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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 215

the first expeditions into this country all the baggageanimals had died; and even in our case the loss was becoming very heavy. This state of affairs is due to the scarcity of forage and the type of country. Good grass is scanty, and the endless leagues of sparse, scrubby forest render it exceedingly difficult to find the animals when they wander. They must be turned absolutely loose to roam about and pick up their scanty subsistence, and must be given as long a time as possible to feed and rest; even under these conditions most of them grow weak when, as in our case, it is impossible to carry corn. They cannot be found again until after daylight, and then hours must be spent in gathering them; and this means that the march must be made chiefly during the heat of the day, the most trying time. Often some of the animals would not be brought in until so late that it was well on in the forenoon, perhaps midday, before the bulk of the pack-train started; and they reached the campingplace as often after nightful as before it. Under such conditions many of the mules and oxen grew constantly weaker and ultimately gave out; and it was imperative to load them as lightly as possible, and discard all luxuries, especially heavy or bulky luxuries. Travelling through a wild country where there is little food for man or beast is beset with difficulties almost inconceivable to the man who does not himself know this kind of wilderness, and especially to the man who only knows the ease of civilization. A scientific party of some size, with the equipment necessary in order to do scientific work, can only go at all if the men who actually handle the problems of food and transportation do their work thoroughtly.