Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 72

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

Page 72

Africa; and in our own day he has repeated the feat, on a very large scale, in the rest of Africa and in North America. But in South America, although he is in places responsible for the wanton slaughter of the most interesting and the largest, or the most beautiful, birds, his advent has meant a positive enrichment of the wild mammalian fauna. None of the native grass-eating mammals, the graminivores, approach in size and beauty the herds of wild or half-wild cattle and horses, or so add to the interest of the landscape. There is every reason why the good people of South America should waken, as we of North America, very late in the day, are beginning to waken, and as the peoples of northern Europe—not southern Europe—have already partially wakened, to the duty of preserving from impoverishment and extinction the wild life which is an asset of such interest and value in our several lands; but the case against civilized man in this matter is grewsomely heavy anyhow, when the plain truth is told, and it is harmed by ex-aggeration.
  After five or six hours’ travelling through this country of marsh and of palm forest we reached the ranch for which we were heading. In the neighborhood stood giant fig-trees, singly or in groups, with dense, darkgreen foliage. Ponds, overgrown with water-plants, lay about; wet meadow, and drier pastureland, open or dotted with palms and varied with tree jungle, stretched for many miles on every hand. There are some thirty thousand head of cattle on the ranch, besides herds of horses and droves of swine, and a few flocks of sheep and goats. The home buildings of the ranch stood in a