Geographical Notes

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    AT the last meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, Dr. Joseph A. Moloney, medical officer to Capt. Stairs' expedition to Katanga, read a paper descriptive of the journey. The expedition of over 300 men landed at Bagamoyo on June 27, 1891, and marched to Lake Tanganyika through the German territory, following the well-known caravan-track through Tabora. On the way proofs were not wanting that the slave-traders were kept well supplied with gunpowder, in spite of the strict regulations which are made much of in Europe. On October 9 they reached Lake Tanganyika near its southern end, and from conversations with the missionaries and natives obtained some interesting information as to the variations in the level of the water. It appears that the outlet of the lake by the Lukuga becomes periodically choked by sand and vegetation, thus forming a natural dam, which causes the level of the lake to rise. After a time the barrier is carried away and the river issues with great force, flowing strongly for a number of years. The extreme difference in level must be about 18 feet, and the rise and fall probably occupy about fifteen years. On October 31 the caravan started from the west side of the lake. The Kaomba country first passed through was found to abound in minerals, iron and copper being extensively worked by the natives who show much skill in the manufacture of weapons and implements. Bunkeia, the capital of Msiri's territory, was reached on December 14, the journey having been of extraordinary rapidity considering the route taken. Much of the country was swampy, and there were tracts of dense tropical forests reminding Captain Stairs of the Aruwimi basin. Near Bunkeia a famine was raging, and this, together with the tragedies consequent on the conquest of Msiri, brought the expedition into a very bad state. All the Europeans except Dr. Moloney suffered severely, and Captain Stairs never fully recovered. On February 4, 1892, the survivors of the expedition set out on the return journey, and travelling by Lake Nyasa and the Shire reached the Chinde mouth of the Zambesi on June 4.

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    Geographical Notes. Nature 48, 135–136 (1893) doi:10.1038/048135b0

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