Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Most tribes like the Tiprasa of Tripura had been hunting as a means of their survival for decades. Although hunting wild animals is no longer a widespread practice, it is important to know and understand its varied aspects, as it is part of the Adivasi/Tribal history, as well as of other communities. Hence, the following article by Ruhan Murasing talks about the varied equipment; mostly self-made, used by the Tiprasa tribe for hunting.
Hunting and gathering have been the primary sources of survival, for the Adivasi/Tribal communities of India and the world. While gathering forest produce continues to be a major means of survival for the Adivasis/Tribals in India, hunting has been banned under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, of 1972. However, it is difficult to take a simplistic view of hunting because for the Adivasi/Tribal communities it has been a way of survival. Their major food source was hunting. It is important to note that while laws are in place to prohibit hunting, the communities dependent on hunting, still remain dependent on the forests for food and survival. It remains a larger debate. Nonetheless, it is critical to know about the self-made equipment of the Adivasis/Tribals used for hunting as it is a part of our history and culture. It has also been a part of the history of other communities belonging to the upper strata of society. The difference is that the Adivasis/Tribals used it for their survival while in most other communities it was a sport, a hobby, or an act of deriving pleasure.
Here, I will talk about the hunting techniques, the Tiprasa tribe used, in order to hunt wild pigs, wild chickens, birds etc., for food.
Slingshots: Slingshot, also known as 'Gulai' in the Kokborok language, is a small hand-powered projectile weapon. The classic form consists of a Y-shaped tree branch, with two natural-rubber strips or tubes attached to the upper two ends. It was used to hunt animals by shooting at them with stones or an oval-shaped mud ball. It was used to haunt animals like wild chickens and wild rabbits or to chase away the monkeys and other animals causing threat or trouble.
Recurve Bows: Recurve Bow is also known as 'Badhuphung' in Kokborok. It was used mostly by the southerly tribe of Tripura. They used it to haunt various wild animals. Badhuphung is one of the main shapes a bow can take, with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. It has been used to haunt animals like wild pigs, porcupines, wild birds and sometimes also fish.
Traps: Traps, also known as 'Khooi' in Kokborok, refer to different techniques used in hunting down animals. The most common ways of setting traps have been built by using bamboo. Different communities used different traps. Some of the traps that have been used by the Tripuri communities are 'Khooi Bwsa', 'Khooi Pung', 'Khooi Looong', 'Khooi Saa' etc. These are some easy-to-make and handy traps to catch wild birds, wild elephants and bigger animals.
Arguably, banning hunting is a good step in the conservation of flora and fauna. However, the government needs to provide alternatives to the Adivasi/Tribal communities inhabiting forest lands or forest peripheries. Their economic conditions remain unchanged, and they still depend on forests for food. In the absence of land for cultivation or other economic prospects, their survival becomes difficult as one of their major food sources hunting has been banned.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.