For most of the
year, Jos� F�nyk�vi is a prosperous Madrid businessman. But each fall F�nyk�vi
and his wife abandon Europe and take off for their 1,000-acre ranch in Angola,
the vast Portuguese colony on the Atlantic coast of Africa. There, for three or
four months, F�nyk�vi hunts big game in the dense and trackless wilderness of
that remote corner of the world. This is the story of his biggest trophy—the
largest elephant ever shot.
It was while
hunting in a remote area of Angola in 1954 that I got the shock of my big-game
hunting life. Examining the muddy shore of a lake I saw an unbelievably big
elephant track. Getting out a tape measure, I found it measured an even three
feet in length—more than a foot larger than the world's record trophy.
As I stood up a
little chill went through my body. I knew I was looking at the spoor of
probably the biggest animal living on the surface of the earth.
What should I do?
If I followed the beast long enough, undoubtedly I would in time find him and
shoot him. But then what? I had only three helpers with me, and it would take
us days to skin such a trophy. I had neither the mechanical equipment nor the
human help for such a task.
considerations I calmed my hunter's ardor and went on my exploratory way. But I
never forgot that great track. All last winter, spring and summer in Madrid I
thought about it.
Last fall, I got
back to Angola and began preparations for the biggest hunting expedition of my
life. We loaded a two-ton "power wagon," a big truck with four-wheel
drive capable of crossing almost any terrain, and with a brand new jeep, and
sufficient supplies for myself and six men, we set off again to cross the Cuito
River and look for my elephant. With me this time was Mario, my favorite
aide-decamp, and Antonio, my Spanish driver, who is the factotum of our
expedition, and who doubles as mechanic, cook and camp overseer.
Mario had not
been with me in 1954, so he was unfamiliar with this part of Angola. But I
guided our party to the place where I had seen the big tracks. I knew that the
habit of solitary old males, whether they belong to the human or elephant race,
are set and methodical. They eat, drink, sleep and travel in accordance with a
strict plan and timetable.
It had been at
the little lake that I saw the big track on November 9, 1954. In this year of
1955 we arrived at the same spot at 2 p.m. on November 12. Since the place had
probably never before, or since, been visited by men, I was sure of finding the
spoor of my old elephant first seen a year before.
there was the track again. It was not fresh, being covered with dust and
leaves. I examined it carefully and concluded it was about two days old. My
elephant had been there as late as November 10.
It was early in
the afternoon when we saw the track. With me were Mario and my favorite native
tracker, Kukuya. Mario got down and looked at the spoor. He agreed that in 40
years of the jungle he had never seen so big a footprint.