Net hunting with Pygmies

The net is put up in a semi-circle
Wooden hooks are used to anchor the net in the forest
Beaters drive the animals into the net
 A woman making noise to drive smaller antilopes into the net
A Dengbé (small blue duiker) has been caught
The catch is divided amongst participating households
The younger generation starts early to learn net hunting
 Wooden crossbows are used to hunt smaller monkey species

Accompany the BaAka pygmies hunting and help with the carving up of the game, let the BaAka women show you the medicinal and other plants of use, taste a typical dish of liana leaves with a sauce made from forest nuts, watch how they construct in the forest, in no time at all, a protective hut against the rain. Getting to know this secret culture is an experience few have known.

Net hunting mobilises large groups of BaAka pygmy men and women, who leave together for the forest. Normally each family brings with them their long nets made from strips of liana bark (locally known as “kusa”). Women transport their things in traditional baskets made from fibres of the Raphia palm or from “ikwa”. Yound chlidren are carried on the body and are tied to the waist with a piece of cloth. The men carry the nets and spears.

Depending on the actual season, the net hunt can take place daily in the vicinity of the villages, but can also sometimes be far away from the villages, lasting for several months at a time and temporary forest camps being established.

The departure is preceded by lengthy discussions to decide in which zone they will hunt (and how they will get there). In decision-making, everyone’s opinion counts. On the way to the forest, the women start to sing: this is a particular mix of "yodeling", melody and polyphony that has fascinated many a traveler.

Once in the forest and at the destination of the hunt, families disperse in a semicycle, the nets being tied to trees, branches and lianas. While in the process of forming the semicycle, the hunters try to drive the small antelopes into the net, screaming and pounding the ground with branches which startles the animals that eventually end up in the nets.

If an animal has been captured, a strong blow on its head with a branch kills it instantly and it is put in the families’ basket. On the way back to the camp, women often collect different types of leaves and nuts that are later used to make a sauce to accompany the meat. The catch is divided between the different families with the one who has captured it keeping the larger share.

Some travellers have been so attracted by this region, its people and its nature, that they’ve stayed for more than 20 years.