|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help ||
|Table of Contents|
|The Uganda Society|
ALL VOLUMES CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
|Table of Contents|
Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Front Matter 1
Front Matter 2
Front Matter 3
Front Matter 4
Table of Contents
The Uganda Society
Back Matter 1
Back Matter 2
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA. SOCIETY.
Vol. IV. JANUARY, 1937. No. 3.
Reminiscences of Busoga and its Chiefs
Notes on Thermal and Mineral Springs
in Uganda ...
Plant Poisoning in Africa .
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda,
(Part Vl II) ... .
The Mubuku River and the Angler
by Rev. S. R. Skeens.
. by E. J. Wayland.
by R. W. M. Mettam.
.. by C.R.S. Pitman.
.. by R. Soot.
NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE.
NGONG, NEAR NAIROBI
SPORT, ETC. ADVANTAGES
GOLF No Rates or Taxes
POLO Indisputably Healthy
No Building Restrictions
TENNIS Excellent Building
Water Laid to Every
SHOOTING Gloriously Entrancing
GARDENING Only 8 Miles from
Delightful Residential Plots of 1o
Acres upward at from j. 15 per Acre
on very easy terms
An Initial Payment of 2so and
the balance spread o ver two to
three years will secure one of
Send for Descriptive Brochure to:-
KAREN ESTATES LIMITED
'Phone 2441 Whiteaway's Bldgs.
P. 0. Box 129 NA IROBI Delamere Avenue
VITHALDAS HARIDAS & Co., Limited
General Managers for UGANDA (KAKIRA) SUGAR WORKS, Ltd. (Incooroated in Uganda).
Assoceiated Firm: KENYA SUGAR LIMITED (Incorporated in Kenya).
SUGAR Manufacturers, GINNERS and COTTON Merchants,
IMPORTERS and EXPORTERS
KAKIRA SUGAR WORKS :-Holding about 1,000o acres of land, mostly, under
cultivation, at mile 9, Jinja and Iganga Road. Employing about 5,000
Africans, 200 Indians, Europeans, Mauritians. About 36 miles of Light
Railway. Water supply to the Factory by means of pumping plant on
TELEPHONES: Kakira Factory 125; Jinja Office: 29, 121, 79.
P. O. Box 54, JINJA (UGANDA).
RAMISI SUGAR WORKS and PLANTATIONS:-AT RAMISI ESTATE (Digo
District) near Mombasa. Box 158, MOMBASA.
UGANDA-(1) Bukoboli, (2) Busowa, (3) Bubinga, (4) Kamuli, (5) Mbulamuti,
(6) Kakira, (7) Kabiaza, (8) Butiru, (9) Kabiramaido, (10) Pilitok, (11) Amaich,
(12) Aboki, (13) Chagweri, (14) Batta, (15) Jaber and (16) Kalaki.
KENYA- Malikisi. TANGANYIKA-Ruvu and Kaberege.
Other Plantations totalling about 4,000 acres Freehold Land.
1, BUKOBOLI. 2, BUSOWA. 3, BUKONA. 4, WEIBUGU.
January to April, 1937
FARE (1st Class only) Shs. 120.
MOMBASA TO CAIRO
(Murchison Falls Excursion supplementary fare for
passengers holding valid tickets for Nimule
or beyond, Shs. 9o).
MOMBASA TO MURCHISON FALLS
UGANDA SUGAR FACTORY LIMITED.
(Managing Director:- Mr. NANJI KALIDAS MEHTA, M.B.E.)
Pioneer Sugar Manufacturers and Spirit Distillery Owners
Telegrams:- Registered Office:- Telephone:
SUCCESS. LUGAZI, UGANDA. No. 43, JINJA.
THE SUGAR-CANE PLANTATION
Mr. NANJI KALIDAS MEHTA
are situated on the Kampala-Jinja Main Road.
HOIMA COTTON COMPANY LIMITED.
P. O. Box No. 47. JINJA, UGANDA.
Merchants, Cotton Ginners, Sisal Growers and
SERVICE STORES LIMITED.
Uganda House, Bombo Road, Kampala, Uganda, Box 153,
General Merchants and Commission Agents.
NANJI KALIDAS MEHTA.
Tribhovan Terrace, 2nd floor, Sheik Memon Street,
THE MAHARANA MILLS LIMITED,
Only ONE Car has
All These Features
1. Independent Suspension.
. No-draught Ventilation.
. Body Conformity Seating.
. Outstanding Performance.
The Motor Mart and Exchange Ltd.,
NAIROBI AND BRANCHES
The Uganda Journal.
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. IV. JANUARY, 1937. No. 3.
Reminiscences of Busoga and its Chiefs ...
Notes on Thermal and Mineral Springs in b. ida
Plant Poisoning in Africa... ...
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda, Part VII.
The Mubuku River and the Angler ...
... by REV. S. R. SKEENS.
... ... by E. J. WAYLAND.
by R. W, M. METTAM.
by C. R. S. PITMAN.
by R. SCOTT.
Fusiform Cumulo-Nimbus Clouds in Uganda
The Story of Lwabinumi ... ... ...
A Lone Giraffe ... ... ... ......
The Chimpanzees of the Kayonsa Region, Western Kigezi
The S. S. Winifred and S. S. Clement Hill.
by R. E. PARRY.
by C. W. SWITZER.
by J. P. BIRCH.
by C. R. S. PITMAN.
The Bwamba Initiation Ceremony ...
Mackay's Grave at Usambiro
Reports to the Royal Anthropological Institute
by E. A. TEMPLE PERKINS.
... ... by R. L. HULL.
... ... by E. J. WAYLAND,
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
His EXCELLENCE P. E. MITCHELL, ESQ., C.M.G., M.C.
H. JOWITT, ESQ.
MARK WILSON, ESQ.
SIR ALBERT R. COOK, KT., C.M.G. THE RT. REV. BISHOP E. MICHAUD, C.B.E.
E. J. WAYLAND, ESQ. DR. H. H. HUNTER, C.B.E., LL.D.
MRS. C. G. MOODY. CAPT. F. L. GUILBRIDE.
Miss P. B. KNOWLES. F. LUKYN WILLIAMS, ESQ.
MRS. N. D. HIRA. K. D. GUPTA, ESQ.
OMw. B. K. MULYANTI.
DR. A. T. SCHOFIELD.
C. G. MOODY, ESQ.
JOHN SYKES, ESQ. (Retiring).
E. F. TWINING, ESQ., M.B.E., (Incoming).
Honorary Assistant Editor:
R. A. SNOXALL, ESQ.
Representative in Great Britain:
A. R. MORGAN, ESQ., O.B.E.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
1. There are no restrictions as to membership of the Uganda Society.
Membership is open to all races and to Institutions and Clubs. No entrance
fee is imposed. The annual subscription, which is payable in advance on tst
July of each year, is Shs. io/- for single membership and Shs. i5/- for double
members. The double membership is introduced for the convenience of families
and entitles two members of a family to all the rights and privileges of a full
member except that they receive only one copy of each number of the Journal.
2. Additional copies of the numbers of Volume III and of Volume IV (the
current Volume) may be obtained from the Uganda Printing and Publishing
Company, Ltd., Kampala (Business Managers). Price Shs. 2/50 per copy.
The bound Volumes I and II (Vol. I incomplete), and single numbers
of those Volumes are obtainable only at the Uganda Bookshop, Kampala.
Prices are as follows:- Vol. I, Shs. I2/-; Vol. II, Shs. 15/-; single numbers,
Shs. 3/-. Vol. I, No. 2, is now out of print.
Numbers of the current Volume and of Volume III are also on sale at the
Uganda Bookshop, Kampala.
3. Arrangements have been made with the Uganda Printing and Publishing
Company, Ltd., Kampala, to bind Volumes of the Journal at a cost of Shs. 3/-
4. 'Separates' of articles will in future only be printed if ordered in advance.
Orders should be placed with the Editor or with the Business Managers.
Prices of 'separates' vary according to the length of the article and the number
and nature of illustrations. Minimum price 20 cents.
5. Blocks of illustrations may be purchased on application to the Honorary
Treasurer or Editor. The price of these is usually half the cost of production.
6. Subscriptions should be sent to the Business Managers, P. O. Box 84,
Kampala, from whom Bankers' Orders may be obtained. Members are parti-
cularly requested to pay subscriptions by Bankers' Order, if possible. See also
Paragraph (8) below.
Under no circumstances will the Journal be sent to those whose subscript-
ions are outstanding.
7. Contributions to the Journal should be sent to the Editor, P. O. Box 5,
Entebbe. No guarantee is given to return any MSS. submitted. Articles
should be typed in double spacing on one side of the sheet only and should not
contain matter likely to cause political or religious controversy. Those submitted
by Government Officials must comply with Colonial Office Regulations; they
should either be submitted u.f.s. the Head of Department concerned or they
should be addressed to the Editor, with a request that he will obtain the necessary
permission for publication.
Those sending photographs should send glazed prints if possible.
8. The postal address of the Honorary Secretary is P. O. Box 161, Kampala.
The postal address of the Honorary Editor is P. O. Box 5, Entebbe.
The Business Managers of the Society are the Uganda Printing and Publish-
ing Company, Ltd., P. O. Box 84, Kampala, to whom all communications for
the Honorary Treasurer should be sent.
9. The postal address of the Society's representative in Great Britain is A. R.
Morgan, Esq., O.B.E., 66 Brodie Avenue, Mossley Hill, Liverpool. Members
resident in the United Kingdom may send their subscriptions to him.
10. The Society's Bankers are the National Bank of India, Ltd., Kampala.
ix. Members are particularly requested to notify the Honorary Secretary of
any change of address. If this is not done safe delivery of the Journal can-
not be guaranteed.
12. Books belonging to the Society may be borrowed on application to the
'Honorary Assistant Editor.
In the Editorial of the October Journal we referred to the forthcoming Arts
and Crafts Exhibition. This was duly held on November loth, tith and 12th, by
the courtesy of Mrs. Gerard Longden, M.B.E., in the premises formerly occupied
by the Police Department. The opening ceremony on the first day was kindly
performed by His Excellency the Governor.
During the three days of its duration the Exhibition was visited by a very large
number of people of all sections of the community,' and the expenses were easily
covered by the takings. It was the general opinion that the standard of the exhibits
in all the various sections was fully equal to that which characterized the former
Exhibition, held in 1934. It was considered by some, however, that the number
of African entries might reasonably have been greater, a criticism which we hope
our African readers will bear in mind on future occasions.
The most sincere thanks of the Committee and members of the Uganda Society
are due to the numerous ladies and gentlemen, who by their hard work and constant
attendance contributed to the success of the venture, but most particularly to the
Honorary Secretary, Mrs. C. G. Moody, to whom fell more than the lion's share of
the work of organization and of the responsibility.
The lectures recently given before the Society have been as follows:-
October 22nd. Hon. H. Jowitt. "Education, Liberal or Vocational." (Presidential
November x8th. Dr. A. W. Williams. "Preventive Medicine in the Past."
December 16th. Dr. A. T. Schofield. "On Uganda's Grand Tour with a Camera:
Kigezi, Kivu, Ruanda, Congo, West Nile and Lake Albert".
All these lectures were much appreciated by those who had the privilege of hear-
ing them. It is much to be regretted, however, that the attendance at lectures is still,
not infrequently, disappointingly small. We would strongly urge members to give
better support to this feature of the Society's activities, so that those who are public-
spirited enough to undertake the laborious'tas: of preparing lectures may feel that
their work is really worth while.
We have on previous occasions invited contributions to the Journal from
former residents of Uganda, now living in retirement, and so we particularly wel-
come the article by the Rev. S. R. Skeens, formerly of the Church Missionary
Society, which appears in the present number. We hope that many others, who
must surely have reminiscences and photographs of similar interest, may be in-
spired to emulate his example. We would also express a hope that there may be
disciples of Izaak Walton willing to follow the admirable lead of Mr. Robert Scott,
and that Mr. Mettam's most interesting and informative article on "Poisonous
Plants" may perhaps elicit further contributions on this subject from African
The following additional donations to the Coloured Plate Fund are acknow-
ledged with many thanks:-
Hon. H. Jowitt. Shs. io/.
Mr. W. N. R. Lee. Shs. Io/-
The total amount received for this Fund is now Shs. 136/-.
Coincident with the publication of the present number of the Journal, there
will be a change of Editorship. We would therefore desire, before handing over
our duties, to express our most grateful thanks to all those who have, during the
two years of our tenure of office, assisted and supported us in various ways-to
our contributors, to our printers, and last, but not least, to those who have from
time to time undertaken the work of preparing articles for the press. More part-
icularly we are beholden to Mr. E. J. Wayland, Mr. Justice Wilson, and Mr.
H. B. Thomas, O B.E., for helpful advice, constructive criticism, and active co-
operation, to Dr. A. T. Schofield, the Honorary Secretary of the Society, and to
Messrs. E. B. Haddon and A. R. Morgan, O.B.E., for their work on behalf of the
Society at home.
Our successor, Mr. E. F. Twining, M.B.E., was also our predecessor, and, as
the man to whom the Journal owes its very existence, needs no introduction to our
We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of the following:-
Rhodesia Scientific Association -"Proccedings and Transactions" Vol. XXXIV,
Part 2. (August, 1936), and "Annual Report for the Year ending 31st May,
Man.-October, November and December, 1936.
Vancouver City Museum and Art Gallery.-"Curator's Report". (June, July and
Sudan Notes and Records-Vol. XIX, Part I. (1936).
The Nigerian Field-Vol. V., No. 4. (October, 1936).
Tanganyika Notes and Records-No. 2. (October, 1936).
The last-mentioned contains several articles of particular interest, notably:-
"Some Historical Notes on East Africa", by A. E. Robinson: "Native Materia
Medica", by W. D. Raymond: "Details of a Native Medical Treatment", by H.
Koritschoner: and "The Menelik Legend", by the Rev. R. Reusch.
Reminiscences of Busoga and its Chiefs.
By THE REV. S. R. SKEENS, B.A.
Since I left Busoga I have often thought that some impressions of the country,
chiefs and people might be of value, as they are concerned with a very different
country from the Busoga of the present day and very few Europeans who have
lived for some time in that country have put pen to paper to describe condititions
as they were some forty years ago.
When, in December, 1898, as a party of four missionaries, we entered the
country from Kavirondo, our first experience was the desertion of all our Basoga
porters who, with some Baganda, had accompanied us from rail-head, then at Simba.
They had been paid so many joras of americani in advance and on reaching the
border of their own country they ran away. Fortunately we had some Baganda
left. The Rev. A. B. Fisher, the leader of our party, scoured among the surround-
ing Basoga chiefs and he was able to make up the number of porters required for
the stage of our journey to the Lake.
In the night Fisher's tent was broken into by thieves, no doubt some of the
porters who had deserted on the previous day. They carried away many articles.
A musical box was found broken open not far away from the camp; also an iron
box inside of which a few sovereigns and a gold ring were left, discarded by the
thieves who evidently did not know their value.
We travelled on through the countries of Wakoli and Nanyumba and came to
Luba's. There was quite a good wide road and bridges over the swamps. This
was the great caravan road to Uganda along which there was constant communic-
ation by means of runners. The Basoga chiefs along this road showed us great
hospitality, producing goats, sheep and fowls as presents to us Europeans and
dozens of bunches of bananas and baskets of cooked food for our porters. We had
entered what was then called the "Garden of Uganda", very different from the bare
and inhospitable land of Kavirondo we had just left, and of course so different
since devastated by sleeping sickness, now showing but little trace of having been
formerly so populous and fruitful.
A few days' march brought us to Bukaleba, a fine hill about 600 feet high
overlooking Lake Victoria, with a magnificent and extensive panorama of the
lake and the Buvuma Islands, and of the Nile flowing north as it leaves the lake.
Looking down on the plain below to the left, one could see the populous and fruit-
ful gardens and villages of Luba, while to the right was Fort Luba, as it was then
called, notorious as the scene of the murder of three Europeans, Thruston, Wilson
and Scott, in the Sudanese Mutiny.
When we arrived, Bukaleba still showed signs of the disturbances of the prev-
ious year. Baganda and Basoga levies had been called in to help in the suppression
of the Mutiny, and hundreds of these, armed with spears, a few with old fashioned
guns, and some still in their war paint, crowded the hill. The remains of their
huge encampment could still be seen-a long mound of stones, breast-high, piled
up around the camp.
Bishop Tucker had written to me asking me to stay at Bukaleba for missionary
work amongst the Basoga with Alan Wilson. One of our first melancholy duties
was to fill in the graves from which the bodies of Pilkington and Lieut. Macdonald
had been exhumed and removed to Uganda.
It was at Bukaleba that I met Luba and other important chiefs of Busoga and
of these I will now give some account.
II. The Chiefs of Busoga.
Busoga was ruled by a number of chiefs, some powerful, some insignificant,
but each jealous of his neighbour. There was no unifying person or force-king
or president-to cement together all the conflicting interests of these petty chiefs.
This system undoubtedly accounted for the weakness of the Basoga against their
inveterate enemies, the Baganda, who, united as they were under one king, found it
comparatively easy, in dealing with the Basoga, to act under the Roman device
"Divide et Impera". A Musoga chief, owing to some personal grudge, could easily
be persuaded to join the Baganda to fight against his brother chief.
Thus in the accounts of Sir Apolo Kagwa, Basoga are found in the camp of
Suna II when he goes to war against Wakoli, a chief in South Busoga; Walusansa,
county chief of Kigulu, is betrayed by the Baganda who pretend to seek his help
against his neighboring chief, Musiki; and Basoga are present in Mutesa's camp
when he goes to war against the brave Bavuma islanders, their hereditary and
natural friends. I will try and portray the characters of some of the old chiefs of
Busoga, as they come upon the scene in the later history of the country, and as
I knew them.
The first chief of Busoga who comes to mind is Luba (Fig. i).
According to Sir Apolo Kagwa's Kings of Buganda, which is easily the most
important written native record of events in Buganda and the surrounding countries,
Lwai, his father, was killed by order of Suna after an expedition against Wakoli.
I ; 1 i1r.~( l
Photo: S.R. Skeens (1899).
Fig. 1. Luba.
Photo: S.R. Skeens.
Fig. 2. A group of Basoga Chiefs. Names from left to right:
Back Row. ?, Walinda, Mpindi.
Middle Row. Wakoli, Kasubi, Zibondo, Menya.
Front Rowc. Nkono, ?
Luba, as f knew him, was a typical Musoga chief of the old school. With a
tall commanding figure, he carried himself with great dignity. In his old age he
walked slowly and spoke with a low guttural voice, and so indistinctly that it was
almost impossible for a European, even one who knew the language, to catch what
he was saying.
He was as suave and polite to his guests as the most polished of Baganda
chiefs. He was also hospitable to a degree, and seldom did a European or
important Muganda chief visit his Mbuga (enclosure) without receiving a hand-
some gift of goats, sheep, or even cattle.
When, in 1893, Sir Gerald Portal returned from his mission to Uganda,
having crossed the Nile, passed over Bukaleba hill and arrived at Luba's chief
village, he wrote:- "Luba came and gave two bullocks, six goats, six fowls, a lot
of eggs and also a good shield as a present."
Later, when, in 1899, a large party of thirteen missionaries came to Luba's, I
remember how he gave a great feast; several bullocks were killed, and the whole
party seated on the ground native fashion, with the food served on banana leaves,
eating with their fingers, were feasted most royally.
According to the custom of his race, he was a polygamist; his wives were
numbered in hundreds, (three to four hundred would be about the estimate). Sir
Harry Johnston, in his book on Uganda, reckons that he had "over a hundred
sons, and must have been the progenitor of a thousand children".
He was outwardly friendly to all Europeans and when first Mr. Roscoe, and
later Mr. Rowling, came, he built houses for them; a Church was also built by the
help of his people. This was at Kigwisa adjoining the south-east slopes of
Secretly, however, he opposed Christianity; his boys and women read with-
out his knowledge. When, after the Mutiny, the Mission Station was built on the
top of Bukaleba hill, he occasionally would climb up its rocky, steep sides for
the Sunday service, accompanied by a large retinue of sub-chiefs and followers.
Though he thus occasionally attended the Protestant services, and was friendly
to various missionaries who from time to time lived in his country, he was never
On one occasion, at Jinja, I had the privilege of baptizing Nadiope, the chief
of Budiope in North Busoga, who was the first County chief of Busoga to be bapt-
ized. The baptism took place under a canopy of trees, made especially for the
ceremony, as there was as yet no church existing at Jinja.
After the service, which was attended by most of the leading chiefs, Luba
amongst them, some one remarked, "Yosia Nadiope is the first County chief to be
baptized, who will be the next ?" "Oh," said Luba, "I'll be the next", but he was
only joking, for he never was baptized, and died a pagan.
But though Luba himself was not baptized, by a wonderful coincidence the
Rev. J. E. M. Hannington, son of the Bishop, twenty years after his father's death,
baptized the son of Luba in Namirembe Cathedral on April 8th, 1906.
Wakoli (Fig. 2) was a chief in South Busoga who had much more power and
influence than Luba. Sometimes he was called the "King of Busoga", but so far as
is known the Basoga never had a king of their own. Baganda kings came and lived
for a time at Jinja, on the borders of the country, but, from the time of Kyebagu,
a Muganda king, the Basoga were always disunited and separated under different
The first written record of Wakoli is in Sir Apolo Kagwa's book The Kings of
Uganda. He writes that in the time of Suna II, the Kabaka of Buganda, Suna
himself went to war against Wakoli. When he arrived in Wakoli's country, he
lay in wait for the Basoga in the waste land with his spears in his hand, hoping to
be the first to kill the Basoga.
One of his officers, Sabagazi, knowing that the Kabaka wanted to be the first
to kill a Musoga, went and secured the Kabaka's spears, and told the Baganda se-
cretly that they were not to lie in wait for the Basoga. The Basoga, hearing this,
began to fly away. Malende, one of the chiefs, immediately began spearing them
as they fled. Suna, when he heard that Malende had disobeyed orders, command-
ed him to be put to death.
After this, Suna retired to the River Naigombwa, and thence to the country of
Kigulu, harassed all the time with great bravery by the Basoga, many of whom were
killed, "many more than the Baganda," as the Muganda historian tells us. (This
of course is from a Ganda source, and, as in all the Baganda's accounts of their
wars, it is not difficult to trace a national prejudice). "From this expedition," the
same account says, "two thousand Basoga women were taken back as captives to
Wakoli is next mentioned in Stanley's Through the Dark Continent as helping
the Muganda Kabaka Mutesa in the war against the Bavuma Islanders. He says:-
"The army camped at Nakaranga; the chief Ankoli, (=Wakoli) and his fantastic-
ally dressed Basoga camped north ofNana Masuri's people." (? Namasoli's people.)
In the same account of this campaign, when the witch-doctors came to Mutesa
to be consulted and to give their blessing to the war, Stanley says:- "The King
and all his chiefs were in full war paint, and the principal men wore splendid leo-
pard skins over their backs, but the Basoga bore the palm for splendour of dress,
and ornate equipment. Ankoli, the chief, and his officers were wonderfully gay;
snow white ostrich plumes decorated their heads, and lion and leopard skins cover-
ed their backs, while their loins were girded with snow white long-haired monkey
and goat skins; even the staves of their lances were ornamented with feathers and
rings of white monkey skins." This Ankoli is undoubtedly Wakoli, for in the
nomenclature of Busoga, Ankoli does not appear, but the name Wakoli is con-
stantly found as being that of a chief in Busoga back to the time of Suna II.
Wakoli's village was at Namunkoko on the main caravan route to Buganda
from Kavirondo. It was the first place, after passing the inhospitable country of
Kavirondo, at which the weary traveller from the coast began to partake of the
unstinted and bountiful hospitality of the central African, and to enjoy the welcome
shade of his trees.
Travellers through the country after Hannington,-Lord Lugard ( 890), Bishop
Tucker (1892) and Sir Gerald Portal (1893)-all speak of the lavish hospitality
extended to them at Wakoli's. Loads of bananas, sheep, goats, fowls, eggs, and milk
were all brought practically for nothing to his welcome guest and his tired-out
porters, who sometimes seemed to be in great danger of overeating, so plentiful
was the fare placed before them.
Sir Gerald Portal, on his first visit to the country, thus describes his arrival
"For the next two days, from Mumia's in Kavirondo, we made long wearisome
marches through desolate country of abandoned villages, deserted and overgrown
crops and ruined huts.
It appeared that a certain local chief, who had acquired more power than his
neighbours, had been in the habit of raiding all over the country, till it was more
than half ruined, and that then a 'punitive' expedition of the Imperial British East
Africa Company directed against this chief had completed its desolation. But
now, without any gradation or preparation, we suddenly passed out into a line of
fine trees, endless banana gardens, of cool shade, and intelligent chocolate-coloured
people, completely clothed from head to foot in graceful togas of barkcloth (Fig. 3).
Here the Imperial British East Africa Company had a station, and soon our
wants were supplied free of cost with goats, bananas, and every description of food".
Wakoli's was the first village in Busoga to receive a missionary. In 1891, the
Rev. E.C. Gordon and Mr. F.C Smith proceeded there to commence work; Gordon
returned to Buganda almost at once, but Smith remained for a few months longer.
The chief of the time seems to have been a most enlightened man for his day. He
had placed himself under British protection by accepting from Mr. Jackson and
Mr. Gedge, in 1890, a flag of the Imperial British East Africa Company, and had
consented to receive a British missionary.
The work was evidently uphill and difficult because of the prejudices of the
chief. Mr. Smith wrote:- "Wakoli continues friendly on the whole, although he
could not conceal his apprehension lest his people should become divided against
him, if they should learn from the missionaries."
Mr. Smith returned to Busoga in June, 1892, after a visit to Buganda, and then
an untoward event happened, for in July Wakoli was, probably accidentally, shot
by a camp-man, who was in no way connected with the Mission, but who was a
member of the escort which accompanied Smith. Smith was suspected of having
instigated the deed, and his life was placed in the greatest danger during the fol-
lowing days. Wakoli, however, who died from his wounds, interceded for him.
He was secretly directed to the stockade of the Company, and eventually escaped
Bishop Tucker, who passed through Wakoli's five months later, in December,
1892, was disappointed to find that the chief was dead, and that Smith had left for
Buganda. He says of this Wakoli:- "He was a man of remarkable gifts. He was
friendly to the Europeans, both Government and Missionary."
Wakoli s country was completely changed by the dreadful sleeping sickness,
which in the first ten years of the present century devastated the whole of it; and
from being a prosperous, well populated area, it reverted to dense bush and was
overrun with elephants, buffalo, leopards and hyaenas. It is good to know that,
during the last few years, people are gradually beginning to reoccupy this fertile
The next important chief who commands our interest and attention is Miro.
Walusana, his father, was at war with the Baganda in 1879. He was a great
warrior, and had defeated the Baganda in one of their previous marauding ex-
peditions. The latter, determined to win by cunning what they could not by force,
came to Walusana and represented that they were going past his country, Kigulu,
to fight in Busiki. "Then Walusana brought his guests presents, but they caught
him, and killed him."
Miro, his young son, was taken to Buganda by the Baganda, brought up by
them until 1892, thirteen years after his father's death, and was then given his
On a site, five miles or so south of Kigula, he established one of his capitals,
which was afterwards called Miro's. Mr. Crabtree, one of the first missionaries
commenced work there and later on worked at Nasuti. Miro's was later called
Iganga, and it was there, in 1895, that the Rev. Alan Wilson first took up work
Miro is mentioned in Kings of Uganda as refusing in December, 1896, to give
taxes to the Baganda, and, as the Baganda chiefs urged that "the Basoga had always
given taxes to the Baganda, as also had the Banyoro", it was decided still to levy
them. This was of course with the consent of the British administrators, who under
Sir Gerald Portal in November, 1893, had arranged a "definite system of taxation
with the Basoga chiefs and King Mwanga, under which a definite amount of ivory,
cattle, etc., to be paid by each Musoga chieftain was agreed by themselves and the
King. These taxes were to be paid at fixed periods, twice a year, to emissaries of
the King, and in the presence of the British official commanding in Busoga."
It was no wonder that Miro did not want to pay these taxes. The emissaries
called "Babaka" were set loose all over the country as the musolo period arrived.
I myself used to meet them, going through the peasants' gardens, seizing their
goats, sheep, cattle, bark-cloths, and even their daughters, under the pretence of
levying the tax to take.to Buganda. They were as extortionate as the old Jewish
"tax-gatherers." If twenty head of cattle were levied on a chief, they would demand
thirty; goats, sheep, and bark-cloths were levied in proportion: and, by the time
the emissaries and their various official superiors had each received his quota and
perquisites of office, the poor Basoga had been taxed several hundred times the
Photo: S.R. Skeens.
Fig. 3. A copy in calico of the old-fashioned bark-
cloth 'Toga' worn by the Basoga. The bark-
cloth was gathered up like a cape around
a short horn sticking up in the centre and
worn over the left shoulder.
H.M. Stanley recorded that the Basoga
were fond of dressing ih fantastic costumes.
1' I ~~'' I
Photo: S.R, Skeens.
Fig. 4. Wobo.
Miro was a short man. When we saw him, he was generally carried about on
the shoulders of a stalwart Musoga, who was covered with the inevitable leopard
skin, denoting the chiefs rank. In intelligence he was above the average Musoga
chief. He had been brought up in the "wisdom" of the Baganda. His training in
Buganda had taken place when "Reading" had become popular, and so he came
to Busoga with a slight knowledge of Christianity. He could read his New Testa-
ment a little.
He was most autocratic, and supposed to have been a good builder of native
houses. On one occasion when he had been to visit a native house which was
being built for himself, he inspected the beautiful reed work of the doorway, and,
because it was not to his satisfaction, cut the whole of it to pieces with a sharp
He was loyal to the British Government, and, because of the fear in which he
was held, could get Government tasks carried out more quickly and efficiently than
any other chief at that time living in Busoga. He would sometimes come and
visit the Europeans and had helped the British Government in the Sudanese Mutiny
in 1897, and afterwards in re-building the fort at Luba's (Fort Thruston).
On his return thence to Iganga he paid a visit to Alan Wilson and myself at
our mission house. When he saw our house, he said, "Oh, you ought to have a
palisade and a moat round your house, like the Europeans at Luba's". "No," we pro-
tested, "we don't want any such protection; we are missionaries, and our work is a
peaceful one". "Yes," he persisted, "you must have a fence all round your house."
I still have vivid memories of the building of that palisade. Miro came the
first day, and sat down in state in the centre of the quadrangle that was there.
The portions (bituli) were given out to all the chiefs and sub-chiefs; about eight
hundred men were soon engaged, digging holes, cutting down small trees about ten
feet long, and a whole tree which had blown down was actually moved by this
huge mass of men quite easily, and soon bits of fence began to grow up all around
us, forming the square court-yard.
But the palisade was never completed! Miro did not come next day; he was
tired. Other chiefs followed his example. The workers got slack, and though
some were fined sheep and goats for not finishing their bituli, the fence was never
finished. So fertile was the country that the posts that had been planed for it
sprouted and grew, and for years afterwards the patchy but growing fence was a
parable to us.
To gain an influence over the young men and boys of the place, Wilson and I
used to play football in the large open space in front of the chief's compound. One
day Miro came and watched with his retinue of small chiefs and boys. Sometimes
in our eagerness we would charge vigorously into each other, and one of us would
go over, much to the delight of the chief and all the other onlookers. What most
"Reader" means one who takes up the study of the New Testament, a preliminary to
becoming a Catechumenist.
surprised Miro was the fact that we did not lose our tempers, and at the end of the
game he had been so entertained that he gave us a present of a fat-tailed sheep,
which was duly led home behind us.
Miro outwardly was friendly to the missionaries, but in secret we knew that
he was opposed to "Reading." No woman belonging to his place dared ever come
to the Mission to be taught. The boys, who acted as his pages, waited on him and
ran his errands, were in every way discouraged from reading. I know of one
herdsman who was threatened that, if he persisted in taking up the new religion, he
would be deprived of his cattle. He was not at all daunted, but continued to receive
instruction, and eventually became an earnest Christian.
In 1899 Miro was sent down to Kikuyu with Mr. W. Grant, then Collector in
Busoga, with a great number of Basoga porters. It was a most disastrous safari;
over sixty per cent of the men died of dysentery caused by the cold, and by eating
food that was uncooked and unsuitable for them. Miro himself came back ill, and
a few weeks later died at Luba's.
His death was the signal for a state of anarchy to arise. Until the succeeding
chief was appointed, the Basoga felt there was no law, and men went round the
countryside stealing or burning their neighbours' property, and no one's life was
safe until the British Government appointed other Basoga chiefs as regents for the
Miro's body was brought to his village at Iganga, and eventually buried at
Nasuti, the burial-place of his ancestors. Whilst it was lying in state at Iganga,
Wilson and I went over to see it. We found the house in which the body was
placed crowded to suffocation with Miro's lamenting widows, and one will never
forget the poignant, hopeless, cry, as they rushed around, raising their hands to
heaven, and shouting out, "Oh! Miro! Miro! Where have you gone? Oh! Miro!
Miro! My father! My chief! Where, oh where, have you gone?"
The succession of events at the time of Miro's death will be best illustrated
by the following extracts from my Journal for the months of July and August, 1899.
July 6th. This afternoon we heard that Miro, the great chief in Busoga,
had given orders that the Lubare houses are to be built again in order to
propitiate the gods so that he may recover. (He returned with dysentery from
the safari to Kikuyu).
July 7th. A most eventful day. Miro died early this morning. They
have brought his body here from Bukaleba. We went over to see it. They
intend taking the remains up to Nasuti to-morrow. At the Mbuga here there
was a scene of wild confusion; all the women were crying and making great
lamentation, holding out both hands to heaven as if in supplication that the
blow might be spared them. The strain on one's own emotion was immense.
From the mass feeling of sympathy one felt inclined to cry oneself. In fact one
of our boys actually did so.. He had never seen Miro, so that he was crying
not from any real sorrow at his death but simply because his feelings were
wrought upon by the emotion of others.
It was well'that we had come. All the underchiefs of Miro were gather-
ing in, no doubt to secure what they could of the dead man's property. The
Government had already appointed two chiefs to rule the country till a suc-
cessor was selected. These two chiefs, Mpindi (Fig. 2) and Tega, came with
a letter in their hand giving them authority and holding them responsible for
Miro's property. They brought it to us. Wilson called the chiefs together
and formally read it out, translating it into Lusoga and asking their assent to
it, which was readily given. By thus timely investing the two chiefs with
authority undoubtedly much lawlessness was stopped, and there was compar-
atively little thieving that night. As it was, however, one man was shot dead
trying to steal some cloth belonging to Mpindi.
July 8th. Mpindi and Tega came to us to-day for Miro's cloth which he
had left in our care before going down country. There were fifteen loads of
it, each worth from 130 to 140 Rupees (_/8 to 9). They said they wanted it
to wrap round the body of Miro and to place in his grave. We asked them if
they could not do with less. Eventually they took away seven loads, worth
about 60 altogether. All this cloth was placed in Miro's grave besides numb-
July loth. Many of the Basoga are carrying heavy clubs or native axes,
and, some, guns for protection on the roads. We heard yesterday of a plot
to burn down Miro's Mbuga, which is quite close to the station here ; this was
only prevented by the presence of Europeans nearby. Basoga are attacking
one another, stealing has been going on right and left, and the whole country is
disorganised. A Muganda was burnt out of his house not far from the Mbuga.
One boy near us had his barkcloth stolen; he came and told us and so we sent
him off with the message to the thief that "the Europeans knew all about it."
The cloth was returned at once.
July 12th. Early this morning two men from Mpindi and Tega came to us
for a letter to the Fort as the Basoga had rebelled against their authority. They
had heard that a young son of Miro was to be made chief, and they did not want
a "child" to reign over them. They wanted to elect their own chief in their
own way, which is:- to choose out their man first, and he then brings a cow
and kills it at the grave where the late chief is buried. If no one hinders him
from killing the cow he is allowed to rule. I believe the blood of the cow must
touch the thumb of the dead chief, which is allowed to protrude from the mass
of barkcloths in which he is wrapped. For this purpose a pole is left in the
ground which reaches to the body below. The pole is drawn out and the blood
trickles down the hole left by the pqle to the body. This ceremony seems like a
"Blood Covenant" between the living and the dead chief.
July 13th. The men returned from the Fort to-night. The officer there,
after keeping them four hours, merely said that Mpindi and Tega were to "tie
up" all those chiefs who resisted their authority! That is three chiefs to fight
against forty. No soldiers or police even sent to back up their authority!!
August z7th. Oboja, son of Miro, has been elected chief with Mpindi and
Kasubi (Fig. 2) as his "Guardians". He is about five years of age.
Zibondo (Fig. 2) was a chief who lived to the north of Busoga. His country
bordered on the river Mpologoma, far away from the caravan road which passed
through the south and still farther from the country of Buganda, so that in the
records of the Baganda we read nothing about him. Evidently their raids for
women and slaves did not extend so far as Bulamogi, the country of Zibondo.
Zibondo, as I knew him, was a tall, well-built and muscular looking chief. For
a native he was very dark. His hair was always long and unshaven, unusual for a
native of Busoga, the custom of the country being to shave the whole of the head.
He wore thick brass bracelets around his ankles and his wrists. These bracelets
weighed about a pound each, and, as he always wore them, they must have been
a considerable encumbrance to him. He was generally carried about, like Miro, on
the shoulders of a stalwart Musoga, having been covered first of all by the chiefs
Like other Basoga chiefs he was hospitable, and European guests generally
left the country, after a visit to his village, with baskets of eggs and a number of
sheep and goats.
During my first visit to him, about 1900, I had some interesting experiences.
The first day I was kept waiting outside his courtyard for two hours before he
deigned to put in an appearance. This custom of keeping visitors waiting a long
time was a very common one amongst the Kings of Buganda and important chiefs
in the surrounding countries. It seemed, in some ways, to add to the importance
of a big chief, if he dared to keep another important person waiting for some time
before inviting him into his Mbuga.
At last he came, and, after I had duly presented my gifts, an old black morning
coat and waistcoat, he brought out all his treasures, which included a striking clock
and a musical box, neither of which would work. He asked me to repair them for him.
The clock was beyond repair, but I managed to get the musical box to give forth
some of its tunes, much to the delight of Zibondo. When I was about to leave, he
brought out presents for me, six goats each led by a rope round one of its forelegs,
which were duly sent to my camp after me.
At night, around my camp fire, I found that two of my followers had made a
very greedy compact. They had wagered some of their friends that they two
would eat a whole sheep straight off without stopping, except for sleeping. And
there they were, gorging themselves with meat, after cooking it over the fire, and
methodically placing all the bones in a heap as they finished each joint. I think
they won their wager and apparently did not suffer any bad effects from it.
In the morning my boys came and told me that the whole of my bugenyi, the
six goats, had been stolen. I went off pretending to be very angry with Zibondo
at this treatment of his guest. He said he would search for them or else give me
six others. In the evening he kept his word; six goats were brought to me, but
they were not other goats; they were the same that had been stolen.
This incident shows that a professional thief, whom Zibondo knew, had taken
them and he was able to put his hand upon the guilty person and return the goats.
Photo: S.R. Skeens.
Fig. 5. Bongo.
Tabingwa's clan, together with Zibondo's, claim to have come from the direction
of Mount Elgon. From the fact that Tabingwa and Zibondo were always at war
with each other, in dispute over the boundaries of their respective countries, it is
a logical inference that they came from the same stock. It seems to have been a
much commoner thing for sister clans to fight against each other than for clans to
fight those not so nearly related to them. Personal and family jealousies or slights,
fancied or real, would no doubt account for this.
Tabingwa's country, Luka, had a very bad reputation in my day, as being the
haunt of gangs of thieves. Their plan of operations would be as follows:-
First of all to spy out the land and make sure of the house where a certain
chief had stored his property. This property would consist of sheep, goats and
calves, but more especially of goods used for barter, such as cloth, folded up in
joras of thirty yards each, and beads of various sizes and colours. Such goods,
being portable, would be preferred to the animals, as the latter, having to be dragged
along by the thieves, might betray them by their footprints or by their cries.
Having marked out the house, at dead of night one or two of the gang, using
a specially curved knife for the purpose, would begin scraping the earth away just
outside the mud walls of the hut, being careful to select a spot just between two
upright posts, so that there should be no necessity to chop away or remove them,
and thus, by making a noise, arouse the inmates.
The hole having been dug and tunnelled through the mud wall, sufficiently
large for a man's body to wriggle through, a stem of a banana tree would first be
thrust through it. If this was not speared by any waiting and suspecting inmate,
a boy or a man would then carefully and noiselessly get through the hole into the
house. The cloth, beads, hoes, barkcloths, blankets (the last even taken from off
sleeping persons inside without waking them from their deep sleep) would then be
quickly passed by hand to the gang outside. Sometimes a parting blow with a
club would be given to the poor man sleeping on his bed inside, but as a rule, un-
less there was some interference, life would not be taken by the thieves. The gang
would then disperse, separating, and returning by different roads to their usual
rendezvous, where their spoils would be shared.
Tabingwa himself was a most difficult man to converse with. Taciturn and
suspicious, he would sit for a long time without looking at you or saying a word.
Gabula, or Naka Gabula, ruled a very large number of people in the north of
Busoga. Bordering on Bunyoro, they were called "Banyoro", by the people of
South Busoga, either because they were akin to that tribe, or, from a loose general-
isation, as living to the north, on the borders of Bunyoro! *
Emin, writing about 1880 (Emin Pasha in Central Africa, p. 284) states that 'Gabla in
Btenga' was recognized as of Babito descent, in common with Kabarega. (Editor).
Naka was succeeded by his younger brother, Yosiya Nadiope, a most promising
youth, who unfortunately did not live long to govern his country. He died in 1913,
and, after a regency, his son William Wilberforce Kajumbula succeeded to the
IX. Other Chiefs.
In the above survey of the "Old Chiefs of Busoga" I have not attempted to
describe many other chiefs of that country, such as Nkono (Fig. 2), Menya (Fig. 2),
Kasaja, Mpindi (Fig. 2), Kasubi (Fig 2), Kajaya, Nanyumba, Wobo (Fig. 4) and Bongo
(Fig. 5). These have all done good work for Busoga, but are not such outstanding
men as were Luba, Wakoli and Miro, who had a distinct place in the history and
tradition of the country.
See Uganda Journal, Vol. III, p. 308, where he is referred to as William George Kaju-
0 0? 3a2 330 s
MAP OF UGANDA 4.
THERMAL y ovo ne
MINERAL SPRINGS .
M..o 20 0 s0 MI M..." ITOU
0O Ho5 3m al spri4s2
S Cld mineral spriga. 4, -U o. "
.-..- Fu ls13
(Springs num-ered as in Table)
S cUaid inASINDA-SLIR
<,,K ry-S-- M \B 0 i sm' "
T E S
z j -T / o g ^ r o a j
I a I [ .
309 WAMALA .11 A L A
Geological S-urv. of Ugndam 1955.
E.J. WAr-oA, Di-eftor
Notes on Thermal and Mineral Springs in
By E. J. WAYLAND.
For the purpose of these notes the term thermal spring, or hot spring, is to be
taken to mean any natural spring the temperature of which is permanently above
normal for ground-water issuing at the spring site. Mineral spring means any
spring, the waters of which are noticeably mineralised, i.e. saline (salt and/or soda),
sulphurous, etc. The more precise definition according to which a mineral spring
is one with a minimum of 70.15 grains of dissolved solids per gallon (=one gram
per litre= I,ooo parts of solid per million) is here inapplicable for the reason that
so few of the saline springs of this country have been analysed.
Some of the hot springs of Uganda (some mineralised and some not so) have
been extremely well known to the natives from time immemorial on account of the
curative properties these waters are believed to possess; but one does not hear of
cold mineral springs in that connection.
The assumption is here made that the cold mineral springs were once hot. It
may, or may not, be correct, but certainly there are thermal springs in Uganda to-
day which have been hotter in the past. Indeed the balance of evidence seems to
indicate that, generally speaking, the temperatures of our thermal waters are very
slowly decreasing, and the distribution of cold mineral springs in relation to recently
extinct volcanism and to present-day hot springs, mineral or otherwise, supports
this assumption (see Map). Nonetheless, it is possible to make out a case in
support of the view that in Busongora (the relatively low country to the S. E. of
Ruwenzori) subsurface temperatures are actually increasing (see below p. 207).
The classification of thermal and mineral waters herein adopted makes no
claim to be scientific (we have, at present, insufficient knowledge of them for that),
it is one of convenience only.
The following list (Table I) indicates the existence of 46 springs which are, or
have been on the above assumption, "hot" or "mineral" or both, but the list is
smaller than the actual number of occurrences for some of these are multiple, as
for example Mabarama (No. 15), while Kitagata (2) (No. 2, following No. 34 on the
list) consists of two closely associated groups of springs separated by perhaps a
third-of-a-mile; moreover, it is probable that a number of hot non-mineral springs
have declined in temperature and are not now recognisable as other than "ordinary."
(1) Reprinted, by permission, from Bulletin No. 2, published by the Geological Survey
of Uganda, 1935.
(2) The name Kitagata (and derivatives therefrom) is commonly applied to hot springs
TABLE I.-THERMAL AND MINERAL SPRINGS KNOWN IN UGANDA.
E Mineral Springs. Non-
i Hot r Approximate position. District. Remarks.
S Hot. Cold. Springs.
. z4 1____ ______________
1 Ntagata ...
3 Katagata ...
4 Minyera ..
9 Kibiro ...
10 Panyamur ...
On Ruakatengi swamp.
E. 30-05 by S. 0-54.
On Kyangenyi hill.
S. 0-32 by E. 30-19.
Just below bridge carrying main
road to Ruzumbura.
E. 29-59 by S. 0-55.
About 10 miles N.W. by N. of Nya-
E. 29-55 by S. 0-54.
7 miles from Kibuku about a
mile south of Sempaya river on
main road to Bundibugyo.
E. 30-10 by N. 0-50.
In Bunyangabu-contiguous with
Dwimi river about 16 miles above
the point where it crosses the old
Fort Portal-Katwe Road.
E. 30-06-30 by S. 0-28.
On small tufa island in lake.
E. 29-53 by S. 0-09.
Lake Albert, S. of Butiaba.
E. 31-15 by N. 1-40-30.
Jonam County,Panyigor Gombolola.
E. 31-18 by N. 2-12.
Abalika R. Aringa County,
E. 31"15 by N. 3-22-30.
Bujo R. Aringa County, Odravu
E. 31-15 by N. 3-22-30.
River Akado, Padyeri County, Ngal
E. 31-10"30 by N. 2-26.
Ref. Mer. No. 2, Geol. Surv. Uganda-
(1932), p. 76.
Said to be warm in the morning-
and at night only. (Relative to air-
temperatures no doubt).
Ref. loc. cit.
Hot sulphurous. Ref. Ann. Rept.
Geol. Surv. Uganda, 1929, p. 18.
A little warmer than the lake water.
Associated with salt workings. Fila-
ments of sulphur deposited, and
in one place occasional drops of
petroleum come to surface.
Said to have medical value.
Temp. 1000. F.
Said to dry up in rainless seasons-
when salt can be obtained from the-
TABLE I.-THERMAL AND MINERAL SPRINGS KNOWN IN UGANDA.- Continued.
i i ir
Near mile 95 Mbarara-Fort Portal
E. 30-02-30 by N. 0-05.
Near Nyamabuga Rest Camp on
Sogayi river (tributary).
E. 30-31 by N. 0-42-30.
Three hours west of Kyamugenyi
(Gombolola rest camp).
E. 30-30 by N. 0-47.
Kyaka Saza, Musale Gombolola,
E. 30-42 by N. 0-12.
Kyaka Saza, Musale Gombolola,
E. 30-43 by N. 0-13.
At the foot and to the east of the hill
E. 30-31 by N. 0-20.
Half mile away from Kiburara.
E. 30-23 by N. 0-43.
Kibale Saza, Sabawali Gombolola,
E. 30-22-30 by N. 0-38-30.
2 or 3 miles S. of main road
about mile 166.
E. 30-43 by N. 0-34.
6 miles by road and 3 miles by
track N. of main road at mile 186.
S. E. corner of Itwara Forest.
E. 30-29 by N. 0-45-30.
In or near Dwimi river, Bunyangabu
Saza, Sabagabu Gombolola.
E. 30-09-30 by N. 0-26.
Rusekere-13 miles from Fort Portal
on road to Kitoma, Gombolola.
Sabairu, Burahya Saza.
E. 30-21-45 by N. 0-44.
Several large springs occur here.
Lick near large lake on the Katonga.
East of No. 16.
Centre of Mpanga river.
Has apparently disappeared recently.
TABLE I.-THERMAL AND MINERAL SPRINGS KNOWN IN UGANDA.-continued.
I I -- --
Kitagatal S. 041 by E. 30*10
Kizugu- 3 miles north of Kabale on east of road
ta to Kumba.
E. 29-58. by S. 1-14.
Ishasha 5 miles from N. of Kumba.
E. 29,52-30 by S. 1-04.
Biara In the River Berarara at about
E. 29-53 by S. 0-53.
IlThumbui In Kakindu river near Katarampungu.
E. 29-51 by S. 0-4230.1
Mwenge Saza, Mumyuka Gombolola near
mile 175, Kampala-Fort Port Road.
E. 30-38-45 by N. 0-34-30.
Mwenge Saza, Musale Gombolola at 4
miles S. of mile 185, Kampala-Fort
E. 30-30'30 by N. 0-36-15.
Bunyangabu Saza, Sabairu Gombolola
near Kasunganyanja, mile 125, Mbarara
-Fort Portal Road.
E. 30-13 30 by N. 0-24,30.
Bunyangabu Saza, Sabagabu Gombolola.
E. 30-09 by N. 0-33-30.
Fort Portal Township.
E. 30-16-30 by N. 0-40-30.
On Munobwa river.
E. 30-25 by N. 0-40-15.
Four hours march S. W. of Nabilatuk in
E. 34-28 by N. 1-55.
Napaka Hills, N. W. of Nabilatuk.
E. 34-22 by N. 2-03.
East side of Kadam (Mt. Debasien)
E. 34-51 N. 1-49.
Ref. Memn. No. 2, Geol. Sur,.
Uganda, (1932), p. 77.
About one day's march W. of
Amar in the county of Koich near
the burying place of Paito and the
E. 32-04-30 by N. 2"36.
Mid-stream, Aswa river. Near path
that runs from Attiak in Gulu to
Palabek in Chua.
E. 32-16 by N. 3-24.
6 miles due south of Mt. Lutoke
and near Uganda- Sudan boundary.
E. 33-48 by 4*01.
Near Itega (spelt Egeta on sheet
South A. 36; A. IV. N. W. (Land
Office white print) at S. 0*40*44, E.
30-36"02 approx). The spring is 100
yards N. of a footpath which runs
E.--W. at this point.
Aupi (R. 1 mile W. of Aupi camp close to
Bidia) road going to Relli, Aringa County.
E. 31-05 by N. 3-21.
Aiwa(R. Near Awa hill, Omugo County.
Aiwa) E. 31-13 by N. 3-16.
Keyo At a spot two days' march N. W. of
Amuro Alero in the county of that name in
(native the direction of Guru-Guru.
name) E. 32-06 by N. 2-53.
Keyo On bank of the Gulu Aswa where
the Kulu Kwic comes in, 5 miles
W. of Guru-Guru.
E. 32-04 by N. 2-53-30.
Reported to be hottest in the dry
Said to be tepid and only accessible
when the grass is short.
Said to be tepid and only accessible
when the grass is short.
Said to be very hot spring with cold
water on each side of it in the river
bed. The Aswa river lies in or about
a N.W.-S.E. line of folding, fract-
ure and crushing.
Information of this spring, supplied
by Field Geologist H. J. R. Way,
came too late to permit of its in-
clusion in the map.
The spring is slightly saline and
emits gas (CO s). It is said never
to dry up, and being but only slight-
ly saline is used as water supply
in the dry season. It may be re-
lated to local faulting but this is
The distribution of the springs listed in Table I is instructive, though ndt
surprising. Inspection of the map immediately makes it clear that the very great
majority of the thermal and /or mineral springs of this country are closely related
to the faulting that has given us the rift valleys, or to other faults less obviously
associated with the rifts but aligned on what might be called characteristic rift
trends (s), and to volcanic extrusions of geologically late date associated therewith.
There are, however, some apparent exceptions as, for example, Kitagata (No. 2,
already mentioned). It should be added that the tendency in Uganda is for the
hot springs to occur in those areas which are especially affected by earth tremors.
This association of hot springs with rift faults and associated fractures is not
confined to Uganda. A similar case is no doubt provided by the thermal waters of
Kenya Colony, but the matter does not appear to have been studied. N. Boutakoff
in a paper on the thermo-mineral springs of Kivu stresses the significance of this
association. Speaking of such springs he says : "Cette disposition en chapelet fait
immediatement songer, 1 oi elle existe, A une fracture important. Et de fait on
peut constater en general qu'une faille passe dans la region, faille qui se manifesto
d'ailleurs par un broyage intense des couches, leur mylonitisation vigoureuse et,
fait general au Kivu, le long de ces accidents, la rencontre orthogonale ou subor-
thogonale des plis, de part et d'autre de la cassure radiale." (4)
Among other African areas in which a similar association has been noted
Southern Rhodesia calls for mention. Maufe in dealing with the matter says: "The
localities of all these springs have been plotted on the map at the end of the volume (5)
It shows their distribution in striking way: namely, a group aligned south-west to
north-east down the Zambezi valley and another one aligned north to south down the
eastern border. There is some evidence for an east to west line of springs on the right
flank of the Limpopo valley in the northern Transvaal . The only recorded
exception to this remarkable distribution is the small thermal spring, 4101, on the
right bank of the Mtilikwe river south of Fort Victoria ... It may be said at once
that the two groups issue in these two areas in which faulting and the displacement
of blocks and strips of the earth's crust have taken place in times later than the
outpouring of basaltic lavas at the end of the Karroo period. It is in the same
two areas that slight earthquake shocks are felt more often than in other parts of
the colony. Before the age of the lavas was established, and they were thought
to be of Tertiary age or even younger, the hot springs were believed to represent
the closing phase of that period of volcanic activity. It now appears that there is
no connexion between the extrusion of the Karroo lavas and the present day hot
springs, and the origin of the latter must be sought in other directions . "
After some account of the faults Maufe adds with regard to them: "Both series
are apparently an extension of the more intensive movements which took place at
intervals throughout several geological periods in central and east central Africa
and culminated in the formation of the well known rift valleys of that region. The
(3) N.E.-S.W., N.W.-S.E. and subsidiary trends E.-W. and N.-S.
(4) Boutakoff, N. "Les Sources thermo-mindrales du Kivu, leur relations avec les grandes
fractures radiales et leur utilisation au point de vue tectonique." (Bull. Soc. Belge.
Geol. et Palaes. et Hydrol., t XLIII, March 1933, pp. 75-80).
(5) Maufe, H.B. "A Preliminary Report on Mineral Springs of Southern Rhodesia" (Bull.
S2. Geol. Surv, 8. Rhodesia, 1933).
volcanic activity associated with those movements, which probably commenced in
Upper Cretaceous times, has extended throughout the Tertiary period and is not
yet at an end as is evidenced by the recently active volcanoes of Teleki and Donyo
Ngai. It is more reasonable, therefore, to connect the earth movements and therm-
al springs of the Zambezi valley and of the eastern border with the earth move-
ments, volcanoes, fumaroles, etc., of east central.Africa than with the much older
periods of volcanic activity in late Karroo times."
In Tanganyika Territory, too, hot springs have been shown to be connected
with rifting. (6)
Nor is this association of thermal waters and fault fractures confined to Africa;
a number of similar instances can be produced from different parts of the world: in
California(7), those of Fish Springs Range, Utah, (8) to give some American examples;
but not in every case can this association be established, particularly in areas of
active or recent volcanism.
The old problem of the origin of the waters of hot springs will not here be dealt
with. Discussions as to whether such waters are juvenile (i.e., derived from magmatic
sources and appearing at the surface for the first time), vadose (i. e. originally
meteoric and of relatively shallow penetration) or whether they were not in large
measure connate, (i.e., occluded in sediments at the time of their deposition), are
usually unprofitable and would certainly be so in this case. The probabilities seem
to be that supplies from both juvenile and vadose sources are represented in the
Uganda hot springs either separately or conjointly.
The best known hot springs in Uganda are the little groups listed under Nos.
2, 6, 7 and 9. All are very hot, but they differ widely in their mineral content. No.
2 (Kitagata-following No. 34) consists of two small groups of almost boiling
springs, north and south of the Ntungamo-Bushenyi and Toro road.
A sample of water from the former was analysed by Dr. W. S. Martin, Chem-
ist to the Department of Agriculture, with the following results in grammes per
Chlorine ... ... ... ... ... 0.07
Carbonate ... ... ... ... ... 0.05
Sulphate ... ... ... ... ... -
Potassium ... ... ......
Sodium ... ... ... ... ... -
Calcium ... ... .. ... ... 0.1
Magnesium ... ... .. ... ... trace
Total solids ... ... ... ... ... 1.5
(The water when collected was very gassy),
(6) Teale, E. 0. and Oates, F. "The Limestone Caves and Hot Springs of the Songwe
River (Mbeya) Area with Notes on the Associated Guano Deposits (Jour. E A. and
Uganda Nat. Hist. Soc. Vol. XII, No. 3-4, pp. 130-137, June, 1935).
(7) Waring, G.A. "Springs of California", U.S. Geol. Surv. Water Supply Paper 330
(1915), p. 154.
(8) Kirk Bryan, "Classification of Springs", Jour. Geol. Vol. XXVII, 1919, pp. 533-535,
Most of the springs of the northern group are enclosed by a fence Inside which
a sort of bath has been constructed for the use of the Mugabe (native ruler) and
some of the chiefs (Fig. i). The hot springs come up in and near a papyrus swamp,
near which is a poorly developed terrace about 20 feet above the swamp and some
gneissose exposures. The top deposits of the terrace are silts and so are the bottom
ones. Between them is a gravel about 2 feet thick. It yields a very poor concent-
rate and a few pebble-tools. Some faults running approximately N. and S. are
seen in the gneissose rocks to the north of the Mugabe's bath (Fig. 2). and some
highly tourmalinised quartz dykes are present in the area. It is on the prolongat-
ion of these faults that the springs to the south of the road are situated. The spring
groups are perhaps half-a-mile apart.
The water from the communal springs (south of the road) was also collected.
It was analysed by Dr. Martin and found to be practically identical with that from
the northern group:-
Chlorine ... ... ... .. ... 0.07
Carbonate ... ... ... ... ... 0.05
Sulphate ... ... ...... -
Potassium ... ... ... ... ... nd
Sodium ... ...... ...
Calcium ... ... ... .. ... 0.09
Magnesium ... ... ... ... ... trace
Total solids ... ... ... .. ... 1.5
At the communal spring the strike of the foliation is 3150 (Mag.) and the dip
is south-westerly. In juxtaposition with the gneissose rocks displaying this setting,
except that they are separated by pegmatitic material, are others dipping E.N.E. at
55, and twenty or thirty yards south-west of the springs good exposures are seen
dipping E.N.E. at 720. Some twenty yards further west again the strike is seen to
be N.-S. and the dip a few degrees on each side of the vertical. A few yards west
of the exposures by the springs much pegmatite occurs in blebs and knots, and the
foliation of the containing rocks is much contorted.
The Buranga springs (No. 6) are situated in the Bwamba county of the Semliki
valley. Their relation to the faulting is brought out by the map.
These waters, which bubble up with some force and are accompanied by a
smell of bitumen, bring up in solution large quantities of calcium carbonate with
which they build tiny craters; small particles of this substance become detached from
the crater walls and are held up and kept in motion by the upward rush of the water,
and thus become concentrically coated with carbonate of lime until the added
material causes their weight to become too great for the water to keep them in
suspension, when they fall to the bottom to accumulate as a mass of little egg-like
or spherical bodies up to two or three millimetres in diameter. They are cream-
coloured to pinkish, and appear to be the same as the curious ooliths known as
At Buranga the hot springs, of which unfortunately no analysis is available,
are declining, and it is interesting to see how in several places where the water no
longer bubbles up, there has been a gradual diminution in the size of the ooliths
with the passage of time.
The Lwagimba springs (No. 7) as will be seen from the map, are closely related
to faulting on the opposite side of Ruwenzori to the Buranga springs and to the
south of them. Little is known of these waters, but they are widely reputed to
possess curative properties, particularly with regard to rheumatism and skin diseas-
es. The late Mukama (native ruler) of Toro was a fairly frequent visitor to these
springs. As already stated, the water is sulphurous, but no analysis is available.
The Kibiro hot springs (No. 9) were famous in Uganda because of their
association with a salt-making industry, which now however is dying out. (9) Their
relationship to faulting is again apparent from the map. Although considered to
be curative the waters do not appear to be especially favoured in that regard, and
judging from an early description (10) they are declining in activity. Considerable
quantities of sulphur are deposited from this water on filaments of algae, and there
are also some black sulphurous deposits. An analysis of Kibiro waters obtained
by the Crown Agents many years ago from Messrs. Stanger and Blount of 2, Broad-
way, Westminster, is as follows:-
"The waters are slightly yellowish in colour, and contained a small amount of
MINERAL SPRING No I.
Silica (SiO ) ......
Ferric oxide, alumina (Fe2OAI2O3) ...
Lime (CaO) ......
Magnesia (MgO) ... ...
Soda (NaO) ... ...
Potash (K2O) ...
Carbonic anhydride (CO2) ...
Sulphuric anhydride (SOg) ... .
Deduct oxygen equivalent to chlorine ...
Combined water, organic matter, and loss
The chief salts probably present are therefore:
Grains per gallon.
olids ... 371.42
Grains per gallon.
Sodium chloride (NaCI) ... ... 294.05
Potassium chloride (KCI) ... ... 32.07
Calcium sulphate (CaSO4) ... ... 15.64
Magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) ... ... 2.79
Magnesium chloride (MgCI) ... ... 0.99
Magnesium carbonate (MgCO8) ... ... o.80
Salinity=529 parts per 100,000 or 0.05 grammes per litre.
(9) Wayland, E J. "Salt" (Ann. Rept. Geol. Dept. year ended March, 1920, pp 70-72; and
Summ. Progress, 1919-1929, p 29).
(10) Emin Pasha, "Emin Pasha in Central Africa", Ed. by G. Schweinfurth and others,
London, 1888, p. 177.
MINERAL SPRING No. 2. Grans per galon.
Silica (SiO,) ... ... ... ... 1i96
Ferric oxide, alumina (FeO1AlO3) ... ... 056
Lime (CaO). .. ... .. ... ... 3*50
Magnesia (MgO). ... ... ... ... 1-26
Soda (Na2O) ... ... ... ... ... 124'28
Potash (K O2 ) ... ... ... ... ... I2"46
Carbonic anhydride (CO2) ... ... ... 7-29
Sulphuric anhydride (SOs) ... ... ... 700
Chlorine ... ... ... ... ... 140'42
Deduct oxygen equivalent to chlorine ... ... 3V-64
TOTAL SOLIDS ... 267'09
It is hoped shortly with the assistance of the District Commissioner to re-
investigate the Kibiro springs. It is by no means improbable that changes have
taken place in their dissolved loads and mean daily flows.
That hot springs existed at one time in association with some of the Pleisto-
cene craters of Toro is certain (11), and the remains of deposits left by the
evaporation of their waters can in some instances still be traced. In the Katwe
crater (well known for its saline lake) for instance, one-time hot springs are evid-
enced by disturbances of the strata (sub-aqueous volcanic tuffs) and tufa stacks
(Fig. 4) and a remnant of this kind of activity is to be found on a small island of
calc tufa in the lake (No. 8). An analysis of this spring made by Dr. A. W.
Groves, late of the Geological Department, in April, 1930, gave the result shown
in Table II.
TABLE II.-SOME ANALYSES OF KATWE AND KIKORONGO WATERS.
KATWE LAKE WATER. Spring Water, LAKE WATER, KIKORONGO.
Tufa Island, Lake
A. Psppe and A.W. Groves, Katwe.
H.B. RiPhmond A.W. 2 Gros,1. A.W. Groves, A. Barnes, JA. W. Groves.
1890H.B. R 21st April. 1930. January, 1920. 12th April. 1930.
Na (by difference).
Salinity in parts
per Ioo,o00 ...
t Indicates presence of S. as H2S removed by boiling before analysis.
(11) Wayland, E. J., "Katwe," Uganda Journal, Vol. I, No. 2, 1934, pp. 96-106,
Photo: E. J. Wayland.
Fig. 1. The Mugabe's Bath at the northern group of Hot Springs, Kitagata.
Photo: E, J. Wayland.
Fig. 2. Gneissose rocks at Kitagata, Ankole. Very near the northern group of Hot
Springs. A reverse fault is exposed here.
Photo: E. J. Wayland,
Fig. 3. A patient at Kitagata.
Photo: E.J. Wayland.
Fig. 4. A neck of carbonate of lime (calcareous tufa), south
side of Katwe crater.
The waters of the lake itself might almost be regarded as those of a mineral
spring, for according to the writer the salts present are aqueously derived from hot
alkaline rocks situated at some considerable depth in the throat of the crater, and
are brought to the surface by circulation consequent upon the temperature
In has already been stated that the hot springs of Uganda appear in general
to be declining in temperature, or that they have so declined, but a case can be
made out to indicate that to the south-west of Ruwenzori (in Busongora), at any
rate, depth temperatures are rising, for the degree of concentration of the waters of
certain lakes whose level is determined by the water-table would appear to depend
very largely upon subterranean heat, and as Groves was the first to point out (is),
the salinity of some of the crater lakes has apparently increased of late.
In an unpublished report Dr. Groves says: "The salinity of the lakewaters
varies considerably but it is also varying a great deal in the course of time. Thus
the analysis of Lake Katwe made by A. Pappe and H. B. Richmond in 1890 (14),
showed the salinity to be at that time 31,000 (expressed in parts per ioo,ooo),
whereas the salinity on 2oth April, 1930, was 45,237 or about 50% increase. Even
more striking is the case of Kikorongo (15) which in January, 1920, had a salinity
of 359 but in April, 1930, was 3,574 or tenfold increase. This has also been
accompanied by an increase in the ratio of carbonate and chloride, but it is not
due to desiccation".
Many, if not all, of the hot springs are regarded by the natives as more or less
curative, and some are considered to be more effective than others; but whether in
this regard the long arm of coincidence and the short life of uninteresting memory
combine to produce illusory belief, to pass perhaps into tradition with its powerful
persuasiveness, or whether the "miraculous" temperature of the water and its
comforting effect upon weary or ailing flesh promote the faith that heals, or
whether because belief corresponds with fact in regard to their healing properties,
it seems to be true that certain of the hot springs have effected large numbers of
cures and, according to native statement, many that could not otherwise have been
brought about. However that may be, the best known groups of curative thermal
waters differ materially with regard to their dissolved loads, and thus the presence
of small or minute quantities of a radioactive substance suggests itself as a
possibility. It is one, however, for which there are no adequate means of invest-
igation in Uganda at present.
It is clear that much remains to be learnt about the thermal and mineral springs
of this Protectorate and the writer will be glad to learn of any thermal springs not
mentioned in Table I.
(12) "Katwe". Supra.
(13) Geological Survey Reports unpublished.
(14) Jour. Soc. Chem. Industry, Vol. 9, 1890, p. 734.
(15) Lake Kikorongo is a crater lake situated about seven miles south of Muhokya
Plant Poisoning in Africa.
By R. W. M. METTAM, M.SC., M.R.C.V.S.
It must be exceptional to find anybody who is not interested in the subjects of
poison and poisoning, and this was probably as true of our ancestors as of our own
generation. Indeed, the part played by poisons in determining the fall of dynasties,
or even of nations, is not fully appreciated to-day, though every one of us
remembers reading at some time or another how widely poisons were used in the
Middle Ages for political purposes. The notorious Borgia family, for example, were
most unscrupulous in their use of poisons, though historians now believe that
they were no worse than many of their contemporaries, for poisons were then a
common weapon in the social and political life of Italy. Considerable mystery
still surrounds the nature of the Borgia poison, though arsenic and phosphorus were
undoubtedly two of its ingredients.
It is illustrative of the modernity of the development of science that, though
poisons have been studied and employed since prehistoric times by the more intellig-
ent members of the great nomadic pastoral tribes, it was not until 1820 that the first
plant alkaloids were isolated. The credit for this achievement belongs to two
French scientists, Pelletier and Caventou, who, working in Paris, obtained the
alkaloids quinine and cinchonine from cinchona or Peruvian bark.
From this time onwards chemists all over the world have investigated a great
many substances of vegetable origin and have, in many instances, isolated in a
pure state alkaloids or other active principles, some of considerable therapeutic
The study of the poisons used by primitive or ancient man is a most fascinat-
ing one and it is remarkable how many aboriginal tribes discovered and developed
their own particular poisons. Many of these are now well known to science and
have been thoroughly examined pharmacologically, but, in the case of others, our
information is still very meagre. The secrets of these poisons were very jealously
guarded and were only known to a few who memorised the details of their pre-
paration, and handed down the formula by word of mouth to their successors.
The origin of the word "toxicology" is interesting. It was coined by the
famous Greek physician Dioscorides (A.D. 40-90), who wrote the standard work
on the Materia Medica of his day. In this book he included a section on poisons
and their antidotes. From the word "toxikos", which means "for the bow", he form-
ed the word "toxikon", to indicate the poison smeared on arrows.
Dioscorides' textbook remained the chief authority on Materia Medica for over
fifteen centuries, which shows very clearly how stagnant the progress of science
had become during the first millennium and a half of the Christian era. Many
poisonous plants well known to us were mentioned by Dioscorides, including such
familiars as henbane, hemlock, mandragora, hellebore, poppy, etc.
Our modern word "toxicology" means, in the strictest sense of the word, the
study of the poisons used on arrows, but its present day meaning has become much
more comprehensive and the term now denotes the practical study of the effects
of poisons on the animal body. In a modern medical or veterinary curriculum it
forms a branch of the important science of pharmacology which may be defined as
"the study of the changes induced in living organisms by the administration in a
state of minute division of such unorganised substances as do not act merely as
Actually, however, pharmacology "includes not only the effects of drugs and
poisons but those of any substance which induces changes in the living organism,
whether those changes are of benefit to it, injurious or indifferent". To the phar-
macologists it is impossible to distinguish between drugs and poisons. Nearly all
vauable drugs when given in excess cause serious or fatal symptoms, while many
deadly poisons are most valuable remedies in small doses. Some substances may,
in fact, be remedies, foods, or poisons according to the quantity ingested and the
method of application.
It is not uncommon to find that certain plants eaten in small quantities are
quite innocuous, whereas larger amounts are dangerously poisonous.
To the stock owner vegetable poisoning is the most important branch of toxico-
logy. It is unfortunately true that many valuable domestic animals are poisoned by
mineral or mycological poisons, but the annual losses suffered by farmers and stock
owners all over the world as a result of fatal cases of plant poisoning amongst their
herds and flocks must amount to colossal figures. In fact, in some parts of the
world, the very existence of ranching or farming was at one time threatened by
poisonous plants, which in places were so virulent and widespread as to render
large areas of otherwise valuable land quite unfit for breeding or ranching cattle,
sheep, or horses. Later in this paper figures will be given to show how serious the
problem was in two different parts of the world, namely South Africa and the
United States, before the respective Governments undertook energetic measures to
protect the valuable livestock of the country.
In order to find out whether a plant is poisonous or not feeding tests must be
carried out on experimental animals. Naturally the larger ruminants are prefer-
able for work of this nature, but for economic reasons it is not always practical to
use them. Rabbits are extensively employed, not always with satisfactory results,
because certain plant poisons are specific in their action, and what may be poison-
ous for one animal may be harmless for a second kind or produce altogether dif-
ferent lesions in it.
Feeding tests on animals were used even in ancient times to determine what
was edible and what was dangerous to eat, and, until comparatively recently, there
were no scruples about testing certain substances on man himself.
The history of toxicology makes fascinating reading. Unfortunately, there is
no standard work in English on the subject, but there exists in German a very valu-
able book which was written by Lewis and published as lately as 1920.
Conditions under which poisoning occurs.
Plant poisoning is always a possibility amongst herbivorous animals and is due
either to the accidental ingestion of material eaten along with grass or to the wil-
ful consumption of non-graminaceous food at a time when the veld is parched after
a long drought.
In a country like Uganda, where the great majority of cattle are never stabled,
poisoning occurs towards the end of the dry season, when the veld is more or less
so severely drought stricken that animals are driven by the pangs of hunger to feed
on herbaceous or shrubby plants, whose still verdant foliage is a great temptation
for half starved animals. Many of these plants are harmless and may be much brows-
ed upon with impunity, but, unfortunately, some may be exceedingly toxic. An
experience of the writer's in one of the alienated areas of Kenya may be quoted to
illustrate this point.
Towards the end of a particularly long dry spell, when the veld was practically
burnt up by the sun, a well known sheep farmer lost nearly a hundred young weaner
lambs in the space of a few hours. Immediate investigations showed the fore
stomachs of these animals to be crammed with the leaves and young shoots of the
ever green tree known to the Akikuyu as murichu, or botanically as Acokanthera
Schimperi, which, as will be described later in more detail, is the source of the
famous East African arrow poison. These trees showed signs of having been
recently grazed upon. There is little doubt that the starved sheep were forced by
hunger to eat those parts of the trees within their immediate reach. Under normal
conditions the sheep would refuse to feed on such material, but there are very few
plants indeed that starved animals will not attempt to eat.
Plant poisoning is also very frequent in transport or draft cattle, especially
when they are overworked and given too little opportunity to graze. After a long
day the animals may be too tired to wander far in their search for food and they
may be content to graze on anything edible in their neighbourhood.
It is also more likely to occur in animals from a different part of the country, or
from another part of the world, than in indigenous animals. Fresh importations,
being unfamiliar with the strange vegetation of their new surroundings, have less
discrimination than local cattle. Acclimatisation in herbivorous animals not only
implies the acquisition of immunity against various indigenous diseases, but equal-
ly a sense of discrimination between edible and non-edible plants.
One often sees introduced cattle nibbling at vegetation which local animals
consistently ignore. It is known, of course, that local cattle develop a degree of
tolerance to various plants which strange animals must acquire if they are to survive.
Factors which determine the toxicity of plants.
Plant factors are varied and include such conditions as climate, nature and
intensity of light, soil and cultivation, stage of growth, season of the year, toxic
parts of the plants, nature of the toxic principle and state of plant, i.e. whether
fresh, dry or wet, etc.
While cultivation of some poisonous plants reduces their toxicity, even to the
vanishing point, it has no appreciable effects on others. For instance, the common
oleander is still extremely toxic though it has been cultivated for many centuries.
Climatic and soil conditions also influence the toxicity of certain plants. De-
creased sunshine and lowered temperature have been found to reduce the amount
of poisonous principles in some cultivated medicinal plants. As regards soil condit-
ions, it has been observed that plants may be more toxic on one type of soil than
on another, e.g. on limestone than on clay, and so on.
The nature and intensity of light is an important factor, especially in those
plants in which the formation of the poisons is dependent upon photosynthesis. As
will be described in greater detail later, many plants form poisonous amounts of
hydrocyanic acid as a normal physiological process. If such plants are kept in the
dark, away from sunshine or bright light, the amount of acid formed is considerably
It may be accepted that, as a rule, plants are most poisonous in the young or
more immature stages, and at the period of the year immediately before the onset
of the long rains.
All parts of a plant may contain the toxic principle, or it may be confined to
one or two parts only, but even then such a distribution may not be permanent.
Generally the root is the most toxic part of the plant.
The peach or apricot kernel may contain a large amount of hydrocyanic acid
though the fruit itself is quite edible. In the case of that obnoxious weed known
as Madudu, or Thorn-apple, and botanically as Datura Stramonium, the seeds con-
tain less active principle than the leaves, stems and roots. In South Africa cases
of human poisoning due to eating bread made from meal accidentally contaminated
with seeds of this plant have been described.
Economic aspects of plant poisoning.
The toxicology of plants from the economic point of view has been intensively
studied during the past half century in several parts of the world, especially in
the United States, Australia and Southern Africa.
It was only after the suppression of the great epizootic diseases of animals
that the importance of veterinary toxicology to animal industry was fully realized.
It was soon found that the annual loss of life and money due to plant poisoning
alone amounted to colossal figures. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that
the very existence of certain countries was threatened by the appalling losses
caused amongst stock by poisonous plants.
Thus, in the States of Colorado and Montana it was estimated that ovet
200,000,000 dollars damage was done to the livestock industry by poisonous plants
each year. In Wyoming sheep owners reckoned to lose 14.6% of their flocks,
especially among adults ready or nearly ready for the market. So serious was
the position that the Bureau of Animal Industry at Washington organised a
special division for the investigations of stock poisoning by plants in the States.
As a result of this far-sighted policy the gravity of the problem has been so greatly
reduced that parts of the country, once believed to be wholly unsuitable for domest-
ic animals, have now become centres of a prosperous stock industry.
In South Africa and Australia a very similar state of affairs existed. As is well
known, both these great Dominions rely very largely for their prosperity on a pro-
gressive sheep industry. It was not so many years ago, however, that the sheep
farmers in certain parts of both these Dominions were faced with disaster, since
poisonous plants caused such appalling losses amongst their flocks that sheep
farming was not ever likely to be a paying proposition.
Even as late as 1929-30 ,,000,000 sheep were destroyed by plant poisoning in
Griqualand West, while in 1926-27 it was estimated that in the Cape Colony alone
7oo,ooo animals were killed by the plant Tribulus terrestris. Obviously such losses
could not be allowed to continue. The South African Government instigated ex-
haustive research into the subject of poisonous plants and now a large and well
organised team of research workers is stationed at the Onderstepoort Laboratory,
near Pretoria, for this purpose.
The lesson learned at such great expenditure of life and money is not lost on
those who have to consider the question of creating a prosperous animal industry
in other parts of the world. In East Africa, for instance, the importation of pedigree
stock should not be lightly undertaken. Not only must valuable animals be immun-
ised and protected against the many indigenous diseases, but every precaution is
necessary to prevent them falling victims to some poisonous plant. It is not rare,
unfortunately, for an importer of pedigree stock to nurse some animal over one of
the many serious indigenous diseases only to lose it from a noxious plant accid-
entally eaten while grazing. The writer has met with several instances of this
nature both in Kenya and South Africa.
The study of poisonous plants is not an easy one. Several years of patient
study and observation may be necessary before the secret is revealed. The diffi-
culty of the problem will be appreciated when it is realized that plants may only
become toxic under certain definite, often transient, conditions of climate or soil, etc.
For instance, the plant Tribulus terrestris, mentioned previously in this paper,
provides a very good food for the greater part of the year, but, when flowering
during showery weather after a prolonged period of drought, it acquires most
poisonous properties and causes the disease known as "'geeldikkop," which is so
prevalent in certain parts of South Africa.
Tribulus terrestris is widespread in the more arid parts of East Africa. It is
particularly abundant in the Northern Frontier Province of Kenya where it is often
the only fodder available for the stock of the nomadic tribes of that region. No
information exists as to whether this plant becomes as toxic in Kenya as it does in
The cause of geeldikkop was only revealed after many years of careful research,
and other instances could be quoted to show that a plant investigation may be
exceedingly protracted. In fact a solution may only be gained after long and patient
observation and close co-operation between veterinarians, biochemists, physiolog-
ists and last, but not least, the farmer himself.
A point of outstanding importance is that the poisons of certain plants are
cumulative, that is they do not produce symptoms for a considerable time after
actual feeding of the plants has stopped; in other words, there appears to be a
definite period of incubation, just as exists in infectious or contagious diseases. Some
of the Senecios or ragworts, which are amongst the most interesting of all poisonous
plants, belong to this category and have been very extensively investigated in the
United States and South Africa.
Theiler, a South African worker with a world wide reputation, experimenting
with Senecio retrorsus, was the first to make the important observation that death
may occur after the feeding of the plant has been discontinued for some time.
In one experiment the interval between cessation of feeding and death was as
long as 96 days. It seems that, once a sufficient amount of a toxin of this nature
has been consumed, the changes in the internal viscera continue to progress even
though the poison is being no longer ingested. This is a point of very great
practical importance and must always be remembered by the experimental toxi-
cologist since it possibly also occurs with other plants. It emphasises the difficulty
of work of this nature and shows how careful one has to be before deciding that be-
cause feeding with a plant is not immediately fatal, the plant is harmless. It is these
cases of chronic poisoning, or the poisoning by agents that are cumulative, which
require very careful controlled experimentation. Cases of acute plant poisoning
are generally easier to investigate, but here again exceptions exist. Before leaving
the Senecios it is interesting to note that these plants, like many others, do not
produce identical lesions in all animals. In Senecio poisoning in the horse (the well
known Molteno disease of the Cape Colony) lesions primarily occur in the liver, heart,
and kidney, whereas in cattle the intestines and liver are affected. All Senecios
are not poisonous; several have repeatedly failed to produce lesions when fed
Some East African investigations.
Since 1927 the writer has examined experimentally over ioo plants collected in
various parts ot Kenya and Uganda. As might be expected several poisonous
members have been discovered but for further details those interested should
cousult the Annual Reports of the Veterinary Department of Kenya (from 1927 to
1929) and of Uganda (from 1931 onwards).
In Kenya the writer had first-hand experience of several very severe outbreaks
in two of which considerable loss of life occurred. In one the mortality was
definitely traced to the sheep grazing on the young shoots and leaves of the
muruchu tree (Acokanthera Schimperi, the arrow poison tree), and in the second
outbreak it is practically certain that a plant closely akin to Water parsnip or
Water celery was responsible. In both instances the unfortunate animals were
forced by lack of grazing to feed on these plants.
It is still not yet possible to estimate the annual loss caused in kast Africa
by poisonous plants. It must be remembered, however, that there, are a great
many pure bred or grade animals in Kenya which are living in close contact with
strange vegetation, while many, if not all, of the conditions necessary for plant pois-
oning are invariably present. The farmers are, of course, on the constant watch
and frequently report what they consider to be cases of genuine poisoning. Unfort-
unately in many cases it is not possible to verify their claims because many
poisonous plants produce very similar symptoms and reliable tests for their identi-
fication are extremely rare. There is no doubt that, as has already occurred in
South Africa, the control or suppression of the great epizootic diseases will show
what a heavy toll of animal life poisonous plants take each year. The position is
still more obscure in Uganda where the vast majority of cattle are of indigenous
breeds and are therefore more tolerant than imported animals would be. Never-
theless the occurrence of many plants of proved toxicity and the liability of the
country to suffer from prolonged periods of dry weather, thereby reducing the veld
to a serious drought stricken condition, strongly suggest that plant poisoning may
be responsible for a serious loss of animal life each year. This view is fully
supported by the great cattle keeping tribes which well recognize how inevitable
it is for animals to succumb to plant poisoning when the lack of grass is so serious
that hunger compels them to attack trees and shrubs.
The writer has also collected 96 plants of supposed medical value but only in
the case of one or two have pharmacological experiments been carried out and
the results have been by no means promising. The great majority of these remed-
ies are used for the treatment of malaria or of venereal disease.
At the same time information was obtained on the value of medicinal treat-
ment of some of the commoner animal diseases, particularly East Coast fever or
Amakebe, which is one of the best known of all the indigenous animal diseases of
In this disease there is general involvement of the lymphatic system,
and it has been the custom of such pastoral people as the Masai or Bahima
to apply counter-irritation over the sites of the various glands, either by searing
with the actual cautery (a piece of red hot iron such as a spear head) or by ap-
plying the very irritating latex of certain euphorbiaceous plants such as the
Candelabra euphorbia, a tree which is widely distributed in many parts of Uga-
nda. It is extremely doubtful whether such drastic treatment has any value, but it
is much credited. In many parts of the country herbal infusions are still widely
employed for the treatmentof stock diseases and the ingredients of some of them are
reminiscent of the potions made in European countries in the Early and Middle Ages.
Native beer forms the basis of many decoctions. It probably possesses some
stimulating qualities but its medicinal value, if any, must be very low.
Some specialised forms of poisoning.
(a) It will surprise many readers to learn that several species of grasses,
some of which are valuable pasture grasses, develop dangerous amounts of hydro-
cyanic prussicc) acid under certain well defined climatic conditions. During the
greater part of the year these grasses are quite free from this potent poison but,
when they wilt under prolonged drought conditions, the acid is found in increased
This type of poisoning is not a rare phenomenon in Southern Africa, especially
in the more arid parts, where it takes a heavy toll of animal life, especially of sheep,
each year. The condition is generally known to the farmers as "geilseikte", which
means "sudden death", a suitable name indeed, for when lethal doses of hydro-
cyanic acid are taken death supervenes swiftly and often without any premonitory
symptoms. In outbreaks of acute hydrocyanic poisoning in stock it is not unusual
for a stockowner to find several of his sheep or cattle lying dead even though to all
appearances they appeared quite fit and well a short time previously. So
serious may be the losses that sheep farmers use a palliative to prevent poisoning,
the particular remedy used being administered by the owner to each individual
animal. To a large sheep farmer this entails a considerable amount of extra labour,
but the trouble is apparently worth while.
The presence of hydrocyanic acid in wilting grasses can be readily detected by
a very simple chemical test by the use of which the writer was able to show some
years ago that the condition is by no means uncommon in East Africa. On more
than one European owned estate sheep were dying suddenly and the test showed
that several of the common grasses were producing high quantities of hydrocyanic
acid. It must be remembered that this substance is not constantly formed by
grasses; it is a product of wilting and its appearance is usually very transient.
A few tests carried out at Entebbe and Koja have failed to show the presence
of prussic acid in the common lake-shore grasses but climatic conditions are often
favourable throughout Uganda, as in East Africa generally, for wilting grasses to
It may be mentioned that in both South Africa and in some parts of the United
States the common mealie is often responsible for a large number of deaths since,
during wilting, this grass may produce serious amounts of prussic acid in both
inflorescence and stalk. In Nebraska, for instance, it is not unusual for several
thousand cattle to be lost during exceptional dry spells of weather from this cause
Besides grasses, other foods of vegetable origin may contain poisonous amounts
of prussic acid and may be actually responsible for death. An example is to be
found in the common native food plant known as "Muwogo", the root of which
yields a valuable farinaceous food much relished by the Bantu generally. Poisoning
after the ingestion of muwogo or muhogo has been reported in several parts of
America, Africa, and Asia. The writer is informed that in Uganda the variety of
the plant known as "Nyumba-izunga" produces dangerous symptoms in man and is
therefore avoided as much as possible. Bitter cassava contains prussic acid in its
latex. This poisonous substance is readily destroyed by cooking.
Many will marvel at the widespread existence of such a powerful chemical
poison as hydrocyanic acid in the vegetable world, but plant physiologists are of
the opinion that the formation of this substance is intimately related with photo-
synthesis. The manufacture of poisons by living matter is not peculiar to plants,
for one has only to remember the various deadly poisons elaborated in the living
bodies of certain members of the animal kingdom.
(b) Arrow poisons have been used by primitive peoples since the very earliest
ages. Even at the present time they are employed by hunters and warriors in the
more inaccessible parts of the world such as the practically unexplored interior of
Brazil, and New Guinea. In Africa the rapid spread of European influence has
undoubtedly curtailed the use of those potent poisons and the art of their prepar-
ation is being rapidly lost.
The source of these poisons varied in different parts of the world and one
cannot help being struck by the ingenuity of primitive man in making use of some
of the most deadly vegetable poisons that exist. In South America the indigenous
Indians exploited the substance known as curaree" which is obtained from several
species of Strychnos. Curare is extremely toxic and exerts a strong paralysing
action on the motor nerve endings in voluntary muscle.
In East and South Africa poisons of a quite different nature were used. They
were derived from plants belonging to the family Apocyanaceae which contains
many poisonous members, most of which exert a powerful toxic action on the heart.
Indeed, the active principles of these plants have been very carefully tested pharm-
acologically and one of them, Strophanthin, which is obtained from the shrub
Strophanthus hispidus or kombe, has actually found a place in the British pharmaco-
poeia. Strophanthus was widely used by the tribes of southern Central Africa
between the Zambezi and Congo rivers, and is mentioned by many of the early
explorers of those regions. In East Africa and down through Mozambique to
Zululand, Pondoland and the Transkei, the arrow poisons were prepared from
trees and shrubs of the genus Acokanthera, while in South West Africa species
of Adenium were largely employed. Frequently these poisons were compounded
with toxins of another origin such as the heads of venomous serpents, the stinging
parts of scorpions and spiders, and even with decomposing cadaveric matter.
Stanley describes the poison used by the Pigmies of Central African forests and
mentions that the red ant was one of its ingredients. So powerful was this poison
that a single arrow sufficed to kill a full grown elephant in a very short time.
While in Kenya during the years 1927 to 1929 the writer witnessed an old
M'kamba making the famous East African arrow poison, the high toxicity of which
was subsequently tested by Laboratory experiment. This poison which was made
from the tree Acokanthera Schimperi was rapidly fatal when absorbed into the
circulation through a wound or abrasion on the skin, but its action was distinctly
slower when taken into the body via the alimentary canal. Game slain by arrows
anointed with this poison is said to be perfectly edible, the only precaution being
to excise the flesh about the wound inflicted by the arrow.
Sir Richard Burton, in his well known book of travels, Firstfootsteps in East
Africa, describes the poison as made in Somaliland and he even gives a brief
account of its mode of action.
Elsewhere in this paper poisoning of stock under ranching conditions by shrubs
or trees of the genus Acokanthera has been mentioned at some length. This unfort-
unately happens only too frequently in certain parts of the country subject to
drought conditions. The attractive greenery of the young shoots and leaves of these
plants is too strong a temptation for half starved animals to resist, and the resultant
mortality may be very high.
It may not be out of place here to call attention to the valuable work that is
being done in Tanganyika on native poisons and medicines. It is very desirable
that the native pharmacopoeias of these parts of Africa should be scientifically
studied because, as European remedies and medicines become more widely employ-
ed, the secrets of many of the homely native remedies will be lost and perhaps
amongst them some of outstanding value. It is well for Europeans to remember
that theopening up of South America gave us cinchona or Peruvian bark,from which
quinine is obtained, and the coca leaves, from which modern scientific methods
have isolated the well known drug cocaine which forms the basis of many well
known local anaesthetics.
(c) Melia azedarach is the name of the ornamental tree popularly known as"Pers-
ian lilac," "Cape syringa" or "Bead tree." It is a native of Syria, Persia, and
northern India, but has been introduced into various parts of Africa, where its poles
are in much demand for building purposes. It is a very handsome tree where con-
ditions favour it, but in Uganda it is noticeable for its grotesqueness.
This tree is of considerable toxicological interest because its drupes or fruits
are poisonous and may cause serious mortality amongst pigs and poultry. Poultry
keepers should, therefore, avoid using it as shade near their fowl runs and should
be careful to prevent the fowls eating the drupes which have fallen from the trees.
Cases of poisoning by these fruits have occurred in this country, the symptoms
being, in fowls, diarrhoea, narcosis and progressive paralysis ending in death. It
is peculiar that the toxic principle, whose real nature is still obscure, is situated
only in the rind and fleshy part of the fruit, the stone and pip being quite innocuous.
There is no specific or antidotal treatment.
(d) Fish poisons of vegetable origin are extensively employed by native
fishermen in many parts of the world, a variety of poisons being used. It is not
known to what extent fish poisons have been or are still being used in this country,
but the Basese are said to employ for this purpose the plant known as "Muhlku
ominene," a species of Tephrosia. The method adopted is a simple one. The
leaves, fruits, or roots, sometimes rubbed down to a fine powder, are thrown into
a dammed-up stream, pool, or lagoon in which fish are observed. Soon the fish,
dead or in a stupefied condition, rise to the surface and are easily caught. They
are said to be perfectly edible.
According to Brasnett and Eggeling the fruits of the tree Balanites aegvptiaca
are used by the Acholi as a fish poison, but fuller details are not available. It is
interesting to note that Archibald has recently recorded that in the Sudan the fruits
of this tree possess lethal properties for all bilharzia-carrying fresh water snails,
and he has devised a practical method of using them for the destruction of snails
and young parasites in fresh water without impairing its potability.
Fish poisons are extensively used by the coast natives, especially in Portu-
guese East Africa and the coast of Natal and South-East Africa, but the Swahili
are by no means ignorant of the practice. According to Sir H. Johnston the fish
poisons of British Central Africa are obtained from certain species of Strophanthus,
possibly the same as those from which arrow poison is obtained.
As mentioned before, very little appears to be known as to what extent fish
poisons are used by the native fishermen on the great lakes and rivers of Equatorial
Africa. Perhaps some readers of this Journal may be able to throw fuller light on
this interesting subject.
(e) One of the most interesting poisonous plants yet investigated is Chrysocome
tenuifolia which grows in certain of the sheep rearing districts of southern Africa.
After young kids and lambs have ingested certain quantities of the toxin of
this plant, they lose the greater part of their hair or wool and become more or less
bald. The condition, which is known to the sheep farmers of the Cape Colony as
"Kaalsiekte", is responsible for much economic loss. The method of poisoning is
most unusual. The young lambs and kids receive the depilatory toxin through
the milk of their dams who have fed on the plant, which appears to be quite harm-
less for adult animals. The condition is rarely observed in youngsters over a
Undoubtedly the important point about this disease is that if the plant toxin
is given directly to new-born animals skin lesions are not produced. It seems that
depilatory properties are acquired only after passage through the body of a lactat-
A similar disease is reported from Mexico in animals which had fed for long
periods on certain parts of the tamarind tree. Indeed it is said that the Mexican
Indians themselves daily partake of the ground seeds of this tree to depilate them-
selves. Use is also made of tamarind seeds during the breeding of the small hair-
less Chihuahua dogs.
Prevention of plant poisoning in stock.
This subject need not be dealt with at present in any detail. As might be im-
agined, it bristles with difficulties, but, on estates where certain plants of high toxic-
ity are known to grow and are a menace to stock, the farmer must energetically
tackle the problem in one of two ways, viz., either
(a) undertake complete eradication of plant, or
(b) move his stock to other pastures where poisonous plants are not so
common or are absent.
Complete eradication should be aimed at if at all possible. It is practised on
many large farms and ranches in different parts of the world, including, to the
writer's own knowledge, several large estates in Kenya. It may be a costly under-
taking, especially in countries with a luxuriant flora, but it gives very satisfactory
results if carried out with energy and determination.
On such estates overstocking must be avoided and, as far as possible, rotation-
ary grazing practised so that heavily grazed pastures are given every chance
to recover. The problem is especially difficult on farms where poisonous plants
are more generally distributed than on those on which the vegetation is more
varied. On many large ranches it may be quite possible to keep animals away from
localities which are known to have a particularly bad reputation. The smaller farm-
er, however, may be less fortunate and if he wants to make his farm pay and keep
his animals healthy he may have to face the heavy expense of completely clearing
his grazing of all known poisonous plants and to tackle energetically any new cop-
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda.
By C. R. S. PITMAN.
Genus TRIMERORHINUS Smith.
This is an African genus which is not found north of the Equator, neither does
it occur in West Africa. Its members are fairly small in size, and there are only
two species, one of which, tritaniatus, has been separated into races (subspecies).
Prominent features include:- a pair of enlarged grooved fangs (situated below
the posterior border of the eye) which are separated from the maxillary teeth by
an interspace: rather pronounced rostral which at times has an almost beak-like
tendency: head distinct from neck: moderate eye with round pupil: crescentic
nostril: cylindrical body: smooth scales, with apical pits: rounded ventrals: divided
anal: moderately long tail: and subcaudals in 2 rows.
TRIMERORHINUS TRIT/ENIATUS MULTISQUAMIS Loveridge.
Striped Sheep-sticker (or Schaapteker) or Striped Grass Snake.
(Plate X, Fig. 2: Coloured Plate (J), Fig. 3).
Native names-None known.
Distribution-A savanna species of Eastern Africa which ranges from Ethiopia
to the Central Railway Line in Tanganyika Territory, south of which it is replaced
by the typical race. It is a high plateau, grassland species which has been obtain-
ed at a maximum altitude of 7,500 feet (Mau Ravine in Kenya).
Occurrence in Uganda-It is believed that this conspicuously marked species
occurs in parts of the Eastern Province though there appear to be no authentic re-
cords from within the limits of present-day Uganda. Extralimitally, but not far
from the Uganda border, it is known from Kaimosi in Kenya Colony. It is includ-
ed in the list at the end of Sir H.H. Johnston's Uganda Protectorate.
Descrtption-Although it is unusual for this species to exceed 30 inches in
length, Loveridge (1933, p. 251) mentions a female from Tanganyika, the tip of the
tail missing as large as 973 (827 + 146) mm., which, undamaged, probably totalled
UGANDA SNAKES (H)
Sm._ .iId -
1. Duberria lutrix shiranum.
2. Prosymna ambigua stuh/manni.
3. Scaphiophis a/bopunctatus.
4. Dasype/tis scaber
Presented by Uganda Government
la. Lateral Section.
2a. Lateral Section.
Sa. Lateral Section.
4a. Lateral Section.
lb. Ventral Section.
2b. Ventral Section.
3b. Ventral Section.
4b. Ventral Section.
3 feet 3 inches, the tail being about one seventh of the whole. The same author
records his smallest (also from Tanganyika) as 186 (148+ 38)mm., in which the tail
is about one fifth of the total. Of a series of the typical race collected personally in
Northern Rhodesia the biggest measures 30 (tail 6) inches, the tail being a fifthof
the whole, and others are 251 (tail 54), 244 (tail 44), and 154(tail 3) inches, in all
of which the tail is approximately one fifth of the whole. Boulenger gives 740 (tail
S50) mm., which is the same total as Sternfeld's(r 910) 74 cm.
Prominent characters include:- somewhat large rostral, (Sternfeld (191o) ment-
ions "sharply-pointed rostral"): head distinct from neck: crescentic nostril: moder-
ately small eye with round pupil: a pair of enlarged, grooved fangs, situated below
the posterior border of the eye: body cylindrical: scales smooth with apical pits:
ventrals rounded: anal divided: tail moderately short: and subcaudals in 2 rows.
Scales in 17 rows: ventrals 162-183: subcaudals 54-66. Loveridge (Proc. Biol.
Soc. Washington, Vol. 45, pp. 83-86, June, 1932) has separated multisquamis from
the typical race on account of its more numerous ventral scales as follows:-
Trimerorhinus tritaniatus tritanialus-ventrals 145-163: subcaudals 51-65
(based on 55 specimens).
Trimerorhinus tritwniatus multisquamis-ventrals 162-183: subcaudals 54-
66 (based on 43 specimens).
The type, a female from the Loita Plains in Kenya Colony, measures 804 (66o
+ 144) mm., the tail being contained in the total approximately five-and-a-half
times: ventrals 167: subcaudals 57. The two races do not differ in coloration.
Loveridge also mentions that a knowledge of the physical features followed by
the Central Railway Line in Tanganyika indicates that it constitutes not an arbitr-
ary, but a natural, division between the two races.
Boulenger gives the coloration, as:- "Greyish or pale brown above, with two or
three dark brown, black-edged bands originating on the head and extending to the
end of the tail, the outer passing through the eye, the vertebral sometimes rather
indistinct or absent: a fine yellowish line sometimes divides the vertebral band :
the sides below the bands white, with a pale brown or red streak running along the
outer row of scales: upper lip and lower parts white."
This is one of the snakes in which the coloration is distributed in zones along
the length of the body, giving it a neatly handsome appearance and constituting a
good distinguishing character.
In some examples, when they are about to slough, the various colour zones
are not readily apparent and the general effect is a light or dull brown above and
white below. Loveridge (1933, P 251) thus describes the juvenile coloration:- "Very
young snakes differ from the adults in appearance as the upper labials are white
and, though their longitudinal stripes are not more numerous, they appear to be so
as a result of their being in closer juxtaposition in the small reptiles".
The same author (1933, p. 252) records :- "I might add that the colouring oi
Rhamphiophis aculus is line for line and in every detail identical with that of typical
T. triteniatus, except that the lower surface of acutus is white and that of tritacniatus
is dark except for occasional pale specimens. This is further indication of the very
close relationship between the two reptiles, acutus appearing to form a connecting
link between the genera." He took an example of acutus "in hot low-lying country
at an altitude of 1,700 feet above sea level; this is in sharp contrast to the habitat
of T. triteniatus which favours the grasslands of the high plateaux at 5,000 feet and
R. acutus does not occur in Uganda, and in my experience in Northern Rho-
desia does not resemble T. tritceniatus as closely as Loveridge describes; moreover
the latter should not readily be confused with the former in which the peculiar
rostral, hollowed out beneath, is most conspicuous, resembling a pronounced beak.
Habits-This is a grassland species and where occurring is usually abundant.
Although the elongate stripings give it a savage appearance it is in reality most
amiable in disposition and even when teased rarely attempts to bite. When dis-
turbed it likes to hide in or beneath a grass-enveloped shrub, and, according to
Loveridge "conceals itself at the base, defying all efforts to drive it out; often relying
so much on remaining quiet that it may be picked up with ease." In my dealings with
members of the typical race in Northern Rhodesia, I noticed that when disturbed
they often took refuge in a shrub one to two feet above the ground : if one approach-
ed cautiously it was possible to pick them up with little difficulty. This they did
resent but soon calmed down and could usually be handled without causing undue
disturbance. Loveridge gives a good description of this initial annoyance:-
"Once seized, however, it will thrash about, flatten its body to a surprising extent
and sometimes even bite, though this is unusual. The bite, while drawing blood,
is not followed by symptoms of poisoning." Loveridge also mentions that "these
snakes emit a cloacal discharge...the smell being indistinguishable to me", prob-
ably for defence. The popular name of "sheep-sticker" creates an entirely erroneous
impression as this snake's bite cannot harm a lamb.
It has a varied diet including shrews, small rodents, skinks, small lizards and
frogs. In stomachs of some specimens nematode worms have been found.
This species is preyed upon freely by cobras and by the boomslang (Disphol-
idus typus). According to Fitzsimons:-"The venom is a nerve poison, there being
no swelling, only slight discoloration of the tissues in the vicinity of the bite, loss
of sensation locally, cold sweats and shivering fits."
Genus RHAMPHIOPIS Peters.
This is an interesting Tropical African genus having several representatives,
all characterized by the down-turned projecting snout combined with a large rost-
ral hollowed out beneath, which gives a beak-like effect. The hooked snout, with
its acutely angular cutting edge, has earned for these snakes the popular and de-
scriptive appellation of "sharp-nosed."
Other African back-fanged genera with a tendency, though much less pro-
nounced, to exhibit this "beak" effect, are Trimerorhinus and Dromophis; while the
solid-toothed, harmless Prosymna and Scaphiophis are similarly, but conspicuously,
Amongst the prominent features are:-a pair of very large grooved fangs,
situated below the eye and separated from the maxillary teeth by an interspace:
head distinct from neck: moderate eye with round pupil: crescentic nostril: cylind-
rical body : smooth scales, with apical pits: rounded ventrals : divided anal: moderate
or long tail: and subcaudals in 2 rows.
RHAMPHIOPHIS ROSTRATUS* Peters.
Rufous Beaked Snake, Beaked Snake, Red-spotted Snake,
Sharp-nosed Snake, or Eastern Sharp-nosed Snake.
(Plate X, Fig. 4: Coloured Plate (L), Fig. 1).
Native names- None known.
Distribution-Tropical Eastern Africa from the Southern Sudan (Kordofan and
Mongalla Provinces), Abyssinia and Somaliland, south to Kenya Colony, Zanzibar,
Tanganyika Territory, Nyasaland and the Luangwa Valley (Petauke) in Northern
Rhodesia, probably reaching the River Zambezi. In referring to this, and R. oxy-
rhynchus (the next species to be described in this "Guide") Parker (1929, p. 45 1) re-
cords:- "The geographical ranges of the two species do not, so far as is known,
overlap; oxyrhynchus (now rostratus) ranges from Somaliland and Abyssinia to
Tanganyika Territory and Nyasaland, but does not appear to have been recorded
hitherto from the west of the Great Rift Valley; connali (now oxyrhynchus) is
known from the Gold Coast, Dahomey and Nigeria."
Rhamphiophis rubropunctatus, which is a species with a restricted habitat and is confined
to the Voi-Kilimanjaro region of East Africa, was included in error in the Uganda List on page
137 of Vol. III on the strength of material recorded from the Southern Sudan. Rhamnphio-
phis rostratus was omitted unintentionally. Werner (1907, p. 55) identifies with R. rubropunct-
atus an example from Gondokoro in the Southern Sudan, which has 218 ventrals and 132
subcaudals. These counts are far in excess of the maxima for either R. rostratus or R. oayrhyn-
chus, though lower than Boulenger's ventrals 230-241, and subcaudals 154-160, of R. rubropunct-
atus. Also, a specimen alleged to be R. rubropunctatus (no ventral or subcaudal count
available)was obtained in the Bahr el Ghazal (Southern Sudan) by Butler. For reasons for
separating the eastern R. rostratus from the western R. oxyrhynchus see:-
Parker, H.W.-A new Opisthoglyphous Snake from West Africa. (Ann. Mag. Nat. His.
Ser. 10 Vol. IV, p. 449, Nov. 1929).
Lovoridge, A.-Reports on the Scientific Results of an Expedition to the South-
western Highlands of Tanganyika Territory, VII, Herpetology. (Bull. Mus.
Comp. Zo6i., Vol. LXXIV, No.7, p. 253, Oct. 1933).
Parker, H. W. -Scientific Results of the Cambridge Expedition to the East African
Lakes, 1930-31, 5. Reptiles and Amphibians. (Linn. Soo. Jour., Zoology,
Vol. XXXVIII, (No. 258) p. 221, Oct., 1932).
The Sudan specimens of rostratus are from localities some distance to the west
of the Great Rift Valley, while a recently-acquired Uganda example of oxyrhynchus
(see next species) closes very considerably the gap in the territorial distribution of
Occurrence in Uganda--There appear to be no authentic records of the occurr-
ence of this species in present-day Uganda though extralimitally in the vicinity of
its boundaries it is recorded from the mouth of the Turkwell river (Kenya Colony),
from the Great Rift Valley, from the Mongalla Province in the Southern Sudan, and
from Bukoba on the western shore of the Victoria Nyanza, so that there is every
reason to believe that sooner or later it will be found within Protectorate limits.
Description-This is a fairly large species which reaches a maximum length
of 5 feet or little over. Sternfeld (19io) records a Bukoba specimen of 140 cm.
(approx. 4 feet 61 inches).
Loveridge in various papers (1929 and 1933) quotes Tanganyika specimens
which measure 910o (630 + 280) and 1335 (930 + 405) mm., the latter not being consid-
ered exceptionally large: the tail in each is contained approximately three-and-a-
quarter times in the total.
Boulenger gives a total length 1380 (tail 420) mm., in which the tail ratio is the
Prominent characters include:- the obtusely pointed snout somewhat hooked in
profile: the pair of very large, grooved fangs, situated below the eye: head distinct
from neck: moderately large eye with round pupil: crescentic nostril: cylindrical
body: smooth scales with apical pits: rounded ventrals: divided anal: long tail: and
subcaudals in 2 rows.
The projecting snout is a good distinguishing character, but is a feature pos-
sessed equally by the closely allied R. oxyrhynchus as well as by the tiny Prosymna
ambigua stuhlmanni and the large Scaphiophis albopunclatus, all of which occur in
Uganda. The rich rufous and pinkish coloration of the two species of the genus
Rhamphiophis should in most cases serve to distinguish them from Scaphiophis albo-
punclatus which however in certain of its' colour variations is somewhat similar.
Scales in 17 rows: ventrals 148-192: subcaudals 90-115.
Loveridge (1928) records:- "Its snout is its most pronounced feature......quite a
beak-like effect as it is projecting and down-pointing.....Scaly covering very close-
fitting and smooth and its colour is sandy or brown with a slightly pinkish tinge;
the belly is white."
Boulenger gives the coloration as:- "Yellowish or pale brown above, uniform
or with small red or dark brown spots, or with dark brown margins to the scales:
a blackish shade in front of and behind the eye: upper lip and lower parts yellowish
white." Although immersion in alcohol does not produce in this as much fading
as occurs in many other species, unfortunately it does result in complete loss of the
lovely pinkish tint which is so conspicuous in life.
UGANDA SNAKES (I)
MFWi IT p!WW
JohnBae SM & DaIlsab, LA Lod
1. Boiga pu/veru/enta.
2.Boiga 6/andingii (Black form).
3.Crotaphope/t/s hotamboea hotamboe/a.
Presented by Uganda Government
la. Lateral Section.
2a. Lateral Section.
3a. Lateral Section.
4a. Lateral Section.
Ib. Ventral Section.
2b Ventral Section.
3b. Ventral Section.
4b. Ventral Section.
Habits-Generally the habitat of this species seems to be associated with sandy
localities: Loveridge (1928) indicates that it has an extensive distribution in East
Africa, though mainly found in sandy thornbush areas, and he captured specimens
in gerbil holes and in the terminal chambers of termite heaps.
According to Corkill (1935, p. 20):- "Specimens (Sudan) have been taken in
houses, in a native market, and under rocks in khor beds on top of Jebel Moro. A
note on a specimen from Delami records that it moved slowly, and hissed and spat".
He also mentions that it is probably the snake in Western Kordofan known to the
Baggara in the vernacular as the "father of the jaw".
In Loveridge's experience these snakes will bite in self-defence when caught,
but are evidently innocuous to man, and "settle down to a life of confinement and
are quite the gentlest of big snakes".
Where occurring the species is sometimes abundant. Its diet is very varied.
In the wild state it preys on shrews, rodents of various sizes, lizards, skinks, small
snakes (i.e. Crotaphopeltis hotambwaia), frogs, toads, beetles, and probably also takes
birds. In captivity it will thrive exclusively on a diet of frogs or skinks.
Loveridge (1928) records:- "Gape is somewhat small for taking mammals or
the cranial ligaments less elastic than in such a reptile as the House Snake"; and
from observations he notes that one took twenty minutes to swallow a mouse. Pair-
ing (wild) was taking place at Kilosa (Tanganyika) on 4th December. Loveridge
captured the pair and the female laid ten eggs measuring 40 x 20 mm. in the first
week of March. According to this author the number of eggs varies from eight
to thirteen; other recorded measurements of ova are 34 x 22 mm. In Northern
Tanganyika eggs have also been deposited in August and October, and found well
developed in the ovaries in July. This species is sometimes a host for ticks.
RHAMPHIOPHIS OXYRHYNCHUS (Reinhardt).
Rufous Beaked Snake, Beaked Snake, Red-spotted Snake, Sharp-nosed Snake,
or Western Sharp-nosed Snake.
(Plate X, Fig. 5: Coloured Plate (L), Fig. 2).
Native names-Called by the Bagungu of the north-eastern shore of Lake
Albert, "Chikoota Mpamba".
Distribution-The greater part of the Sudan Subprovince, including the Gold
Coast, Nigeria, Dahomey, Nigeria, N.E. Belgian Congo (Mahagi at the north-west
extremity of Lake Albert) and Uganda (north-east shore of Lake Albert).
Occurrence in Uganda-The only known Uganda specimen was obtained by the
writer at Bulisa in the Bagungu country on the north-eastern shore of Lake Albert
in August, 1935. This record is particularly interesting, as the nearest locality to
Uganda from which this species was previously known is Mahagi Port in the Belg-
ian Congo at the north-western extremity of Lake Albert, immediately opposite the
Bagungu country and about ten miles distant.
Description-Reference has already been made in the detailed notes on the
preceding species, R. rostratus, concerning the separation by Parker, in 1929, of a
western Rhamphiophis, previous to which all the eastern and western material
had been regarded as one species under the name of R. oxyrhynchus. Whether or no
this snake attains the somewhat large dimensions of the closely-allied rostratus
remains to be seen, but the maximum seems to be represented in the Bagungu
specimen, a female, which measures 461 (tail 12) inches, the tail being approximately
a quarter of the total.
Parker (1929) in a series of six, all but two being juveniles, gives io6o (tail
300) mm., a male, as the largest, the total being about three-and-a half times that
of the tail.
Werner (Verh. Zool.-bot. Ges. Wien, 1899, p.147) quotes a specimen 1120 (920+
200) mm., which has an extremely low subcaudal count (56), and Parker suggests
that, as "the tail measures less than a quarter of the head and body," this organ
has probably "been injured ; in the other specimens it is not, or but slightly, less
than one-third of this distance."
Prominent characters do not differ from those ofrostratus, the obtusely-pointed
snout with sharp angular horizontal edge, hooked in profile, being the most pro-
nounced. They include:- head distinct from neck: a pair of very large grooved
fangs situated below the eye: moderately large eye with round pupil: crescentic
nostril: smooth scales with apical pits: divided anal: long tail: and subcaudals in 2
rows. Scales in i7 rows: ventrals 170-196: subcaudals 90-lo6. In the Bulisa female,
ventrals 192: subcaudals 92.
In R. rostratus "the number of scale.rows is reduced to thirteen a considerable
distance in front of the vent, but in the one here described (R. connali=oxyrhynchus)
the number is never reduced below fifteen". Also, in R. rostratus "there are at least
two, usually three, praeoculars", while in R.oxyrhynchus "the praeocular is never
completely divided". Parker gives the coloration (evidently from spirit material)
as:- "Olive-brown above, some of the lateral scales with horizontal lighter streaks
along their upper and lower borders. Head rufous-brown. Lower surfaces yellow-
In life this is a really beautiful snake and the above description does no justice
to the extraordinarily handsome and delicate tints. My field notes record:- "Below,
pale yellow. Head, light grey-brown. Above, a beautiful very pale cocoa brown,
tinged pink, and with handsome enamel effect.* Striated appearance given by dark-
er chocolate-brown point to each scale, with light brown longitudinal stripe on pale
ground on each scale. Circular pupil. Dark brown iris, narrow."
In rostratusthis is thus aptly described by Loveridge;- "Its scaly covering is very close
fitting and smooth,"
Parker also mentions:- "In juvenile examples some of the scales have darker
edges, producing a faint dark-etching on the brownish-grey ground colour"; and
the same author emphasises that oxyrhynchus "lacks all trace of the black bar through
the eye which is so characteristic of the East African species".
Habits-In general habits and habitat this species does not differ from rostratus.
The Bagungu specimen, which was extraordinarily docile when handled, was obtain-
ed in a rather sandy locality where, according to native information, it is not uncom-
mon, though it is apt to be confused with small examples of Naja haje, the Egyptian
cobra and the local (brownish) variety of Naja niricollis, the black-throated or black-
necked or "spitting" cobra.
Note- In Plate X (Fig. 6) there is included a line drawing of the head of Rham-
Genus DROMOPHIS Peters.
This is a Tropical African genus consisting of two species, neither of large size.
Prominent features, in addition to a pair of large grooved fangs situated below the
posterior border of the eye, include:- the head distinct from neck: moderate eye
with round pupil: cylindrical body: smooth scales, more or less oblique with apical
pits: rounded ventrals: divided anal: long tail: and subcaudals in 2 rows.
DROMOPHIS LINEATUS (Dumeril and Bibron).
Grey Grass Srake.
(Plate X, Fig. 3: Coloured Plate (J), Fig. 4).
Native names-None known.
Distribution-Tropical Africa, outside the Rain Forest, ranging throughout the
Sudan Subprovince from Liberia to the Southern Sudan (latitude 120 North), and
southerly to Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and the Zambezi. Also recorded from
Occurrence in Uganda-In my own experience this species is closely associat-
ed with swampy localities, and, in consequence, one would expect many regions of
the Protectorate to be eminently suited to its requirements. So far, however, there
is little known concerning its local distribution, though in suitable localities it is
probably not uncommon. Specimens were collected by the Smithsonian African
Expedition (191o) at Nile Camp and Rhino Camp, both in the then Lado Enclave.
Emin Pasha obtained it at Lado, not far north of the present-day Sudan-Uganda
border. Extralimitally, not very far west of the West Nile District, it has been ob-
tained at Faradje in the N. E. Belgian Congo both by the American Museum Congo,
Expedition (1912) and by Schouteden (ten examples), who also obtained two speci-
mens at Mahagi Port.
Description-Superficially resembling Trimerorhinus tritaniatus, this species
averages a little larger. The biggest example personally collected (in Northern
Rhodesia) measures 36 (tail i o) inches, the tail being contained about three-and-a-
half times in the total. Other Northern Rhodesia specimens are 34 (tail iof) and
30f (tail 8j) inches, in the former the total being about three-and-a-third, and in
the latter about three-and-two-thirds, times the length of the tail. The larger of
the two Uganda specimens previously mentioned is 913 (622+291) mm., the total
length being about three-and-one-fifth times that of the tail. Boulenger gives a
total length o190 (tail 330) mm., the whole being approximately three-and-a-third
times that of the tail. Loveridge's (1933, P. 254) largest is 861 (600+261) mm., one
of a series of five Tanganyika females. The tail ratio is fairly constant. The
American Museum Congo specimen, a male, is 890 (tail 267) mm., the tail being "30
of the total length.
Prominent characters include:- the large rostral, which has a tendency to be
distinctly beaked: head distinct from neck: eye of moderate size with round pupil:
a pair of large, grooved fangs situated below the posterior border of the eye: narrow
frontal: cylindrical body: smooth scales, more or less oblique, with apical pits: round-
ed ventrals: divided anal: long tail: and subcaudals in 2 rows. Scales in 17 rows:
ventrals 140-159: subcaudals 73-105.
This is another species in which the coloration is distributed in zones along
the body and, though superficially resembling T. tritwniatus, it has a markedly
different and seemingly paler colour arrangement.
Boulenger gives the coloration as:- "Olive, most of the scales black-edged with
three greenish-yellow longitudinal lines, one on the vertebral row of the scales, the
other on the fourth and fifth rows ; outer row of scales greenish-yellow, like the belly,
its upper border black; young with light cross-bars on the occiput and nape; prae-
and post-oculars and upper lip greenish-yellow; some of the labials with the sutures
black; belly and tail belowgreenish-yellow or pale green, uniform or with a series
of black dots or short lines on the outer ends of the ventrals". The natural coloration
is scarcely affected by immersion in alcohol.
Loveridge (1933, p. 254) mentions :- "Though easy to recognize in life, when
preserved, this species is strikingly like Psamnmophis subtmniatus; all specimens
(Tanganyika), however, have the transverse lateral streaks on the ventrals while P.
subtaeniatus usually has longitudinal lines but never transverse."
According to Schmidt (1923, p. i o) the American Museum Congo specimen is
"olive-brown above, with a narrow vertebral and two lateral stripes of dull yellow,
obscure anteriorly. Venter uniform bluish-green, chin and throat white, dark
Habits-This is a species which in my Northern Rhodesia experience is closely
associated with water, and the only locality in which it was obtained, and there
it was evidently common, was in the swampy delta of the Lukulu river at the east-
ern edge of the immense Bangweulu Swamps. Tanganyika, Uganda, Sudan and
Congo records are all from localities which confirm the water association. It is poss-
UGANDA SNAKES (J)
-- -.. L rrtLLL
S '. t 4
. -. w.^. : ... -. - - ,
JohnB aiS o & nimelson La L li
1. Tarbophis semiannulatus.
2. Amp/orh/nus nototaenia.
3. Trimerorh/bns tritaeniatus mu/tisquamis.
4-. Dromophis Iineatus.
la. Lateral Section.
2a Lateral Section.
3a. Lateral Section.
4a. Lateral Section.
lb. Ventral Section.
2b. Ventral Section.
3b. Ventral Section.
4b. Ventral Section.
Presented by Uganda Government.
ibly partially aquatic. Undetermined frogs of the genus Rana were found in the
stomachs of Northern Rhodesia specimens: Loveridge identified Rana m. inascar-
iensis in a Tanganyika specimen. This author also records:- "The Ujiji (Tanga-
nyika) snake held six eggs each measuring 15 x 6 mm."
Genus PSAMMOPHIS Boie.
This is an extensive genus, consisting of more than a dozen species, most of
which are fairly large, widely distributed throughout the African Continent and
ranging into Southern Asia as far east as Burma, though only three occur outside
The dentition is distinctive and in the maxillary teeth (io to 13) one or two in
the middle are much enlarged and fang-like, and are preceded and followed by an
interspace, the last, or last two, large and grooved, and situated below the posterior
border of the eye. Other prominent features include:- the head distinct from
neck, not always very pronounced: angular canthus rostralis: moderate or large eye
with round pupil: cylindrical body: smooth scales, usually more or less oblique,
with apical pits: rounded ventrals: divided anal, except in the South African noto-
stictus in which it is entire, and in the Eastern African P. biseriatus in which it may
be either entire or divided: long tail, often whip-like: and subcaudals in 2 rows.
Scales in 1-19 rows.
On the whole the representatives of this genus are particularly handsome snakes,
of conspicuous appearance, the predominant coloration being various shades of
brown or olive, more rarely greyish, while the close-fitting smooth scales produce
a pleasantly neat effect.
PSAMMOPHIS PUNCTULATUS Dumeril and Bibron.
Speckled Sand Snake or Spotted Sand Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 1: Coloured Plate (K), Fig. i).
Native names-None known.
Distribution.-The low-lying more arid parts of East Africa from Mozambique
to Somaliland, the Sudan, Eritrea, and Arabia. In the Sudan it is recorded from the
Blue Nile Province and the Kassala Province. In Somaliland it has been obtained
at an altitude of 1,500 feet.
Occurrence in Uganda-At present there are no authentic records of the
occurrence of this species within Protectorate limits. It is included provisionally in
the Uganda list as it has been obtained extralimitally not far east of the Uganda-
Kenya border in Turkana (west of Lake Rudolf) at Lodwar and the Kaliokwell
river, though these localities are a few thousand feet lower than the adjacent
Uganda territory. Its inclusion in Sir H. H. Johnston's Uganda list is based on
material obtained extralimital to present-day Uganda.
bescription--his is a fairly large snake. Boulenger's biggest specimen is 1646
(tail 580) mm., the total length being not quite three times that of the tail. An East
African record of 5 feet 5 inches (tail 228 inches) may refer to the same specimen.
Prominent characteristics are detailed in the descriptive note on the genus but
conspicuous is the cylindrical, smooth-scaled body. Scales in 17 rows: ventrals
177-196: subcaudals 130-178.
Boulenger gives the coloration as:- "Yellow or brownish white above, greenish
or greyish on the sides and beneath, head and nape olive-grey or reddish, speckled
with black; three black stripes along the body, the median broadest and bifurcating
on the neck, its branches extending, as brown streaks, to the end of the snout after
passing through the eyes; the stripes on the body may be reduced to the vertebral.'
According to Corkill (1935, p. 21), who refers to Sudan material:- "In its main
features it is a typical sand snake like sibilans...The belly is olive, grey, brown or
pink speckled darker; this speckling is general over the whole body. There are
three stripes down the back." It is a strikingly handsome species, and the very
conspicuous markings are diagnostic.
Habits-Except that it frequents arid sandy localities there is little on record
concerning this species' habits, which, however, are generally unlikely to differ from
those of the common P. sibilans, described later.
PSAMMOPHIS SUBT/ENIATUS Peters.
Striped Sand Snake or Stripe-bellied Sand Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 2: Coloured Plate (K), Fig. 2).
Native names-None known, but where this species and P. sibilans occur in
the same localities it is likely to be known by any name applicable to the latter.
Distribution-Eastern Africa, from the Southern Sudan (Kordofan Province
and Bahr el Ghazal) and Abyssinia, through Uganda and Kenya Colony, to Zanzibar,
Tanganyika Territory, Nyasaland, and Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique).
Occurrence in Uganda-At present little is known about the Uganda distribution
of Psamnophis subtwniatus, a species which according to Corkill (1935, p. 22) "is
probably the commonest snake of the larger rocky outcrops"(in the Sudan). In Kenya
Colony it is found mainly in the low-lying 'nyika', while in the Tanganyika savanna
according to Loveridge it is "possibly the commonest snake." It is strange then to
record that the writer has collected this species in Uganda only in a Rain Forest
locality, the Mabira Forest, where it is evidently common, and that examples have
also been obtained by Mr. W.J. Eggeling in Budongo Forest in the Bunyoro. There
is another "Uganda" record, a specimen obtained by the Smithsonian African Ex-
pedition in 19o1 at Mnyouri Jardin, a locality on the east bank of the Bahr el Jebel
between Gondokoro and Nimule, now in the Sudan, just north of the Uganda bord-
er. From the diversity of its habitat in adjacent territories and a known range in
altitude from sea level to 4,000 feet, one would imagine that it would be fairly wide-
spread in the Protectorate, and it remains to be seen what comprehensive investig-
ations will reveal. It is possible that these Uganda 'forest' examples in reality
represent one of the numerous varieties of P. sibilans, and that eventually some of
these varieties will have to be recognized as subspecies.
Description-This is another fair-sized species which reaches a maximum length
of about 42 feet. Boulenger's biggest is 1030 (tail 350) mm., the total length
being not quite three times that of the tail. The largest of nine specimens in the
United States National Museum (1929) measures Ir85 (791+394) mm., the tail
being contained three times in the total length.
Loveridge(1933) out of a series of seventy-seven collected in Tanganyika quotes
his biggest as 1370(1030+340) mm., the total length being four times that of the
tail; his smallest in a series of thirty-one is 332 (225 + 107) mm., the total a little
more than three times the length of the tail.
Three Mabira Forest examples measure:- a male, 481 (tail 13), 442 (tail 123),
and a male 27f (tail 72) inches, the tail ratio of all three being nearer four than
three: another example, a female, from the Budongo Forest, is 51 (tail 141) inches.
Prominent characteristics are detailed in the descriptive note on the genus
though the cylindrical, smooth-scaled body is conspicuous and typical. The eye is
brown. Scales in 17 rows: ventrals 15i-i80: subcaudals 86-119. In a female from the
Budongo Forest there are 169 ventrals and 1oo subcaudals. Loveridge (1933, P.255)
referring to a rostral characteristic utilised by Boulenger in his 1915 key to disting-
uish suitniatus from sibilans records that it is useless and adds:- "Though they
are good and full species, I am at a loss to differentiate these snakes by anything
but colour. Sternfeld reached the same conclusion in 1908." Boulenger gives the
coloration as:- "Brown or olive above, the seven middle rows of scales usually darker
black-edged and separated from the sides by a more or less distinct pale streak;
usually a black lateral streak, running along the outer row of scales; upper labials
yellowish, with black dots and a black line along their upper border which is con-
tinued across the rostral; yellowish below, with a black line along each side of
the belly." Concerning the coloration Corkill mentions:- "There may be a dark
line running down the middle of the back and a thin one each side of the belly."
Referring to a specimen from the north-western region of Lake Rudolf, Jean Roux
(Mission Scientifique de I'Ono, 1935, p. 177) records:- "Coloration typique; la fine
ligne noire est present de chaque cOte sur le bord des ventrales."
Loveridge (1928) records:- "Moderately slender, reaching more than 4 feet in
length. In color it is brown above and yellow beneath, with two parallel brown
lines running the whole length, though in certain localities these may be indistinct
or even missing; such a condition is rare." The same author says (1933):- "The
pair of longitudinal lines along the whole under surface seem to distinguish this
species from sibilans; the...snakes are by no means typical for the lines, instead
of being sharply defined, are dusky, sometimes very faint and in others broken
into a series of dashes; the line usually separates the cream-coloured belly from
the ventro-lateral band of white. The bigger snakes from these localities (Tanga-
nyika) were so similar to sibilans in their dorsal coloration that I considered them
to be referable to that species in the field."
Loveridge, in Tanganyika, came across a dark and a pale form which the local
natives distinguish by different names; the plumbeous hue of the former "is
strikingly different from that of the sandy-coloured type." The only field notes
recorded in connection with the Mabira Forest specimens refer to "a grey-brown
blackish snake, with yellow broadly beneath and below tail."
The coloration of a Budongo Forest example which is about to slough is:-
"Above, generally dark brown, with a narrow paler brown longitudinal stripe on
either flank, below which is the same dark or olive-brown of the back. Ventrals
creamy yellow, with a dark longitudinal line either side. A deeper yellow on the
subcaudals, the dark lines having a conspicuous dark dot on each scale. The freck-
ling on the labials fairly conspicuous."
Habits-In addition to the information concerning habitat previously quoted
under "Occurrence in Uganda," Corkill (1935) mentions:- "In January, 1933, young
specimens were obtained from khors in the vicinity of all the Moro villages. Before
this the species had been considered something of a rarity."
Loveridge (1928) and (1933) records much that is of interest concerning the
habits of this species:- "fond of sunning itself on bushes though it is more often
encountered shooting across a path, and I have taken several in the thatches of
native huts, whither they had gone in pursuit of striped skinks or house geckos:"
"is an adept at climbing.....twenty feet up in the topmost twigs of a stunted tree in
a moment." A member of the 'snake sect' told him that "they considered its bite
poisonous, though but slightly so, as there was only a little local irritation;
for the bite they apply the leaves of the kinyamalowa, a shrub about 5 feet
in height.". But Loveridge is confident that its bite is innocuous to man, and there
were no poisonous symptoms accompanying a very lacerated bite which bled freely.
Like other representatives of this genus it is diurnal, extremely active and voracious.
It has a mixed diet which includes small mammals, birds, snakes, skinks, geckos
and other lizards; it is preyed upon freely by snake-eating birds, such as buzzards
and harrier-eagles, and by large snakes like the cobras and file snakes. Loveridge
has twice observed single specimens performing curious antics which suggested
that the snakes were at play.
The same author has found many kinds of parasitic worms in the stomachs of
some of his specimens; there were four ticks on one of the Mabira Forest examples
Referring to this species Loveridge (1928) states:- "The number of eggs pro-
duced by snakes advances with age up to a certain point", and in support tabulates
the ovary contents of four examples of P. subtceniatus:-
23rd Sept.-ten eggs found in a 45- inch snake.
22nd Oct. -eight eggs found in a 39- inch snake.
22nd Oct. -seven eggs found in a 27 inch snake.
22nd Oct. -six eggs found in a 28-inch snake.
UGANDA SNAKES XI.
x li x 21
I. Psammophis punctulatus. 4. Psammophis sibilans.
2. Psammophis subteniatus. 5. Thelotornis kirtlandii.
3. Psammophis biseriatus. 6. Dispholidus typus.
7. Psammophis brevirostris.
He also records six eggs measuring 32 x 13 mm. laid on 22nd October, and
newly hatched young caught on 16th December and ist January.
Note. In the Systematic List on page 137 of Vol. III this species is referred to
by the oldest specific name subteniata, which under the accepted rules of nomenclat-
ure is incorrect and has had to give way to subtaniatus.
PSAMMOPHIS SIBILANS (Linnaeus).
Hissing Sand Snake, Large Brown or Olive Grass Snake
or African Beauty Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 4: Coloured Plate (K), Fig. 4).
Native names-In Luganda, "Karwekarwe," or "Kalwekalwe"; this is so far
the only local vernacular name known to the writer, but no doubt so common and
conspicuous a species is probably distinguished by special names in the local dialects
wherever it occurs. Also, as mentioned elsewhere, some of the other Uganda
species of Psammophis where found together with P. sibilans, are likely to be con-
fused with, and referred to by the name applicable to, this species. In Swahili
it is called "Swaga."
Distribution-P. sibilans is a savanna species with a wide distribution in Trop-
ical Africa, ranging south to the River Zambezi and Zululand, and in Egypt reach-
ing as far north as the Mediterranean. It is absent from true forest, but occurs in
low-lying almost desert conditions of considerable aridity; and it has been found
at all altitudes from sea level to 7,000 feet. In greater detail the distribution is
Egypt, and Western, Central, South-Central, Eastern and North-Eastern Africa
from Senegambia to Angola, N.E. Belgian Congo, the Sudan, Eritrea, Abyssinia,
Somaliland, Uganda, Kenya Colony, Zanzibar, Tanganyika Territory, Nyasaland,
Portuguese East Africa, Zululand, Northern Rhodesia, and Katanga (S.E. Belgian
Congo). In the Sudan, rather curiously, it is absent from the region between the
first and the sixth cataract.
Occurrence in Uganda-Excepting the high altitudes, the regions of swamp and
the Rain Forest, there are few localities from which this handsome species is ab-
sent, though it is not found in the uplands (6,000 to 8,000 feet) of S.W. Kigezi. Re-
corded localities include Entebbe, Kampala, Jinja, Mt. Elgon (6,000 to 7,000 feet),
Serere (Teso), Ungora (Upper Nile), the outskirts of the Budongo Forest (Bunyo-
ro), Lake Kioga, Ankole, Wadelai and the West Nile District.
Description-This is a large and handsome species which may attain a length
of 6 feet, though the largest specimen (from Northern Rhodesia) personally ex-
amined was 5 feet 8 inches: examples exceeding a total length of 5 feet are common.
The average length of numerous specimens measured in Northern Rhodesia was
Boulenger, in a series of more than fifty examined, gives the greatest total
length 121o mm., of which the tail, 380 mm., constitutes a little less than a third.
This is not a large measurement, being barely 4 feet.
In a series of thirteen collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition
the largest (no sex mentioned) measured 1720 mm: in addition are quoted the
largest male, 1500 mm., and the largest female, ioo mm. In nine of these spec-
imens the tail is .27 to .29 of the total, and, according to Schmidt (1923), this
appendage is frequently injured.
Loveridge (1933, p. 256) referring to Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia
material records the largest, lacking the end of its tail as 1245 (100ooo + 245) mm., and
the smallest as 310 (220+90) mm.: the same author (1929) refers to a Tanganyika
specimen measuring 1635 (1191+444) mm.
Measurements of adults personally collected in Northern Rhodesia include 68
(tail 2o), 66, 644 (tail 18), 634 (tail i61), male 62 (tail 161), 54+, male 53(tail 144), 52
(tail 15), 491 (tail 134), male 47. (tail 13i), male47- (tail i21), 441 (tail 124), male
447 (tail Io), 434 (tail 13), and 35 (tail iro) inches; and a juvenile, recently hatched,
13 (tail 4) inches. A female, from the Budongo Forest, measures 1162 mm.
Flower (P.Z.S., 1933) gives maximum measurements respectively for the
Sudan (Lado) and Egypt (Giza), as 1325 and 1445 mm.
Prominent characters are detailed fully in the descriptive note on the genus,
though it can be mentioned conveniently that the smooth-scaled cylindrical body is
typical and conspicuous. The eye is brown. Scales in 17 rows: ventrals 143-198:
subcaudals 60- i 6. There are only a few Uganda specimens in the British Museum
(Natural History); and their sex, locality, colour and scale counts are as follows:-
Sex. Locality. Colour Scale Rows Ventrals. Subcaudals.
Juvenile. Entebbe. C 17 171 88
Female. Serere (Teso). F 17 170 94
Juvenile. Serere (Teso). F 17 173 96
Half-grown. Mulema (S.
Ankole). F 17 175 96
Female. Mt. Elgon (6,800 feet). F 17 166 84
Male. Entebbe. F 17 i8o 97
Male. Semliki Valley
(2,500 feet). F 17 169 93
Juvenile. Semliki Valley. F 17 169 96
Female. Semliki Valley. F 17 176 98
Female. Budongo Forest. ? 17 172 92
The coloration is extremely variable, and it is convenient to quote at length
from Boulenger's descriptions of the most distinctive varieties;-
k'A. Olive or brown above, the scales mostly black-edged; a more or less
distinct, narrow, yellow vertebral line, and a broader yellow streak, along
each side of the back; head with yellow, black-edged longitudinal streaks in
front, and transverse ones behind, which markings however, may become very
indistinct in the adult; upper lip yellowish white, uniform or with a few brown or
black dots on the anterior shields; lower parts, including lower half of outer
row of scales, yellowish white, uniform or with a faint brown lateral line.
B. As in A, but no trace of a light vertebral line,
C. Uniform brown or greyish olive above, the markings on the head very
indistinct; upper lip and lower parts, including lower third of outer row of
scales, uniform yellowish white.
D. Brown or olive aboveywith lateral streaks and head-markings as in
A: vertebral line absent or reduced to a series of yellow dots; lower parts, in-
cluding lower half of outer row of scales, white, with a continuous or inter-
rupted black longitudinal line on each side of the belly.
E. Uniform brown or olive above, with more or less distinct traces of the
markings on the head; upper lip yellowish, with brown or blackish dots; lower
parts, including lower third or lower half of outer row of scales, yellowish,
with a brown or black line on each side of the belly.
F. Olive above, which colour extends down to the ends of the ventrals,
uniform or dotted with blackish, or with most of the scales black-edged; some-
times, in the young, with traces of light longitudinal stripes and of the head-
markings; upper lip yellowish, spotted or speckled with black; belly yellowish
or pale olive, uniform or dotted with black; on the sides, the dots sometimes
confluent into longitudinal lines."
According to Schmidt (1923, p. l 2.):- "The specimens from the Uele represent
the color form "F" of Boulenger, uniform olive-brown above, extending to the ends
of the ventrals, yellowish below, with a well-marked black line on each side of the
venter. The specimen from Beni possibly represents the color form "B", but has
no trace of the head markings of the typical "sibilans." The color is olive-brown
above, extending to the lower third of the first scale row; a broad white line out-
lined with black, on the third and fourth scale rows, beginning some distance be-
hind the head, extends to the tip of the tail. Venter bluish on the median two-
thirds, outlined with a fairly well-marked darker line, outside of which the ventr-
als and the lower third of the first scale row are pure white."
Personally collected examples from Northern Rhodesia are olive, greyish or
yellow-brown in colour, with the top of the head red-brown or chestnut; a lot of
interstitial black often shows between the scales which are close-fitting, giving this
snake a smooth, glossy appearance. In greater detail a Northern Rhodesia speci-
men is described in the writer's field notes as having "a long whip-tail; dark grey
generally; white-bellied; lips, under jaw and throat spotted black; line of dark marks
faintly perceptible along either side of the belly."
A recently hatched juvenile-one of a large brood-obtained in N4orthert
Rhodesia is a replica in miniature of the adult, though coloured and marked more
Loveridge referring to Tanganyika specimens describes the coloration as "a
plumbeous hue, with white lips finely speckled with black." The same author (1928)
also mentions:- "It is sometimes olive-green, brown or even straw coloured...
helped in identification by the characteristic freckling of the lips; underneath it is
dirty white or yellow."
According to Corkill (1935, p. 21):- "A snake attaining a relatively large size,
that may or may not be striped and that has a long, thin angular head with large
eyes. The tail is a third of the total length. There are one or two very large teeth
in the upper jaw below the eyes. There is often a faint brown line along each side
of the belly......The head may be longitudinally and transversely streaked."
It has been necessary to refer in considerable detail to the wide range in col-
oration, and in this connection Barbour (I913, p. 148), when describing three
examples differing considerably from one another in coloration from the Eastern
Sudan, records:- "There is apparently no relationship whatever between type of
coloration and distribution. The various color patterns seem to occur indiscriminate-
y1 throughout the entire range of the species." Although there appear to be reliable
grounds for this opinion, one cannot help wondering whether it is correct, and it
would seem to be more likely that Schmidt (1923, p. 112) is on the right track with
his reference :- "The species of Psammophis are of exceptional systematic interest
and offer fascinating problems in variation and distribution for a revisor of the
genus. It seems probable that P. sibilans will be found to have several well-defined
subspecies when the variation can be critically compared in the several forest areas
in which it occurs."
In the descriptive note on P. subteniatus it will be observed that this species is
separated from the species P. sibilans on colour variation alone.
H.W. Parker in reply to a query regarding the value of specific separation on
colour difference alone writes:-
"As regards the validity of colour pattern as a specific difference, I think it is
quite impossible to lay down any hard and fast rule on this matter. I know of
several instances where two perfectly clearly defined species only differ in their
colour, and other cases where two obviously different species are so similar in
colour that it is impossible to tell one from the other unless you have the male.
I have not gone into the question of subtaeniatus and sibilans so that I dare
not express an opinion."
It is curious that the only specimens of P. subteniatus at present known from
Uganda come from the Mabira Forest and Budongo Forest regions, localities which
are not in keeping with the usual habitat of subtoeniatus. It is possible that these
Uganda 'forest' examples in reality represent one of the numerous varieties of P.
sibilans, and that eventually some of these varieties will have to be recognized as
Habits-Where it occurs P. sibilans is an abundant species, and it is probably
due to its diurnal habits that specimens are so frequently found to be damaged, in-
juries to the tail being particularly common. It has many enemies and is preyed
upon freely by Harrier Eagles (Circaetus spp.), Buzzards (Buteo spp.) and other
large birds of prey; Werer (1907) records one being found in the stomach of an
African Fish Eagle (Cuncuma vocifer). Its preference for basking in the sun on
the tops of bushes renders it an easy object of attack from the air, and results in
many a fat specimen providing a meal for a hungry bird of prey.
On the Batonga and Batoka plateaux in Northern Rhodesia it is a common
sight to see a large eagle or buzzard mounting into the heavens with three or four
feet of writhing snake trailing from its claws. But sometimes when the snake is too
powerful for the bird, or when it is held in an awkward position, the victim has
perforce to be released, and on such occasions it not infrequently eludes its aggress-
or, though the injuries sustained by a fairly large snake striking the ground from
a height are almost certain in due course to prove fatal. Once when the writer
was motoring from Masaka to Mbarara a Red-tailed Buzzard (Buteo augur rufo-
fiuscus) was seen to rise from the road just ahead of the car with a struggling P.
sibilans in its talons. The car was slowed up in order to observe better the efforts
of the heavily flapping bird which had evidently seized a victim just too powerful
for its strength. The inevitable happened, and the snake was released, very nearly
falling on the car! But the bird, probably alarmed at the intrusion, made no at-.
tempt to recover its intended meal.
In the writer's experience, which is considerable. P. sibilans is a typical 'grass'
snake, and its arboreal tendencies seem to be restricted to basking on the tops
of bushes and small bushy trees, as previously mentioned. In Egypt, according
to Flower (P.Z.S., 1933), it is closely associated with water and is never found far
away from the irrigation system of that country and, also, much of its time is spent
high up in trees, where it is neither seen nor molested. Corkill (1935, p.20) ment-
ions:- "They have been noted swimming in irrigation canals." He also records:-
"These snakes are often encountered in the day-time. They are common in cult-
ivation, in gardens, round houses and in the cracks of cotton soil...They feed mostly
on small rodents, but they are said also to eat young birds and locusts. In size
they are comparatively large and this, combined with a show of fierceness, procures
them great respect. They cannot, however, be considered dangerous."
At Entebbe before the scrub was cleared from the region between the golf
course and the lake shore P. sibilans was unusually plentiful and a number of them
could always be seen on sunny days basking on the tops of the bushes in the
numerous hollows; they were also common in the gardens of the residential quarter
and the writer well remembers on one occasion returning from overseas leave to
find that a fine specimen had made its home for several months (there were two cast
skins in its lair) amongst a group of plant boxes adorning a flight of steps, which
led to a blocked doorway and was never used!
Loveridge has the following most interesting record:- "At 8 a.m. one morning
whilst crossing the Wembere Flats (Tanganyika Territory) I came upon a sand
snake apparently dying with thirst. It offered no resistance to being picked up and
died shortly afterwards. Its stomach was clean and empty. With the exception of
6fie well, I kneW of no water within a radius of twenty miles'". it is indeed a re-
markable record for a snake which normally seems to keep well within a two-mile
radius of the nearest water. The writer, however, did come across P. sibilans in a
particularly arid locality in the super-heated Luangwa Valley in Northern Rhodesia,
but it must be admitted that there was a large river no more than i J miles distant.
While on the subject of habitat it is convenient to offer a few remarks on the
subject of the popular name "Hissing Sand Snake." In the writer's experience in
Uganda, Kenya and Northern Rhodesia, as well as in the N. E. and S. E. Belgian
Congo, the habitat of P. sibilans is most certainly not associated with "sand," though
most localities in which it has been found, or their vicinity, are associated with
seasonal inundation; while, as for the qualification "hissing", it is curious to relate
that not one of the large number handled has ever lived up to this description, and
their much-advertised hiss has been conspicuously absent. "African Beauty Snake"
is a fairly well-merited designation, but the writer would unhesitatingly award
the palm for real beauty to Rhamphiophis oxyrhynchus, vide the detailed note on
this species. According to Flower (1933):- For elegance of motion and beauty of
colour few sights in Egypt can equal that of a Psammophis sibilans gliding from
branch to branch among the trees in an orange grove."
Corkill (935, p.20) has managed to obtain an interesting collection of Arabic
names from various parts of the Sudan, some of which referring to the striped
forms are derived because "their marking suggests the commonly used fibre strips
of the Dom Palm." "Non-striped forms are known by names in allusion to the usual
rodent diet of the species," while other names used are "inspired by its whip-like
form," or "suggested by the fact that its movements are like those of something shot
or lanced like an arrow or spear." Loveridge alludes to this rapidity of movement
by mentioning a "yellowish-brown or olivaceous coloured snake which frequently
startles the pedestrian on safari by darting away from, or across, his path."
There is no doubt that this species is sometimes referred to as a mamba, and
often confused with the brown cobra.
The tally of the enemies of P. sibilans does not end with the birds of prey, as
it apparently provides a favourite meal for cobras, and to a lesser extent is preyed
upon by the 'boomslang' (Dispholidus typus). A large specimen of Mehelya chan-
leri videe the detailed note on this species) collected by Mr. W.J. Eggeling in the
Budongo Forest had swallowed an example of Psammophis sp. (probably sibilans)
almost as big as itself! On the other hand, in captivity, P. sibilans not infrequently
displays cannibalistic tendencies, though these are probably accentuated by greed.
Loveridge once came across a fifty-and-a-half-inch Black-necked Cobra (N. nigri-
collis) in the wild state which was swallowing an example of P. sibilans about 45
inches in length.
This snake feeds mainly on rodents, lizards and frogs, consuming as large
specimens of the first-named as Mastomys coucha and Rattus spp. In captivity it is
exceptionally voracious, which Loveridge explains may be due to infestation by
parasitic worms, and he records that at times the presence of nematodes in over-
whelming numbers will cause a snake's death. The same author in various papers
has given some amazing accounts of the voracity of this species: he even states:-
"So readily do they feed in captivity that it might almost be said that they will
take food from one's fingers." Also, greed makes them quarrelsome in confine-
ment, and even induces them to take dead food, which is unusual. Various species
of parasitic worms have been. found by the writer and others in stomachs which
have been investigated.
A recently hatched, and very active, brood was found in Northern Rhodesia
on 24th September: the eggs had evidently been deposited in a rubbish heap on
waste land in the middle of the township at Broken Hill.
A couple, of which the male was collected, were observed pairing at midday
in the Luangwa Valley (i,6oo feet) in Northern Rhodesia on o2th July, during the
cold part of the dry season.
P. sibilans when captured is apt to bite fiercely in self-defence, but many Europ-
eans and natives have been bitten by it without any ill effects although the Tanga-
nyika 'snake sect' maintain that its bite is poisonous and resort to a certain veget-
able preparation as an antidote.
On account of its widespread distribution, abundance, and conspicuous appear-
ance this species and its attributes have been described at considerable length.
PSAMMOPHIS BREVIROSTRIS Peters.
Short-snouted Sand Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 7: Coloured Plate (T), Fig. 4).
Native names-None known but as this species and the common P. sibilans
are likely to occur in the same localities, it will probably be known by any name
applicable to the latter.
Distribution-South Africa, Angola and parts of the Southern and Eastern
Belgian Congo as far north-east as Mahagi Port at the north-western extremity
of Lake Albert and Faradje in Haut Uele.
Occurrence in Uganda-At present there are no authenticated records from
within Uganda limits, but as de Witte (1933) has recorded a specimen from
Mahagi Port, collected by Dr. Schouteden, it should most certainly be found in the
adjacent West Nile District of Uganda.
Description-This is a fairly large species which probably attains a maximum
length of about 5 feet. Boulenger's biggest is 1300 (tail 370) mm., the total length
being approximately three-and-a-half times that of the tail. De Witte (1933), un-
fortunately, in recording a series of twenty-three specimens from the Belgian
Congo, gives neither measurements, sex, nor other data. Prominent characters are
detailed fully in the descriptive note on the genus and, as in its other Uganda
members, the smooth-scaled cylindrical body is typical and conspicuous. Scales
in 17 rows: ventrals 153-163: subcaudals 64-95.
Boulenger gives the coloration as:-"Brown or dark olive on the back (7 rows
of scales), pale olive on the sides down to the ventrals, the two shades separated by
a more or less distinct lighter streak; a yellowish black-edged spot usually present
on each vertebral scale; head uniform olive-brown in the adult, in the young with a
yellowish streak along the frontal and yellowish cross-bars behind; yellowish white
beneath, with a series of olive or blackish dots or short streaks along each side."
The coloration of the eye is not mentioned.
Habits-This is a savanna species which in its habits is unlikely to differ from
the other Uganda members of the genus.
Note-Psammophis brevirostris is not included in the Systematic List on page
40* as the record from Mahagi Port was not available at the time of its compilation.
PSAMMOPHIS BISERIATUS Peters.
Two-lined Sand Snake or Link-marked Sand Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 3: Coloured Plate (K), Fig. 3).
Native names-None known.
Distribution-Eastern Africa from the Sudan (as far north as Khartoum and
Erkowit on the Red Sea Coast), Somaliland (1,950-3,300 feet) and Gallaland to
Kenya Colony and Tanganyika Territory, west to the southern shore of the Vict-
oria Nyanza. This species is evidently associated with the lower somewhat arid
altitudes and the drier 'nyika': in Tanganyika Loveridge has only found it "in
thorn bush steppe."
Occurrence in Uganda- From the nature of its usual habitat one would expect
to come across this species only in the drier parts of northern and eastern Uganda.
Captain Speke obtained a specimen at Ungora, Upper Nile. Extralimitally, though
in localities a few thousand feet lower than that of adjacent Uganda, it occurs at
Lodwar and near the mouth of the Kaliokwell river, both in Turkana (Kenya) to
the west of Lake Rudolf, where it is probably fairly common.
Description--This is another smaller and more slender relative of the common
P. sibilans, which rarely attains a length of 4 feet or even as much as 3 feet, though
East African examples of 4 feet 6 inches and 4 feet 7- inches (tail 15 inches) have
been recorded. But Loveridge's (1935, pp. 256-257) best, a female, out of a series
of sixteen Tanganyika specimens is no more than 865 (565+300) mm., and his
smallest 300(200+ oo) mm., the total length being respectively not quite twice, and
* See Vol, III, No. 2, p. 137.
UGANDA SNAKES (K)
la. Lateral Section.
2a. Lateral Section.
3a. Lateral Section.
4a. Lateral Section.
lb. Ventral Section.
2b. Ventral Section.
3b. Ventral Section.
4b. Ventral Section.
Presented by Uganda Government.
three times, that of the tail: six juveniles "taken early in December are 325 mm."
The total length of Boulenger's biggest is 0o50 (tail 400) mm., the tail being con-
tained in the total approximately two-and-a-half times.
Prominent characteristics are detailed in the descriptive note on the genus,
though the cylindrical, smooth-scaled body is conspicuous and typical, while the
most pronounced distinguishing feature is the vivid emerald green head. According
to Corkill(I935):- "The anal may be single or paired." Scales in 15 rows: ventrals
142-165 : subcaudals 93-131. In three (Lodwar) females the ventrals are 149, 149 and
150, and the subcaudals respectively 93, I12 and 117; in a Kaliokwell river female
there are 150 ventrals and 117 subcaudals.
Boulenger gives the coloration as :-"Greyish or pale brown above, with a darker
vertebral and two series of reddish-brown or black spots; head with dark brown
or reddish-brown black-edged spots, and usually a dark cross-band on the occiput;
a dark streak on each side of the head, passing through the eye; lips with black or
brown spots, belly greyish, speckled with black and spotted with white, sometimes
with a rusty median stripe."
According to Corkill (1935):- "This snake is a rarity and in life is beautifully
coloured, the head being a vivid emerald green and certain of the dorsal markings be-
ing a delicate shade of amethyst. In preservation these colours fade."Loveridge (1928)
draws attention to the cryptic coloration which enables these snakes to simulate the
twigs of shrubs amongst which they take refuge. Although the writer has not yet
been fortunate enough to examine a living example of this handsome species it
would seem that in habits and appearance it is not unlike Thelotornis kirtlandii of
the next Ethiopian-African genus to be described. Werner's description (1907, p.
57) is within the range of, and approximates to, Boulenger's detail of the coloration.
Habits-As previously mentioned this species is associated with low-lying, arid
conditions and the drier thorn bush savanna: in Somaliland it is evidently common.
Like P. sibilans and P. subtceniatus it is partially arboreal and somewhat bush-
frequenting, and according to Loveridge (1928, p. 56) in a Tanganyika locality in
which this species is very common:- "Scarcely a day passed(July 14-23, 1926) with-
out disturbing one or two basking among the fallen leaves at the base of shrubs,
into which they vanished with great rapidity. One had then to remain still and
carefully scrutinise the bush where presently the snake would be found either
lying along a branch to which it had applied its whole length or with the anterior
third of its slender body stiffened and projecting into space like a twig. One has
but to examine the markings of one of these snakes to appreciate how remarkably
well their cryptic coloring and slender habit simulate the twigs among which they
take refuge." The same author also records:- "Seems partial to sandy or rock-
strewn desert country." Corkill (1935) mentions :- "The Nahud specimen was pick-
ed out of a tree on a goz slope covered with grasses. Its tail was strongly and
actively prehensile, twining instantly round the fingers and wrist of its captor; at
the time it was noteworthy that no attempt was made to bite. Like other members
of the genus Psammophis it is extremely active,"
Its diet appears to consist mainly of skinks and small lizards, and stomachs
examined by Loveridge have contained the remains of Lygosoma sp., Riopa sp.,
Latastia sp. and Nucras sp.: two specimens measuring a little more than a foot in
length had each swallowed a bulky skink (L. ferrandii), and a bigger example had
eaten a large long-tailed lizard (Latastia longicaudata).
Genus THELOTORNIS Smith.
This is an interesting Tropical and South African genus represented by one
Quoting from Boulenger:- "In this genus, as in the following (Dispholidus),
the ectopterygoid bone is forked, the two branches articulating with the maxillary,
a structure not found in any other type of snakes."* Prominent characters in-
clude:- maxillary teeth, gradually increasing in length, followed, after a short in-
terspace, by two or three enlarged, grooved teeth situated below the posterior
border of the eye: anterior mandibular teeth conspicuously large: head distinct from
neck: large eye with horizontal pupil: cylindrical, very slender body: narrow scales,
very oblique, feebly keeled, with apical pits: rounded ventrals: long tail: and sub-
caudals in 2 rows.
THELOTORNIS KIRTLANDII (Hallowell).
Twig Snake, Vine Snake or Bird Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 5: Coloured Plate (L), Fig. 3).
Native names-None known, though wherever so distinctive a species occurs
in the Protectorate it will doubtless be recognized by an exclusive local name.
The writer not yet having come across this interesting snake in Uganda has in
consequence been unable to make the necessary enquiries in connection with
possible native names. In Northern Rhodesia, where it is common, it has many
extraordinary names in the vernacular, such as "the little bit of wood which bites,"
and "he who has been bitten can get as far as to see the roofs of his village but no
further before he dies." An investigation of all this snake's native names would
probably well repay the attentions of a student of etymology.
Distribution-Schmidt (1923, pp. 113-114) provides a most valuable detail of
the distribution of Thelotornis kirtlandii which will be quoted in extenso. "The range
of this species represents a type of distribution very distinct from that of its re-
According to Parker (Ann. Mag. Nat. His., Ser. 9, Vol. XX, p. 81, July, 1927, the African
genera Miodon and Apostolepis (now Chilorhinophis), also have the forked ectopterygoid bone.-
C, R, 8. P.
native bispholidus tyius, although the ranges of both have been correctly enough
referred to as 'Tropical and South Africa.' It is abundant in various parts of the
Rain Forest of Gaboon and Cameroon as well as the Ituri but, instead of being
confined to the forest or to the neighbourhood of the forest, it has an even wider
range in the Savanna Province. It extends roughly from Togo to Uganda, from
the Juba River to Natal, and from Northern Rhodesia to Angola and even northern
South-west Africa. The southward extension of the range to Natal (and not to
western South-west Africa) is a characteristic feature of the distribution of many
widely ranging species not only of animals, but of plants. Hewitt (191o, Ann.
Transvaal Museum, II, p. 56) has called attention to this feature of South African
distribution. Thelotornis represents an extreme specialization for the arboreal hab-
itat, and it is known to feed on birds and tree lizards; from this fact the assumption
is logical that it is primarily a forest species which has spread outside of the forest
limits after reaching its specific distinctness. An arboreal form originating in the
savanna would be expected to become still more specialized for the arboreal habitat
if it entered the Rain Forest, while the reverse is obviously not the case (irrevers-
ibility of evolution). The specimens from South and East Africa probably represent
a valid subspecies Thelotornis kirtlandii capensis (Smith) characterized by the uni-
form presence of black head markings."
Personal experience of many specimens of this snake in its natural haunts in
Northern Rhodesia suggested a close association with localities in which there are
rocky outcrops, and, although actively and expertly arboreal, it must be admitted
that in places where it was found to be plentiful it was always extremely common
on the ground. In Northern Rhodesia this species is widely distributed through-
out, being absent only from the regions of swamp, and it is found, often abundantly,
at all altitudes from 1,500 feet (Zambezi Valley) to 5,000 feet (high plateau). Schmidt's
theory that "it is primarily a forest species which has spread outside of the forest
limits" is probably correct, but, on the other hand it may have adapted itself to
savanna conditions during the westerly recession of the forest; at any rate its ex-
treme familiarity with, sometimes even preference for, the ground needs consider-
Occurrence in Uganda-So far no personal records are available of the occurr-
ence in Uganda of Thelotornis kirtlandii, though in the British Museum (Natural
History) at South Kensington there are two specimens from Entebbe and one from
Jinja. Extralimitally, but not far west of the Uganda border, this snake has been
obtained in the Ituri Region of the Belgian Congo. Judging from Northern
Rhodesia conditions the type of country which should be eminently suited to its
requirements is that portion of the Toro and Mubende Districts plentifully strewn
with rocky outcrops.
Description-Although this species probably attains to a total length of 5 feet,
and examples varying from 3- feet to a little over 4 feet, are common, it cannot,
on account of its extreme slenderness, be regarded as a large snake. Boulenger in
a series of more than twenty quotes a total length of 8o mm. in which the tail,
400 mm., is contained not quite three times. According to Schmidt (923, p. 114)the
largest male and the largest female in a series of fifteen collected by the American
Museum Congo Expedition measure respectively 1330 and 1445 mm., the tail, which
is frequently injured, occupying from .33 to .37 of the total.
Measurements of East African examples quoted by Loveridge in various
papers (1928-1933) include:-a male (with tip of tail missing), 1215 (765+ 450) mm.;
a female, 1212 (740+472) mm.; a male, 1140 (69o+450)mm.; 1059(690+369)mm.;
and 53 inches. Another female with its tail chopped off measures 50 mm.; longer
in body than the previously-quoted specimen of 1212 mm.
The measurements of some of the Northern Rhodesia specimens personally
examined are 47 (tail 17), 451 (tail 17), 43 (tail 16), and 32J (tail ii) inches.
Prominent characters are detailed in the note on the genus: in addition the anal
is divided. The eye is greyish-brown. Scales in 19 rows: ventrals 143-189: sub-
caudals 116-170. In two females from Entebbe the ventrals number respectively
176 and 175, and the subcaudals 138 and 140: a Jinja specimen has 174 ventrals,
and one from the Ituri Region (Belgian Congo) 177. In the American Museum
Congo specimens:- "The ventral plates range from 173-189, slightly higher in fem-
ales, mean 178. Subcaudals 150-157 in males, 140-154 in females."
With reference to Schmidt's suggestion that the subspecies T. k. capensis is
probably valid it is of interest to record that the ventral count in West African and
Uganda material is consistently higher than that of examples from East and South
Africa. Loveridge (1929, Bull, 151, p. 33) refers to two East African specimens
which have 15 midbody scale rows, an abnormally small number.
The extraordinary, cryptic coloration giving the appearance of bark, which
harmonises perfectly with the slender branches it simulates, is not easy to describe.
Boulenger gives the coloration as:-"Greyish or pinkish brown above,
uniform or with more or less distinct darker and lighter spots and cross-bands;
head green above, with or without some patches of pinkish speckled with black
and a pinkish black-dotted streak on each side of the head passing through the
eye; upper lip cream-colour, or pink, uniform or spotted with black; one or several
black blotches on each side of the neck; greyish or pinkish beneath, speckled
or striated with brown.
A. Head uniform green above and on the sides; black blotches usually
forming cross-bands on the neck. (L. kirtlandii, Hallow; 0. lecomtei, D. and B.;
0. violacea, Fisch).
B. Head with black dots above and on the sides; no cross-bands on
the neck. (T. capensis, Smith: D. oatesii, Gthr.)."
Schmidt (1923, p. 114), also, is worried by the coloration which he says,
"is uniform in the series but difficult to describe: a very fine mixture of greens
browns, greys and pink, the latter colour predominating on the venter, the
comparison made in the field notes being 'mouldy.' The top of the head is uni-
form green in life, brownish in alcohol. The neck is cross-barred with black,
much more distinct when the neck is distended."
The description in field notes of specimens personally collected in Northern
Rhodesia reads:- "Greyish or pinkish-brown, with the appearance of bark: usually
marked with evenly, though widely, distributed darker and lighter spots and cross-
bands: top of head pale green spotted and edged with various patterns in black:
nape black. In juveniles the green is replaced by delicate pink."
According to Loveridge (in lit.):- This reptile has a very slender body and h
somewhat leaf-shaped head; its extraordinary likeness to a vine is heightened by
the mottled-brown shadingof the body while the top of the head in some specimens
is brown instead of bright green."
In certain colorations this species is not unlike Psanimiophis biseriatus, and one
of the colour forms of Dispholidus typus. T. kirtlandii derives its popular names of
"Twig" and "Stick" snake from its habit of simulating slender branches or vines.
It often gets into the most extraordinary attitudes and when along, or entwined
round the branch of a tree it may extend its head and about a foot of the body
rigid and immovable, horizontally out or down, for lengthy periods, paying no at-
tention to human beings passing within a few feet. Similarly when on the ground
it will poise its anterior third upward or obliquely forward and ignore passers-by.
On such occasions, short of killing it, little seems to disturb it! On account of these
curious habits the natives of the various tribes in Northern Rhodesia regard this
species with the greatest respect and awe, and nothing will induce many of them to
interfere with it, though it was remarkable how quickly in some cases greed over-
came superstition when specimens were known to command a high monetary value.
A snake poised as a set-piece on the ground or in a tree was almost invariably
left alone, and omens, auspicious or otherwise, gleaned from the direction in which
the head was pointing. One cannot help wondering why an arboreal species should
so frequently when on the ground indulge in imitating a graven image.
Another curious characteristic is its power to distend its throat and neck vert-
ically when irritated; this action can be regarded "as a warning or frightening
adaptation of special interest since the remainder of the body offers an exception-
ally good example of protective coloration." According to Loveridge (in lit.):-
"This is made possible by the cartilaginous rings of the trachea, which, being in-
complete dorsally, permit the distension." The next species to be described, Dis-
pholidus typus, is equally able to indulge in this rather alarming puffing out of the
throat. Northern Rhodesia specimens which were closely examined not only in-
flated the throat tremendously, but to a lesser extent swelled for well over a third
of the anterior portion of the body. The writer derived a lot of amusement from a
forty-seven-inch specimen which he picked up one day when on tour in Northern
Rhodesia and carried into camp The snake had been carried by the neck tightly
held between forefinger and thumb, so that by the time it reached camp it was far
from happy and distinctly annoyed. It was deposited on some grass in a wide-
mouthed basket and left to recover, which did not take long. A native servant was
laying the lunch and, unsuspecting, passed constantly in and out of the half-open
hut: he was unaware of the snake which as it recovered was following his move-
ments more and more intently. He was now getting closer and closer to the
basket and the snake's irritation was evidently increasing rapidly. Then with eyes
glittering it reared up, the throat conspicuously inflated, it swayed once or twice
and, next time the native passed, made a vicious lunge at him of which he was
quite ignorant. When the snake had recovered its poise the native's attention was
directed to it; he gave one yell and fled!
Although popularly known as "Bird" Snake, this species, according to Love-
ridge (in lit.), "despite its name, appears to show a preference for lizards and other
snakes, at least so far as my experience goes." It also feeds on chameleons and small
birds, and in captivity will eat other snakes, including Typhlops spp., freely.
There is one prominent feature to which so far there has beeh ho reterehnt,
namely the brilliantly coloured tongue of a vivid orange, vermilion or scarlet hue,
forked and black-tipped. This conspicuous organ plays an important part in pro-
curing a meal, for when the snake is concealed in the branches of a tree awaiting
its prey, it periodically flickers its tongue so as to resemble a brightly coloured
insect, and it is then able to seize any birds or lizards which approach to investigate.
Loveridge (1928) records obtaining a female on 4th October which contained
five eggs measuring 15 x 5 mm. The same author also found cestodes in one of the
specimens he examined: parasitic worms were present in the internal organs of two
Northern Rhodesia examples investigated by the writer.
From my personal experience it would appear that this snake is peaceable and
inoffensive and when handled rarely attempts to bite. It indulges freely in its
little bluff of throat inflation, which to the uninitiated must be most terrifying,
but, unless extremely annoyed, it is unusual for this demonstration to be accom-
panied by any act of aggression. It is curious that it should be an object of dread
to so many of the natives of Northern Rhodesia and Tanganyika Territory, in both
of which countries it is regarded as deadly poisonous, and, according to the 'snake
sect' in the latter, is said to be "as poisonous as the mamba, death occurring in one
minute if no medicine is used. However, it is not vicious and is frequently brought
in with a load of firewood, remaining perfectly quiet until the load is thrown down;
if trodden on it will bite." Can it be blamed ?
In conclusion it can be conveniently emphasised that in the writer's Northern
Rhodesia experience T. kirtlandiiappears to be associated principally with localities
in which there are rocky outcrops, escarpments and rocky hills, combined with
light woodland, savanna and similar sparse conditions of vegetation.
(To BE CONTINUED.)
UGANDA SNAKES XII.
5. Aparallactus concolor.
6. Elapops modestus.
7. Chilorhinophis butler.
8. Chilorhinophis butler.
The Mubuku River and the Angler.
By ROBERT SCOTT.
Since that fine fresh May morning when Piscator met Venator and Auceps on the
road to Ware, trout-fishing has been exalted to a position high above its proper,
respectable station. Walton placed the catching oftrout at the head of all the angler's
pursuits, and there to a great part of his successors it will always remain. But the
larger body of those who fish for trout has seceded from the communion of general
anglers; and, particularly those who favour over all others one special method of
attracting their trout (as to which method is supreme, there is much diversity
of opinion among the Pharisees), recognizes no alternative form of angling as becom-
ing to the sportsman of taste (1). That this development was natural in view of the
necessity of preserving waters in England may well be; that it is decadent and
sterile is certain. The little boy who sinks his bent pin in the water-butt beneath
the limes, in the hope that an angel will have deposited a miraculous draught of
fishes there, overnight, seems to me to retain the spirit which has made angling the
pleasant sport that it is, to a fuller degree than he who with the statistics of fish
released from hatchery to river by his Association in the forefront of his memory,
creeps through the meadowsweet to drop his Little Red Sedge before the nose of a
perfectly educated, well mannered, pot-bellied three-pounder.
The new company of trout-fishers who take the wet or dry fly as their shib-
boleth had no sooner become a majority than they began to show all the astonish-
ing fecundity usual to successful sectarianism. That is to say, dogma was created
to replace faith; new paradises were founded, as fast'as the fishing-rights could be
obtained; and as the vision became more limited the mind became more positive.
Finally, a literature came into being, very competent and usually charming, but
suffering from the common defect of Puritanism, lack of imagination. At last, even
the nymph became not quite respectable on all the best rivers. The result has been
apparent wherever the traditions of British angling have rooted themselves. The
schismatics, having formed themselves into the Establishment, knew the consequent
increase in social prestige. Gone are the days when the chub was esteemed, weight
for weight, with the trout; gone are the days (not so regrettably) when a man might
draw a dead mouse over the mill-pool at twilight and await complacently the acclaim
(1) But, the critic will observe, reverting to the first sentence, surely Charles Cotton was
of the modern type of trout-fisher. Perhaps he was; but he was in a minority among his
Caroline peers at the water's edge. Colonel Venables, who represents efficiency to the ex-
tent that Walton represents grace in the riverine marches of the Elysian Fields, was a firm
believer in catholicity (though he would have boggled at the word) where prey was concerned,.
accorded to his four-pounder. There is, in the modern view, one fish worthy of
being caught, and very few ways in which this may worthily be accomplished.
That is not my view: I hold that all fish are worth catching if the process calls
for individual ingenuity.
These considerations may appear to have led us far from the Mubuku river, and
it must be admitted that they have. But the angler must practise his deceits only
on fish, never on his fellow men. Fishing is essentially a personal matter; and,
just as we would not back a bill for a man whose financial conduct is not known
to us, we anglers should not be prepared to pledge our leisure on the word of a man
whose attitude towards fishing has not been defined. There is a secondary, and
perhaps even more important reason why the tendency of modern fishing should
have been discussed. Specialization in English trout-fishing has led to the belief
that the Brown Trout is the only fish worthy of serious attention. (With Brown
Trout, I include Sea, Loch Leven and Burn Trout, in accordance with the best
authorities of to-day). The comparative unpopularity of S. irideus may be ascribed
either to the fact that he is of a roving disposition and is thus disliked by those who,
in fact if not consciously, add half-a-crown to the credit side of their account with
their Association, water-lord or-bailiff for every weighty fish landed-or to the
fact that the Rainbow often prefers his fly to be well sunk and to be wrapped in
garish adornments which not even a salmon would credit to a natural insect (2).
It was, therefore, natural that the Government should have decided to introduce
Brown Trout when the stocking of the Ruwenzori streams came under consider-
ation. The presence of Nile Perch and Tiger Fish in Lake Albert is widely known;
their qualities as fighters are generally recognized; yet travellers have shown very
little interest in them. It was hoped that the arrival of the irreproachable Brown
Trout in rivers whose setting was capable of rousing the most carefully concealed or
blindly dormant sense of beauty would give the Mountains of the Moon a new
attraction to tourists. Further, the Brown Trout is a very adaptable creature. In
the pounding, rocky streams of the West of Scotland, as in the unhurrying May-
scented reaches of the Kennet or the Evenlode, in the peaty blackness of chilly
loughs and the clear, sunny waters of Blagdon, it adapts itself to its environment,
and thrives. Some of the species cannot live without the annual migration to salt
water; others are permanent dwellers in landlocked water. There was no reason,
there still appears to be no reason, why they should not have established themselves
in the Mubuku and neighboring rivers, and multiplied. They certainly showed
no signs of accounting themselves dismal exiles in strange and uninhabitable waters
when they first entered these streams. In the words of the Mutoro who was head-
man of labour when this ceremony took place:- "They were still for a time, astonished;
they flickered together, as if seeking a way; then they showed that they found the
water pleasant; they darted upstream like a flock of birds, but as fast as motorcars."
The border-line between speculations on the advantages of introducing trout
into Uganda and the formulation of plans was reached early in 1930, when Mr. T.
P. Robeson, a keen fisherman who had considerable experience of trout-breeding
(2) No trial seems to have been given to Salvelinus fontinalis in Africa, although in the
United States its active range is believed to extend well South of the Mason-Dixon Line,
Fig. 1. One of the more open of the Ruwenzori streams, the Bumlikwezi.
Fig. 2. 'The relatively low terrace which forms the southern bank of the
river some two miles below Mihunga.' (page 253).
in Kenya, visited the Ruwenzori streams, and reported on their suitability for trout.
He regarded the Mubuku as the most promising, and selected a site for a hatchery
near Mihunga, not far from where the Luboni stream enters the main river. He
also prepared plans for a hatchery and stock-pond, and these were constructed
under the direction of Mr. H. R. Fraser, to whose care it was proposed to entrust
the stocking of the rivers. For a number of reasons, unfortunately, it was found
necessary to postpone the execution of this scheme indefinitely, in so far as could
be foreseen at that time.
By the beginning of 1932, however, circumstances were again favourable, and
50,ooo Brown Trout ova were ordered by cable from the Surrey Trout Farm and
United Fisheries Limited. They were shipped from London, on the oth of March
of that year, by the S.S. "Madura", being packed in trays in a case fitted with ice-
chambers at each end. The case was stowed in a temperature of about 37, and
this temperature remained constant throughout the voyage. The contents were
examined every three days, and all dead ova were removed; about 500 did not
survive the voyage.
In the meantime, it had been discovered by Mr. Fraser, who was now assisted
by Mr. T.C. Jebson, that the original stock-pond and hatchery had disappeared,
having been buried under massive boulders by the wild floods of May, 1931. The
Mubuku had abandoned its old course, and was now running through a lower
channel about thirty yards away. A new site was selected at Luboni, between i
and 2 miles below Mihunga, towards the end of March, and Mr. Jebson immediately
started the necessary works. They were completed by the i3th of April, when
Mr. Fraser returned from Mombasa with the case of ova.
The ova, after having been landed from the "Madura", had remained in cold
storage in Mombasa for four days. They endured this, and the subsequent train and
car journeys, very well, so that Mr. Fraser estimated that, of the total consign-
ment, at least 45,000 ova were eventually placed in the hatching-boxes at Luboni.
By Saturday, the i6th of April, the hatch had begun; a number of alevins were
observed that morning. In May, Mr. Fraser was able to report that the hatch had
not been so successful as had been anticipated, since minor floods had washed
quantities of silt through the hatchery, so producing conditions very inimical to
the ova. Mr. Jebson had experienced trouble with flood water almost continuously
from the day in which the ova were placed in the hatching-boxes. The most damag-
ing spates were between the i6th and the 24th of April, and again on the 29th his
labourers had to work against time, by the light of hurricane lamps, to prevent a
furrow from being demolished. On the 12th of May, flood water was two feet deep
over the top of the sluice gate, the back of which was torn away. The transfer
of the alevins to the stock-ponds had been begun on the i ith of May, and after this
last spate it was estimated that some 5,000 fry only were available for stocking
purposes. Although disappointing, this result cannot, however, be described as un-
favourable by comparison with similar experiments carried out in other countries.
The fry were fed on boiled eggs and dried locusts, chopped fine, and thrived
on this diet. On the I9th of May, 500 were placed in canvas buckets, and were
carried to Kichuchu-a march of nearly twelve hours. They were released
into the Mubuku, and although about 30 perished either as a result of the journey,
or the change in water conditions, the remainder took vigorously to their new
home. It is to be noted, in passing, that this stretch of the river is separated from
the lower reaches by a high, sheer waterfall near Nyinabitaba, so that the trout
immigrants may reasonably be regarded as an entirely distinct colony. No real invest-
igation into its present fortunes has yet been made. Later, Mr. Jebson placed further
consignments of the fry in the Dwimi, Namwamba and Nyamgasani rivers. The
.balance went into the Mubuku, although it seems probable that a number would
find their way to the Luboni stream. This latter is a very pleasant water, not
subject to floods of the severity which distinguishes the Mubuku floods, but its
lower banks are even more impenetrably overgrown than the banks of the Mubuku.
Its upper reaches might well be worth a visit.
As has been suggested earlier, there appears to be no reason why Brown
Trout should not thrive in the Mubuku. The river is subject to periodic floods of
the most violent character, but, comparing the visible results with those observed
on rivers in Scotland and the Dauphin6, it would be rash to accept the view that flood
conditions on the Mubuku are necessarily so destructive as to have made it imprac-
ticable for trout to maintain themselves. No preyers on fish appeared to be strongly
represented in the valley. There are wild duck, and they certainly took a male-
volent interest in the ponds at the hatchery, but the nature of the river makes it a
relatively safe haven for fish where predacious birds are concerned. There were
no signs of otters on the sandbanks by the pools where the large barbel lie. The
food-stock in the river seems ample for a great stock of trout, even without taking
into account the underwater forms of life which are of such great importance in a
fish's dietary. Throughout the greater part of its length, the Mubuku is bordered
by thick vegetation, which often hangs over the water, and its lower tributaries
have the same characteristics. Innumerable grubs, other insects and worms must
reach its pools daily. Again, there is a wealth of insect life on the surface: Stone
and May flies are abundant; I saw enough over-sized Black Gnats playing over
certain pools to have fed scores of trout; and there were also numbers of near relat-
ions of Greenwell's Glory, the Coachman, Apple Green and Coch-y-bonddhu. It is
notable that all the barbel which I caught were in very good condition, and obviously
well fed. There seems to be a great stock of them in the river up to Mihunga; this
is apparently near the limit of their upward range. It has not, however, been
established that trout are not thriving in the Mubuku: the most that can be stated is
that they have not so far been taken on a line, and that the river has been netted
at intervals from the bridge to Nyinabitaba, with negative results. The nets used
in the survey were of the type which is appropriate to broad-beamed Lake fish.
Their efficacy as instruments for capturing trout may be questioned. Indeed, unless
night fishing were contemplated-and the nocturnal population of the valley is suffic-
iently large, fierce and vocal to deter me at any rate from the very thought-the
only type of net which seems to promise success in the river is the casting net used
in certain Alpine streams. This is a very wide mouthed cone of fine mesh, which
is cast into the current at the end of a stout line, and is then played dexterously by
means of a long, flexible rod.
In 1935, the Game Warden reported that he had seen four or five good speci-
mens of trout-weighing, he estimated, about I1 lbs. apiece-in one of the pools near
the Mubuku bridge. On this information, and on the general reputation of the Mount-
ains of the Moon, I determined to fish the river in the early part of March, 1936.
As it happened, I was fortunately able to do so, and established myself at Bugoye
on Sunday, the 15th of March. I started fishing that day, and until (and includ-
ing) the 2ist, spent every day on the river. My fishing equipment was selected.
mainly to the end that I should catch trout. It consisted, in principal, of two rods,
both of split cane: the one, an 8ft. fly-rod, weighing 6 oz., the other a light 81ft.
spinning rod. Together with the raw materials for attempting to reproduce any
peculiar local insects, I had the following flies, already tied: on No. 8 hooks, the
Butcher and Watson's Fancy (which, I had been told, were very deadly on Kenya
streams); on No. io hooks, the Coachman, Teal and Red, Coch-y-bonddhu, the But-
cher, the Zulu, Wickham's Fancy, Greenwell's Glory, Cardinal Moth (a Kenya exotic),
March Brown, and Apple Green (sometimes described as Erin go bragh); and, on
No. 12 hooks, the Black Gnat, Teal and Red, the Zulu and March Brown. In ad-
dition, I had a supply of artificial and very realistic grasshoppers and nymphs, two
blue and silver i in. Devon minnows, one small Brown Trout, some I in. silver fly-
spoons and a stock of Stewart tackles and eyed hooks of various sizes. My casts
were of 2x, 3x, and 4x gut, and I used the 3x most often; the most useful casts,
where barbel were concerned, were stained brown. The reels and lines were ap-
propriate to trout, but it would probably be of advantage to use a thread line on
many of the stretches of the river between the bridge and Mihunga. I have little
experience of this method of fishing, but it obviously allows the angler to cast a
bait or spinning tackle farther than the ordinary types of reel allow.
With this equipment, I worked up the river, methodically, to a point just be-
low Mihunga. Wherever the conditions permitted, I fished with all types of fly,
with bait-worms, grubs and other insects-and with spinning tackle. In addition,
I examined the calm stretches, the gentler eddies, and the pebbly and sandy back-
waters, for any sign of trout. I neither touched trout (of that I am very certain)
nor saw evidence of their presence. On pools over which innumerable insects
played there was not a sign of a rise; the barbel only showed an interest in flies
when they were of a bright variety and a little distance under the surface. There
are corners of the Mubuku so like the adolescent Clyde or the Tweed as to make
this absence of rings on the still pools, and of fish leaping, appear wholly unnat-
ural; and it was difficult to believe that stickle which should have held a multitude
of waiting trout was in fact barren.' Even if the fish could have withstood, with-
out a sign of their presence, my invitation to the fly, I find it impossible to credit
that they should have been able to show a similar indifference to the well scoured
lively worms which I presented. These data do not, however, appear to warrant
the conclusion that the stock of trout in the Mubuku has perished. My own view
is that the fish will be found high up the river, or up its tributaries.
If the trout should move downstream and take up their quarters in the waters
within easy reach of Bugoye, I would wish to be among the first to fish again round
the old ford at Ibanda. (The ford is known to some of the local residents as "the
place where the buffaloes cross the river"). The river is divided into two channels
at the crossing, but immediately below this the southern branch again splits into
two; so that three separate stretches of promising water are available. They are
very different in character. The most southerly is the only relatively placid part
of the Mubuku that I saw. It was (the past tense is deliberate) between x2 and i6
teet broad and never more than 2 feet deep, being ordinarily even shallower than
that. The bottom of small pebbles, broken by an occasional boulder and patches of
coarse sand, and the earth on its banks showed that the force of spates must be
broken before any storm-water reaches its gentle curve. Its course lies between
fall elephant-grass and bushes, which form an arch overhead, so that casting was very
difficult, although practicable. The roots of bushes and other living vegetation afford
possible resting places for trout under the banks; but it is possible that they would
also form traps for rotting vegetation and are thus unhealthy for fish. The regul-
arity of the flow makes this improbable, however, and I certainly saw no accumul-
ation of decay. This southerly channel of the river runs into the middle channel at
its most attractive reach. Near the junction is a deep, slow, bow-shaped pool, much
frequented by insect life and sufficiently large to shelter a dozen large trout.
To fish the middle and northern stretches, it is necessary to cross the main
southern branch before it divides into two streams, to a long, narrow island on
which thick undergrowth has succeeded in establishing itself. The crossing requires
care, as the current is very strong and the foothold uneven, slippery and not always
stable, but the water is nowhere above 2 feet in depth. The crossing from the
main island to the smaller island from which the most southerly reach is best ap-
proached is far more difficult. The way of approach is through shallow water
fringing the southern bank of the island, across the verge of a low waterfall, and
thence by large rocks. It is necessary to climb to the waterfall through violently
cascading water, and it would probably be impracticable to maintain a foothold for
the next few yards without the aid of a stout wading-stick. The water reaches to
midway between the knees and waist.
The middle reach of the Ibanda water consists, in so far as the angler will be
concerned, of the bow-shaped pool already mentioned, some 40 yards of stickle,
a relatively small pot-hole (of the kind which, on Scottish rivers, sometimes yields
surprising baskets), and a large, troubled pool which, in the appropriate locality,might
be expected to house two brace of salmon. Grassy banks above this pool give place to
a pebbly beach, about 70 yards in length, which is potentially the best beat on the
river. The branches of a pink-blossomed tree overhang the middle of the beach,
but at a height of about 12 feet; they make casting a matter of exceptional interest
and brought to mind a certain accursed though fondly remembered maythorn in
England; as providers of shade their services should be gratefully acknowledged.
From this tree there is a sandy path to the most northerly of the Ibanda reaches-
about 150 yards of broken water, containing some small pools. The promising ap-
pearance and actual emptiness of this section, which I fished last, gradually chilled
the optimism by which I was still inspired.
Downstream from Ibanda, there are three good pools, near the point at which
the people of Bugoye draw their water, and some attractive stretches of stickle. It
is necessary to strike very readily when fishing this stickle, as the play of the
water on the small length of cast on the surface is nearly as strong as a barbel's
bite; and, if there is bright sunshine on the river, it would be a very keen sighted
man who could distinguish between the sudden golden lift of a barbel's flank and
any other lightening of the amber water. Lower, there are the three pools re-
spectively just above, just under and just below the road bridge. These pools de-
Fig. 3. "In sight of the the snows." 'The Mubuku
is only evident...... as a murmur....far below
on the right.' (Page 253).
serve special attention, hot only because the lowest was the tetnpbrary shelter ot
the trout reported by the Game Warden in 1935, but also because they are the
haunt of the greatest, the most voracious, and the most active barbel in the river.
The upper two pools are usually in shadow; the water slides past the angler's feet,
brown, almost impenetrable to the eye and fairly fast; it is difficult to follow the
fine gut, especially when it is of the peaty tinted variety. Suddenly something
that is between sight and touch advertizes the checking of the line. Strike, and
you may immediately have pretty play; or you may imagine that you have foul-
ed a submerged log in the current. It is possible that you have, but be careful,
since some of the large barbel pause for an appreciable time before showing that
they have felt the hook. When they do decide to attempt to escape they play wildly
and may leap out of the water. One of the fish which behaved in this manner
bent my spinning rod to the shape of an inverted 'U', ran out my line to the backing
(I20 yards) and then broke me. This sounds like the fisherman's story of the "big
one that got away." One of my attendants, describing the incident to his friends
stated that the European had hooked something like a hippopotamus, and, after
toying with it at the end of his line for as long as he wished, had allowed it to go
free. That is the kind of corroborative evidence that every fisherman would wish
Above Ibanda, there are many attractive pools, but almost all are extraordinarily
difficult of access. I especially commend the 300 yards of the river at the begin-
ning of the relatively low terrace which forms the southern bank of the river some
two miles below Mihunga. On the march up the river, if the usual route is followed,
the Mubuku is only evident for the greater part of the way as a murmur or a clam-
our on the right. At last, however, a hill is climbed, on the top of which, in March,
were the last Bakonjo huts to be encountered. To the West, there is a view of about
a mile of the river. Below, is a gradual bend, and such a collection of shallows,
still, deep pools fed by cascades, and potholes through which side currents stir
leisurely, as to justify the most lively hopes. The descent to the river is performed
mainly on the shoulder blades and such other part of the body as may best sustain
the friction and jolting involved; and speed has to be checked by clinging to grass
and shrubs, since there is every prospect of plunging into a deep and sombre pool
if movement is not strictly controlled. The final 8 feet of the slope consists of an
immense granite boulder with a slightly convex face, and this has to be crossed
transversely. With care, the foothold and finger-holds are adequate. On arrival at
the river, it will be found that wading is necessary, and it is best to wade in bare feet.
The water is very cold, and after a short immersion the legs become numb. The sens-
ation experienced on stepping from the river to a sun-baked boulder is indescrib-
ably unpleasant. This stretch of the river, like all others tested, yielded no trout.
It may be felt that the preceding paragraph exaggerates the discomforts of
fishing on the Mubuku, or at least presents an abnormal aspect. Yet the descent
to the river which has been described is one of the most enjoyable means of ap-
proach to the river. In accomplishing it there is some mortification of the flesh-
true--but also the very pleasurable sensation of making a glissade. Most other
means of approach involve little but mortification of the flesh, and such excitement
as accompanies them--as, for example, the expectation of encountering an elephant
or a buffalo-is not altogether pleasurable. The wise man will send porters ahead