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Over the years I have learned many tribal traps and snares. The ingenuity is really quite remarkable. Many game traps seem so simple yet are very complex. I watched Pu set a trap and tried to do the same, but he had to correct me twice on two different parts until it worked properly. It is really a skill to be able to set a working trap.
You have to find a good location first, find and cut the right size sticks that are bendable enough to do the job, and then lash everything together. To watch my friends here do this is pretty cool; they are so efficient even down to how many times they swing the machete. What’s neat about these traps is that all the components are right from the jungle.
The tribal people have a huge variety of traps; most are what I call snap-traps, but they do have a dead-fall trap and a pit-fall trap. The snap-traps have a stick or pole that bends way over, and then when prey walk over it, it sets off the trigger making the stick or pole snap back and pulls a noose which will catch the prey’s foot or head. The tribal people make traps for mice, birds, cuscus, wild boar, and many other rodents or small game animals.
The dead-fall trap is one of my favorites to set, although it is a difficult one, and two people are needed to set it. To set a dead-fall trap, we have to find a big, heavy piece of wood, tie a string to the piece of wood and then to the trigger, which has bait on the end. When the prey comes along and eats the bait, it releases the string that holds the piece of wood. The wood falls down, crushing the prey.
The pit-fall trap is set for a ground-dwelling marsupial that is similar to a wallaby. The local word for this beast is kure. So a pit-fall trap is exactly what it sounds like, a hole in the ground that the kure will fall into. The hole is covered with very weak branches and twigs so that the kure won’t suspect anything. This hole also has a dozen or so spears at the bottom to impale the kure once it falls in. Pretty scary, I know.
All these traps are very reliable, and they show the amazing tribal technology. Because the resources are all straight from the jungle, the prey never have a second thought when they see a tempting piece of sweet potato dangling right outside their door.
These traps aren’t set too often, and when they are set, they don’t always catch something, so really the amount of game killed from traps is such a small fraction and doesn’t make a difference in the dense population of animals here. However, it is a good source of meat (and necessary protein) for our friends who have a mainly vegetarian diet.
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