Researchers study poison arrow hunting tradition of the San

While academic awareness of African peoples’ hunting with poison-tipped arrows extends back for centuries, knowledge of the ingenious practice has been scattered among chemistry, entomology and anthropology texts. Now, a comprehensive study of the hunting tradition of the San peoples of Namibia sheds new light on their use of beetle and plant poisons to boost the lethality of their arrows.

The research appears currently in the peer-reviewed journal ZooKeys (open access).

“The more slender threads of information I wove together from reports dating to the 1700s, the more obvious it became there were few sure facts and many hard-to-believe assertions,” said lead author Caroline Chaboo, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas. “The San are traditional hunter-gatherers and thus have a special place in the history of man. As I learned more about the modern San, their history, weak political status and endangered languages and cultures, it became urgent to me to document this aspect of their culture.” Read more.