The Last Ivory Hunter: The Saga of Wally Johnson

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9780312000486: The Last Ivory Hunter: The Saga of Wally Johnson

A chance meeting around a safari campfire on the banks of the Mupamadazi River leads to the grand tale of African adventure by Peter Capstick, the foremost hunting author of our time. Wally Johnson spent half a century in Mozambique hunting white gold--ivory. Most men died at this hazardous trade. He's the last one able to tell his story.

In hours of conversations by mopane fired in the African bush, Wally described his career--how he survived the massive bite of a Gaboon viper, buffalo gorings, floods, disease, and most dangerous of all, gold fever. He bluffed down 200 armed poachers almost single-handedly, and survived rocket attacks from communist revolutionaries during Mozambique's plunge into chaos in 1975. In Botswana, at age 63, Wally continued his career. Though the great tuskers have largely gone and most of Wally's colleagues are dead, Wally has survived. His words are rugged testimony to an Africa that is now a distant dream.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

After giving up a career on Wall Street, Peter Hathaway Capstick moved to South Africa, where he became a professional game hunter and acclaimed writer. He lived there with his wife Fiona, until his death in 1996.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Last Ivory Hunter, The
1 GABOON "For God's sake, Luis, help me! I'm dying!"  
The Mozambican Shangaan looked at Wally with penetrating eyes, eyes whose quickness had saved lives time and again over the twenty years he had been with Wally, hunting in Mozambique. The head gunbearer's gaze was as bloodshot as usual, testimony to malaria, safari, and long hours after game. Though he was a good man--reliable as most to whom one entrusts one's life--he wanted nothing to do with this. His patrão was going to cash in and he wanted no part in the proceedings.  
"No, Baas, you're going to die. We have been together a long time, and I don't want to be there when you die. You must die alone. It is the way of things." "My old friend of so much danger, help me! I don't want to die on a lonely road and the hyenas take my body. Help me! Vou morrer!" "I can't, Baas. What if the authorities find out when you die? And you will die, because that is the worst snake. They will accuse me and the other men of killing you. What will I do then? You know they will then kill me ... ." "Help me! You can do no less!"  
Oh yes, he could do less. Odd chap, Luis.  
On the day Wally was bitten by a massive Gaboon viper in 1957, it had been nearly a year since he had captured another snake, which he thought at the time to be a young python. He kept it in a wire cage and fed it mice, the snake apparently enjoying the easy life. Then, one day, Wally took it down to show his chums at the local sawmill. Much to his shock, the manager called him an unadulterated idiot and advised him that it was a Gaboon viper, one of the most feared snakes in Africa, and from whose bite only one person had been known to recover. Wally, however, told the manager that it was he who was the idiot. Clearly it was a young python.  
"You madman! That thing is deadly poisonous! Are you some kind of nut?" "No, man," answered Wally. "It's a python. I've even had my fingers in its mouth!" "You've what?" "Sure. No fangs [he not realizing that they fold up against the roof of the mouth and that the snake had somehow tamed down]. I keep it in a wire pen as a pet. Give it frogs and mice and stuff." "Well, get it the hell out of here or I'll kill it. Now!"  
The cocking clicks of his revolver were ominous in the silence, the other strong and able men having scrambled onto the dining-room table when Wally threw the snake on the floor for exhibition.  
"Don't touch my bloody snake! You don't want him, I'll take him home."  
And with that, he grabbed the snake by the back of the head and dropped him into a sack, the deadly reptile as docile as a pussycat. But Wally was wrong. It was a Gaboon ... . The Gaboon viper is certainly one of Africa's most dangerous snakes, possibly because of its lethargy, much like that of the puff adder, rather than because of great activity or aggressiveness. TheGaboon, happily, is a fairly rare snake. Its coloring closely resembles the colors of the Napier Clan tartan, the body pattern being a complex geometric of primarily tan, blue, and black, some colors having a white edge to them. It has nasal "horns" that, together with the striking colors, make it surprisingly difficult to spot in long grass. So Wally found out ... . Bitis gabonica probably has the longest fangs of the vipers. It is a thick, short snake, the longest recently recorded Gaboon viper being from Sierra Leone and measuring 6 feet 81/2 inches. But it's one very bad bastard if it loses its sense of humor. After several months in its wire cage, being ogled at by the local kids, the snake was found one morning with blood on its back, just as Wally was about to feed it. One of the children had jabbed the snake with a piece of wire and it died soon afterward. Wally pitched it into the bush and gave the matter little more thought. He should have. It was almost a year later to the day when Wally was nearly killed twice. But let him tell you the story ... .  
"I was down in the same area where I had caught what I thought was the baby python. I was staying for a couple of months to hunt for ivory, and I decided to take along a new cook my wife had just hired. The old guy had to leave for some reason or another and she got this new man. My wife insisted that he come along with me in the bush as I never seem to eat. She wanted somebody to look after me. She told him to pack up a chopbox with pots and pans, canned food, and anything else he thought he might need. "Well, we got down to the spot within twenty miles of where I had been the year before, and I went out hunting with Luis on the first day we were there. As there wasn't much doing, I came back at about eleven in the morning. The cook didn't expect me back at that hour and hadn't prepared any food for lunch. I asked him what he had, and he said he was sorry that he had only expected me that evening. " Patrão, look in that box there and maybe you'll find something I can cook for you, spaghetti or something. You must find something, patrão; there's a lot of tinned food.' "He opened the box and I had a look through and pulled out a tin of spaghetti or bully beef or something. Then I happened to notice another tin there, picked it up, and found out it was a snakebite kit. My wife used to carry this outfit. She always had it at home, as she did a lot of gardening and was scared as hell of snakes. I turned to the cook and said, 'Hey, where'd you get this thing from?' "' Na casa de banho. From your bathroom.' "'But did the senhora give it to you?' "'No, patrão. I just saw it and took it.' "'Do you know what it is?' "' Sim, senhor! Yes, I do. It's snakebite muti. I know about these things from the mission school.' "'Hell,' I said, 'I'm going to be in trouble if the senhora finds out this thing is missing, because she doesn't like to be without this medicine in the house. Ah, on second thought, no faz mal. Don't worry about it. You did very well to bring the snakebite kit. I just hope that my wife doesn't notice you've taken it.' '"Baas, you never know when you may be bitten by a bad snake."'  
This book exists because of the forethought of that cook.  
"While I was having something to eat, my headman and gunbearer, Luis, came to me and said, ' Patrão, can I borrow one of your rifles? I want to go down to the river to catch some fish. There are a lot of big crocs down there, and I'd like a rifle for protection.' "'year, sure, take that 9.3mm Mauser. There are four shots in the magazine and one more in the chamber. Go ahead and take that rifle, but cuidado! Just watch out!'"  
Luis went off and Wally was still eating lunch when, maybe ten or fifteen minutes later, he heard a shot.  
"I thought to myself, well, Luis has seen some crocs. But then I heard another one, and in all, he fired off the whole fiveshots. When this happened, I thought, hell, this can't be a crocodile he's shooting at--with five shots, there's something wrong. I immediately grabbed my .375 Holland & Holland Magnum and started running in the direction of the shots, along the riverbank on the path. "I hadn't gone very far when I saw some native women washing some clothes in the river and I asked if they had heard some shots going off just about where they were. 'No, we heard nothing.' I said to myself, hell, that's damned strange. Then I asked: 'Well, did you see a man come along this path with a gun--you know, uma espingarda?' "'No,' they answered. 'We never saw a man with a gun.' "That's goddamn funny, thought Wally. Seemed to be just about here somewhere."  
Wally encountered the reluctance of rural women in Africa to speak to strangers.  
"There was a deep little dry river that fed into the main river, a steep embankment that could only be done on foot if one ran at top speed down the near side to gain momentum that would carry one halfway up the other side. It was surrounded by the densest bush and grass imaginable. Call it a deep gully. I ran down the one slope as fast as I could and got about halfway up the other side before I had to slog it. I made the top, and saw a man coming along the other side and asked him: 'Say, have you seen a man with a rifle?' "'No, patrão, but I did hear some shots just around here.' "'Where exactly was it?' "'Ah, close. It was just a little while ago.' "So, I started shouting, and finally got an answer from Luis. Well, thank God he wasn't dead. He came running up after a few minutes and I asked, 'Luis, what the hell's going on here?' "'Baas, where on earth have you come from?' "'From the camp! Where else? What the bloody hell's going on, Luis?' "Luis answered: 'These women won't talk to outsiders. I told them to tell you that I had wounded a buffalo. He's hiding rightdown at the bottom of this little river bed you crossed. Come here and I'll show you.'"  
And there it was, a wounded bull buffalo back at the river bed Wally had run through. It was standing in the dense foliage not a foot from the track. Wally killed it with a single shot from his .375. The wounded buff, apparently, had been so astonished to see a man flash by so quickly--remember, Wally was running flat out to get up the other side--that it never occurred to it to charge! Wally got past the hidden wounded buffalo through sheer surprise and luck. No thanks to the women at the river who could have warned him. But far worse was to come that day ... . After Wally had killed the buffalo, he ordered the rest of the men who had followed him from camp at the sound of shots to butcher the animal for rations. The sun, a molten bronze orb, was slipping lower and the call of the emerald-spotted tree dove washed through the bush as the men set to with their knives, taking the hind legs and the filets for Wally's table, carrying the heavy legs on stout poles between them. Wally was walking in third place, behind the first two carriers, when horror literally struck.  
"We were only about a hundred yards from camp when all of a sudden the man ahead of me took a jump and the next second I felt something on my leg. It felt as if I'd hit into a thorn-bush. I looked down and saw a snake as thick as my calf with its fangs embedded in my left leg, just above the ankle. I gave a reflex kick and the thing went flying. I screamed to Luis and the other men to kill it. "'Quick,' I yelled. 'What kind of snake is that?' "They clubbed it to death with sticks and Luis came to me and said, ' Patrão, I'm sorry. It's the same snake you had last year. You are a dead man!'"  
"Merda! I'll live." Wally, possibly rather foolishly, ran for the camp, which was only some hundred yards away, to get to the antivenin kit, the darkness flowing into the long grass like a rising tide. The shadows were lapping over his back and the sweetness of the new grass was still strangely strong in his nostrils. "'Cook! Quick! Depressa! Bring me the snake box!' "I had tennis shoes on and it was a hell of a job getting the left one off by the time I got back into camp. I had forgotten my knife and the knot in the laces had become so tight I really wondered if I could get the goddamn thing off at all. It was already hurting beyond description. Eventually, I was able to remove the shoe, but the pain and the swelling were so terrific I could hardly stand it. "After what was probably only a minute or less, I had the snakebite kit in my hands. Now I was really sick, the pain almost unbearable and the swelling absolutely alarming. Especially when everybody handy was happily assuring me that I was going to die there and then! "Well, I saw that the snakebite outfit had a little booklet inside. I'd never had to use a kit before and didn't really know how to work the bloody thing. So, there I was, just to the left of nowhere, and I open the booklet, one of the tent guys having brought me my reading spectacles. "It was a most interesting piece of literature, obviously written by somebody who had never been bitten by a deadly snake. The first eight or ten pages were all about how they'd made the serum, where it was made and all sorts of other stupidities, except what you were supposed to do with the goddamn stuff. I could feel myself dying by the second, but this goddamn booklet wouldn't tell me where or how to inject myself. Lord, but I thought they'd never say what to do! "Finally, I got down to the chapter that said that there was a sharp lancet in the rig with which you were supposed to cut a gash in yourself, avoiding arteries, then fill the syringe with one of the four ampoules of antivenin, injecting it into the wound. "The booklet said to put one of the ampoules into the wound you had made on the bite and another halfway up your leg, if that's where you were bitten. The other ampoule should be put by injection into your stomach. Wonderful, the miracles of science. "So I looked at this lot to try to find the lancet or razor blade. Nothing. It had been stolen. "' Hatlisa! Hurry!' I shouted in Shangaan. 'Who has a sharp knife? I have to cut myself.' Finally, a bush type turned up withhalf a rusty razor blade he carried in his hair and probably had for several years. It was a lot of things, but sterile wasn't one of them. He gave it to me and I made two deep gashes in an X over the fang marks. The leg was so swollen and painful by that time I was doubly horrified to learn, on inspecting the ampoules of antivenin, that two were out of date and, according to the manufacturers, of little value. Cheery news ... . "Blood was pouring out of these gashes and I got one man to suck on them, warning him to spit out the blood and venom. I'd still love to get my hands on the son of a bitch who wrote that pamphlet in the snakebite kit ... . "Actually, as this chap was sucking on the wound, I had a chance to continue through the booklet and inspect the ampoules themselves. As I said, two of the four in the kit were more than two years out of date; the remaining two had a month to go before they were, theoretically, ineffective. Well, one tries to make the best of things ... . "This was a polyvalent antivenin, good for just about anything except boomslang, the back-fanged tree snake. The pain was so terrible by then that I could hardly concentrate on the so-called literature. Yet I knew I would die then and there if I didn't do things properly. "Well, I thought, what the hell do I do? I'd better take one of the good ones that had a month to go and put it right into the bite. I took the syringe, sucked up the antivenin and squeezed the whole thing in there. The pain in my leg was already so severe that I never even felt the jab. I thought now, well, I'd better take one of the old ones, out of date, and stick it in the calf of my leg, which I did. Then I took the last good one that had a month to go and I squeezed that into my thigh. I injected the last ampoule directly into my stomach, even though it was ...

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Descripción St Martin s Press, United States, 1988. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A chance meeting around a safari campfire on the banks of the Mupamadazi River leads to the grand tale of African adventure by Peter Capstick, the foremost hunting author of our time. Wally Johnson spent half a century in Mozambique hunting white gold--ivory. Most men died at this hazardous trade. He s the last one able to tell his story.In hours of conversations by mopane fired in the African bush, Wally described his career--how he survived the massive bite of a Gaboon viper, buffalo gorings, floods, disease, and most dangerous of all, gold fever. He bluffed down 200 armed poachers almost single-handedly, and survived rocket attacks from communist revolutionaries during Mozambique s plunge into chaos in 1975. In Botswana, at age 63, Wally continued his career. Though the great tuskers have largely gone and most of Wally s colleagues are dead, Wally has survived. His words are rugged testimony to an Africa that is now a distant dream. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780312000486

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Peter Hathaway Capstick
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Descripción St Martin s Press, United States, 1988. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A chance meeting around a safari campfire on the banks of the Mupamadazi River leads to the grand tale of African adventure by Peter Capstick, the foremost hunting author of our time. Wally Johnson spent half a century in Mozambique hunting white gold--ivory. Most men died at this hazardous trade. He s the last one able to tell his story.In hours of conversations by mopane fired in the African bush, Wally described his career--how he survived the massive bite of a Gaboon viper, buffalo gorings, floods, disease, and most dangerous of all, gold fever. He bluffed down 200 armed poachers almost single-handedly, and survived rocket attacks from communist revolutionaries during Mozambique s plunge into chaos in 1975. In Botswana, at age 63, Wally continued his career. Though the great tuskers have largely gone and most of Wally s colleagues are dead, Wally has survived. His words are rugged testimony to an Africa that is now a distant dream. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780312000486

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Peter Hathaway Capstick
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Descripción St Martin s Press, United States, 1988. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A chance meeting around a safari campfire on the banks of the Mupamadazi River leads to the grand tale of African adventure by Peter Capstick, the foremost hunting author of our time. Wally Johnson spent half a century in Mozambique hunting white gold--ivory. Most men died at this hazardous trade. He s the last one able to tell his story.In hours of conversations by mopane fired in the African bush, Wally described his career--how he survived the massive bite of a Gaboon viper, buffalo gorings, floods, disease, and most dangerous of all, gold fever. He bluffed down 200 armed poachers almost single-handedly, and survived rocket attacks from communist revolutionaries during Mozambique s plunge into chaos in 1975. In Botswana, at age 63, Wally continued his career. Though the great tuskers have largely gone and most of Wally s colleagues are dead, Wally has survived. His words are rugged testimony to an Africa that is now a distant dream. Nº de ref. de la librería BZE9780312000486

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Descripción St. Martin's Press. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0312000480 BRAND NEW, GIFT QUALITY! NOT OVERSTOCKS OR MARKED UP REMAINDERS! DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER!|0.97. Nº de ref. de la librería OTF-S-9780312000486

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Descripción St. Martin's Press, 2017. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. This item is printed on demand. Nº de ref. de la librería 0312000480

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