22 WILD SPORTS OF BURMA AND ASSAM
difficult to discover in Lower Burma, because there are no regular shikaries in the Indian acceptation of the word. Every village has its local shikarie, who lives by trapping and killing game. Taking life is contrary to the precepts of his religion; he is looked upon as one damned by his neighbours, but that does not prevent them buying from him the spoils of the chase.
Their hunting is done principally at night by means of lights and bells, which will be described further on. He also digs pits, lays down snares, uses crossbows, placing them fixed with a string attached across paths frequented by game; or he sits on the lower branch of a tree, and shoots anything passing underneath. For tigers and leopards he uses poisoned arrows, or inserts barbed and poisoned panjies along the paths, carefully concealing them with fallen leaves; and so deadly is the poison that if sufficient penetration takes place to obtain but one drop of blood, the beast dies within an hour or two.
At first these local shikaries were not willing to accompany Europeans in the chase, because they feared ill-treatment, and believed that if an accident were to happen, they would be severely punished, perhaps even hanged ! So few Europeans understood Burmese, and the Burmese dislike having to treat through an interpreter. They dona t like, naturally, the jungles in their own vicinity disturbed, because it would interfere with their own sport and profit; but once you can get them to believe in your generosity and kindness, they will attach themselves on to a successful sportsman, who will, in addition to their pay, give them an occasional glass of grog and a cheroot, and all game killed, excepting just enough for camp-followers. This they dispose of at a good profit after converting it into bilthong.
They are very useful as guides, but all the niceties of sport must be done by the hunter himself. They are not good trackers;1 nor do they mark down game, but they know the whereabouts of the beasts, and will take you from one jungle to another and back to camp. The sportsman must trust to
1 It is different in Upper Burma. Vide Chapter III. by my colleague. a F. T. P.