Albury Banner Friday, January 10, 1936


Africa is still the continent of mystery. There is hardly a single square mile of its vast area which has not seen strange happenings. But one of the queerest stories to come out of the Dark Continent is the story of Luke, the boy who was kidnapped by baboons.  Just over 30 years ago two young troopers of the Cape Mounted Rifles were riding through some rough scrub-land in a lonely district of the Cape Province when they met a pack of baboons.

These creatures hunt in packs and many a man has been torn to pieces by venturing too close to them.  But luck was with the troopers. They fired a shot apiece and the whole pack turned tail and fled.  But as they vanished into the dense undergrowth they left behind a limping figure. The troopers spurred on their horses and in a few minutes had caught up with what they thought was a wounded baboon.

Grew More Docile

To their intense astonishment, they found instead a snarling little native boy about 10 years old.  He was completely naked and covered with scars and scratches. To the trooper's questions, he could only reply by throaty growls. They tried him with various native dialects, but these animal snarls were the only answers they could get. So they carried him to civilization.  After a time Luke, as he was christened grew more docile. He no longer tried to bite and scratch every human being he came near him.

For week after week, he was taken around the country to one native kraal after another in the hope that some mother would recognize her child. But no mother did.  There was nothing to be done but place him in a mental hospital in an effort to bring back his intelligence.  There he thought and behaved like a friendly animal. His appetite was tremendous and for months he would eat nothing but raw food, whilst his language was still only a succession of grunts and squeaks. By the end of a year, he had learned to walk upright and had lost all his mistrust of human beings.

Never be as Others

And then a local farmer heard of the case and offered to employ Luke on his farm.  And there Luke is today. He can speak a little English and is stronger than any other native in the district, for his muscles were developed when he was compelled to live the life of a baboon. Yet he will never be like other men. His mind remains a blank about his past.  A terrible scar on his forehead is the only thing about which he will talk. ''Big bird kicked me, is his explanation of this incident in his past, when an ostrich must have lashed out at him during one of the baboons hunting expeditions. But beyond that, he remembers nothing.

Each year Africa sees the disappearance of babies into the bush.  A native mother goes down to the river to do the household laundry and incautiously leaves her year-old child playing happily near the fringe of the forest.

Knew He'd be Crushed

When she turns around it has gone, snatched away by a wandering tribe of baboons. If the child survives it means there will be one more man monkey wandering through the jungles of Africa. But there are other animals to be feared by the African traveler. Not many years ago a farmer set out one evening to the nearest town to dispose of some hay.  As he drove his wagon along the lonely road he suddenly heard the crashing of brushwood behind him.  Turning around he saw a herd of elephants break out on to the road and come pounding after him. The smell of his hay attracted them and they came on at top speed after a possible free meal.  The farmer knew that they would crush him to death the moment they caught up with him.

Safe, Until . . .

His wits worked quickly. He grabbed one of his bundles of hay and put a match to it. Then he dropped the flaming mass on to the road and whipped up his horses. He knew he was safe until the flames died down, for no elephant will face fire.  And for the next hour, he kept dropping blazing bundles of hay from his wagon whilst the huge grey shapes of the elephants padded slowly, ominously after him, waiting to make their rush when the last bundle had been burnt.  But at last, the farmer reached the outskirts of the town and the elephants dared come on farther. But there was no hay left! The price of a wagon-load of hay had saved his life. There are some men who go out to seek danger.  A few years ago a British sailor paid with his life for a foolish prank, for Africa' is ruthless.

During the dry season, a young sailor on leave from the Africa Squadron paid a visit to the Victoria Falls.  Naturally, he was disappointed in them, for at this time of the -year the torrent splits up into many little streams, and to show his contempt he decided he would walk across them.


In spite of his friend's warnings he set out, but he had not got half-way across before disaster overcame him. He put his foot on a boulder coated with moss — and vanished! He had slipped . . . the current tore at him and swept him down to the jagged rocks 300 feet below!

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