Kurt Hoelzl

Disinfecting water with Potassium Permanganate

Potassium permanganate is an essential chemical for various simple living applications. One is its disinfecting effects, and the other is the possibility of chemically starting fires. This article discusses disinfecting water on a small scale for drinking purposes. We will…

Collecting Pipi clams at Rawai Beach

Pipi clams (Donax deltoides) are also known as Surf clams, Sandy Donax, and a wide range of other common names. In Thailand, they can be found on most beaches in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. They are…

Bottom fish traps of the Urak Lawoi people

The following information was gathered from a Urak Lawoi man who has lived in the Rawai Beach Sea-Gypsy Village for 27 years. He was 57 years old and only had one tooth (incisor) left in the middle of his upper…

Rectangular squid traps in Thailand

Rectangular squid traps are used in the Gulf of Thailand and along the coastline of the Andaman Sea in the same way as semi-circular traps. Both types are primarily used for catching Bigfin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) but will also…

Catching mud crabs at Koh Lanta

Mud crabs are common in mangrove areas in Thailand. They are primarily caught in crab pots for commercial purposes. However, my Urak Lawoi friends and I specialized in digging up and catching these crabs by hand. Who are Urak Lawoi…

Giant Fennel pith for transporting fire

While researching various bushcraft and survival topics, I constantly encounter inconsistencies and errors on reputable websites. Therefore, I have gotten into the habit of checking various postulates myself. One of these statements is that Prometheus brought fire to Earth with…

Red-tailed pipe snake

The ‘Red-tailed pipe snake’ (Cylindrophis ruffus) was recently renamed ‘Jodi’s pipe snake’ (Cylindrophis jodiae), which we are talking about here. It is called a ‘Pipe snake’ because it has a round, pipe-like body. The lower end of the body can…

Ambarella fruit in the Mekong Delta

Ambarella fruit (Spondias dulcis Parkinson; syn.: Spondias cytherea) is native to Melanesia and Polynesia and was introduced worldwide throughout the tropics. Its other common English names are Jew plum and Golden apple. In the Mekong Delta, it is omnipresent in…

Trapping eels in Northern Vietnam

Trapping eels is a simple way for rice farmers in the catchment area of the Red River in North Vietnam to provide themselves with animal protein. No special skills are required, as with angling or net fishing. The activity is…

Advanced Rifle Handling (ARH) for Trail Guides

Hikes through natural areas in Southern Africa where dangerous game is present must be conducted with at least one, but usually two, armed trail guides. One is the “Lead Guide” or “1st Rifle,” and the second is called the “Back-up…

Bow Drilling – following the method of Mattias Norberg

At the Global Bushcraft Symposium 2022 in Wales/UK, the Swede Mattias Norberg demonstrated his method of creating fire by bow drilling. Sweden has a rich outdoor tradition, and it was a privilege to meet him there, as he has deep…

Giant Fennel stalks for lighting fire

Various internet pages and YouTube channels describe lighting fire with stalks of giant fennel (Ferula communis) as easy. I doubted these claims, so I tested them myself. The outcome was sobering, which I will describe in the following article. Lighting…

Giant Fennel stalk wood as building material

Giant Fennel (Ferula communis) is a common weed in Mediterranean countries and Central Asia. Except for one genetic variety in Sardina, all green parts of the plant are strongly haemotoxic and lead to the poisoning of livestock and humans. This…

Edible rock snails in limestone areas of Vietnam

Rock snails of the genus Cyclophorus are highly sought-after wild foods in rocky limestone mountain areas of Vietnam. These snails are not only regarded as food but also as medicine against various ailments. The local Vietnamese name is Ốc thuốc,…

Blowpipe hunting with Orang Asli people in Malaysia

Blowpipe hunting is still prevalent in many Orang Asli communities in Malaysia. Although the government strictly enforces hunting rules and regulations, it is practically impossible to supervise all the remote small hamlets and villages. On the other hand, it is…

Collecting Bibi worms on Koh Lanta

Bibi worms (Sipunculus nudus Linnaeus, 1776) belong to the Peanut worm phylum. They can be dug up at the intertidal zone of flat, sandy beaches on temperate and tropical beaches. These worms are primarily used as top fishing bait. At…

Wild asparagus in Sicily

Wild asparagus, a unique culinary delight, is prominent in Sicily’s springtime cuisine. The region boasts two distinct species: Asparagus albus, White asparagus, and Asparagus acutifolius, affectionately dubbed ‘Wild asparagus’ in English. Another edible part of these plants is its ‘crown’…

Stone huts at Mount Etna in Sicily

Stone huts on the northern side of Mount Etna in Sicily were built at least since pre-Hellenic times, around 4,000 BC. The building materials were basalt blocks from eroded lava at this location. The builders used dry-stone wall construction without…

Ginger flowers add zest to food

Ginger flowers are eaten in many Southeast-Asian cultures. In Indonesia, most ginger varieties are known from Siberut Island. The native population of this island has utilized the flowers of Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Sm.) since ancient times for…

Young Cassava Leaves provide protein and micronutrients

Young cassava leaves are a regularly eaten side dish for Mentawai people. Cassava (Manihot esculenta, Crantz) is endemic to the southern rim of Amazonia in South America. There, it was domesticated at around 5000 BC. In the 16th century AC,…

Vegetable ferns are a source of nutrients in Siberut

Vegetable ferns (Diplazium esculentum (Retz.)) are among the few wild vegetables Mentawai people in the forests eat regularly on Siberut Island. By Mentawais, they are called ‘Laipat.’ Other wild vegetables are cassava leaves, ginger flowers, taro stalks, and wild eggplants….

Scissor Traps of Thái Đen tribals in Vietnam

Scissor traps are universal traps that can catch all kinds of small rodents. They are easy to produce from bamboo but need one item to be sourced in the villages. These are strips of bicycle tubes, which are not easy…

Bow Traps of Thái Đen tribals in Vietnam

Bow traps are used by Black Thai tribal people in Northern Vietnam to catch small rodents. These ingenious devices are carved from pieces of bamboo and some strings. The closing force of the scissor comes from a bow-like structure above…

Domestic pigs as food by Mentawais

Domestic pigs are a typical gift from a Mentawai family to a shaman for his support or services. In our case, Aman Aru attended a ceremony in a neighboring Uma (family home in the forests), which had to be cleaned…

Deadfall Traps of Thái Đen tribals in Vietnam

Deadfall traps with a Figure-4 trigger are essential knowledge for survivalists and bushcrafters worldwide. Thái Đen (Black Thai) tribal people at Pù Luông Nature Reserve in Northern Vietnam use these traps and the Figure-4 trigger in a modified version. Modifications…

Mentawai forest huts

The Mentawai people at Siberut Island use forest huts (called Sapou by them) for various reasons and purposes. One is a permanent dwelling for single, old men who do not live with their family in the Uma (family home in…

Rattan fruits in Siberut jungles

Rattan fruits are available throughout the year in all Southeast Asian rainforests. There are about 600 different species of rattans, and many of them bear edible fruits. However, rattan prickles are a common nuisance when walking in the jungle. Nevertheless,…

Carrying baskets of Mentawai people

Two types of carrying baskets were used during my stay with the Mentawai people at Buttui on Siberut Island. One, locally called Opa, was fully enclosed on the sides and had an open rattan bottom. The other type was entirely…

Cutting tools at Siberut Island

The cutting tools of Mentawai people living in the forests are adzes, axes, machetes, and one specialized knife. All these tools have a solid historical background and are still used today. During my stay with a Mentawai family in December…

Sago worms of an unidentified species at Siberut Island

Sago worms are one of the food items that come naturally with the Mentawai’s staple food of sago flour. The worms grow in felled palm trunks or destined saplings. They are not worms but larvae and pupae of the Palm…

Domestic chicken as food by Mentawais

Domestic chickens are omnipresent around every Uma (family home) in the forests of Siberut Island. During nighttime, they will be kept in closed coops to protect them from predators like civet cats. While staying with Mentawais, I observed no nesting…

Rattan leaf stalks for coconut grating

Rattan leaf stalks have been, since immortal times, the tools with which Mentawai people have been grating coconuts. These long-lasting tools grate the coconuts into the required size of flakes. When worn out or broken, a new one will be…

Taro – another staple food of the Mentawai people

Taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) is one of the three staple food items of the Mentawai people on Siberut Island in Indonesia. The other two are sago and bananas. In many other countries, taro leaves and corms are eaten. Mentawais…

Roasted Sago sticks on Siberut Island

Roasted sago starch is the staple food for Mentawai people living in the moist, tropical forests of Siberut Island, off the coast of Western Sumatra in Indonesia. On the other hand, sago boiled to porridge, is eaten as a staple…

White Ginger Lily for cleaning hands

White Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium J. Koenig) belongs to the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) botanical family. Mentawai people use the crushed stem to clean their hands after touching arrow poison or one of its two poisonous main constituents. Plant description The Missouri…

Danger of Asian elephants – whether they are in musth or not

Asian elephants (Elaphas maximus) are smaller than their African cousins but not less dangerous when in musth. That danger was already described for African elephants in this article on this website. In the following, we briefly compare the differences between…

Mentawai arrow poison

The Mentawai people use poison on their arrows to hunt game. In previous articles on this website, we discussed the Mentawai people’s hunting methods. Then, we presented an actual hunt for Flying foxes. We then discussed the longbows used on…

Hunting arrows and quivers of the Mentawai people

Bows and arrows are the primary hunting weapons used by the Mentawai people. Their bows were already described here. This article will explain the different types of arrows used for these bows and give an insight into the quivers used….

Mangrove apples at the Mekong Delta

Mangrove apples are the fruits of Sonneratia sp. trees, one of the important genera of trees in the Mangrove forests of Southeast Asia. All species of Sonneratia will develop edible Mangrove apples. These fruits are slightly different in shape, orientation…

Animal species collected by rice farmers in the Red River Delta

Rice farmers in secluded areas of the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam need dietary additions to their staple rice dishes. Vegetables are harvested from around their homes and surrounding tropical Evergreen forests. Animal proteins are mainly collected in and…

Natural shampoo from a Soap plant (Gouania leptostachya)

Natural shampoo can be extracted from a variety of plants worldwide. In Lowland evergreen forests in Northern Vietnam, we used the leaves of a so-called Soap Plant. With these leaves, we regularly washed our hands and bodies. In the following,…

Egg carton fire starters

Fire starters are convenient aids in Austria’s cold winters. Wood shavings lighted wood- and coal-burning stoves one generation ago. These shavings lighted spruce kindling, which in turn started burning bigger pieces of wood. Nowadays, it’s easier. Either commercially available or…

Building a specialized fishing boat at Padang

In Indonesia, there exists a wide variety of traditional fishing boat designs. Most of them are variations of standard types, which were adapted to local needs and conditions. And many of them are not systematically described yet. This article tries…

Stinging Nettle Slug Caterpillar in Vietnam

When hiking in Pu Luong Nature Reserve in Northern Vietnam, we found a species of Stinging Nettle Slug Caterpillar on a Banana leaf. My local friends got highly nervous when seeing it and I was intensely warned against touching it….

Boiling water in bamboo

Boiling water in green bamboo stems (‘culms’ would be the botanically correct term) is not a big skill, but it represents the basic cooking technique in Southeast Asian forests. One of the following articles will build on that and will…

Trapping Snakeskin Gourami in the Mekong Delta

Trapping Snakeskin Gourami fish (Trichopodus pectoralis) is commonly done all over Southeast Asia. However, a specific trap for catching them was developed in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Its simple principle could be easily applied to many other areas of…

Green-billed Malkoha bird on the spit

The Green-billed Malkoha is a common bird in Vietnam’s semi-deciduous tropical forests. An expedition led to the capture of one who was cooked for lunch. This and other species are often hunted by villagers supplementing their diet with this and…

Catching Octopuses by Sea-Gypsies

Sea-Gypsies – Urak Lawoi, Moklen, or Moken – traditionally catch octopuses along the Andaman Sea’s rocky shores. Using a metal skewer and baited bamboo stick, they locate octopuses in holes with foam or clean pebbles. Patiently baiting them, they impale…

Mentawai Hunting bows

Hunting bows are the main hunting weapon for the Mentawai people and are very personal items for a hunter. They have great skills in using them and practice shooting from childhood onwards. During my stay with the Mentawais, I looked…

Flying fox hunting

Flying fox hunting remains a prevalent activity in Indonesia, particularly in Sumatra. Aceh, the northernmost province, is the epicenter of the trade in Flying fox meat. Locals believe that this meat possesses qualities to alleviate asthma, although this claim lacks…

Hunting methods of Mentawai people

The hunting methods of the Mentawai people have developed over about 3000 years. Their ancestors were of a Mongolian race that migrated from Taiwan via the Philippines to modern-day Indonesia. They arrived around 1000 BC at Siberut island in West…

How Mentawai people assemble roof thatching panels

Roof thatching is vital for shelter waterproofing in the Mentawai tribe of around 6,000 people on Siberut Island, Indonesia. Siberut lies about 100 miles (160 km) west of Padang in West Sumatra. Of the 6,000 Mentawai people, roughly 1,000, mainly…

Catching Ghost crabs by digging

Ghost crabs (genus Ocypode) comprise 22 different species and they are commonly also called `Sand crabs`. The scientific name Ocypode has got Greek origin and means swift-footed. Generally, Ghost crabs are semi-terrestrial crabs and dig deep burrows in intertidal zones…

Swiss pine cones and their uses

The Swiss pine (Pinus cembra), goes by different names in German-speaking countries, such as ‘Zirbe,’ ‘Arve,’ ‘Arolla pine,’ or ‘Austrian stone pine.’ For generations, people have used the nuts of this particular pine species as food during the winter months,…

Bushmeat snaring

Bushmeat snaring is a widespread hunting method in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public landscapes in this part of the world are often devoid of larger wild animals due to bushmeat hunting. Which is so bad in some places, that mammals – even…

Elephant diggings in dry riverbeds

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) require approximately 40 to 60 gallons (150 to 220 liters) of water daily to maintain their health. They obtain this water from various sources, including open water bodies and wells dug in sandy riverbeds. Additionally, elephants…

Use of Tsamma melons in Namibia

Tsamma melons are the original progenitors of watermelons. Historical records indicate that these melons were already under cultivation in the Nile valley as far back as 2000 BC. In contemporary times, Tsamma melons continue to be utilized for their oil…

Neolithic fishhooks in Korea

During the Neolithic Age (8000 BCE – 1400 BCE), people across various regions began to adapt to the evolving natural environment following the Ice Age. This era is characterized by the emergence of earthenware artifacts and groundstone tools, as well…

Seekoraal plants in Southern Africa

Seekoraal is the Afrikaans term for the Salicornia natalensis plant, which used to belong to the Sacocornia taxonomic genus before being reclassified under the Salicornia genus in 2017. Salicornia plants are succulent, halophytic (salt-tolerant) flowering plants that are part of…

Utilizing Horseshoe Crabs as a Food Source

Foreword Horseshoe crabs are a not protected species in Thailand and are experiencing a significant decline. Their primary habitats, particularly the mudflats around mangrove forests, where they live and reproduce, are diminishing, and there is a growing demand for edible…

Using a stomping basket to catch fish in Vietnam

Fishing with a stomping basket is a traditional craft that has been practiced in Vietnam for centuries. Postcards from the French colonial era depict this unique fishing method as a typical way for locals to catch fish. While similar techniques…

Giant Snakehead fishing in Thailand

The Giant Snakehead fish (Channa micropeltes) is a highly aggressive and predatory freshwater fish. Its diet mainly consists of smaller fish, frogs, crustaceans, and other aquatic prey. In Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, this fish is known as the ‘Toman’ and,…

Shore fishing for Bronze Whaler Shark

Bronze Whaler Sharks (Carcharhinus brachyurus), also known as Copper Sharks, are a sought-after game fish for recreational anglers in many parts of the world. They are known for their impressive strength and fighting abilities, which pose a challenge for anglers….

Catching Tigerfish at the Zambezi

Tigerfish hold a similar significance for Africans as the bass does for Americans or carp do for Europeans. These three fish species effectively represent the human populations on their respective continents. Personally, tigers are my favorite among them, as they…

Making bow strings from plant fibers

The manufacture of bow strings from plant materials is a skill that has been practiced by Bushmen for a relatively short period. Around the year 1900, they learned from neighboring Bantu-speaking tribes how to use Sansevieria fibers to create bow…

Sweet ‘White Berry Bush’ fruits

Synonyms White Berry bush, Snowball bush (Eng.); Witbessiesbos (Afrikaans); Chinese waterberry (China), Goowal (Yawuru Australia); Flueggea virosa (Lat.) – Flügge was a German botanist, and virosa means poisonous or having a bad odor. Distribution Figure on the right: © National…

Mahout training at Lampang province

The National Elephant Institute of the Forest Industry Organization of Thailand conducted mahout training for amateurs near Lampang. This institute was originally established as a training center for elephants working in the timber industry, where they learned how to lift,…

Composition of Bushman Arrows

The topic of the composition of Bushman arrows for hunting is vast and intricate. Numerous anthropological studies have documented the unique designs utilized by nearly every family group of Bushmen in Southern Africa. These designs are often a result of…

Making bushmen bows for hunting

The Bushmen, generally speaking, employ bows and poisoned arrows for “tracking and stalking” during hunting in Northern Namibia and North-Western Botswana. The various Bushmen tribes utilize different materials and techniques for crafting these weapons. However, in this article, we will…

Eating centipedes in Yunnan Province, China

Eating insects and centipedes is a longstanding tradition in Lijiang City, located in Yunnan Province, P.R. China. In addition to centipedes, other insects such as bamboo worms, silkworm pupae, and locusts are also consumed. While they are high in protein…

Bushmen hunting techniques in Namibia

In earlier times, the Ju/:hoansi bushmen of North-East Namibia employed four distinct traditional techniques for hunting animals. These techniques have remained unchanged over time, as even in the present day (in 2023), the Ju/:hoansi continue to eschew the use of…

Sourplum fruits for food and oil

Sourplums, which belong to the Olacacea family, comprise two species: the Blue Sourplum (Ximenia americana) and the Great Sourplum (Ximenia caffra). Blue Sourplum The Blue Sourplum is naturally distributed in semi-tropical and tropical countries around the world, as shown on…

Beachcombing for Vongole clams in Northern Italy

Vongole clams (Ruditapes philippinarum) are the main bivalve species collected from the flat beaches of the Adriatic Sea in Northern Italy. These clams were introduced to aquaculture facilities in the lagoon of Venice in 1983 and are now considered an…

How to find freshwater on sandy beaches?

Freshwater seepages occur along drainage lines on beaches, where the water table meets the sea. These seepages are fed by freshwater supplies from inland, and the land beyond the sea is naturally higher than sea level, causing freshwater to flow…

Semi-Dried Fish in Thailand

In Thailand, both sea and freshwater fish are dried to increase their shelf life for later consumption by humans. Before the advent of refrigeration, the primary method for preventing spoilage was to salt the fish and then leave it in…

Using Honey Locust Pods as Food

The Honey locust tree, also known as Thorny locust, derives its genus name (Gleditsia) from a former director of the Botanical Garden in Berlin. Its species name (G. triacanthos) means ‘Three thorns’, which refers to the typical arrangement of its…

Description of a speargun for freshwater fishing

In the following, we will briefly describe a specific speargun for freshwater fishing, which I bought from a fisherman in the northern suburbs of Bangkok, Thailand. It is neither as primitive as many of these guns are, nor is it…

Mechanically propelled spears for freshwater fishing

Mechanically propelled spears for freshwater fishing are common all over Thailand. As many people are crafting these devices themselves, there is a wide variety of principles, styles, and designs. Besides homemade spearguns, where every piece is unique, there is also…

Weaver ants got interesting traits

Weaver ants of the genus Oecophylla consist of two different species. One species is Oecophylla longinoda, which occurs in equatorial, tropical African regions. The other species is Oecophylla smaragdina, which is distributed in tropical Asia and Australia. Both of them…

Sansevieria leaves and their uses 

Sansevieria and its leaves used to be a genus of flowering plants that originated in Africa and southern Asia. This former genus has about 70 species with common English names such as mother-in-law’s tongue, bow string hemp, snake plant, and…

Water dispensers for handwashing

In the former Soviet Union- and its satellite states, many citizens had and have water dispensers in their so-called ‘Dachas’ (Russian: дачи). Dachas are typically simple, free-standing houses, either located in city suburbs or the countryside. And most of them…

Chacma Baboons – a dangerous nuisance

Baboons are one of the largest-sized monkeys worldwide. Due to hybridization, their taxonomy is contested and overlapping. In Africa there are six species of baboons, and in Southern Africa lives one species, which is Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Chacma baboons…

Nara melons: Bread of the Namib desert

Nara melons were in former times the only food Topnaar people had available for 4 months (Jan – April) a year. The rest of the year they used conserved fruit pulp and seeds for supplementing other food sources. They were…

Camelthorn as firewood

Camelthorn is a great firewood in Southern Africa. It has an outer layer of light-colored sapwood and dark, hard, and heavy heartwood inside. This hardwood produces long-lasting coals and high heat. Camelthorn occurs from the Northern Cape province of South…

Grey Foam-nest Tree Frogs

Grey foam-nest Tree Frogs (Chiromantis xerampelina) are also called ‘Southern Foam-nest Tree Frogs’ or just ‘Foam-nest Frogs’. Their native distribution range is Southern- and Eastern Africa, in a variety of habitats. Minimum habitat requirements are temporary pools of water having…

Australian Firesaws

Firesaws are nowadays only known as a traditional fire-making method on Pacific Islands. In Australia these methods were replaced by friction fire hand drills and later – under Western influences – by bow drills. Nevertheless, fire sawing is an interesting…

Ghost Mantises are impressive insects

Ghost praying mantises (Phyllocrania paradoxa) fit perfectly into our new homepage section called ‘Wonders of Nature’, due to their unique appearance and behavior. They are a species of praying mantis and four characteristics make them special. These are an impressive…

Himba smoke shower

The Himba women continue to practice traditional methods of personal hygiene. This includes using a smoke shower and a mixture of red ochre and butter-fat paste. These indigenous people are properly referred to as the ‘OvaHimba’ when plural and are…

Zulu knobkerries at a museum in Hluhluwe

Zulu knobkerries are wooden clubs with a knob on one end. Together with assegais (throwing spears), they are the symbols of the Zulu nation in South Africa. These two weapons are part of the South African Coat of Arms, introduced…

Koppie Foam Grasshoppers

Koppie Foam Grasshoppers (Dictyophorus spumans) are indigenous to South Africa and prefer sparse and low vegetation on rocky outcrops. They are flightless and have some aposematic coloring, which are yellow or orange stripes on the warty thorax shield and stripes…

Determining cardinal points by trees

Determining cardinal points by trees in Southern African savannas (Southern Hemisphere) is a common method. It is useful in case of being lost and the sun cannot be seen. So, at least it can be determined where the cardinal points…

Mopane worms – high protein food in Africa

Mopane worms (Instars of Gonimbrasia (Imbrasia) belina) are mainly found on Mopane trees (Colophosperma mopane), but also on Wild Syringa (Burkea africana), on Zebrawood (Microberlinia Brazzavillensis) and others. However Mopane trees are a highly dominant species in climates and areas…

Milkplum (Stamvrug) fruits grow directly out of the tree trunk

Milkplum (Englerophytum magalismontanum (Sond.) T.D.Penn). Common names: (Afr) Stamvrug. (Eng) Milkplum, Wild plum. (isiZulu) Amanumbela. (Northern Sotho) Mohlatswa. (siSwati) UmNumbela. (Tshivenda) Munombelo. (Xitsonga) Nombhela. Old name: Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum Distribution Milkplum is widely distributed from Central Africa to Botswana and Eastern…

Termite soil as building material

Termite mounds are primarily made of soil, which is excavated below the mound and carried to the surface by these insects. They use the soil to construct the mound, forming it into a variety of shapes depending on the termite…

Determining wind direction in savannas

Determining wind direction is an absolutely necessity when on a hunt or trail in Southern African wilderness areas. Besides being constantly aware of the wind direction, also the own relation to the sun has to be checked all the time….

Safari toilet at Timbavati tented bush camp

A safari toilet is an essential facility for any temporary tented camp in the wild. For a Trails Guide course at Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in South Africa, we had eight students, two mentors and one cook a total of…

Salt intake at seashore survival activities

The salt intake of a human in case of either a real survival situation or when living from the provisions of a shoreline by purpose, is of utmost importance to its health. In case too much salt is consumed, there…

Parabuthus scorpions at Erongo province

Parabuthus scorpions are commonplace in Erongo province in Namibia. The area itself is characterized by a rugged and arid landscape with rocky outcroppings, mountains, and canyons. Erongo is known for its unique geology, including red sandstone formations and granite mountains….

Traditional fishing at Inle lake in Myanmar

Traditional fishing at Inle Lake is endemic and very specific to this local environment. Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar with a size of approximately 50 square miles (abt. 116 km2). During the dry season, the average…

Brief historical overview of man’s use of fire

Mankind’s use of fire goes back an extraordinary length of time. From humble collecting and guarding natural fires to producing fire by sparks or friction took about 1,5 million years. For more than 500,000 years, mankind has been producing fires…

Monkey orange, an eagerly sought-after fruit

Monkey orange is the collective common name for the fruit of at least five different Strychnos tree species, which occur from Durban/South Africa up to Western Tigray in Ethiopia. These fruits are highly delicious, and all parts of the trees…

Game trails towards water in African savannas

Larger herbivores in African savannas formed game trails by regular use over eons of years and many, many generations. These trails connect water sources, plus feeding- and bedding areas within their home range. And for a few of them, they…

Is your firewood wet or dry?

If you are outdoors in boreal forest biomes worldwide, it is of primary importance to protect yourself against wind and wetness. And, to light a fire for warmth. The necessary firewood should be dry to burn hotter and with less…

Chewing sticks for dental care in Southern Africa

Chewing sticks, or toothbrush sticks, were widely used in former times from Ethiopia down to the southern tip of Africa. Nowadays, plastic toothbrushes are commonly used and only in very rural parts of this area, chewing sticks are still commonplace….

Bluebottle jellyfish – a stingy creature

The bluebottle jellyfish, also known as Physalia utriculus, is commonly found along the coasts of non-tropical regions bordering the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. These creatures are not jellyfish but rather siphonophores, which are composed of multiple organisms known as…

Finding direction with Buffalo weaver nests

The Red-billed buffalo weaver (Bubalornis niger) is a common bird in parts of Southern Africa. These birds have the largest body size of all weavers and are common in dry woodland and savannas. Buffalo weavers have a peculiar trait when…

African termite alates for food

In Southern Africa, both Harvester termite alates (Hodotermes spp.) and Mound-building termite alates (Macrotermes spp.) swarm within a certain area usually once a year. These alates are winged termites, which are kept by termite workers within certain chambers in the…

Manketti wood for friction fire lighting

In the northeastern parts of Namibia, Ju/’hoansi bushmen exclusively use Manketti wood (Schinziophyton rautanenii) for friction fire lighting. At least in areas, where Manketti trees are growing. Such areas are on a slightly higher elevation compared to savanna bushveld vegetation….

‘Bush potatoes’ from Cow pea plants in Namibia

Cow peas (Vigna vexillate subsp. lobatifolia) are strong climbers, which resemble Mung beans. The stem of this vine is up to 6 m long and develops trifoliate leaves. Its flowers resemble purplish pea-flowers, and the pods are about. 7 –…

Safari footwear for hiking in African savannas

Proper safari footwear is essential for hiking in Southern African savannas. These savannas are defined by a lush grassy layer and a notable woody layer consisting of trees and shrubs, but neither of these dominates the biome. Depending on particular…

Manketti (or: Mongongo) nuts

Manketti nuts are a staple food for a variety of people within its distribution range. And there is a strict division of naming them. Khoi-san people (Bushmen) call them ‘Manketti’, whereas Kavango people (Bantus) call them ‘Mongongo’. Both names denominate…

Wild Syringa (Burkea africana) edible tree resin

Many African trees extrude edible gums and resin. Notable Vachellia ssp. and Senegalia ssp. (old name: Acacias) are known for their edible gums. Ju/’hoansi people are collecting and eating whatever edible gums and resins they find on the go. In…

Leaf huts as temporary shelters for shade

Members of the Khoi San (Bushmen) tribe named Ju/’hoansi are also called !Kung. Both, /’ and ! denote click sounds. It is a society of about 30,000 people spread over Namibia, Botswana, and southern Angola, with a central area at…

Beer can hut near Spitzkoppe in Namibia

Empty aluminum beer- and/or pop cans will serve additional purposes after guzzling the content. Besides of toys and various repair applications, these cans can even build huts and houses! As can be seen in Texas, the US here, or Australia…

Throw sticks as weapons in the African bush

Kerries are a combination of throw sticks and wooden clubs, used as everyday tools for hunting, defense, and/or digging in Southern Africa. Australian aboriginals used a refined form of throw sticks, which was flattened over its whole length and was…

Coracles at Duy Hải, near Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is located about 35 km south of Da Nang, which is roughly in the middle of mainland Vietnam. It is one of the most picturesque towns in Vietnam and attracts lots of tourists. Which in turn requires lots…

Pla Ra – Thailand’s fermented fish condiment

Pla Ra (Thai: ปลาร้า, pronounced [plāː ráː]), is fermented fish. It is the traditional way, Thais in central provinces and the northeast (Isan province) are eating fish and rice. In these rather poor provinces, there is only one rice growing…

Spotted hyenas are successful hunters

Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) occur throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Exceptions are Central- and West African rainforests and Southern grassland biomes and further beyond the south. The density of a hyena population in a suitable habitat depends significantly on the density of…

Spotted beauties: Leopards in Southern Africa

Leopards (Panthera pardus) have a wide distribution range in Sub-Saharan Africa, which however gets more and more fragmented due to human activities and habitation. In the Southern African region, within the Republic of South Africa, only about 20% of the…

Why are hippos dangerous on land?

Hippopotami of the species Hippopotamus amphibius (‘Hippos’), are widely distributed over Sub-Saharan African savannah biomes. They were declared a ‘vulnerable’ species, as over the last 10 years the population declined between 7 – 20%. In total, there are about 130,000…

Marang fruits in Southeast-Asian Rainforests

There are several local names for the tree and fruits of Artocarpus odoratissimus. In English, it is simply called ‘Marang’, which is based on the Philippines’ common name for the fruit. Originally endemic to the region around Mindanao, Sarawak, Kalimantan,…

Drying meat in Shanghai at wintertime

It is at least a 2000-year-old tradition in many provinces in China to cure and preserve meat in wintertime. Pigs were slaughtered after the ‘Light Snowfall’-date (around Nov 22nd/23rd), when the temperatures were plummeting, and this meat had to be…

Termite mounds indicating direction North

In Southern Africa, fungus-growing termites, which build enclosed mounds without visible ventilation holes belong to the genera macrotermes. These macrotermes mounds can be up to 6 meters high above ground. The tip nearly always leans slightly over and the termite…

Danger posed by Nile crocodiles

Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) are colloquially called just crocodiles or ‘crocs’ in the following. They occur in Southern- and Eastern African regions and along the Atlantic coastline in Central Africa. They eat any animal they can get a hold of…

Fish ripping in Hanoi, Vietnam

A very common fishing technique in Vietnam is ripping a weighted hook with multiple side arms through still water and hoping to hook unsuspecting fish somewhere on their body. Hooking a fish at the lips with the correct size and…

Fish trapping at a fast-flowing brook in Vietnam

Trapping fish in bamboo traps in Southeast Asia is normally a static affair. These fishing traps will be used in still waters with or without bait inside and checked at least once daily. It was a new experience, to see…

Cashew apples and -nuts in Goa, India

Cashew trees (Anacardium occidentale) are native to areas around Northeastern Brazil. Portuguese colonists brought them around 1560 to Goa, India, from where they spread to Southeast Asia and finally Africa. Therefore, cashew products already have a long history in Goa…

Jujube trees at Ayutthaya in Thailand

The Ayutthaya Historical Park covers the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya, which was founded already in 850 AD by the Khmer and named after the Hindu holy city of Ajodhya. It was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767…

Cormorant fishing at Li Jiang River in China

Cormorant fishing is an ancient fishing art that dates back at least 1300 years. Today, it is only practiced in the southwestern provinces of China. However, some fishermen are attempting to revive this fishing technique for tourists in water villages…

Chanterelle mushrooms in Thailand

Thai chanterelles, or more specifically Cantharellus minor live in symbiosis with Gurjun trees (Diopterocarpus tuberculatus) in semi-deciduous Southeast-Asian forests. These trees are easy to identify due to their double-winged (dio-ptero) fruits with big seeds. Besides Cantharellus minor, other species of…

First shelter of Henno Martin at Kuiseb Canyon

Two German geologists, Dr. Henno Martin, and Dr. Herman Korn, went at the beginning of WW2 in 1940 for 2,5 years into hiding around the Kuiseb Canyon area, Namibia, to avoid internment by the South-African Union government. During that time,…

Trunk it – it’s Marula beer!

Marula season in Southern Africa is normally in February each year. When Marulas (Sclerocarya birrea) are getting ripe, they turn from green to yellow and fall from the female Marula trees. On the ground, they are ripening up fully and…

Taste of Gaur meat at Kaeng Krachan rainforest

We were on a weeklong trail through the Kaeng Krachan rainforest, near Hua Hin in Thailand, when we tasted Gaur meat. Together with two National Park (NP) rangers, we came across a freshly died Gaur heifer. This Gaur (Bos gaurus)…

Natal Mahogany seed milk and its preparation

Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica) trees have got a dense canopy of dark green, glossy leaves, and a round outer shape of the tree silhouette. They preferably grow in moist places and riparian forests along drainage lines. Natal Mahogany is easy…

Buffalo thorn tree – an icon in Southern Africa

The Buffalo thorn tree (Ziziphus mucronata) is called in Afrikaans “Blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie” for its shiny leaves and two thorns, which hold people back when getting caught by them. The shrub or tree has got distinctive zigzag branchlets with pairs of two…

Rumen fluid as an emergency drinking liquid

Rumen fluid is a greenish-colored liquid substance with an aromatic and slightly sour smell. This fluid is uniformly distributed in the rumen of antelopes and is mixed with grazing or browsing roughage as well as fermentation gases and bioactive organisms….

Bushscout UK’s fire bundle basket

Terry Longhurst said, “Bundle baskets are what we use with young people when fire lighting, using a bundle prevents them getting burnt, it also helps if they have special needs.” Such a fire bundle basket is chicken wire, which was…

Fire lighting with Flint & Steel

Originally, Stone Age- and Bronze Age man in Europe created fire by striking flintstone on marcasite and catching resulting sparks on tinder made from horseshoe fungi. Marcasite is crystallized pyrite (iron sulfate mineral) and is not readily available but has…

Hand drilling in UK as taught by Dave Watson

Friction fire hand drills are normally not the first choice for fire lighting in the Northern Hemisphere, as it is regarded as a strenuous technique, especially in cold and humid environments. Dave Watson proved under overcast Northern Wales weather conditions,…

Bow drill standard procedure by Dave Watson

The approach of friction fire lighting with bow drills in the UK is slightly different from other countries. In the following, these differences will be explained. Materials and shapes of the various bow drill elements Hearth board of the bow…

Bow drilling in Australia by Gordon Dedman

At the Global Bushcraft Symposium 2022 in the UK, Gordon Dedman presented the bow drilling technique he is teaching in Australia. It is assumed that readers know the basics of bow drill friction fire lighting and I therefore will only…

Hand drill friction fire lighting in Australia

At the Global Bushcraft Symposium 2022 in the UK, Gordon Dedman presented the hand drill friction fire lighting method he is teaching in Australia. As most readers of this topic will know the basic techniques of hand drill friction fire…

Australian friction-fire woods 1

At the Global Bushcraft Symposium 2022 in the UK, Gordon Dedman presented a variety of types of Australian friction-fire wood, which are well suited for friction-fire lighting methods and tinder. The signature friction-fire method, which was exclusively used for many…

Finding True South in the Southern Hemisphere

The Southern Cross, or the Constellation of Crux, – as the name implies – is just visible in the Southern Hemisphere. It consists of the Cross itself and the two pointers, which are Alpha-(Rigil Kent) and Beta-Centauri (Hadar). Finding direction…

Finding direction with the Pole Star

Finding the Pole Star with the Constellation of Ursa Major Only in the Northern Hemisphere, the Pole Star is visible, and its location is mainly indicated by the position of the two pointers of the Great Bear (also called the…

Constellation Scorpius at the Southern sky

The Constellation of Scorpius (‘Scorpio’) is a very large constellation, which is visible from May to November in the evening sky of the Southern Hemisphere. It is located directly opposite the Constellation of Orion – and therefore being visible when…

Firewood from Red Bushwillows is excellent

In Southern Africa, there are fourteen species of Bushwillows, which belong to the Combretum family. Other trees of the same Combretum family are Clusterleaf species, but also Leadwood and some others. Interestingly enough, not all Combretum species are suitable for…

Greenthorn tree and its uses

The Greenthorn tree (Balanites maughamii) is easily recognizable in Southern Africa due to its triangular, fluted, or buttressed trunk. Its spines are green like its twigs and often forked. It is very spiny and hard to climb. It mainly grows…

Double-banded Sandgrouse as water indicator

The Double-banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus) is commonly and colloquially called by its abbreviation ‘DBSG’ in Southern Africa. Its main distribution area is the savanna biome, especially Mopani Bushveld. There are three more species of sandgrouses in Southern Africa, all of…

Finding direction with the Constellation of Orion

The Constellation of Orion, or ‘The Hunter’ can be best viewed in the evening skies from November to February. During that time, it holds for both the Northern- and Southern hemispheres. Although Orion is still visible in the night sky…

Spit roasted mid-sized fish in Thailand

Fish longer than about 20 cm and not having a snake-like shape, are typically spit-roasted in Thailand. As seen in the photos below, these are mainly Pla Dabian (Barbonymus gonionotus), Pla Chon (Channa striata), and Pla Sawai (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) but…

Grill spit for small fish

Grill spit for small fish outdoor cooking on a spit Smaller fish of up to about 20 cm in length are typically put on to a grill spit, which is just a split stick. Often in Thailand, this will be…

Freshwater snails for food

In Thailand, two types of freshwater snails are commonly consumed. The first group is comprised of the larger Apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata), while the other group is simply referred to as Freshwater snails (Sinotaia sp. & Filopaludina sp.). Both of…

Jellyfish for food and its preparation

Edible jellyfish (Aurelia sp.) is called ‘Maeng krapun jarn’ (Gulf of Siam) or ‘Lodchong’ (Andaman Sea) in Thailand. Normally there are about three months a year, where these jellyfish for food preferable appear. During this jellyfish run, sea fishermen earn…

Squid traps in the Gulf of Thailand

Squid is a main source of income for many fishermen in villages around the Gulf of Thailand. Because fish are becoming increasingly rare, whereas Cephalodoans maintain their population. Only certain types of finfish are sold profitably, and the rest are…

Catching and holding live eels

The Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus), called Pla Lai in Thailand, is used as a food source and also for offerings to the spirit deities. When still slim and young, eels are sold to the Buddhist local population for doing…

Crab snare at Koh Samui

Simple crab snare for use on a tropical beach A crab snare comes normally in the shape of a bait cage with about six snares around. This set-up is used in combination with either a fishing line and rod or…

Ricefield shrimps for food

Freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium lanchesteri), also called ‘Ricefield shrimps’ or ‘Goong foi’ in the Thai language, live in every permanent water body in Thailand in big numbers. They are the main food source for a variety of fish and other predators,…

Hand lifting net (Yor lek) in Thailand

Small lift net for catching daily meals of freshwater prawns and fish ‘Yor lek’ is a hand lifting net, and means in Thai language something like ‘small lift net’. ‘Yor’ means ‘lift net’ and ‘lek’ means ‘small’. Its big brothers…

Cast net throwing technique

Description of cast nets used in Thailand Cast nets in Thailand are available in different radii models – I prefer such with a radius of 3,5 meters. 3,5 meters from the center of the net to the outer axial rim…

Small catfish got dangerous spines in Thailand

There is a variety of small catfish species with dangerous spines living in Thai waters. One, a very abundant one, is locally called Pla Kod (Hemibagrus wyckioides); English common name: Asian Redtail Catfish; Thai name: ปลากด. The typical length for…

Circumferencing water plants to catch fish

Most Thai water channels, khlongs, and streams are clogged with a variety of water plants, predominantly Common Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). This invasive species was introduced in 1901 by Thai Royalty from Indonesia and was supposed to be eradicated by…

Hand net fishing

Hand nets, equipment, and technique For hand net fishing, mosquito netting is used to sieve water bodies for rice fields shrimps, and fish fry in Thailand. In order not to lose caught animals, the netting was brought into a deep,…

Crafting a bamboo fish trap in Thailand

Learning the craft of bamboo fish trap weaving Correct English wording for a ‘Lop’ in the Thai language would be ‘Horizontal cylinder trap with entry cone’. It is used for catching a variety of freshwater fish and crustaceans. This includes…

Bank line fishing in Southeast Asia

The term ‘Bank line’ used in English to refer to a string of poles along a water bank is virtually unknown in Southeast Asia. Instead, this fishing method and its equipment are referred to by different names in the region….

Donation of a fish trap collection

A new home for over 100 different fishing traps and implements After leaving Thailand for an assignment in China it was difficult to find the right place for my fish trap collection. Originally, I wanted to open up some kind…

Razor clams collection with quicklime

A mudflat full of razor clams ‘Don Hoi Lot’ is a mudflat in the Thai Province of Samut Songkhram with a size of about 15 km2 (about 9 square miles). ‘Don’ means ‘mudflat’ in English. ‘Hoi’ means ‘clam’ and ‘Hoi…

Harvesting and opening Nipa Palm fruits

Nipa palms (Nypa fruticans) are a species of palms especially adapted to muddy environments of slow-moving tidal waters and mangrove forests and occur in Asia-Pacific tropical climates. And Nipa palm fruits are delicious to eat. Both, fruits, and wooden parts…

Mudskippers for food

In Thailand live a variety of mudskipper species, notably Giant mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri), Blue-spotted mudskippers (Boleophthalmus boddarti), and others. All of them are amphibious fish, that live on muddy estuary- and tidal brackish river zones all around Asia-Pacific. They live…

Morning glory – a valuable wild vegetable in Asia

Swamp morning glory or Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) has a variety of common names, like ‘Kangkong’ in Southeast Asia or ‘Kung Shin Tsai’ in China. It is a staple vegetable food throughout Asia-Pacific. And it is very low in calories…

Heavenly Durian

The fruit Durian (Durio zibethinus) is named after the Malay word ‘Duri’ for ‘Thorn’, referring to the thorny skin, and ‘zibethinus’ obviously refers to its smell. And the most sought-after variety in Malaysia is ‘Musang King’, where ‘Musang’ means ‘Palm…

Bamboo fence fish traps around Tonlé Sap lake

In many areas on the biggest Cambodian lake, its tributary river and Mekong flood plains, permanent bamboo fence fish traps, or more appropriately named: catching structures, are erected and operated. The leader fence, guiding fish into the inner compartments of…

Spear shafts from grass tree stalks

Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.) and grass tree stalks are endemic to Australia. They are locally called ‘Black Boys’ due to their appearance after bushfires. They need a certain number of regular fires for their survival and are well protected against…

Spinifex grass – friend and foe

The common name ‘Spinifex grass’ is not fully correct as a botanical term for discussed grasses, as commonly named ‘Spinifex’ grasses belong to the genus ‘Triodia’, whereas the genus ‘Spinifex’ itself contains mainly coastal grasses. Whatever it is, the common…

Spotting a magnificent sand monitor (Goanna)

Description of Goannas The Australian sand monitor (Varanus gouldii) is also called Gould’s monitor or colloquially ‘Goanna’. There are two different subspecies: Varanus gouldii gouldii and Varanus gouldii flavirufus (which is a smaller-sized subspecies). V. gouldii gouldii is distributed nearly…

Eating a sand monitor lizard (Goanna)

In the former article,g I described seeing a majestic sand monitor lizard very close by on my drive from Menzies to Sandstone on a side road. Driving further on I was surprised to see many more Goannas left and right…

Ant hills for building materials in Australia

Although they are commonly referred to as “Ant hills,” particularly in Australia, the structures in question are actually “Termite hills.” Despite their physical similarities to ants, termites are related to cockroaches rather than ants. However, like ants, they are small…

African buffaloes are dangerous

Danger of buffaloes is overrated The ‘Cape buffalo’ (Syncerus caffer caffer) as a subspecies of the ‘African buffalo’ (Syncerus caffer) is the typical buffaloes species of the Southern African savannah biome. The denomination of ‘African Black Death’ was coined by…

Lion behavior – so different by day and night

The general behavior of lions African Lions (Panthera leo) are sometimes overrated in their danger for people hiking in Big-5 game areas. Lion behavior is such that they normally sleep and rest for 20 hours a day just to replenish…

Recipe for disaster – elephant bulls in musth

Musth is a condition of elevated testosterone levels in the blood of elephants. African elephant (Loxodonta africana) bulls come into their first musth when they are between 15 – 17 years old. The length of the musth depends on the…

Purslane leaves as a vegetable in South Africa

Purslane (Portulacaria Afra), or ‘spekboom’ in the Afrikaans language, is a succulent plant, endemic to South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. It has light-green soft leaves and red-colored stems. The leaves can be eaten raw, as pickles, chutney, or jam, or…

Poisonous beauty: The ‘Elegant Grasshopper’

Aposematic coloration The ‘Elegant Grasshopper’ (Zonocerus elegans) occurs commonly throughout Southern Africa and is mentioned due to its aposematic coloration, which is typical for animals that want to announce that they are poisonous. And he is a poisonous grasshopper. In…

Water from elephant dung

Elephants are a kind of dung-producing machines African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the wild are foraging about 150 – 180 kg of plant material per day. And they also drink about 350 liters of water. Consequently, they excrete every day…

Snares for poaching are a real problem

Many National Parks, Private Game Reserves, and Game Farms in Southern Africa are under heavy pressure of snares for poaching. Not only poaching for rhino horn, but also indiscriminate poaching for meat. Rhino horn poaching is mainly organized by internationally…

Digging for water by wells in sandy riverbeds

Where to dig One of the most important techniques for finding drinkable water in Southern African natural environments is digging for water in areas that are holding water underground. These water-holding structures can be situated next to an open water…

Creating fire by hand drill in Namibia

The type of wood for fire hand drills changed over time Fire starting by friction hand drill was traditionally common by Khoi-san (Ju/’hoansi) people in their area of distribution, which was once over the whole of Southern Africa and got…

Solar fire lighting

The energy received by the earth from the sun is called the Solar Constant, which describes the effect that every 1 m2 of planet earth, facing the sun rays in a 90-degree angle (directly overhead) will receive 1375 Watts (Joules/sec)….