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Although ranking only fourth or fifth in point of size, Kar Nicobar contains nearly three - fifths of the total population of the group; the number of its inhabitants has remained stationary for many years, and has lately been ascertained to stand at a trifle under 3500.
“The people of Kar Nicobar ought to be among the most contented in the world. Everyone lives on terms of perfect equality with his neighbours. Beyond occasional illnesses, they have no cares or troubles, and there is absolutely no struggle for existence, coconuts and pandanus, their staple foods, being in such profusion that a child old enough to climb a tree could support himself without exertion."*
Our sojourn at Kar Nicobar lasted from the 21st to 27th of January, and was spent in making a collection of the fauna (which was not entirely without result in the way of new species), and in obtaining as much information as possible about the natives during the opportunities open to us. Besides this, we secured, through the agent, a fairly representative series of such articles as are used by the islanders in their daily occupations and pursuits.
The well from which we filled our tanks was situated near the agent's house: no good water was to be obtained elsewhere in the bay. In this well the water rose and fell with the tides, the explanation of which is, not that the sea-water is filtered by the coral sand, but that fresh and salt water do not combine ; the former rests on the latter, which is of course heavier, and the close and porous coral rock prevents the mixture of the two.
Having given all the time we could spare to Kar Nicobar, and found it a most interesting locality and one worthy of far more protracted attention, it was with feelings of regret that on the 26th we, as Dampier would say, "refreshed ourselves very well with hens, coconuts, and oranges, and the next day sailed from thence."
* A. L. Butler, Supp. And. and Nic. Gazette, Nov. 1897.
Batti Malv—Tilanchong-Novara Bay—Terrapin Bay-Form and Area of
Tilanchong — Birds — Megapodes – A Swamp — Crocodile — Megapode Mound—Wreck and Death of Captain Owen, 1708—We leave Tilanchong -Foul Ground-Kamorta.
On our course to Tilanchong, we passed, after leaving the south end of Kar Nicobar, within a few miles of the little island of Batti Maly. It is scarcely more than a mile in length, and except towards the N.W., where it is somewhat flattened, falls steeply to the sea from a height of 150 feet. It is uninhabited, but the low jungle with which it is covered is the abode of countless numbers of pigeons-principally of the Nicobar variety -which are said to be so tame and fearless that they can be killed with sticks.
A little later Teressa hove in sight, a grey cloud on the horizon, and soon after we caught sight of our destination right ahead. It was midnight before the island was reached, and not caring to find an anchorage in the dark, we drifted gently northward under jib and mainsail, until at daybreak we were opposite the extreme point, where we turned and ran slowly south, keeping close inshore.
All the way along until the centre is reached, the island, 500 feet high and nowhere more than a mile and a half broad, rises in almost precipitous cliffs of serpentine, with deep water at their feet, while the principal vegetation consists of thickets of pandanus in the gullies, and here and there, in spite of the rocky ground,