in length; they will swallow a man, and at Bance Island Negro boys have been frequently snatched up by them from the shore.  There are also a variety of the lizard species, with the guava, and camelion.

Snakes abound; some of them haunt the houses in the night, and prowl about for poultry, of which they are fond; some have been found to measure above 18 feet; and I have the skin of one in my possession, killed when young, above 10 feet in length; it is that species which swallows its prey entire; several animals were found in their perfect state when the one I allude to was cut open.

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Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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