Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Shikaris


From the book 'East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon' (1926) by Theodore and Kermit Roosevelt, story of Shikari duo from Kashmir who travelled far and wide for the kills.




Rahim Lone and Khalil Lone of Bandipore. After returning from expedition
 to the Pamirs, East Turkestan and other remote central Asian destinations.

"Ted and I hired six arabas, and shortly after mid- night on the 14th of July we piled ourselves and our belongings in them and set out with all the speed feasible for Aksu. We loaded the carts lightly, and hoped to make long marches. Besides Rahima Loon and Khalil, we took with us the second cook, Rooslia with Loosa and Sultana. Sultana had received sad news at Yarkand. In a letter to Rahima from Bandi- par he heard of the death of one of his children, a boy of fourteen. The ravages of cholera had been frightful-more than 700 of the villagers had died. Our Kashmiris reminded me of the crew on a New Bedford whaler in the old days, when almost every member was related by marriage or blood. This of course made it sadder still for the Kashmiris, as each one had a relative or close friend to mourn. We had become much attached to our followers. Aimed Shah, who was to take charge of Cherrie's caravan, had proved himself most efficient on the trail across the passes. Feroze was an excellent little fellow; he had a keen sense of humor, and was a merry companion."

 
"Our Kashmiris were a patriarchal group, well led by Rahima Loon. To his many other qualities, he superadded that of diplomacy. A born diplomat, he managed to be ever smoothing our way, and yet getting us along with amazing speed, for which he fully realized the necessity. He watched over the finances with an eagle eye, and time and again saved us many rupees. Not only did he cut down the larger expenditures, but he also kept well under control the small daily sums that have such a tendency to mount."

                           Rahim Lone at Ayalik, Turkestan

Jemal Shah, the cook. In Ladakh.


At Tian Shan



"It would have both interested and amused Father [The American President ] to find our native American name bestowed upon the wapiti's Asiatic cousin. Our Kashmiri shikaries, getting the name from British sportsmen, referred to the big deer as wapiti. The general native name was boogha, a slight variation, if any, of the name for Yarkand stag. Our Kashmiris called ibex "ibuckus,'' and it was as that we usually referred to them. Their native name in the Tian Shan is "tikka." Siberian roe is known as "illik," and when Rahima first talked of it we believed that he was Kashmirizing elk and was speaking about the wapiti."


The next adventure of Roosevelt brothers had another duo of Kashmiti hunters, this time out hunting a Beishung  in Ningyan,  China. This was the first time any white man had seen a Giant Panda, or shot it.





Photograph from 'The search for the Giant Panda' by Kermit Roosevelt (Natural History, Vol. 30, 1930). The Kashmiri crew included Shikaris Mokhta Lone and Ghaffar Sheikh.

"The beishung does not hibernate. We found fresh signs in regions where the brown and black bears were hibernating, and the one we shot was living in a locality where the black bears had not yet awaked from their winter's nap. We came upon his tracks one morning in the newly fallen snow. They were partly obliterated, for four or five hours had passed since he went by. Three hours' trailing through dense jungle brought us to the spot which he had selected for his siesta. We caught sight of him emerging from the hollow bole of a giant fir tree, and fired simultaneously.

The giant panda, from all we could learn, is not a savage animal. After the shooting, our Kashmir shikarries remarked that he was a sahib, a gentleman, for when hit he had remained silent, and had not called out as does a bear."

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