Nothing in fact can exceed the terror which this formidable animal inspires in those countries which are liable to his devastations. More restricted, however, in this respect than the Lion, he is entirely unknown in Africa, and is rarely, if ever, to be met with in Asia on this side the Indus. In the south of China, and in the larger Asiatic Islands, such as Sumatra and Java, he is unhappily but too common; but it is said, we know not with what degree of truth, that in the last mentioned locality he is less ferocious than in the Peninsula of Hindostan. This is truly the cradle of his existence and the seat of his empire, in which he disputes dominion even with the Lion himself, who is comparatively rare in the Indian jungles, and with whom the Tiger has been sometimes known to join in deadly and successful struggle for the mastery. Endowed with a degree of force, which the Lion and the Elephant alone can equal, he carries off a buffalo in his tremendous jaws, almost without relaxing from his usual speed. With a single stroke of his claws he rips open the body of the largest animals; and is said to suck their blood with insatiable avidity. Of the correctness of this latter statement, at least in its full extent, there is however strong reason to doubt. The Tiger does not, according to the most credible accounts, exhibit this propensity to drinking the blood of his victims in any greater degree than the rest of his carnivorous and blood-thirsty companions. In this, as in other instances, fear has drawn largely on credulity, and the simple and sufficiently disgusting fact has been amplified and exaggerated with all the refinements upon horror which the terrified imagination could suggest.
The other individual at present in the Tower is a Tigress of great beauty from Bengal, scarcely a twelvemonth old, who also promises to become an exceedingly fine animal. During her passage from Calcutta she was allowed to range about the vessel unrestricted, became perfectly familiar with the sailors, and showed not the slightest symptom of ferocity. On her arrival, however, in the Thames, the irritation produced by the sight of strangers completely and instantly changed her temper, rendering her irascible and dangerous. Her deportment was so sulky and savage that Mr. Cops could scarcely be prevailed on by her former keeper, who saw her shortly afterwards, to allow him to enter her den: but no sooner did she recognise her old friend, than she fawned upon him, licked him, and caressed him, exhibiting the most extravagant signs of pleasure; and when he left her she cried and whined for the remainder of the day. To her new residence and her new keeper she is now perfectly reconciled.
In the number and form of his teeth, in the asperity of his tongue, in the conformation of his organs of sense, and in the number of his claws, he accurately corresponds with the legitimate species of the genus Felis. The principal character in which he differs from them consists in the slight degree of retractility of these latter organs. Instead of being withdrawn within sheaths appropriated for the purpose, as in the whole of the cats properly so called, the claws of the Hunting Leopard are capable of only a very limited retraction within the skin, and are consequently exposed to the action of the ground on which they tread, their points and edges being thus rendered liable to be blunted by the constant pressure to which they are subjected, almost to the same extent as in the dogs. The slightest consideration of the uses to which the claws are applied by the whole of the feline tribe, in whom they are, in fact, in consequence of their extreme power and sharpness, organs of offence if possible more deadly and more destructive than the teeth, will teach us that the modification which has just been described in so important a part of their organization, must of necessity be accompanied by a corresponding change in manners and habits; and that convenience alone, and the want of analogous structure in any other animal, could justify us in continuing to class the Chetah among the cats, from whom he differs in so essential a particular.
Happily for mankind the range of this tremendous animal is limited to the warmer climates of the earth; and even in these the extent of that range is constantly becoming more and more confined by the spread of human civilization, which, at the same time that it drives him to take refuge at a distance from the haunts of men, contributes greatly to thin his numbers and to diminish his power of annoyance. His true country is Africa, in the vast and untrodden wilds of which, from the immense deserts of the north to the trackless forests of the south, he reigns supreme and uncontrolled. In the sandy deserts of Arabia, in some of the wilder districts of Persia, and in the vast jungles of Hindostan, he still maintains a precarious footing: but from the classic soil of Greece, as well as from the whole of Asia Minor, both of which were once exposed to his ravages, he has been utterly dislodged and extirpated.
Like most reptiles they retire during the winter into holes, in which they remain in a torpid state until the return of spring; and during this period they may be taken or destroyed without danger. Their flesh is eaten by the negroes, who also apply their fat, as well as their rattles, to various medicinal or superstitious uses.
The right hand figure represents the Chacma, or Pig-faced Monkey, one of the true Baboons, whose generic characters will be found in the succeeding article. The forehead of this species is remarkably depressed, and the nose much prolonged. Its general colour is dusky, approaching to black. Its body measures from two to three feet in length; but the tail is short, and does not reach the ground when the animal stands upon all fours. It is a native of Africa, and was formerly very troublesome in the neighbourhood of the Cape.