The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - memoir of time in the Naga Hills as a Deputy Commissioner, 1919-1920

caption: touring
caption: last tour; wild bees; illness
medium: articles
person: HuttonShakespear/ Capt.
location: Nambur Forest (Nambar Forest)
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: My last tour was disastrous as I got multiple malignant malaria. Hutton had returned from leave and wanted me to visit the villages in the low hills in the Nambar Forest who grew cotton and rice. So down I went to a Rest House at 1700 feet on the main road. The main body of Angamis live above there at 6000 feet above the malaria line. I spent several days there with Angami guides. May, my wife, had gone to Shillong to have a baby, my son James in the Minto Nurses Home. Captain Shakespear took us to Shillong in his car as he was conducting experiments there with carrier pigeons in case of a rebellion in the Naga Hills at some future time. Returning from my expedition on my last day at the rest house travelling on the same narrow path in the forest as we had traversed in the morning we saw on a damp place the imprint of the foot of a wild elephant which had not been there in the morning and on it the footprint of a leopard and of the long nails of a bear. Shortly afterwards the head Naga guide put his finger to his lips and asked us to stop talking. Thinking it must be one of the three animals nearby I loaded my gun. Great consternation was caused among the Nagas and the head guide asked to carry my gun. I gave it to him thinking the fear was that it was too light a weapon against an elephant. He unloaded it. After a short time he pointed up to a huge hornet flying in the sky. If I had discharged it near the nest from which the Nagas heard the buzz they would have attacked and stung us to death. I had not known the word for a wild bee. The next day we climbed to the villages at 6000 feet and had run out of food so I lent my gun to the head guide to shoot a monkey. It was skinned and served up whole for our evening meal. With its white flesh it looked like a human baby and I had the unpleasant feeling of being a cannibal as I had to eat it. Returning to Kohima I made the error of not taking quinine as a precaution and spent a month in bed with daily malignant malaria under the ministration of an elderly Bengali doctor whose quinine mixture was insufficient to kill the malaria parasite. My two previous attacks of malaria in the Naga Hills were much milder. The fever left me just before my wife and baby arrived by car from Shillong but recovery of my strength to go to N.Lakhimpur to relieve Pritchard was slow. Pawsey had just arrived to join the service when I got back to Kohima from the tour. He was pale and nervy, having come from a camp in Austria for prisoners of war.