234 IVORY AND THE ELEPHANT
of the elephants. This is so marked that it has been asserted that the
character of country whence the material was derived could be generally
determined by examining its qualities in this respect. Thus the ivory
brought from the steppes of Massai is celebrated for its softness, and
it has been noted that the lower levels of the Congo basin furnish the
soft ivory, while as the altitude increases the grain becomes coarser.*
the elephant, although essentially an inhabitant of the plains and
forests, sometimes finds his way to high latitudes, is shown by the
observed existence of elephant tracks at a height of 10,000 feet on Mt.
Kenia, British East Africa. The limit of the growth of timber and
bamboo is well beneath this level. The writer who records these
observations gives it as his opinion that credence can be accorded to
the reports of some African natives that elephants have occasionally
wandered almost up to the snow line, which in Equatorial Africa cannot
be placed lower than 15,000 feet.f
source of ivory which has been actively exploited is furnished by the
fossil remains in Siberia, more especially in the Liakhovian Isles, in
the Polar Sea. Some of this fossil ivory also comes from frozen Alaska.
Here are found the bones of mammoths and mastodons which perished
thousands of years ago, in the later geological period, and the
enormous number of these mammals once existing in this region is proved
by the almost inexhaustible character of the deposits, which show no
signs of depletion, although recourse has been had to them during the
past two centuries. The quality of this Siberian ivory is, however, far
from constant, although some of it is surprisingly good, as perfect in
fact as though the bearer of the tusks had recently died.
Belgique Coloniale," Vol. Π, p. 618 (1897), and Vol. I, p. 93
(1895-96). fRicnard Tjader, "The Big Game of Africa," New York and
London, 1910, p. 55.