Stories of the Gorilla Country

stories-gorilla-coverweb1By Paul du Chaillu. A classic study of West African wildlife, culture, and native tribes as they existed in the mid-1800s, written by the first European explorer to confirm the existence of gorillas and African pygmies.

The author spent more than five years living among the tribes of Africa, closely observing their customs, culture, and their interactions with the surrounding wildlife. His accounts of native cannibalism, witchcraft, torture, slavery—and the existence of gorillas, till then only hinted at in a fifth Century BC Carthaginian  script—led many Europeans and Americans to dispute Du Chaillu’s veracity. All his observations were however proven correct, and this book went on to become highly regarded and inspired a whole new set of European explorers to penetrate the Dark Continent.

Read of the hilarious African “kings” and their ragged subjects, the truth of African-upon-African slavetrading, the dark and murderous arts of witchdoctors, the almost supernatural awe in which natives held the seemingly all-powerful white person, and, of course, the gorillas of West Africa, with whom the natives  waged an ongoing war.

A hand-restored version and completely re-set edition, complete with original illustrations.



Chapter 1: The Wild Country of West Africa

Arrival On The Coast.—A King And His Palace.—Dancing And Idol-Worship.

Chapter 2: A Week in the Woods

A Week In The Woods.—A Tornado.—The Leopards Prowling About.—I Kill A Cobra And A Scorpion.—Fight With A Buffalo.—Hunting For Wild Boars.—A Leopard Takes A Ride On A Bull.—Sick With The Fever.

Chapter 3: Hunting for a Leopard

A Village On The Sea-Shore.—Lying In Wait For A Leopard.

Chapter 4: The Bay of Corisco

The Bay Of Corisco.—The Mangrove-Trees.—The Wonderful Flock Of Birds.—What I Found In The Pouch Of A Pelican.—How An Old King Is Buried, And The New King Crowned.

Chapter 5: In Search of Cannibals

An Old Man Killed For Witchcraft.—Journey To The Country Of The Cannibals.—Starting On The Route.

Chapter 6: Journey through the Wilderness

Our Journey Through The Wilderness Continued.—A Rebellion In Camp.—Nothing To Eat.—I Shoot A Fish And Miss An Elephant.—I Kill A Big Snake, And The Others Eat Him.—My First Sight Of Gorillas.

Chapter 7: I Arrive among the Cannibals

I Arrive Among The Cannibals.—Their Spears, Bows, And Battle-Axes.—They Take Me For A Spirit.—Their King Shakes When He Sees Me.—I Give Him A Looking-Glass.—It Astonishes Him.

Chapter 8: An Elephant Hunt

An elephant hunt.

Chapter 9: Life among the Cannibals

Life Among The Cannibals.—Curious Musical Instruments.—Cooking Utensils.—A Blacksmith’s Bellows And Anvil.—Cannibal Diet.

Chapter 10: Hunting with Nets

Journey To Yoongoolapay.—Hunting With Nets.—The Terrible Bashikouay Ants.

Chapter 11: Return to the Coast

Returning To The Coast.—Caverns And Waterfalls In The Highlands.—Cross A River On Mangrove Roots.—Stirring Up A Big Snake.—A Mutual Scare.

Chapter 12: The Slave King

Cape Lopez And An Open Prairie Once More.—King Bango An His Three Hundred Wives.—His Five Idols.—The Slave Barracoons.—The Corpse And The Vultures.

Chapter 13: The Slave Barracoons

The Slave Barracoons.—A Big Snake Under My Bed.—A Slave-Ship Off The Coast.

Chapter 14: Going into the Interior

Going Into The Interior.—Sleeping With The King’s Rats.—The Chimpanzee.—Kill A Gazelle.—Too Cold To Sleep.—The Gray Partridge.

Chapter 15: Adventures in Ngola

The Hippopotamus.—A Speck Of War.—Reach Ngola.—A Sunday Talk.—The Black Man’s God And The White Man’s God.—How King Njambai Punished His Wife.—We Build An Olako In The Woods.

Chapter 16: We Shoot a Leopard

An Unsuccessful Hunt For Elephants.—I Take Aim At A Buffalo.—A Leopard In The Grass Near Us.—We Shoot The Leopard And Her Kitten.—Great Rejoicing In Camp.—Who Shall Have The Tail?—A Quarrel Over The Brains.—The Guinea-Hens.—The Monkeys.

Chapter 17: Return to Sangatanga

Alone In Camp.—Hunting For Elephants.—Aboko Kills A Rogue.—i cut another python in two.—We Shoot Some Wild Boars.—A Buffalo Hunt.—Return To Sangatanga.—King Bango Sick.

Chapter 18: A Jolly Excursion Party

A Jolly Excursion Party.—A Race For The Fishing Banks.—The Oroungou Burial-Ground.

Chapter 19: Fishing—But Not Bathing!

Our Camp At Point Fetich.—An African Watering-Place.—Fishing, But Not Bathing.—The Sharks.—Curing Mullets, Etc.—Turning Turtles.—Bird-Shooting.—A Leopard Springs Upon Us.

Chapter 20: A Sea Voyage

Bound For The Interior.—A Sea Voyage.—A Tornado.—We Reach The Fernand-Vaz.—Sangala Wishes To Detain Me.—A Night Alarm.—Prospect Of A War.—Arrayed For Battle.—A Compromise.—My Commi Friends.

Chapter 21: I Build a Village

I Build A Village And Call It Washington.—I Start For The Interior.—My Speech On Leaving.—The People Applaud Me Voiciferously, And Promise To Be Honest.—We Reach Aniambia.—The “Big King,” Olenga-Yombi.—A Royal Ball In My Honor.—The Superstitions Of The Natives.—A Man Tossed By A Buffalo.—We Capture A Young Gorilla.

Chapter 22: We Capture a Gorilla

Capture Of A Young Gorilla.—I Call Him “Fighting Joe.”—His Strength And Bad Temper.—He Proves Untamable.—Joe Escapes.—Recaptured.—Escapes Again.—Unpleasant To Handle.—Death Of Fighting Joe.

Chapter 23: Dueling Hippopotami

The Hippopotamus.—A Duel.—Shooting On The River.—Nearly Upset.—A Night-Hunt On Land.—My Companion Fires And Runs.—Appearance And Habits Of The Hippopotamus.

Chapter 24: Dry Season on the Fernand-Vaz

Visit Of King Quengueza.—I Promise To Visit Him.—The Kindness Of The Commi.—The Dry Season On The Fernand-Vaz.—Plenty Of Birds And Fishes.—The Marabouts.—The Eagles.—A Bad Wound.

Chapter 25: Expedition to Lake Anengue

Another Expedition To Lake Anengue.—Difficult Passage Up The River.—The Crocodiles.—King Damagondai And His Troubles.—I Buy Mbuiti, Or Idol.

Chapter 26: Hunting Crocodiles

A Visit To King Shimbouvenegani.—His Royal Costume.—Hunting Crocodiles.—How They Seize Their Prey.—The Nkago.—The Ogata.

Chapter 27: The Bald-Headed Ape

The Nshiego Mbouvé.—Bald-Headed Apes.—Their Houses In The Trees.—Lying In Wait For Them.—We Kill A Male.—The Shrieks Of His Mate.—Description Of The Animal.—Farewell To Shimbouvenegani.

Chapter 28: Return to “Washington”

War Threatened.—Oshoria Arms His Men.—We Bluff Them Off, And Fall Sick With Fever.—The Mbola Ivoga, Or End Of Mourning Time.—A Death And Burial.—Finding Out The Sorcerer.—The Village Deserted.—I Become Viceroy At Washington.

Chapter 29: Another Gorilla Story

Hunting In The Woods.—The Mboyo Wolf.—We Catch Another Young Gorilla.—He Starves To Death.

Chapter 30: Travel to Unknown Regions

Going To Unknown Regions.—Quengueza Sends His Son As A Hostage.—I Take Him Along With Me.—Reception By The King.—Our Speeches.—Quengueza Afraid Of A Witch.—An Incantation Scene.

Chapter 31: More Gorilla Stories

Gorilla Hunting.—My Companions Mombon, Etia, And Gambo.—Etia Kills A Larger Gorilla.—We Make Up A Large Party.—Camp Stories About Gorillas.—We Capture A Young Gorilla.—Her Untimely Death.

Chapter 32: Voyage up the River

Voyage Up The River.—We Build A Village Near Obindji.—Quengueza’s Plan For Keeping The Sabbath.—Kindness Of The Natives.—A Trial By Ordeal.

Chapter 33: Yet More Gorilla Stories

The Kooloo-Kamba.—The Gouamba, Or Meat-Hunger.—Exploring The Forest.—Gorilla Hunting.—Within Eight Yards Of A Large Gorilla.—He Roars With Rage And Marches Upon Us.

Chapter 34: An Attack of the Fever

We Go Up The River To N’calai Boumba.—A Severe Attack Of The Fever.—The Tender Care Of The Natives For Me.—Aguailai Accuses His People Of Bewitching Me.—I Go Out And Quiet Him.—A Boy Cut To Pieces For Witchcraft.—A Useful Idol.—The Ebony Trees.

Chapter 35: Tommy

Hunting For Food.—We Kill A Female Nshiego Mbouvé.—A Young Nshiego With A White Face.—He Becomes My Pet Tommy.—His Affection For Me.—His Stealing Pranks.—Tommy Gets Drunk.—His Behavior At Meals.—His Sudden Death.—Conclusion.

Paul du Chaillu (1831–1903) was the son of a French trader who was stationed on the West African cost. In 1855 he was sent by the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia to explore Africa because of his knowledge of the local languages and customs. In two expeditions into the interior, he observed numerous gorillas, brought back dead specimens, and also confirmed the existence of African pygmies, becoming the first European to observe them in real life. Du Chaillu sold his hunted gorillas to the Natural History Museum in London and his cannibal skulls to other European collections. Later he specialized in the pre-history of Scandinavia, and died while doing research in St Petersburg, Russia.

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