Hunting Rock Hares in Syria: Small Animal with Kangaroo Legs Which Furnish Sport in the Desert, Daily Racing Form, 1919-11-16


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i . S , c ! 1 j j i 1 , " V ; HUNTING ROCK HARES IN SYRIA Small Animal with Kangaroo legs Which Furnish Sport in the Desert. V : How long the- Arab has inhabited the deserts of the east is a much discussed question. . How long he lias indulged in the old-time sport of falconry it is equally difficult to say. Sure it is that this, keen-blooded race has not lived all these centuries in those sun-scorched wastes without some sort of recreation, and his delights today are probably much the same as those of his ancestors a couple of hundred years ago. Curious to see what natural sport these barren regions could afford, the writer once accepted an invitation to join a party of Syrians for a weeks hunting. The quarry was to be the rock hare, an animal about the size of the English rabbit, but with sensitive and finely constructed, ears. They frequent these deserts in small numbers, living on what scanty herbage they can find. We started away in -search of our game by forming a chain about a quarter of a mile long and drawing likely-tracts of desert in long semi-.crrcular -sweeps. The herbage, was scant indeed. These vast sand hills, scortched .by a tropical sun and with a yearly rainfall of only three inches, support but few plants. of any kind. One noticed a few insectivorous birds pursuing their prey keenly, as though they found it hard to obtain a living, but saw no trace of wild animals. Op we marched in silent order, following the lead of our falcon bearer, who strode forward with expressionless, inscrutable face. Hours passed. It. was; now 11 oclock; the sun was hot above us, drying our parched lips. One had begun to think rock hares must be a myth, when suddenly the hound leaped forward with a great bound, our horses instinctively following at full gallop. But we had not far to go; it was only a "garbdur." The hound was soon up to it, and I thought it was all over, but no! The little creature leapt, as it were, right out of his mouth. One spring brought the -greyhound alongside again, but again the animal slipped out of his sharp teeth. Its speed was so great and its actions so sudden that it was as much as the eye could do to follow it at all. Again its great pursuer sprang upon it, and for the third time the nimble animal slipped from his jaws. But it was useless: the hare was- far outclassed, in .size. These great leaps shook-the life breath from its frail body. At last; it fell an easy prey to its relentless enemy, and one crunch put an end to its sufferings. It was an interesting little .animal, wit? a body about the size of a small cotton-tail rabbit, with a fine long coat of fur, gray on the back, ,aud white underneath. It had a long bony tail, with a pretty tuft at the end. But his hind legs were his most marked, characteristic. They were long like those of the kangaroo, and were specially adapted for jumping. It was noted, too, that each hind foot was provided witli only three toes, whereas on those of the forejegs, which were short, there, were the usual five. Altogether he was a most interesting and sporty species of "big game" in this far-off corner of the earth. .. , 4 - ; .

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