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NIGHTFALL ON THE EDGE OF THE JUNGLE* 0SKAR KLOTZ E VERY tropical country has its jungle, and to the uninitiated the word jungle carries with it a hazy picture of crowded trees, dense underbrush, tangled vines and a dank bottom. But the jungle of India .bears no resemblance to the jungle of Brazil, Guiana, Venezuela, or Africa, nor can any two be compared , but only contrasted. We might as well compare the meadows of England with the prairies of our western plains, or the prairies with the pampas of the Argentine or the steppes of Russia. There is a general undercurrent of character common to all, but this is swept away by a closer acquaintance. I know some of the jungle-rand of Brazil, with its magnificent trees in almost endless variety, its delicate lianas hanging from mighty boughs or suspended in delicate drapery from trunk and stem and limb, its exotic parasitic plants nestled in the crotch of some broken stump or giant tree, its flowers in rainbow hue visited by equally brilliant butterflies, and all in all exhibiting a riotous passion of nature in colour, perfume and song. An afternoon's tramp through her wildly flaming life brought one home fatigued from the very excitement and thrill that aroused every sense. Birds and beasts of the Brazilian jungle shared in the brilliance of nature's paintings. A medley of colours in their richest hues sparkled from aerial height or from terrestrial level; birds and flowers, lizards, worms and snakes vied with each *A chapter from the Journal of Dr. Oskar K.lot2, written in Africa while he was a member of the Yellow Fever Commission of the Rockefeller Foundation. 451 ~! I THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY other in the beauty of their decorations. Never have I seen such profusion of colour and design; all else in all other.lands would have looked drab. But as one becomes satiated with the brilliance of the stage in a modern revue, where the changing lights and highly decorative settings command all one's attention, so too one is wearied by the voluptuous wealth of the Brazilian jungle, where enthusiasm is dampened by the sheer lack of contrast. I How different we find the unchanging and even-hued jungle of West Africa, and particularly of Southern Nigeria. It is as welcome as the presence of the modest and softly-spok~n maiden who always commands respect after the flighty, over-dressed, bright-hued and highheeled :flapper whose whole person flaunts the careless exuberance of youth. Such comparisons may tend to . mislead; I may, however, repeat that jungles in different parts of the world must be judged upon their own merits. i r I· My bungalow in Africa was not far from the edge of the jungle, so that at evening when the sunset was painting the west in a glorious unbroken splash of crimson, the uncertain zephyrs were lisping in the fronds of the palms, and the birds were reawakening from their afternoon drowsing, I would settle myself comfortably on the mosquito -screened verandah and await the vesperal orchestration of the myriads of animal forms which had been silent since mid-morning. The locust alone had remained ~ sentinel over the day's activities, and to remind the others I that he had not forsaken his task, would from time to·[_ ' time rasp his femora and tibials in a paroxysmal outburst of cheer. During the heat of the day he remained perched upon the upper branches of a wild mango tree or :flitted 1 occasionally from this to a nearby cit:ius. The hotter and brighter the afternoon, the louder and wilder became his I fiddling. The impudence of him! He would pretend to 1 452 i "i I I I I I I NIGHTF.ALL ON THE EDGE OF THE JUNGLE lull one by beginning mildly in soft tones, with a few trials and repeats, and then launch forth into full fortissimo with such screech and blare that all thought of a restful siesta was destroyed and one was ready to lead a mass attack against the pesky noise. But just at the moment when the blood pressure had climbed to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 451-466
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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