How Kalahari Desert San Tribesmen Gather Poison From Beetles To Hunt Big Animals In The Wild

| How Africa News


Because of their knowledge and use of poison to cause lethal harm, the San people of South Africa commanded a lot of fear among neighboring communities and visitors to the Kalahari Desert in the 17th and 19th centuries. According to recent research, the San people, who are primarily hunter-gatherers, use poisoned-tipped arrows to hunt for meat in the wild.

According to Mongabay, the poison is created from toxic beetle larvae such as diamphidia and plant poisons such as sansevieria aethiopica, which is added to increase the poison’s efficacy. Other materials used by hunter-gatherers to produce poison, according to the results published in Zookeys, are ground-up beetle larval paste and other deadly plant species.

Robert Hitchcock, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the research paper, stated that they were interested in how and why people used such natural ingredients in the preparation of poison. He revealed that their interactions with the hunter-gatherers indicated that the plant poisons gave them an advantage in their hunting expedition.

The usage of beetle larvae as poison for hunting arrows is not limited to one ethnic group among the San, but to eight in South Africa. Diamphidia and Polyclada are the two major groups of beetles that are still used today.

To collect insects and manufacture their venom, hunter-gatherers first go into the desert in search of plants that attract arrow-poison bugs. When they come to such plants, they dig shallow holes around them and let the beetles fall in. They then separate the sand from their beetles and place the cocoons in an ostrich egg.

They sever the cocoon, extract the beetle larvae, then smash the larvae against an ancient giraffe or kudu knuckle bone. In certain cases, the hunters prepare the beetle poison with their lips by chewing the bark of a shrub called Black thorn and applying saliva to the larvae. The beetle paste is then applied to the tip of the arrow using a little stick.

When beetle venom reaches an animal, it reduces its ability to run. Slowly following the game, the hunters wait for the poison to take full effect, forcing the animal to tumble to the ground. To kill the wildlife, the hunters pull out a club and strike it several times.

So yet, scientists have been unable to identify the chemical ingredients that paralyze the animal after being struck by the arrow’s poisoned tip. Though the researchers were unable to identify why the poisons in beetles and plants induce such effects in animals, they believe they have some advantage in defending beetles from harsh climatic conditions.

The researchers discovered that many San tribes use various beetles and plants to make their arrows extremely poisonous. However, there are concerns that this method of extracting poison from plants and beetles may become extinct because the only place in Africa where people are permitted to hunt with bows and arrows is the Nyae Nyae Conservancy region.

Written by How Africa News

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