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Travels in South Africa, vol. I, ch. XXVEdit

English originalEdit

John Campbell head of a unicorn

Head of the unicorn, killed near the City of Mashow

During our absence from Mashow two rhinoceroses came into the town during the night, when the inhabitants assembled and killed them both. The rhinoceroses, shot by Jager, on the preceding day, having been cut up, were brought, the one in a waggon, the other on pack-oxen. We divided one among Kossie, Munameets, and Pelangye. They brought also the head of one of them, which was different from all the others that had been killed. The common African rhinoceros has a crooked horn resembling a cock's spur, which rises about nine or ten inches above the nose and inclines backwards; immediately behind this is a short thick horn; but the head they brought had a straight horn projecting three feet from the forehead, about ten inches above the tip of the nose. The projection of this great horn very much resembles that of the fanciful unicorn in the British arms. It has a small thick horny substance, eight inches long, immediately behind it, which can hardly be observed on the animal at the distance of a hundred yards, and seems to be designed for keeping fast that which is penetrated by the long horn; so that this species of rhinoceros must appear really like a unicorn when running in the field. The head resembled in size a nine-gallon cask, and measured three feet from the mouth to the ear, and being much larger than that of the one with the crooked horn, and which measured eleven feet in length, the animal itself must have been still larger and more formidable. From its weight, and the position of the horn, it appears capable of overcoming any creature hitherto known. Hardly any of the natives took the smallest notice of the head, but treated it as a thing familiar to them. As the entire horn is perfectly solid, the natives, I afterwards heard, make from one horn four handles for their battle-axes. Our people wounded another, which they reported to be much larger[1]. Two redboks were also shot.


  1. The head being so weighty; and the distance to the Cape so great, it appeared necessary to cut off the under jaw and leave it behind; (the Mashow who cut off the flesh from it had ten cuts on his back, which were marks for ten men he had killed in his life time.) The animal is considered by naturalists, since the arrival of the skull in London, to be the unicorn of the ancients, and the same as that which is described in the xxxixth chapters of the book of Job. The part of the head brought to London, may be seen at the Missionary Museum; and, for such as may not have the opportunity of seeing the head itself, the annexed drawing of it has been made.

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