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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Wade Crump to Edward Blyth   [before 8 January 1856]1

Facts regarding Lions in Central India2 and Wild Cattle in Southern India | Chas Crump. | Artillery3

Wild Cattle in the South.

There is as I have always heard a breed of wild cattle of a dull brick red colour in the Tinneyvelly District, who it is the tradition of the country sprang originally from the tame village cows who were driven off to the jungles by the people of the country when Tippo Sahib invaded the Raja of Travancore about the year 1788—4 So much I know only by hearsay— the following is of my own knowledge— On my way down from the Hills (Neilgheeries) in 47—I stayed with our 49th at Vellore, there, one of the Officers (Oliver Butler I think)5 told me of a strange herd of wild cattle to be met with on the great plains about Rajas Choultry on the road to Madras and shewed me the skin and horns of one a bull which he had himself killed there a month or so before— this skin was dull brick red colour the horns same shape and as far as I remember rather thicker than common bullocks horns—

I halted a day at Rajas Choultry and went out after this herd but could not find them, however they were perfectly well known to all the people thereabouts and the account I received was as follows—

About 4 years before that time a wild bull of a red colour had appeared on the great plains which stretch from Rajas Choultry to Arcot, (and the people all said he came from the jungles below Trichinopoly)— this bull fed by himself but at times consorted with the tame herds fought and drove away the tame bulls and then walked into the cows; from this intercourse in process of time sprung calves—two at first, red like their father—who when they had done sucking forsook the tame beasts and lived apart with their sire, and so the herd went on he bulling the Village cows, and the calves forsaking the tame herds for the wild one till the wild cattle were 7 in number. viz—the original old bull the young bull Butler shot, and 5 cows.— this young bull was driven out of the herd by his Father for taking improper liberties with the cows took up his position close to a village where he molested cows, men, and everybody the Potail6 of the place came to the travellers Bungalow informed B of the fact and requested him to bring his gun and rid the village of the nuisance, young bull was under a tree, wouldnt budge but when B drew near, charged and was so shot.—

I heard afterwards that the whole race was exterminated by Kennedy of our 1st L. C. when he was stationed at Arcot—7

I have heard from Jerden of another breed of wild cattle living in the salt water lagoons and islands above Nellore, he has been at the killing of some, and describes them as being of a dirty grey white with dark points.8

CD annotations

scored brown crayon
scored brown crayon


Dated by the relationship to the letter from Edward Blyth, 8 January [1856]. Blyth forwarded this letter to CD with his own letter of 8 January 1856 (see letter from Edward Blyth, 8 January [1856]).
Blyth here added: ‘These I have retained, EB.’ before he sent Crump’s letter on to CD. Crump had presumably supplied Blyth with information on Asiatic lions for his article in the Calcutta Sporting Review (see letter from Edward Blyth, 8 January 1856).
Blyth added ‘Madras’ before ‘Artillery’. Crump wrote this note on the cover of his letter.
Tippoo Sahib, sultan of Mysore, ravaged the territories of the raja of Travancore in 1789 (EB).
John Olive Buttler was a lieutenant in the Madras forty-ninth regiment native infantry stationed at Vellore from March 1847 (East-India register and army list, for 1848).
An alternative spelling of patel, a village head-man in south and central India (OED).
Lord David Kennedy was a lieutenant in the Madras first regiment light cavalry stationed at Arcot from May 1847 (East-India register and army list, for 1848).
Later described by Thomas Claverhill Jerdon of the Madras service in Jerdon 1867, p. 301: ‘Near Nellore, in the Carnatic, on the sea-coast, there is a herd of cattle that have been wild for many years… . Their horns were very long and upright, and they were of large size. I shot one there in 1843, but had great difficulty in stalking it, and had to follow it across one or two creeks.’


EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Jerdon, Thomas Claverhill. 1867. The mammals of India; a natural history of all the animals known to inhabit continental India. Roorkee, India.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Reports upon a breed of wild cattle found in southern India. The herd is reputedly descended from a wild, red bull that mated with tame cows.

[This memorandum was forwarded to CD enclosed with 1817.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Crump
Edward Blyth
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 98: A114–A116
Physical description
AmemS 5pp †, † (by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1819,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6