Elephant hunting by the Mbuti hunter-gatherers in the eastern Congo Basin

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/114206
http://dx.doi.org/10.15496/publikation-55581
http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:21-dspace-1142064
Dokumentart: Buch (einzelnes Kapitel)
Date: 2021-04-14
Source: Tuebingen Paleoanthropology Book Series – Contributions in Paleoanthropology Band 1: Human-elephant interactions: from past to present
Language: English
Faculty: Tuebingen Paleoanthropology Book Series – Contributions in Paleoanthropology Band 1: Human-elephant interactions: from past to present
Other Keywords: elephants
spear hunting
batuma
success rate
meat distribution
festive consumption
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Inhaltszusammenfassung:

Mbuti hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest of the eastern Congo Basin have been known as elephant hunters since the colonial period. They provided the colonial agents with ivory, and supplied meat for local mining and plantation workers, as well as for their own consumption. In this study, I present ethnography of the Mbuti elephant (Lox- odonta cyclotis) hunting practiced during my field research in the 1970s and 1980s, including the de- scription of hunting method with spears, hunting party and success rate, distribution of meat, and festive nature of meat consumption. Although the elephant hunting provided almost as much meat (6–7 tonnes of live weight/year for a group of 50 people) like other types of hunting aiming at me- dium to small-sized antelopes and monkeys, the success rate of the elephant hunt was very low. In contrast to the stable yields of meat from hunt- ing for smaller animals, elephant hunting was suc- cessful only a few times a year, mainly by skilled hunters called batuma, with their courage and luck. For such unstable nature, with its low success rate and huge quantity of meat supply in a successful hunt, elephant hunting provided the Mbuti with exciting experiences with rich ritual performances and festive meat consumption, and gave a strong accent to the otherwise monotonous hunting life in the forest.

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