Ituri Forest Pygmies | Who Rules the Forest? National Geographic Magazine: Net Hunting Pygmies

Pygmies catch blue duikers, a type of small antelope, when they set up hunting camps deep in the Ituri Forest. A Mbuti hunter carries a coiled net of twined liana bark, his most prized possession, on his head as he walks through the forest. Hunters drape nets between trees and flush antelope and other game toward them. Meat is exchanged with Bantu farmers for vegetables, grains, and other goods in an interdependent relationship.

From my journal:  The Bantu chief berates his pygmies for the lousy hunt yesterday when they only caught three blue duikers.  He says he consulted a wise man before they entered the jungle and the wise man told him one of the members of the hunting party was bewitched and that it was a woman who desired the hunt to go poorly and had thrown a spell on it.  He also tells them he needs the meat for the celebratory feast at the end of the nKumbi—the nKumbi boys are secluded off to the side in this deep forest camp. They have learned to slip into the woods alone and hunt with just a stick or a fish hook… all you hear is the swish of their grass ceremonial skirt.

The next morning there is a change of strategy—the chief’s wife goes out first to make the fire in the woods for the hunters to gather before the hunt—usually a man does this.  The women in the camp then wander from net to net, spitting on the nets for good luck… I’m sure they all feel obligated because the chief said “the bewitched” was a woman.  A normal hunt with two camps of pygmies should yield at least 10 blue duiker a day.

Buy This Image