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4 - Les montagnes dynamiques dans la littérature et les récits de voyage / Agentic Mountains in Nature and Travel Writing

Meet a Lion in the Atlas Mountains: 19th century Moroccan Fauna in John Drummond Hay's Western Barbary (1844)

Khalid Chaouch
p. 275-290


L'écriture de voyage en anglais sur le Maroc au cours des cinq derniers siècles comprend, entre autres, un précieux trésor de récits reflétant une variété de moments de rencontre entre les voyageurs anglais et les Marocains et aussi un trésor d'information sur la terre et ses paysages. L'une des caractéristiques récurrentes de ces écrits de voyage est la vie sauvage qui régnait dans les montagnes de l'Atlas marocain, qui abondait en animaux sauvages en constante lutte pour la survie, tout en côtoyant la population locale. Le lion de l'Atlas, en l'occurrence, est même devenu un emblème du pays à cette date. Cette relation humaine/non-humaine revêt une dimension triangulaire importante avec la présence du voyageur anglais qui partage et commente ces moments particuliers de rencontre. Cet article se propose d'étudier la dynamique de la description et de la représentation dans un récit de voyage anglais du XIXe siècle, Western Barbary (1844) de John Drummond Hay. L'accent est principalement mis sur les stratégies narratives utilisées dans l'exposition des rencontres entre les tribus locales et les animaux sauvages de la faune marocaine de cette période.

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1'Meet a lion' is the title of a section in Drummond Hay's book, Western Barbary (32). The imperative form 'meet' in this title may suggest that the reader is invited to meet a lion. But when this invitation is juxtaposed to other titles such as 'Cross the Mhaha' (9) 'Proceed on our journey' (22), 'Lose my heart,' where the author is talking about his own proceedings, it becomes clear that 'meet a lion' is not a mere invitation but an account on an actual meeting with a lion. This certainly whets the reader's appetite for knowledge about how a real lion was met during the journey. This is, indeed, the point that I intend to make in this paper: who is who and who tells what in the travel account? English travel writing focusing on Morocco in the 19th century contains, among other information, a valuable treasury trove of narratives reflecting intensive moments of encounter not only between English travellers and Moroccan people but also between humans and non-humans at a time when Morocco was still teeming with wild animals. The focus in this paper will be on John Drummond Hay's Western Barbary, Its Wild Tribes and Savage Animals (1844), where the English traveller and his narrative adjuvants deploy a number of narrative strategies to describe encounters between the native tribes and the wild animals of Morocco at the time.

Moroccan fauna in English travel writing

2English travel writing relating to Morocco began precisely in 1551 with the first English ship to ever dock at a Moroccan port. More than five centuries have witnessed the writing of hundreds of English accounts of travel in this land. The corpus includes a wide scope of travel writing reflecting a variety of encounters between English travellers and Moroccan people, a social history of this country, and also a historical description of its varied landscape. The colourful Moroccan fauna and flora, in particular, is gradually revealed through the succeeding accounts to the extent that the sum of texts reflects the natural evolution of the whole landscape. The metaphor of the palimpsest, used by Mike Crang (22-23), fits perfectly in this context, where the landscape of 'Western Barbary' is, in these accounts, "in continuous process of development or of dissolution and replacement" (22). One of the recurrent features in such travel accounts is the mountain wild life that prevailed in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains, one that was teeming with wild animals in a constant fight for survival among the local population. The Atlas lion, in particular, attracted the attention of English travellers and, consequently, requires a special care in any reading and analysis of the human and non-human interactions in those travel narratives.

Drummond Hay's narrative, Western Barbary, 1844

3Since his very early childhood, John Drummond Hay had mainly lived in Morocco, where he succeeded his father as a British consul from 1844 to 1886. This endowed him with the ability of speaking Moroccan Arabic, which was an essential key to any travel undertaking in the hinterland. His life-long career in Morocco also helped him to maintain a particular position among the 'Moors' and to entertain very close and friendly relationships with them to the extent that he was considered as "probably the most popular and influential Christian among the Moors that ever lived in the country" (Stutfield 331). In 1838 he travelled to the northern regions of Morocco to provide Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, with a horse of the purest blood from some of the horse breeders in the region around Laraiche (Hay iii). Covered over the time span of several weeks, the itinerary of the English traveller included both coastal cities, such as Tangier and Laraiche, and hinterland places such as Ain Dahlia, Raisana, the Sanctuary of Mulai Abdeslam, and Had Al-Gharbia. According to Ben-Srhir, this journey "was a propitious opportunity for him to see at close hand the characteristics of the natural environment and the people of an important part of Morocco" (20).

4In his travel account, Hay reports on encounters and stories involving the different animals that made up the fauna of the place at the time: flamingos, crocodiles, sharks, lynxes (wild cats), jackals, boars, wild cattle, hyenas, panthers, caracal lynxes, large tortoises, large serpents, gazelle deer, wild swine and, of course, Atlas lions. Whether the traveller saw and met up with all these animals in person or he just heard and wrote about some of them remains one of the questions on which the author builds the narrative strategies of his travel account. Within a triangular situation created by the interaction between the English traveller, the local people, and the wild animals, the author is showing rather than telling about the different scenes of 'Moorish' wild animals. The further the readers advance in the narrative, the more they discover that the moments of interaction between the English traveller and the wild animals are very scarce. Apparently, being conscious of such a narrative situation, the author opts for an objective-narrator status in which he erases his own voice now and then to use embedded narratives. In more than one third of the narrative (more than 36 % of the whole travel text), he gives free vent to local voices to fashion their own 'wild tribes' and to retell their interactions with their savage animals. By creating a 'Moorish' climate for the narrative to develop in, the human/non-human moments of fight, communication and dialogue are undoubtedly rendered more salient and more vivid when they are directly told and shown by those 'Moors' who were involved in those face-to-face encounters. The outcome of such a strategy is a set of narratives that tell and show the way humans and non-humans interacted and communicated, all through the lens of a 19th-century English traveller. One of the many cases of this triangular situation is the author's comment on the local people's ability to communicate with non-humans:

I have often been amused by the difference of tone in which the Arab sportsmen express themselves when speaking of the different animals of chase. When they talk of the lion, it is always as if they consider him a particularly gentlemanly personage; and they treat panthers and boars civilly enough. But their contempt of the cowardice and stupidity of the hyaena [sic.] has no limit. (Hay 48)

5Elsewhere in the travel account, he makes it clear that this human-animal communication is, from the perspective of the local 'Moors', a fact that has nothing to do with fiction. The natives communicate with animals as they communicate among themselves, wholly believing that the animals understand every single word. They even adopt the adequate linguistic behaviour in case the interlocutor should be a friend or an enemy since the sounds of animals make up a language that the sportsman can acquire with time and experience. The result is a human/animal real conversation:

In the habit also, which is universal amongst them, of relating long conversations with lions, boars, and hyaenas [sic.], a Moorish sportsman scarcely considers that he is dealing in fiction; for, with him, every variety of sound which a wild animal utters is translateable [sic.] into good Arabic. (Hay 16)

6The outcome of these situations is the fact that wild animals are not only represented by the English traveller but also by the local people. Consequently, representation becomes, in fact, co-representation that is shared by the author and the local people.

The narrative strategies of animal co-representation

7In his rendering of the different encounters between the local tribes and the wild animals of the Moroccan Atlas at the time, John Drummond Hay uses certain strategies of description and narrative devices of the (co)representation of animals. One of the salient features of this travel text, in particular, is the na(rra)tive role of local guards, guides, and companions in producing the whole text (Chaouch 135) and their undeniable share in representing the self, the land, and its animals. In this regard, the author deploys a set of narrative strategies that are worth analysing in the light of modern narratology. Granted, the book in question is a travel narrative, a fact that may put the text in a liminal position between non-fiction and fiction, but the author blurs this liminal zone by using different voices within the same narrative. The possible effect of this strategy on the reader is threefold. First, the opportunity given to local narrators to have a share in the general narrative confers a touch of exotic style on the travel account. Secondly, the potential of narrative (un)reliability is increased in the sense that local voices are in direct contact with all the described wild life and, at the same time, any touch of exaggeration can be accounted for by the unreliability of some local narrators not by the author. Thirdly, by using voices and points of view other than the ones of the author, the scope of the space and time is further broadened to encompass places and times not visited by the traveller.

8We are thus in the presence of two main categories of narrators/speakers from whose points of view the travel experience is told and shown: at the first level, there is the author, John Drummond Hay himself, who is the main narrator and sole controller of points of view. He is the one who chooses when to give the narrative cue, when to interrupt the story-telling of a narrator, and when to resume an embedded narrative. The author's voice is, in fact, the narrative thread that binds the travel account together. At the second and, at times, third levels, a group of narrators are alternately given the cue by the main narrator. The outcome is a focal narrative that is woven as a binding thread and a leading strand from the beginning of the account to the closing sentence, on one side, and a set of Chinese-box or framed narratives marked by constant shifts in points of view, on the other side. Before discussing the possible reasons and semantic outcomes of choosing this or that narrative architecture, it is more suitable to give some illustrations of these narrative frames.

9At the first level, John Drummond Hay opens up the narrative and closes it as the main narrator of his travel account on the wild tribes and savage animals of 'Western Barbary.' However, what should be noted in this basic narrative frame is the fact that the traveller's own face-to-face meetings with 'savage' animals are very scarce. And if he happens to talk about this sort of encounter, then the readers discover that the reported savage animals are not that 'savage'; and the jungle is not a 'jungle' at all. A case in point is the following account, in which Hay talks about "some large animal in the jungle near an old city of the Room, called Shemmees" (75):

We crept along the base of this wall, till we again got into more open ground; and, as I passed beneath a wild olive tree, some large animal darted at me from one of the branches, grazing the collar of my coat, and then escaping into the bushes. I fancied it was a serpent, but the movement was so sudden, I could not distinguish its form. (75)

10But, once the author decides to delve into the space of wild animals and their direct interaction with the local people, he resorts to the second and third levels of narration. The local folk who contribute in this task are legion; they can be the immediate companions of the traveller or any other local voices that could be of narrative use. There is, first and foremost, Hadj Hamed: "Sharky, my Jack-of all-trades, my servant, my cook, my groom, my huntsman, my second soldier, but my prime minister in all my proceedings with the Moors" (3). And there are also narrators such as the 'rat-tailed Arab,' the muleteer, an 80-year old hunter, the man of scars, old Alarby the Silent, an old fellow, and the lion-hunter, to name but a few.

11At this second level, the author shares the narrative with a local person, thus giving him the opportunity to tell, in local style, a tale of his own life. A case in point of this situation is found at the very beginning of the travel narrative, where the Rat-Tailed Arab is requested by the author to tell the story of Alee Boufrahee, the 'famous robber':

- "In truth," said I, "if you will slacken the pace of your horse, which seems to be a rare stepper, I should wish for nothing better than such a tale told by such a companion as you."

The Arab took me at my word, and accepting my compliment with a gracious bow, thus abruptly commenced his tale of the robber: —

- "In the name of the most merciful God! — Know then, Nazarene, that some twenty years ago […] there resided in the village of Bendeeban, which is situated on the way to Fas, about four miles south of Tangier, the father of our hero, Mohamed Boofrahee by name…" (Hay 5)

12This account can be illustrated by the chart in Figure 1.

13The first accounts that are given by the companions, friends and guards of the English traveller are intended to give the local people the opportunity to introduce themselves and to talk about their own adventures to Hay's readers; they are also a way for the author to show how the local people are eager to speak about themselves. Nevertheless, there comes a time in the narrative when the author himself is equally tempted by the desire to give an account of his own adventures. In one of the singular instances of the second-level narrative, the author allows a shift of point of view from his own to that of Hadj Hamed (Old Alarby the Silent) and gives him the opportunity to offer a rather lengthy narrative on the adventures and prowess of the author himself, John Drummond Hay: " 'Hear, O Christian!' said Old Alarby the Silent, 'hear the feats of my horse, and how, when mounted upon him, the son of the English [Hay himself], encountered the Arab tribes:—' " (49-51). By the end of Old Alarby's account, the author closes the narrative in this way:

" 'The blessing of the Prophet on the iron-grey, the lovely one! and a blessing upon all his ancestors!' exclaimed old Alarby the Silent, as a wind-up to his story, which, barring a little exaggeration, was a tolerably correct account of a scrape I [Hay] had got into." (51)

14This narrative structure can be illustrated by Figure 2.

15This particular account, in which John Drummond Hay cages his own voice in a Chinese-box narrative frame, is designed to free the author temporarily from adopting the first pronoun, thus making of Old Alarby 'the Silent' a mere narrative medium to this effect, and any 'little exaggeration' in the account is to be accounted for by Old Alarby, the reported narrator, not by the author.

16Similar to this narrative frame are the two accounts in which Hay is requested by his 'Moorish' companions to talk about his own adventures. In the first one, the author tells the story of his own "escape four years ago, when he and the son of America attacked a boar at bay." (16-18) The request is done in this way:

- "The son of the English," said Sharky, pointing to me, "had just as narrow an escape four years ago, when he and the son of America attacked a boar at bay."

- "Let us hear," said they all, "Nazarene!" (16)

17In the second account, the author is requested by the Moorish Lion Hunter to tell the local companions about his killing of the Melon Boar (19). This narrative frame can be illustrated by Figure 3.

18At the end of this heroic account on the adventures of Hay, his Moorish companions shout all at once: "May God make you a true believer, for you have no equal." This undoubtedly helps the narrator to avoid the burden of saying "I have no equal", something that would have been unacceptable if he had otherwise adopted the ordinary 1st-level narrative. These two tales are told in the past because they refer to events that happened to the author in travels and adventures other than the ones described in this book. They are distinguished from the first-level narratives because they are consciously retold by the author in the typical style of Moorish storytelling of his local companions:

I complied with their request, and, suiting my style to my audience, told my tale much after the following fashion:

- "It was in the month of October, O ye faithful children of the Prophet, and early in the morning, that I received a message from the son of America, who had passed the night in the hills watching for boar, begging me to join him at the marshes of Boobana as soon as possible, and to bring my hunter Sharky, with his two dogs, and an extra gun…" (16)

19The deeper the author delves into the heart of wild flora and fauna, the more complex are the levels of narration. In these cases, the author opts for a set of framed narratives or Chinese-box structures of stories within stories. In the third level, the author first lets the narrative power to a local narrator, and then the latter, in turn, gives this narrative power to a third person whose point of view might be more powerful and more detailed thanks to his immediate participation in the man-animal encounters that took place in the Moorish jungle.

20A highly interesting embedded narrative of this kind is the one in which the tale of a Moorish female captive is told by her captor, Alee the Six-Fingered (40-41). Hay reports from the rat-tailed Arab, who reports from Alee the story of Rahmana, the girl who was to become his (Alee's) own bride and wife. This is, in fact, a typical English tale of the 'female captive,' but this time, the account is told—within a highly embedded narrative—by the captor, Alee the Six-Fingered, instead of being told by the female captive, as was the case of Elizabeth Marsh (Bekkaoui 121-161) or Eliza Bradley (Bapler 247-283). The singularity of Hay's account on this point is that we are offered, most probably for the only time in captivity accounts, the process of kidnapping a female captive, her own feelings of fear, and the mixed-up feelings of the captor, not as the female captive tells them but as they are told by the captor himself:

I took off my slippers, and crawling upon hands and feet, cautiously approached close to her: then giving a glance at the old man, whose forehead was pressed to the ground, I pounced on my prey, and pressing the haik over her mouth, I lifted her in my arms, and dashed into the forest, regaining my gun as I passed the tree.
The poor girl was sadly frightened, and endeavoured to give the alarm to her aged parent; but he could not have heard her stifled screams. I brought her to this hut, and loosening the veil, gazed on her features. A death-like paleness had come over them, and her eyes were closed. I shuddered as I thought that Azrael […] had snatched her from me. A gentle heaving of the bosom told me, however, that her fate was not yet written. She looked so pale and sorrow-stricken, that for a moment I almost resolved to restore her to her father; but then, I reflected that a worse lot might befall her than to be the wife of one who already loved her so fervently as I did; for perhaps, reasoned I, she is destined to become one of a numerous harem of some old dolt in Tangier. (Hay 40-41)

21The narrative structure of this account can be rendered in this chart (Figure 4).

22At times, it seems that Hay runs out of clearly defined narrators, so he resorts to non-defined ones. On such occasions, the author declares at the beginning of the account that such information "was given me by an honest and intelligent native" (70) or, as is the case with his report on the local superstitions on treasure prevailing in the land of the Moors, he states that "[t]he following instance was related to me as a well-known fact." (81)

  • 1 Even the Appendix of the book is largely a reported narrative since it tells the story of John Davi (...)

23Each form of these embedded narrative frames1 is intended to create a more native and probably exotic effect upon the supposed readers of John Drummond Hay. That is why the reports of the second- or third-hand narrators are not totally independent from the author's perspective. The intrusion of the English Self in the embedded narrative is undeniable, and a possible case is the account given by the Arab companion, the Rat-Tailed one, on Alee the outlaw:

Alee, however, wisely kept friends with the country folk, and the poor especially, often enriching them at rich men's cost; it was indeed strongly suspected that the people of many camps and hamlets had connived with him; nay, that they even were associated with him in more than one of his forays. (42)

24This local narrator's portraying of Alee the heroic outlaw is told in the style of John Drummond Hay himself and it recreates a typical image—this time a Moorish version—of Robin Hood, the latter being part the English folklore since the 15th century.

25As a whole, the narratives show the close connection between the levels of representation of the different human/animal interactions, on the one hand, and the shifting of narrative modes, on the other hand. However, the striking case in point remains the representation of the Atlas lion and the corresponding narrative frames.

Meeting/Caging the Atlas lion in a Chinese box

26The choice of the Atlas lion as a case in point for the narrated Moroccan fauna is due to the importance of this animal per se and to its position in Moroccan culture in general. The Atlas lion was present in great numbers in 19th-century Western Barbary and has even become the emblem of the country to this date. The human/non-human relationship takes on an important triangular dimension with the presence of the English traveller who both participates in and comments on these particular moments of encounter in the form of embedded narratives. So where is the lion of the Atlas? He is there caged in the Chinese box—the set of framed narratives embedded in the different tales that are told to the author by local people: guards, hunters, Riffians, ruffians, Caids, etc.

  • 2 At the level of the history of Moroccan fauna and its relation to the political power, it goes with (...)

27Scrutiny into the uses of this or that point of view throughout the book shows that the human/lion contact is more salient and evident whenever the scenes and spectacles are told by a second-level narrator; whereas, the face-to-face contact with the lion is rather limited whenever the direct narrator is John Drummond Hay. The only case in which the Atlas lion is seen directly by the author is the one in which a pair of lions, 'the Sultans of Beasts,' are caged by the Moorish King's Men, on their way to be given as "an imperial present to the Sultan of the United States" (32), which clearly means that they are in captivity, not in their natural habitat.2 In all the other cases, which are given by the different tales told to the author by local people, the lion is always 'caged' in the Chinese-box narrative frame.

28Within the tale told by the 80-year-old Rat-Tailed Arab, Alee Boufrahee—the author's Moorish version of the Robin Hood figure—exposes his adventures with the wild fauna of the time, his face-to-face meeting with the lion, and his fight against it (5-8, 33-42). Alee also reports on a fatal fight between a lion and a huge wild boar, then between the latter and the lioness—the mate of the defeated lion:

I fancied I could distinguish the grim and shaggy head of a lion crouching upon his fore paws, and, with eyes that glared like lighted charcoal through the bushes, he seemed peering at the movements of the boar [...] Again and again the ferocious boar charged, till he buried his very snout in the body of the lion, who was kicking in the agony of death.

- "God is great!" said the lioness: "but he shall pay for this! What! a pig! an infidel! to kill a lion! One spring, and I will do for him."

Having said these words, she advanced boldly. The boar stood prepared, grinding his teeth with rage. She paused, and again retreated to the wood, and I could hear her say,

- "O God! all-merciful Creator! What an immense boar! what an infidel! what a Christian of a pig!"

- "May God burn your great-great-grandmother," said the boar.

On hearing the creature curse her parent, she again stopped, and, lashing her tail, roared with a voice that the whole wood re-echoed [...] I could not see distinctly, but I heard every blow of the paw and every rip of the tusk. There was a dead silence; again the cloud had passed, and the heavens were clear, and I saw the lioness with her fore paws on the body of the boar. I seized my gun, and aimed at her head; that was her last moment. The morning dawned. I descended from the rock. The claw of the lioness still grasped in death the body of the boar. Many severe wounds showed that the boar had again fought bravely. (14-15)

29These two Chinese-box narrative frames can be illustrated by the chart in Figure 5.

30Though the reported narrator—in the latter account—is supposed to be Alee Boufrahee, the personal narrative touch of the English traveller is salient on many occasions. This account is interspersed with expressions and dichotomies that verge into the symbolism of political and religious antagonisms of the time. The narrator draws a clear duality between animals who acquired national and/or religious identities. The lioness is personified as a devout 'Muslim' creature who cries 'God is great' and invokes the 'all-merciful Creator,' while the boar is personified as a 'Christian,' and an 'infidel' with whom the narrator clearly gets on well at the end.

31Another highly-embedded narrative is the one featuring Biteewy's fight with the lion in the Maamora forest, on his way to the shrine of Seedy Boaza. This long account (90-92) was first narrated by Biteewy himself to Hadj Hamed, then it was told again by the latter to the author, who includes it in the travel account. This time, it is Hadj Hamed who proposes to tell the story of Sheikh Mohamed Beteewy: " 'If it please thee, Nazarene, with God's aid, I will relate the story, as often have I heard him tell it to his brother sportsmen.' I assented, and the Hadj thus commenced: —" (90). This account can be illustrated by the chart in Figure 6.

32Once again, the farther the lion is from the author's eyes, the higher is the narrative frame. But taken as a whole, all these reported accounts attest to the active presence of the lion in the Moorish jungle and the success of the English traveller in giving a vivid record on them, without which the local people would not have known the history of these exceptional encounters between humans and non-humans in their own land.


33John Drummond Hay's travel account of 'Western Barbary' in the first part of the 19th century contains a considerable amount of information on the Moroccan fauna of the time. In an attempt to answer the questions of 'who is who?' and 'who tells what?' in this travel account, a number of embedded narratives have been analysed to show the neat collaboration between the author/traveler and the native people, as far as the description of human/animal encounter and of wild animal fights is concerned. The human/non-human moments of encounter and dialogue are undoubtedly rendered more salient and more vivid when they are told and shown by the 'Moors' who were directly involved in those encounters, hence, the existence of a native role in the whole travel account. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that these local voices are carefully mediated by the English author. Driven by the desire to show rather than just tell such scenes of 'Moorish' fauna, he excels in employing these embedded narratives, while maintaining his focal voice as the binding thread of the whole account. Keeping an objective-narrator status, the author creates a 'Moorish' climate for the narratives to develop in. Now and again, he erases his own voice to give voice to the natives to fashion a complete tableau of their own on the 'wild tribes and savage animals'; the outcome is, in many cases, a set of scenes and spectacles 'as told to the author' and not actual events experienced by the traveller himself.

34Thanks to these embedded narratives told by reliable and unreliable narrators, and where facts are interspersed with 'Moorish exaggeration' and local hunters' embroidery, the whole travel account verges into an interplay between fiction and non-fiction that keeps it within the very essence of this British genre of travel writing. The other outcome of this is most probably the lack of detailed portraits of animals and their physiognomy since the focal point of local narratives is adventure itself and not wild life per se. Knowing the Victorian appetite for these details, the author could have excelled in depicting Moroccan fauna had he been in direct contact with it.

35Within this context, the Atlas lion, as an exceptional animal, has a prominent presence in the book. Regardless of the way it is told, one of the further merits of John Drummond Hay's travel account is undeniably the image that it renders of the Barbary lion in the 19th century in the absence of local records on the subject. Moroccan historians of the time had certainly disregarded the idea of depicting scenes and spectacles that seemed to be so commonplace and so devoid of any political or 'serious' importance to have a claim to the national history records. More reading of English travel books relating to Morocco in its pre-colonial times will certainly reveal more details on its fauna and flora and the ensuing human/nonhuman encounters, especially as rendered through the lens of an 'outsider.'

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BAPLER, Paul ed., White Slaves, African Masters. An Anthology of American Captivity Narratives, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

BEKKAOUI, Khalid ed., White Women Captives in North Africa. Narratives of Enslavement, 1735–1830, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

BEN-SRHIR, Khalid, Britain and Morocco during the Embassy of John Drummond Hay 1845-1886, M. Williams and G. Waterson, trans., London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.

CHAOUCH, Khalid, "The Na(rra)tive Role of Local Translators in Turn-of-the-Century American Travel Accounts on Morocco", Cultures and Languages in Contact, Boudlal, A., R. Erguig, A. Sabil and M. Yeou eds., Rabat: Bouregreg, 2016, 135-160.

CRANG, Mike, Cultural Geography, London: Routledge, 1998.

HAY, John Drummond, Western Barbary, Its Wild Tribes and Savage Animals, London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1844.

STUTFIELD, Hugh Edward M., El Maghreb: 1200 Miles' Ride through Marocco, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1886.

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1 Even the Appendix of the book is largely a reported narrative since it tells the story of John Davidson’s travel in Morocco mainly based on a letter of the deceased traveller. It is thus an embedded epistolary narrative that fits well in the whole narrative structure of Hay’s book on Western Barbary.

2 At the level of the history of Moroccan fauna and its relation to the political power, it goes without saying that this is not the only occasion in which a Moroccan king gives to the Americans one or a pair of Barbary lions. The story of James Leib (American Consul in Tangier from 1833 to 1838) with such highly costing royal gifts is a famous case in point. Seen from an ecological perspective, captivating the lions and isolating them from their wild environment could be perceived as a condemnable act, but it turns out today that, from the same ecological perspective, most of the pure breed Barbary lions that are still caged in zoos all over the world (especially in Morocco and the States) were ironically preserved thanks to this very act of royal captivity, without which all the species of the Barbary lions would have completely disappeared under acts of excessive hunting.

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Bibliographical reference

Khalid Chaouch, Meet a Lion in the Atlas Mountains: 19th century Moroccan Fauna in John Drummond Hay's Western Barbary (1844)Caliban, 59 | 2018, 275-290.

Electronic reference

Khalid Chaouch, Meet a Lion in the Atlas Mountains: 19th century Moroccan Fauna in John Drummond Hay's Western Barbary (1844)Caliban [Online], 59 | 2018, Online since 01 June 2018, connection on 23 June 2024. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Khalid Chaouch

Sultan Mly Slimane University.
Khalid CHAOUCH, lauréat de l’Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail en 1995, est professeur d'enseignement supérieur à l’Université Sultan Moulay Slimane, Beni Mellal, Maroc. Il enseigne actuellement "Modern and Classical Drama ", "Film Analysis" et "Le Maroc et le monde anglo-américain". Il est l'auteur de L'Evolution dramatique du dramaturge américain Clifford Odets (1906-1963) (Villeneuve d'Ascq : Septentrion, France, 1998), Humble Odysseys (Najah, Mohammedia, 2002), une pièce qui a remporté le Prix du British Council pour les écrivains marocains en anglais et un recueil de poèmes intitulé Muffled Rhythms (Nadir Print, Beni Mellal, 2010). Il a contribué à des revues nationales et internationales avec des articles sur l'écriture du voyage, la critique dramatique et les questions interculturelles.

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