Tools & Gear

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…

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…

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…

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….

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 even part of the South African Coat of Arms,…

Wax extraction from honeycombs

For wax extraction, the empty combs are first put in water which is heated until the wax melts. The liquid is then poured through a piece of coarse cloth and while still hot this is twisted or squeezed until as…

Improvised protective equipment for beekeepers

Locally made-up smokers and overalls are used for inspection or harvesting the hives as improvised equipment. These have also become expensive and are often shared by a group of beekeepers. Improvised protective overalls The coveralls are made from old flour…

Alternative beehives in D.R. Congo

In recent years the shortage and expense of timber and corrugated iron sheet have encouraged people to use alternative materials for beehives. The range of substitutes includes old 200-liter fuel drums cut in half. Their ends removed, and their sides…

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…

‘Leopard claw’ grass for catching rats and mice

Common names Nkansu ngo (= claw of the leopard), Leopard claw grass, Nzefo za ngo, Kansingo (Kongo) Description A perennial grass with culms 30 – 150 cm high, growing from scaly rhizomes. Leaf blades are spear-shaped, 10 – 40 cm…

Rattan vine in Africa – Calamus deerratus

Synonym C. laurentii; Common names Nkau (Kongo), Rotin (Fr.), Rattan vine Description A slender to moderately robust rattan palm, climbing up to 20 m high and often forming dense clumps. The stems and leaves are armed with spines. Stems have…

Squid traps in the gulf of Thailand

Squid traps seem to be at first sight a quite natural way of catching these cephalopods throughout South-East Asia in shallow sea waters. Such traps are used in waters about 6 – 15 meters deep and held in between a…

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…

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…

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…

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…