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4 ``He Needs to Learn by Himself´´

4 ``He Needs to Learn by Himself´´

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D. Naveh

chicks can learn from their mother and father,

just like our children do.

(pointing to two photographs taken locally of

cows and forest buffalos) In these two, who has

more budi?

The buffalos (katti) have more budi. You can see

them being together very often. They have more

budi than the cows. They know everything. They

know how to live near elephants and tigers and

much more. The cows, if you leave them in the

forest, they will be caught and eaten.

And among domesticated and wild dogs, who has

more budi?

The forest dogs have more budi than our dogs.

They live in big groups. They can hunt big

animals alone. They don’t need anyone.

Two main insights arose from dialogues like the one above.

First, my conversation partners regarded the ability to live

one’s life without being dependent on others as an important

reason to seek budi as well as an indication that one has budi.

Second, they repeatedly stressed that budi is acquired while

being together with others. We see that Mathen considered

being together as one of the basic and enabling conditions for

acquiring budi. At the same time, he saw the ability of forest

buffalos and wild dogs to cope in the forest by themselves as an

indication that they have budi. Now, it should be clear that the

ability to live one’s life without being dependent on others

does not mean living one’s life autonomously or apart from

others (see Myers 1988, p. 55; Ingold 1999). There is no

contradiction here. For the people I lived with, the healthy

ability to be with others is intimately related to one’s ability to

live his or her life without being dependent on anyone.


Knowledge and Relational Learning

The patterns of knowing and learning described above are in

sharp contrast to various dominant methods of learning

which prevails in “modern education systems” (see Ingold

1996, p. 128). For example, knowledge-acquiring processes

in Israeli schools, where I teach from time to time and give

workshops for teachers, are almost entirely articulated out of

non-situated learning and the transfer of secondhand information about things that the children have little or no direct

engagement with. Disengaged “knowledge” is handed by

teachers to students who are situated at either end of a

hierarchal spectrum, thus justifying and recreating this set

of power relations. Even when the children do, to some

degree, engage with their learning objects, their engagement

is highly buffered and mediated by other people’s ideas. This

type of knowledge acquisition is practically nonexistent

within the studied Nayaka communities. It is also rare

among other hunting-gathering communities (MacDonald

2007), probably to a large extent as a result of their egalitarian ethos (Lewis 2007; Hewlett et al. 2011).

Since the mid-1970s, Nayaka children have been sporadically but increasingly exposed to conventional methods of

modern education in rural governmental day schools for

“tribal children” or in governmental boarding schools.8 In

addition, in the last two decades, adult Nayaka was increasingly sent to NGO workshops and training programs. The

structure of both educational and training programs

(in which Tamil or Malayalam languages are used) is very

different from traditional knowledge acquisition among the

Nayaka. The cases presented above demonstrate, however,

that in spite of growing exposure to other ways of knowing

and learning, the people in the studied Nayaka communities

still privilege direct and firsthand learning that emanates

from actual engagement with those one who learns from as

well as reliance on personal experience, which often entails a

process of trial and error.

The tendency to not ask questions described above may

be seen as sufficient to explain the disposition to learn by a

process of trial and error. However, there is more to it than

that. A deeper understanding can be achieved when the

wider epistemological context is also taken into account.

As we saw, knowing, for the Nayaka, is inseparable from

being with things/persons. Thus, there is no essentialistic

knowledge concerning the way to set up, say, a pig trap;

however, Sundaren’s way to set up a pig trap can be

observed and known while being with him when he is setting

up such a trap. Karian’s way of setting up a pig trap may be

quite different from Sundaren’s and it is only through being

with Karian that one can get to know his way of doing

it. Moreover, even Karian’s way of setting up a pig trap

may change in different locations or set of circumstances

(e.g., the way he takes advantage of, and overcomes various

obstacles within, specific environments). While a trap is

actually being set up, there is indeed little point in asking a

“how” type of question (see Hewlett et al. 2011 for a similar

dynamic among the Aka).

The important point is that knowledge is not objectified or

isolated from of actual experience and actual relations. Similarly, learning from someone is to a large extent tantamount

to engaging with that person. Sundaren’s hunting knowledge


It should be noted that apart for one girl, none of the people with

whom I lived remained in any of these programs for a period longer

than a few weeks running. It should also be mentioned, however, that

among other communities, especially in Kerala, some Nayaka children

participate in such programs for much longer periods that can last up to

12 years.


Social and Epistemological Dimensions of Learning Among Nayaka Hunter-Gatherers

is not really distinct from Sundaren or from knowing

Sundaren. In this regard, it is worth mentioning Mathen’s

remark to me when I asked him and his close friend Boman

(whom he referred to as young brother) some questions

concerning an annual puja they were about to perform

within a few months. His reply was: “what is the point of

asking us about this? You stay here with us and make the

puja with us. This way only you will know by yourself.” It

does not mean that there is no general or common way to set

up a pig trap or to perform a puja; however, these kinds of

disengaged generalizations (or questions) are perceived as

quite pointless, or at most secondary, to actual firsthand



Relational Epistemology

and Classification

Referring to the Hill Pandarams’9 taxonomy, Brian Morris

(1976) stated that their detailed knowledge of the environment is gained mainly by personal experience and that “this

means that not only are their taxonomic systems limited in

scope, but they have a relative unconcern with systematization” (ibid, p. 544). These tendencies, Morris argues, are not

unique to the Hill Pandaram but characterize, in one way or

another, other hunting and gathering groups (ibid; see also

Gardner 1966, p. 398; Le´vi-Strauss 1966; pp. 138–9;

Endicott 1979; Silberbauer 1981, pp. 51–123; Brightman

1993, pp. 37–75; Arhem 1996, pp. 188–200; Howell 1996,

pp. 136–139; Hviding 1996, p. 170). My own observations

show that Nayaka taxonomy and classification systems are

remarkably similar to the Hill Pandaram and Paliyar systems

(Naveh 2007, p. 107–117). Some Nayaka regards and

engages with a particular forest hill as a godlike person

with whom each has a unique relationship over many

years, while others may tend to relate to “it” as a mere hill.

Among those who regard it as a god, some would consider

“him” as the one who brought their forefathers to this region

of the forest, while others will argue adamantly – based on

their direct engagement with this being in a succession of

trance gatherings – that this god was “brought by their

forefathers” and that their forefathers are “those who

named the gods.” Many believe that all the gods are tied

around hatchi’s (foremother) belly and that only with the

approval of heatan-hatchi (forefather and foremother) can

the gods come and talk to them. Others will firmly state that

it is the other way around. There are also others who understand the forefathers and the gods as almost interchangeable.

For example, some Nayaka see maley-deva (one of several

local hill deities10) and heatan-hatchi, as the same deity.

“They are the same. When you are in the forest, you worship

maley-deva; when you are here [in this case in a village near

the fringe of the forest], you worship heatan-hatchi.” Similarly, a given tree may be seen by some Nayaka, who knows

and engages with it/him/her for long time, as a mansan

(person), while others may see “it” in a much more restricted

way. Also, some Nayaka regard particular snakes as kattumirugam (a forest animal, although this term usually refers

to four-footed land animals) while others strictly refute this

claim. Likewise, a given elephant may be regarded by some

Nayaka as a devaru (a kind of a “supernatural being” or

“superperson,” see Bird-David 1999) while others, sometimes in the same group, would not think so.

Morris (1976, p. 546) links the Hill Pandaram’s “unsystematic” and “incomplete” taxonomy with their tendency to

privilege knowledge based on personal experience. This is

probably true for the Nayaka as well. My suggestion, however, is that what may indeed be seen as “unsystematic” and

“incomplete” taxonomy as well as an “unconcern with systematization” is, to a large extent, a product of forming their

knowledge within the framework of relational epistemology,

rather than just privileging knowledge based on personal


The people with whom I lived did not seem to be particularly concerned about what may appear as extensive gaps in

their respective taxonomical and classificational

understandings. In fact my own presence among them with

my strange, often disengaged questions (such as “do you

regard this butterfly as a kind of a bird?”11), often posed an

unfamiliar challenge for the people with whom I was conversing. Usually such questions would produce a short discussion among those present, a discussion in which each of

them would share his or her own understanding regarding

the theme being talked about. Sharing one’s understandings

was always done in a sensitive and careful manner (see

Gardner 1966, p. 397). They were always careful not to

convey their own understanding as the “right one” in the

sense of “this is how it is.” The tone of speech in this context

always played a vital role. There was no need for a preamble

such as “according to my understanding. . .” or “I think

that. . .” although from time to time such introductory

clauses were used. Whatever was said was said softly,

often with a vocal tone that conveyed doubt (such as

accompanying a statement with a soft question mark).

When a person had finished conveying his understanding,


Each hill is a different person.

Indeed it took a while before I had fully understood that the structure

of my questions was quite bizarre from their point of view. However,

even later on I occasionally continued to use these kinds of questions as

a means of provoking multi-perspective conversations.



Another scheduled tribe in the state of Kerala.



his eyes would fix upon other people’s faces with a look that

conveyed something like “don’t you think so?”

When various insights were being shared, the dialogue

usually shifted to invoke some sort of shared meaning or ad

hoc interpretation (see Silberbauer 1982 for similar tendency

among G/Wi bands; Liberman 1985, p. 15–32 about

Australian aborigine groups; Norstr€om 2003, p. 226–227

about the Paliyar. See also Ellen 1996, p. 66; Barnard

2000, p. 13). Again, this dialogue was usually performed in

a low key. Higher tones were used only when the discussion

was moved to joking and self-deprecation. Indeed, these

kinds of conversations included funny and amusing aspects.

Often, when people shared their understandings in regard to

something I had asked about, they came to realize how

extensive the differences were between their respective (idiosyncratic) understandings. In several cases it led my

Nayaka friends into long bursts of laughter. Whether it was

the personal characteristics of a goddess or that of an elephant who had paid a visit on the previous night, whether it

was the realizations that some of them regard butterflies as

birds, or whether it was just trying to work out together the

name of Karian’s daughter who they all approached in relational terms – the variation between the various

understandings was often seen as funny and as a good and

fitting subject to joke about (see Terashima in Widlock and

Tadesse 2005 for significant variation in local

understandings of plants’ uses among Ituri hunter-gatherers

[Congo]; see also Hattori in Hewlett et al. 2011 for similar

pattern among the Baka of Southeast Cameroon). They felt

completely comfortable, for example, with the fact that

Mathen’s relationship with a particular snake whose pit

was near his hut not only led him to regard this snake as a

Kattu-Mirugam but also as a Mansan, while many others

never thought of or approached this snake in that way.

My argument is that relational ways of knowing leave

little room for stable, common, and transferable

essentialistic knowledge to develop. Understandings formed

within concrete relations simply do not tend to solidify as

essential knowledge but stay fluid as do relations and

experiences. Relational epistemology has much to do with

privileging knowledge based on personal experience. However, the focus is on “knowing someone” rather than “knowing about someone” or “knowing how a person\thing is with

me\us” rather than “what something is” or “how this or that

person is” (see Bird-David 1999, 2004b). It is not just that






understandings about what a given thing is. The epistemic

focus is on how this thing\person is with the perceiver or how

this thing\persons act and react in different situations with

others. My argument here is that systematic and complete

taxonomy should be of little importance to people for whom

relations are the main epistemic focus. People can have

concerns over systematizing their taxonomy only if they

D. Naveh

first have an interest in what this or that thing is. They can

then reach some kind of common understanding about it and

its place in the wider taxonomic or classificatory systems.

However, as long as the main concern lies in the relational

sphere, there will be a shortage, firstly of interest and, secondly, of common ground (in so far as their respective

understandings are concerned), for such a systematization.



By discussing various aspects of the process of knowing, I

have aimed to show that contemporary Nayaka still gets to

learn and know various subjects (be they, as seen from a

western perspective, “things,” “persons,” “skills,” or “wisdom”) through personal experimentation and within the

framework of relational epistemology. We saw that while

learning from others (locally constructed as relatives),

knowledge is not completely objectified out of actual

relations, and learning from someone is to large extent

equivalent to engaging with that person. We also saw that

Nayaka preoccupation with personal experience and

relations still has a significant influence not only on the

way they get to know the world but also on what they

consider as worth knowing. In that context we saw that it’s

not just that that a lot of learning takes place by being with

others, but also that knowing to be with others is seen locally

as one of the main goals of learning. Moreover it was shown

that the relational approach also shapes the Nayaka usage of

categories. The presented ethnographic data adds up to a

demonstration of the manifold importance of concrete experience for Nayaka’s ways of knowing and learning. It also

demonstrates the importance of incorporating the epistemological context into our understanding of hunter-gatherers’

social learning.

Acknowledgments I thank the Nayaka, who accepted me into their

lives and enabled me to learn through shared experiences about the

way they get to know their world. I thank Nurit Bird-David for her

helpful and constructive comments. I thank Peter Gardner for additional constructive comments and for his consistent encouragement

to write about this matter. His encouragement played a vital and

central role in the preparation of this chapter. I would also like to

thank Hideaki Terashima and Barry Hewlett for setting up the superb

workshop on social learning among hunter-gatherers in Kobe Gakuin

University. This workshop was a true source for inspiration and idea

exchange. I would also like to thank them for their helpful



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High Motivation and Low Gain: Food

Procurement from Rainforest Foraging by

Baka Hunter-Gatherer Children


Izumi Hagino and Taro Yamauchi


In this paper, we described the daily activities of Pygmy hunter-gatherer children living in a

foraging forest camp. Our two aims were (1) to clarify their time use and participation in

food procurement activities and (2) to evaluate their contribution to food acquisition. The

authors accompanied the children on an 8-day hunt and conducted direct observations on

six children, focusing on one of them each day (12 h; 06:00–18:00). All foods brought back

to the camp were identified and weighed, and their energy and protein values were

calculated. Children were considered to be generally physically active, and they

participated in food procurement activities about 3 h in a day, which was nearly the same

amount of time as the Baka adults spent on those activities. Boys mainly spent their time rat

hunting (101.7 min), while girls spent more time bail fishing (120.3 min) than rat hunting

(60.0 min). Although the children spent more time foraging and had a greater number of

participants engaged in it, the total amount of game that adults obtained was much greater

(2787 g obtained by children and 12,273 g by adults). Each game brought back by adults

(e.g., tortoises or vipers) was also generally heavier than that of children (e.g., rats or

galago). Children often move in groups of four to eight people and perform most food

acquisition activities with at least three to four people. Regarding the transition of their

activity patterns as they got older, we hypothesized that boys tend to act alone or in smaller

units, whereas girls continue to act in groups that contain people of various ages.


Pygmy hunter-gatherers  Children  Daily activities  Hunting  Gathering



It is known that hunter-gatherer children spend time

participating in food procurement activities outside of their

village, sometimes obtaining a considerable amount of

food beginning in early childhood. In the Yora and Mikea

societies, time spent in subsistence activities increases

(from 15 % to 20–40 % of daytime), whereas time

I. Hagino (*)  T. Yamauchi

Laboratory of Human Ecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Hokkaido

University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

e-mail: hagino.is.me@gmail.com

allocated to play decreases by about half (from 70 % to

31–40 % of daytime) during the transition from childhood

to adolescence (Sugiyama and Chacon 2005; Tucker and

Young 2005). Older Hadza children also spent a longer time

away from their camp than younger children (4–6 h

vs. 2–4 h per day) (Marlowe 2005) and could obtain substantial returns from foraging trips under certain conditions

(Hawkes et al. 1995). Crittenden et al. (2013) described how

Hadza children sometimes brought back up to 50 % of their

individual energy requirements from the fruit, nuts, and tubers

they gathered. The returns of children generally increase as

they grow, as shown in Bird and Bliege-Bird’s (2005) study, in

which Martu adolescent children were shown to acquire nearly

# Springer Japan 2016

H. Terashima, B.S. Hewlett (eds.), Social Learning and Innovation in Contemporary Hunter-Gatherers,

Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series, DOI 10.1007/978-4-431-55997-9_11



I. Hagino and T. Yamauchi

three times as much as juvenile children per hour. Similar

increases in daily acquisition of food, especially in male

adolescents (10–15 years old), were shown by Gurven and

Kaplan (2006) and Kaplan et al. (2000).

Pygmy hunter-gatherers are one of the populations living

in the Central African tropical rainforest, an area in which the

nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle was thought to be

difficult due to food scarcity (Bailey and Headland 1991;

Hart and Hart 1986; Headland 1987). Several studies have

argued that the abundant wild yam tubers and yam-like plants

that grow in the rainforest are calorically sufficient to support

hunter-gatherers in the western Congo Basin (see Bahuchet

et al. 1991; Sato 2001, 2006; Sato et al. 2012; Yasuoka 2013);

however, acquiring animal protein is equally important as it

is required to maintain good health and support children’s

growth (Allen 1994; Waterlow 1972). Recent studies by Sato

et al. (2012) and Yasuoka (2006) conducted in southeastern

Cameroon have indicated that sufficient protein, mainly from

small game animals such as duiker, could be obtained during

relatively short trips to hunting camps. Most of the game

acquired during such trips was obtained by groups of adults

using snare or spear hunting techniques. Groups of children

acquired small amounts of food, but details of the hunting

activities by Pygmy children were scarcely described.

Our previous study (Hagino and Yamauchi 2014) revealed

that Baka Pygmy children stayed in the forest near their camp

for 2–3 h on average per day. Boyette (2012, 2013) found

similarly that while Aka children spent about half their time in

leisure activities, a quarter was spent working (i.e., hunting or

gathering). As Bock (2002) has argued, forager children’s play

is associated with learning the complex knowledge and skills

necessary to become productive and competent members of

their societies. Harako (1980), Hayashi (2011), and Kamei

(2005) have also noted that many of the Pygmy children’s

hunting and gathering activities retain aspects of play or of

gaining experience rather than immediate food acquisition.

Kamei (2005) also mentioned that food contribution is not

expected from children in the Baka Pygmies’ society. However, even if amounts were quite small, the contribution of

food procurement by children would be meaningful to

societies living in a resource-poor environment.

This paper describes the daily activities and food acquisition of Baka Pygmy children in Cameroon during trips to

foraging camps and has two main aims: (1) to clarify the

time use and participation in hunting and gathering activities

among Baka children and (2) to evaluate their contribution

to food procurement quantitatively.


Subjects and Methods

The Baka are a group of Pygmy hunter-gatherers who live

in a Central African rainforest in the northwestern Congo

Basin. Their habitat mainly extends over the Republic of

Cameroon, the Republic of Central Africa, and the Republic

of Congo. Since the mid-twentieth century, the Cameroonian

government and NGOs have promoted sedentarization and

agriculturalization policies for Baka communities; thus,

many Baka villages have currently formed alongside trunk

roads (Sato 1992; Joiris 1998). Many Baka have their own

small, cultivated patch of land in their village and grow

bananas, cassavas, and maize as staple foods. They cultivate

cacao and some vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, onions, and

cabbage) as cash crops (Kitanishi 2006; Oishi 2012). However, they still retain their traditional hunting and gathering

lifestyle and enter the rainforest for long-term foraging trips

that aim at game or nut collection in accordance with the

season (Hattori 2014). Their lives still strongly depend on

the forest.

One author (IH) accompanied the Baka to a short-term

trip to a hunting camp planned by the inhabitants of the

Baka village and observed the children’s activities and their

contribution to food acquisition. The foraging trip lasted

8 days at the end of September 2012. The foraging camp

was comprised of 22 people: 3 married men, 3 married

women, 10 unmarried children over 10 years old (6 boys

and 4 girls), 4 children from 2–9 years of age (2 boys

and 2 girls), and 2 female infants below the age of two.

The children’s ages were estimated using birth reordering and linking their birthdates to local events (Hagino

et al. 2013).

During the 8-day trip, direct observations of a total of six

children (three children for each sex) were conducted. The

ages of the three boys were estimated at 12, 14, and 16 years

old. The three girls were estimated to be 10, 13, and 15 years

old. In the Baka community, children are often classified

into three age groups: dindo (infancy), yande (childhood

to juvenility), and wanjo or sia (adolescent boys and

girls, respectively) (Brisson and Bousier 1979). The six

participants were recognized as older yande or wanjo/sia.

During the daytime (starting at 06:00 and ending at 18:00),

the author observed participants carefully. Each participant

was observed for a day (12 h; 06:00–18:00), and their

activities and any changes therein were noted by the minute

(Yamauchi et al. 2000).

All foods brought back to the camp were identified and

weighed using a digital kitchen scale (Tanita KD-160,

Japan) and a digital scale (TanitaTF-205, Japan). Animals

were identified with the aid of Kingdon’s book (1997).

Energy and protein values were calculated using the African

food composition table (Leung 1968) and the Standard

Tables of Food Composition in Japan (Ministry of Education

et al. 2005). According to Hayashi (2008) and Hattori

(2012), Baka adults hunt animals in many ways (e.g., with

their hands, machetes, spears, guns, and snares), and

Yasuoka (2014) and Sato et al. (2012) found that snare

hunting becomes more important during long-term camping.

In this study, because of the limited period of this camp,


High Motivation and Low Gain: Food Procurement from Rainforest Foraging by Baka. . .

the Baka did not hunt with snares or guns. In addition,

cassavas and plantain bananas were packed in on this foraging trip for the following reasons: (1) the camp was not

located very far from settlement village, (2) the number of

children was much larger than that of adults, and (3) most of

participating children had not experienced a traditional

foraging trip.

All surveys were conducted voluntarily and the

observations being made were explained well in the local



Results and Discussion

11.3.1 The Daily Time Usage of Six Baka

Adolescent Children

Table 11.1 and Fig. 11.1 show the time usage of six Baka

children in various categories of activity. Forty different

activities were observed and were classified into the following 11 categories: hunting/fishing, gathering, traveling (forest), traveling (river), household, personal, sleeping, resting,

playing, strolling, and accompanying. There were no significant differences in time use between boys and girls except

the time spent traveling (river). Brief Notes on the Daytime Allocation

of Six Baka Children

The daily activities of six children are described below.

Day 1: 12-Year-Old Boy

He got up early in the morning and went out of the camp to

go line fishing. He got back to camp at 06:10, and rested until

06:38 at home. He spent time until 09:30 playing with

younger children (1 and 7 years old) and resting in the

Fig. 11.1 The time allocation of

Baka children for 11 activity



Table 11.1 Daily time allocation of children (in minutes per day,

mean and [SD])


1. Hunting/fishing

2. Gathering

3. Traveling (forest)

4. Traveling (river)

5. Household

6. Personal

7. Sleeping (daytime)

8. Resting

9. Playing

10. Strolling

11. Accompanying


Boys (n ¼ 3)

152.0 [55.8]

15.7 [12.3]

146.0 [19.5]

3.0 [4.2]

59.3 [32.4]

3.7 [2.1]

34.3 [32.5]

223.0 [51.0]

79.7 [10.4]

0.3 [0.5]

3.0 [4.2]


Girls (n ¼ 3)

190.0 [14.5]

6.0 [5.0]

67.7 [36.3]

63.3 [25.9]

40.3 [10.3]

18.0 [7.8]

2.3 [3.3]

240.7 [6.2]

91.7 [32.8]

0.0 [0.0]

0.0 [0.0]


house repeatedly. At about 10:00, he started traveling in

the forest with some older boys, taking a rest occasionally.

At 12:00 they went back to the camp and took a rest and

chatted in the house. From 13:01, he went into the forest

with the older boys and carried a machete. They found a rat

burrow at 13:20 and caught one rat (412 g) after 20 min of

hunting, then went back to the camp. At 14:03 he arrived at

the camp and went to the forest alone to cut firewood. He

went back to the camp at 14:37 and took a rest in the house.

From 14:47 he went and did line fishing alone but didn’t

catch any fish. Then he walked around the forest with five

older boys again from 16:12. They found the burrow of a rat

once but didn’t catch it. They went back to the camp at 16:42

and took a rest in the house. Adults carried honey back to the

camp and he ate it with the other children. At about 17:00 he

went to the river to fetch water and gathered some raffia

palm fronds that were growing in the riverside and carried

them back to the camp. At 18:00 he was weaving palm

fronds to make roofs and taking care of an infant.


Day 2: 14-Year-Old Boy

He got up at 06:25, made a fire and cooked cassavas, then ate

them. At 06:55 he accompanied a group of girls to go bail

fishing. On his way he joined up with three boys and traveled

in the forest apart from the girls’ group. He stayed in the

forest and participated in hunting rats, climbing trees, and

making traps and then arrived at the camp at 08:21. He left

the camp with a group of children (four boys and three girls),

taking a machete. He cut down trees and vines to open a

space to play. One boy and two girls joined up with him and

they enjoyed hanging on a vine for an hour. At 09:42 he quit

playing with the vine and traveled in the forest again with

four boys and five girls (9–18 years old). Two boys joined up

on the way, and they hunted rats six times and caught two

(804 g and 947 g). They went back to the camp at 15:03,

approximately 5 h after he left the camp. From 15:09 to 15:21

and 15:40 to 16:12, he went to cut firewood. Finally, he spent

his time sitting and lying down until the end of the day.

Day 3: 16-Year-Old Boy

He got up at 07:18 and kept still in his dome house. Because

it was rainy in the morning, he spent most of the time lying

down and sitting and chatting in front of a fire in the house

until past 13:00. At 13:19 he started traveling in the forest

with four older boys (12–15 years old). In 2 h of travel, they

found one rat burrow but they missed the rat. They went

back to the camp at 15:19, cooked bananas, and ate them.

From 16:01, he started traveling in the forest with the same

four older boys again. He started bail fishing at the stream at

16:52 and went down the river toward the camp as he

participated in bail fishing. At 18:04 he went back to

the camp.

Day 4: 15-Year-Old Girl

She got up at 07:02 and cooked bananas and cassavas in her

house. At 07:35, she went to the river with some girls. After

she dug the ground and looked for earthworms, she did line

fishing for an hour but didn’t catch anything, then went back

to the camp at 08:48. Some boys tried to get her to go to the

forest, but she declined. She spent time cooking while she

was sitting on a wood bench or the bed in the house,

grappling with older girls, and hanging on a vine for leisure.

At 10:41, she started to travel in the forest with another girl.

Then they found a rat burrow and dug at it a little, but then

moved on. They arrived at the river at 11:37 and looked for

freshwater crabs, which hide underground on the riverside,

with another girl. They joined up with a grandmother and six

girls who had been working at another place, then started

bail fishing. She dug the ground to collect soil to make a dam

wall in the river. The younger girls were sometimes sitting

and watching them, and sometimes they helped to pile up the

soil that had been dug. They moved to the lower reaches of

I. Hagino and T. Yamauchi

the river at 12:24. On the way, the girl repeatedly made small

dams and looked for fish, crabs, and shrimp in the stream

with the lowered water level. After they went back to a point

close to the camp at 14:55, they gutted a fish and scraped its

scales off. At 15:05 the girl went back to the camp and had a

break sitting in front of her house for about an hour. The

other older girls made a fire and cooked the fish that she

caught. From 16:16 to 16:22, she went to the forest to cut

firewood, and from 17:00 to 17:05 and 17:46 to 17:49 she

went to the river to fetch water. For the remainder of the day

and when not collecting water, she stayed in the camp.

Day 5: 10-Year-Old Girl

She got up at 06:07, made a fire, and sat around. She went

out to fetch water at 06:21, went back to the camp, pared

cassavas, and cooked them and had a meal at 06:58. For an

hour and a half, she sometimes held an infant in her hands

and sometimes hung on a vine for fun. At 08:33, she moved

to the forest with five girls, two younger boys, and two

women. During her time in the forest, she mainly

participated in rat hunting for 3 h. Her group found five

burrows, but four of them were thought to be empty. However, there was a rat in one of them and they missed it. At

12:41 they moved to the river and performed bail fishing.

The girl started to build a wall to make a dam, but stopped

her work because it suddenly started to squall. She took

shelter from the rain under a nearby tree. At 13:00, she

started bail fishing again, but about 30 min later she decided

to go back to the camp when it started to rain heavily. She

went back to the camp at 14:10, and she didn’t catch anything that day. She spent time chatting with children and

took a break in the camp for about 2 h. From 16:26 to 17:06,

she played with a vine and sang a song with children in the

forest. She stayed in the camp until 18:00 except for an

outing to fetch water from 17:43 to 17:47.

Day 6: 13-Year-Old Girl

She got up early in the morning, made a fire in the house,

took care of her younger brothers and sisters, and cooked

cassavas with her mother. Then she played with a vine with

children in the forest from 07:08 to 07:40. At 08:17, her

father and mother went into the forest. One older girl, her

two younger brothers, and one infant went to the river to start

bail fishing at 08:26. At 08:32 they joined up with four girls.

They did small-scale bail fishing with the children until

09:04, but didn’t catch anything. After she went back to

the camp, she took a walk again in the forest with one of

her grandmothers and four girls at 09:21. They started bail

fishing in a stream at 09:43 and fished over a period of 3 h.

The girl mainly dug at the ground with a machete as she

moved to the stream’s lower reaches. She went back to the

camp at 12:43, made a fire, and cooked the fish she had


High Motivation and Low Gain: Food Procurement from Rainforest Foraging by Baka. . .

caught. She took care of her infant sister, played with a vine,

messed around with some other girls, and had a break in the

house from 13:17 to 15:05. She went to the river to fetch

water from 16:30 to 16:33, 16:34 to 16:38, and 16:39 to

16:42 and also went to the river from 17:50 to 17:58 to wash

the tortoises that her father caught. At other times, she spent

her time in the house or in the camp. She didn’t go into the

forest again that day.

11.3.2 Similar Time Use of Baka Adolescents

and Adults

Children were generally physically active, and they

participated in food procurement activities in much the

same way as the Baka adults. The total time spent hunting,

gathering, and fishing was especially long in girls (196 min),

while boys spent a total of 168 min on those activities.

Though it is not directly comparable because the studies

were conducted in different settings, both totals of time

children spent for food acquisition were relatively longer

than those of adults (women, 137 min; men, 151 min) as

described by Yamauchi et al. (2009). Moreover, all six

participants took part in some kind of food acquisition

activities every day, and four of them went into forest or

river for more than half (6 h) of daytime. In the sedentary

village, older Baka children stayed in the forest for over 2 h

per day and walked more than 10 km on average, and their

step counts exceeded 20,000 steps (Hagino and Yamauchi

2014). As in the village, the Baka children’s physical

activities were considered to be vigorous, and they took

part in food acquisition avidly in the forest camp.

Table 11.2 contains the mean of time allocated to various

types of hunting and fishing activities. The time children

spent hunting was wholly spent rat hunting, and boys spent a

longer amount of time doing so. Two fishing activities, line

fishing and bail fishing, were observed. As previous studies

(Hayashi 2008; Kamei 2005) showed, boys preferred line

fishing, and girls did bail fishing. Bail fishing was considered

to be the main activity that girls did. Honey gathering by

children was not observed. Though boys spent a larger

amount of time gathering than girls, that time was not considerable (0–30 min/day). In previous observations of pure

foraging trips (Yamauchi et al. 2009), the time allocated to

gathering by Baka adults was much greater (132 min for

males and 137 min for females), and they mainly spent time

collecting wild yams. In those studies, almost all hunting

activities were conducted with snares; therefore, they only

needed a little time for patrolling or attending to trapped

animals. Since they carried staple foods into camp during the

period of our study, the time spent on food gathering was

relatively decreased.


Table 11.2 Time spent on hunting-gathering activities by children

(in minutes, means, and [SD])

1. Rat hunting

2. Line fishing

3. Bail fishing

4. Gathering


Boys (n ¼ 3)

101.7 [90.1]

30.0 [25.4]

20.3 [28.1]

15.7 [12.3]

167.7 [59.7]

Girls (n ¼ 3)

60.0 [53.4]

9.7 [13.7]

120.3 [56.6]

6.0 [5.0]

196.0 [11.3]

11.3.3 The Details of Food Procurement

Activities by Children and Their Returns

Table 11.3 contains the total weight of foods brought

back to camp during the observation period. There were

12 species including some with vernacular names. From

five species of animal game, the total 15,197 g of fresh

meat that was obtained included two vipers (6800 g), four

tortoises (5473 g), three rats (2551 g), and a small galago

(236 g). Three vernacularly named freshwater fish and two

crustaceans (crabs and shrimp) were caught during line

fishing or bail fishing. Though the shells of crabs were

disposed of, all of its other parts like tissue, bones, and

entrails were eaten in a soup. Wild yams were gathered by

adult males, then brought back and distributed in camp. In

contrast, honey was eaten nearby a tree by the people who

discovered or worked to gather honey, while only a small

amount of honey was brought back to the camp.

During this short-term period of foraging, children and

adults acquired food differently. While adults tended to go

into the forest and act alone, children tended to act in

groups of four to eight persons. Children frequently

participated in rat hunting or bail fishing in a group, and

their quarry was relatively small. The game brought back

by adults (e.g., tortoises or vipers) from each hunt was

generally heavier than what the children brought back

(e.g., rats or galago).

11.3.4 Low Returns with High Labor Costs: Rat

Hunting by Children

Children usually perform rat hunting in a group that contains

at least three to four people. Rat hunting starts when children

find a burrow hole in the ground during their travels in the

forest. Because rats build their nests underground and dig a

network of tunnels that lead to the surface, children seek out

and stop up as many holes as possible near the first hole they

find at the beginning of the hunt. Children thrust their hands

or tree branches into the burrows to check their direction and

junctions. Simultaneously, they search for the existence of

barricades, food, and feces in the tunnel. If there are no

clues, they dig up the ground along the rat tunnels with


I. Hagino and T. Yamauchi

Table 11.3 Total weights of foods brought back to the camp by children and adults in 6 days

Food name

Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica)

Giant pouched rat (Cricetomys emini)

Common tortoise (Kinixys erosa)

African snail (Achatina fulica)

Thomas’s dwarf galago (Galagoides thomasi)

Honeys (Meliponinae spp.)

Wild yam (D. mangenotiana Mie´ge)

Crabs and shrimp (kala and kaanji, in vernacular)

Fish (si, in vernacular)

Catfish (baka, in vernacular)

Tadpole (doyo, in vernacular)


























Including inedible parts/done by six boys, six girls, and one grandmother

their machetes and extend the search area. Older children

deduce whether or not there is a rat in the burrow from the

dryness or smell of the items they find. Sometimes they

argue about the sex of the rats (as I was told by the children,

male rats make barricades near the surface, whereas female

rats make them deeper).

When they judge a burrow occupied, the children who

discovered the burrow call over neighboring children and

they hunt systematically. They cut up surrounding plants,

then stuff dry leaves in the first hole, and set fire to it with

live coals (Fig. 11.2). Then, they smoke out the rats and wait

until for them to run out from the burrow or suffocate inside.

Only one or two children work near a hole, while the other

children wait around the burrow holding wooden sticks.

When the rat runs out, all of the children pursue it and try

to hit it with a wooden stick or their bare hands. If there is no

response or change after 15–30 min of smoking out the

burrow, the children dig it up and search for rats until they

appear or the children give up.

Fig. 11.2 Children stuffing the tunnel with dry leaves, setting fire, and

smoking out the rats

These operations are often lengthy. There were ten

cases in which children pursued rats, with a mean cost of

41 min (min, 11 min; max, 146 min) from the moment they

found a burrow until the hunting process was finished.

During the observation periods, there were more than

30 cases where children found burrow holes; however,

only three rats were caught. Furthermore, rats are small

and yield little meat (500–900 g). Rat hunting is thus an

inefficient mode of food acquisition; taking into account

the time and number of children involved in rat hunting,

the success rate was not commensurate with the time and

energy expenditure.

11.3.5 Moderate Returns with Large Time Costs:

Bail Fishing by Children

Contrary to line fishing, which was done by one or two

individuals (Fig. 11.3), bail fishing was usually performed

in groups of about four to eight children (Fig. 11.4). During

Fig. 11.3 Younger children line fishing


High Motivation and Low Gain: Food Procurement from Rainforest Foraging by Baka. . .

Fig. 11.4 A group of girls bail fishing

bail fishing, branches and dirt are heaped up on a section of a

shallow stream, which are usually 1–2 m wide. Dam height

is normally 20–30 cm high, and it holds the flow of the river

back temporarily. During this process, older children usually

cut down the tree branches and dig up the soil. Younger

children carry those branches and clods of earth to the stream

and use them to build the dam. The group is then divided into

small units of two or three people and move along the

stream. While younger children have a basket to put fish

in, older children always use a machete or a leaf to extract

water. They stop in front of the small hollows of the riverbed

or clods that have been pushed out of the river and look for

aquatic fauna, such as small fish, crabs, or shrimp by removing water, overturning stones, or searching along the riverbank. They repeat these processes until the dam upstream

collapses and the water flow returns to normal. When they

have finished, the children gather again, then scrape the mud

off of the fish, and remove their scales.

In four observed cases, bail fishing took 128 min on

average (min, 47 min; max, 238 min) from the start of

making the dam until they headed home. Over the course

of 6 days, bail fishing was done six times total. In four cases

of bail fishing (on days 3, 4, 5, and 6), only children

participated, and in the other two cases, children and adults

fished together.

11.3.6 Immediately Practicable Nutrient

Acquisition Among Baka Adolescents

Rat hunting and bail fishing need a comparable amount of

time and number of children. Older children spent a longer

time on rat hunting (172 min) than bail fishing (147 min)

during the total observation time (4320 min) during this

foraging trip. However, the total amount of returns was


greater from bail fishing (2831 g) than those from rat hunting

(2551 g). Moreover, the calculated energy and protein content from bail fishing were also greater (1528.7 kcal

vs. 1370.1 kcal and 258.1 g vs. 231.3 g). Unfortunately,

because of a lack of complete observations of food acquisition activities done by all camp members, it is not possible to

provide statistical comparison between the efficiency of rat

hunting and bail fishing. However, these results do suggest

energy and protein acquisition was likely lower in rat hunting than fishing for children.

Also, children could not collect honey well. Boys tried to

climb up the trees frequently; however, they stopped at

several meters from the ground because they could not get

a suitable foothold or adjust their wood strings well. Even if

some adults set an example, most of the boys could not

imitate them completely. As Kaplan et al. (2000) showed,

game hunting generally requires more skills and experience

than other food procurement activities. Our subjects were

still developing physically and psychologically, and their

experience and techniques may have been insufficient to

procure a large amount of game. Table 11.3 indicates that

the total amount of food acquired by adults was much greater

than that by children. The total amount of fresh game was

about five times higher for adults (12,273 g) than for children

(2787 g), and adults also brought back 3.3 kg of wild yams.

As we previously showed, older children spent more time in

food acquisition activities than adults; however, children

obtained far less food in terms of absolute quantities of

energy and protein.

11.3.7 Children Accompanying Each Other

and Adults on Foraging Trips

Children were frequently observed going on foraging trips

together in groups of two or more and also with adults. These

relationships are thought to be associated with children’s

acquisition of knowledge and skills or the improvement of

their food procurement skills.

11.3.8 The Behaviors of Male and Female

Adults on this Foraging Trip

Although boys tended to foraged in groups, male adults

usually foraged alone, and the types of animals brought

back were also dependent on the age of the forager(s).

There were two young male adults (estimated to be in their

mid-30s) and a grandfather (estimated to be 50+) in the

camp, and food procurement was generally performed by

young males. The grandfather mostly stayed in the camp and

spent his time manufacturing beds and small racks, repairing

hand axes and machetes, mending houses, and taking care

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